Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bad Night

The night before last was rough. Although Olivia starts each night in her own bed, she inevitably ends up making her way to my bed anytime between midnight and 2am. This is not usually a big deal. When she arrives at my bedside, I pulled her into bed, kiss her and whisper that it’s still sleepy time and we both go back to sleep. We’ve even managed to figure out how to comfortably share the space.

Except the night before last, O seemed to have forgotten how to share space nicely. She tossed and turned and kicked and wiggled and dug her toes into my thighs and basically drove me nuts.

By the time the blankets were in a big tangle and pulled out from beneath the mattress, I’d had enough. I said, loudly for a middle of the night lecture, “Knock it off, Olivia. Stop moving around, you’re driving me crazy.”

Not my proudest moment. But damn it, I was tired. I just wanted to sleep in peace rather than with a thrashing six year old.

She settled a little and I managed to get another hour or so of fitful sleep.

Which means that last night I was tired before we even sat down to read and scratch back/legs/arms/hands/arm pits, you name it, Olivia wants it scratched.

I was tired and irritable. It was not a nice, gentle evening. At one time, I wished desperately that I’d set up a bedtime long ago that involved me taking the girls to their room, tucking them in, kissing them goodnight and leaving the room.

I didn’t do that, though. And more often than not, I love the closeness of the three of us sitting on the couch, me rubbing/scratching Olivia’s back and Alyssa sharing her day, her thoughts, her ideas.

But there are nights like last night when I’m so tired. I’m tired of being touched, of being instructed on where to scratch, how hard to scratch, of being given advice on how to parent Olivia from Alyssa. I’m just tired.

I was less patient with both girls than usual. I apologized over and over again only to be sighing and rolling my eyes thirty seconds after the last apology. It was ugly. I tried to assure them that I wasn’t angry with either of them, that I was just so tired.

Olivia asked me, “Are you being mean because you’re tired?”

Yes. Yes, I was so tired I was being mean. And I hated myself for it. But I couldn’t stop the bad mood from leaking from my every pore, from every sound I made, from every expression that crossed my face. I had to pee and yet Olivia kept turning to give me more places on her body to scratch. I was hot with her laying across my lap.

The complaints were numerous and I should have taken myself out of the situation. I should have walked away for a few minutes but I desperately wanted her to go to sleep. And I knew that any interruption in the scratching process would just prolong her awake time. I wanted her to sleep so I could rest too.

It’s all so stupid and I know it. I know that I need to change up our routine because no one gets any comfort at all from nights like last night. No one enjoyed our evening because Mom was being mean.

I hope to start making small changes that will eventually lead to everyone getting more, better sleep. I hope.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pajama Summer

Alyssa loves her jammies. She has always loved the comfort of pajamas, the ease of movement provided by a lovely pair of pajamas.

This summer, she’s spent way more time in her jammies than she has in regular clothes.

She had to get dressed on Saturday and Sunday this past weekend because we actually left the house both of those days. She wasn’t thrilled with the necessity of putting on clothing that is acceptable in public but she did it without much fuss.

But Sunday evening, as she put on a clean pair of pajamas she sighed and said, “I’m not taking these off until next Saturday.”

I laughed. Of course she’ll take them off, even if they’re just replaced by a new pair of pajamas but I understood what she meant.

The girls spend Mondays and Tuesdays each week at home with Tom and then go to my mom’s on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. They both wear their pajamas to my mom’s each morning and change (or not, as is usually the case) into clothes I take over for them.

Olivia has discovered the joy of wearing just pajama pants. She’s decided that even pajama shirts are too much to ask a child whose summer vacation is rapidly dwindling.

I’m glad they both get to run around all day in their pajamas (or even just half their jams.) It’s the fun of being young, being able to declare, “We’re having a pajama summer.” These awesome, free summers won’t last forever and I want them to make the most of them while they’re able.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Her Laugh

It really is the best medicine. Laughing eases tension, it lowers the blood pressure. It lightens the mood.

Olivia laughs a lot.

Alyssa told me the other day, “Livie has the best laugh of anyone else in this house.”

I agree. When Olivia laughs none of us can keep from smiling. We usually end up laughing right along with her, even if we don’t know what was so funny in the first place.

She finds the whole world endlessly amusing. This amazes me. This child, the one who, as an infant, cried for six months unless she was eating or sleeping, laughs at everything now. This is the child who was probably the cleanest baby in the entire state of Indiana during her first few months because baths were the only thing that soothed her. There is no exaggeration when I say that I probably gave her two, sometimes threes baths a day, pumping beside the bathtub while she wallowed in warm water, her tummy soothes for just a few minutes of peace for all of us.

And now? She makes us laugh with her own laughter. She tells stories about her imaginary friend, Mush Mush, a friend who was eleven yesterday and thirteen this morning and had her own car this afternoon.

She loves movies and music, she dances and sings and colors and imagines whole new worlds. She copies her sister to the point of irritation and then laughs hysterically when her sister loses her mind.

This girl…she makes our lives so complete, this baby I worried over so. Her laughter fills our house, it compels us to join her in joy. Joy just to be alive.

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Good Mom

I mentioned that we took one of Alyssa’s friends with us to Cedar Point this year. I really like this friend. She’s a lot like Alyssa. She talks when she has something to say but she’s not a know-it-all or an attention hog like I feared a lot of ten year olds can be.

She was a great addition to our little travelling group.

Her mom, though, is even more awesome. This mom could give tips on how to be a good mom and a good fellow mom when it comes to sending your kid on a trip with other people who are not family.

That last sentence is rough. Yikes. But let me explain.

When T and her mom got to our house on Monday night, T had her stuff in her duffel bag, as one would expect. Her mom handed me two smaller bags. In these bags were drinks and snacks that T’s mom knew T liked.

How cool is that? I wonder if I’d have thought to do that if Alyssa were going somewhere overnight with T and her mom. I can’t be sure I would. I would like to think I would from this point forward, though.

I had already bought a lot of snacks and drinks and I was hoping that I’d found something, anything that T would like. I love that T’s mom took it upon herself to make sure that daughter has something she liked on the trip.

Because we’d invited T to join us, I paid for her ticket and told her mom to just send some money with T for souvenirs. After I’d put T’s drinks in the refrigerator, her mom handed me some cash. I tried to tell her it wasn’t necessary but she said she really wanted to contributed and she didn’t trust her ten year old to hold the cash herself. She said that whatever T didn’t spend on souvenirs could go toward the meals I’d be providing for her in the next two and a half days.

I didn’t expect money. I didn’t want her to have to contribute at all but I could tell it was more important to her that she give us something that I took it. Then, when it came time for the girls to pick out souvenirs (stuffed dogs for A and T and a bracelet for O.) I felt pretty good about letting them all pick out exactly what they wanted instead of T having to count her money and figure out if she could afford it. It was fun for us all to just browse without worrying about cash flow.

I’m sure it goes without saying (but I’m saying it anyway, huh?) but I really like T and I like her mom. I feel like Alyssa got really lucky (smart?) when she and T became friends. I feel like I got REALLY lucky that the girls Alyssa likes so much has a mom that I feel like I’ve connected with, even just enough to exchange these girls who I hope are friends for years to come.

I hope to learn even more from T’s mom in how to be a good mom friend as both A and O continue to make friends and bring new people into our lives.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

What Matters

It’s the little things, really. Those small gestures that whisper, “I love you.” They matter so much more than grand gestures that scream it.

He puts the dishes away each morning before I get up and leaves out the containers I’ll use for my lunch so I don’t have to get them myself.

He changes the oil in my car without my having to ask him to do so.

He comes up every Sunday morning and gets Olivia out of our bed, leaving me with two whole hours in which to sleep without sharing the bed with anyone. This is the best two hours of sleep I get each week.

He smiled indulgently whenever I yell grammar corrections at the television and when I suggest we watch yet another science fiction movie or television show.

He lets me be me without ever feeling like I’m less than everything he ever wanted in a partner, a mother to his daughters.

These things, the little things, matter. They are the ones that describe a lasting, enduring love, the kind of love that will take you from those lustful glances over the table at your first date to the gentle hand-holding as your daughter’s wedding.

Is it always sunshine and roses? No. Of course not. Everyday life doesn’t lend itself to constant joyous contentment. There must be rain in order to enjoy the rainbow. But knowing that things have been tough and yes, can even get tough again makes me appreciate these times of contentment, of peace, of gentle loving that much more.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Selfishness and Guilt

I was talking to my beautiful bestie this morning and the subject of selfishness and guilt came up.

We agreed that it seems men tend to be innately selfish and feel no guilt over the selfishness whatsoever. Okay, to be fair, the men WE know have moments of selfishness and feel no guilt over it. I am not saying either her husband or my own is a selfish pig and that they are never unselfish but…bear with me, okay?

What really came of our conversation was the idea that if we, either Julie or I, ever take a moment or even a weekend and do something that feels even a little selfish or self-indulgent, we are drown in guilt over this.

An example I gave was the fact that every single evening, I sit on our couch with my girls and they both try to share the center couch cushion with me for several hours. By the time a couple of hours has passed, I am touched out. I’m ready for some space. And so I ask for it and am immediately wrapped in guilt over asking my children to get off me already.

See, I know how lucky I am that they both still want to be near me to the point of appearing to want to crawl back inside my body. I know that as the mother of ten year old, my days of snuggles and long-limbed draping are numbered.

I know all these things and yet after several hours of togetherness, I long for three inches to move my elbows without jabbing someone in the ribs.

My husband, on the other hand, never apologizes for telling one of them to stop touching him. I don’t think it occurs to him to apologize. He needs his space, he asks for it and that’s all okay.

I know it is okay too. I do. I know it is okay for me to ask for space too. But my mommy-guilt tells me that it’s not. I need to learn to silence that sucker because it’s wrong.

I hope in asking for space I’m showing my girls that it’s okay for them to someday put their needs above the wants of others. I will always put their needs first. They know this. But I want them to realize that while yes, I’m a mother, I’m also a person with needs of my own and I’m allowed to put them first every so often.

I want them to know this so that someday, if/when they’re mothers, they aren’t consumed by the guilt that often keeps me awake at night.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

But What Did You Do On the Oher Four Days You Didn't Work?

Ahh yes. I was out of work for four days, which equals six days of vacation if you count the two weekend days that followed Tuesday through Friday.

Thursday, well, I napped because, duh, I was tired. We got home at 9pm the night before and the girls were wired. We managed to get the dirty laundry where it belonged.

But before my nap, we had to hit the grocery store and Menards for some paint. See, I wanted to get the closets in the toy room painted before I moved all the toys back in there.

And…I did it. It took me a couple of hours on Friday and another couple on Sunday but those closets are navied and pinked. They’re awesome. I love them. Tom, on the other hand, hates them. But I knew he would and that’s why I didn’t ask his opinion when I was picking out paint. Yes, I told him that too. He would have gone with bright white. Boring!

On Saturday, though, we had company. Or, as Olivia called her, “Our Guest” visited. It was actually Tom’s oldest daughter. She was in the area and so came over for a few hours. The girls loved having her there.

She and Tom and Lyssie played basketball for over an hour. Olivia showed off her somersaulting skills. We ended up at the pool where we all swam and cooled off.

Here is a picture of Olivia at the end of the day, after “Our Guest” had left. Olivia wanted to dress like her big sister, with a dress over a swim suit. I am quite fond of this picture, actually.

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Good Time Was Had By All

I took some time off work last week. Four whole days in a row, in fact. It was lovely.

It was not, however, relaxing.

On Tuesday and Wednesday my mom and I took Alyssa, Olivia and a friend of Alyssa’s to Cedar Point. We stayed at The Breakers Hotel, which is right on the beach and about a hundred years from one of the roller coasters.

Let me tell you, the hotel was a huge hit. Next year, we’ll stay at the hotel, get there early and spend the afternoon in the pool and go to the park the next day. We paid for two days at the park this year and while it was fun, I think one day is enough. But the hotel and it’s POOLS were the biggest hit, especially as far as Olivia was concerned.

Next year, we’ll also take our stroller. I meant to take it this year but by the time we had loaded my mom’s car with all our other stuff, there wasn’t room and…well, I’d forgotten to go get it from the basement and we were ready to GO.

Olivia did really well in the beginning. She walked the entire length of the park at least three times before asking to be carried. She told me her feet and legs were tired. We’d headed back to the car for lunch when I realized I couldn’t do that for the rest of the day. So I made my own way back to the front of the park where the stroller rental is located. I left my mom with the girls so they didn’t have to make the walk. They found a fountain/splash area where the girls could cool off and wait.

$26 dollars later, I was on my way. And let me tell you, those were the best $26 I ever spent. Olivia was able to rest when she wanted, which let her enjoy that much more of the park. She loved the carnival-like rides and laughed the entire time she was being doused with water on Thunder Canyon. We turned a corner this year. There will be no more leaving this girl at home with Dad while the big girls go off and have fun without her.

The hotel pool, though, that was the best part of our entire day. By 6pm, we were all beat. We were done with rides and sweating and walking and yes, even riding in a stroller. We were finally able to get into our room and the relief felt by all was enormous. We changed out of our sweat-damped on clothes, put on our swim suits and followed the smell of chlorine to the indoor swimming pool.

It was only three feet deep so it was perfect for Olivia, who is three feet eleven inches these days. She bounced and sank and bounced some more. Alyssa and her friend Tracy loved the pool just as much, making their way back and forth from the pool to the hot tub and back again.

Seriously, next year, we’re getting the hotel room for one night and going to the park the next day instead of paying for two days at the park. We’ll get to the hotel early and just spend the day at the pool, on the beach, in the room.

We did go back to the park the next day but everyone was tired. Our feet hurt and we were on the road by 5pm.

A good time was definitely had by all but next year we’ll adjust our plans according to how well it worked and didn’t work this year.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Dancing Queen

As mentioned, my brother got married last weekend. It was a lovely wedding. Alyssa played the Bridal Chorus beautifully, Olivia dropped petals perfectly and my feet were killing me by the end of the fifteen minute ceremony.

But the reception…ah, the reception.

That is where Olivia chose to shine. This girl, she loves to dance. She’s got some hip action on her that doesn’t stop. She wanted to dance to every single song played.

I wish everyone dances like an uninhibited six year old. It’s a beautiful sight. She just feels the music, it moves through her and she interprets it. The joy, the freedom she shows is just awesome.

And yes, she managed to get me out there more often than I necessarily wanted to dance but if you can say no to a six year old asking you to dance, you have a harder heart than I do.

We danced to Lady Gaga, we danced to country singers I know nothing about. We danced to the Chicken Song and we danced to Katy Perry. The DJ was good, he had a pretty big variety.

We jumped, we spun, we ran in place and we raised the roof.

Dancing with Olivia is freeing. I know that people are way more likely to be watching her dance it out than they are to be watching me. I’m okay with that because I’m way more self-conscious than she is. She dances because she can’t not dance. I dance because she wants me to.

Quite honestly, I’m not sure if either of those reasons is necessarily better or worse than the other. At least, in the end, we were dancing. There’s something be said for that.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Date

Back in January when I started my weight loss endeavors, I didn’t have a goal weight in mind. I did, however, have a goal date.

That date is tomorrow. My brother will be getting married tomorrow and I get to show of my new, smaller, less cumbersome body in a bridesmaid dress I bought back in March.

As of last Monday, seven months and six days after I started down this path, I hit the milestone of fifty pounds lost. I went from a tight size eighteen to a comfortable size twelve. For me, this has turned into a journey of comfort, of feeling better inside and out.

I haven’t longed for the day when I can eat cake and peppermint patties. I don’t miss Coke or Mountain Dew. My water and sugar-free gum do the trick in the afternoons.

I decided on Monday, after the scale was so kind as to show me the number I wanted to see that tomorrow isn’t the day for me to end this journey.

No, I’ve extended it. I’d like to see what I can do for the rest of the year. I’d like to see what happens when I step on the scale on January 2, 2014, a full year after I started.

It feels so good to be here, in this place of self-acceptance and comfort. It feels good to be able to ride a bike with my girls, not huffing and puffing.

One day at a time. One bite at a time. I hope this time is different. I hope that even if I do have cake at tomorrow’s wedding it won’t lead to a year-long binge where I have to start all over again. Though, the jury is still out on whether I will have cake or not, to be honest. I’m not sure I trust myself yet and that’s okay too.

And for those who want to know, there were no before pictures taken. It was just too dreadful. There may, though, be some after pictures taken and posted after the wedding tomorrow. We’ll see…

Thursday, July 11, 2013


I just want to say again how grateful I am to my ten year old daughter. I love so much how she treats her little sister like she’s just any other typical, and yes, annoying little sister.

This morning, Tom told both A and O to go upstairs to the linen closet and bring down five rolls of toilet paper for the half-bath. We have a small cabinet thingy that holds that many rolls in that room so no one ever actually runs out of toilet paper while actually on the toilet. The horrors.

Alyssa announced yesterday after coming out of the bathroom that we need to teach Olivia how to change the toilet paper roll.

Tom and I laughed.

Is there any six year old out there, typical or not, who can actually change the toilet paper roll? I mean, seriously, even a six year old with advance fine motor skills probably can’t or won’t do such a thing.

Alyssa just huffed and flounced away, disgusted with the fact that her parents ‘baby’ her sister. For the record, when Alyssa was six, she wasn’t expected to change the toilet paper roll. But she can’t be bothered to remember that. Ten year olds are so much fun.

But you know what? I love that she doesn’t baby Olivia. I love that she expects as much out of her as she expects out of Jaxon, who is a full year younger than Olivia. She treats them both with the same distain and impatience and I love it.

I’m glad for that norming effect for Olivia. I want her to grow up knowing what it’s like to have an impatient, sometimes obnoxious big sister. I want that because it’s NORMAL and I want her to experience every possible normal thing in the world.

Those therapists who said all along that Alyssa was going to be Olivia’s best teacher, best therapist, best friend were so, so right. Olivia looks to her sister for what is normal, what is cool. She mimics her sister in so many ways and I’m glad for this. So very glad that she has this chance to be normal, to be a little sister and push buttons and follow her sister around and just be a kid, away from therapies and doctors and all the babying her parents do. Even as six, Olivia’s starting to agree with her sister, parents really can cramp a girl’s style.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Librarian

As previously noted the girls and I go to our local library every Saturday. Alyssa has her own card and loves picking out books to check out. Some weeks she gets horse books, other weeks the subject is gymnastics or the Titanic. She’s a well-rounded girl.

The librarians at our library are all very nice. But there is one particular librarian that always, always tries to pull Alyssa into a conversation. It’s usually about the books she’s checking out. The librarian is so nice but she really doesn’t seem to appreciate Alyssa’s shyness.

The librarian, let’s call her Libby, will ask Alyssa a question. Alyssa will look at me and I’ll tell her, “You can speak for yourself.” Gently. I always say that gently. I’m trying to get both A and O to not need me to be their voice these days.

The other day, though, when I said that to Alyssa Libby called out to Alyssa and when Alyssa looked at her, Libby pointed to her eyes and then to Alyssa’s. She said, “You. I’m talking to you. What do you do at school when the teachers talk to you?”

She said this fairly kindly but I think she was bordering on being harsh.

Alyssa did answer though. She said, “I talk to them.”

I explained to Libby that when Alyssa went for kindergarten testing, they noted on her chart, “Does not speak.”

I then explained that I’d told little five year old Alyssa that the rule at school was that if a teacher asked you a question, you had to answer.

But you know what? I don’t think that rule applies to other adults that my children don’t actually know. Not even librarians they see every week or so.

Yes, it would be nice if they were a bit more outgoing. But…they’re not. They might be when they’re older and that would be great. I would be thrilled for them.

Quite honestly, though, I don’t think our librarian needs to verge on bullying my ten year old to get her to converse with her. I do understand what Libby’s trying to do. And while I can appreciate it on an academic level, I sort of want to tell her to stop it (I won’t) because I feel like both A and O are both coming along pretty well as they work to overcome their shyness/selective mutism issues. I give them opportunities to get past these things and the library is just one of them.

I want my girls to be polite to strangers. I want them to answer direct questions. But I also don’t feel like they need to be, well, harassed isn’t the right word but it felt very close to just that last weekend when they’re trying to check out a book.

This is all jumbled and all over the place. Basically, I know the librarian means well. I know she thinks she’s helping but I can’t help but feel a little judged as a mother when she does things like she did last week to Alyssa. I can’t help but feel a little like Alyssa was being scolded by her when she did the “You, I’m talking to you.” thing. It was weird and off-putting and I think I’m just writing it here to get it off my mind.

So yes, that’s what this is all about.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Okay, so mutism is not exactly mutiny but…I thought it was kind of a funny play on words. Yes, so…my dad visited last night. It was a very nice visit. I listened to his various complaints about physical ailments, nodded silently as he told me stories about his various friends and the girls came and went from the room, getting popsicles, pickles and berries for snacks to take back outside where they were hanging with Tom while my dad and I talked.

Each time Olivia came in she didn’t acknowledge my dad’s presence but his very presence didn’t actually stop her from speaking the way it would have even a month ago.

She’d walk into the room, ask me a question in a clear, audible voice, wait for the answer, and, often, pose a follow-up question.

When it came time for my dad to leave, Olivia didn’t actually say goodbye but she waved. We call that non-verbal communication.

Her speech therapist likes to take away the words ‘non-verbal’ and just call it communication. I like the way that woman thinks.

This is a great step for Olivia. The fact that she communicates with someone she sees maybe once a month, even non-verbally, is a step in the right direction. The fact that she spoke to me in front of my dad, where he could actually hear her, was another big step for her. In the past, she’d either come close to me and whisper so only I could hear her or she would actually try and take me to another room before speaking to me. I’m so glad she’s moving forward. I never doubted she would but it’s nice to see true progress.

I also don’t doubt that we’ll have some areas that slip again before we get over each hump completely. And that’s okay too. Olivia is going to learn at her own pace and I’m all for that. I just like to give her a little nudge now and then.

Isn’t that what moms are for?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Our Holiday Weekend

I was off work on Thursday and Friday last week to celebrate the Fourth of July. It was lovely.

The girl and I rode with my mom to watch the Fourth of July parade. Tom had to go to town himself to pick up some tools and stuff (I’m pretty sure ‘stuff’ is the technical term for what he bought.) and off-handedly asked where we stood/sat to watch the parade.

But see, I’m on to him these days. I kind of thought he might show up since he’d asked where we’d be. But, in case he didn’t, I didn’t say anything to the girls. And it was a lovely surprise for them when he arrived about ten minutes before the parade started.

Jaxon was especially happy Tom was there because it meant that Olivia could sit on her dad’s lap and Jaxon could sit on mine, with my hands over his ears while the fire trucks and polices cars, sirens wailing, slowly passed in front of us.

After the parade, my mom and I took the three kids to the park, then to Kohl’s. What, you don’t go shopping on the Fourth of July? It was great. There were very few people there and it was cool and relatively calm, if you don’t count Jaxon’s insistence that Alyssa push him all over the store in the stroller cart.

We dropped Jaxon off with his dad, who had worked that day, and my mom and the girls and I hit the grocery store. Ugh. It was crazy packed. I wondered why everyone wasn’t out having picnics or even at the lake. But then, I remembered, duh, we were there too. It was less than pleasant.

My aunt had invited us to her house to watch fireworks so after dinner and a brief rest, we went back to town to sit in her backyard and watch the show. The kids played tag, ran around with their glow sticks and held sparklers.

We got home at 11:00. Olivia had fallen asleep in the car about five minutes after I strapped her in.

The next day dawned bright and beautiful. By 1:00, the girls and I were at the community pool, getting in free due to them closing suddenly the previous Saturday due to low attendance.

Ten minutes after we arrived, much to Alyssa’s joy, she noticed that a good friend from school had arrived with another friend. She spent hours frolicking with these friends. I was so happy for her. Swimming is always so much more fun with friends.

Saturday morning the girls asked if we could go to the pool again. Alas, it was not meant to be. The weather was definitely not conducive to swimming. It was cooler than usual and cloudy with chances of rain. Instead we hit the library and the dollar store to get gifts for Tom’s family reunion which is happening this coming Sunday, the day after my brother’s wedding. Yes.

Yesterday morning Olivia asked upon waking if we could go to the pool. We looked outside and I told her that it probably wasn’t going to happen.

But don’t feel sorry for her. Both A and O spent the entire day in their pajamas, lounging around the house, playing ‘animal shelter’, watching movies and watching me start the cleanup of the toy room. As of yesterday afternoon, that room is no longer the toy room. It is currently the empty room. Yes, I got it completely emptied out and next week, after our Cedar Point trip, I’m going to paint the closets. Yes, closets. The smallest room in our house has two closets. I’m not complaining. I love that room and both closets but…two closets.

One of the closets is going to be painted hot pink and the other is going to be navy blue. They’re going to be awesome. Just like our holiday weekend.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


I’ve talked about reading a lot here, about how Olivia and I settled in each night and read books together. Well, what I really mean is that we settled in and I read books to her.

Except last night…she read an entire book to me. Yes, there were probably only about four words in the entire book but she read them. Did you take note of those last three words?

SHE READ THEM. She read the words to me, not after I’d already told her what the words were. Not after I read the title, pointing to each word as I spoke.

No. She read the title to me. Then, I opened the book and she read the words from the pages.

She read the words: ok, go, stop, red, and green.

I’m not going to lie and say that I didn’t have concerns about whether Olivia would easily learn to read. Heck, at this point I still don’t think it’s easy for her. But I do know she’s learning. She’s taking it all in and processing it and it’s showing.

It may take a few more years for her to be able to pick up a Junie B. Jones book and read it aloud the way Alyssa did when she was six. But that’s okay. That’s fine. The fact that she is learning, that she is processing, that she wants to do these things is a wonderful thing to me.

I’ve always been a reader. I love, love, love books. My downtime is after the girls are asleep and I’m snuggled in bed with a flashlight and a book.

Whenever Olivia asks to watch a movie, she specifically requests, “With the words.”

She wants the closed captioning or subtitles to run along with the movie.

This drives Alyssa crazy. She huffs, “Why does she want that? She can’t even read!”

Tom and I always answer, “She’s learning to read and this helps. Shut it.”

Okay, so maybe we don’t tell Alyssa to shut it but we do tell her that her sister is learning to read and the words on the screen help. (Then again, maybe we do tell her to shut it…)

I want to encourage Olivia’s curiosity for words and deciphering the code that is the written language. I want her to continue to process and grow and learn and become all she can be. I want to help her any way I can and I know that continuing to read to her, letting her read to me and yes, even having the closed captioning on the television are all steps in her journey to reading.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


I worry sometimes that we’re already at that stage where Alyssa thinks I’m a major loser and she is on the verge of wanting nothing to do with me.

But then, the moment after the worry pops into my head, she’s sitting so close to me on the couch that she may as well be on my lap.

We have our moments, that girl and I.

She called me rude this past weekend and, quite honestly, it hurt my feelings and made me wonder if she thinks I’m a horrible person.

I do not want my children to think I’m a bad person. Heck, I don’t want to BE a bad person.

She called me rude after I made a, well, rude comment about another driver on the road. But…they were idiots. So…yes, rude.

I’m trying to curb that tendency I have to feel like when I’m behind the wheel other people should just get out of my way. I’m especially trying to do so when one or both of the girls are in the car with me.

See, I know I’m a nerdy, dumpy (yes, even after 49 pounds lost, I’m still dumpy) mom. I know I’m boring and probably mean sometimes (I do, after all, have expectations of the girls and this is sometimes construed at mean.) I’m snarky and often mean-spirited, especially while watching television. I know I need to check that and either just think the mean stuff or try and change the thinking altogether when the girls are watching with me.

But I still want my kids to think I’m fun to be around. I want them to not be embarrassed by me. I want them to actually enjoy my company. And for now, I think they still do. But I fear the teen years and the utter annoyance I know I will engender in my older daughter when she finds me irritating and boring and just plain stupid.

So. What does all this mean? It means mama needs a personality overhaul, I guess. I need to stop being obnoxious and rude in the car. I need to stop snarking at the television. But I won’t stop correcting grammar out loud while watching television. There are some things I just can’t help. I need to reign in my nerdiness, at least a little, I think, especially if we’re around other people.

All in all, I just need to be a better person. That’s not such a big task, is it?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Mush Mush

Olivia has an imaginary friend. This friend’s name is Mush Mush. Yes. Yes it is.

Sometimes Mush Mush is a girl and sometimes, if Imaginary Jaxon is at our house, Mush Mush is a boy like Imaginary Jaxon, except when Imaginary Jaxon is a girl, then Mush Mush is a girl too.

This morning, Olivia wanted me to do her hair like Mush Mush’s hair. I had to ask her to show me, using her own hair, how Mush Mush’s hair was styled because, obviously, I couldn’t actually SEE Mush Mush’s hair since, yeah, she’s imaginary and only Olivia can describe how her hair was.

It ended up being that O wanted her the front half of her hair in a very high, very tight (or in her words, “tight, tight, tight.”) ponytail. It was cute.

Olivia approved, saying that Mush Mush was impressed with my ability to recreate the hairstyle on Olivia. I was happy that Mush Mush approved.

There have been evenings when I set a place at the table for Mush Mush, even on those evenings when I’m informed that Mush Mush is a blue kangaroo and Imaginary Jaxon is pretending to be her joey and has settled himself into Mush Mush’s pouch.

The creativity of Olivia’s mind never ceases to amaze me. I love that she gives these little insights. I feel honored that she shares all these stories and dramas with me.

Speaking of stories, each night as we settle in to read, I ask Olivia if she can tell me some of the words in the titles of the books. She read ‘dog’ and ‘cat’ in the last couple of days. She knows ‘and’ as well as ‘the.’ We’re well on our way to sight reading and, eventually, sounding out words and yes, I do believe this girl of mine is going to really read at some point. I have no doubt, actually.

After the first book last night, she asked if she could look at it when we were done. I told Tom that after only a year and a half of purposeful, nightly reading, Olivia finally wants to look at the books on her own, attempting to make sense of the letters and words on the pages. This warms her geeky mom’s heart.