Thursday, February 28, 2013


Okay, I’ll admit it, I watched Celebrity Wife Swap the other night. You know the one (even if you won’t admit it) where Kate Goslin and Kendra Whatshername lived in each other’s homes for a week.

So yes, I watched it. And I’ll say right here that I know there are people who hate Kate with the fire of a thousand suns but I think she’s really got it together. Can be she a bitch? Of course, but when you’re raising eight kids and dealing with idiots (her children are not the idiots, just so you know) she kind of sometimes has to be a bitch.

Kendra…she was kind of stupidly adorable. She is a pampered ex-playboy playmate who got a little teary at the idea that Kate’s kids had a bunch of chores to do each day and worried that they weren’t being allowed to be kids.

Ha! Hahahahah.

After the show was over, I went into the bathroom where, just a couple of hours before Alyssa had taken a shower. I was welcomed by three damp towels in a pile on the floor and her dirty clothes tossed into a corner. It hit me that Alyssa did not learn a single thing that night as I picked up her towels and her dirty clothes.

I think Kate has the right idea when it comes to chores. And I think it is time for my TEN year old to start doing chores.

Let me state right here that I do not think cleaning up after oneself is a chore. No, that’s just taking care of your own things. So no, putting clothes in the hamper will not count as a chore. But putting dishes away? Yes, that is a chore.

So here I am, striving to be more like Kate Goslin. Who’d have thought it ever possible?

I need to come up with some chores for Alyssa to do because I think it’s the right thing. I think she needs the responsibility of chores. I think she needs to understand what goes into the running of our household and that towels do not hang themselves nor do dishes wash themselves.

I’m going to use the coming days to come up with age-appropriate chores for both of my children even as I continue to gently (and perhaps sometimes not so gently) remind them to pick up after themselves because that’s what people in our house do because it makes life better for us all.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I almost hate to say this for fear the karmic powers that be will hear me type out the words and smite me for being stupid enough to do it but here to goes…things are good these days.

Sure, Alyssa has a cold and can be quite the pre-teen pill and Olivia hasn’t slept through the night in about two weeks but other than those trivialities, we’re good.

School seems to be going well for both girls. I always consider no communication from the school to be good news. In the past few months, I’d come to dread the ping of my email, fearing it would be a message from Olivia’s teacher telling me something had gone wrong that day.

But so far, she’s had a great month.

I’m way sick of winter (as I type this, we’re getting more snow) but then I remind myself that March is all of two days away and that means spring is sort of around the corner. Wheee! In fact, a couple of weeks ago, Tom pointed out that my hyacinth plants were pushing through the frozen ground.

So yeah, good.

Eight weeks into my current weight-loss program and I’m twenty four and a half pounds down. Hell yeah, I’m counting that half pound! It makes me feel that much closer to twenty five. I take what I can get when it comes to motivation.

I kind of like this undramatic life. Yes, it makes for boring blogging but you know what? Boring is okay with me if it means my children are healthy and happy and my husband and I are the same.

Like I said…good.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Perfect Prize

You know those gumball machines in grocery stores and restaurants? The ones that you put a quarter (or two, these days) in, turn the knob and it gives you either candy, gum or a junky plastic trinket?

Yeah, those. Last weekend I stopped by our local Chinese food restaurant to pick up some hot and sour soup. As the girls and I were leaving, Olivia spied the wall of machines. She glanced up at me, hopeful.

I nodded and started going through my wallet for quarters. Olivia went back to the machines and tried to decide what she wanted. Did she want some candy? A gumball?

No, she decided. She wanted one of those stretchy, sticky hands that you can wing across the room and have it stick to the wall, leaving a nice grease stain.

The picture on the machine showed a variety of items you might get. A hand, a foot, even a frog. Olivia was beside herself with excitement over what it might be when that little plastic bubble dropped into the slot that lets the prize out.

She gently lifted the lid and pulled out her toy. Then she tried to pry the lid off the case and…it wouldn’t budge.

I handed my soup to Alyssa and took the thing from Olivia, trying to pry it myself. Nope. Alyssa handed me the soup back and tried her hand at pulling the lid off the case to see what treasure it held.

Nope. Not happening. We headed to the car to try there, out of the cold.

Alyssa tried again in the car while Olivia bounced in her car seat, waiting to see what it was.

I took the stupid thing back and used a key to pry the lid off. Before I got the plastic wrap off the sticky thing, I said to Olivia, “Ohhh, Livie, I think it’s lips!! How perfect.”

And it was. It was a pair of lips at the end of the handle, lips she could fling about, collecting all kinds of dust and lint.

She was in love! She put those lips up to her own lips and declared that she had “mommy lips.” Ha! Whatever that means.

She’s bathed with those lips, fallen asleep with them clutched in her hands, washed them several times to get some of the gunk off them. Four days later, they’re no longer sticky but they’re still stretchy and she’s still as infatuated with them as ever.

Alyssa asked this morning if she could poke a hole in the lips. Olivia looked at her in horror, as if Alyssa had asked if she could punch the tooth fairy in the face. Alyssa qualified her question, “If you ever don’t like it anymore.”

Olivia clutched those lips to her chest protectively and walked away, shaking her head in disgust.

If ever there was a perfect present, those lips were it for Olivia. Quite a bargain for $.50.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Parenting the Pre-teen

Kids don’t come with a manual that tells you how to take care of them. We all know that. We know that we have to learn as we go.

What I’m learning these days that it’s not easy to parent a pre-teen. Maybe it’s no harder than parenting an infant or a toddler or even a six to eight year old but it’d definitely different and since Alyssa’s my first pre-teen, I’m learning as we go.

She’s totally over me laying out clothes for her, which, fine. Okay. Except I have let her know that I have to approve any outfit she chooses to wear to school. I’ve had to remind her that leggings are not pants. If she’s going to wear leggings, the shirt she wears with them has to cover her butt…entirely. Not just hang down to mid-cheek.

She sighs and stomps back upstairs to see what she can find.

And usually it’s fine in the end. But the attitude of a pre-teen can get tiresome. She’s usually so loving and a pretty happy kid but when she thinks you’re being unfair? Watch out.

I know this is all normal and expected.

I love that she’s growing and changing and learning who she is. Want that for both of my girls.

But the moodiness that is coming with being a pre-teen is exhausting. And her poor little sister has to deal too. The sister who was, just ten minutes ago, chasing you around the room and being silly is suddenly screaming at you to leave her alone, that can be so confusing.

I know, though, that this time is as hard for A as it is for the rest of us. She’s just as confused by her moods as we are. She’s trying to figure out where she fits in this world, in school, at home. In so many ways she’s still a little girl, playing with her horses or dogs and running around after her sister and giggling.

At other times she’s experimenting with make-up (only on the weekends when we’re not going anywhere) and picking her own books at the library, discovering what subjects interest her and why. I’m so happy that she’s a reader, that she enjoys sitting down and getting lost in the pages of a book.

Gymnastics still brings her great joy as she learns to trust her body and gains strength. Having grown three inches in the past six months can make a girl feel gangly if she isn’t comfortable in her own skin. These days, Alyssa is loving having hit the five foot mark.

She’s also noticing commercials and has commented a few times during some of the hair care ads that she wishes her hair looked like the models’ hair. I’m always so worried I might say the wrong thing at times like this. Want her to know how beautiful she is and how amazing I think she is just the way she is. But I also remember wanting shiny, perfect hair too. I’ve told her that anyone’s hair can look that shiny if they have a bunch of stylists doing their hair right before the video is made. Then I point out how great her hair looks right that minute. This is such a hard road to navigate. I want her to take pride in herself, in her strength, her beauty, her intelligence. I hope to derail the comparisons that almost seem inevitable.

Right now boys are still gross and for that I’m exceedingly grateful. But I know it’s coming and I hope she’ll continue to talk to me, to let me help her navigate this strange new world and all the scary, exciting things that are just around the corner.

Friday, February 22, 2013


Olivia will tell you she’s beautiful. She’ll prance around a room after being given what she calls a makeover, going up to every single person in that room and asking if they recognize her. She’s just sure, so very sure, that the small smudges of eye shadow, the whisper of blush and the swipe of lipstick have transformed her into a whole new person.

When I ask her if she knows how much I love her, Olivia will laugh and nod, always very sure of her place in my heart.

Olivia’s confidence in herself is amazing. She will tell you that she’s a very fast runner, that she climbs really well and that she looks beautiful in pink. She’ll remind everyone who will listen how well she can count and tell time (with a digital clock, we’re working on the other.)

She’s the very best at doing forward rolls. Don’t believe me? Just ask her.

I hope she always has this confidence, this sense of self that doesn’t take the opinions of others into account when she decides how she feels about herself.

I wish I had half the self-confidence she has. I did, once but social pressures took a lot of it away and I’ve been trying to get it back ever since.

I would like to protect both of my girls from the pain of peer pressure and the loss of self-confidence. I would like them to always know they’re beautiful, unique, special, strong, smart and loved.

Most of all, I want them to always love themselves as much as I love them. To know how amazing they are and relish that knowledge even as they go about the world making it a better place.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

On Being Okay

There is something to be said for being in the moment, for knowing that this is a good time and place to be and for embracing the happiness that can often only seems evident in retrospect.

At the risk of being smited by the evil sprite Karma, I have to say that things are good right now.

I am okay with where we all, with our life as it is unfolding. We go about our days and I try to soak it in, these moments when Alyssa still wants me to braid her hair and Olivia still needs me get her water.

These days are so fleeting and yet often seem to drag, the monotony of it all feeling like quicksand dragging me down.

But when I concentrate on the sweet moments, the fun moments, the moments that are likely to stop before I’m ready, I can bask in the monotony, the predictability of our lives.

Olivia was a little off yesterday. Even Alyssa said during breakfast that she didn’t think Olivia felt very good.

Today? She was her usual bouncy self, following me upstairs while I braided Alyssa’s hair in what she (A) called the Katniss braid. Olivia laughed when I tossed her favorite blanket down the stairs and it landed on her head.

Tom didn’t feel well last weekend and he was a grump because of it. I kept encouraging him to go upstairs and lay down so he wouldn’t be bothered by the noise the non-sick girls were making. Instead of listening to my orders advice, he slept on the recliner, limped to the bathroom, and glared at me and the girls.

We, of course, didn’t take is personally because he really was sick. But yes, I’m so, so glad he’s feeling better.

I feel like the farther I get into this parenting schtick, I realize I need to learn to be happy with being okay. Am I the best mother around? Probably not. But I am the best mother Alyssa and Olivia could have. No one in this world could love these little girls more than I do.

Do I let them watch too much television? Probably. But they also run and play and imagine and dream and read. So it’s a balance that we continually tweak in an attempt to get it right.

I am learning to be okay with who I am, to stop saying derogatory things about myself. I’ve even learned to stop mid-sentence if I realize that what I was about to say was no so nice.

It’s a start. Is there still a long way to go? Yes. But that’s okay too.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Taking Her Time

This morning Olivia slept late. She didn’t wake up until 6:45, which is very late for her. She’s usually awake by 5:30 with the first quiet murmurs out of my radio alarm clock. I have it set low in hopes of not waking her. Alas, her mother is a snoozer, so if the first doesn’t get her, the next five probably will.

But this morning, she slept through all my snoozes, my actually getting up, and even Alyssa turning on the bathroom light right outside the room.

When she and I finally made our way to the kitchen where Tom was making her Rice Krispies and I was gathering the things I’d pack into Alyssa’s and my lunch, Olivia was still a little groggy.

I asked her cheerfully what the letter of the week was. She looked at me. She thought about it. She considered whether or not she even remembered from the day before.

Alyssa cheated and looked at the paper on the counter O’s teacher sent home with their schedule for the week. This schedule tells us what letter they’re practicing.

I shushed Alyssa and told her to let Olivia tell us.

Olivia sashayed over to the table and started to eat her cereal. She glanced up at us, noticed we were waiting for her to tell us the letter of the week and she put up a finger, indicating she wanted to take a bite of breakfast first.

Then she held up both hands, as if to shush the already silent room.

She said, “When I tell you the letter of the week…”

We waited. Alyssa sighed. I glared at her. Tom grumbled and I shot him a glare too.

Finally, Olivia continued, “When I tell you, we’re going to have…a party!”

Then she took several more bites of her cereal.

Alyssa started to say the letter and Tom and I both stopped her.

Tom tried to leave the room and Olivia called him back, “Daddy! I’m going to tell you the letter of the week!”

He turned back.

She declared, “The letter of the week is…J!”

And we all clapped and had a little dance party. She giggled and went back to her food.

See, sometimes it takes her a little time but she usually gets around to the things that are asked of her. She often needs a little more time to process what she’s been asked and that’s okay. As long as everyone around her is willing to give her the time needed to do what we know she can do.

One think I've learned about Olivia is that she's on her own schedule. She doesn't care even a little about what her peers are doing and whether or not she can do those things too. She often decides to do something (oh, like say, WALK) after seeing someone else do it (hello, Jaxon) but she has to want to do it for it to happen.

She wanted us to wait for that little announcement this morning and she got her way.

She usually does.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Milking It

I don’t like milk. I don’t like whole milk, skim milk, 2% milk or 1% milk. I don’t like chocolate milk or strawberry milk. I don’t like soy milk or any other product that is meant to replace cow milk.

Ick. Hate.

But Tom is a big champion of the nutritional wonders of milk. When I was pregnant with Alyssa, he encouraged me to drink the vile stuff.

I tried. I really did. But when morning sickness hit with a vengeance at eight weeks and didn’t stop until 20 weeks, I gave up on it. I made the deal with Tom that when I managed to go an entire week without throwing up, I’d try to milk routine again. Alas, I never went an entire week the entire pregnancy without throwing up at least once.

So…no milk for me or Alyssa.

And guess what? She doesn’t like it either. But since Tom is the boss of her, he makes her drink it.
He’s tried to get me to give it to her too but I can’t do it. I’ve told him that I cannot in good conscience make my child drink something she hates as much as I hate. And, I remind him, we feed her other foods that are rich in calcium and vitamin D. She eats a pretty good variety of foods and so, while I don’t stop him from pouring her that glass of milk every few nights for dinner, I won’t do it myself.

Olivia? She loves the stuff.

And for the record, I didn’t drink it during my pregnancy with her either. Though I ‘only’ threw up every day from week ten to week twenty with her, I again, never went an entire week without tossing my cookies and so, the no-milk rule continued. So obviously, there is no correlation to the idea of Alyssa hating it because I refused to drink it while pregnant with her.

Tom’s pretty sure, though, that Alyssa doesn’t like it because she’s heard me say I don’t. Which…whatever! She happens to love diet Pepsi (introduced to her by the very man who insists she drink milk) and I hate that stuff too and have said so on many occasions. So there you go.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Just a Glimpse

I was able to go to Olivia’s class last Thursday for their Valentine’s party. We took heart-shaped brownies frosted pink and little bags with small gifts for her classmates. It’s easy to do that when there are only eight kids in a class.

During the party, the kids played musical chairs twice. Each time, the first kid out was the other girl in the class, Lillian. She didn’t sit because she wanted to control the music. She basically, she quit after each round.

Olivia was the second kid out each time. I watched her as the rounded the chairs with all those boys. She was having a great time and loved being included but each time the music ended, she stood there and watched the boys take all the chairs. She was never bothered by the fact that she was done playing but I think the processing that is necessary for a game like musical chairs is one of O’s biggest delays. She can’t process the fact that the music is off and that means she needs to find an empty chair fast enough to actually continue in the game.

And that’s okay. ‘Losing’ at musical chairs isn’t the end of the world.

She was excited to have me there, in her classroom, watching her play and run and be silly. She’d run up to me, tell me she was having so much fun and then make another lap around the room.

There were crafts that mostly involved stickers as well as a few that challenged the fine motor skills of the students. Those were great.

At one point, I was hovering over Olivia during one of the sticker crafts and one of the boys either did or said something that I missed. Olivia laughed. The boy glowered at her and said, “It wasn’t funny.”

She laughed again and told him, “Yes it was.”

Ha!! I love that she wasn’t intimidated by her classmate. I love that she talked to him even if it was to sort of make him mad. He didn’t get mad, he just went back to his own stickers. But she did talk to him, she replied appropriately to something he’d said. That is a big deal in Olivia’s social development.

For the past two years her teachers have said that she doesn’t really interact with her peers. And I’ve seen that this is mostly true. But she’s making progress in that direction. It may be slow-going but I’m never going to scoff at progress.

It was a lovely afternoon, a moment in time when I was able to see what happens during Olivia’s day when I’m not usually there. It’s moments like those that let me know that she really is going to be okay. Special? Yes, but also very much okay.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

First Born

I'm reading a book right now that has two sisters. The narrator is the older sister, the 'smart' one, the competent one. The one their mother says she never has to worry about. The younger sister is the 'pretty' one, the flighty one, the one their mother constantly worries about.

Obviously it resonates.

I worry that I'm the mom from the book, the mom who neglects her older, competent daughter if only because her younger daughter is so much needier.

I do worry about Alyssa, though. I worry that she doesn't get the attention she needs and deserves. I worry about her future as much as I worry about Olivia's. I worry that there will be pressure on Alyssa from me, from extended family, from herself, to care for her sister when they're older.

I hope she will want to be there for her sister but I never want her to feel burdened. I want her to have as many opportunities to be carefree and chances to follow her dreams as any other person out there.

I don't want to be that mom who is constantly reminding her older child to take care of the younger sibling. I don't want to forget that Alyssa is an individual, a person with thoughts, feelings, dreams and hopes just like everyone else. I want to nurture those hopes and dreams and make her life about her, not about her sister's special needs.

I hope that by being aware of the possibility for this will make me a more mindful, more present to Alyssa and Olivia alike.

Olivia has dreams too and it is up to me as her mother to help her make them come true. It is not Alyssa's responsibility to make sure her sister's hopes and dreams are realized.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Just Another Thursday

One day a week for the past three weeks I’ve been home with Tom and Olivia during the morning routine.

When I am home, Olivia expects me to do all the parenting. She’d rather Tom just make himself scarce.

Except, I think she appreciates him being there to remind me of the routine they’ve both perfected. The first Wednesday I took O to an early dentist appointment. We didn’t get home until about 10:30. At that point, Tom watched me make Olivia’s toast/banana/berries morning snack. It was almost as if he forgot that I’ve made toast and sliced a banana before.

After the toast has been buttered to his satisfaction, we made our way to the recliner because that’s where he feeds Olivia her morning snack. He watched every single bite I gave her. Not really a big deal but I started to think that he’d forgotten that I do actually make sure she eats on the weekends and even the week nights during dinner.

Ahem. After snack, he ‘helped’ me make her lunch. I know. I think the poor kids was very much overfed that morning. But she ate it so huh, she must have been hungry.

Then he made sure I knew how to watch for the bus. Insert eye rolling.

The very next Wednesday was more of the same. I felt like I had supervised visitation with my child.

Yesterday, though…Tom was sick. So sick he sat/lay on the recliner all morning/afternoon/evening. Every so often he’d give out a moan. Olivia asked him at one point why he kept making those noises. He told her to be quiet. Ha!

Due to his illness, Tom couldn’t supervise the morning routine and you know what? Olivia and I managed quite well on our own.

After I made Alyssa’s lunch while the girls ate their Lucky Charms, I put a batch of cookies in the oven. While the cookies baked, Alyssa helped me fill eight fancy bags to give away at Olivia’s V-day party.

We got Alyssa safely on the bus and Olivia and I headed upstairs where she lounged in front of the space heater, cooking her feet while I showered.

Then she and I went to the basement where we put in a load of laundry.

Upon returning upstairs, O asked if I would put in the movie Barbie: Princess Charm School. Would I? Of course I would because it would give me a chance to cut the brownies into heart shapes without O laying on the floor at my feet, trying to trip and kill me every three seconds.

I cut while she watched, only interrupting me twice, once to help her find her Barbie: Princess Charm School book and a second time to help her find a ‘fancy’ outfit.

Once the brownies were in cute heart shapes and frosted a nice Valentiney pink, we went back to the basement to move the laundry from the washer to the dryer. And then!! It was time for O’s morning snack.

Guess what? I made the toast, cut the banana and put the berries in the bowl all by myself!! And since Tom was moaning in the recliner, Olivia ate at the kitchen table.

While she ate, I put the pickles Alyssa wanted me to bring to her class V-day party in a travel bowl. Pickles. Sort of weird and yet refreshingly salty. Who knew today’s fourth graders enjoy pickles so much?

After snack, I brushed Olivia’s teeth and we drove eight miles to our county health department where Olivia got her second flu booster. When the lady gave her the shot, Olivia hissed and said, “Ahhhhhowwww.”

Then she gave the woman a look that clearly said, “What the hell?”

But there were no tears because there was instead a band aid with Ronald McDonald. So cool!

We went home where Olivia at her lunch, again with only me to make it. And we watched for the bus.

After taking her to school (we watched for the bus, waved it on and then followed it to the school so I could go in and ask her teacher what time the party started.) I went home for all of a half hour and then went back to the school for the parties.

I sort of wish this were my typical Thursday. I’d love to spend the mornings with my littlest and then the afternoons with both.

Alas, someone has to provide this family with insurance.

And lest anyone think I was ever actually offended by Tom’s ‘supervision.’ I wasn’t. Not really. I actually found it funny and when I consider the fact that maybe he just wants to be near me and Livie on the days I’m there with them, it’s actually kind of sweet. And I will give him the credit of actually developing the schedule they both love so much. Who am I to mess with what works?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

V-Day Prep

Tomorrow is the big day. It will be filled with love and hearts and chocolate and cookies and pickles and…wait, just to be sure everyone understands, Valentine’s Day is no longer about me and Tom as a couple. Oh no, it’s about the girls and their school parties.

I took tomorrow off work so I could do all that needs to be done and go to the school and hang out in Olivia’s class while the kiddos each brownies frosted with pink frosting and open cards they can’t yet read and hand out little gift bags to their friends.

Lest you think Alyssa is being left out, oh no, not at all. I will drop a dish filled with pickles and another with two types of cookies at her class.

I spent the Christmas party with Alyssa in her classroom and it was agreed that I’d spend the V-day party with Olivia in her room. Once you have a sibling, you just have to share your mom. That’s the rule.

But the real prep starts tonight when I bake the brownies, the two batches of cookies and stuff the grab bags with goodies.

This has to happen tonight because tomorrow will be filled with other stuff. Stuff like taking Olivia to our county health department for her second flu booster, then taking her to school. After that, I’ll go back home, gather the stuff for the parties and go back to the school.

After the parties, I’ll take the girls home, feed them something other than sugar and then we’ll head back to town for Alyssa’s gymnastics class.

It’ll be almost like being a stay at home mom, except I’ll know that the next day I’ll be back at work, a slave to The Man.

Okay, so perhaps that’s a little dramatic. Perhaps.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


I had to fill a prescription for Olivia before her dentist appointment last week. I dropped of the prescription at the pharmacy and walked away. Twenty minutes later I was called back to the counter. Apparently they didn’t have O’s new prescription card. This card was new back in April of 2012.

It surprised me that we hadn’t had to get prescription medicine for Olivia in over ten months. She’s really not sick all that often but there for a while it seemed like we were pushing antibiotics into her every couple of months.

I paused in that moment and thanked God and the stars and leprechauns that Olivia is so healthy. I know how lucky we are.

I have a lot of ‘friends’ on Facebook with kids affected by 5p- syndrome. These people are amazing and give me so much perspective when it comes to Olivia and all the things she can do and will do. The very fact that she currently takes no medications at all is amazing when you think about everything than can happen to a person with 5p-.

When she was two and first diagnosed, her doctor told me to put her back on whole milk to help her gain weight.

I agreed to do this but mentioned my concern over constipation becoming more of an issue with the addition of whole milk to her diet.

The doctor off-handedly said that Miralax works very well at helping ease constipation. I took that under advisement, deciding we’d wait and see.

See…I realize that Miralax is a wonderful thing and I’m grateful that it’s out there for those who need it. But I wanted to see if we could adjust O’s diet in ways to keep her off even a medicine like Miralax. She’s got enough going on in her little system that I’d like to keep chemicals to a minimum.

So we give her apple juice a few times a week. And we make sure her food intake is varied and has plenty of fiber.

But I think the biggest bonus to O’s regularity is the fact that Tom, her daily morning caregiver is on the OCD side of the spectrum.

He’s got her on a schedule. This schedule starts with breakfast, leads to practice writing, then to morning snack, then poo time, then lunch and teeth brushing. Then they change her into her school clothes, put her shoes and coat on her and wait for the bus.

This is their morning. Every morning. And it works for them both. Olivia’s little body seems to like this schedule because it makes pooing easier, a habit if you will. Tom did this because he feared her having to go at school. Whatever the reason I’m so, so grateful that we can keep her un-medicated, letting her body work on its own.

This is not a judgment against anyone who does medicate. I realize that sometimes, it’s the only thing that works. We just got lucky enough to find something else that works. If it ever stops working? I’ll be the first in line to purchase a case of Miralax to make my girl comfortable.

Monday, February 11, 2013


My girls like me. They like me a lot. As evidenced by that last post about bath time, they would prefer to be next to me even in their sleep. I understand this because I felt the same way about my own mother. If we were in the same house, I liked to be near her, even if we were both reading at the ends of the couch. I enjoyed knowing we were breathing the same air, sitting there, not even talking.

Yesterday afternoon, Tom and I kept coming up with reasons I might need to go to our local small grocery store. First, I wondered if we needed milk. We decided it could wait until today when I could get it for less at Walmart. I know but…we’re not exactly rich around here and we need to cut costs where we can.

Then we talked about how I’d forgotten to get napkins while shopping on Saturday. Should I go get them?

No, again, it could wait.

But the ice cream situation…it could not wait. Not if everyone, Tom, Alyssa and Olivia were to get the serving they all wanted last night.

So it was decided I’d go get some ice cream.

I put on my coat and boots, Tom gave me cash and Alyssa kissed me goodbye.

Olivia followed me too the door and asked, “Where are you going?”

I told her I was going to the store and she and Lyssie were going to stay at home with Daddy.

She stared at me. She blinked. She blinked again.

I asked her if she wanted to go with me.

She smiled and nodded.

I smiled back and went to get her a shirt. She was wearing one of Alyssa’s smaller sports bras and a pair of pants. They’d been playing like that pretty much all day.

I told her to put her on her boots even though she didn’t have socks. It was just a trip to the grocery store.

After I’d put on her coat we headed for the door. She stopped and asked, “Can I take a cookie to eat in my car seat?”

I’d made a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies. How could I deny such a request?

I got her a cookie while Tom gave her some milk in a sippy for the road.

She had that cookie eaten and milk drained before we were two miles down the road. It’s a good thing since the store is only three miles awa.

She bounced into the store, so happy to be with me. We got the ice cream and headed the register. Once there we had to wait behind two other customers. Olivia glanced over the magazine rack and said, “Did you buy a new magazine this week?”

I admitted that I hadn’t. She raised her eyebrows at me. Finally, she suggested, “Do you think we need a new poo magazine?”

I agreed that we probably did. She likes to read US Weekly and In Touch while pooing each day. And hey, until you have a child who has a syndrome that is prone to constipation, don’t judge. It helps her relax which helps her gigantic poos come out. And it keeps her off medication to relieve the constipation. Always a win as far as I'm concerned. So yes, we bought a new gossip magazine for her to ‘read’ while pooing. Best $2.99 I spend every week.

I let her carry the magazine out of the store and she announced she was going to read it on the way home. I carried the ice cream and told her that was a great idea.

It was just a small trip but it meant the world to a sweet six year old who can’t seem to get enough of me. How lucky am I to have her?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Not Guilty

It is my habit on the weekends to take a hot bath after the girls are asleep. It's my alone time, my time to read, relax, soak up the solitude and unwind from a day of non-stop parenting.

This past Friday night 9pm rolled around and I suggested to a sleepy Alyssa that it might be time to go to bed.

She asked me if I was going to take a bath.

I said I wasn't sure, maybe. Probably.

She settled against the couch and said, "Let's go to bed in a minute."

About ten minutes later, she said, "I'll go to bed now if I can get a pillow and blanket and lay by the tub while you take your bath."

Umm, no. That was not happening. The whole point of the bath is...well, see the first paragraph of this post. It does not include the company of a ten year old lying beside the tub, probably asking what I'm doing or even wanting to play with a toy in my water. No thank you.

And you know what? I felt no guilt whatsoever at denying her request.

I'm a pretty lenient mother. I let a lot of things go. I even give in probably more often than I should. I bend over backward to try and make my children happy. But this time? I was not giving in. I wasn't going to give up one of my two nights a week when I am completely, totally alone.

I took her to bed, tucked her in and kissed her good night. I still felt no guilt over.

I have to remind myself often that I'm a pretty good mom. I do my best and love my girls to bits. They know this, even if they also know that I'm not going to let them join me while I take my late-night baths.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


I have a great life. I know this. I celebrate it. There are so many good things going on for us these days. Alyssa is doing wonderfully well in her gymnastics class as well as school.

Olivia talks all the time, no matter who is around, which is awesome and thrilling.

Tom and I are good. Very good, in fact.

And yet the monotony of our day to day lives is getting to me.

I know this is because it’s February and winter and that sucks all the way around. We get up, we go to work/school, we come home, we eat dinner, clean up after dinner, read books, scratch backs and go to bed so we can do it all again.

Thursdays are our one night that differs and Thursdays make me twitch with boredom. Okay, so it’s probably bad to admit that sitting in a room with other parents, attempting to entertain Olivia for an hour while Alyssa does her best in her class is boring but oh dear heaven it is so, so boring.

Saturdays bring us to the grocery store and the library and sometimes, out to eat for lunch but I get so tired of eating at McD’s and DQ. Those are the girls’ two choices. Ugh!

I bought a new mat for in front of my kitchen sink a couple of weeks ago. It’s lovely and is inspiring me to bring some of the colors in that mat into the kitchen. But right now, in the middle of February, I can’t be bothered.

I know. Wah, wah, wah. Woe is me.

Except I don’t feel woe. I feel good. Just bored, I guess.

We need to shake things up. I’ll figure it out.

On the bright side of February, I’m 19.5 pounds down since January 2. I’m feeling pretty darned good about that. Though admittedly, I stepped on the scale three times in hopes of making it go that one extra half pound. Alas, nothing doing. On the even brighter side, I know that it will come off in the next week so there's always that to which I look forward.

Friday, February 8, 2013

All Warmed Up

I mentioned a few posts back that Tom’s gotten in the habit of turning on the space heater in the bathroom each morning before I get up. It’s a very thoughtful thing for him to do, one of the many things he does to show his love.

He knows I’m pretty much always cold and that little thing, plugging in and turning on that space heater really helps me start the day with a smile.

I told him a week ago that my car wasn’t heating up as much as it once had. He suggested that it was practically an arctic tundra outside and that it would take a while for any vehicle to blow warm air.

I let it go.

But then this week, I noticed that my car’s temperature gauge was running hotter than usual and since we’re still living in the arctic, I mentioned it to Tom because it was weird that it should run hot when, like I said, it’s flipping cold outside.

He told me to pop the hood when I got home and he’d take a look at it.

After looking at the, I don’t know, engine…he determined that the radiator needed heat and he added a gallon of anti-freeze.

The next morning, my car was blowing warm air onto my freezing toes within two miles of my commute.

Ahhh, heat. It’s my language of love.

This morning, Tom announced that he has to blow out the furnace again. He has to do this once a month during the winter months to keep the furnace running. We believe the previous owner of our house, who was also the builder, put in a furnace that is actually too small for our house. And get this…that guy was a heating/cooling guy. I think he went cheap.

But thankfully, Tom’s very capable of doing what needs to be done to keep the heat blowing from the registers.

He really does know the way to my heart, is what I’m saying.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Back to the Dentist

Olivia and I made the forty-five minute drive back to the pediatric dentist today to have her teeth worked on.

And by worked on, I mean, there were two tiny issues with two of her lower, back teeth. The teeth were right beside each other, so the dentist didn’t think it was going to be that big a deal.

Except…he worried about Olivia and how she’d react. He was gently concerned about having to restrain her to get the work done. He kindly pointed out that at six, she’s old enough to remember this stuff and he didn’t want to traumatize her.

He wanted to know how hard I wanted him to push to get the work done. He reminded me that it wasn’t major work, just a small filling and some sealant. But he was the one who had to help get x-rays last week and so he understood that she might fight them.

Olivia doesn’t quite grasp authority the way Alyssa does. If you’re doing something that hurts Olivia, she doesn’t care if you’re ‘in charge’ or if you’re doing it because it’s in her best interests. She wants you to stop and she’ll let you know it.

I told the dentist that I didn’t want her to be strapped down but if an assistant had to hold her hands for a few minutes, that would be fine.

In the end, she was amazingly brave. The dentist was so proud of her and let me know that she didn’t even have to have her hands held. She wiggled a little, he said, but then he told me that they learn to deal with that in dental school when they’re becoming pediatric dentists.

I really can’t say enough about this dentist and his practice. Everyone is so kind and reassuring.

We’re going to continue to go to our family dentist for cleanings and check-ups but this will definitely be the place we go for any further work. And since kids with 5p- tend to have plaque issues, I’m afraid we’ll be in for more work. Thank goodness we’ve found someone we trust to treat Olivia as well as she deserves.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Tooth, the Whole Tooth, Nothing but the Tooth

As is our usual, I called Tom before leaving town to head home yesterday to see if we needed anything.

He said there was nothing we needed that couldn’t wait until tomorrow. Then he told me that Olivia needed to tell me something.

He handed her the phone and she said, very quickly, “I lost one of my tooths.”

I thought she said she lost one of her shoes. I assured her we’d find it when I got home.

Then Tom came back and clarified. She’d lost a tooth. A tooth we hadn’t even known was loose until last Wednesday when the dentist pointed it out. It was barely loose.

Tom told me they been sharing a donut as an afternoon snack when suddenly, Olivia said, “My tooth is weird.”

Tom thought maybe it was suddenly looser than it had been. But no, not looser, gone.

And we think she swallowed it. We’re not going to search for it in the coming days either.

The tooth fairy still stopped and left her come cold hard cash. She asked me this morning if her tooth was still gone. I told her was and that it would be replaced by a new tooth in the coming weeks.

So we lucked out. The tooth never had to get so loose that it irritated her. We never actually had to pull it out for her, yanking on that last little thread of skin. Ick.

Alyssa lost her first tooth while eating a bowl of noodles. Yes, noodles. They were fully cooked. I guess we’re just not all that dramatic when it comes to losing teeth. I’m okay with that.

Look at her, she's pretty proud of that space right there:

Monday, February 4, 2013

Learning to Fall

When I took Olivia to her nine month well-baby check way back when, I mentioned to her doctor that she wasn’t sitting up, like, at all. She wasn’t even trying to do so. In fact, she barely had head control at that point.

I suggested that we might need an MRI to see if she might have CP. After all, she’d had a traumatic birth experience.

The doctor picked up my tiny, wobbly baby and held her horizontally above the exam table, her tummy toward the floor. He acted like he was going to drop her and she…didn’t react.

No reflexive movement at all.

When Olivia learned to walk at 29 months old, she was very off-balance. She fell. She fell a lot. We all watched her constantly and yet we weren’t able to catch her every time she fell.

One afternoon when she was three, Olivia was playing with Alyssa in the parking lot where I work. My mom had brought the girls to me so we could make the long drive home for the weekend. I liked to give the girls a few minutes to work off some energy before making them get in their car seats for the hour drive home.

Olivia tried so hard to keep up with Alyssa but her feet failed her and she fell. She fell hard. She fell hard on her face, damaging right front tooth. It was awful. She hadn’t even made the attempt to catch herself as she fell. Her hands didn’t come up to break the fall; she just fell, flat on her little face.

A few months later, I signed both Alyssa and Olivia up for gymnastics. I wanted Olivia to learn how to fall. I knew I couldn’t make her stop falling but I hoped that gymnastics would give her a sense of what her body could do, what her hands could do if she started to fall.

It worked. She learned to fall, to do forward rolls, to almost do a cartwheel. She learned to trust her feet and not have to watch them all the time.

This past weekend while at Alyssa’s gymnastics party, Olivia walked on the balance beam, all by herself. Sure, it was only two inches from the mat beneath it, but she had the confidence to do this. It was amazing and thrilled and she was so proud of herself.

On Sunday, I mentioned to Tom that these days Olivia practically ran up the stairs, no holding on to the rail or the wall, no taking the time to put each foot on the same step. No, she was running up stairs just like any typical six year old would do so.

She was my shadow most of the day, traipsing up those stairs as I put away laundry and made the beds, following me back down so we could play make over and then put on shows for Tom.

One trip up the stairs resulted in her starting down the stairs before me. And on the third step down, she slipped. Let me say here that we have fourteen steps between the first floor and the second. She started to fall on the third step down, meaning she still had eleven stairs to fall down.

I watched in horror as she slipped, tried to catch herself with the hand rail, but slipped down another step, her feet tangled beneath her. Her hands were still reaching for the rail, grasping and almost catching as she slipped down yet another step. In those few seconds as she slipped and fumbled to catch herself I had visions of her tumbling, head over bottom to the base of the stairs.

But that didn’t happen. She caught herself. She stopped falling after ‘only’ three steps. She ended up on her knees with both hands on the rail. She untangled her legs and stood up. I was by her side in seconds, taking her hand. We walked down the rest of the steps together. I picked her up when we got to the bottom and held her close, asking if she was okay.

She put her face in my neck and nodded her answer to my question. She was okay. We settled on the couch and I asked her if anything hurt.

She said, “Only my hands.”

I kissed her hands, so very grateful to those little hands for reaching up, for grasping and catching that rail. She’d caught herself. She’d stopped the fall all by herself. That little girl who’d once been the baby who hadn’t had any sort of reflexive motion, had reach up and stopped what could have been a horrible, horrible fall.

Thank you gymnastics, thank you chiropractor, thank you God for her tiny hands, hands that are so much stronger than they look. Hands that can catch a snowflake, a raindrop, a falling child.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Gymnastic Party

We finally had Alyssa's birthday party at the gym where she takes gymnastic class. We had about seven kids, including Alyssa and Olivia. That seemed like the perfect number for the kids to do as much as they could without having to wait their turn too long. Having the gym to ourselves was really nice. Alyssa and her friend Joey, who also takes a class at the same gym were able to show off their awesome skills while the other kids had great fun on the trampolines and in the 'pit', a whole in the floor filled with blocks of foam.

We had cake and ice cream cups at the very end of the party and the kids were way more interested in going back out to the gym to play.

It was a great way to get the kids together and still let them run off energy while not destroying our own house.

Miss Maggie, Alyssa's coach, was the one who helped out and she was able to give Alyssa was was practically a private lesson at the end of the party. Alyssa mastered the front handspring during that ten minute lesson. It was awesome.

Alyssa also showed us all that she can do a cartwheel on the beam. She was so proud of herself. She'd already mastered a handstand but the cartwheel was scary.

Yes, the party took place almost three weeks after her actual birthday but when you're ten, just knowing the party is coming makes it okay that it wasn't on your actual birthday. Or maybe we have a pretty mature ten year old. Either way, it was a great day.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Thoughtful Gestures

The temperatures around here have been in the single digits for a few weeks. Oh, there were a few days in there when it got into the 50s, which only makes the 40 degree plummet hurt that much more.

Last night while Alyssa was at gymnastics, Olivia and I had to go uptown to one of the local movie theaters and purchase thirty advance tickets so my boss can put them in birthday cards throughout the year. Nice, yes?

We got there at 6:25. The theaters don’t open until 6:30. We waited out in the frigid wind for all of two minutes before deciding that was insane and went back to the car. She snuggled on my lap, her face buried in my neck. She told me that I was so warm and she liked to sit with me.

I’d brought a blanket for the ride home because Olivia is usually really tired by the time Alyssa’s class is over and a blanket just seemed like a nice comfort item for her to have. I wrapped it around her and pulled her close while we waited for the guy inside the theater to unlock the door.

At 6:35, I still hadn’t seen them unlock the door but I didn’t want to wait any longer. We trudged back to the front door, tugged on it only to find it still locked at which time the dude inside realized it was time to unlock it.

We spent our $210 for the tickets and another $3.50 for popcorn because who goes into a theater and doesn’t buy popcorn even if they aren’t staying for a movie? Then we headed back to gymnastics.

When gymnastics was finally over, we went through the drive-thru at McD’s for dinner. Alyssa is always starving and Olivia, while tired, can’t go through a McD’s drive-thru without a Happy Meal. Whatever, it’s only once a week and even if it was more often, I refuse to feel guilty about this.

On the drive home, Olivia handed her food to Alyssa, moaning, “I’m too tired to eat.” She wrapped her blanket around herself and dozed, waking only long enough to lament, “I wish we were already at home.”

Alyssa gladly ate Olivia’s cheeseburger and fries. They both turned their noses up at the apple slices. Why does McD’s think kids like those things? They’re nasty.

Tom greeted us at the door and took Olivia so I could get everything else out of the car.

After both girls were asleep, I packed the snacks for O’s class today. There are only eight kids in her class and parents provide snack. So every eight days, we are responsible for snack. I usually send applesauce or pudding. Something that I don’t actually have to prepare. Working mom and all that.

This time, though, I was inspired. I put grapes in one side of a baggie and goldfish in the other side and then used a ribbon tied in the middle to make the snack bags look like butterflies. Go me!

The cold weather has inspired Tom, who wakes up at least an hour before I do each morning, to come up and turn on the space heater in the bathroom each morning before I get up so that the bathroom is warm and cozy when I get up to shower.

I tell you, those little gestures, the space heater, greeting us at the door and snuggling Olivia while I gather jammies and yes, even turning up the heat when we’re on our way home, those gestures mean so much. They speak of a love much deeper, much more meaningful than mere words can convey.