Friday, June 28, 2013

Aaaannnnndddd...It's Out

“She ate pretty well today,” my mom said, nodding in Olivia’s direction. “But she was pretty timid about that tooth.”

During dinner, I watched Olivia gingerly take each bite, her eyes widening as the food pushed her tooth forward that much more.

Each time, I’d ask, “Is it out?”

She’d shake her head and open her mouth, still full of barely chewed food, to show me the tooth. There were moments when it was almost vertical, hanging on by the merest hint of skin. Ewww.

She managed to finish dinner without the tooth coming out and then went to watch Chicken Little while I sliced green tomatoes for frying.

About five minutes later, she called out, “It’s out.”

She ran to me with her hand outstretched, her tiny little tooth in her palm. The relief and wonder on her face was adorable.

She opened her mouth to show me the bloody hole left by the tooth.

I took the tooth and told her to go rinse her mouth out. She did as instructed and then went to find a mirror to inspect the damage. She declared it to be a bloody mess (it wasn’t that bad) and wanted to go tell her daddy that it was finally out.

Much celebrating ensued and Tom and I made arrangements to let the Tooth Fairy in later that night.

Said Fairy deemed that tooth worth $5.00 because Olivia managed to yank it out herself rather than needing a parent to reach in and do the gross work.

All in all, it was definitely a successful, almost painless, tooth extraction. I can say with certainty that Olivia is very relieved to have that thing out of her mouth.

She does want to know when the new tooth will grow in and fill the hole. Will it be tomorrow? The next day? Before kindergarten starts? Who knows? I reply with a smile, knowing the questions will start again in about five minutes. And that's okay too. Curiosity is how we learn, how we understand the world around us and yes, even ourselves. Keep on asking those questions, Liv.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Loose Tooth - Take Two

When I got to my mom’s yesterday evening, my mom told me that Olivia hadn’t stopped eating for the last two or so hours. She snacked on cookies, Jello, some yogurt, a cereal bar and some strawberries.

As I stood talking to my mom, Olivia joined us in the kitchen and said, “Um, Gram? I’m still hungry.”

My mom gave her another cookie. O stuffed the whole thing in her mouth and walked away.

About three minutes later, she was back. Her mouth was still very full and she was trying to tell us something. Once she’s swallowed most of her cookie, she informed us that her tooth hurt.

We looked in her mouth and could see why. The bottom left front tooth was askew and a little bloody. When she overfilled her mouth with cookie, she’d wiggled the already-loose tooth even looser. It’s not hanging by a thread.

And it’s driving her nuts.

This will be her second lost baby tooth. The first one never even seemed all that loose until one day when I got home from work Tom informed me that she’d lost it during lunch. And yes, she’d swallowed it. Ick.

O’s first thought this morning was, “Is my tooth still loose?”

I suggested she wiggle it with her tongue and tell me if it was loose.

It was. (Duh.)

She asked, “Is it going to be loose forever?” (She uses the word forever a lot. Like if Alyssa sleeps past 6:30, “Is Lyssie going to sleep forever?” Or is Alyssa spends the night with a friend, “Is Lyssie going to stay with her friend forever?”)

I told her that of course it wouldn’t be loose forever, that it would fall out and a bigger tooth would grow in its place.

She liked that idea. But not nearly enough to let me reach in and pull that sucker out for her.

She’s learned her lesson with letting me touch anything that needs pulled out/off. She hates having bandaids pulled off and I hate that they stick to her skin for days or even weeks if I let them. So I put her in the bath, tell her I’m just going to loosen the edges and snatch that thing right off. It’s not pretty but it doesn’t last long and I feel like that’s kinder than just pulling a little at a time.

That tooth, though? I don’t think she’s going to let me anywhere near it. I’ll just keep reminding her that it’s going to annoy her until we get it out. We’ll see who can hold out the longest.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Summer Firsts

Yesterday was a pretty busy day. I worked part of the day, left early to take Olivia to her hearing test and then the girls and I had the afternoon stretching ahead of us.

Alyssa has asked to play miniature golf for the past few summers and it was just something we hadn’t made the time to do so I thought yesterday would be a great day for it.

We got our clubs and our golf balls. I went first just because Alyssa wasn’t clear on exactly what she was supposed to do. After that first hole, she was fine and wanted to go first every hole after. Olivia…well, she was bored after the second hold. She hated the way the putter felt in her hand and she was hot. By the third hold, she was asking when we could go swimming. By the fifth, she was asking when we would be done.

She tried to hand me her putter on the ninth hole and when we got to the thirteenth, she was using her hand to just push her ball along.

I’m going to call it a tie in that miniature golf was a hit with Alyssa and a major miss with Olivia. I think she needs a couple more years before we try it again. Though Alyssa and I might take an afternoon and do it again on our own.

When we got home at around 3:30 Olivia started in with the questions about when we were going to go swimming. I told her she and her sister had to eat something first and that the pool didn’t even open until 6:00. I’d already told them I’d take them to the late open swim hours, which are from 6pm to 8pm. It only costs a dollar a person to get in and swim at that time of day.

But two and a half hours feels like an eternity when you’re six. She sighed and asked again when it would be time. I told her if she didn’t leave me alone about it, she could stay home with her dad while Alyssa and I went swimming.

Olivia responded with her usual, “What the heck?”

And that made me laugh so all was well.

I made them dinner, they ate, we changed into our suits and hit the road.

We made it to the pool two minutes after it opened. The girls were thrilled. This was our first journey to the community pool this year. They’ve been clamoring to go for about a month but damn, June started out cold (okay, cooler than usual) and I didn’t relish the idea of putting myself into chilly water.

But this past week it’s been in the high 80s and even the 90s so I had hope that the pool water had warmed to a bearable temperature.

The first dip of my big toe told me I might have been wrong. But I took a deep breath and descended the ladder. Once I’d put myself in up to my shoulders, it was fine.

Olivia, on the other hand, needed a bit of coaxing. Yes, the one who’d been talking about swimming all freaking day was the one who stood on the ladder like a big baby, saying, “It’s kind of cold, isn’t it?”

I managed to convince her that once she was all the way in the water, it would feel fine. And I was right. She swam for 40 minutes before asking to go to the baby pool.

As she and I left the big pool, the one where O can now stand on the tips of her toes and have her head above water, I reminded her that next year she’ll be too old for the baby pool because it’s for kids who are six and under. She shrugged at that one. I think she figures she’ll find a way around that silly rule when the time comes. That’s my girl.

She lounged in the pee-warmed water of the baby pool for the next hour and a half while Alyssa went up the stairs and down the water slide at least twenty times. That’s how that girl stays so slim and still eats like a sixteen year old boy. She moves all the time. I could learn a few things from her.

By the time we got home, Olivia was ready for jammies, a snack and a back rub. She was asleep twenty minutes after we walked in the door. Alyssa? She didn’t go to sleep until I made her go to bed at 10:00. And yes, she snacked the entire last hour and a half she was awake.

By the time I went to bed myself, I could honestly say we’d had a wonderful day filled with a few firsts that might also be our lasts (I’m looking at Olivia and mini golf.)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Testing the Hearing of the Selectively Mute

I worried about this test. I worried about how Olivia would communicate with a stranger to let him/her know she (Olivia) could hear.

I shouldn't have.

The technician was so kind. She was very patient and willing to work with Olivia and learn Olivia's method of communication.

I let the tech know from the start that Olivia tends to be a little difficult when it comes to talking to strangers.

The tech decided that the raised hand method would work best. She also decided to just test the normal hearing levels and skip the tests for the higher and lower frequencies.

At first, Olivia was reluctant to raise her hand when she heard the beep. But the tech was patient enough that Olivia got over her initial shyness. The tech did say that Olivia didn't raise her hand until the beep stopped rather than raising it when the beep started.

After the exam, the doctor came in and I think he was confused about why we were even there. He said that O's ears look perfect. Her hearing tested as perfectly normal (what a lovely word when describing one of O's abilities.)

I explained about her selective mutism diagnosis and that we were there just to make sure that her hearing was part of her speech issue. We were already pretty sure it wasn't but wanted medical proof of that. He said that he couldn't even see scarring from the tubes she'd had inserted when she was eight months old. That's good news too.

I think her speech therapist will be thrilled to learn that Olivia found a way to communicate with the tech. That's what we're after, in the long run, finding ways for Olivia to communicate. Actually talking would be great and I have no doubt that we'll get there but we can only take one step at a time and this is an excellent step.

I'm reallly proud of Olivia for how well she did today. She was very brave and very determined to get through the hearing test. This was one of those moments when I couldn't be her voice and so she found a way to speak for herself. How amazing is this girl of mine?

Monday, June 24, 2013


Because of a graduation party for the sons of two of my cousins, the girls and I didn’t get to do our usual Saturday routine of library, lunch and grocery shopping.

So we hit the grocery store yesterday.

But before we even left, I offered the girls the choice of staying home with Tom and having me come back after buying groceries, picking them up and taking them to my mom’s to swim later in the afternoon.

Alyssa said she was staying home. Olivia echoed her sister.

I didn’t quite do a happy dance but in my head I did a backflip because I planned to hit the local Kohl’s and buy a bra to wear with my bridesmaid dress in my brother’s wedding, which is less than three weeks away now.

About ten seconds after deciding to stay home, Alyssa declared she’d changed her mind. She was coming with me.

Once Olivia heard Alyssa’s change of plans, she, too, wanted to come.

Sigh. Oh well. It wouldn’t be the first time I’d gone shopping for bras with an audience. It probably won’t be the last either.

But, joy of joys, Kohl’s was having a buy one get one half off sale on bras. Wheeee! Life is good over here these days.

As I picked out the ones I wanted to try, Olivia paced between the mannequins, marveling at the fact that they didn’t have heads or arms or legs but they did have bosoms. She loves the bosoms on those mannequins. Alyssa was constantly hissing at Olivia not to molest the mannequins and I was telling Alyssa to leave her sister alone, she wasn’t actually hurting anyone or anything. It’s not like the mannequins can feel violated or anything.

So after picking a few to try, off we went to the dressing rooms. We were lucky that the one at the end, the big room, was available.

At that point, the best part of my day happened. As I tried on the items I’d brought with me, I found another added bonus to my latest weight loss. Get this…I no longer wear a bra that is sized in the 40s! I know, right? I am now in the 30s and I can’t even stand it.

Yes, yes is a post about my bra size. Please forgive me but I can’t help it.

In the end, I bought four new undergarments. And all of them are sized to fit my current shape and they’re lovely. We only had to go into the dressing rooms three times to find the ones I liked the best.

After that, we headed to the grocery store and then to Gram’s to swim. That was definitely the highlight of the girls’ day. Mom’s bras? They don’t hold nearly as much fascination as a pool of cool water on a seriously hot day.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Added Bonus

These days of peace, of feeling centered and more ‘myself’ than I have in years, are great. I am a better mother, a better daughter, a better sister and yes, even a better wife.

I wouldn’t say that Tom and I were ever unhappy together but there have been moments over the last few years that were…tense. I was peevish and often petulant. My feelings were hurt way more easily than one would think could happen to an adult woman.

He often didn’t have to say anything at all for me to suddenly feel put upon and negated and even put down.

I don’t blame him for any of this. I know it was me. I was reading between lines that didn’t even exist. I was transferring my own issues onto him and then taking them as criticism from him to me.

These days, we’re better friends than we have been in years. These days we both laugh a lot more, we sing around the kitchen, we tease and we smile. We like each other and that…it’s awesome.

I mean, we’ve always loved each other. That was never in question. But there were times, days, months interspersed in the last eleven years that I’ve wondered if I even liked this man. And I’ve definitely wondered if he liked me. I often felt like there was very little that he thought I did well or right.

I’m happy to say that I feel liked these days, by both Tom and myself.

That’s a really nice feeling.

It’s also nice to glance across the table and catch the gaze of your partner in life and both smile, knowing that this moment in time is a good one, even if one daughter is singing at the top of her lungs and the other is turning the television up higher and higher to drown out her sister.

That old adage, if mom/wife is happy everyone is happy? It sure seems to be true in our house. I never really got how much my happiness/unhappiness affected everyone in our house. I’m incredibly blessed to see it now and have the tools to make changes if/when they’re needed.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Doctor's Orders

I had my annual appointment yesterday with my doctor. The nurse weighed me, took my blood pressure and asked if I had any concerns.

I don’t. I’m good. My weight is under control for the first time in years. My blood pressure is the same as it’s always been, right there at good.

When the doctor finally came in, he mentioned the weight loss. He asked how I’d done it. He asked what I was doing for exercise.

Sigh…and, ha. Hahahaha. Okay, so I was glad to be able to say that the girls and I ride our bikes about seven miles every few days.

He nodded, glad to hear that.

Then he suggested strength training.

I nodded back at him, giving him what I hope was a look that said I was listening and considering taking his advice.

But you know what? Not really. I have no intention of doing any sort of weight training. Resistance? Maybe. It could happen. It probably won’t but I won’t say that it definitely won’t.

I’ve said before that I hate exercise. I hate the feel of fatigued muscles in the middle of my living room. It’s different when we’re out on the road, riding our bikes. We actually going somewhere, the pain is worth the effort because we’re moving, we’re doing something, we’re not just in our basement, moving parts on a stationary bike or on a treadmill. I can’t just get off a bike in the middle of a country road and be done. I have to keep going to get to our destination.

That makes the exercise of riding a bike feel worth the effort.

Weight training? Strength training for the sake of lifting weights? It feels pointless and the pain of it all feels ridiculous to me.

I know I need to get over this. I do. I know I’m getting older and doing some strength training will do nothing but make me healthier. So…I’ll think about it. I’m not promising anything, though. Not even if it means ignoring my doctor’s orders.

Note: I realize that this all makes me sound like a big old brat. I’m working on that. Promise.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Toy Room

We have a room in our house that is designated “The Toy Room.” Yes, that’s right. There is a room where we store toys. It’s the smallest bedroom in the house. It has lavender walls and two closets, both of which are filled with toys.

I hate this room. I hate how disorganized it is. I hate that you have to push against the door to even get it open because there are toys strewn everywhere.

Each time I go in there with Olivia to go through the ‘dress up’ bin, I want to cry because of how much clutter is in that room.

It’s awful. It’s as if a toy store threw up in that room. It also feels like it’s a symptom of some serious gluttony in our lives. I know that gluttony usually refers to food but this room just shows how much we have in excess of what we need.

The girls’ favorite toys do not ever go in that room. They both have things they use/play with every single day and those things are either in their bedroom or downstairs, where they have instant access.

I need to go in to the room, take every single thing out if and purge over ninety percent of what is currently in there. We need to throw crap away, donate less crappy stuff, pick the few favorites that have made their way in there and revamp the entire room.

I need to make it livable, usable and less excessive. I would like it to become a play room rather than The Toy Room. I want it to be a place where they can go and find whatever they’re looking for without having to toss things about while searching through piles. I want to make our lives simpler, starting with The Toy Room.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


So I took Alyssa to see Man of Steel last weekend.

We really enjoyed the movie and only had to pee twice between the beginning and the end.

During the previews, the two guys behind us got pretty rowdy when a preview for the next in The Hobbit movies was shown. I mean, they were whooping and clapping over this preview.

As we were leaving, I noticed that one of the guys had worn a T-shirt with the Superman emblem on the front. We now know, from this latest movie, that that is the symbol for hope on Krypton.

I mentioned the dude’s shirt to Alyssa when we got to the car. (Note: I waited because I didn’t want the poor guy to hear us talking. One of my neighbors from my freshman year of college would be so proud of my restraint.)

I told her I’d considered suggesting she wear her purple T-shirt that has the Superman emblem but decided not to because while yes, we are nerdy dorks, we’re not quite that dorky.

She laughed and said that she appreciated the fact that I restrained my dorkiness. That girl…she just gets me.

Monday, June 17, 2013


Something has come over me.

One even last week, I don’t even remember which one, they’ve sort of blended in the last few days, I realized as Olivia fell asleep with her head in my lap that I was calm. I was relaxed. We’d been sitting there for over a half hour. She’d tossed and turned and offered up her fingers for scratching and not once had I felt the urge to stand up abruptly, rolling her to the floor and fleeing the room.

She gazed up at me sleepily and smiled a sweet, gentle smile. I brushed her hair off her face and smiled back, a gentle, loving smile, a genuine smile that let her know she could take her time falling asleep if she wanted.

As she drifted off, she opened her eyes a few more times, as if checking on me, making sure I was still there and each time, our gazes caught and we shared a gentleness, a moment of calm, quiet, sweetness.

I wanted that night to be repeated over and over and over again.

In that moment, I was the mother both my girls deserve. I was calm, I was relaxed, I was there, so completely present in that moment with Olivia and later with Alyssa as we settled in for the night.

I’ve prayed for patience over the years. I’ve asked to be gentle, to be calm, to be the mom these girls deserve.

And I have been. For the last few days, I’ve been what they deserve and it makes me feel so fulfilled.

I pray for this gentleness to continue, that I continue to be in the moments with these girls, to be sweet and loving.

I will admit that we still have our moments when Alyssa’s being insane and I’ll call out, quite loudly, “Okay, enough.”

But even those moments don’t feel harried, hassled, stressed. They feel like life and that’s good too.

I feel like I’ve been gentled and I am so grateful for it. I feel like finally, ten years and a half years into this mothering bit, I’ve found my way. Please, please let it continue. Please let it last. Not for me. For them.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Kids Will Be Kids?

We had my nephew over for the night last night.

There is something about three kids that means one of them is almost always going to be left out. When those three kids are Alyssa, Olivia and Jaxon…the one left out is Olivia.

She’s the one who doesn’t understand how to play with horses the way Alyssa and Jaxon does. She doesn’t get into stuffed animals the way they do.

When she suggests a game, they tell her they don’t want to play that.

It breaks my heart.

I know. I know they’re kids. I know I should let them work it out between them. I know I can’t make a ten year old and a five year old do what my six year old wants to do just because I know it would make her happy.

But I had a talk with Alyssa about it anyway. I gently pointed out that Olivia is always willing to do whatever Alyssa and Jaxon ask/tell her to do. She’s always willing to go along with whatever they want to do.

I asked Alyssa to just, a few times, go along with what Olivia suggests. I told her that if Olivia’s ideas are constantly shot down by her two favorite people (A and J) she might never get to the point where she suggested play ideas to her peers. I reminded Alyssa that this summer is about helping Olivia figure out how to make friends with her peers at school.

Alyssa nodded wisely and agreed to help her sister out. My girl is so, so sweet.

Later in the evening though, my heart took another blow.

We were all four on the couch. Alyssa made popcorn and she and Jaxon were eating it. Olivia moved over so she could reach for some too.

After Olivia had to move around Jaxon a couple of times to get some popcorn, Alyssa moved the bowl so it was easier for all three of them to reach the bowl.

Jaxon muttered, “Why do you even like her?”

I don’t know if Olivia even heard him. I don’t know if she got that he was talking about her even if she did hear him.

But I heard it. And I knew who he was talking about.

Alyssa heard it too and she looked at me to see my reaction.

The moment the words left his mouth, J knew what he’d said was wrong. He slid off the couch, his head down in a sulky pose and went across the room to sit.

I left A and O to their popcorn on the couch and joined J on the floor across the room. He refused to look at me when I asked him to tell me why he’d said that. He wouldn’t look up when I told him that what he’d just said was really, really mean.

Quietly, as gently as possible, I told him that Olivia loves him. He’s one of her very favorite people in the world and it would hurt her feelings a lot if she thought he didn’t like her.

I know he’s five. I know he’s an only child who is often very indulged. I get that five year old boys are immature but…I couldn’t just let it go.

I asked him if he understood that what he’d said was mean. He nodded, still not looking at me. He knew. I could tell he knew what he’d said was wrong.

I offered him my hand and told him to come back to the couch and have some more popcorn with the girls.

He accepted the peace offering and didn’t say or do anything else mean the rest of the night.

I know that kids are always growing, always learning. I hope and pray that that moment in time was a chance for J to learn to be kinder, more loving. I pray it wasn’t a moment in which Olivia learned that even the people she loves the most in the world will say and do things they know are hurtful.

I prayed about this last night and this morning. I know God has my back. I know He has Olivia’s. I know that with His strength, she and I can get through anything. Even a mean cousin who is only five and maybe just repeating something he heard from some other kid.

It really is hard to just let them work it out, though. Sometimes, I can’t not speak up. As O’s therapist pointed out, right now, I am her voice and when I’m around, I need to show her that I won’t let people be mean to her. I need her to know that as she finds her own voice, she can speak up too. I want her to learn to stand up for herself by watching me stand up for her and her sister.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

True Love

We have a beautiful strawberry patch that my husband has lovingly tended over the past three summers. Last year it was okay. It gave us some delicious yet tiny berries.

Last fall, Tom went out and weeded and pruned the plants, hoping for a better yield of berries this year.

And his efforts paid off. This year we’re getting a lot of big berries. They’re awesome. The berries taste so much better than the ones you buy in the store.

Last night, after picking two bowls full of strawberries, I was standing at the sink, washing them and pulling the stems off.

I’d gotten through maybe a third of the berries when I saw it. There it was, on one of my berries, wriggling and moving.

It was a tiny green worm.

Ick! Ewwwwww. I tossed the strawberry back in the bowl and jumped back from the sink, shuddering and grimacing.

Tom standing right beside me warming up his dinner. He glanced in the bowl and then at me.

“Worm?” he asked, though he already knew the answer because that is the only thing that makes me react like that.

I shuddered again and nodded.

He rolled his eyes good naturedly and filled a pan with water. He put the strainer full of strawberries in the water and worked them around, looking for the little beast.

I took a deep breath and said, “I can do that. I can be brave.”

He glanced over at me and smiled, “No you can’t.”

He was right. The very fact that I KNEW there was a worm in that pan of water meant there was no way I could put my hands back in there.

Tom pulled the strawberries out one at a time, inspected them and put them into a new bowl from which I withdrew them to destem them.

When he got all the strawberries out, he dumped the water from the pan and pointed to the sink, where the water was gently draining. There it was, the nasty green worm, circling the drain.

“He’s already dead,” Tom informed me. “The water usually takes care of that for you.”

I thanked him for his heroics and finished taking the stems off the strawberries.

I’m telling you, that is the definition of love to me. The man will fend off vicious, disgusting, tiny green worms so his wife doesn’t have to. He’s quite obviously meant for me.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Selective Homework

Yesterday we met with the speech therapist recommended by our family doctor.

She works with the local school system and sees kids for all sorts of speech/language issues. She has even worked with a few kids who had/have selective mutism. She admitted that the kids she’s worked with in the past with this issue were older. They could write or type and so had another means of communication.

But she was pretty confident that we can help Olivia.

I say we because she also admitted that with a ‘selective’ issue, the best therapy comes from situations she’s going to encounter in real life rather than sitting in a room with a therapist. We need to get her away from using me as her voice since I can’t be with her in every situation and so she needs to learn that using her own voice really isn’t a scary thing.

So Miss D sent us away with homework. She wants us to work on the things she suggested for a month and then call her. She thinks seeing Olivia (and me and probably even Alyssa) once this month, once in July and again one more time in August will help Olivia be even a little more ready for this coming school year.

So…the homework: We need to come up with a reward system for Olivia and make it very visual so she knows when she’s doing something we want her to do, like smile at a peer, or even hold hands with a cousin she only sees twice a year.

We also need to take this very slowly. We can’t expect Olivia to go from hiding her face against my hip the minute someone makes eye contact with her and asks her a question to her going up to strangers in the grocery store and striking up conversations.

The first step is to get her to communicate, not talk, just communicate with her peers. And by peers, we don’t mean Alyssa and Jaxon, two people she sees almost every single day.

The next time my mom has my step-sister’s daughters over, we’re going to give Olivia a project. We’ll tell her that in the next twenty minutes (a timer will be set) each time she simply acknowledges Joz’s existence, Olivia will get a post-it. If she gets three post-its in those twenty minutes, she gets a treat or a prize. All we want her to do is smile if Joz speaks to her. Hold hands with Joz if they’re going to run around the house. Play a game beside her and eventually, nod or shake her head in response to a question that Joz asks.

Baby steps.

The next task is to send Alyssa and Olivia out for ice cream with one my brothers. Olivia know her uncles quite well but she won’t speak to them. So sending them out with them will mean she needs to talk to someone to say what she wants. Even if she just tells Alyssa, it will take me out of the role of Olivia’s voice.

We’re totally willing to do whatever it takes to get Olivia out of her own head and help her find her own voice. This will probably take years and you know what? That’s okay too because all we want is progress, even if it is minute, tiny little steps toward her independence.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Missing Lyssie

Alyssa spent most of the weekend with my step-dad and J, my niece. She spent Friday and Saturday nights with them and even though Olivia and I rode the bike over on Saturday afternoon and she spent a good hour in the pool with A and J, she was so very ready for her sister to be home on Sunday.

When Alyssa did finally get home on Sunday, O couldn’t contain her joy. She ran around the room like a maniac for at least a half hour, throwing herself at Alyssa every few minutes, making Alyssa wrestle or just sit and hold each other.

Alyssa laughed and said, “I think she missed me.”

Oh yes, yes she did. As much as Olivia loves me, I’m not nearly as much fun as her wild and crazy sister. I don’t run from room to room with her, watching silly movies, drawing fun pictures, pretending to be a horse or a wolf or even a teacher and making Olivia do ‘homework.’

By the end of Sunday, though, it was obvious that Alyssa was tired from her adventure with Pawp and J. She started snapping at her sister for minor infractions, things that weren’t even directed at Alyssa herself.

I finally suggest that Alyssa take herself to her room where she could rest, read, be alone without an annoying little sister’s voice grating on that last nerve that was obviously so frayed.

Five minutes after Alyssa escaped to her room, Olivia came to find me, asking forlornly, “Did Lyssie go back go Grams? Is she going to stay at Gram’s forever now?”

Poor baby.

As soon as I assured her that Lyssie was just upstairs, O went back to her dolls, fine with playing alone for a bit longer as long as she knew her sister was still in the same house, that she’d come down in a while, less fractious, more willing to play again.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Ortho Referral

Late last week, I had a voice mail from O’s developmental pediatrician. The message said she was calling to discuss the x-ray of Olivia’s spine. She asked me to call her back, preferably in the afternoon.

Now, let me say here that this doctor is awesome but she is also notoriously hard to get a hold of. Her staff is great at putting you off when you call in. I give them credit, it must be tough to constantly field calls for this doctor.

But the message also said to tell the nurse or secretary, whomever answered, that I was returning a call from the doctor herself.

And what do you know? It worked. I only had to talk to three staff members before finally being connected to the doctor.

Dr. S started out by saying that all the bones in Olivia’s spine are properly formed. Yay!! That is excellent news.

But…she said that the curve at the top of her spine, around her upper rib cage, a sort of S-curve that we all have, is more pronounced than your average person. Dr. S even gave me the name of a specific doctor she’d like Olivia to see.

She spoke with a colleague in orthopedics and that doctor agreed that given Olivia’s high risk for scoliosis she needs to be monitored. In fact, we’re being referred to a doctor in the orthopedics department at Riley. I will hear from them in the next few weeks to set up an appointment for her to be seen.

I know, some would sigh and said, “Great, another doctor, another specialist, more appointments.”

But you know what? If we can keep an eye on Olivia with the help of specialists and keep her from being in pain and/or needing extensive, invasive treatments later in life, I say bring on the specialists. Bring on the appointments. The more people watching out for her the better.

Sure, it takes an entire day to make it down to Riley and back for what is usually a half hour appointment but again, this is for Olivia’s health, her wellbeing. I can suck it up and do what needs to be one. After all, it’s not as if Olivia has a choice here. She has no choice but to deal with 5p- and all that entails. The very least I can do is make sure she sees every doctor, therapist, specialist that might be able to help her, to keep her healthy, to give her the tools to overcome obstacles and to be the very best Olivia she can be.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Pleasantly Defiant

That’s how I described Olivia to my mom yesterday afternoon as the girls frolicked in my mom’s pool, my mom and I lazed in chairs on the deck watching them and every so often, Olivia would climb out of the pool to pee in the grass.

One of the times she climbed out of the pool, Olivia spied my mom’s watering can and asked if she could fill it with water from the pool to wash her feet.

My mom nodded her consent and O went about her foot cleaning duties.

Except, she wasn’t so much washing her feet as she was making mud all the way around the pool. She’d dip the watering can in the pool and it would get too heavy for her to lift over the pool’s edge and then she’d have to push the pool’s edge down to haul the watering can, water spilling everywhere, out of the pool.

After the fifth or so time, I told her that was enough.

She put up one finger and said, “Okay, but I just need to do it one more time.”

I told her she was not doing it one more time, she was done making mud.

She smiled a very pleasant, non-naughty smile. “Just one more time.”

“Olivia, I said no. Time to stop.”

“I just want to do it once more.”

We repeated this cycle at least five times, each of us maintaining a very pleasant tone of voice and Olivia continue to smile at me as if her smile would disarm my negativity toward her actions.

I finally just got up and took the watering can out of her hands. She tilted her head at me as if trying to figure out just how serious I was, came to the correct conclusion that I was quite serious and then she went to find a cup, which obviously held much less water and thus was easier to fill and lift from the pool.

When I’m in the right mood, this pleasant defiance is pretty amusing. She honestly thinks that if she just repeats her wishes often enough, always very pleasantly, never bratty, eventually she’ll wear me down.

It never happens, poor kid. But I do so love to watch her delightful tenacity in action.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


During our visit with our GP earlier this week, he gave me a referral to an ENT for a hearing test for Olivia and a referral to a speech therapist. I didn’t actually get an appointment that day with the speech therapist, just her name and number. I was told by the nurse to call her in a couple of days if I didn’t hear from the doctor’s office.

The therapist called me last night.

She sounded lovely on the phone. She was very interested in Olivia’s case while being very honest about not knowing if she has the skills to help Olivia.

We are meeting with her on Tuesday next week because the therapist feels that she can’t make a decision on whether she can help or not without actually meeting Olivia.

So…we’ll go and meet with her. She told me to have Olivia dressed in clothes I don’t mind getting dirty/painted on. She also suggested that O bring something she likes to play with.

We’re at a place where we realize that if Olivia won’t communicate with the person trying to help her communicate, well, what can we do? At six, she can’t write or type her thoughts and feelings. She uses me as her voice when we’re out in public and while that is fine when I’m actually with her, I can’t be there all the time and we want her to learn to speak for herself.

The therapist was encouraged by the fact that while we were at O’s appointment with her developmental pediatrician, Olivia shook her head in response to a question the doctor asked her. She looked to me first but I told her gently, “Sweetie, I can’t answer that. Only you know the answer to that question.”

Once she realized I couldn’t be her voice in that moment, she found a way to communicate. According to the speech therapist, that is a very good thing.

So…here we are. All we really want is for Olivia to have the tools to reach her fullest potential. I’ve said that over and over and over again. I’ll probably still be saying it in fifteen, twenty, forty years. I just want her to find her voice if only because only she knows what’s really going on in her head. And as lucky as I am that she shares that with me, I want the rest of the world to know how sweet, smart, funny and amazing this girl is. And I want them to learn it directly from her, not just hear it from me.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Alyssa and Her Gram

There is something about the bond between a grandmother and her first grandchild. Alyssa is that first grandchild to my mom and their bond is so strong.

My mom wasn’t working outside the home when my maternity leave was up after Alyssa was born so she volunteered to take care of Alyssa for me. She took care of her for the first seven months of Alyssa’s life.

After my mom went back to work, Alyssa and I started staying at her house at least one night a week just to give us a break from our horrendous commute.

Those things really solidified the bond between Lyss and her Gram.

Alyssa is not afraid to ask my mom or step-dad, who is just Pawp to her, for anything. They are just an extension of her family, people she knows want the very best for her.

I am so grateful that she has them.

Of course my mom adores Olivia (and Jaxon) too. But that first child? That Alyssa is a special one to her Gram.

As the mother of the first born grandchild, I can’t tell you how lucky I feel that my daughter and my mother have such an amazing bond. Their relationship continues to grow year after year. Alyssa spends the night with my mom a lot more than the other kids.

There is the fact that at ten years old, she’s perfectly capable of getting herself fed, clothed, is able to use the bathroom with no help whatsoever, can shower on her own, etc. so that is some of the reason but I know the biggest reason is that they just enjoy each other’s company.

I’m just glad that they sometimes let me tag along on their adventures.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Check Ups

Today was a day of appointments. I took a half a day vacation so I could take Olivia to our general practioner for a referral for a hearing test, as advised by her developmental pediatrician in Indy. While we were there, I asked him if he knew anything about selective mutism and whether or not he could recommend a psychologist in the area who might be able to help.

I took the notes we got from Dr. S at Riley. The GP was glad to have them. He said that he rarely gets things like that for his patients and he's always glad to add to their files anything they get from other doctors, especially specialists.

We walked away with an appointment with an ENT for the hearing test and a phone number for what our GP calls one of the area's best speech therapists. He said that even if this woman can't actually help Olivia, she has connections which might lead us to someone who can help. So that's a good thing.

From the doctor's office we headed to the dentist for the girls' cleanings. They were not amused by the day's activities but hey, you know what? Life is not always full of pony rides and cotton candy. Sometimes you have to get shots and flouride treatments. Today was a bonus day because there were no shots, only flouride treatments. Win!

And even better? Both A and O came out of the dentist's office as members of the No Cavity Club. It's always nice to belong to such an exclusive group.

From the dentist we headed for the park because even though I make them go to the dentist every six months, I'm not a complete ogre.

Monday, June 3, 2013


Last night, after I tucked Alyssa and Olivia into bed, I tiptoed out of the room and prayed, “God, thank you for loud children.”

Because they were so very, very loud pretty much all day yesterday.

On Saturday I bought them both new swim suits for summer. With Alyssa’s sudden growth spurt, none of her old suits fit and hello, you can’t buy one daughter a new swim suit without buying one for the other daughter.

So yesterday, they ran around the house all day long in their new swim suits. No, the weather wasn’t necessarily swim suit appropriate, but it was warmish in the house and that meant they could run around pretending to horses (Alyssa) or Horton (the one who hears a Who (Olivia)).

The horse whinnied often and Horton was, well, an elephant and so she did what elephants do. I can’t exactly describe it but I can tell you that it’s loud.

There were moments, like say, at dinner, when I begged them to be quiet. There were other moments when their level of noise threatened to get on my very last nerve but for the most part, it was just a day in the life.

And…get this, it was mostly fun. For them and for me. I laughed at their antics, I enjoyed their rambunctious play even as I stepped over Horton who was trying to find her lost speck or when I almost tripped over Alyssa’s herd of horses, the ones she was in charge of because, duh, she was the lead female of the herd.

But I love their imaginations. I love that they play together (at times, Alyssa’s herd was threatening Horton’s speck and at other times, Alyssa’s herd was ON Horton’s speck.) I love that they boss each other around and then, in the next breath ask a favor.

I love their voices, the fact that they both use them as well as they do. I know how rare it is for a child with 5p- syndrome to use her voice as often and as well as Olivia does. And because of that, last night I was so, so thankful for loud children.