Monday, September 30, 2013

Travel is Not for the Weak

I thought I was so smart. I scheduled my flights so I’d be home by 7:00pm on Sunday evening, in time to read to Olivia, to snuggle with Alyssa and tuck them both into bed.

I got to the airport at 10:00am, one hour and fifty five minutes before my flight was scheduled to leave.

I thought I was amazing.

Except, my boarding pass wouldn’t print. Huh. That’s weird.

I went to the American Airlines counter and asked for help.

She helped me alright. She helped me right out of my self-righteousness and right into a pair of pants designed and fitted for an idiot.

I’d booked my flight for October 27. The date I was trying to travel was September 29. Seriously.

Sit back and let it sink in.

I’d booked my return flight a month late.

And there were no seats on the flight I’d planned to take home. Well, wait. Not home. There were no seats left on the flight to Chicago which would put me closer to home and allow me to catch another flight to Toledo.

A ray of hope glimmered when the airline employee told me she could put me on a flight to Chicago that left Washington, D.C. at 7:00pm that night. It would connect with a flight that would put me in Toledo at about 10:00pm.

That’s a little later than I’d hoped. The girls would be asleep but at least I’d be home. I forked over the flight change fee and settled in for a looooong day at the Ronald Regan Airport in Washington, D.C.

I was lucky enough to spend a little time with Julie and Mary while they waited for their on-time flight to Indianapolis. That helped pass the time.

For the record, if you pack an absurdly large pencil in your bag, they will want to investigate said bag. Just so you know.

By 6:15, I was so happy that our flight was going to be boarding in 15 minutes. Except, almost immediately after I thought this, an announcement came that the plane that would take us to Chicago was running late. It wouldn’t be in until 7:15, which was 15 minutes after we were supposed to LEAVE. Yikes.

We were all asked to gate-check our bags to speed up the boarding process. I asked what the chances were to making my connection.

The airport lady (I have no other label for her and yes, label her I must) gave me a small headshake. “It’s going to be very close,” she said glumly.

Sigh. I called Tom. I didn’t cry this time, like I did when I called to tell him of my very embarrassing scheduling issue. I cry when I’m feeling stupid and this time it wasn’t my fault the stupid plane was late, so no tears.

The problem with missing the connection was that the plane I needed to catch in Chicago that would take me to Toledo was the last flight of the night to Toledo. If I missed that connection, I would be stuck in Chicago, a mere three hours from my home, thank you very much, overnight.

It felt like the travel gods were out to get me.

Finally, we boarded at 7:10 and were in the air by 7:30. My connecting flight was supposed to leave two hours and ten minutes after we left D.C.

It was going to be close. Very, very close.

I asked one of the flight attendants on the plane bound for Chicago if he knew what time we would land. He snottily replied, “I don’t know what time we left but this is a two hour flight.”

Thanks for the non-information, ASS. Seriously, dude used a totally unkind tone with me. I don’t get it. I’m a perfectly lovely person and I asked very nicely. Well!

The girl next to me was very nice. The instant we landed, she turned on her phone and checked gate information for my flight to Toledo. See, flight dude, there is kindness in the world.

She saw that we were deplaning in concourse H and my Toledo flight was boarding in concourse L. She gave me directions and said, “Run.”

The lady flight attendant, also MUCH nicer than her male counterpart, asked all other passengers to please wait while those of us with tight connections got our stuff and got off the plane. I had to dodge a couple of first class passengers but I was the first one off the plane and dashing up the thingy that leads from the plane to the gate.

I quickly checked the monitors, saw that my nice neighbor’s phone had been correct about the gate I needed to get to and made a last ditch effort to make it there before the plane left, which was scheduled to happen ten minutes after we landed in Chicago.

I was fine running through H toward K. I knew, because I can say my ABCs, that L would be right after K. But damn, K is a freaking long concourse.

Did you know that losing weight through changing your eating habits alone does not actually improve your cardiovascular health? Because, yeah, it doesn’t. I was so out of breath I thought I was going to pass out. I did have to stop a few times and do the whole fast walk.

But guess what? I made it. I got to the gate, gasped, “Toledo, plane? Too late?”

The guy behind the counter said, “You have plenty of time.”

The lady said, “We haven’t quite boarded yet.”

I asked if I had time to use the restroom and she looked at me skeptically and said, “Hurry.”

I said, “I’ll wait.”

And then we boarded. And I started coughing like a fool. See, all that running had me breathing hard and that dried out my throat. See why running is bad! Bad, bad, bad.

The nice fellow next to me offered me a tissue and a cough drop. I tried to explain that I wasn’t actually sick, that I’d just had to run, like really far. He shook his head and told me he didn’t speak English.

Poor guy probably thought he was sitting next to patient zero in the next flu epidemic.

I think he must have gotten over that fear, though, because just before we landed, he tried to hand me his phone number.

What? I mean…really? I was flattered and confused and it was weird. Who does that?

Anyway, I made it home at 12:30am. Only five and a half hours later than I’d originally planned.

I spent over nine hours in an airport in Washington, D.C. I ran for a plane for the first (and please, dear God, last) time ever and I made it home to my sweet family. Though, guess what? My bag, the one I had to gate check in D.C.? It didn’t make it to Toledo. It is supposedly being delivered to my home today.

Thank goodness my car keys weren’t in that bag.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Getting Away

Olivia asked last night, “When are we going to get to spend a day with you?”

Oh, dear sweet child. I get that being in school full day has been tough on her but she usually spends every single Saturday and Sunday with me and every evening between. But she’s sensed that something is amiss.

See, I’m heading to DC tomorrow to meet with some of the most amazing moms I’ve ever had the honor of meeting. It’s a conference for the March of Dimes and this will be the fifth year I’ve been able to attend. So…she realizes I won’t be here this coming weekend and two days and two nights away feels like forever to her gentle little heart.

Tom teased O this morning about who was going to read to her while I was gone. I told her that her daddy is perfectly capable of reading to her and that I’d checked out enough books last week to cover them on Friday and Saturday night. I’ll be home early enough on Sunday to do to the reading myself.

She worries about these sorts of things. Who is going to read to her? Who is going to pick out her pajamas? Who is going to make her breakfast, lunch and dinner and provide snacks between? Girl has her priorities straight, that’s for sure.

I only go away once a year. One time a year. Which means two nights out of 365. I don’t feel guilty for this. Not even a little. But I do feel O’s heart bruising as I walk out the door. I know she misses me. Alyssa does too but at ten, she knows that two days isn’t all that long and she consoles herself with the fact that she’ll get some quality time at Gram’s (and unlimited ice cream bars) at least for a few hours on Saturday, which totally trumps missing Mom.

Olivia, on the other hand, is a mama’s girl. She can’t help it. She tells me that no one is as soft and squishy as I am. I thank her, wondering if that’s really a compliment but accepting it in the manner it was intended. Daddy is just too angular for her tastes. Too muscular and not nearly soft enough in the bosomy area. Poor fella.

I use this weekend to reconnect and recharge and yes, to sleep in a bed all by myself. I come back ready for the next year, to mother them better, to be a better wife, to give back to my community more.

I need this weekend and I know that Olivia will be just fine with her dad reading her books each night. He’s also perfectly capable of making breakfast, lunch and dinner. No matter how much he protests to the contrary.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


I’ve always prided myself on being smart. You know, not Einstein smart but smarter than the average bear.

In kindergarten, we all knew that the purple reading group was the top readers and the black reading group was for those who needed extra help. I was in the purple group and I was proud of it.

In sixth grade, I was in a group of six who were allowed to read whatever we wanted because we’re already read everything in the set curriculum. It was awesome.

In seventh grade, five of us were sequestered in an empty classroom to teach ourselves eighth grade math because we were all beyond what they were teaching in seventh grade. The next year, we were put with the freshman and taught algebra. Each year after, we continued to be with the class of 88 (we were the class of 89. Gosh, I’m old, huh?) for math. I hated math. I hated algebra and trigonometry and geometry and calculus but I stuck with those classes because, damn it, it meant I was smart. It had to mean that, right?

High school was easy. I went to a tiny high school. There were only 44 of us in my graduating class. It was easy to be smart in a school that small.

College was a little tougher. Not much, but a little. I went to Indiana University. I LOVED college even though I had to work a little harder for good grades.

I once dated a guy who turned out to be a jerk. He was manipulative and selfish and when he realized our relationship was almost over, he tried to tell me that he’d heard a rumor that was going around. He acted like he didn’t want to tell me. He hemmed and hawed and finally told me that the rumor was that he and I met in a strip club.

I must have given him a blank look because he elaborated, saying as gently (ick) as possible, “The rumor is that you were a dancer.”

Then I got it. I realized what he was trying to do. I laughed and said, “People think I could be a stripper? Awesome!”

I could see by the look on his face that his plan had backfired. He’d hoped that this ‘rumor’ would hurt my self-esteem, that it would make me doubt myself.

See, this dude wasn’t used to dating women smarter than he was. Or, wait. Maybe all the women he’d dated were smarter than he was (it wasn’t hard to be smarter) but he was used to dating women who already had low self-esteem and he played on that.

I want my girls to grow up knowing how smart they are. Yes, we tell them all the time how pretty and funny and creative they are. But I want them to take pride in their intelligence too.

Alyssa has, in the past year, become quite the reader. If she’s not out riding her bike or doing cartwheels, she’s reading. She came home the other day and announced that she’s currently got the second highest score in an extra-curricular reading contest going on in her class. I am so proud of her. More importantly, though, she’s proud of herself. She loves that she’s in the top two, that she’s doing better than most in her class.

I don’t want to necessarily foster competition with anyone but herself but I love that she already loves being smart. I love that she’s pushing herself.

All I ask of either of my girls is that they do their best. It doesn’t matter where they land in the group as long as they can honestly say they did the best they could.

When O’s teacher told me that in a couple of areas of kindergarten academics, Olivia is actually ahead of the curve, I was pleasantly surprised. Not surprised that O is smart, but surprised that her teachers were able to ascertain that.

I mean…she’s got 5p- syndrome. An intellectual delay is a given, right? Except, maybe it’s not. Maybe we need to continue to expect her very best and not be surprised when her best is just as good as, if not better than, those around her. She shines, just like her sister. And I am so proud of both of them and always will be as long as they continue to do their best, no matter where that lands them in pack.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

There's Something About Olivia

My mom and I were talking last night and Olivia kept interrupting us to tell us another story, another joke, show us another trick as she danced with her shadow that was created by the late afternoon sun shining through my mom’s kitchen window.

When O finally left the room to go tell Alyssa something, I said, “Have you noticed she’s talking even more lately? I mean, I know she’s always talked to us really well but…she’s having full-blown conversations, telling stories with a beginning, middle and end, engaging with us. There’s more eye-contact and if she’s interrupted by her sister or her cousin, she stops them and tells them she’s trying to talk.”

She’s standing up for herself.

My mom agreed with me that Olivia seems to be coming alive, even more than ever, right in front of our eyes.

My mom told me a story about her time with Alyssa, Olivia and Jaxon from this past weekend.

All three kids spent the night with my mom on Friday night. Saturday morning, she laid out clothes for Olivia and Jaxon. J got dressed first and then Olivia, once dressed too, joined him on the couch.

Jaxon looked at her outfit and announced, “I hate pink and I hate Hello Kitty.”

Olivia gave him glance and replied, “Well, I hate dinosaurs, I hate green and I hate boy underwear.”

Then they went back to being best friends.

My girl can hold her own.

I hope this sense of self she’s building is going to school with her each day. I hope her confidence, her humor, her strength ride along in her backpack and follow her around.

She’s been on an antibiotic since last Friday. I give her the morning dose, Tom gives her the mid-day (ish…she gets it when she gets off the bus at 3:15) and I give her the evening dose.

Tom and I both marvel at how well she takes medicine. She picks up the little medicine cup, downs the medicine and takes a drink of water. No fuss.

Alyssa always at least gives a bit of a whine before taking her medicine. She’s never really fought it, though either.

We got lucky, I know. I have a couple of cousins who were terrors when it came to medicine. They’re mother would have to hold them down, plug their nose, blow in their faces to get them to open their mouths and dump the medicine down their throat, hoping to get enough down there that they couldn’t spit it all back in her face.

Ugh! What a nightmare.

I feel like at this point, Olivia is learning to pick her battles. She knows she can’t win when it comes to medicine so she doesn’t fight. She also knows we can’t make her eat her lunch at school and so…for now, she’s not doing that. She does eat it when she gets home so we’re not fighting her either. We just continue to pack the lunch each day, she takes it to school and then brings it back and eats it at home.

While her tenacity can be frustrating, I’m grateful for it. It will take her far in this world and there is definitely something to be said for good old fashioned stubbornness.

Monday, September 23, 2013

"Nap" Time

Olivia’s cough from last week worsened over the weekend. She never had a fever or any other complaints but the cough always got worse when she was active.

Sunday morning, Tom insisted she sit with him and rest. After lunch, he suggested I take her upstairs and try to get her to nap.

Olivia hasn’t napped in at least two years, probably more like three. But I was game for trying. Trying to get Olivia to nap meant I could nap, right? Right!

So right after lunch, after giving O her mid-day dose of antibiotic, off we went to try and sleep. She was happy to climb the stairs on front of me, grinning as if we were on a big adventure.

While we were in the bathroom for a pre-nap potty break, Olivia found a baggie with a button in it. It was from a pair of pants I’d bought the week before. She asked me if it was an imaginary button. I told her it looked pretty real to me.

She asked if she could have the button. She was fascinated by the idea of a button in a baggie. I said she could absolutely have the button. She carried that button into the bedroom and climbed into bed with me.

We snuggled beneath the covers and I quietly told her to close her eyes just for a few minutes and try to sleep just a little.

She said okay. Then, she played with her new treasure.

I set the alarm for about an hour and a half later, figuring even if she didn’t sleep, at least she was resting.

And…she didn’t sleep. We snuggled beneath the covers and Olivia whispered, “Are we taking a nap?”

“We’re trying,” I whispered back. “But we can’t be sleeping if we’re talking.”

She giggled. Then she got her button stuck in a plastic toy brush she’d been holding too. I had to get the flashlight that resides on the bedside table to get it out.

She tossed and turned and an hour in, she declared she had to pee again.

We managed to stick it out for about an hour and a half before she finally asked, “Is our nap done yet?”

I managed to not laugh and told her it could be done it she was ready for it to be done.

She jumped out of bed and started to run toward the stairs. I reminded her that running makes her cough worse and she slowed to a fast walk.

Tom asked how our nap was. I informed him that one of us might have snoozed a bit here and there but it wasn’t the one he’d hoped would do so.

H agreed with me that the hour and a half that she rested in bed with a half-sleeping mommy was good enough.

We put in The Simpson’s Movie and Olivia sat, entranced, on the floor for another couple of hours.

What won’t we do to limit our kids’ physical activity?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Weekend Projects

Each Friday, I gaze into the coming weekend, planning all that I’m going to accomplish, all that will get done, all the cleaning that will happen, all the playing the girls and I will do and by Sunday evening, I feel good if all the laundry is washed, dried and put away.

Let’s face it, two days are not enough to get it all done.

But I always think it could happen.

This coming weekend, I’m hoping to get the carpets in the living room and family room shampooed. I also hope to clean the tubs (Iron Out is my friend even if it does smell horrible.) The fridge really needs to be cleaned out. Not sorted, no, it needs to be emptied and scrubbed. It’s nasty.

I’d like to take the girls to the park because these lovely fair weather days are numbered. I can almost smell November in the air.

We will make it to the library because that’s what we do on Saturdays. Groceries will be purchased and put away. The family has to eat, don’t you know?

I will lay out the girls’ and my own clothes for the coming week because there is nothing more annoying than standing in front of a closet with a six year old at 6am and arguing over what is weather appropriate. We’ve never done that and I have no intention of starting. No, I lay out clothes for each day and that’s what she wears. No discussion, no arguments, no stress.

I do also hand five outfits a week for Alyssa but she’s a big, bad fifth grader now so she doesn’t actually HAVE to wear what I pick. Since I buy her clothes (mostly, Gram has some input) there actually anything inappropriate in her closet. Weather-wise, she’s pretty averse to being uncomfortable so no argument there. Which…yay!

I would like to get the toy room organized but…that’s a huge project. Definitely not a weekend job. I need to start it, though and each weekend, I think I’ll get in there and tackle just one box. So far? It hasn’t so much happened.

Alas, the weekends go by way too quickly and I never get quite enough done. But if everyone is happy come Sunday evening as we snuggle in and read our books, I call it a successful weekend.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Calls from School

I love the school the girls attend.

I’ve received two calls from the school in the past week regarding Olivia and both calls were good. As in, they weren’t calling me to discuss disciplinary problems or potty accidents or concerns.

They were calling because school has been in session for a whole month and they wanted to check in and let me know that Olivia is a delight in class. I know, right? Can you even stand the sweetness of that?

The first call was from her actual teacher. She told me that O is talking to her and the aide in the class. She said that Olivia doesn’t always talk but she does actually reply to direct questions. Ladies and gentlemen, we have progress.

She also said that Olivia is right on par with her peers academically. I can’t tell you how much that warms my heart. I know Olivia is smart but I also know that she doesn’t always show it to everyone.

The only concern is that Olivia doesn’t test well. She especially doesn’t test well on timed tests. She gets flustered and stressed and her processing slows way down and she just sort of shuts down completely.

But you know what? There are a lot of really smart people out there who don’t test well. We can work around this.

The other person who called was O’s special ed teacher. She spends about fifteen minutes each morning and a half hour each afternoon with Olivia and this is her third year working with O. Which means that Olivia knows her, has built a sense of trust with her and TALKS to her. This teacher also said that Olivia is right where they want her to be academically.

Olivia is actually reading to this teacher and answering questions about the stories they read together.

That’s my girl! I’m so proud of her. I can’t wait to go home and hug her and tell her how great she is. She hears that a lot but it will be nice to be able to tell her that I know this because of the calls, the confirmation from her teachers that she’s doing the work and learning and involved in her own education.

The special ed teacher was thrilled to hear that Olivia is taking gymnastics, she agrees with me that it’s a good extracurricular activity for Olivia, both physically and socially.

She said that O is working with a new aide in the special ed class and was happy to report that Olivia talks to this aide even after only a few weeks. This is progress too.

We like progress.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

This Just In

So if it hurts to poop, it’s a bad thing.

This, I actually already knew, hence the appointment with the doctor yesterday.

But, and this is a Good Mom Moment, the doctor was glad I’d come to discuss O’s bowel movements with him because it should never, ever hurt to poop. Pain during pooping is a bad, bad thing and we need to do what we can to make sure it is never present during a poo session again.

How do we do that?

Fiber. Water. Apple juice. And if that fails? Benefiber, Miralax and good old milk of magnesia. Yikes.

But that last one? The MoM? It’s a last resort to be given if O ever goes three days without needing to sit on her cushy tushy with this week’s volume of Star Magazine.

Alyssa was lucky enough to be in the room while the doctor and I discussed O’s poop habits and she learned way more than she ever wanted to know about the colon, wet poop versus dry poop and tearing of the anal walls.

Olivia was just relieved the doctor didn’t to an actual physical exam. She was really worried he was going to want to look at her butt. This from the girl who asks, “Can I just be naked?” at least five times a week. Though to be fair, we’re always at home and we rarely have company so she’s only ever naked around immediate family.

All this is to say that I’m really glad I made the appointment. He gave us some great tips on how to get more fiber into her diet and he also told us how much of each medicine to give her it we end up needing to go that route. So we’re on the right path and if the path forks, I feel confident that we’ll choose the direction right for Olivia.

With that, I do so hope this is the last time I have reason to discuss poop.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Last weekend, Olivia was perched on her cushy tushy which was perched on the toilet. She was trying to poop.

I know. TMI. But it’s relevant so deal, okay?

She was trying to poop and it was taking a long time. I checked in on her to see if she was done. She looked up from the latest copy of US Weekly and said sadly, “It hurts.”

I told her how sorry I was that it sometimes hurts her to poop. I wished there was some way I could make it less painful.

And that’s when it hit me.

Maybe there is a way. I mean, we all know there are medicines out there that soften poop and make it easier to have a bowel movement, a movement that doesn’t cause the pooper actual pain when passing feces into the toilet.

But I’ve been so against medication for so long.

I’ve always been absurdly proud of the fact that Olivia is not on any medicine at all.

Why? Where is the pride coming from? What am I accomplishing by keeping her off meds? What the hell? Why was I making her issues about me? Because you know I was.

I don’t think anything at all about other parents who medicate their children. Whether the medication is for ADHD, for constipation, for mood disorders, or hell, just to help their kid sleep better.

I don’t judge them. I figure we all do what we have to do to make like work for us. We all make the best decisions we can for our family.

So why was I so against giving Olivia something to make it easier for her to poop? Why was I making her poop about me? Because at the end of the day, it’s not about me. It’s about her and making her life better, easier. It’s about letting her sit on the damned toilet and not be in pain.

This afternoon we’re meeting with the doctor to discuss the lowest possible dose of Miralax. I’m over the whole ‘no medication’ thing but I also don’t want to give her too much and end up with runny poop that she can’t control. I want to make it easier on her but I don’t want to go to the other end of the spectrum.

If the doctor can suggest other remedies, I’m open to those too but I’m taking a moment and getting over myself when it comes to medication. I want to help Olivia, I want her life to be just a little easier. I want her to stop hurting when she has to poop.

I guess we’ll see.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Sit with Me?

The laundry sat unfolded in two baskets in the corner of the family room. Olivia slept in one corner of the couch, her legs across my lap.

Alyssa leaned against me, her right hand clasping my left. She smiled up at me and in that moment I was so glad I’d made the decision to sit next to her moments before when she asked, “Sit with me?”

I’d finally gotten Olivia to sleep and was standing all of three feet away from the couch, starting to fold the laundry that had mocked me all day long. But that one question made me stop, put the underwear I’d started to fold down and settle back in between my girls.

Alyssa won’t always want me to sit next to her as she falls sleep. She might not even want this next week but for now she does want that and I want to give it to her. It’s during these quiet moments when Olivia is already asleep and Alyssa’s in that sleepy stage right before falling herself that she needs me, wants me near. It’s in those moments that she’s still little. Gone is the snarky, eye-rolling tweenager and my sweet, loving girl is back and I want to cherish those moments, relish them, hold them tightly to my chest and make them last forever.

I did get the laundry folded and put away, but it happened after Alyssa had fallen sleep, after we’d spent some quiet Mom/Lyss time, just the two of us, warm under her blanket, whispering and giggling and just being happy to be together.

I will always sit with her. Anytime she asks I’ll put down the laundry and sit.

Friday, September 13, 2013


That’s the sound of me bouncing up and down with the whim that is life with Olivia.

Last night at gymnastics, after a supremely craptastic day, I found myself fighting tears as I gazed proudly at my girl. She was up there, on the beam, with five other little girls, standing tall but wobbling just a little. Her arms were out and her knees were bent, just a little, she looked terrified and yet determined.

The coach and her teenage daughter who works at her assistant, were on either end of the beam, there to offer a hand or shoulder for the wobblier ones, caught O’s eye and made her way to the center of the beam where Olivia stood. Miss K held out her hand and Olivia smiled at her, putting her own hand just above Miss K’s, not quite touching but within grabbing distance should O suddenly become even wobblier than she was at that moment.

I was so touched by this woman’s intuitive nature. She could see that O wasn’t quite as comfortable as the other girls in the class but rather than say something, she just moved to a place that gave O the comfort she needed. It was awesome and touching and yes, tear-inducing for this mom who’d felt pretty frazzled when the class started.

Another moment that made me sigh with relief was when I saw Olivia respond to Miss K’s daughter, little Miss K, when she was asked a question. Olivia talked to her! She answered her question. Yes, she answered with a whisper but she answered and that, my friends, is communication. We’ll take whatever she’ll give these days.

Last night was a reminder of how hard Olivia really does work. She tries so hard and wants so badly to be just like her peers. Her confidence is growing and it will continue to grow as I continue to give her opportunities to show just how amazing she is. School will get better and easier and then, suddenly, we’ll be dealing with first grade and learning it all over again. And that will be okay too.

I need to remind Olivia, every single day, that I’m there for her, even on the tough days. I am her biggest cheerleader even when I’m her sternest disciplinarian. I’m her biggest fan, the one who wants her to succeed just as much as she wants that for herself.

Together, we’ll get through the tough days and celebrate the good ones.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

What Goes Up...

Mere minutes after I published the fluff that masqueraded as a post yesterday, I got an email from Olivia’s teacher.

She’d (Olivia, not her teacher) had a potty accident at school yesterday. The first of the year. Her teacher asked that we discuss the classroom restroom policy with her. The policy is very lenient. If the kids have to use the bathroom, they don’t have to ask to do so. There is a bathroom attached to the classroom and they can go whenever they need to.

Her teacher also asked that we talk to Olivia about telling a teacher if she does have an accident since yesterday, O stood around in wet shorts for some time before a teacher discovered it. Yikes. And ewwww.

There was a worksheet in her folder last night that Olivia had done at school that day. There was a note from her teacher at the bottom of the page. It read, “I worked one on one with Olivia on the back of this sheet. She did really well at not adding ‘extras’ to the sheet when reminded often of the task at hand.”


It only took four weeks of school for them to learn what I’ve been saying all along. Olivia needs constant reminders of the task at hand. If she doesn’t have those reminders, her mind wanders and her crayon goes crazy on the paper. She can do the work, but she needs someone on hand to keep her on task. I realize how frustrating that must be to her teachers. Hell, I’m her mother, I love this child more than anything in the world (other than her sister, whom I love equally, though perhaps differently) and I get frustrated with her.

This morning, after reminding O yet again that she can go potty any old time she wants, Tom was trying to get her to eat her breakfast. I packed lunches while he cajoled, threatened, pleaded and spooned food into Olivia’s mouth.

When they were almost done, I said to no one in particular, “I think poor Dad had the worst job in the house this morning.”

He muttered, “I’d rather pack the lunches.”

Ha! I am not trading jobs, dude.

Alyssa had no sympathy. “I pack my lunch AND eat my breakfast. You just have to make Olivia eat her breakfast.”

He wants her to eat because we know she probably won’t eat her lunch and so we want her to have as much nutrition and calories first thing in the morning as possible just to get her through the day.

Around noon today when I got back to my desk, there was another ‘Note from Kindergarten’ email message waiting for me.

Another potty accident. Again, she didn’t tell the teacher when it happened. This was discovered right before lunch so her lunch time was shortened because she needed to be cleaned up and changed.


I wonder if this is a control thing. I mean, I think the potty issue and the eating are things Olivia can control and the rest of her life is pretty much dictated to her. When to sleep, when to write her name, what to wear, when to bathe, when she can go to recess, when she is supposed to work on writing her numbers. Her entire life is scheduled for her.

I need to figure this out for her, though because while yes, having potty accidents and not eating her lunch is getting her all kinds of attention, it’s not good attention.

I still read three books to this child every single night. I sit with her hand Alyssa while they eat their dinner, talking to them, asking about their day. I wait with them at the bus stop, discussing their day, asking how they slept.

I help O brush her hair and teeth each morning. I rub her back as she falls asleep each night. I do not know how I can give her more attention than she already gets.

What do I do? How do I get through to her that this is not okay? I don’t want to punish her for something I’m not sure she’s doing on purpose (though she did not have a potty accident at all this past summer, not even one, so…she has complete bladder and bowel control…it makes me wonder.) I just want to figure her out so I can help her and make whatever is stressing her better.

I know this a universal wish among most if not all parents out there. We want to make life easier for our littles. We want to take some of the challenges and smooth the edges. I know we can’t always do this but I have to try.

I have to.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Not Much

Today, I’ve got nothing. Things are good. School seems to be going okay for the girls. Alyssa loves it and Olivia asked this morning, “When are we going to have a day off?”

She’d been awake for five minutes and wasn’t especially happy about it. And let me remind everyone that today was their first day this week. They had Monday off for “Fair Day” and Tuesday was just a free day off. I know, whatever, right?

So yes, she wants another day off even though she just had four days off. I think she’s still getting used to being at school for the entire day. It’s hard on a little body to take, don’t you know?

Tom declared yesterday that he is never, ever going to preserve grapes in any form again. Never.

We picked twenty gallons of grapes last weekend and Tom’s been dealing with them all week. He’s discovered that the work involved is not equal to the amount of juice produced. He asked me a couple of days ago how much it costs to buy a bottle of grape juice. I laughed and told him, “Not enough to justify all the time you’ve spent on those grapes.”

But hey, live and learn. He’s still all about canning salsa and green beans and even blackberry goo, as he calls it. It’s basically a lumpy syrup he and Olivia enjoy on their ice cream.

Olivia still isn’t eating much of her lunch at school and we’re working on that. Tom wants me to weigh her every day to make sure she isn’t losing weight. I told him once a week will have to do because who wants their six year old to become weight conscious? Not me, that’s who. Right now, she’s holding steady at 46.5 pounds. I keep telling Tom that all we can do is provide the food. She has to eat it.

Wait, I also told him that if he’s that concerned, the school is four miles from our house. She eats lunch at 10:30. He is welcome to go there every day and make her eat. Go for it, dude, is that I told him.

He has not yet taken me up on that. But if O’s weight dips beneath 45? He might just do it. I wouldn’t put it past him. He’s already threatened her with that very idea and Olivia is adamant that, “Daddy is not coming to my school during my lunch to feed me.”

Ha! I’m sorry but the image makes me laugh. She’s so positive she can stop him and he’s so sure he can make her eat if he’s there and I’m all, “Liv, just eat the lunch we provide you and it won’t be an issue.”

We’ll see.

Alyssa thinks the entire situation is funny and reminds me every Wednesday that it’s O’s weigh-in day. She also packs her own lunch this year. Did I mention that?

Yes, she does. Alyssa still refuses to buy lunch at school so, even though I told her way back in second grade that she’d be packing her lunches herself by fourth grade, I managed to get suckered into doing it for her until just this year, when, hey, look at that, I have to pack O’s lunch instead.

Alyssa seems to enjoy packing her own lunch. Though I think she’d enjoy it even more if she actually had a say about what goes in there. We came up with a list of things she has to pack to make sure she’s getting more protein than sugar and more fruits and vegetables than cookies. So yes, she packs the lunch we want her to pack. But who am I to complain? At least the girl eats what she packs, which is more than her sister can say.

Ahem. Yes. Not much going on here at all.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The County Fair

We hit the county fair yesterday. The girls get every Monday after Labor Day off to attend the fair and I always take the day off too so I can take them.

We get to see the animals (read: horses and ponies), ride the carnival rides as provided by Poor Jack’s Amusements and eat fatty/sugary fair food.

A great time is had by all.

Well, by all except that little brats who run around and try to cut in line and get called out by the mean mom (me) who tells them, “Hey, the back of the line is that way!”

It’s taken me to this point in my life to do that.

In years past I’d have rolled my eyes, sighed and shrugged at the girls, saying something like, “I’m sorry some people are so rude, Sweetie.”

But these days? Forget it. I’m so sick of rude kids thinking it’s okay to just step in and take the place of someone who has waited their turn.

Olivia and I were waiting in line to ride the ferris wheel. Two boys ahead of us called out to two boys who had just gotten off the ferris wheel. The boys who’d just ridden came over to talk to the boys in front of us. As we moved closer to getting on the ride, one of the boys who was standing talking to the boys who were actually in line announced, “I’m going to ride it again.”

“Really?” I asked. “You’re going to cut in line?”

He grinned this obnoxious grin and said, “Yeah?”

“Really?” I asked again. I looked deliberately back at the line snaking through the crowd. “You’re going to cut in front of all these people who have waited their turn?”

He had the grace to leave the place he’d tried to take and go to the end of the line.

I was really proud of myself. I’d stood up for myself and my child and all the people who were waiting in line like we were supposed to do so.

As we were leaving the fair, Alyssa asked if she’d be allowed to run around the fair with her friends when she’s 13.

“You mean without an adult?” I wondered.

She nodded.

I suggested that she’ll be ready when she’s 16. She rolled her eyes. Someday, that girls eyes are going to roll right out of her head.

I know this is a rinky-dink county fair but there are some sketchy characters hanging about. I can’t possibly say how I’ll feel in three years but right now? I’m not letting my kid run around with a few other kids her own age. But then I remind myself that I only see her as ten. I don’t know how I’ll feel when she’s 13 or 15 or yes, even 17. She might be a really mature (emotionally, I hope, hope, hope, she’s not overly physically mature at 13) 13 year old. Or she might be a really emotionally immature 17 year old.

I told her I wasn’t going to make any hard decisions about that right then. I reserve to make these decisions at the time they’re needed. Right now? No, my ten year old is not going to run around the county fair with her friends and no adult supervision. Not going to happen. I don’t care how many groups of her classmates we run across who are doing just that.

I’m not ready and I definitely don’t think my kid is ready.

And seeing all those brats who cut in line in front of kids littler than they are? They’re not ready for the responsibility of being without adult supervision either.

I don’t know what to say about the parents who WATCH their issue walk up and cut in front of other people. I just…I can’t fathom thinking that is okay. What is wrong with some people?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Watching Her Tumble

I spend two hours at the girls’ gym every Thursday night. I know there are other moms out there (Julie, I’m looking at you) who are probably thinking, “Pshaw! Two hours are nothing, talk to me when you’re there four hours a night for four nights a week.”

Anyway, I’m there for two hours each Thursday, watching them practice the skills they know and learn new skills.

O’s class is full of five and six year old girls. While Olivia will be seven in November, she fits into this class really well. She’s a little taller than the other girls in the class but not so much that it’s really all that noticeable.

I stand at the window with all the other parents, waving when Olivia looks up to make sure I’m watching. I stand there and I look for the 5p-. I watch her somersault and walk the beam and dangle from the bar and I realize…she’s pretty much right there on par with the other five and six year olds in the class.

Sure, she’s a little less sure on the beam but I think that’s mostly because of a lack of confidence rather than a lack of ability. She’s much quieter than the other girls but that’s thanks to the selective mutism (or, maybe, just maybe severe shyness that she very likely got from her dear mother) more than the 5p- syndrome. See, I know that verbal ability is very much affected in kids with Cri du Chat but Olivia is spectacularly verbal at home and like any other shy kid, can and will talk when she wants but just stands there and smiles when she doesn’t want to talk.

It surprises me when I realize that all the other parents watching all the little girls just see seven little girls tumbling and playing and laughing together. They don’t see six typical girls and my special girl. They see these girls and have no idea how far my O has come. They don’t know that she didn’t walk until she was almost two and a half years old. They have no idea that she didn’t crawl until she was seventeen months old. The just see a tallish little girl with blond pigtails running around with her peers.

They have no idea she’s missing part of a chromosome. And even if they did, I feel incredibly lucky that they probably wouldn’t care. They see these beautiful girls, the sweet little kindergarteners and first graders and they, like me, enjoy watching their own kids learning, growing, being social (even without words, O socializes with her gymnastics classmates) and doing something that is fun for them.

For the first time in a long time, I don’t feel the need to tell Olivia’s story to strangers in a waiting room. I don’t feel like I need to explain why she needs a little extra help on the beam because that extra help is so very little that the other parents don’t even notice.

And I’m so, so grateful for that.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Speaking of Talking

My girls go to a very small school. This school is small enough that the gym teacher who teaches Alyssa’s fifth grade class also teaches Olivia’s kindergarten class.

I believe I’ve mentioned before that Alyssa loves rules. When I told her the day before her first day of kindergarten that one of the rules at school was that if a teacher talked to her she had to reply back to him/her. She took my word as gospel and has never had trouble talking to her teachers after they’ve asked her a question.

As we all know, Olivia on the other hand, shrugs in the face of rules. Rules, schmules, she says.

Alyssa came home the other day and told us, “My gym teacher told me today that my sister won’t talk to him.”

I laughed, “Well, duh! She won’t talk to anyone at school.”

She continued, “He asked if she talks to me.”

“Did you answer?” I wanted to know.

She rolled her eyes at me (she’s getting pretty good at that eye-rolling business), “Of course I did. You know if a teacher talks to you, you have to answer back.”

I nodded.

“I told him that sometimes Olivia talks so much at home that I beg her to be quiet.”

“Did he believe you?”

“He laughed and said he hopes she’ll talk to him someday.”

I sighed, “Don’t we all?”

Through all this, Olivia listened and when Alyssa was finished with the story, she informed Olivia, “You know you’re supposed to talk to your teachers when they talk to you, right?”

Olivia grinned and shrugged. I'm surrounded by grinning shruggers and eye-rollers. I’m just trying to keep it together from one day to the next.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Story Telling

Olivia loves to tell stories. Her imagination is always in overdrive.

Tom took the girls to my mom’s yesterday afternoon so he could pick blackberries and pears (we have sort of community gardens/trees around here. We give my mom and stepdad cucumbers and tomatoes and they give us blackberries and pears.)

While Tom was picking produce, the girls were inside watching television. My mom was in town and my stepdad was in his garage.

The moment I walked through the door, Olivia raced to me, her excitement palpable.

“Mom!” she almost shouted. “While you were at work and Daddy was outside picking berries, Gram’s phone rang. And then! Then it TALKED to us.”

Alyssa rolled her eyes. “I think it was Gram calling and leaving Pawp a message.”

Olivia didn’t care for that logical explanation. She LOVED that she could hear the message as it was being left and she was enamored of the idea of the phone TALKING to them. She told the story three more times, once to Tom, once to my stepdad and finally to my mom, the one who’d left the message. Each time she said exactly what she wanted to say without getting flustered by being the center of attention.

I hope this is a step in the right direction for speaking at school. I want her teachers and classmates to see how animated she can get when she’s telling a story. I want them to hear her excitement and appreciate her humor.

This morning at the bus stop, Alyssa and I were talking. I don’t even remember about what.

Just before the bus rolled up, though, Olivia had had enough. Finally, she called out, “Guys! Mom, Lyssie!”

We looked at her.

She continued, “Now we’re going to talk about something that I like, okay.”

Again, Alyssa rolled her eyes. I laughed and said, “Okay.”

Then Olivia decided to test me. She asked me, “Do you even know what I like?”

I ran through a quick list of things Olivia likes, “You like Hello Kitty, the colors pink, red, purple and sometimes black. You like ballet and gymnastics. You like Barbies and princesses and reading. You love having your back scratched and being pretty. You like to read and watch iCarly with your sister.”

I paused for a breath and she grinned at me. “You do know what I like!” she exclaimed.

Of course I do, silly girl. I hugged her just in time for the bus to arrive to take them to school.

I hope she went away knowing how very much she is loved, how very lucky I feel that I do know her, that I do get to hear her stories and watch her grow and learn and change every single day.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Way back in the day when Olivia was an infant, we saw the pediatrician who cared for Alyssa. He was a great doctor for diagnosing strep and ear infections. To his credit, he even opened his office for me one Saturday morning to test Alyssa for strep when I called the emergency line to report she had a fever and a lacy rash all over her upper chest. Yes, it was strep.

But…he wasn’t convinced there was anything wrong with Olivia. He finally diagnosed her with reflux when she was four months old. This diagnosis came along once she’d developed a dry cough, the result of the acid irritating her throat. He hadn’t been convinced by the months and months of our appointments at which I’d report that Olivia cried all the time. He told me often (as in at every single appointment) that she probably didn’t really cry that much more than your average baby, but instead I was a very tired mom, caring for an infant and a preschooler.

Ugh! What the hell ever. Obviously, this still pisses me off.

Anyway, this doctor not only poo-pooed me about the crying due to reflux issue, he also told me, over and over again, that Olivia was just a little delayed, she’d catch up eventually and we didn’t need to worry. He was never, ever proactive. When she was nine months old and still wasn’t holding her head up, let alone sitting on her own or close to crawling, he only went along with an MRI to appease me.

This is the same doctor who didn’t seem concerned at all when she was two years old and not walking. I don’t think he actually rolled his eyes at me when I requested a referral to Riley Hospital for Children but I think he might have wanted to.

My step sons take their kids to this doctor. And you know? It’s fine because these kids are healthy and like I said, Dr. H is great at diagnosing regular childhood illnesses. He just sort of sucks at figuring out rare chromosomal disorders that don’t present in a typical way. The problem he had with diagnosing Olivia is that he wouldn’t look past her physical beauty, her facial features that presented in a typical way and look at her actual symptoms. Her cat cry at birth, her low birth weight even though she was nine days overdue. He didn’t see her low muscle tone or her obvious delays. He saw a very pretty baby who was a little floppy and he looked at me and saw a nervous, overwrought mother.

Tom talked to D, his younger son last week. D’s son, N just turned a year old. N isn’t quite walking yet and he’s not talking much. But…he’s a year old. He is walking behind push toys and grunting while pointing. He has a three year old brother who talks for him. Typical second child stuff.

D told Tom that at N’s one year checkup, Dr. H told D and his girlfriend that when he (Dr. H) sees N at his 15 month checkup, N needs to be walking independently and talking in full sentences. When we saw Dr. H for O’s one year checkup she wasn’t sitting up, she wasn’t crawling and obviously, she was nowhere near walking. She wasn’t babbling either. He said she was fine, that she was a little behind but he was sure she’d catch up. I had to ASK for a referral to an early intervention program to start Olivia on therapies. He gave the referral and sent us on our way.

When Tom told me about N’s appointment and what Dr. H wanted to see from N in three months, it made me laugh. But then, it kind of pissed me off.

Then I gave it even more thought and wondered if maybe, just maybe, Dr. H learned from me and Olivia. We were still seeing him as our regular pediatrician (for ear checks and weight checks) when we finally got Olivia’s 5p- diagnosis. He admitted that he was very surprised by the results.

He also had to be reminded at every single appointment that she was his patient with 5p- syndrome.

I hope he learned from her and from me. I hope he takes his patients and their parents more seriously these days. We don’t see this doctor anymore because we moved and now the girls see the doctor I’ve seen for years. This doctor delivered Alyssa and he was the one who was there when Olivia was born. He was the one who admitted that he couldn’t care for her and sent her to a bigger hospital with a NICU. He still often needs to be reminded of O’s syndrome when we go in for regular checkups or for sick visits but I’m used to that. Olivia doesn’t present with 5p- in a typical way so she’ll probably always have to remind her doctors and I’m learning to be okay with that.

I really do hope he learned from us. I think it’s a good thing for doctors to continue learning and growing and if his experience with our family helps him be a better doctor to his current patients, well, all is not lost.