Monday, December 30, 2013

Ding Dong the Tree is Down

We hosted Tom’s older kids on Sunday. It was one last day of presents and food and family.

It was also the first time in years that all of Tom’s five kids were in the same house at the same time. It was lovely.

Tom’s oldest son, J and his wife K were the first to arrive with their three kids. Their middle child, G is the only granddaughter so she was thrilled to be in a house with GIRLS. We had four boxes of clothes for her to go through and take with her when she left. She was thrilled to her girlie little toes to get the clothes O has outgrown and I was thrilled to my practical little toes to get rid of all four boxes of items we’ll never need/use again. It was win/win.

Tom’s oldest daughter, J was the next to arrive with her fiancĂ© M. They were driving from the kids’ mom’s home in Huntington to Philadelphia, with a stop at our house for the gathering. We got to see J and M on Christmas Eve but it was still great to have them there again.

Finally, about a half hour later, D, Tom’s youngest son and his fiancĂ© arrived with their two sons.

It was a houseful and we all loved it.

A and O love having company and I could tell that Tom was just happy to have all his favorite people in the same place at the same time.

We opened the last of the Christmas 2013 presents, at a big ham, potato wedges, green bean casserole dinner and then all the kids (Alyssa, Olivia, D, G, B, I & N) put on a concert for us using all the musical instruments they found in the toy room. It was great fun.

Then it was time for everyone to go home. Tom’s sons and their families had an hour and a half drive to get home and J and M were facing an eight hour drive, minimum to get them back to Philadelphia. Yikes.

About ten minutes after the last car pulled out of the driveway, Tom and I had all the boxes for the Christmas decorations lined along the wall in the living room, ready for the decorations to be securely packed away for another year.

We were ready to have our front window back, the only south-facing window on the first level of our house.

As lovely as our Christmas was this year, we’re moving on, glancing back at the wonders of 2013 and gearing up for new adventures to come.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Not the Babysitter

Yesterday Tom decided to let the girls play with their new tablets pretty much all day, since, you know, it’s still the holidays and they are on break from school.

When I got home, they were curled up in a corner of the living room, their tablets plugged into the wall and playing away.

I decided they both needed to bathe before dinner. The tablets were left plugged in while we headed off to the bathroom where Olivia took a much needed bath and Alyssa took an even more needed shower.

After their cleansings, they both asked to get back on their tablets. I acquiesced, only because I knew dinner would only take about fifteen minutes to prepare and I planned to make them both turn the tablets off for the night after dinner.

There was just a little fussing when dinner was over and requests to play with the tablets were denied.

Alyssa insisted, “But they keep us out of your hair.”

I laughed, because, well, yes, the tablets do keep the girls out of our hair but then I replied, “But I’d rather just parent you.”

She rolled her eyes.

But it’s true.

I would rather have to parent my children than plug them into a tablet and go about my day.

So why did I get them the tablets? Duh, because they’re fun for them. And they can be educational with the right games. Minecraft is probably NOT that game but still, they’re interacting while playing Minecraft so I can’t complain too much.

I got them for them because I knew they’d enjoy them. I also went into that Walmart that night knowing I’d have to parent even harder once those tablets were in their grubby little hands because I’d hear a constant, “Can I play with my tablet?”

And that’s okay. I don’t mind saying no. I also don’t mind saying yet. I have several timers I can set and I am very capable and willing to take the tablets from their grasping fingers and putting them away myself.

But yes, once school is back in session, there will be limits to the tablet situation. And Tom and I are on the same page for this. We both know it will probably be a little annoying in the beginning but we’re okay with that too.

Parenting is never easy and yes, sometimes we make it even harder on ourselves when we give our kids things that are JUST. SO. MUCH. FUN.

But it will work out because we’re not willing to stop parenting just because it would be easier to do so. The easy way isn’t always the right way. And what is our right way isn’t always the right way for other families. We’re all just doing the best we can with the knowledge we have at the moment.

I really, truly don’t want something that will just keep my girls out of my hair, though. That’s not the right way for me to parent.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry and Bright

“This is the best Christmas ever!” Alyssa declared last night as she plugged in her new tablet for a good night’s charge and settled into her new sleeping bag next to me on the couch.

Olivia was already passed out next to me, overdosed on technology, her own new tablet plugged safely into the wall out of her reach. She’d asked earlier in the day if she was allowed to have her tablet in bed in the mornings when I wanted to sleep later than 5:30 and she was wide awake and ready to mud wrestle a pig. My first thought? Yes, please do bring your tablet to bed because that will mean I can probably sleep until noon before you remember that you need more than a tablet for sustenance.

My response, though, was more like, “We’ll see. I’m not sure your tablet will want to sleep with you. It might fall out of bed, onto the floor and break.”

The look of sheer terror on her face at the very idea of her tablet breaking took the idea of taking it to bed with her out of the realm of joy and into the world of NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.

So yes, we got them tablets.

And they love them.

And they want to be on them all the time. We knew this would happen and we knew we’d have to be mean parents after being the extra nice parents who gave them the tablets.

After I unplugged both girls last night and plugged in both tablets, life went back to preChristmas normal for a couple of hours. I read to Olivia, Alyssa snuggled into my other side and read her own book.

We spent time with my mom and the rest of my side of the family yesterday. It was lovely. It was special. We’re blessed.

Tom’s older kids are coming on Sunday and bringing their own kids. Again, we’re incredibly blessed. I think we’re lucky to know this and appreciate it.

Even when we have to unplug to remember how lucky we are, that’s okay too, as long as we remember to actually unplug and come up for air once in a while.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Best Laid Plans

Last Friday was my last vacation day of the year. I’d saved it specifically for the day of Olivia’s class Christmas party.

I planned to get the girls off to school and come home and wrap, wrap, wrap presents until it was time to go have lunch with Olivia. After lunch, I’d go back home and wrap some more until it was time to go back to the school for the party.

Unfortunately, the morning of the party dawned gray and foggy. So foggy, in fact, that school was delayed two hours. Which meant no wrapping of presents for me. I can’t wrap when two curious girls are peeking around corners and into boxes.

So instead of my best laid plans, I took the girls to school at 9:35, got home at 9:50. Wrapped presents for twenty five minutes and then went back to school in time to have lunch with Liv at 10:30. I was home by 11:10, and wrapped my little fingers off until 12:40, which was when I needed to leave to go back to the party.

The girls and I were home by 3:15 and I generously let Alyssa be on the computer and put Olivia’s favorite My Little Pony movie on the television so I could, hopefully, wrap some more presents.

And…I’m almost done wrapping. Go me!

Yes, it’s great to make plans but sometimes, the fog rolls in, screws your plans up royally and you just have to go with plan B.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Professional Advice

So about that blower in my car…Tom fixed it. I knew he would.

I just didn’t know how long it would take or how grouchy he’d be when he came to pick me up yesterday.

The plan was for him to call his oldest son, a professional mechanic (nice to have one of those in the family) and see what he’d do first.

Tom originally planned to call J the night the blower went out but he was too stressed over the very idea of having to work on the car that he escaped into sleep. For the entire night. Yes. I know. I’m jealous too.

So the next morning, after the morning routine of getting the girls up and out the door to school, which, this time, included Tom driving us to the bus stop and me to work in his van, Tom went home and contemplated the car.

Then he called J.

And J’s first idea? Whack it with a hammer.

Seriously. Tom took the glove compartment out of my car, wrapped a mallet in duct tape and whacked the blower motor.

And…it worked.

A five minute phone call, thirty seconds to take the glove compartment out of the car, a minute or so to wrap the mallet and a fraction of a second to actually whack that motor and it was all fixed.

J says he often has long lasting luck with a good whack.

I do so love getting professional advice.

I also love when that advice tells Tom to take his frustration and aggression out on the device that is causing his frustration.

I think that whack did more than fix the motor, it relieved some of my husband’s tension and perhaps, in the long run, saved my marriage. I might be exaggerating just a little.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

How I Know

My husband and I often have conversations that leave us both frustrated, feeling like things are being left unsaid, feelings are hurt because of those implied words. Silence often ensues as we both try to figure out what we said that set the other person off.

See, the blower in my car stopped working yesterday afternoon. No blower? No heat.

I called Tom right after work to let him know what happened. I was already on my way to buy some gifts for Tom’s older kids and the grandkids. Since I was already going shopping, Tom suggested I got to the automotive department and get a 12 volt heater for the drive home. I could at least point it at the windshield as a defroster.

He’s a clever fellow, that guy. But when I asked him where in the automotive department such a heater would be, he told me to ask an associate. Ugh! I hate asking associates. I really do.

And thus began the downward spiral of our conversation.

My last car, also a Grand Prix, had trouble with the heater. I took it to the dealer who sold it to me and they fixed it. Tom suggested I take my current car there. I reminded him that I didn’t buy the car from them.

He then suggested I not go shopping and instead head toward home and go to the auto garage on the way. I asked him if he thought I could make it there before they close. I told him they close at 5:00 and it was already 4:40 and I was at least fifteen miles away. The roads were sort of crappy.

He sighed and said, “No, you probably can’t make it.”

I asked him why he was annoyed with me.

He told me he wasn’t.

I told him I could tell he was and wanted to know why.

He replied, “You knock down every single suggestion I make.”

Huh. Yes, I guess I did to that this time. I apologized, “I’ll go to automotive and look for the 12 volt heater and if I can’t find it, I’ll ask an associate.”

He seemed relieved that I’d agreed to that option.

Several more calls back and forth during my shopping spree had Tom deciding that I couldn’t possibly drive the car, even with a 12 volt heater pointed at the windshield, until he had the blower fixed. He declared that he’d be driving me to work this morning.

I asked why that was necessary since I did, in fact, have the new heater in my cart with everything else.

He declared that driving with something like that was something he’d do but he wasn’t comfortable with me doing it. He asked, “What if it starts to rain? Would that thing take care of freezing rain on your windshield?”

I retorted, good naturedly, “Is there freezing rain in the forecast?”

“No,” he replied back, “but with the way the weather has been, it wouldn’t surprise me if a freezing rain storm popped up just to stress me out.”

So he drove me to work today. Seventeen miles one way. He’s coming to pick me up tonight and running me around town to get the last few things I need. And all day today, he’s going to be working to fix the blower in my car. He doesn’t know if it is the switch or the motor of the blower. But once he figures that out, he has every intention of fixing it.

He’s my hero, even when we get a little pissy with each other.

I know he loves me, even when I shoot down every idea he throws my way. And this is how I know, because he worries about me driving without heat. He is spending his day fixing my car. He does so much for me and our girls that I can’t even recount all of it.

I just know I’m lucky to have that guy.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

This Close

I haven’t been sleeping well. All that crap about making sure she’s lying flat when I lay Olivia down each night so she actually stays asleep all night long and doesn’t join me in bed has flown out the window.

Last night I put her in bed, went back to check the locks, turn off the television and the Christmas tree lights. I went back up and found O at the top of the stair, her dainty foot poised to take the first step in her search for me.

I said sternly, “Back to bed! I’ll be there in a minute.”

She gave me a look that told me I wasn’t being very nice (spoiler: I didn’t care.) and practically skipped back to bed.

I took my time brushing my teeth and putting on my pajamas. When I went back into the bedroom, I found Olivia sitting up, patiently waiting my promised return.

Ugh! And damn it!

Let me remind everyone that this child is seven years old. SEVEN years old. SEVEN YEARS OLD!!! My inner voice was screaming that I should be tucking this girl into bed, kissing her good night, wishing her sweet dreams, heading for the door, turning off the light and not looking back.

Instead, I sat beside her bed and rubbed her back for a minute. Then I rubbed her hair for another minute. Then I just sat there with my hand on her back for a minute.

Then I went to bed. That sounds like just three minutes of contact but it felt like a damned hour. I was tired. I was cranky. I wanted to go to sleep too rather than soothe my seven year old child to sleep.

I know! I know that someday I will not look back and wish I hadn’t spent those minutes with her, holding her, comforting her. I might even miss these moments someday.

But you know what? I want her to give me a little space so I can miss those moments.

Alyssa? She goes right to sleep after I give her one last kiss and one last wish for a good night and sweet dreams.

Yes, yes, she’s almost eleven and that means there is hope for the younger one.

I read about moms who are planning to sleep train their babies. These babies are sometimes as young as four months old. And I think, “Why was I so reluctant to do that?” I’ve been tired for almost eleven years.

I should have worked harder to get them to sleep better when they were babies, before they could walk and talk.

Speaking of talking, Olivia asked me this morning, “Did you yell at me this morning?”

I replied, “Yes, I did. I was tired and you wouldn’t go to sleep. I wanted you to sleep so I could sleep too and I wanted you to stay in your own bed because it makes my back hurt when you come to bed with me.”

She just stared at me, unblinking, as if unable to believe that I’d put my own physical comfort before her desire to be close to me.

Well, you know what, kiddo? I’m almost over the whole self-sacrifice thing we moms are supposed to be all about. This close!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Weekened Happenings

We cooked, we cleaned, we braved the snowy, blowy roads for a trip to Grams (she’s only three miles away, remember.) Some of us even shovel the driveway and sidewalk. Take a guess which one of us did not…

I finally, FINALLY, finished cleaning the toy room. I think I started that room in July when I decided to paint the closets. That toy room has been cleaned many, many times in the three years we’ve lived in our current house.

But see, this time around was different. I didn’t just pack the toys in boxes and stack the boxes nicely in the corners. No, this time, I went through every single box/toy box/bin in the room, keeping only what the girls actually play with, tossing random toys that no longer go with anything else.

I also boxed up a lot of toys the girls have outgrown. These boxes will either be donated, passed on to others or sold at some later garage sale Tom insists we’re someday going to have.

What was left was organized into the bins and closets and now we have a room that allows the kids to actually see what toys they have, so they can actually play with those toys.

Olivia found an ancient LeapPad, we put in new batteries and she played with that thing for hours last night, pausing only long enough for me to read some books to her, one of which was called I Can Button. It is a tiny little cardboard book with a couple of straps of fabric that lace through holes in the pages and each page has a different character that needs something buttoned such as a belt, a coat, a seat strap.

O worked so hard buttoning that button on each page. I showed her a few tricks at first but she wanted to do it herself each time. I was so proud of her tenacity. She was determined to do it and she did.

Watching her work so hard, giving her small tips on how to make it easier reminded me of something a chiropractor told me during the months I was taking Olivia before she started walking. She’d just started crawling at that point and during one of the appointments, he was showing her how to crawl a little more easily. He put her on the floor, moved her hands and knees for her and then he stepped back and let her do it herself.

She did exactly what he’d shown her. He smiled and said, “She’s got great muscle memory, she just doesn’t have any instinct for doing these things on her own.”

She can learn. She wants to learn. And she remembers what she learns. But my girl’s muscles have no instincts of their own.

Knowing this makes it easier for us to teacher her things she needs to know. I knew she could master that button but I also knew she needed help right at the start.

She took that book to Gram’s this morning to keep practicing.

Alyssa did a lot of reading this weekend because we declared Saturday to be a No Computer Day. Which meant none of us logged on for the entire day. Alyssa balked at first but then picked up a book and quickly forgot that she was mad.

We baked some sugar cookies (store-bought dough, I know, I know) on Saturday and then made frosting for them on Sunday.

Laundry was finished by 6pm yesterday. All is well.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Dear Santa

Neither of my girls has ever had her picture taken while sitting on Santa’s lap. They both have serious stranger anxiety and it never seemed like a good idea to put them or Santa through the trauma just to get a picture.

Anytime we see Santa, be it at the mall or even Walmart, I ask them if they want to sit on his lap.

They both look at me like I’m insane.

I love that other people make this a tradition. I love that other kids are either cool with Santa and his lap or throw major fits when a parent plants them on the poor man’s lap but my kids and I? We’ll pass.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How She's Doing

Yesterday morning as I was getting ready for the day, Olivia found a pen and some paper. Still just in her undies, she sat down to write. She loves writing these days. She’ll doodle on anything she can find.

We call it ‘embellishing’ when she’s attempting to doodle on her homework or other important paper. She laughs so hard when I remind her not to embellish her name with little circles for the dots above the i’s in her name.

That morning, she was writing on the back of a receipt from a doctor’s appointment. It was fine. No need to admonish her about embellishing.

She finished writing and showed it to me. I wish I’d taken a picture because was awesome. And typing out her words doesn’t do it justice. But before I could think to do that, she wadded the paper up and threw it away. Into the pail that holds the nightly pull-ups it went. I wasn’t going to brave the smell of that pail just to get that paper back.

She wrote: Well cum to my party

Do you love it? Can anyone appreciate this as much as her mother? This little seven year old, this kindergartener whom a few doctors predicted would never read, never write, never understand even basic math, wrote that sentence. And it was legible. I could read every single letter, ever word.

She sounded out words, just like your typical kindergartener. She wrote them out the way they sound.

She’s awesome.

And get this. She’s on the verge of mastering the headstand. Seriously. She works so hard at standing on her head that she’s starting to develop a dreadlock on the top of her head. And I love it. I love what that dreadlock symbolizes. It symbolizes my girl’s determination to never be held back, to never let anyone tell her what she can and cannot do. She won’t even let gravity get in her way.

We love a service at school in the past month or so because O’s abilities have increased to the point that she no longer qualifies for that service. It was a reading service and she doesn’t need it. I’m so proud, so amazed at her progress, her abilities.

We’re so lucky medically as well. Olivia is incredibly healthy. She has the occasional cold but that’s the worst of it. We see her developmental pediatrician every two years. We see our family doctor maybe every six months, if that. I know how lucky we are and I never, ever take it for granted.

We still read every night except Thursdays, which are gymnastics nights. Olivia does her homework each night with my supervision (got to keep an eye on the embellishments.) She flips and flips and flips all day long. She works hard on standing on her head, sometimes managed five or even six seconds before flopping over and doing it all again.

I am grateful every single night that this is my life, these are my girls. How did I get so very lucky?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Figuring it All Out

I think I’ve figured Olivia out. If I lay her on her bed, sound asleep, and make her stay on her back, forcing her legs straight and not letting her roll onto her side, she will stay asleep all night long, not joining me in my bed before 5:30 the next morning.

I’ve tried this out for the past week and only one night did she come find me before 5:30 and that was the night that Alyssa tugged on O’s blanket, causing Olivia to roll onto her stomach. Olivia was in my bed at 2:30. Ugh.

Did I handle this tugging of the blanket well?

No. No I did not. I had a mini tantrum. I’m not proud of myself. It wasn’t pretty. I stomped my feet and whined, “Now she’s going to wake up!”

I did all this as quietly as I could, while still managing a full-on tantrum.

Alyssa looked at me like I was insane.

I think I kind of was.

I apologized the next morning and she laughed at me. She’s a good one, that girl.

Last night as I lay Olivia down on the bed she shares with Alyssa, O, in her sleep, tried to roll onto her side.

I pushed her back onto her back, saying, “Oh no. No, no, no, no, no.”

Alyssa laughed at me again.

Sleeping O still tried to fight me so I finally picked her back up, all 48 pounds of her, and laid her down again, this time pushing her legs down to keep them straight and keep her from wanting to roll over.

It worked. She didn’t wake up until 5:40, when the alarm went off.

Now that I’ve figured her out, she’s going to change it all up. But for now? I’m enjoying this little reprieve of having my bed all to myself. And I do promise to try not to have a tantrum if Alyssa touches O’s blanket again.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Christmas Trees

We put up our Christmas tree on the Friday after Thanksgiving. I pulled the stand and the branches out of the box and Alyssa helped me put it together. Olivia watched, being too short to actually help.

Then I checked light strands and began the painstaking process of placing those strands on the tree.

We managed to get a few ornaments on the tree before it was time to take Alyssa to my mom’s for an over-nighter. Olivia and I put a few more on the tree when we got home but we wanted Alyssa to be part of the process so we stopped for the evening and watched her My Little Pony movie for the seven hundred and fifty-fourth time.

Olivia got up often to go gaze at the lit tree, coming back to tell me how pretty it was. She also told me several times that she couldn’t wait for Lyssie to come home the next day and see how pretty it was and that they were going to put more ornaments on the tree.

Alyssa was less excited than Olivia was the next day but she went about her duties as the big sister and bossed Olivia around as they put more ornaments on the tree.

In the process of this second round of decorating, Alyssa asked me about the year she put horses and puzzle pieces on the tree. She’s heard the story before but wanted more details this time around.

I explained that the year Olivia was born, Alyssa, who was no quite four, wanted desperately to put up the Christmas tree just days after Olivia was born. Being torn between the hospital where O was in the NICU and home where Alyssa was craving my attention, I managed, barely, to put up the tree and string a few lights on it. But then, my enthusiasm fizzled. Either that or it was time to pump or go see Olivia, or make dinner or, I don’t know, sleep for an hour.

This telling, though, she paid closer attention as I explained, “You didn’t want to wait for me to get the ornaments out of the garage, so while I was with Liv at the hospital on day, you just dug into your toy bin and found puzzle pieces, stuffed horses, tiny dolls and hair bows and set all those things on the branches of the tree.”

I hugged my girl and said, “You were so proud of yourself and I was proud of you.”

She hugged me back and then pulled away, asking, “Are you about to cry?”

I smiled around my nostalgic tears and nodded, “I felt awful that my little girl, my tiny little three year old had to decorate the Christmas tree that year all by herself. I was so torn between you and Livie and trying to get everything done and wanting Olivia to come home and wanting to take better care of you that I don’t think I did anything well during that time.”

She rolled her eyes. “I just remember thinking it was awesome that you let me leave my stuff on the tree.”

Wow. With a few little words, my girl managed to assuage years of guilt I’d been harboring. Three year old Alyssa didn’t think I was shirking my duties as her mother by not putting ornaments on the tree that year. She thought I was being a great mother for letting her do it her way. She didn’t feel neglected, she felt encouraged to be creative as she made the best of a sucky situation.

After that conversation, I went out and bought a box of Little Debbie Christmas Tree cakes. The very ones that have triggered my guilt every year for the past six years. This year? I just saw some snack cakes that I knew my girls would devour with pleasure.

We’ve come a long way, babies.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Are We Rich?

Last night during an episode of The Middle, the Heck family’s neighbor called them rich, what with their two kinds of chips and their one dad.

Alyssa asked me as I tucked her into bed if we were rich, because, hello, we have like five kinds of chips in our house and, like the Heck’s, only one dad.

I laughed and told her that we are very, very blessed. We have a nice home, plenty (more than plenty) of clothes to wear, shoes without holes and warm coats each and every winter. We have the money to buy fuel to heat our house and we can afford gymnastics classes for the girls.

But more than that, I explained, we are rich in love. We have so much love flowing into and out of our house. We love each other with abandon and we love others as much as we can.

She rolled her eyes but also smiled at my response.

She also quipped, “And we have a lot more than two kinds of chips.”

Speaking of all the clothes we have to wear, yesterday afternoon Alyssa informed me that on Friday (let’s remember that yesterday was Wednesday) she needed to wear black pants, black socks, black shoes and a white shirt to school because the fifth grade band is performing for Grandparent’s Day.

Yes. She told me this two days before the performance.

I shrugged. “Well, since I bought you some black pants to give you for Christmas, I guess you’ll wear those. I have black socks and you can borrow my black shoes too, while you still fit into my shoes. I’m sure we can find you a white shirt somewhere in your closet.”

And guess what? We did find that white shirt. Her outfit is hanging in her closet right now waiting for tomorrow morning, when she’ll don it, brush her hair and have me braid it into a Katniss braid, which is her current favorite hairdo.

Rich, indeed.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Mothering My Preteen

Life is hard when you’re not quite eleven and your little sister is babied all the time and your dad yells at you a lot and you are forced to eat food that is good for you even though you get plenty of snack-type foods after the good stuff has been consumed.

I say this with no sarcasm. It really is hard to be almost eleven and feel like everyone likes/loves your little sister more than they love you.

It’s also hard to remember that you’re bigger than your sister and can do more damage to her if you land on her after doing a cartwheel right next to her and she moves while you’re mid cartwheel.

Life in our home is loud these days.

The girls get rambunctious. Tom gets annoyed. I get frustrated and tears often fall.

Alyssa and I have been spending a little more time together, though, as she comes to me after Tom has scolded for her an infraction and she feels picked on.

I remember being the big sister, the one who is expected to be smarter, stronger, more responsible. I remember still feeling little even as I yearned to be all grown up.

I remember experimenting with makeup and wanting so badly to be glamorous. I also remember feeling like the whole world (or at least my mean parents) were against me all the time and it was just so unfair.

So yes, Alyssa and I are spending a little more time together. We’re cleaning her room together, I fold laundry while she tells me her latest stories. I listen as she talks about the kids at school and yes, I even hug her when she feels like her dad is being unbelievably mean.

I don’t think I’m undermining him when I do this. I hug her and tell her that I understand her feelings but then I go on to explain why he’s frustrated with her current behavior. I remind her that sometimes, she does get a little loud, or rough with Olivia, or yes, even sassy. I tell her that it is our job as her parents to guide her behavior and that even though she’s amazingly good at school, it really isn’t acceptable for her to come home and be all grouchy with us.

I gently suggest that when she’s feeling her most ouch she find her way to her room for a little alone time. I remind her that sometimes we all need a break from each other and that’s okay. I hug her tighter and don’t let go until she lets go.

She’s a great kid. She can just be a little rough around the edges sometimes. And there are times when I think that’s perfectly okay and don’t rush to smooth those edges. There are other times when I know she needs a little extra soothing and I step in, pull her close and remind her that I’m there, that she can lean on me when things are harder than she can handle.

It really is tough to be a preteen. I get that and so I’m trying to make it a little easier on mine. In so many ways she’s still just a little girl.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

D'Oh! (Or, I'm an Idiot)

Okay, so the first time could be written off as an honest mistake, caused innocently by a friend emailing another friend and me making an assumption and not questioning that assumption.

The second time…it happens. Maybe not often, at least not to people smart enough to check dates before hitting the confirm button.

But the third time...sort of makes it my problem, not something I can blame on other people.

Though in my defense, I swear my sister said, “Saturday, November 22.”

By the way…the 22nd of November was a Friday. But I assumed she misspoke and because I swear I heard, “Saturday.”

So even though I knew Saturday was the 23rd, because I’d scheduled O’s party on that day and when my sister invited us to her house for a Thanksgiving dinner and I heard, “Saturday, November 22nd.” I figured she meant Saturday, November 23rd and told her we’d try to be there after O’s party.

Except, it was actually scheduled for Friday, November 22nd.

And let me ask right here: Who has a Thanksgiving dinner on a Friday the week before Thanksgiving? That is a day most people have to work until at least 3:30 if not 4:30 or 5:00. Seriously?

But yes, I screwed up the date AGAIN. This time I didn’t drive all the way to her house to figure it out, though. I called her on our way back from O’s party to ask for directions to her house. Yes, yes, I don’t actually know where my sister lives, whatever.

And she had to break the news to me that the dinner had been the day before. Ahem.

*Stage whisper* I didn’t really want to go anyway, so this was a great excuse, you know, the excuse of being a day late.

At least this little date mishap didn’t cost me as much as the one in DC did.

Monday, December 2, 2013

One of Those People

I’ve always prided myself on being that one person who has never gone shopping on Thursday evening after Thanksgiving or even on Friday morning.

I’m not a morning person, so the thought of getting up before dawn to shop holds absolutely no interest for me. No, thank you very much.

But, alas, I ruined my own bragging rights on Thanksgiving evening when I drove to my mom’s at 7:20 in the evening so we could drive to Walmart together to try and get some tablets that were on sale for $49.

To be honest, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d expected. There was quite the crowd and there were way to many children up past their bedtimes but everyone was friendly enough as we made our way to aisle 7.

That said, I don’t really want to do it again. This year was great and all but…I’m going to leave the crowds to the, um, crowds.

We did get the tablets, by the way. The girls will be so excited to open those on Christmas morning. Worth it, right? I suppose so even though while at Walmart that night I felt the need to apologize to every single person who was there working. It just seems unfair that they had to be there.

Alas, there I was too. Part of the problem. Huh.