Friday, January 31, 2014

Head of the Debate Team

Olivia has discovered the rush that comes from a good argument. Or rather, from any argument at all.

In the past couple of months my lovely, acquiescent child has turned into the girl who argues about everything. Everything. Seriously. If I tell her that her hair is blond, she’ll argue that no, it’s not blond, it’s lightest brown. If Tom tells her that he favorite television show, Cops, is on, she’ll yell that it’s not Cops, it’s Cops RELOADED.

I blame Tom for this. He started it over a year ago by saying things wrong deliberately so that O would correct him. He liked how adamant she got when she was doing the correcting and, he asserted, it made her talk that much more, which is good for her.

Alas, he’s created a monster who refuses to consider the idea that she might ever be wrong. She corrects us constantly and yet argues to the point of insanity when we gently let her know that her correction was not only not needed but also not correct. Seven year olds are really hard to convince they’re wrong.

I love that she has strong convictions but I sort of wish she didn’t have to use those convictions against me so often.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Poo Post

Feel free to skip this is poo isn’t your thing. I mean, who does have a thing for poo? Not me. And yet if someone were outside looking into our house, they might think our entire family has a thing for poo.

We might even seem a little obsessed. See, one of the symptoms of 5p- syndrome is constipation so even though Olivia is seven years old, we keep a pretty close eye on her bowel movements, or, as the case may be, her lack of them.

If she goes more than three days without sitting on the toilet and forcing out a turd the size and consistency to make a grown man groan, we start to worry and we start to push apple juice and fiber and, as a last resort, milk of magnesia, her way.

Much celebration ensues on the days where O announces, “I think I need to poo.”

We make a production of putting her cushy tushy (a soft ring placed on the toilet to help her relax and not have to worry about falling in) on the toilet seat and setting up her step stool as a place to rest her feet. Then we make sure she had the latest issue of whatever magazine we have in the house. She sits and gets to work.

The past few days Olivia has produced excellent poo on at least three consecutive days. It’s been awesome. She hasn’t even had to strain to do this. We’re all very relieved.

Well, Alyssa probably doesn’t care as much about her sister bowel movements as Tom and I do but you know what I mean.

About a week ago, though, things didn’t move as easily as we might hope.

Olivia sat on the toilet in the downstairs half bath for probably twenty minutes with nary a turd in sight. She worked so hard and got no results.

I checked on her several times, asking if she was okay, if she need anything, if she was ready for me to wipe her.

Finally, she suggested maybe she should go upstairs and try to poo in the bathroom up there.

I figured, what the heck, maybe she and her poo needed a change of scenery. I gathered her cushy tushy, the step stool and her magazine and we headed up the stairs, her bare butt staring me in the face the entire way. I settled her on the toilet and started to leave the room (I mean, come on, who needs an audience when trying to take a poo?) when she stopped me and asked, “What about the heat?”

She wanted me plug in and turn on the space heater. Huh. Okay. If it helps her be more comfortable so be it.

Less than five minutes later she was shouting from her throne, “I’m done!!!”

The change of scenery, the heat and the magazine did the trick and she was poop free for another day. Yay!! Much celebration took place. But upon glancing into the toilet, I saw why this batch of poo had caused so much trouble. Poor baby, was all I could think.

But I wiped her, flushed and walked away.

Sigh. And for the next twenty four hours or so, the toilet refused to flush right. It took a couple of tries each time someone used that toilet. The toilet bowl would fill almost to the top and then everything would marinate while the water slowly, oh so slowly, drained out of the toilet. I know that disgustingly giant log Olivia had expelled was in the pipe, just taking up space and making the water drain so slowly.

Finally, after a day or more, the toilet went back to flushing normally. I’m guessing the gross thing had finally dislodged and made it way to the poop afterlife, also known as the septic tank. Yuck!

I still don’t understand how someone so tiny (but wait, she finally broke the 50 pound mark!) creates such massive poop. It’s unfathomable. And gross. And, poor kid, obviously sometimes painful.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Deep Freeze

Here in the Midwest, we’re experiencing sub-zero cold temperatures and if we get even a tenth of an inch more of snow in the next two days we will beat the existing record for the snowiest January on record.

And…the girls have gone to school all of eight days, give or take (but just take, you can’t give because they have not gone more than eight days) this month. It’s been rough.

Well, to be honest, if it’s been rough on anyone, it’s been rough on Tom, he is, after all, the parent who has to care for children when school has been cancelled for the seven hundredth time this month.

I think he’s handling it pretty well, mostly by letting them OD on technology and all that good stuff. The girls certainly aren’t complaining. In fact, they still celebrate each evening when the phones ring and the school is calling to let us know that school is closed again. I don’t think they’ll be celebrating when they’re still in school in the third week of June. But right now, all is grand when you’re seven and eleven and don’t have to go to school for days and days on end.

We have some awesome drifts of snow in our yard but it’s too cold to even go play in them. I know there are those in the northern states and even Canada (ha! As if anyone in Canada reads this) will laugh at that but it’s true. With sub-zero temperature without even calculating in the wind chill factor, we have weather that is no conducive to playing outside, even for a few minutes while bundled up.

So the house is stifling with inactivity. We haven’t even made it to gymnastics all month because of crappy roads, cold winds and too damned much snow.

Why yes, here I am, blogging about the weather. Look at me go.

Alas, there is nothing else more important in our world right this second. I guess I should consider myself lucky.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Come On Over

When I was about twelve years old I told my mom that when I was a grown up, I’d never, ever have people over to my house for a party.

My mom, the friendliest, most gracious hostess in the history of hostessing, asked why I felt that way.

I muttered that I wouldn’t know what to feed people and I wouldn’t know how to get people to talk to each other and I wouldn’t know what to have them do and what if everyone had a horrible time?

She laughed at me kindly and told me that I’d probably feel differently when I was an adult.

At twelve, I thought the equivalent of, “Like hell!”

But you know what?

She was right. I feel differently about hosting parties now as compared to when I was twelve.

And, get this, I’ve hosted more than a few parties in the past few years. And they’ve been fun. Sure, several have been kid birthday parties. Which, duh, how can you go wrong with cake, presents and letting the kids run wild?

But seriously, I was such a tense, uptight little twelve year old. I’m so glad I outgrew that and realized how much fun it can be to have people come to my house to eat and visit and relax.

Friday, January 24, 2014

I Win

Okay, so I’m not sure I did win. Except, if someone had taken me up the bet I offered yesterday, the one where I said she’d wake up several times last night, well, I’d win because she did.

She woke up at least three times last night.

But see, I think maybe it wasn’t all her fault.

We used our last Pull Up the night before last. I had some bigger ones but when Olivia put one on, it was obviously very uncomfortable so we decided to she’d just go Pull Up free last night.

She used the bathroom just before she fell asleep. I had her sleep-pee on the toilet before putting her in bed, probably about two hours after she fell asleep.

The first time she woke up, I should have taken her to the bathroom but she mumbled that she didn’t have to go and I hate to wake a sleeping child. So I didn’t.

She woke up again about an hour later and I went back to rub her back again. Again, she said she didn’t have to pee. My own fault, I tell you.

An hour after that, she woke up and declared, “I am so wet!”

Yes, she was so grossly wet. She’d peed. All over the bed, all over her pajamas, all over her sister, who, poor kid, managed to sleep through the grossness of it all. Alyssa will kill me someday for this, I’m sure.

Olivia climbed over Alyssa, stripped out of her wet, nasty pajamas and climbed into my warm, pee-free bed. Sigh…

I did buy more Pull Ups today so this will not be a problem tonight.

Live and learn, I tell you. Live and learn.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

How We Rock a Two-Hour Delay

I was up at 5:25 this morning, stunned to realize that Olivia had slept all night long with nary a peep. I didn’t have to get up once to go over and rub her back. Wow. Now that I’ve mentioned this, though, she’ll wake me up five times tonight. Wanna bet?

So yes, we were up and dressed and everyone was gathered for breakfast when Alyssa announced, “We have a two-hour delay!”

Wait. What? My phone hadn’t rung. What was up with that?

She’d checked the school website and there it was, a two-hour delay.

I sighed. If I’d known that was happening, I’d have given Livie a bath. She’d had a bath at my mom’s on Monday but I’m not sure she got her hair washed. To look at it, I’d have to say no. I’d been trying to figure out when I’d be able to squeeze in a bath and a shampoo for her this week and it was looking rough, sort of like her hair. Poor kid.

Then I looked at the time and realized that I could still give her a bath. Sure, it would mean taking off the clothes she’d just put on but who cares about that?

So I suggested, “Hey, Liv, wanna take a bath this morning?”

She was up those stairs before I even finished the question.

And forty minutes later, she was traipsing back down the stairs with a clean body, clean dry hair and reclothed, feeling relaxed and refreshed.

I still had time to pack my lunch, warm my car and head to work six minutes early, which was necessary considering the condition of the roads. Yikes, slippery.

Best use of a two-hour delay in recent history.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Post that Wasn't

Last night at 11:30, I was composing a post in my head with the title, “And one night screws it all up.”

I was composing this because Olivia was sitting up on bed for the second time, calling out to me, asking me to scratch her back. She was also asking to come over and lay in my bed.

I was sure this was going to be the pattern for the night, me settling her down, going back to sleep for a half hour and then her waking up again for a back scratch and/or to come lay with me.

Instead of that happening, she laid back down at my gentle urging (she’s feeling better, by the way. I wasn’t being cruel to my child by making her sleep in a bed with her sister while she (the youngest, not the sister) didn’t feel good.) and didn’t wake up again until 6 this morning. Success!

She slept so well that she felt good enough to go to school today, after a two-hour delay. Sigh. We’re three weeks into January and have not yet had a full week of school.

Speaking of sleep, Alyssa, at eleven, sleeps all night long, never once calling out to me or needing to lay with me or wanting me to rub her back. So…this gives me hope that Olivia, at eleven, could be at that wonderful stage.

All my bitching about Olivia’s sleep habits makes me feel kind of bad because, you know, as compared to some of the people with her syndrome I read about on Facebook and other blogs, she’s pretty much awesome in the sleep department. She falls asleep easily, as long as I’m rubbing her back or scratching her knee or rubbing her back with my right hand while scratching her right knee, wait, her left knee, no, the right one but only on the back of it, with my left hand.

She also stays asleep relatively well. Not as well as Alyssa does but I’m not, at this point, considering medicating her.

Other parents have it so much worse than I do. I know this and know that I’m very lucky. But this luckiness doesn’t take away the tiredness I feel on a pretty regular basis.

So, guiltiness aside, I’m glad she’s sleeping better than ever and so, so grateful that I am too.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Surrounded by Sickies

Tom and I took Olivia to the doctor today. She was complaining that her stomach hurt, she was very pale, she didn’t want dinner last night and she said her ear hurt.

We came out of the doctor’s office with a prescription for an antibiotic. She has swollen lymph nodes, which the doctor reports, indicates an infection. She’s achy and tired and just wants to be held.

Guess who held her through the night? Clue, it wasn’t her dad.

Honestly, I don’t mind holding her when she’s sick. In fact, I feel lucky that I can and that she wants me to do so. I am lucky that my youngest child loves being the baby.

My boss has been out sick for two days with an official diagnosis of H1N1. Yikes! Another employee was out last week with the flu.

I did get a flu shot back in August (the two who are out did not) so I’m hoping it was the right strain to keep me and the rest of my family from getting it. Tom and the girls also got vaccinated. No anti-vaccines warriors around here.

I guess we’re all just trying to stay ahead of the cold and Olivia fell a little behind. Poor baby. I’ll probably get to hold her again tonight.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Slumber Party

This year for Alyssa’s birthday, we decided instead of doing a location party, we’d invite a couple of friends over for a slumber party.

A couple of friends morphed into five friends, which, including Alyssa, led to me stomping down the hall at 2am on Sunday morning to say, “Seriously! Girls, it’s time to go to sleep!”

But other than that one moment of frustration, the party went really well.

The girls began arriving at just before three on Saturday afternoon. Alyssa showed them where to take their stuff. We’d moved a mattress into the room where the girls would be sleeping so there was plenty of space for them to sprawl.

But 5:30, all the girls had arrived and it was time to put the giant pizza into the oven. I’d bought a ‘mega’ pepperoni pizza and then just moved some of the pepperoni around so that the one girl who wanted just cheese could have it, the other three who wanted just black olives and cheese could have that and the one who wanted just pepperoni had that option too.

Of course, there was also N, the nicest, most polite child I’ve ever met. Seriously. She’s so soft spoken, always says thank you, always compliments whatever you on whatever you’ve just served her, she offered to help clear the table and she didn’t complain when the other girls got grabby with the popsicles and left her with no choice. When asked what she likes on her pizza, N replied, “I’ll eat anything you make.”

Where did this kid come from and how can I have my child programmed to be more like her?

Okay, so I don’t want to actually change Alyssa. She’s pretty awesome already but I wouldn’t mind if she picked up a few polite habits from her friend N.

After dinner, Alyssa and I handed out t-shirts to the girls and they all painted something on them. It was cute and fun. It also gave the paint the rest of the night to dry before the parents started showing up at 9:30 the next morning.

After painting, the girls started eating popcorn. I only had to tell two friends to stop throwing popcorn into each other’s mouths (read, onto the floor!) twice before the whole group escaped upstairs, granting me blessed quiet and solitude. Did I mentioned Olivia was having her very own slumber party over at Gram’s house with Jaxon?

Looking back, I’m glad we threw the party but I think the next one will be limited to three friends, which, including Alyssa, would leave us with only four preteens running around like they’re still only three years old.

In a lot of ways, these girls are still so young and yet on the cusp of being so grown up. I’m lucky that Alyssa has a great group of friends who also have wonderful parents.

That N, though, is seriously, the nicest girl in the world.

Friday, January 17, 2014


Olivia loves trinkets. She loves little things she can hold and carry with her. She finds little plastic rings or ‘jewel’ embellishments that fall off decorations and carries these things, holding them against her chest as she burrows into the couch. She falls asleep holding these things.

Last week, my mom gave Olivia the best present ever. It is an amber colored jewel that is the size of O’s palm. It’s flat on one side and is point on the other, sort of like, a well, a jewel.

She loves this thing. When she first saw it, she gasped and whispered, “Precious.”

She has had that thing within reach for the last five days.

That first night she got her new jewel, after she fell asleep, I carried her to bed and put the jewel on the bathroom counter where she’d find it first thing in the morning.

This was one of the nights we’ve been implementing our sleep training. She woke up at about 3pm, calling out, “My jewel? Where is my precious jewel?”

I called out quietly, “It’s in the bathroom, Sweetie. You can have it in the morning.”

She sighed, “But I need it.”

I sighed back at her and got up to get the jewel. I knew that the sooner she had that jewel in her hot little hand, the sooner we’d both go back to sleep.

And what do you know? It worked. She grasped her little piece of amber glass and went back to sleep. And get this, she wasn’t in my bed. Win!

The next and all the rest since, I’ve put her jewel on the table beside my bed for just such bejeweled emergencies. It’s come in handy too, I’ve had to get up just long enough to give it to her twice so far. This is way better than having her climb into bed with me. Just saying.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

New Routine

We’re trying to get back into the swing of school and morning routines and all that entails. It’s been rough. Before Christmas break, the girls needed to be downstairs by 6:30 to eat breakfast so we could finish tooth brushing, hair brushing, getting shoes and coats on and be out the door by 7:10 so I could take them to the bus stop.

Tom and I decided over Christmas that it would make more sense, with all the snow we’ve gotten and may still get, for the girls to get on the bus at home, which occurs at 6:40 each morning. This means they need to be downstairs, dressed by 6:00 for breakfast.

Which means they need to get up at 5:45, which just seems mean to me. But then I’m not a morning person like they are. Olivia needs a little extra time to sit in front of a space heater each morning before being expected to get dressed and be ready to focus on eating.

Alyssa is a little more like her mother, she needs people to just not look at her or talk to her first thing in the morning.

In an effort to make the mornings a little easier, Alyssa and I pack lunches in the evening. It makes more sense to take ten minutes (if that) and have everything ready than to be running around trying to get it all done in the morning when everyone is groggy, grouchy and rushed.

Once the girls are on the bus, I have about forty minutes before I have to leave for work. This is weird. Tom and I are never, okay, rarely, in the house without at least one of the girls. So for the past week we’ve been sort of just figuring out how to be alone with each other each morning.

Alyssa loves being the first one on the bus each morning. She’s been begging to switch to this routine for months. She likes the extra time with her friends on the bus and just likes being first.

Olivia? Well, she’s just sort of a go with the flow kind of gal. She’s all, “Oh, so we’re getting on the bus at home, forty minutes before we did at the bus stop? Mmm, kay. Can I have my handcuffs back? Cops Reloaded is starting and I might miss an arrest.”

We’re still working out the kinks but so far, the bus has not yet had to sit in front of our house while we race around putting shoes and coats on. That’s something.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sleep Training

How do you sleep train a seven year old? First let me answer the question of WHY one would need to sleep train a seven year old.

Because, ladies and gentlemen, I am lazy and have spent the last seven years doing whatever would grant me the most sleep. There it is.

So, after seven years, it occurred to me that perhaps if I suffer through a few nights of inconvenience I will reap the reward of better, longer, more comfortable sleep for all of us.

The problem, you see, is that for, well, forever, Olivia wakes up in the middle of the night, realizes she’s not touching me and seeks me out, coming to the side of my bed, whispering, “Mom? Mom? Mommy?”

I roll over, see her there and, in my hazy laziness of just wanting to go back to sleep, pull her into the twin bed in which I sleep (because I’m Lucy Ricardo and it’s 1959.) She then demands that I take her nasty pull up off and she strips out of her pajamas.

Umm. Not the most pleasant way to spend a few minute each and every night. Not to mention that once she is in bed with me, now that she’s GIANT, or, well 48 pounds and 48 inches tall, there just isn’t that much room to spare and I spend the rest of the night on my side, which ends up making my hip or my should ache.

Not a good situation and one that I am ready to fix.

How, though? I can’t exactly put her in her bed and just put up the baby gate. Wait. Can I do that? I’ve considered it but I fear the commotion caused by that would wake everyone up and no one wants that.

So we’re going to start slow and see where it takes us. I’m hoping it takes us all the way to everyone going to sleep at a decent hour, sleeping for seven or eight or even twelve hours each night and not waking up to bed hop.

So one afternoon during our snow days last week, I was making the beds and both A and O were in the room with me.

I mentioned to Olivia that it would be great if, when she wakes up at night, she just rolls over and goes back to sleep.

She smiled at me and said, “La la la.” She says that when she’s uncomfortable with a conversation.

I pressed on. “Livie,” I explained, “I love you but I don’t like to share a bed with you. It’s not comfortable with me and it makes me grouchy in the morning when I don’t sleep well at night. You guys don’t like it when Mom is grouchy, right?”

She nodded wisely and went back to doing no-handed somersaults onto the mattress that sits on the floor of the room she and her sister share with me.

That night, as usual, around midnight, Olivia sat up in the bed she shares with Alyssa and called out, “Mom?”

I whispered back, “I’m right here, just lay down and go back to sleep.”

She laid back down. Hooray, I thought. Except, wait, what was that sound? Sniff…sniff…sniff, sniff, sniff.

Damn. I called out, “Okay, come on over.”

She traverse the whole six feet that were separating us and climbed into bed with me, but only after taking off her pull up and her pajamas. I pulled her close and whispered that it was okay, no one was mad at her and we’d try again tomorrow.

So, night one? Fail.

The next night, she didn’t wake up until 4:30. I told her it wasn’t morning yet and to go back to sleep. And guess what? She didn’t cry or sniffle or anything. She rolled over and went back to sleep.

The third night, she woke up at 11:30. Oh, hell no! I thought. Instead of calling to her from my cozy bed, I got up, crossed the room and knelt down beside her, telling her quietly to just lay down. I rubbed her back for a couple of minutes, whispering that it was still very much night time and she needed to go back to sleep.

This has been the routine on and off for the past week or so. If she wakes up, I go to her, settle her back down, rub her back or her hair for a few seconds and then whisper that I’m just going to go use the bathroom and I’ll be back soon. After walking away, I detour to my bed and we all settle in for the rest of the night.

It’s sort of slow going but the sleep I am getting is better than it’s been in years. I don’t have jabby elbow and knees in my back, I don’t have a palm on my face. I don’t have a hard head between my shoulder blades.

If this works, I think both A and O might actually be in their own room in, oh, a year or so. It could totally happen.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

And Now She's Eleven

My first born daughter, the child that made me a mother, turns eleven today.

She’s tall (5’3” at the last measurement), beautiful, smart, sweet (mostly) and challenging. She loves to sing at the top of her voice, to play on her tablet until her thumb print has been worn down to nothing (she’s planning a heist and will only touch things with her smooth thumb.)

She still loves horses but her animal love has expanded over the years to include cats, dogs, and yes, even our fish, Bomber.

She’s rough with her sister and still cuddles with me in the evenings.

She’s not especially graceful, can be found spilling cups of water several times a week. We’ve threatened to make her revert to using a sippy cup on several occasions. She doesn’t find this threat amusing in the least. And yet, she can do the most beautiful handstands and cartwheels.

She challenges me and her dad to no end, wanting to know WHY we can boss her around but she can’t retaliate.

She’s asked me several times to remind her not to ever get bangs cut into her hair. Her hair, when short, like to wing and curl and be a nuisance. Been there, Sweetie. It gets better.

I am so glad I get to celebrate the coming year with her. Eleven is going to be awesome. It’s also probably going to be rough and tough and scary. But in the midst of the rough times, we’re going to laugh and hug and snuggle and grow.

It’s just what we do.

Here’s to ELEVEN.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Special Features

We love DVDs (yes, we haven’t entered the world of BluRay, we’re always a few years behind as far as technology goes.)

Olivia especially loves it when a DVD has special features. She will watch the special features over and over and over again, peppering in viewings of the entire movie in there a few times just for a bit of variety.

Yesterday it was the special features on the DVD of the televised production of The Sound of Music, starring Carrie Underwood.

The special features show the auditions for the kids playing the Von Trapp family as well as commentary from some of the other stars. It’s fun but after six or seven viewings, well, it loses its charm.

But not for Olivia. When her dad asked her why she liked watching the special effects so much she first corrected him, saying she wasn’t watching the special effects, she was watching the special features.

And yes, she had that special, “Duh!” tone in her voice. She’s perfected that one in the last year or so.

Then she told him, “Dad, I like to watch the girl in the pink shirt. She has giant teeth. I don’t even know how she eats with those teeth but she sure can sing.”

Note: This poor child to whom Olivia is referring did not get a role as any of the Von Trapp children.

He laughed and asked where she came up with this stuff.

She was too busy somersaulting toward the television to watch more of the special features to answer.

I think we might be creating a monster.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Three Weeks

That is how long my children have been out of school.

School was closed yesterday due to a level 2 snow emergency.

It was closed today due to fog. Because, duh, it’s suddenly above zero outside and the ground is still sub-zero and so the air gets foggy. Yes, that’s the official definition of what creates fog.

Today Tom took the girls to my mom’s house because I think if the poor man had to spend one more day telling Alyssa to get off Olivia and telling Olivia to stop touching her sister’s butt, he might just lose his mind.

So here we are, staring down a weekend. A normal, two-day weekend, hoping against hope that school will resume on Monday, no two-hour delays, no closings, just school.

I think even Alyssa is starting to miss school. Or, rather, she’s starting to miss her friends, which is the same thing since school is where she sees them.

Next Tuesday is Alyssa’s eleventh birthday, which should absolutely be celebrated by sending her to school. Don’t you think? Me to!!

Olivia, on the other hand, would be perfectly happy to be home schooled if that were an option. It’s not like she talks to anyone in her class anyway. Alas, even if Tom or I were willing to do that, we realize that it would be greatly detrimental to her social growth.

I am sure that by second grade, that child will be speaking to her peers.

Yes, we’re ready to this ‘winter break’ to be over. So very ready.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Hugging the Babies

In the past few months, Alyssa has gotten clingy. Like, REALLY clingy. She wants to hug us several times a day and when we’re sitting down in the evenings, she sits as close to me as possible without actually sitting ON me.

I even started calling her by the name of a relative who is a ‘hugger’ in the sense that this person latches on to someone and doesn’t let go. It’s irritating to the point that I can hardly stand to be around this person for fear she’ll hug me or put her enormous arm around me and just let it sit there on my shoulders like a giant, dead snake.

Alyssa finds it amusing in the extreme that I call her by this other person’s name and tends to hang on to hugs that much longer in the hopes of eliciting the name from my lips.

My mom recently suggested that I hug Alyssa back with as much enthusiasm as she hugs all of us. I’ve done this for over a week and while she gets why I’m doing it, and finds it hilarious, it does seem to have curbed Alyssa’s need to embrace as often as she was even two weeks ago.

One afternoon after visiting my mom, the girls and I were getting ready to go home. I’d already helped Olivia with her shoes and coat.

I grabbed Alyssa’s coat and called to her, “Come her, Sweetie. Let’s get your coat on you.”

She laughed and let me ‘help’ her put her coat on. I zipped her coat for her and put her scarf around her neck.

Olivia watched these actions with concern.

When we got the to the car, Alyssa still laughing at how I’d babied her, Olivia declared, “You know she’s not the baby, right?”

I fought a grin and said, “She’s my baby.”

Olivia blinked. “I’m your baby,” she insisted.

Alyssa laughed and we went home.

Olivia couldn’t let it go. She asked several times that night why I’d put Alyssa’s coat on her. I finally told her Lyss and I were just being silly. That answer seemed to soothe her.

Olivia is not ready or willing to give up her status as the baby of the family, especially not her big sister.

Thank goodness Olivia doesn’t seem to care that I still go on for nice long hugs with Alyssa. And those hugs have gone a long way toward giving Alyssa the connection she seems to need these days while also giving me the personal space I need after a long day of catering the needs of both of my babies.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Hills are Alive

I didn’t plan to watch Carrie Underwood’s televised live performance in The Sound of Music. Each time I saw a commercial for it, I think I might have groaned.

To be honest, I’d never even seen the movie version starring Julie Andrews in its entirety. I know, the shame, right?

But that Thursday night there was nothing else on, so we tuned in to watch Carrie sing about the hills and do re mi.

We laughed over the fact that the dude playing Captain Von Trapp looked severely constipated. We discussed our irritation with Rolf and the stupid song, “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.”

We didn’t manage to stay up to watch the whole play the night it was aired live but we did catch it the following Sunday when it was shown again.

Alyssa loved it. She loved the music, she loved laughing with me over the sillier parts (Rolf, ugh!

She loved it so much, we bought the dvd of both versions and have watched both several times in the past couple of weeks.

You can hear both me and Alyssa wandering about the house singing, “When you know the notes to sing…”

Even Olivia can be found singing, “Do a dear, a female deer…) at the top of her lungs. It’s awesome.

When we watched the 1965 version with Julie Andrews Alyssa declared Carrie Underwood her favorite Maria.

I told her it was just because Carrie’s Maria was the first on Alyssa had seen. I definitely prefer Julie Andrews’ performance. She managed to look more like a woman who might be heading off to become a nun. She was also feistier than Carrie’s Maria, who came across as awfully sweet.

If the point of doing the live performance was to introduce a whole new generation to The Sound of Music, it worked. At least it worked in our house. We’re loving the sound of music as it makes it was through our home.

Monday, January 6, 2014

An Extra Sunday

The only thing people are talking about around these parts is the weather. We are in the Midwest where not only did we get 12+ inches of snow dumped on us yesterday, we are also experiencing below 0 temperatures.

The girls have been out of school for, well two full weeks and a day as of today. School was supposed to start back up last Thursday but snow stopped that. The cold, blowing winds are causing drifts that will probably close school again tomorrow.

They're very much enjoying their extended Christmas vacation. I should probably call it their winter vacation now that Christmas is over.

As unusual as it is, my work closed today due the weather too. Yay for all of us.

The best part is that we knew this going bed last night, which means I could NOT set my alarm and just sleep in.

When Olivia woke me up at 7:00 this morning she gave a little whispered, "Whoohoo! We don't have to go to school or work."

I smiled sleepily and said, "That's right, you and me and Daddy and Lyssie just get to stay home together."

She said, "It's like an extra Sunday."

I like that. An extra Sunday to just be together.

Let it snow, let it blow. We're blessed to be warm, have plenty of food. We've enjoyed sitting at the front window, watching the drifts form. Maybe we'll get to do it all again tomorrow.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Bad Boys Bad Boys

Last October the girls and I were grocery shopping and happened upon the Halloween aisles. Olivia found some toy handcuffs and had to have them. I mean, she was enchanted by these silver bangles that were connected by a three link chain. There was no key but they were toys, they had a little lever on each cuff that released it.

They were only $3 so I went ahead and got them for her.

She played with those things almost constantly for the next couple of months. She played with them so much that Tom had to fix them several times because O turned out to be hard on handcuffs.

One afternoon Tom was flipping through the channels and came across an episode of Cops Reloaded.

Olivia stopped almost mid-flip and stared.

There were people being handcuffed on the television! She couldn’t believe her eyes. She watched the entire episode, her own hands cuffed behind her back, then in front, and finally, with the cuffs just dangling from her hands.

Last week she was flipping through one of her poo magazines. She came across a picture of Kevin Federline (aka the ex-Mr. Britney Spears) being hauled away in handcuffs. She carried the magazine open to that picture around with her for days. She asked several times, “Why do celebrities get arrested?”

I think the most common answer was, “Because celebrities are stupid and they think they’re above the law and so they do dumb things and are shocked when they’re caught and held accountable.”

Probably a bit much to be saying to a seven year old but…whatever.

The last few days as I walk into the door from work, I can hear Olivia in the living room asking Tom if it is time for Cops Reloaded to start. He found a channel that shows two episodes in a row of this insane show right at 5:00 and 5:30 each afternoon. Olivia is in handcuff heaven. She claps gleefully when the opening song starts and races to find her handcuffs so she can watch as idiots of both genders, all ages and ethnicities are arrested for stupidity.

I hope all this isn’t a sneak peek into the life she one day wants to lead. That is, of course, unless she decides to be a cop. But wait, danger, no. No, no, no. I do not want my child (even my adult child) out there dealing with crack head morons on a daily basis.

No. This is a passing phase, right? A funny, cute-because-she’s-seven phase.

Thursday, January 2, 2014


On December 30th, before I left for work Alyssa asked if her friend T could come over on New Year’s Eve and spend the day with us.

I figured, “Why not?” So I sent T’s mom a message via Facebook and plans began to set.

Although N, T’s mom, replied to my Facebook message, I called her that evening when I got home from work, just because it’s easier to actually TALK to each other and make plans than it is to do it via messaging.

It was set that I’d go get T at 10 on New Year’s Eve morning, she’d spend the day with us and then at 6:00 that evening, T’s mom would come get T and Alyssa for the night.

But the weather outside was frightful and the more Tom and I talked, the more we realized that letting Alyssa spend the night with T was a bad idea. The snow was already falling when T’s mom got there at 6:00. I explained to her that we were going to let Alyssa go to their house for the evening but I was going to go get her at around 10:00 so none of us would have to be out on the roads the next day after a night of snowing and blowing.

Just before the girls left with T’s mom, Alyssa came to me and said, “I wish I could spend the night.”

I hugged her and told her, “I know you do, but the weather is awful and I really just want you home before it gets worse.”

She was disappointed but still glad to get to go at all.

I’ll be honest, I wanted to give in and let her stay the night. A third friend was going to be there and I knew it was going to suck for Alyssa when 10:00 rolled around and I showed up to take her home.

But I also had her safety and my own, at heart. I wanted her to have fun but I also wanted to avoid driving on snow-covered, slippery back roads the next day.

After Alyssa and T left for the evening, I took Olivia up for a bath. About forty minutes after the bath started, I asked O if she was ready for me to wash her hair and get out. She replied with exasperation, “Mom! I just got in here.”

Okay then. I hung out around the bathroom while she played a little longer.

Finally, she was fully pruned and agreed to get out after I washed her hair. She was grateful for the warm pajamas I’d laid out for her.

We settled in on the couch and read our three books for the night. She asked for some rainbow sherbet and then, as she lay almost dozing, she asked me, “When you go get Lyssie, are you going to wake me up?”

I told her I wouldn’t wake her up.

She asked, “Are you just going to carry me to the car while I sleep then?”

Ha! I suggested that maybe I’d just leave her sleeping on the couch by her daddy and I’d go get Lyssie and we’d be back before she knew it.

She uttered a very clear, “No.”

This was not an acceptable solution to her.

I just smiled, rubbed her back and told her I’d let her sleep while I went to pick up her sister. Is it my fault that miss bossy pants assumed I’d carry her sleeping self to the car and take her with me? No, I think not. The child never woke up during the half hour I was gone and the next morning asked me if she slept through going to pick up Lyss. She did sleep through it.

When A and I got home I hugged her again and told her again that I was sorry the sucky weather made for a disappointing New Year’s Eve.

Then…that child said something that I know all moms of children who are on the brink of the teen years will appreciate.

She hugged me back and said, “It’s okay. I had fun at T’s house but I’d really rather be here with you.”

Ohh, my sweet girl. I just can’t even stand it.

In the end, Tom woke up long enough to ring in the new year with me and Alyssa. We all hugged and kissed as the ball dropped while Olivia snoozed on the couch. We ate some Chex Mix and Tom and Alyssa drank diet Pepsi.

We were all able to stay home on New Year’s day and that, my friends, is the benefit of being an over protective parent.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Reflections of 2013

What a year. I feel like 2013 was one of the best so far. I came a long way toward being healthy, which, yes, is awesome.

But also Tom and talked a lot more this year than years past, we worked on being a couple, we parented more cohesively and we laughed. We laughed a lot and quite honestly, I think that goes farther toward cementing our relationship than anything else.

Alyssa finished fourth grade with a bang in 2013 and started fifth grade with enthusiasm. Having her tonsils out in 2012 meant Alyssa had an incredibly healthy 2013. All that mommy guilt over the time it took her to heal from the surgery has evaporated thanks to her ongoing good health.

Olivia...oh, sweet little Olivia. She continues to amaze us with her words, her humor, her gymnastics. This girl has mastered the headstand. Can you even believe that. A child who didn't sit up on her own until she was a year old has the muscle control to stand on her flipping head. Wow is all I can say.

My brother Jason got married in 2013. His July wedding was the catalyst to my changing my eating habits on January 2 last year. And I did it. I made it a full year of eating well, of staying the course and in the end, I lost 59 pounds. It would have been lovely to be able to say I lost 60 pounds even but what the hell, 59 is a pretty darned good number.

I finally, FINALLY got that darned toy room cleaned. It only took about five months of five minutes here and hour there of cleaning, sorting, tossing. The day I vacuumed the carpet and looked around at the organized toys, I sort of wanted to cry with relief. Instead, I bounded down the stairs and announced to my family, "Wooo, to the who, to the whoo whoo whoo! I am done with the toy room."

We were able to let all the little kids go up there last Sunday and not worry about it being destroyed because there is a place for everything and I have no trouble putting it all back together even after Olivia and the five grandkids went up there for hours without adult supervision.

2013 was good to us. But I also think we were good to ourselves and each other and often that makes all the difference.

2014 can be just as awesome, if only because we will face the challenges together just as we'll face the celebrations together.