Saturday, March 30, 2013

Still Little

After baths tonight, the girls and I settled on the couch with wet hair, blankets and books. I always read three books to Olivia while Alyssa sit next to us, either reading her own book or watching television (the volume turned low so I can read) or, like tonight, she listens to the books I've picked for Olivia.

Olivia doesn't really like hearing the same books over and over, for which I am actually thankful. I've apologized to my mom over the years for the number of times I asked to hear Green Eggs and Ham when I was a toddler. I loved that flipping book and by the time I was three I had it memorized so the poor woman couldn't even skip words/pages because I totally called her on it. I was sort of a brat, now that I think about it.

So tonight, the first book I read was about cats. Alyssa settled in, leaning against me as I read. It was a wordier book than I usually read to Olivia. Her atention span is still spotty so I try to keep the books light and fun.

This one was deeper, more intense.

Alyssa listened to every word, reading along with me. She looked at the pictures and giggled over some of the illustrations.

In moments like tonigh, I'm reminded of how little she still is.

She's five feet tall these days. She's ten years old and doing things that ten year olds to. Sometimes, ten can seem so big, so old, so independent.

But then I get a moment like tonight, when her body leans into mine, when she sort of sinks into me, reminding me that she really needs me, maybe more these days than she did even last year. Ten can be so confusing, so stressful.

I am so grateful that she still wants me to read to her, that she still wants to listen to my voice, to laugh with me, to hug me, to let me tuck her into bed each night. I want to keep her little for a while longer. I want to keep her safely hidden away from this big world of ours even as I prepare her for the challenges that lie ahead of her. I hope she continues to let me help her as she navigates the pre-teen life that looms ahead of her.

She's always be my baby even as she grows and learns and branches out but right now, she really is still little.

Friday, March 29, 2013


35. That's how many pounds I needed to lose to go down two pant sizes.

My aunt gave me a couple of cookbooks recently. One of them was all about cooking yourself thin. There were several 'success' stories. These stories mentioned women losing all of 6 pounds and going down two sizes. What? Seriously? Where are these people shopping if the clothing sizes are separated by all of six freaking pounds?

Okay, so I know I shouldn't be complaining. I mean, I'm losing and that's great. And yes, the numbers are dropping, both on the scale and on the tag on my pants. And I'm so happy about that. I really, really am. I'm grateful that I'm in that zone where what I'm doing is working and it doesn't feel like work for me. I'm not having to fight cravings. The fact that there have been donuts on the breakroom at work three out of the last four weeks hasn't been an issue for me is really good news.

So maybe the secret to losing sizes is exercise? See...I don't really exercise. Like at all. I don't like it. I hate to hear myself breathe during exercise and I really don't like to sweat. It's just icky.

Changing my eating habits is my secret to weight loss but because of that, perhaps I need to shut my big fat mouth and stop complaining when it takes me 35 pounds to lose two sizes. Either that, or get out there and start walking/jogging/running which might actually work the inches away faster than not eating so many York peppermint patties.

Who knows? Definitely not me since even with all this introspection, I really don't have any intention of testing this theory by, you know, actually exercising. That would make too much sense. And it would make me breathe hard, which is just unpleasant.

Instead, I'll keep doing what I've been doing and hope it continues to work. I have continued to lower my expectations as the months go on. I knew going into February that I wouldn't lose another 17 pounds like I did in January. I also knew as I looked forward to March that I probably wouldn't lose 10 pounds like I did in February. And as April looms, I don't expect to lose another 8 which is what I managed to lose in March. But 6 would be nice. Yeah, 6 pounds would be great. It would push me over that 40 pound mark. That would be lovely.

If I manage that, I might not even bitch about the fact that I'm still in the same size at the end of April that I am now, at the end of March. There's always hope.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Come Bowl Away

Since I the mom who doesn't plan awesome trips to sunny destinations for spring break, I took the girls and one of Alyssa's friends bowling today.

I know, awesome, right?

Okay, so it's not really comparable but the girls had a really great time. And since I saved thousands of dollars by not planning some awesome trip, I didn't even mind spending almost $50 for a day of bowling.

The last time we went bowling was this past New Years Day. Olivia didn't get to bowl that day. Why? Well, it was assumed she was too little and too weak.

This time, I decided to let her try.

And oh did my girl try. I got her a four pound ball with holes for every finger and she wanted to badly to fling that ball down the lane the way the rest of us did. She couldn't quite to that though, so she made do with just pushing it as hard as it could and then it made its way s l o w l y down the lane. Most times she managed to get one ball.

Yes, thank goodness for bumpers.

Don't know the bumpers. Those suckers let me get a score of 136 on the first game. The second game...wasn't as good. I was getting tired and my stupid cold was starting to really get worse.

Alyssa and her friend T both broke 100 in each game. They're awesome.

And you know what? They had a blast. They laughed, they high-fived. They made memories.

That's what spring break is all about. Making memories, laughing, taking a minute out of a regular day and doing something different. Sure, it would have been lovely to have lain on a beach baking in the sun but we had almost as much fun in a dark, cold bowling alley, cheering each other on.

The best part? When Olivia told me about three turns in that she didn't need me to walk to the lane with her. She could do it by herself, thank you very much. I love that independent spirit. She's probably going to need it and I'm so glad that I decided today to let her try.

They even had bowling shoes in her size. They were awesome!!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Right Thing to Do

Yesterday, Tom had to take all out tax papers to the accountant who has done his taxes for, well, forever. I gave him a stack I had printed just days before and let him have at it.

About an hour later, he called me to ask for clarification of some of the receipts I’d included.

He wanted to know what Reece’s Rainbow was and why I’d given them money last year.

I explained about orphans with special needs and how it felt like the right thing to do last year to give money to families who wanted to bring these children home.

He said something like, “I didn’t realize you had this kind of extra money.”

I started to feel defensive.

I explained that I’d given once a month, every month last year. I told him it was sometimes $25, sometimes $50, whatever felt right at the time.

He started to ask another question and I stopped him.

I said, “This was the right thing do to. If Olivia had been born in one of those countries, we’d have been pressured to leave her in an orphanage, where she’d have either died of neglect, grown very little and ended up in an institution at five years old, unable to walk, to talk, to feed herself. We were lucky. She was born here, to us, people who have access to the best doctors, the best therapists, the best teachers. Those babies aren’t that lucky and it is only right that people like us, who have a little extra, or heck, maybe we don’t have a little extra but we search to find it and give it anyway in hopes that some family will find them and have the funds to bring them home.”

He didn’t say another word. He thanked me for explaining what the receipts were for and went about his day.

Last night, for some reason, he was kinder, sweeter, gentler to me and the girls than he has been for a a while.

Let me state right here, Tom is never mean, but he can sometimes come across as aloof even to me and the girls. But last night, he was there, right there with us, participating in family life and maybe soaking in how very lucky we really are to have all that we have together.

Monday, March 25, 2013


In my mid-twenties, I had a conversation with an acquaintance. This woman was a couple of years older than I was, she’d been married for a couple of years and she was trying to figure out if she wanted to have kids.

I asked her why she wouldn’t have kids. She said she wanted to but she was trying to find a reason to do so.

I said, “I want to have kids because I’ll be a good mother.”

She replied, “I’ll be a good mother but I don’t think that’s a good reason to have a child.”

I was stunned. What other reason is there? I wondered.

Now…I’m definitely not nearly as good a mother as I thought I’d be when I was 26 years old. Maybe if I’d had these kids back when I was younger I’d be better.

I don’t know.

What I do know is that I am not worthy of my children. I’m not good enough for them. I don’t take nearly enough time to appreciate them. I don’t cherish every single moment with them the way they deserve.

I get angry, I yell, I am so tired most of the time. All they want is my attention, my devotion. They don’t ask for much, just all of me.

And I usually can’t give that to them.

I don’t defend them often enough, I don’t teach them the things they need to know. I try.

I really do try but I know that I fail so much more often than I succeed with these two girls.

It hit me today that there are so many parents who have lost their children, who won’t get one more hug, one more ‘I love you’ from their babies and it’s so unfair.

I want desperately to deserve these gifts I’ve been given. I want to be in the moment, to soak it all in, to stop being frustrated and angry and distracted.

They deserve this from me and I deserve it from myself. I want to make the moments count, I want to stop apologizing for not doing these things and just do them.

I’m going to try. It’s the very least I can do for them and for me.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring Ache

When I got home yesterday, I wished the girls a happy spring break. Of course I'll be here for most of it but I just kind of wanted to mention the fact that they had nine days ahead of them during which they'd not have school, homework, studying, etc.

Olivia immediately followed my comment with, "Can we go swimming tomorrow?"

Poor kid. When you're six, if you're lucky you remember the previous spring and summer that feels so very far away from this long, cold winter. And Olivia does remember last spring. The spring before that? Not so much. But last spring is burned into her mind as a warm one.

March 2012 was unseasonably warm. We had more days in the 70s than we did in the 40s that month. We were swimming by the end of May.

Olivia equates spring with swimming and so she wanted to know if we'd be swimming today.

We aren't. It's sunny yes, but the temps are firmly in the 40s. Swimming might not happen until late June at this point.

Ah well, each year brings something new, something exciting. Makes things interesting, wouldn't you say?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Breaking into Spring

The girls will be on spring break as of 3:01 this afternoon. They are beyond excited.

And get this, we aren’t even doing anything. Ha! Except to them, a week off school means the world to them. I’m taking a couple of vacation days next week to spend time with them.

I’ve let Alyssa invite a friend to spend the night one day so she can have something exciting happening. I think I’ll take the girls bowling. That’ll be an adventure.

Growing up, my family never went anywhere for spring break. Even during college, I only ever went on an actual trip the last two years of my college career.

Sometimes I fear I’m depriving my girls of chances to make memories, the opportunity to explore new places and learn to travel.

But then I remind myself that it’s okay to not get every little thing during childhood. It leaves things for them to discover as they get older and branch out on their own.

I realize that we do what we can to ensure our girls have a healthy, happy childhood. We provide them with a roof over their heads, food they can eat (though way too much junk), more than enough entertainment options.

We’re good, even if we’ve never taken a spring break trip.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Because She Knows Better

Tiffany over at Elastamom published a post yesterday that resonated with me. She talked about how frustrating things can be when her daughter does something that she knows she’s not supposed to do.

Yes. Yes, yes, yes.

This one gets me every single time. And I always feel bad for losing my temper but when Olivia dumps a cupful of water out of the tub onto the floor while watching for my reaction, I yell. I can’t help it. She knows better.

When she uses a medicine dropper to eat soup and makes an huge mess, I scold her and make her let me feed her because I know that she knows better.

This morning while I was showering, I smelled something coming from outside the shower. I called out, “Livie, you better not be trying to polish your own nails. You know you’re not allowed.”

She quickly recapped the nail polish and said, “Yeah, I know.”

Huh. Yes, she knows better.

I know that there are issues of impulse control. I get that. And most of the time, I try to be understanding and patient. But there are times when I’m so tired of cleaning up the same messes over and over and over again that I lose it. Just for a moment and then I apologize and get back to the cleaning.

But like Tiffany said, she knows better. I swear there is a devious side to my daughter, a side that likes to see how far she can push me, how much she can get away with before I raise my voice.

And that might be the worst of it. She knows better and she does it anyway just because she wants to see my reaction.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Teenage Girls

I was once a teenage girl. I didn’t realize it then, but looking back now, I was really, really annoying. Like, so very self-centered and wrapped in my world with my problems and my needs and desires.

Yes, I was one of them.

And now…I’m scared. Very, very scared that I’ve got two coming my way. Sure, we have another two-plus years before Alyssa is official a teenager but I can see it already. It’s there, on the horizon…Teenage-hood.

Alyssa wants an ipod. Or an iphone. She’s desperate for a phone of any kind. She’s ten. We don’t think she needs a phone yet.

But I get the lure. A lot of her friends have phones and thus enters peer pressure and peer envy and wanting to be like everyone else.

The teen years are hard. I know that. But I’m coming to a conclusion that eluded me during my own teen years.

The teen years may be hard for the teenager but they’re infinitely harder for the parents going through it with them.

We can’t stop our kids from making mistakes. We can’t protect them from broken hearts and we shouldn’t even if we could.

Maybe the teen years are hard so they prepare us for our twenties and later, when we realize the angst we suffered as teenagers was so minor compared to the stresses of being an adult.

Whatever the case, I kind of wish I could stop time for just a little while, to enjoy my ten year old and her six year old sister. I kind of like these ages right now. We’re in a good groove and I know a bump is coming that is going to knock out right out of the groove.

I’m dreading it even as I anticipate it. I hope I'm able to handle it with patience, with love. It's so hard to be a teenage girl and yes it's hard to be around teenage girls. I know this. But we will work to get through the coming years togther. We hope to survive them relatively unscathed.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Rant

This is such a silly thing and yet…I’m annoyed. And when I’m annoyed, I vent and that sometimes takes the annoyance down a notch or two. Sometimes.

See, I listen to the radio on the car on the way to work each morning. And I’m often accosted by this obnoxious commercial for something called Metabolife (I think that’s the name, it could be Metabolite.) It is voiced over by the female host of the morning show I listen to.

The commercial goes something like this: Last Thanksgiving, I embarked on a lifestyle change. Using Metabolife, I have lost over 33 pounds and 25 inches off my body. It is AMAZING. I still eat at my favorite restaurants, I still get to have a life but I’ve gone from a size 16 pants to a size 8 and I used to wear extra-large shirts and I now wear a small.


Okay, first, she’s annoyingly chirpy. I sort of want to slap her.

Second, she lost 33 pounds and went down four pant sizes? Really? Because I’ve lost 31 pounds and am down one pant size. ONE!!

Sure, okay. Maybe I was in a tight size 18 and now I’m in a loose size 16. That would maybe mean I’ve lost a size and a half. Whatever! Who loses a clothing size for every eight pounds they lose? Definitely not me. I seem to need to lose over twenty pounds in order to lose a size.

I know, I know. Every body is different. We all carry our weight differently. Maybe I’m losing the fat on my head first and that’s why it’s not showing up in the size of my pants.

And don’t get me wrong. I’m so grateful for the weight I have lost. I’m so grateful that I’m continuing to lose. Yet hearing that stupid commercial every day still sort of pisses me off.

Yes, I’m that petty.

Monday, March 18, 2013


My dad has become a pretty regular visitor in our house. He can be counted on to stop by at least twice a week.

He called me last Thursday, our gymnastics night, as I was driving home. He wondered if Tom was home. He (my dad) was in our driveway and had some Raisinets to drop off but since we were home, he said he’d bring them another day.


So I wasn’t surprised when he arrived at 7:30 on Friday night. He didn’t have Raisinets, but he did have some M&Ms for Olivia. She was thrilled.

After an hour of him talking, me nodding in the right places and Olivia lounging on me, she fell asleep on my lap. I brushed her hair out of her face and tried to listen to my dad but he’s sometimes hard to hear. I often wonder if he talks that way deliberately to make sure his audience is paying attention.

It drives me nuts.

But finally, he caught my attention.

He asked, “She can pass for normal, can’t she?”

Huh? I had to really think about what he was saying. Normal? What the hell? I glanced down at my beautiful daughter sleeping on my lap and then back up at my dad.

He was looking at me with something like pity in his eyes.

Oh, hell no! Do not pity me or Olivia. We’re just fine, thank you very much.

“Normal?” I asked.

“Well,” he said, oblivious to my tense tone, “she looks normal. No one even has to know she has a syndrome if you don’t want them to, right?”

I think I know how he meant it. In his world (he’s 72 years old) normal is something we all want to strive for. He feels there is safety in normal. He truly believes that there is happiness in normal.

I know that he didn’t mean to offend me. He wants the best for my daughter just like I do. But I want the best for her as she truly is, not the best for her as others believe she should be.

And ‘hiding’ her syndrome from the world feels like a lie. Olivia is not a ‘normal’ six year old. In a lot of ways she is. And in so many ways she does ‘pass’ for a normal six year old and sometimes that’s more of a hindrance for her than a benefit. When she does something that isn’t typical, people don’t understand, they don’t always give her the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes, she’s seen as immature or bratty instead of just delayed and doing her best.

Our normal is a damned good life and I gently reminded my dad of that. I’m not sure he got it, though. He’s pretty stuck in his ways. Besides, knowing him, we’ll have that same conversation three more times in the coming months. And each time, I’ll tell him the same thing. Eventually, it’ll sink in.

I hope.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Intensive Parenting

As I walked the girls down the stairs at 7:15 this morning to hand them off to Tom since he'd been up for over two hours by that point, Olivia asked me why I was going to go back upstairs and lay down.

I replied, "Because the next two hours are going to be the best sleep I get all week."

I managed to keep the snark out of my voice, which is saying something.

Alyssa gave me a look of sympathy and headed to the computer for her two hours of computer time. Olivia was already demanding raisin bran from Tom as I trudged back up the stairs.

For the record, I know that with a few days (weeks?) of intensive parenting, I could have Olivia in her own bed on a consistent basis. I know this. I know that it would be painful in the moment but that eventually, I'd be able to wear her down (or put up a gate at her door) and have her firmly out of my bed.

I know this.

And yet...I'm not up to that kind of intensive parenting. Perhaps it's because I'm still tired after all these years. All I know is that in the middle of the night, my poor muddled brain feels like bad sleep is better than no sleep and so even though I sighed heavily last night when Olivia showed up at the side of my bed all of ten minutes after I'd laid down, I rolled over, pulled her into bed, tucked her in against my side, kissed her head and told her gently to go to sleep.

The kind of work it would take to get up, walk her back to her bed, tuck her back in and know that in all of a half hour (at most) she'd be back makes me want to just roll over and cry.

So instead I roll over and try to get comfortable with a fourty pound child mirroring my every movement. Each time I try to inch away, she inches forward, seeking constant contact with me.

Eventually, she'll figure it out, right? I tell myself this to feel a little better about what I know is really just lazy parenting instead of doing what soudl be done.

I mean, Alyssa's ten, she's a great sleeper. When she was six? Not so much. I keep hoping Olivia will follow in her footsteps and just grow into a good sleeper.

It could happen.

Or not.

Friday, March 15, 2013


For the longest time, I’ve been angry with myself for gaining weight, for being out of shape, for being the kind of person who doesn’t like to exercise because I don’t like to hear myself breathe. Take a moment to let that one sink in. How sick is that?

Anyway, as I’ve lost weight, I realize that I need to forgive that woman over ten years ago who was eating the cream out of double stuf Oreos and throwing the cookies out the window into fields for lucky animals to find (or to rot into the ditch). That woman was doing the best she could. She was so tired. She was driving 65 miles one way to work every day, she was learning to mother a child who wouldn’t or couldn’t sleep through the night. She was so very tired. And she was doing what it took to stay safe while on the road. It took food. Lots and lots of food. It also took caffeine in the form of full sugar Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew. I love those drinks.

I’m not drinking them these days because yes, so very bad for me. But I to so love them.

I need to forgive the me of seven years ago who repeated the pattern as she figured out how to parent two children, one a rambunctious four year old who still needed her mom and the other a sick little infant who cried. She cried all. The. Time. Poor baby. Again, food was the way to maintain sanity.

I’m in a place right now where losing weight is easy. I don’t say that lightly. I have wanted to lose weight for years and I’ve said more time than I can count that I know how to lose weight, I just have to get to a place where I CAN lose weight.

When it’s hard for me, well, I don’t really do it. Duh, huh? But right now, for whatever reason, the stars have aligned, the full moon shines brightly on me (I know there isn’t a full moon anywhere near this time of this month) or I’m just lucky enough to not be nearly as tired as I was several years ago.

Whatever it is, I’m so, so grateful that it’s working this time. I have high hopes of it continuing and that at some point, I’ll learn to maintain and moderate my eating while being a normal, non-dieting person.

We’ll see. For now, I’m celebrating being a person who has lost 31 pounds in 10 weeks. I think those are pretty awesome numbers. They’re awesome enough that they give me the strength to forgive the me of eleven weeks ago who gorged right before starting the diet, the one who ate as much junk as possible at the very idea of ‘depriving’ herself in the months to come.

Right this second? I don’t feel deprived and that’s pretty amazing itself.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Confession: Most evenings I can be found at the kitchen table with A and O as they eat dinner. Am I eating too? No, I am not. I am feeding Olivia.

Yes, she’s six years old and yes, she’s perfectly capable of feeding herself. But…it can get messy when she does it herself. It doesn’t get messy because she can’t get the food from her plate to her mouth but because she WON’T get the food from the plate to her mouth without spilling. She likes to watch broth fall from her spoon to a napkin because the way the liquid spreads on the napkin looks nice.

Except it isn’t nice because guess who has to clean up that nasty, soggy napkin. Hint: It’s not Olivia. Though come to think of it, it should be her. Ahhh, there’s an idea.

Anyway, last night after one such deliberate spill of broth onto a napkin, I took her spoon away from her and started feeding her.

She smiled and asked, “Are you going to feed me forever?”

I declared, “Yes.”

She scowled at me. “No you are not.”

I told her, “As long as you make messes on purpose, I will feed you.”

“When I’m a grown up, I won’t make messes.”

I agreed with her that when she was a grown up, messes wouldn’t be as much fun to make. And I hope we’re right.

These days, she often asks me about the future. She wants to know if she’ll live with me forever. She wonders aloud what she’ll do when she’s a grown up. Will she go to work? Who will she marry? Will she be a mommy like me?

These can be tough questions. I never want to be the one who puts limits on Olivia’s life. I want her to believe she can do anything she puts her mind to doing. I want that for both of my girls. I tell them all the time that they can live with me forever if they want to. I’d be perfectly fine with that but I know they’ll grow up and want to live their own lives.

I just don’t want to limit the lives they lead. I don’t want to dampen their dreams.

The world doe a good enough job giving us limits, of crushing our dreams. As a mother, it’s my job to lift their dreams, help them chase them, to push the limits, to help my girls live the best lives they can.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Three days in and I can honestly say that daylight savings time is trying to kill me.

While I understand the logic behind wanting light at the end of the day as opposed to first thing in the morning, I don’t understand why this has to happen so early in the year. Are there really all that many people partying until 9pm, outside, in mid-March?

They aren’t doing this where I live, especially since we’re getting more snow today.

Alyssa has adjusted pretty well but Olivia…oh, my goodness, sweet Olivia is driving me insane with her almost 9pm bedtime this week. She just isn’t sleepy yet since her body is telling her it’s only 8:00 even though I’m insisting it’s almost 9:00.

And when morning rolls around, she’s groggy and grouchy (hello, my child) and doesn’t feel all that good because, yikes, her body is again telling her I’m waking her up at the ungodly hour of 5am. She’s not happy with me right now.

Which is okay, because I’m not too thrilled with having over forty pounds of six year old lounging across my lap for over an hour each night as I try and coax her to go to sleep. Well, okay, so I coax for the first twenty minutes. Then I sigh and demand that she go to sleep. Then, finally, I whine and beg her to go to sleep.

Yes, not my shining moments these days. I suppose I’ll have to give us both a break and remember that we’ll adjust…just in time to ‘fall back’ come November. Sigh.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


I made the mistake of letting it slip last weekend that I have purple hair dye in the house. The minute the girls heard that, they lost their minds and the only thing they could think about was purple hair, purple hair, purple hair.

Olivia, surprisingly enough, was the one who let it go first.

Alyssa, on the other hand, waited desperately for 9pm on Sunday night, when Olivia was asleep and Once Upon a Time was over. At that point, there she was, all up in my face, saying, “What about purple hair?”

I sighed. It was a big, annoyed sigh and she didn’t even blink.

I told her the instructions said that she needed to have dry hair and we were not going to use the blow dryer on her hair at nine o’clock at night.

She blinked, as if to say, “And that’s a problem why?”

I sighed again and pulled her hair into a pony tail. I got the purple dye out of the cabinet and put on the gloves.

She said, “What about my wet hair?”

I told her it was only damp and it would probably be fine.

It was. I drenched the bottom two or so inches of her hair in purple dye, wrapped a snack baggie around it with a pony tail holder and sent her to bed.

I woke her up early enough yesterday so she could shower and wash the dye out of her hair. And there she is, with purple ends.

Olivia didn’t notice until yesterday afternoon. And was she pissed!

“When did you dye her hair purple?” she demanded the moment I walked into my mom’s house.

I smiled at her and answered her question.

“I want purple hair!” she declared, her hands on her hips for emphasis.

I told her I’d put purple on the very tips of her hair before her next bath but that wouldn’t be that night.

She insisted, “I want my whole head to be purple.”

I denied that insistence. I suggested that maybe during the summer, we’d get some of the dye that supposedly washes out and dye her whole head for a day. But we’re not going all purple during the school year. I may be that mom but even I have limits to my coolness.

She decided she’d gotten most of her demands and let it go. But I know that tonight, she’s going to be asking to take a bath and she won’t forget my promise to give her purple tips.

And so it begins.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Getting Over Myself

I might have mentioned a time or seven that my brother is getting married this coming July. He and his fiance, a lovely woman, bought a house last Friday. So yes, things are moving along for them.

Once they set the date for the wedding, my brother called to ask me if I’d be a bridesmaid for A. I told him I’d be honored.

There was a little talk as the date was set. Colors were chosen, Alyssa was asked to learn the Bridal March so she can play the piano that day.

At Alyssa’s birthday party Angel told me they’d picked out dresses. I was too distracted by Alyssa’s party to ask to see a picture or even for a description. But later, I started to fret. What if she’d picked out something that is sleeveless or even, Heaven forbid, strapless? I started to panic. I haven’t worn a tank top or any other sleeveless sort of garment since 1995. My arms are huge. I do not show them in public.

I decided then and there I was not going to wear something she’d picked out if it showed my disgusting arms.

I know. Brat much?

I vented to my mom and she said it was okay to suggest that we all (there are four bridesmaids) wear the same color but different styles that flatter each of our bodies.

I stewed some more and then…I got over myself.

Just last week I told my mom I wasn’t going to say anything to Angel. I’d wear whatever she’d picked out and be okay with it. This is her wedding, her day and I’m not going to be the bitchy sister-in-law who makes the entire day about her grody old arms.

My mom told me it was okay to suggest the different styles but she was proud of my sudden maturity. Yeah, it only took 42 years.

The next day. The very next day, my brother called to ask me if I could go shopping with Angel the day after. The girl she’d originally asked to make the dresses is pregnant and doesn’t think she can make four dresses in the next four months.

So we went shopping. It was agreed that two of us will wear blue and the other two will wear orange. (Bears fans, anyone?) We’re all wearing dresses we feel most comfortable in.

It goes to show that when you give up a little control, sometimes, it actually comes back to you.

Or…when I get over myself, it doesn’t matter if the control comes back to me because in the end, it’s not always about me.

Friday, March 8, 2013


Once upon a time, there was a girl who had a younger brother. When the girl was eleven and her brother was seven, their parents divorced.

It was decided that this girl and her brother would live with their mom and their dad would move in with his brother, three houses up the street.

The girl and her brother saw their dad whenever they wanted and had scheduled visits every Sunday.

One Sunday afternoon, while out driving, as was their dad’s habit, the girl was asked by her father how her mother had told her about the divorce, which at this point had happened about a year before.

The girl knew what her dad was getting at and replied that her mom had said that the marriage wasn’t working and that a divorce was imminent.

Her dad pressed, wanting to know if her mother had told her that they both wanted the divorce. The answer was that no, her mother hadn’t said that.

The dad nodded. The girl hoped the conversation was over but alas, her hopes were dashed when her dad informed her and her brother, now twelve and eight, that he wanted to make sure they understood that he hadn’t wanted the divorce. It had been their mother’s idea, her desire to break up the family.

Then he started the drive home. About a half mile from home, the girl’s dad burst into tears. He managed to drive the rest of the way to the home the girl and her brother shared with their mother and then began sobbing while sitting in the driveway.

The girl opened the door on her side of the car as the boy sat forward and asked, “Dad? What’s wrong?”

The girl took her brother’s hand and said, “Come on, Jason. Dad, we’ll be inside.”

The girl went inside and told her mom about her dad sitting in his car crying.

She was very, very angry at her dad for what he’d done. She didn’t want to see her dad cry, to know he was hurt, sad, upset. She was furious at him for making her be the grown up in that incident.

The other night, when I was at my bitchiest, I sat down across the room from the girls, trying to get some distance and needing to not be touched for even a few minutes.

Alyssa sat on the couch beside Olivia and when Olivia tried to get down and come over to me, Alyssa held her back, saying quietly, “Livie, stay here.”

In that moment, I hated myself more than I can describe. I’d become my father, making my CHILD be the grown up as I sat in a stupid, moody fit of annoyance. It jolted me out of my mood, made me sit up, move from my seat and place my big butt between my little girls on the couch, pulling both of them to me into a hug. I kissed Alyssa’s hair and apologized, telling her I was so sorry for being such a grouch. I told her that it wasn’t her fault and that I would not be grouchy anymore that night.

I asked Olivia if she wanted some ice cream and she asked me if I was done being a grouchy Gus. I laughed along with both A and O and said yes, I was done being a grouchy Gus.

I don’t want to repeat the patterns of my childhood. I never want to let my moodiness or tiredness make Alyssa feel the way I’d felt that day so many years ago. I never want to be the child in our relationship, making her grow up way before her time.

And what I want most of all is to forgive my father for that moment in time when I was so angry at him for showing his feelings in a way that felt inappropriate to my twelve-year-old self. I know we are all human and we can’t help how we feel but I also know that as a parent it is up to me to protect my children even from my own moods, feelings.

Thirty years ago I felt like my dad had let me down. Now I know he was just doing his best. He never meant to hurt me or my brother and he’s done good things for both of us over the years, things that negate that one moment in time.

So…I guess it’s time to forgive him and myself for being human. It’s time to remember that we can’t change the past but we can do better in the future.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sometimes Mommy is a Grouchy Bitch

Last night was not my best mommy moment. I was tired, the girls were annoying the crap out of me, I just wanted some down time.

Olivia wanted to take a bath and I’m not usually one to say no to a bath. Who doesn’t like clean kids?

Except these days, she won’t leave the faucet alone, she’s constantly trying to turn the water to the hottest temperature possible. I have to sit there and hold the knob so she can’t adjust it herself.

And even though I told her several times not to throw a soaking wet wash cloth out of the tub onto the floor, she did it twice. The very plopping sound grated on my nerves something fierce.

When I finally made them get out of the tub, the bath had lasted an hour. It was 8:00. Time for bed.

But Olivia wanted dessert. I tried to tell her that dessert time had come and gone while she was in the bath.

She didn’t believe me.

I grouched and fussed and refused to get ice cream for her.

Then I felt horrible. I told the girls that I needed a time out. Olivia laughed. Alyssa told me it was okay.

But it wasn’t. It wasn’t their fault I was being such a grouchy bitch and I needed to get a grip and stop being that way.

I pulled myself together, apologized to them and got ice cream for Olivia and popcorn for Alyssa. We settled onto the couch, watched a rerun of The Middle and everyone got a nice back scratch as another, non-verbal apology.

I try to catch these moods before they get out of control. And if I don’t, I apologize and we make up and go on. I guess it’s okay for my girls to know I’m human too, that I get grouchy and bitchy. As long as I remind them that when it does happen, it’s never, ever their fault. That’s my biggest goal. Not to be perfect but to be aware of my imperfections and try not to take them out on these two (mostly) innocent souls.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Hair We Go Again

Olivia’s obsession with hair continues. While she no longer pulls her own hair out, she can often be heard asking me if she can ‘play’ with my hair. This involves her pulling gently at the hair at the nape of my neck, which drives me insane.

So her question is more often than not answered with a, “No, you cannot play with my hair.”

She’ll reply, “Please.”

I’ll say again, “No.”

She’s insist, “But I said please!!”

And I’ll tell her, “I don’t want you to play with my hair. I don’t like how it feels.”

Then, thankfully, she’ll be distracted by something and leave me and my hair alone.

A few days ago, I heard Alyssa yell, “Hey, what are you doing?”

When I went to investigate, I found that Olivia had a pair of scissors in her hand and was attempting to cut Alyssa’s hair.

Yikes! We were lucky. They were smallish, plastic scissors and Olivia didn’t have the time to actually hole A’s hair in one hand and the scissors in the other before she tried to make the first cut.

I took the scissors away before any more mischief could be attempted.

Last night, O was running around the house, working off energy before dinner.

She came up to me and said she was hot. She was wearing just underwear at that point. I told her to leave her underwear on. She said, “I don’t want to take off my underwear but I do want you to cut my hair. It’s hot on my neck.”

I offered to put her hair into a ponytail to help with the neck sweat. Olivia informed me, “I can’t do flips when my hair is in a pony!”

I told her I would not be cutting her hair, she could either stop running around or deal with the heat of her hair.

She was clearly annoyed, as her eyes almost rolled out of her head as she dealt with such an inconsiderate mother.

She ran a little more and again stopped to tell me to cut her hair.

I repeated my previous answer.

Then I called the girls to the table for dinner. Yes, Olivia arrived in just her underwear. We have a rule in our house. Underwear must be worn during dinner. I know, we practically require black-tie for meals.

Once O was seated at the table, she ordered, “Mom, come over here and bring the scissors.”

Ohh, that girl. She is so funny. Except she was serious. I reminded her yet again that I would not be cutting her hair anytime soon.

Do you all remember this?

This was Christmas 2010. Just over two years ago. Her hair has grown so much over these past two years. I can’t even imagine cutting it now. And yet…she’s so insistent. And she is six. Does she have the right to make this decision for herself? I am thinking maybe I’ll ‘trim’ it for her, just enough that she thinks I’ve cut it but to leave the length.

She’s overcome so much to get this head of hair. But I also know that cutting it might be something she just wanted last night and tomorrow, she’ll want it braided again.

I think the novelty of getting a haircut is exotic to her. We cut about six inches off Alyssa’s hair about a month ago and O’s been talking about haircuts ever since. She even tried to order me to cut my own hair last week. So yes, haircuts are all the rage for her. I’m keeping all scissors under lock and key for the time being.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Letter Bag

Olivia’s class learns a new letter each week. Along with learning words that start with the letter of the week, the teachers read stories that incorporate that letter and they send home a Letter Bag with one student each week. The student with the Letter Bag is asked to find things that start with that letter and bring them to school on Thursday to share with the class. Olivia’s had had the Letter Bag twice. The first week we needed to find things that started with the letter K. The second…I don’t remember.

Last week, their letter was Xx. The teacher was kind enough not to burden a single student with trying to find words that start with X, she instead invited all students to bring something that has X in it, such as fox or xylophone.

This week, their letter of the week is Uu. And it’s Olivia’s turn with the Letter Bag.

My first thought was umbrella. Our bright orange umbrella is already inside the Letter Bag, awaiting its trip to school.

Second thought, was, duh, unicorn! Boy do we have unicorns prancing around our house. One of them made its way into the letter bag along with the umbrella.

I asked Tom if we have a ukulele laying around that I’m not aware of. He laughed at me.

But wait!! I do have a music box that is probably supposed to be a small violin or something but a small label and a pen later, it’s officially a Ukulele. Go me!!

I kind of like projects like this. It is fun to get the whole family thinking and Olivia loves the attention she gets both at home and at school doing these things.

I couldn’t find an actual umpire to stuff into the bag so I found a picture of one and labeled it to avoid confusion.

We’re getting there. We still have two more evenings and three mornings to come up with things that start with the letter U.

But even with all that time ahead of us, I’m not going with Alyssa’s suggestion of putting a pair of underwear in the bag. I might be willing to take my kids to Walmart in their pajamas but I’m not willing to send underwear to school to be flashed about the kinderkids’ classroom.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Wearing Me Out

Okay, I know moms don’t really get downtime. I know this. I also know that mothers who work outside the home really don’t get downtime. We’re away from home and our children for nine plus hours a day, we shouldn’t be wishing for bedtime just so we can have a minute or seven all to ourselves, without someone leaning into us or laying on us or asking for ice cream or wanting a drink of water.

But I do want those minutes. I crave them.

Olivia, you see, has decided that going to sleep between 7:30 and 8:00 is for babies. And she’s also decided that she? She is not a baby, thank you very much. She’s a very mature six year old who knows when she’s tired and when she should go to bed.

Except she doesn’t. Know when she’s tired and should go to sleep, that is. She’s not mature enough to know that she needs more sleep than she’s been getting in the past couple of weeks. So, as her mother, for her own good, I’ve have to reinforce bedtime, reminding her that she has school the next day and she needs to sleep so she can get up and play before school each morning.

Yeah, that’s why I want her to go to bed. It’s for her own good. Sure.

Just because the added bonus of her going to bed by 8pm is that I get a little time to just be instead of ‘being’ mom for a while doesn’t mean I am not putting her first. No, not at all.

See, by the end of the day I’m done. I’m all given out. I can’t give another piece of me. I need to sit and watch mindless television (thank you Biggest Loser!) or read in bed by the light of a flashlight. I just need that time so I can do it all again.

And Livie, by pushing back her bedtime to 8:45 last week, is not only hurting herself, but she’s making her mother crazy. And that’s not got for anyone.

So the mean mom has to come stay for a while. Let’s call her Kate, shall we? She’s going to reign in all the roughhousing, the silliness, the child-led chaos that had taken over our house. She’s going to bring calm and organization to our home, a sense of peace and love that lets the girls know how cherished they are while reminding them that there are rules and those rules exist for a reason.

I’ll let you know how it all works out. Wish Kate luck.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Pajama Day

As I got dressed this morning, Olivia sat in front of the space heater in the bathroom. She watched me go about the room doing my thing to get ready to go to town for our weekly trip to the library and grocery shopping.

She looked down at her pajamas and asked if she could wear them to town.

I told her she could if she wanted to.

She asked if Lyssie was going to wear her jammies to town.

I replied that I didn't know. It would be up to Alyssa.

The very thought of going to town in jammies thrilled Livie to her very bones. She couldn't get over the idea that I'd let such a thing happen.

She did, of course, need makeup to dress the green monkey pajamas up but that didn't take longer than about thirty seconds.

She pranced down the stairs to show off her 'make over' and inform Tom that she was going to wear her pajamas to the library and everywhere else we were going.

He said, "Well, at least you'll be warm."

Ha. But true.

Olivia asked Alyssa if she was going to wear her pajamas to town too and at first Alyssa wasn't going to do so but after just a minute of thought, she decided it was a lovely idea too.

I was the only rebel who insisted on wearing actual clothes into public.

So today, we were that family at Walmart, the ones where the kids were wearing pajamas under their coats. It was fun for both girls. They were comfy and happy and I felt good for having let it happen.

The sad thing? No one even seemed to notice the pajamas at Walmart. We got a few odd looks at the library and Dairy Queen but everyone at Walmart seemed to think it was just another day. In fact, I was probably over dressed in my jeans and long-sleeved T-shirt. I think I might be getting old.

Friday, March 1, 2013

In Hot Water

On Wednesday night I told Olivia she could take a bath after dinner.

I fed the girls and as I was washing the dishes (we have a dishwasher but it seems, these days anyway, just easier to wash the dishes after each meal than to rinse them, stack them in the dishwasher and let them sit for days until it’s full enough to run) I realized the water wasn’t getting hot. It was warmish but not hot.

At 7:00, Alyssa laid out the Scrabble board and I had to tell her I’d already promised Olivia she could take a bath. Alyssa moaned her frustration but got over it.

Olivia and I went up and got the space heater running and I started the water. I turned it to warm.

I told O I was going to go get her pajamas. She was already nude and climbing into the tub. When I got back she informed me that the water wasn’t hot. I checked and saw that she’d already turned it to the hottest setting. I felt the water and she was right, it wasn’t hot.

I called down to Tom to ask him if he’d used a lot of hot water earlier in the day. He said he hadn’t, that we needed to let it run. Duh! I told him we’d let it run and it wasn’t getting hot.

He ran the hot water in the kitchen sink, still believing that it just needed to run through the pipes.

Huh. Okay. Except, it still never got hot.

He went to check the water heater and noted that the pilot light had gone out.

Olivia declared she was not taking a non-hot bath and climbed out of the tepid water. I can’t say I blame her.

I wrapped her in a towel and she sat in front of the space heater to cook her feet.

Tom spent the next hour trying to get the pilot light to light and stay lit. It didn’t happen.

He finally called a heating/cooling guy he’d had out months before to work on our furnace and the guy was nice enough to walk Tom through taking part of the water heater apart. It turned out some kind of thingamajig had gone bad. I think it had the word thermal in it but I can’t be sure.

The next morning, Tom surprised me by having four pots of hot water on the stove ready for me to use to wash my hair since I couldn’t (wouldn’t?) shower. He really is my hero.

Later that day he solidified his hero status by call the local hardware store in hope they’d carry this thingy. They did.

Nine dollars and forty-five minutes later, the pilot light was lit and the water was heating. If the heating/cooling guy had come out to do this himself, it would have cost $100.

We really do live a life of luxury. Turn a knob and there’s hot water, all you could want. Plug in an appliance and there is heat. Open a refrigerator and there’s food.

Even one night and morning without hot water makes me realize how incredibly blessed we are to live in this country, this home, this life. To have a husband who can fix even the slightest of problems seems almost selfish to me. But I think we’re going to keep him. Who else would heat water at 5am just so I can wash my hair?