Thursday, January 31, 2013

Down Time

Due to O’s dentist appointment yesterday, I had the day off. I could have taken half a day off and gone to work at noon but why bother, right?

When Olivia and I got home from her dentist appointment (after making a stop at Walmart because who goes anywhere without stopping there to pick up something? We needed bread, tissues and I’d promised O we could get her some Valentines for her school party. That promise got her over her weepiness caused by the x-rays.) it was time for her snack.

Apparently she and Tom have a pretty strict schedule each weekday. O eats breakfast with Alyssa between 6:50 and 7:10. At 9:30, it’s time for morning snack. At 10:30, it’s time to try to poop. At 11:00, it’s time for lunch. At 11:30 Olivia changes out of her morning clothes and into her school clothes. At 11:45, she puts on her coat and hat and backpack and by 11:50 they are watching for the bus.

We didn’t actually get home from the dentist/Walmart until 10:30 so the schedule was off but O really wanted her morning snack of toast with banana and berries. So I made the toast, sliced the banana and put some berries in a bowl.

I was then informed by Tom and Olivia that morning snack is eaten in the living room while rocking in the recliner.

Okay. We settled. Tom pulled a chair up and supervised. I know. Whatever.

Snack only took about ten minutes so Olivia decided she’d try to poop.

She only sat on the toilet for about five minutes before declaring she didn’t have to go and climbing down and telling me that maybe I could just feed her lunch. That morning snack had just stoked her appetite.

So lunch it was. After I fed her, I asked Olivia what she and Daddy usually do and she suggested we go back to the recliner and rock. And then she suggested I tickle her. That lasted a half hour until it was time to put on shoes and coat and wait for the bus. Except, she didn’t want to ride the bus that day. Since I was there, she thought it would be just fabulous if I drove her to school. Which, okay. It’s only four miles and I wasn’t doing anything else, right?

So one we saw the bus coming down the road, Olivia and I loaded up and headed toward the school. I walked her in where she was greeted by the teacher’s aide that works in her class. Olivia lead me to her classroom and showed me where she hangs her coat (for the record, I have been in her class before and know these things but I love it that she wants to show this stuff off) and where she puts her folder. Then she noticed the ingredients for the pancake party the class was having. That took her mind off the fact that I had to leave. She was so excited about pancakes at school.

So I left her classroom and stopped in the office to let them know that the girls needed to get off the bus at home.

After leaving the school, I wondered what I should do with my three hours of kid-free time. I never have kid-free time unless I’m at work and here I was with three whole hours before the girls would be home.

I decided to stop in at the library and enjoy a chance to browse the shelves instead of having to monitor two energetic kids who like to wander in and out of the stacks. I spent a lovely half hour at the library, all by myself, surrounded by strangers who didn’t need me to take them to the bathroom or hold their coat or come see this or that.

I went home and considered taking a nap but then decided to do some laundry. I thought about vacuuming the living room and family room but decided they could wait until the weekend.

I ate a grapefruit and watched the clock, waiting for it to be time to go outside and greet the bus and the two smiling little girls who would climb off it.

I watched a snippet from General Hospital and Days of Our Lives. Those shows never really change, do they?

Oh and I put some dishes away.

Finally, it was time for the girls to come home.

As much as I lament my lack of down time, it appears I’m not all that good at using it to my advantage.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Olivia had a dentist appointment this morning. We had to be there at 7:45 which meant we left home at 6:45 to drive to Fort Wayne to the appointment. As we drove away into the dense fog, Olivia and I waved to Tom and Alyssa, who were standing at the front window, waving back at us.

A few miles down the road, O asked me, "Did Lyssie have her tonsils out one time?"

I told her yes, Alyssa had her tonsils out a few months ago.

She then asked, "Did I stay with Daddy while you and Lyssie drove to get her tonsils out?"

Again, I agreed with her memory.

She paused a few more minutes and then said with a smile, "This time, Lyssie had to stay with Daddy while you take me to the dentist, right?"

She understood the parallel in the two situations. One time, she stayed with Daddy while I took Lyssie to a doctor and this time, Lyssie stayed with Daddy while I took Olivia to an appointment.

She declared that she liked spending time with me. I returned the sentiment.

Olivia had her tough days but the days when she makes those connections, when she shows deep thinking and comprehension, I couldn't be prouder of her. She works damn hard to do the things she does and I think there is no limit to what she might accomplish if she puts her mind to it.

The dentist though...that was sort of a rough appointment. And this was just the first meeting as a new patient at the pediatric dentist where she'll go back next week for actual work.

The x-rays were what were hard for her. She hated the feel of the thing you have to bite on in her mouth. I held her on my lap while the dentist held the thing in her mouth and the assistant took the image. Olivia wailed. Poor baby.

I will say, though, that x-rays aside, I really liked this dentists and everyone in his practice. The first thing he said when he came into the room was, "She's got a complex medical history, doesn't she?"

Which...yes. Yes she does.

And then he went on to ask questions that told me he'd done his own bit of research. He asked me if she'd had a scan of her heart. When I replied that she had when she was two years old and that it was perfect, he nodded, pleased with my response and then asked about her kidneys. Again, I was able to tell him we'd had an ultrasound on her kidneys when she was four. They're perfect too.

He didn't ask but I told him we'd even had an MRI of her brain when she was nine months old and received the verdict that it was lovely as well.

He asked if she was potty trained, more evidence that he'd read up even a little on 5p-. I can't tell you how nice it is to meet a medical professional who does his research.

After he counted her teeth and told Olivia how pretty they were, he showed me that she has a loose bottom tooth and that she needs some work on a permanent molar that is coming with a small defect, just something that could catch food and lead to decay. We'll seal that and another tiny cavity next Wednesday.

It'll be rough on Olivia but I know she needs to have it done and we'll get through it. The dentist prescribed a mild sedative to help her relax. And she's older this time than the last time she got some dental work. She might not understand completely but we can explain it as much as possible and get her through it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Alyssa loves to hear the story about how Tom and I chose her name. She loves her name (I’m so glad for this, as a child I wasn’t all that enamored of my own, I’ve grown to liked it well enough but at ten? Not so much.) and has asked countless times for me to tell the story of how we came up with it.

So I tell her the story of how her dad was working third shift and would come home during his lunch, at around 2am each night. He’d come up and lay with me, often putting his head on my stomach. Alyssa always laughs when I tell her that she vigorously protested this position, often kicking him in the head.

One such night, about five months into the pregnancy, Tom asked me what I thought of the name Alyssa. I muttered sleepily that it was on my list. As far as he was concerned, that sealed the deal and Alyssa was her name from that point on.

When I agreed to the name Alyssa, I had no idea it was as popular as it was. I’d never met an Alyssa. The only time I’d ever heard it was when anyone referred to the actress who played Tony Danza’s daughter on Who’s the Boss? Yes, I suppose one could infer that we’d named our daughter after Alyssa Milano. Whatever.

So after Alyssa was born, imagine my surprise when I heard that one of my brother’s friends had a daughter a few years older named Alyssa. And then, suddenly my brother was dating an Alyssa (she later became my nephew’s mother.)

And! Yes, there’s an and. And, when Alyssa was eighteen months old, my cousin and his wife were expecting a daughter. My cousin told me that Alyssa was the only name in the whole wide world that his wife liked.

So yes, they named their daughter Alyssa.

When it came time to name Olivia, I wanted to name her Anna. But Tom nixed that idea when he connected the name to his ex-wife’s name. He didn’t want there to be any way for her to even imagine we’d named our child after her. So Anna was out.

I suggested Olivia during the sixth month of my pregnancy. Tom loved it. We went with it. This time, though, I was well aware of the popularity of this name. And I decided it didn’t bother me. I’d lived through a popularity surprise with Alyssa and it was fine. It ended up not being a big deal.

Expecting to meet other Olivias (or Alyvias, which, ugh! Seriously? It’s not even the same freaking name!) meant that I wasn’t bothered when it did happen.

As it’s turned out, we still know more girls/women named Alyssa than we do girls/women named Olivia. Just goes to show what I know about popularity.

Oh and for the record, Olivia was no more named after Olivia Newton-John that Alyssa was named after Alyssa Milano, no matter what my cousin Chet thinks.

Monday, January 28, 2013


My cousin and I were talking over the weekend about how we feel about being done having kids. She mourns leaving baby-making behind. She grieves the loss of more babies. She misses the infant stage so much it brings her to tears. Her kids are 13 and 18, for the record.

She said she misses the bond most of all. That bond that an infant has with his mother. The fact that you, the mother are needed for just about everything, all the time.

I pointed to Olivia, who’d told me five times in the previous thirty seconds exactly what she was doing and where she was going.

I said, “I think I still have that bond.”

My cousin laughed and agreed. “You have the bond but more mobility. The best of both worlds.”

And she’s right. Olivia doesn’t need me to see to her physical needs the way she did even two years ago (Hello potty training, you are a wonder of wonders.) but she still needs me emotionally. She needs to know where I am, what I’m doing and how she can get to me anytime we’re in the same vicinity.

Alyssa, at ten, is much more independent, unless we’re in an unfamiliar setting, then she needs to be next to me until she figures out where she fits into the new environment. She wants to sleep in her own room these days, which is awesome. I’m proud of this independence, this self-reliance and I want this for her.

I do not miss the infant years. I have said before that the infant years are so, so hard. Even with a text book baby like Alyssa, that first year was incredibly hard. She fussed when she was supposed to, she slept fairly well, she was a good eater but it was just hard. I am truly glad I don’t have to go through another newborn/infant stage.

That said, I admitted to Amy that if circumstances had been different, it Tom and I had met when we were younger and if we’d have the financial capability for me to stay home with the kids, I might have tried to convince him to have a third baby.

But as it is, I have always felt like the two I have take everything in me that I have to give and I don’t know how I’d stretch myself to accommodate a third child. I realize, though, that we do what we have t do. Love is infinite, it grows and if a third child had happened, we’d have made it work.

Here’s to being in my forties, though and not having to worry about that sort of thing.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Building Friendships

Once upon a time, I had a lot of friends. Elementary school, high school and college were all very conducive to building friendships. You were tossed together with a bunch of other people your own age and friendships formed. It was great.

My best friends these days are those I met in college. I don't see any of them more than a few times a year but we communicate via phone, email and yes, Facebook often enough that I feel like our friendships are still thriving.

But they aren't next door like they were once upon a time in college. I miss that. I miss being able to go to a movie with a girl friend, knowing there was someone down the hall/street I could call and go for a walk with.

Alyssa has a friend over today. She's a very, very nice girl. They're both being really good to Olivia, which is always nice.

Alyssa spent the night with this same friend a couple of weeks ago. When T's mom dropped Alyssa off, she mentioned she was attending a wedding this weekend in Toledo and I suggested that if she didn't already have someone to stay with T, that T come over here and stay.

She, T's mom, was so relieved by the offer.

I could see becoming actual friends with T's mom. Which is a nice feeling.

I do have a another friend I met during Alyssa's kindergarten year. B is a great woman with sweet little girls the same ages as A and O. We do hang out too but mostly when we're attending something that involves one or more of our girls.

And maybe that's it. Maybe at this point in my life, my friendships are going to center around my kids and their activities. That's okay. As long as there can be moments here and there where I feel like I'm Tommie, not just A's or O's mom.

Friday, January 25, 2013


Olivia came home with a note from school yesterday. It had a frown circled and beside it was a description of behavior that is not acceptable at school.

She refused to hang up her coat and backpack. Even after the teacher told her to do so several times. When the teacher went to ‘help’ her do this task, Olivia refused to walk with her and stuck her tongue out at her teacher repeatedly.

She ended up on the timeout chair.

This is not the Olivia we know at home. I don’t know what is going on. Maybe she’s more comfortable at school these days and is willing to push her boundaries but this is not the way to go about it.

I tried to ask her why she behaved this way and she just shrugged. I’m not sure she even understands what I’m asking. Which is part of what is so frustrating with a child like Olivia. She can be so verbal, appear so cognizant of what’s going on but then she pulls something like this and then can’t even explain why.

I don’t want to put words into her mouth so I hate to ask leading questions. Instead, I ask questions like, “What is happening at school that makes you feel like you should do something like that?”

At one point, she told me she was going to put her whole class in jail. I asked her why she’d want to do that and she replied, “Because they hate me.”

Oh. Oh my mommy’s heart just broke right there.

Except then she grinned and said, “But I’ll put my teacher in a princess castle instead.”

Why would she say her class hates her? Where is this coming from?

My mom suggested that Olivia might need to be homeschooled. Great, sure, no problem. Except, who is going to do the schooling? Me? I’m at work 40 hours a week, and that’s not including the half hour drive each way every day.

Then my mom pointed out that O’s currently in school all of three hours a day anyway, so I could work out a schooling schedule for the evenings and weekends.

Again, great plan, but who will care for her while I’m at work? Tom actually does work too. Yes, he works from home and so he’s able to care for her during the morning hours before sending her off to school but he needs those afternoon hours to get work done too. I know on the days the girls stay home with him, he struggles to get anything done. I understand that. I can’t get much done beyond a load of laundry or two while home with the little hooligans.

So…homeschooling probably isn’t the solution.

Quite honestly, I think Olivia needs the structure of school. She needs to learn what is appropriate behavior and what isn’t. And I have every confidence that she’s capable of learning this. I know she’s got it in her.

I just need to figure out what’s motivating these outbursts of naughtiness. She hasn’t been like this at home. She’s loving, obedient, playful.

I do wonder if she was trying to be playful instead of defiant and doesn’t yet know the difference.

I hope after the discussions I had with her last night, the ones Tom’s having with her today and the fact that she lost fingernail polish privileges for the next few days she understands that this is not funny, it’s not a game, it is not acceptable.

I guess we’ll see.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Oh Livie...

I got another email from O’s teacher again today. Apparently, O’s having a hard time concentrating in class. She said that they (the main teacher, the aide and the therapists) are only giving Olivia one or two step directions and Olivia isn’t able to follow them.

Ugh! This is so frustrating because this is not what we’re seeing at home.

Aren’t kids supposed to be way brattier at home than they are at school?

I can tell Olivia, “Go into the living room, pick up your socks and take them to the laundry basket by the stairs.”

And she’ll do it.

Yes, she often decides she doesn’t care if Tom tells her not to throw her napkin on the floor and will do it anyway but that has nothing to do with concentration and everything to do with pushing her dad’s buttons.

I don’t know what to do to make her work harder in school.

I replied to her teacher that we aren’t seeing behaviors like that at home and that I’m not sure what the problem is. I did tell her that I will be making an appointment for O with her developmental pediatrician for March, but that won’t help the immediate problem they’re having. I also mentioned that O does have a cold right now, but that doesn’t explain the last three weeks.

I so appreciate that we have teachers who are communicative and open to suggestion. I just wish I had some suggestions.

Olivia can be stubborn, she can get tired and just shut down and maybe that’s it. Maybe she’s tired but even if she is, I will be reminding her that when she’s at school she needs to listen to her teachers. I know how frustrating it can be to work with a child who just won’t listen. I don’t want O to get a reputation for being a difficult child. Oh wait, we might be too late for that. Sigh.

One day at a time, right?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Spilling Over

I mentioned that one of my new year’s resolutions was to have a weekly game night with Alyssa. I did this because I feel like, at ten, she’s on that cusp, about to step farther away from me than she’s ever been and I wanted to come up with a way to keep her close even as I let her spread her wings.

We all want to protect our children and yet we have to let them grow and learn and become independent of us. It’s so hard. She’s still so little in so many ways.

Reading to Olivia every evening means she gets my undivided attention every single day for at least those moments when we’re on the couch with books on our laps.

I wanted to give that kind of time and attention to Alyssa.

Yes, we still get our snuggle time in each evening after O’s asleep but I wanted something that would be fun, would be sort of a distraction that would still allow her to talk to me if she wanted/needed to.

I’ve heard of parents using time in the car to bring up tough subjects because it allows conversation without eye contact. Games can do that too.

Sometimes eye contact is hard when the topic is really personal or deep. So a game, something you can look at as you bring up a subject that’s been on your mind. I wanted to lay that ground work, make it a habit, a good one, that we can continue as she gets older and life gets more complicated.

The last two evenings when I’ve arrived at my mom’s to pick up the girls, my mom and Alyssa have been playing a game. Monday it was Rummikub and yesterday it was Triominos.

I love that my resolution is spilling over into other areas of our lives. I love that my mom is taking the time to play games with Alyssa too, giving her (A) the time and attention she needs from all of us.

Yes, we do sometimes play a game that Olivia can play too, but she often gets bored about three turns in and takes off anyway. So often, I’ll just wink at Alyssa when O asks to play, our silent communication that we’ll let O play for as long as she wants because we know she won’t play for long. Heck, most Saturday nights O’s asleep long before the game A and I are playing ends. So it’s win/win as far as I’m concerned. Olivia thinks she’s playing along and in the end, Alyssa gets my undivided attention.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Good Points

That post yesterday, the one about the IEP feeling like a slap in the face, yeah. So, a few friends made some good points about that.

One: An IEP sets up goals for an entire academic year. So yes, half way through the year, we can’t expect Olivia to have achieved each and every goal, if she had, that would mean we hadn’t set up very challenging goals for her and we want to challenge her, we want her to work hard to achieve these goals.

Two: The IEP is a tool for us, Olivia’s family, to see to it that she gets the services she needs, deserves. If we don’t make her goals challenging, she could lose services and she needs those services, such as PT, OT and ST. As much as I’d love to hear at our next IEP meeting that she no longer needs these services, I don’t expect that to happen. But I’d really not want to hear that she no longer qualifies for the services while she still needs them.

So the IEP is a good thing. I know this. We have an amazing team working with Olivia. She has wonderful therapists that she enjoys. One of the good things mentioned in the IEP report is that Olivia is talking, actually conversing with her therapists more and more these days.

We’ve noticed at home that she will speak to me or my mom or Alyssa in front of other people more. She used to whisper or want to pull me to the side to talk to me if others were within earshot. Now, she just comes up, says what she has to say or asks her question and goes about her business. I love that she’s letting the world hear her voice.

Speaking of her voice, it is not high pitched like a lot of people seem to expect of a child with 5p- syndrome. Her voice is very similar to the voices of her peers, though it can still be on the quiet side. But hearing her argue with her sister? She’s got a set of lungs on her, that’s for sure.

I guess I just wanted to follow up my little whine about IEPs with a celebration of them. Olivia definitely benefits from hers and I know this. I just sometimes have to be reminded of it every so often by some pretty amazing friends.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Progress Reports

The girls’ school sends report cards home every nine weeks. This school doesn’t use the ABC grade scale. The girls’ report cards come home with U for usually, S for sometimes, and R for rarely.

There is also M for meets expectations, P for progressing toward expectation and B for below expectations. After three years of report cards, I still have to use the key at the top of the reports to tell me what I’m looking at.

Alyssa’s was pretty much what I expected. She got Us (usually) for all the appropriate behavior patterns, such as being courteous in class. She is either meeting or progressing toward meeting the expectations of classwork. She didn’t get any Bs (below expectations.) She was thrilled to show me and Tom this report card. We were thrilled to read it.

Olivia…surprised us. The report card, the criteria on which the entire class is graded, was good. She only had two Bs. One was for cutting along curved lines. Tom and I were both thrilled with this report card. I exclaimed that according to this, she’s having a really good year.

Because he’d seen the reports first, Tom agreed but then said, “But the other report tells a different story.”

Ah yes, the other report. The IEP progress report. The one that not every other kid has, the one that ‘grades’ her on criteria other than her classroom progress that is comparable to her classmates.

The IEP report wasn’t quite as glowing. Olivia isn’t started conversations with her peers or the adults with whom she comes into contact while at school. Or, she’s not doing it as consistently as they’d like to see.

She has been observed in the hallway commenting to a classmate about something, though, so we’re getting there. And it is only the middle of the year.

There were several other areas that she’s doing well and a few where she’s only making minimal progress.

IEPs are a good thing. I know this. I tell myself that we do need this for her if only to make sure she receives the services she needs to reach her fullest potential. But I feel for her because she’s being rated on so many levels beyond that which her peers are being judged. And while I know it’s necessary, it still makes me a little sad for her.

It’s just one of those areas where we’re jolted out of our merry little version of normal and reminded that we’re still on this side of ordinary.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Nothing Says Love Like...

There are so many ways to say I love you. And as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.

I show my family every single day how much I love them by making lunches, dinners, going to work to earn money to pay our bills, and reading, cuddling and even disciplining my children.

Tom shows us how much he loves us by fixing the furnace when it breaks, by working hard every day to supplement my income to pay our bills. He fixes the girls breakfast each morning and gets them on the bus.

Yes, we say the words often but these actions really do mean a lot.

Today I baked cookies, not because I want to eat them (low carb for me equals no cookies. Poor me) but because my family wanted them. Sugar cookies were Alyssa's request and chocolate chip were Tom's. So two batches were made.

Olivia didn't care so much about the cookies as the did about the makeup I lightly applied to her face this morning. She wanted a 'make over', which, to her, means eye shadow, mascara and lipstick. So there is it. Love.

We're very blessed to be able to wallow in the love we have for each other. I feel lucky to be at a place in my life where I know, right now, how lucky I am. This happiness isn't something I'm taking for granted.

Friday, January 18, 2013

This Side of the Diagnosis

I was asked recently to write a post for a site I’ve been a part of for over five years. The topic of my post was birth defects because January is Birth Defect Awareness Month. I wrote a sort of stream of consciousness post about the beginning with Olivia, the two years before we got her diagnosis but still knew something was wrong as well as about the day we got the confirmation that she has 5p- syndrome.

I realized as I typed that I don’t write about 5p- syndrome here much. I almost ended that last sentence with ‘anymore’ but I don’t know if I ever really concentrated on her actual diagnosis as much as I did on her and Alyssa and yes, even Tom, much to his mild annoyance. Heh.

We are almost four years away from the day we got O’s diagnosis. But we’re still living each and every day with her, and who she is and how she is and all the joy and yes, frustration, that can bring. Quite honestly, I often feel like a fraud.

Am I really the mother of a child with special needs? Does she really have a birth defect? She can appear so…dare I say it? Normal.

And most days, she is just Olivia, the 5p- diagnosis is not at the forefront of our minds. We think about what most every other family thinks about, getting breakfast on the table, lunches packed, hair brushed, the girls on the bus and later, what in the world to make for dinner.

But then come the days where I get multiple emails/notes from O’s teacher and I feel it, that pang that comes when I’m slapped in the face by special needs. She needs extra help, she needs patience, she needs expectations. She needs…what every other child out there needs, regardless of whether their needs are special or not.

Alyssa can be just as needy as Olivia, often more so as she becomes a moody preteen. She sees how much help and attention that O gets and it frustrates her that her sister is so demanding. This means I take extra time with my older daughter to be sure she knows that I love her as much as her sister, that her sister’s diagnosis didn’t buy her extra love.

It’s a tough line to walk but we walk it every single day because that’s what parents do. Parents walk lines of discipline, lines of indulgences. We face challenges every single day, whether those challenges are brought on by a birth defect or just a moody ten year old, it doesn’t matter.

Life with a six year old diagnosed with 5p- syndrome is probably very much like life with a six year old that wasn’t diagnosed with a birth defect. At least I think life with MY six year old with 5p- syndrome is like that.

Here are the things she does that Alyssa did when she was six. Olivia dresses herself, she feeds herself, she puts her own shoes on (but we do tie them for her.) She writes her name and traces the letter of the week, she counts to 49 but only stops there because she’d bored, not because she doesn’t know what comes next.

She climbs stairs the way everyone else does, she runs, she somersaults from one end of the house to the other. She laughs at sarcasm, especially when it’s directed at her sister. She pushes her sister’s buttons just to see her explode.

This birth defect didn’t defeat us. It challenged us and I’m proud to say we all, Tom, Alyssa, Olivia and I rose to the challenge. We took it on and we made it normal. Our normal.

I know we’re lucky that she doesn’t have lingering medical issues. That is one thing I know we dodged. But even if we hadn’t, I’d like to think we’d have figured it out anyway. That’s what life is all about, taking the challenges and making them work for you.

To that end, I will say that I don’t see Olivia as defective. She is who she is and I think she’s perfectly amazing.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Project: Silent Kindness

Last night I spoke kindly to Olivia, laying out the plan for the night. I told her gently yet cheerfully that if she woke up that night, she was going to just lay there and then roll over and go back to sleep.

She blinked at me.

I continued with, “You’re going to just stay in the bed with Lyssie and sleep and sleep and sleep, right? You aren’t going to need to get up and come to Mom’s bed at all, are you?”

Blink, blink, blinkblinkblink.

And then we went about our night.

At about 11:30, a good four hours after she’d gone to sleep, I felt a tap, tap, tap on my shoulder. I ignored the tapping for several seconds.

She tapped again, silently.

I finally rolled over and, like her, silently pulled her into bed.

I’m trying to make coming to be with me less inviting and pleasant than I’ve done in the past. But I want to do this kindly rather than angrily. So silence it is. There will be no hushed whispers of love or goodnights. No, she gets plenty of that in the waking hours.

I want her to learn that night time is for sleep, not for seeking me out.

I know this is a long process and it’s very, very boring blog fodder. For that I apologize. But this is our life right now and that’s the whole point of this blog thing anyway, so there you have it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Last Minute

Last fall, I asked Alyssa what she wanted to do to celebrate her birthday. Yes, it was the fall and yes, I was asking about a January birthday, but I don’t like to leave things to the last minute.

She decided that she wanted to have her birthday party at the gym where she takes gymnastics class.

Okay. Great. I got the paperwork from the lady who works the front desk and asked her about the logistics of planning a party. She said I would give her the date, she’d check with the coach and let me know if it worked.

I originally selected January 12, it was just two days before A’s birthday. Great, wonderful. She wrote down our name and the date.

And I heard nothing one way or the other.

December came and went and on the first Thursday after the new year, the first class Alyssa attended, I asked again about the party.

The lady gave me a confused look and asked if I’d checked with Miss M. about the date.

Uh, no. I thought that was something the lady at the front desk did. No, she said, I was the one who needed to talk to the coach.

And guess which coach wasn’t at the class that night? That’s right, Alyssa’s. So I said I’d talk to her the next week but in that case, we’d need to move the party to January 19th because, well, asking about the 12th was not going to work if you were asking about it on the 10th.


I was still nervous about having to see if the 19th worked because that was still only giving us 9 days before the actual party to get invitations out to Alyssa’s friends/family. I felt like we were pushing it as is.

On the 10th, we arrived at class to find that Miss M was, thankfully, in attendance. Wheee! I asked her if she’d be available to be there for A’s birthday party on the 19th. She said she thought she could but she really needed to go home and check her family calendar and get back to me.

I replied that I understood but it would be great if she could get back to me as soon as possible so that we could get invitations to Alyssa’s friends. She said she’d get back to us soon.

And then she didn’t. The weekend came and went. Monday passed with no word.

Tuesday afternoon, January 15th, she called and left me a voice mail at 8:15am saying that January 19th worked great for her for the party and I could just call her to let her know what time.

Uh, wait. That is four days to get invitations to friends and hopefully hear back if they could come or not. I felt bad enough about the idea of sending them the Friday before, which would have been eight days before the party. There is no way I was going to send out invitations on the 16th, which would have been the earliest I could get them to the school, for a party on the 19th. That felt like extreme rudeness on my part.

I called her back and very politely told her that at this point, the 19th was not going to work for us because it was just all too last minute to get invitations out. I asked, still as polite as possible, if she could maybe check her calendar and see if she has time open during either of the first two weekends in February. I said I’d talk to her on Thursday after Alyssa’s class to see what day worked for her.

I have not yet put down a deposit so I’m not out anything except my own frustration and time. I feel like this has been so much harder than it had to be. If the lady at the front desk had told me to talk to the coach myself, I’d have done so. I’m one of those people who just want to know what I need to do to make something happen. I mean, look at my whole house buying experience.

I feel awful for Alyssa, though I will say that at ten, she’s been great. She understands that sometimes celebrations have to be postponed and she’s fine with it as long as it actually happens.

I feel like at this rate, we’ll be throwing her a pool party in July to celebrate her birthday and half-birthday because this whole gymnastics party thing is turning out to be a lot of freaking work. (Not that we usually throw half-birthday parties…that’s just a little, um, extreme.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

On Having a Ten Year Old

So yes, Alyssa turned ten yesterday. It was a lovely day for her. I’d made cupcakes on Sunday and Tom took them to her class yesterday. He went one step further and picked up juice boxes to take too. He’s an awesome Mr. Mom. Or rather, he’s a pretty awesome dad.

As I watched my big girl blow out her candles last night, I realized that I’m not one of those people who look at their suddenly big kids and wonder where the time went. You won’t hear me lamenting, “How is it that my baaaybeeee is ten years old? How can *I* have a ten year old?”

No, I feel like we’ve earned these ten years. Yes, they’ve flown by but I also feel like I’ve been present for each and every day of the past ten years. Alyssa has learned and grown and matured and made awesome friends and done well in school and had her tonsils out and I’ve been there for each of those things.

I realize that sometimes, people say things like “Where have the years gone?” partly because they think they’re supposed to say that. But I don’t feel that way.

And I’m certainly not surprised to find myself the mother of a ten year old. I mean, come on. I was 32 when she was born. I’m plenty old enough to have a ten year old. Hell, I’m old enough to have a 20 year old.

Olivia has asked several times, “Is Lyssie going to be ten forever?”

Obviously, we’ve made a big deal out of Alyssa turning ten. I mean, come on, it’s double digits, baby!

I always reply that no, Alyssa won’t be ten forever, she’ll just be ten for a year. But then I remember that to a six year old, a year can feel like forever.

Then again, to a tired mom with a child who go back to sleep, the hours between 1am and 4am can feel like forever.

All in all, I’m pretty excited to have a ten year old and I can tell you, she’s just as excited, if not more so, to be ten.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Ten Years Later - A Birth Story

The girls love to hear about when they were born and then when they were babies. Olivia can often heard asking me to tell her what it was like when she was a baby.

Maybe this is why, ten whole years later, I remember Alyssa’s birth like it was yesterday. Then again, I might remember it this well even if we didn’t talk about it. This was the event that made me a mom. Alyssa loves to hear that. It makes her special.

I had a doctor’s appointment on Monday, January 13, 2003. It took place at 11:30. The doctor measured my 38 week, 5 day stomach, did an internal exam and told me that birth could occur at any time. But, he also pointed out, there was nothing going on with my cervix.

As we were leaving, he mentioned almost in passing, “You know. A lot of my patients have a lot of luck with castor oil bringing on labor. It won’t do anything at all if baby’s not ready to be born, though.”

I took in that information and left the office.

In the parking lot, I turned to Tom and said, “We’re not doing that.”

He asked, “Why not? It might move things along.”

Well. Okay then.

I stopped at a drug store on my way back to work and picked up a small bottle of castor oil and a bottle of orange juice.

The very thought makes me gag now but I put two caps full of that nasty stuff in the juice and downed it. Then I finished out my day at work.

I made the hour drive home and made myself some dinner. Tom was asleep in preparation for his 3rd shift job.

I didn’t feel quite well, but not nearly what I’d expected from that horrible castor oil. I laid on the floor most of the evening, watching television. At 9:15, I got up to use the bathroom and on the way, thought I’d peed my pants. Then I realized I still had to pee. It appeared my water had broken.

I called my mom, wondering what to do. Duh.

I woke Tom up and he called in to work.

I called the hospital maternity floor and they told me I needed to go there and get checked. Tom and I grabbed the bag I’d packed a month before and headed north, making the same one hour drive I’d made earlier in the day.

I felt lucky that I wasn’t in active labor because I think the trip would have been excruciating if I had been.

We got to the hospital around midnight and they checked me. Yep, the waters had broken. But my cervix was still locked up tight. Tom and I were told to try and sleep.

We were both too giddy to sleep, we were going to be meeting our baby soon. We did manage to doze even as we pondered back and forth whether we were having a boy or a girl. We hadn’t been able to find out at my one ultrasound at sixteen weeks.

At 8am the nurse came in to start an IV and get me started on Pitocin since labor was most definitely not starting on its own.

My mom showed up with coffee for Tom. She knows my husband too well.

Labor started soon after the Pitocin started to drip into my veins. It wasn’t that bad at first.

My biggest problem was that I had to pee every fifteen minutes. It was awful because I’d have to drag my IV pole with me each time. I’d have a contraction on the way to the bathroom, while in the bathroom and on the way back to the bed.

At around noon, I was moaning my way through contractions, holding tight to the rails on the bed just to get through them. My nurse gave me some Nubain, a narcotic to ease the pain. What it really did was allow me to sleep during the two minutes between contractions.

My room began to fill out as family members stopped by to see how things were going. At one point one of my aunts, who meant well I’m sure, began to provide counter pressure on my back. Except, there was nothing to counter, so she was basically just digging her fists into my lower back. It hurt like a bitch!

After she finally left the room, I whimpered to my mom and Tom, “Please don’t let her touch me again.”

They both asked why I hadn’t said something while she was doing it. I replied that I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. That particular aunt is very sensitive. Both my mom and Tom laughed and told me that at this point, I’m allowed to hurt anyone’s feeling who might be hurting me.

I shrugged and went back to clinging to the bedrail. A few times during the laboring hours, my nurse would come in and try to help me into positions that might help labor along but all the did was irritate me so I always ended up back on the bed, leaving it every fifteen minutes to pee.

A little after 1:00pm I suggested to my nurse that I might like to try that whole ‘walking epidural’ thing I’d heard about. She checked my progress and said I was at 6cm. She told me she’d request the medicine if I really wanted her to but she was worried that if they did it, it would stall my progress. Then she told me I was doing so well she hated to see that.

Okay, fine, I decided to forgo the epidural and continued doze between contractions.

The doctor finally showed up at about 2:00. He checked me and said things were going well. He expected us to see a baby in the next hour or so.

I sure hoped so because I was so tired.

Fifteen minutes later, the nurse checked me yet again and said it was time to push. Everyone except Tom and my mom were ushered out of the room. The nurses began pulled the bed I was on apart, and wonders of wonders, the doctor inserted a catheter and for the first time in almost eight hours, I felt my stupid bladder empty. Apparently, the baby had been in the perfect position to keep my from emptying my bladder all those times I’d gotten up to pee. It was sweet, sweet relief.

My mom was on my left side, Tom on my right and the doctor in the catching position. The doctor asked, “Okay, pink or blue?”

Tom guessed blue, I admitted I had no clue and my mom voted for pink.

Two nurses flanked the doctor. One of those nurses gave me advice on how to push. She was great. She reminded me to try not to make any sounds because that just took energy away from my pushes.

I don’t remember how many pushes it took but it was about a half hour of pushing and there was our baby.

Tom leaned in and whispered, “We have a baby girl.” I love, love, love that he was the one who said those words.

They put Alyssa on the warming table and she just looked around, appearing a bit stunned by everything that was going on. I asked why she wasn’t crying. The doctor assured me she’d cry soon, that she was perfect.

She was born at 2:47pm ten years ago today. She has amazed me in some way every single day for the past ten years. This is the girl who made me a mom.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

She Did It!

Alyssa spent an entire night away from home, not at her Gram's house but instead at a friend's house, a friend she'd never even visited for a couple of hours.

T's mom brought Alyssa home this afternoon around 2:00. I'd been watching for her since noon because she'd originally told me that was when Alyssa would be home. Alyssa said something about T's mom having plans that were cancelled and that was apparently why they were two hours later than planned.

And you know, I'm pretty easy going. But honestly, if you're going to be two hours late getting my child home, even my ten year old child, it sure would be nice to receive a phone call or text. It really wasn't that big a deal. I know this paragraph doesn't say that but I just kind of wanted to know what was going on.

Well, that and when O's here with just me, she's sort of a cling-on (as opposed to a Klingon, which would be sort of cool, if scary, since, well, neither Tom nor I are Klingons and it would be odd if one of our children were an alien, especially an alien whose race tends toward violence...)

Oh wait, where was I? Yes, she's clingy. When it's just us, she wants to be right next to me, either down doing laundry, sitting on the couch, laying on the floor playing her version of checkers. It's a chess board with all the men out and assigned to different family members and we move them around telling stories. It's not nearly exciting as it sounds. Well, maybe it is to Olivia, we played that for over a half hour this morning.

I'm not a big fan of playing with my kids. I know how bad that sounds but there you go. So it's nice having them both home so they can entertain each other while I sit and laugh at them.

Mother of the year? Probably not.

My excuse today is that I've had a minor headache since I started this low carb diet. It sucks.

What doesn't suck? I've lost over 8 pounds in the past week and a half.

But that headache sort of makes even the silliest, simplest things a little harder to enjoy.

Tomorrow we're making cupcakes for Tom to take Alyssa's class on Monday for her birthday. That ought to be fun.

Friday, January 11, 2013


Tom called me once yesterday before leaving the house to take the girls to the health department for their flu mist. He wanted to know where their immunization records were and to get their birth dates and social security numbers, just in case.

He called me three more times from the health department.

The first time he called, I answered with, “There are forms, aren’t there?”

And he muttered, “Of course there are forms.”

Tom hates forms. He hates filling out forms. He dreads filling out forms and sort of loses his mind whenever faced with a form.

The first call was to ask me how we spell Alyssa’s middle name. Which…really?

Apparently, he’d spelled it one way on the form and Alyssa, who watches everything we do, informed him he’d spelled it wrong. She then told him the correct spelling. He called me to settle the argument. Alyssa was right. I mean, she’ll be ten years old on Monday, the girls knows how to spell her own middle name. She’s also heard the story behind why we spell it the way we do several times. And for the record, we spell her name in a perfectly normal, non-made up way. It’s the way most girls with that name would spell it.


The second time he called was to get the date of Alyssa’s tonsillectomy. She’d already told him it was in early October, but once again, he either didn’t believe her or that wasn’t specific enough. I told him the exact date and we were all happy.

The third and final time he called to find out when both girls had last had to take a trip to Urgent Care. I didn’t have specific dates for those events but was able to narrow it down for him.

I feel for him. I don’t mind forms so I don’t exactly understand him but I do feel for his frustration. I assured him that if I could have taken the girls that day, I totally would have. I’d have filled those forms out for him. But he’s a trooper, he managed. Just as I always knew he would in the event of a form emergency.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


My girls are like most (all?) kids, they don’t like to receive shots.

Yet, like most parents (this time, I know it’s not all) I make them get their shots. My girls are fully vaccinated. It’s just how we roll. I know there are those out there who choose to go on a delayed schedule or decide not to vaccinate at all. I’m not making judgments.

My mom asked me last night if the girls had received their flu shots. She’d read/heard that 18 children have died so far this year of the flu.

I wonder if most if not all of those kids had underlying issues but I’d rather not take chances.

I admitted, though, that they had not had a flu shot or mist this year.

I called our doctor today. I was informed that they administer the mist to children but…they’re out of it and will not be getting more.

I resigned myself to hoping and praying that my girls aren’t exposed to the flu this year and even if they are, I can hope and pray that it’s a mild case.

My mom called, hero that she is, and said she’d called our county health department. They have the shot (mist?) and will administer it to children. They only do this on Thursdays.

What do you know? Today is Thursday!!! And get this…today they have extended hours, they’re giving shots until 6:30! Oh, the fun that can be had around these parts.

But, wahhh, Alyssa has gymnastics today. Her class starts at 6:15. I get out of work at 4:30. I have time to drive to my mom’s, gather the girls and get back on the road to make it back to town on time for the class. There is no way I can get there, get them to the health department (eight miles in the opposite direction of A’s gym) and then get back in time for the gymnastics class.

So…I called Tom. I told him all that had occurred in the past 24 hours. I suggested he go get the girls, like now, take them to get their vaccinations and then take them home, where I will meet them in time to take them back with me to gymnastics.

And he went for it. So he gets a hero badge too. He also gets to be the bad guy if the vaccination comes in shot form instead of mist. Win, win and win again, at least for me.

He did ask me if the shots were free. I told him I didn’t know but even if they aren’t…and he stopped me, finishing my sentence with, “They need them whether they’re free or not.”

Sometimes, it's almost as if he can read my mind.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


I got an email from O’s teacher yesterday. It read:

“Hi Tommie,
I am having some concerns with Olivia. Every day since the beginning of the year, we have been practicing the letter of the day, writing our name, and also writing letters on the backs of our papers. I’m sure you have seen many of these come home with Olivia. Up until now, Olivia has been able to do all of this on her own without a problem. Now that we have returned from break, she will not even attempt to write any of the letters, she simply scribbles on her paper. We seem to be really having a bit of trouble getting her to focus even when we are sitting with her, giving her reminders and guiding her. I was wondering if you had been noticing anything different at home?”

I responded with:

“Thank you for sharing your concerns.

I’ll be honest and let you know that her time at home over the holiday was pretty lax. We didn’t work on much school-wise, which may be part of the problem.

She’s also not been sleeping well lately (as in for the past week or so), waking me up several times in the night, tossing and turning. I don’t know if tiredness might be affecting her concentration in class. I put her to bed at the usual time each night (between 7:30 and 8:00) but she tends to wake around 11:00 and then toss and turn (and even try to talk to me) sometimes for up to two hours.

She’s still eating well, so I don’t think she’s getting sick but I’ll keep an eye on that.

My husband and I will talk tonight and start working with Olivia that much more on her writing and concentration.

Thank you again for letting me know how it’s going in the classroom. We definitely want to stay on top of any issues and concerns that crop up.

One more thing, Olivia has a dentist appointment on January 30. She needs a couple of fillings but we weren’t able to get her in any sooner. Her teeth might be causing her pain, which might be causing her concentration problems.”

The thing is, I think this might just be Olivia. I think she’s going to need another week or so to settle back into the routine of school. I’m not making excuses for her but I know that sometimes, things take a little longer for her than they do for others her age. And I sort of wish her teachers would cut her just a little bit of slack.

She’s basically a good kid. She’s funny and sweet and yes, she likes to scribble on paper but I feel like that’s more of a developmental thing than a behavioral. She’s still in the very early stages of writing. This is part of that stage. She’s learning at her own pace and trying to figure out where she fits in.

I like her teacher. I do. I like her a lot. I think she works hard to keep the kids engaged and wants them all to succeed. But I think she might need to redefine ‘success’ when it comes to Olivia. Heck, there are days when I feel like we’ve reached a point of success when we don’t have a potty accident (at school. At home, it’s been months and months and months since we’ve had an accident.)

I feel like the fact that she can write her name is success.

Olivia amazes me every single day and I want her to know that. I want the world to see how amazing she is instead of comparing her to seven other kids her age and finding her accomplishments to be subpar. It makes me sad to think that this is happening and I need to figure out how to fix it for her.

On the other hand, I did remind her this morning that when she got to school, she needed to try hard to concentrate on the work her teacher assigned her. I told her that when it was letter writing time, she needed to actually write the letters instead of scribbling. A little reinforcement can’t hurt, right?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A First

Alyssa came home one day last week and said that her friend, T, kept asking her (Alyssa) to come over to her (T’s) house and spend the night.

I asked Alyssa if this is something she actually wants to do or if she wants me to be the mean mom and say she can’t.

She gave it some thought and decided that yes, she really did want to spend the night with her friend T.

And here is where my own neuroses come in. I am vaguely relieved that Alyssa’s first sleepover experience with a non-related person is with this particular friend. And why am I relieved, you ask? Because I’m a horrible person who doesn’t not trust teenage boys around my nine year old daughter (and I won’t trust them when she’s 16 or even 19 but we’ll face that when we have to.) T’s mom is a widow and T has an older sister.

So, that means there are no strange men or boys whom I’ve never met around my sleeping daughter.

I know. It’s probably crazy to worry about that but I can’t help it.

And those of you with sons, I’m sorry for feeling this way. I know that YOUR sons are awesome, wonderful people who would never hurt anyone. I do know this. But I don’t know the brothers of her friends and so I don’t trust them. I’m sorry for that but there it is.

She came home last night and announced, “T wants me to spend the night this Friday.”

She looked at me expectantly. I asked again if she actually wanted to do this. She swears she does.

So I called T’s mom to make sure this wasn’t something A and T had cooked up between them or if T’s mom was in on the whole thing.

She is. She’s also okay with the fact that bedtime might roll around and Alyssa might need me to come get her.

So we’re going to give it a try.

My baby is growing up and it scares the crap out of me.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Game Night

The moment I mentioned that Alyssa that I wanted to have a game night with her each week in 2013, she latched on to that idea and clung tight. Because I mentioned the idea two weeks before 2013 even started, we actually managed to get two game nights played in 2012.

Alyssa craves my attention. She believes, with her whole little heart that Olivia get the majority of my attention and when you’re ten, attention might as well be love. And her perception is her truth, that I can’t deny. I can tell her over and over that I don’t think I give O more attention but if Alyssa sees it that way, it is that way for her.

I don’t think she consciously believes that I love Olivia more than I love her. At least I hope she doesn’t think I love her sister more. But Alyssa definitely keeps track of the things I do for her sister and is good at making sure she gets her share of me.

I’m okay with this. I understand that sometimes actions are more important than words and just because I tell her I love her all the time, having me show it through touches, snuggles and yes, game night mean so much to her.

So we’ve played. We’ve played Yahtzee, Life (the game of), Jumanji, and this past Saturday, IUopoly (the Indiana University version of Monopoly.)

After our two and a half hour game, which ended only because the bank was out of money, Alyssa leaned back with a satisfied sigh and said, “Now I know why you wouldn’t want to play games every night. That was a lot of work.”

She’s a smart one, that girl. And I hope she grows up knowing how lucky I feel to have her here, wanting my attention, my love, my devotion. I hope she knows how much of all that she’s got, that she’s had it all since before she was even born.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Bare Minimum

It's been one of those weekends where I think I've managed to do the least amount possible and not feel like I've completely ignored all my responsibilities.

I wo'nt list everything that did get done but I'm also not going to list everything that went undone.

Sometimes, we just need to slow down and if the kitchen doesn't get mopped...well, so be it.

Maybe it's because this is my first weekend home on my new eating plan. But ugh, I kind of am not happy about it all. During the week, it's fine, no big deal but here at home? It sucks.

We're not exactly wallowing in filth around here, though, so no worries. And everyone is being fed and even tickled now and then.

I'm just adjusting. Maybe not even well.


Friday, January 4, 2013

An Exercise in Bowling

I think I mentioned that we took the girls bowling on New Year’s Eve. We got there just about when the alley opened, around 1:00pm, thinking we needed to get there early to be sure we didn’t have to wait for a lane.

Ha. Hahahahaha. There was one other group of four people bowling. The lady behind the counter asked us if we had a specific lane we wanted.

I managed to not laugh and said instead, “This is her first time bowling. Like, ever.”

I pointed to Alyssa, who is currently four feet, eleven and a half inches tall. She’ll be ten next week and she’s aching to be five feet tall.

The bowling alley lady asked if we wanted bumpers.

Tom said he didn’t think Alyssa needed them.

I disagreed. I mean, remember that point I made about her never having bowled before?

The lady put us on a lane that has bumpers but didn’t put them up for the first game.

Olivia couldn’t hold the four pound ball in her tiny, weak little hands so she just drank a fruit punch and ran around in her socks, declaring often that she was quite glad that her socks had ‘grippies’ so she didn’t fall on the slippery, slidy floor.

Alyssa’s first game of bowling ever ended with a score of 21. Let’s remember that was without bumpers. She was actually pretty happy with that score. I was proud of her.

Tom went up and asked that the bumpers be put up for her. And okay, for me too. My score that first game? A paltry 98. I know. I was ashamed of myself. So close to 100 but…not quite.

Let’s not talk about Tom’s score. I’ll just say that his increased from game one to game two, as did mine and Alyssa. Alas, Tom didn’t actually need the bumpers to help in that endeavor.

Alyssa’s second game ended with a score of 54. She’s awesome that girl. Though, she did manage to bowl a couple of gutter balls even with the bumpers in place. She was so proud of herself for more than doubling her first score.

She wanted to play a third game but we stopped at two. My thumb was starting to hurt and I knew that since we didn’t do this very often (ever?) I’d probably feel the pain brought on by different yet repetitious movement the next day. All that and Olivia’s fruit punch was gone.

The next morning, Alyssa rolled out of bed with a groan. She said her calves hurt. And then she walked around the house like a ninety year old woman for the rest of the day.

I laughed as I told Tom that she’s not used to sore muscles. When you’re not quite ten but usually very, very active, you don’t tend to get sore muscles all that often. But bowling apparently used muscles in her legs that don’t often get a workout. Poor kid. I gave her some Tylenol and told her to walk it off.

I, on the other hand, managed to avoid any muscle soreness. I know, funny, huh?

We all had so much fun bowling that I hope we’ll make it a family tradition to go bowling on New Year’s Eve. I can just see us dragging a mopey 17 year old Alyssa with us, her grumbling the entire way about how lame it is to have to spend a couple of hours with her stupid, OLD parents and her annoying little sister.

I also hope that next year, when she’s SEVEN, Olivia’s hands (and arms..and legs?) will be strong enough for her to roll a four pound ball down the lane. It could totally happen.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Mama is Mean

Last night, as is usual, Olivia came to join me in my little twin bed at about 11:15. She snuggled in, resting on my arm and went right back to sleep.

I had a blanket over my eyes to block the light of the alarm clock. Why do they make those numbers so big and so bright? Ugh!!

About an hour later, I rolled away from her, my arm aching from being straight and having the weight of her head on it.

Ten minutes after I rolled away from her, Olivia sat up and asked, “Can you help me find my ballet slipper? I lost it.”

And, well, I’m ashamed to admit that I sort of lost it too. I became irrationally angry when she made that request.

I was tired, it was just after midnight and I was so angry that I was awake. I muttered, “Why do you keep waking me up? Why is that slipper that important? Go back to sleep!”

Then I stormed from the room (I’m so very mature.) I made my way to the bathroom by the glaring light of the alarm clock.

And once in there, I heard Olivia burst into tears. Damn. She threw herself off the bed and followed me into the bathroom, wiping her tears and sniffling.

At first, I was still so angry I didn’t even want to look at her. She’s six years old. I think she should be sleeping through the freaking night without any help from me. I think that waking me up to find a ballet slipper that had fallen between the bed and the wall to nestle on the floor beneath the bed was a bad choice on her part.

But I also know she’s not a typical six year old. And she’s used to me being more pleasant in the night (most of the time.) She didn’t know that the simple request would make me lose my mind.

I picked her up and carried her back to bed. But I didn’t snuggle her close or even wipe her tears for her. I just muttered, “Go back to sleep.” I said this after I fished her ballet slipper out from under the bed.

An hour after that, I left her in the twin bed and went to the mattress on the floor. There I slept fitfully for about two hours before she joined me. At that point, she told me her pull up was disgusting.

I told her to take it off, then. And the guilt hit. I rolled over to find her taking it off. I helped and then did pull her close, my hands warming the chilled skin on her legs.

I want to be a good mom. I want to be kind and loving and sympathetic.

But I also want to sleep. She’s six years old. Waking me up four times in the night is not okay, not anymore.

Tonight, I’m going to try and lay down some rules and then I’ll try to be kindly consistent with them. I don’t want to be mean in the night. I don’t want to make my little girl cry. But I do want her to sleep and only come to me when she really, really needs me, like if she’s sick or if she’s had a bad dream. Finding a lost ballet slipper at 12:30am is not an emergency in my book. But I do realize it was one to her.

So it continues.

And yes, I need to get a new alarm clock, one that doesn’t have enormous, insanely bright numbers. I’ve had this one for years and it’s only in the past month or so that the light and size of the numbers has bothered me. I must be getting cranky in my old age.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Diet vs Exercise

I’ve been told quite often by people who think they know that the best way to lose weight is to exercise.

Those people who think they know? They are men. They think they know better than I do what works for my body.

Okay, I’ll be honest. My husband is one of those people. He honestly believes that exercise is very, very important and he feels that if a person is active enough, they can eat whatever they want and maintain a svelte, healthy physique.

I disagree with him vehemently and I’m not afraid to tell him so.

See, way back when I was in my last year of college, I worked out every single day. I got up around 6am and went to the IU’s health and fitness facility and worked out.

And I’ll say right here that I hated every single minute of it. I hated it so, so much.

But I did it because at the time I bought into the idea that exercise is more important than diet.

So I’d work out every morning and I’d go back to my residence hall and I’d eat breakfast and then I’d go back to my room and sleep for another couple/few/several hours.

I was the maid of honor in Julie’s wedding that summer after our last year of college. When we went and got fitted for our dresses I assured the woman who was measuring me that the size she put on me wouldn’t fit come June because I was working out. I was just sure, so very, very sure that I’d be at least one size smaller by the time the wedding date rolled around.

Imagine my surprise and complete dismay when the wedding date did finally roll around and there I was, fitting perfectly into the size 14 that the woman at the dress place had put me in several months ago.

I decided then and there that exercise sucked. It absolutely wasn’t worth the effort if it didn’t even give me the results I’d been promised.

That summer, I stopped exercising and I also sort of stopped eating. Not really. But kind of. I went on a pretty calorically restrictive diet.

And I lost weight. I lost a lot of weight.

That settled it. I realized that the myth of exercise doesn’t work for me the way that the fact of calorie control does.

Which is why I started the South Beach diet today but I have no plans whatsoever to start an exercise program. I will lose weight for my brother’s July wedding and I’ll do it my way.

I know that Jillian Michael’s would kick my butt for saying all this but for me, it’s true.

Okay, so maybe, just maybe, once July gets here and I’ve managed to be at least one size smaller than I am today, I’ll consider adding some exercise into my schedule. I know it can’t hurt and it might actually help.

But I make no promises.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013: A Look Forward

Ahh, a new year. New resolutions, new goals, new dreams.

2013 promises to be a wonderful year.

Alyssa will turn ten in a couple of weeks. Double digits, dudes! She's planning a gymnastics party. Should be great fun. She has some pretty terrific friends and we're excited about her party. This will be her last year to be able to show her age on two hands. Luckily, she actually speaks these days and so holding up fingers isn't quite as necessary as it was a few years ago.

My brother is getting married in July. I'm finding that helping plan a wedding is way more fun when it isn't my own. Angel, my future sister-in-law is so sweet and easy-going. I did tell her that if she feels like I'm being pushy or channeling our lovely Aunt Lorry, who is wonderful and generous and bossy as hell, she (Angel) should tell me. I promised not to be offended.

2013 Resolutions:

-Game night with Alyssa each week. We're going to shoot for Saturday afternoons/evenings but if it happens on Sunday or even during the week once in awhile, that's fine too. As she gets older and more independent, I realize how much I want to keep her close, to keep her talking to me and knowing I'm here. Having these evenings playing games will keep us connected and we both need that.

-Date night with Tom once a month. Wouldn't that be lovely? Even if it's just asking my mom to keep the girls on a Friday evening and we get Subway and sit at home watching Rambo, I want to stay connected with him. I know that my marriage is important and I'm trying to make it a priority. Motherhood has been pretty intense these past ten years and I think there have been more than a few times when my husband has felt as if he comes third in my world. I'd like to change that for all of us.

I hope to continue the routines we formed last year, the reading to Olivia and the donations to Reece's Rainbow. Those are important things and I know I can make them happen. I already did for a year and it was wonderful.

As far as weight loss, I've already said I don't want to resolve to make that happen. I plan to start phase one of South Beach tomorrow. Today is our last calorice free-for-all. Tom's bringing me home a Dr. Pepper because he's just that kind of awesome husband.

Tomorrow I'll be packing the Excedrin and the salad fixings. To be honest, I'm actually looking forward to the new eating plan. I'm already picturing myself thin. And isn't that half the battle?

I'm so excited for this new year. We've always liked the number 13 around here.