Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The One Where Tom Drops a Few F-Bombs

Let me preface with the face that we don't really swear in our house much. Sure, I suffer from road rage induced potty mouth when I'm alone in the car but for the most part, Tom and I are not much for dropping obscenities into every day conversation.

With that said:

The light fixture in our dining area (it’s not a dining room, it’s just part of the kitchen that is set apart by the peninsula counter that separates the work area of the kitchen from the eating area) was one of the ugliest light fixtures I’ve ever come across.

It resembled a wagon wheel, big, bulky and the lights were directed toward the ceiling.

I hated it. I’ve hated it since we moved in to this house over three years ago.

I think I mentioned my ever-growing disgust with this light fixture to Tom a time or two.

Finally, last weekend, he told me to just go buy a new light fixture. He was tired of hearing me say how much I hated the old one. He also suggested I pick up a new faucet for the downstairs half bath because the current one is old and gross and it’s really hard for Olivia to turn on the water to wash her hands after she uses the bathroom.

I asked Tom if faucets come in sizes because, well, duh.

He said that bathroom faucets are pretty standard. (Foreshadowing…dun, dun, dun.)

So off we went.

I found a faucet that seemed like it would be easy to use. The handle for turning the water off and on was off to the side, which would made it a little easier for O to reach. It was clean and modern looking. I bought it and headed to the lights.

I found something that was completely different from the old wagon wheel hanging over our kitchen table.

This light is long with five lights that point toward the table. The sconces are amber colored, so kind of moody but nice too.

I loved it but also knew it was completely different from what Tom was expecting me to bring home. I bought it anyway.

I called him on the way home and told him I’d found something but it was completely different from what he was probably expecting.

When we got home, Alyssa proudly showed Tom the faucet we’d picked.

He immediately told me it wouldn’t work. I explained that there were none just like the old one.

He showed me how the one we’d bought was narrower at the base and so wouldn’t fit on our sink without holes showing. Huh. I guess faucets are actually standard, are they?

I said, “Okay, we’ll take it back next weekend.”

Then he saw the light.

The look on his face had me saying, “Since we’re taking the faucet back, I can return the light too.”

“I thought you were going to bring home something similar to what we had,” he explained.

“No, I hated that one, remember?” I replied. “But seriously, if this one won’t work, I’ll exchange it. No big deal.”

He sighed and said, “Let’s look at the instructions.”

I dug out the instructions while assuring him that it was fine if he hated it and wanted me to return it.

He told me, “I don’t hate it, I just don’t think it’s going to fit to the existing wires.”


After reading over the instructions, he decided he needed a better look at the actual light. He looked at the hole left by the old light, which he’d taken down while we were out shopping.

He muttered that it the light I’d bought would probably have to be put up at an angle.

Then we took the whole thing out and he started to work with it.

And hour and a half later, I was holding the fixture up while he stuffed cable and wire into the socket and the fixture itself and muttering unmentionable words here and there.

Then, finally, it was hung and ready for the breaker to be flipped to see if we liked it.

Once Alyssa flipped the switch, Tom said, “Well, it’s not very bright, is it?”

I replied, “I love it. I’m sorry you hate it.”

He said, “I don’t hate it. And it is actually better than the old one.”

The next morning, he told me, “Okay, I like it now.”

Even with the presence of a few obscenities muttered here and there, I’m calling it a victory, even though yes, I do still need to return that faucet and get a new one that will actually fit.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What's that Sound?

Oh yes, it’s the sound of karma slapping me soundly.

While at Urgent Care last Saturday, Olivia and I had the joy of watching a two and a half year old boy run wild while his mother occasionally called out, “Kasen, stop it. Kasen, come here. Kasen, don’t turn that light off and on.”

She never once got up and picked that child up to carry him back to her chair.

And yes, I judged the hell out of her. I even told my mom about her, going on and on about how great Olivia was about sitting nicely next to me while we waited to see the doctor. Never mind that Olivia is seven years old and that child was two. She was an angel and he was the devil. I was an amazing mom and his mom was lazy and had a whiny voice that grated on everyone’s last nerve.

Which is where karma comes in to slap me down from my high horse.

The very next day my mom and I took the girls to look for light fixtures for our dining area. The old one is ugly. No, seriously, it’s so, so ugly. I’ve been telling Tom that for years. He was sick of hearing it. So off we went to Lowes and Home Depot to shop.

And, what do you know, there’s a mall down the street from these awesome home improvement places. So after finding a light that I liked (more on that tomorrow, so, so much more) we took the girls to the mall.

They were so excited they could barely stand it. We hardly ever go to the mall. It’s a special treat for very special, sweet girls. Ahem.

We headed directly for the food court upon entering the mall. I bought the girls each a piece Sbarro pizza and a drink. While my mom got something from Charlie’s I cut some of O’s pizza and gave her a couple of bites. When my mom reached the table, I headed to Subway to get a salad.

Arriving back at the table, my mom said, “Olivia said she’s letting her pizza cool.”

I glanced at O and touched her pizza. It wasn’t hot. I gave her another bite.

My mom nodded and said, “Ahh, she just didn’t want to feed herself.”

That Olivia is a very smart child. Why pick up your own fork when either of your parents will do it for you? And for the record, she managed to feed herself the sugar cookie I brought her from Subway just fine.

The girls and my mom were done eating way before I was and Alyssa pointed out that I am always the last one to finish eating. My mom reminded Alyssa that I was the last one to actually get my food and start eating. It’s kind of nice to have someone stand up for me once in a while.

After eating, I let the girls ride the double decker carousel. They rode it three times. Yes, three. They were fairly short rides and, well, I’m indulgent like that.

Then we went to Payless and the girls tried on shoes. Olivia found a beige pair with an entirely inappropriate heal that she adored. She wanted those shoes so much. I told her there was no way I was buying her shoes that she couldn’t even wear to school. I reminded her that he physical therapist would have a fit if she showed up for therapy in a pair of shoes like that.

Alyssa liked some orange running shoes. I reminded her that we don’t even run…yet.

No shoes were purchased.

After the shoe store we went to Macy’s. But we only went there because it was in the direction of the car.

We browsed the shirts. My mom found some pants for Alyssa. Olivia fondled the mannequins.

We found a few shirts for Alyssa and Olivia started to get a little whiny.

But we hadn’t found anything for Olivia, my mom said. We took the escalator down to the girls’ department and I had to use the restroom.

My mom and the girls went to the clothes while I found the bathroom.

When I went looking for my family I found my mom shaking her head and looking at her feet. As I got closer, I found that she wasn’t actually looking at her feet, she was looking at my children, who were lying on the floor at her feet.

Because they were tired. Ugh!

I told them to get up. They got up and then Olivia tried to hide in a clothes rack. Alyssa tried to yank Olivia out and they knocked several items of clothing off the rack.

I told them to stop being obnoxious.

We finally found a few things and headed back toward the escalator. Olivia was either trying to run ahead of us or whining that she was thirsty.

Alyssa kept trying to grab O’s arm or fuss about her feet hurting.

We found a place to pay for our things and Olivia tried to go find a mannequin. Alyssa tried to keep her with us. They were basically being brats.

My mom checked out first and told the girls she’d take them to the car, where there was water for Olivia, thank goodness, while I paid.

When I finally got to the car, my mom said, “I just told the girls that if they were my kids, I’ve have spanked them both for the way they behaved in there.”

Well. I guess she told me.

And she was right. I was basically that annoying mom who kept saying things like, “Stop that. Stand up. Behave.” But I never did anything to MAKE them do those things.

I guess I should change the girls’ names to Kasen and Zasen.

That’ll teach me to be judgey and gossipy. Maybe. Or maybe next time, I’ll just leave the girls home with Tom. Now there’s a fabulous idea.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Cue the Violins

We had every hope that Olivia would beat the cold she was fighting. We though if we gave her the usual ten days to let the cold run its course, she’d be fine. She’s done it in the past, fought off colds without a trip to the doctor. It tends to be a crap shoot. This cold? Sure, just give her body time and she’ll get over it.

Alas, this time we were so wrong. She coughed and sniffled all last week but I kept thinking that ten days was the typical run time of a cold and so we waited, and treated her symptoms and hoped for the best.

Then Friday night she cried for three hours. Her ear hurt. It hurt so bad, she moaned and cried.

That was it. With the onset of a new symptom, off we went to Urgent Care.

We got there a little after the office opened and still waited about a half hour to be seen. Once we were back there the nurse took our information, listened to O’s heart and then left us to wait another fifteen minutes or so for the doctor. I always mention that Olivia has 5p- syndrome at visits like this because I never know how it might change a doctor’s or nurse’s treatment of Olivia. I like them to have all vital medical information when treating my child. A lot of kids with 5p- have a lower immunity and their bodies have a harder time fighting germs.

The doctor came in and before even asking what was up with Olivia asked what I was putting on the sore that Olivia had on her upper lip. It had started as a scratch about five days before but had grown into about a dime-sized spot that looked like it had been rubbed raw.

I told her we’d been putting an antibiotic ointment on it.

She nodded and said, “That’s impetigo, I’ll write you a prescription for an ointment that will treat the strep infection.”

Yikes! I’d never seen impetigo before. I’d heard of it but had no idea what it really was. Yuck.
After diagnosing the impetigo, the doctor looked in O’s ears and declared a raging infection and without further ado, wrote out a prescription for amoxicillin along with the stuff for O’s lip.

And off we went to fill those prescriptions, my mommy-guilt raging loudly in my head. Wah, wah, wahhhh.

We should have taken her to the doctor much earlier in the week.

But, my logical side (there is a logical side to me, no matter how small it might be) argued gently, she hadn’t had a fever since Sunday, she was ‘just’ sniffling and coughing. She’d only just complained about the ear ache the night before.

You couldn’t have known!

But I should have, the guilty part raged. I her mom, I should have known how sick she was and I should have not let her suffer for five whole days.

I can’t go back though. I can only go forward and continue to try and figure out this kid as I go.

For what it’s worth, after three days on amoxicillin and the giant vat of ointment they gave us for the impetigo, she’s very much on the mend. And that ointment? It’s going to last for freaking ever, which means if she gets another nasty, seeping sore, we’ll be prepared to treat it before it gets all staphy.

Take that, Mommy-Guilt!

Friday, April 25, 2014

When the Teacher Emails

So Olivia missed school on Monday due to a cold and fever.

We sent her to school on Tuesday against my better judgment and all seemed fine.

On Wednesday, I got an email from her teacher at 2:00 letting me know that Olivia was coughing pretty badly and didn’t seem to be feeling well. She did say that the school nurse had taken O’s temp and she (Olivia) didn’t have a fever.

Cue the mommy guilt. Yes, I tend to wallow in it for all sort of reasons, most not even worth mentioning but this time I felt like the teacher was scolding me, wondering why I’d sent an obviously sick child to school.

I replied that we knew Olivia had a cold as she’d missed school on Monday due to that very cold. I went on to explain that she’d looked and acted much better that morning which was why she was in attendance. I asked the teacher if she wanted me to come get Olivia (the email came in with an hour to go at school.)

Her teacher responded telling me that we didn’t need to come get Olivia they just wanted us to be aware of their concerns for O’s health.


I’m used to getting emails telling me that O had an accident, or that we need to meet to discuss her IEP or suggestions on how to get Olivia to eat her lunch while at school. But this one felt different, it felt like my parenting decisions were being questioned.

I actually really like O’s teachers this year. We liked her teacher last year just fine but the teachers this year seem to truly care and so I’m trying not to take it personally that they felt the need to email and tell us that basically O was too sick to be at school. She has a cold but I still am not convinced she was too sick to be at school that day.


This parenting thing is so hard. Who thought I was responsible enough to care for two human beings?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Just Ordinary Busyness

Most afternoons when I get home, I settle in for a few minutes before making Olivia do her homework during the commercials while watching Cops Reloaded. I know. It’s weird that my seven year old loves that show so much. It’s also probably bad parenting that we let her actually watch it. Judge away if you will.

After homework is finished, I go start making dinner. More nights than now, I can be heard muttering, “Why do they insist on having dinner every. single. day?”

But last night when I got home, Tom informed me that Olivia was out of the mini muffins she eats for lunch every day. Not only were the mini muffins gone, but she’d also eaten her last blueberry pancake for breakfast that morning.

All this meant that instead of doing homework at the decent hour of 5:15, we needed to push it back so I could bake some mini muffins and flip some pancakes so she’d have something to eat for breakfast this morning.

After the muffins and pancakes were done, Olivia came in to hug me. During that hug, I discovered that her hair, which had been washed the night before, was crunchy.

I asked Tom what could have possibly gotten into O’s hair to make it crunchy.

He gave me a sheepish look and replied, “Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that she coughed so hard this afternoon that she threw up all over the blanket, the floor and, yeah, her hair.”

So a bath was added to the schedule.

Some days, the stars align to make things a little harder than usual.

But after dinner, homework, bath and books, I medicated my poor little darling, rubbed her back and rocked her to sleep by 8:05. I feel so, so lucky that she still wants me to rock her. I know this won’t last forever and so I cherish it even on my most tired nights.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Chapter 1

Last week, Olivia and I embarked on a new adventure.

I’ve been reading three books a night to her for over three years. We enjoy the quiet time, the chance to settle in, relax into each other as we read. We’ve been reading so many books for so long that we’re starting to reread some of the books. Olivia has never been one who wanted me to read the same book over and over. She likes the fun of new books, new adventures, new stories and characters. But she’s sweet about it. When I pick up a book and we read the title, she’ll look at me and say, “Did we read this one before?”

I will usually answer, “We might have but it was probably a long time ago.”

She’ll smile and say, “I think we did read it. But that’s okay.”

Then I’ll ask her if she’s sure she wants to hear it again and when she grins at me like I’m asking the silliest question ever, I start reading. She usually settles her head on my shoulder and listens intently, sometimes reading along with me, laughing at the silly parts and wanting me to share the best parts with Lyssie, who is usually on the other side of me reading her own book.

Last week, though, we discovered something new. The chapter book.

While at the library picking out our usual twenty-one books for the week, Olivia brought me one that is not shelved in the usual area from which we select our books. This was from the area where Alyssa gets her books.

This book was thicker, heavier. Definitely longer. I smiled at her and put it in my bag, thinking that we might not actually read it but I wasn’t going to dampen her enthusiasm by not checking out a book she’d brought me.

When I pulled that book out of our bag a few days later, Olivia settled in and we started reading The Two and Only Kelly Twins by Johanna Hurwitz. We only got through about twenty two pages that first night but Olivia loved it. There were so many laugh out loud moments during those twenty two pages, so many places that she wanted me to tell Lyssie about.

We finished the book the next night. I was thrilled that I didn’t have to go back and remind Olivia what we’d read the night before. She was totally into it and remembered exactly where we’d left off.

The next day when I got home from work, I walked in to find Olivia telling her dad all about the book we’d read about the twins. She was giving him a detailed synopsis of the story, retelling the best parts (her favorite was when one of the twins tells her sister, “I’m a girl, not a French fry!”) She also wondered if either she or Alyssa ever had to have their appendix removed. No, by the way, neither has had to have that done.

I love that I’m raising girls who love to read. I’ve been an avid reader forever. I want that for my girls. I want them to have worlds opened for them, their imaginations stretched and their minds blown by the stories captured between the covers of amazing books.

I can’t wait to start on the Junie B. Jones series with Olivia. I can just imagine the giggles to come.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Really Hearing the Music

Alyssa amazes me these days. She’s picked up the flute so much faster and better than I ever did. She’s better now, after not even a year of playing this instrument, than I was probably two, even three years in.

When she listens to music, she really hears it. I know that sounds stupid but she can listen to a song, pick up her flute or sit at the piano and start playing. She starts slow, finding the first note, then she’s able to figure out the rest just by playing around. She’s a natural musician.

I was never, ever able to do that. I needed actual sheet music in front of me and then I needed to practice and practice and then practice some more to make the song sound even a little like it was supposed to sound.

I still say our band director made me the drum major of the marching band because he knew no one would miss the sound of my flute during parades. He insisted it was because I was able to march in a straight line but…well, I wasn’t the best musician in his band, is what I’m saying.

But Alyssa…if she’s keeps at it, she’s got the ability to be good, really good. It helps that she enjoys it so much but I also know that having a natural talent doesn’t replace good old fashioned practicing.

So we’ll see. I’ll keep encouraging her to practice both the flute and the piano. Even though I wasn’t all that good, I treasure the memories I have from my time in the band. Practicing with a group, perfecting the music for the night of the performance, the fun of traveling with the band, it’s all there, things I look back on fondly. I want all that for her. I want her to form friendships and build memories and learn that working hard can bring about some pretty amazing results.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Hopelessly Devoted

I adore my children. I think it’s safe to say that most parents feel the same about their own children.

Yet, I’m grateful each and every night when they’re both asleep and I’m finally not needed for just a bit before I go to bed myself.

Last Friday was one of those rare days when I had the day off but the girls had to go to school. Whatever was I going to do with myself?

Well, because I’m hopelessly devoted to my children, I got up a half hour before we needed to do so and put Olivia in the bath. She loves bathing first thing in the morning, it gives her a moment to relax before jumping into her day, whatever that day might bring.

Then we headed downstairs for breakfast.

After breakfast, both girls wanted their hair braided. Olivia requested a waterfall braid and Alyssa wanted me to give her the Katniss braid.

Once both of them wore braided tresses, I drove them to school.

Then I returned home where I stripped the bed and put the sheets in the drier.

About two and a half hours after dropping the girls off at school, I returned to the school to have lunch with Olivia. It’s what I do when I’m able. She actually eats lunch when I’m there with her, so, what can I say? I can’t not go. (Yay for double negatives, right?)

After lunch with Olivia, I went home again, put the now clean and dry sheets back on the bed, played around a little on Facebook, boiled some eggs for dyeing and watched the clock so I’d be ready when it was time for the girls to come home.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy the solitude. In fact, I often long for solitude. But knowing it was short-lived made me unable to actually enjoy it.

The girls got out of school at 1:15 so I was at the school by 1:00 to pick them up. I mean, come on, who wants to ride a bus for ten minutes when Mom can pick you up, right?

When we got home, I prepared cups of dye for the girls and they each colored eighteen boiled eggs. Yes, that’s a lot of eggs. We’ll be eating deviled eggs and tuna salad for weeks. Ugh.

Olivia managed to dye her hands as much as she dyed the eggs so after all the eggs were a lovely shade of brown from having been dipped into every single color available, I put Olivia out on the back deck with a giant bowl of warm water.

Fifteen minutes later, she was back in, soaked from head to toe. But her hands were clean, so…mission accomplished?

After changing O’s clothes, I declared it was time for a bike ride. We loaded Olivia into the trailer that is pulled behind my bike and Alyssa and I pedaled our way to my mom’s house, only three miles away. It was a great day to be outside.

Lest one read this and think that all this togetherness was brought to you by smiles of joy and endless patience, let me clarify that there was a bit of frustration on my part when Olivia dropped a third egg on the floor. Yes, I laughed when she came in soaking wet but I might have muttered something under my breath when I was trying to help her get into clean clothes and she was less than cooperative.

I think I wrote all this out so that someday, if the girls ever find this, they see that I loved them, so, so much. Even on Friday’s when it might have seemed as if I counted down the hours until I could watch Hannibal at 10pm after they were both sound asleep.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Grouchy When Tired

I fell asleep in the recliner last night as I rocked with Olivia. I fell asleep before 8:30. Proof that I was pretty tired last night.

But before I fell asleep, I managed to be a major grouch to my entire family. I’m not proud of my behavior, just trying to maintain a bit of honesty around here.

When I left work yesterday, my brother and nephew were already in the parking lot waiting for me. I was taking my nephew to my mom’s for the night. I’d told my brother that if he wanted me to do this, he had to be outside, by my car, no later than 4:30 because that was when I was leaving. I had to leave at that time because Alyssa was expecting me to be at the school to pick her up at 5:00. I had to make a seventeen mile drive in that half hour. Part of it was in town, which meant I needed the entire half hour.

J and I made it to the school parking lot with seven minutes to spare.

Alyssa came out, we headed home to pick up Olivia and then off to my mom’s, where there girls and J were all pests for the forty minutes the girls and I were there.

When we got home, it was time for dinner and homework and then Olivia needed her pie and ice cream and books.

I was just done. Tom kept making smart remarks which made me scowl at him. He didn’t understand the depth of my tiredness. He just thought my dirty looks were funny.

The poor girls just wanted to have fun but I wanted no part of it.

I did manage to wake up at 9:00 to finally drag myself and the girls up to bed. And, bless her sweet little heart, Olivia slept all night long. I know. It shouldn’t be a major event when a seven year old sleeps through the night. But in our house…it is. And I celebrate it every single time it happens.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Still Little

Last week Alyssa missed a day of school due to illness and so I watched from the front window as Tom walked Olivia to the bus. They waited at the designated place for the bus to stop and then watched for the driver’s wave for Olivia to cross the street to get on the bus.

Two years ago, I cried when my baaaabeeee had to get on the bus. She was so little, I sobbed. I didn’t understand why my husband was being so hard-hearted and wouldn’t drive her to school.

When she crossed the street last week, I was reminded that she’s still so little. She usually has her arm looped through her sister’s as they cross the street together. On that day, she made her way to the bus, climbed on all by herself and waved at her dad through the window.

She’s growing up even though in my eyes, she’s still little.

I love her independence as much as I love that she still wants to sit with me and rock most nights.

She tells me how she wants her hair most mornings and has opinions on what outfit she’s going to wear. She does her homework with little help from me but wants me to feed her pie and ice cream at night because it’s messy and she just wants it in her mouth NOW.

We’ve come a long way with this girl, this baby who cried so much her first six months of life. She’s happy, she’s healthy, she’s smart, she’s sweet.

And she’s still so little in my eyes.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


After my sister-in-law’s baby shower last Sunday, my girls and I sat around with my mom and her sisters to visit for a bit. It’s been awhile since all the sisters were together and even longer since I was there with them. It was fun.

My mom’s oldest sister, Auntie D, mentioned that Alyssa needed a bikini for this summer.



Not to get all prudish on you but she’s eleven. She’s going to get a new swimsuit but it will be more along the lines of a tankini than a bikini.

Yes, I’m that mom. I do not believe an eleven-year-old needs to wear a revealing swimsuit just because she’d look good in it. Look good to whom? Who are we trying to impress by dressing our little girls (in my world, eleven is still little, even when eleven stands five feel three and three quarter inches tall) in tiny bikinis?

Anyway, my aunt thought I was funny for being so prudish. She told me she was just trying to get a reaction out of me.

She tried to tell me that I’d worn bikinis at eleven. I didn’t. I was much too body-conscious to go out in public clad in something like a bikini. Alyssa isn’t body conscious but she is aware of how Tom and I feel about wearing clothes that are too revealing. We’ve had this conversation and she understands how we feel and why. She also agrees (good thing because she wouldn’t win this battle.)

And in case anyone is wondering, Olivia won’t be wearing a bikini either. And that girl, unlike her sister, WANTS to wear a bikini, because it will help her get a better tan. Sigh. I know, right?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Reflections on an IEP

Here I am, several days later, still thinking about Olivia’s IEP and her placement in a self-contained class for first grade.

At home, none of us think of Olivia as special needs. She’s just Olivia. She flips, she runs, she sings at the top of her lungs. She dances, she asks for her hair to be worn in the Elsa braid.

She reads, she eats, she talks. That’s the thing. She talks to us. She speaks her mind, she tells us when she needs or wants something. We don’t get weird looks when we’re out in public, she comes across as shy but not necessarily as a child with special needs.

See all that above? It lets me live in a little bubble of denial. At home, we are not a family living with special needs. Well, I guess we are, but it doesn’t feel like we are. But that little bubble always bursts when I attend and IEP meeting to discuss accommodations to help Olivia succeed in school.

The main item on her IEP is for her to voice her wants and needs to her teachers in an audible voice.

She doesn’t do that at school. She sometimes just sits there, even when asked a direct question. She just blinks at the questioner, as if she doesn’t even hear them. We’ve had that child’s hearing tests, she hears just fine.

They just don’t see her the way we do. She doesn’t let them. And I get that. I know that most kids are different at home versus at school. But the version I read about in the IEP report is so different from the child I have in my home.

Olivia is receiving services as a child with autism. Yes, she has a genetic diagnosis but because it is so rare, the school prefers to state that she shows symptoms similar to autism and give her services based on that. I’m okay with that. She’s getting the services she needs and that’s what counts.

But at home, she’s so vivacious, so smart, so vocal. I guess it’s easy for me to pretend that she’s fine.

So when I go to these meetings and read things like, “Won’t speak to Mrs. F, even when asked a direction question.” Or “Sometimes she flaps her hands during small group discussions, is given a ball to hold to keep her from doing this.” Or even, “Refused to answer questions during testing, could not record results.” These things burst my little bubble and make me accept that my child is different, she learns differently, she has needs that her peers do not have.

I know all this, in my head. I do.

But my heart says she’s awesome just the way she is and I love her so, so much. I look at her and she’s so perfectly beautiful, so charming and funny and delightful.

I just wish she’d show the rest of the world what she shows me. Then maybe they’d understand why this is so hard for me, even though I realize, in the end, it isn’t about me. And because I know that, I will get over myself and embrace how great this is going to be for Olivia. She’s going to thrive in a class with Mrs. A and all that attention. She’ll also thrive because there won’t be as many distractions and perhaps, as Julie mentioned in the comments on the last IEP post, being in a much smaller class, Olivia will grow socially because there won’t be as many other first graders competing for the teachers’ attention.

The positives, people, I’m working on finding the positives here.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Neat Trick

Alyssa, my mom and I went to see the movie “Noah” last week, starring Russell Crowe.

I liked it. I probably won’t actually buy the DVD but I enjoyed watching it in the theater.

But what I remember most from the movie wasn’t so much how it deviated from the biblical story of Noah and his amazing Arc or even the awesomely scary and yet weirdly helpful giant angels encased in rock. We went into the movie knowing that they'd taken dramatic license for entertainment value.

So, no, while those things made for a decent movie experience what I remember most was the neat trick that Noah’s grandfather, played by the amazing Anthony Hopkins, did during one scene.

If you haven’t seen the movie and want to and hate to be spoiled, see you next post. If you don’t mind being even a little spoiled, well carry on.

The neat trick wasn’t when he healed Emma Watts’ character and made her able to have children. Though I saw that coming from the moment they found her as a child.

No, that wasn’t even the coolest trick in the movie.

The coolest trick was when Noah and his son went to see Noah’s grandfather in a cave. The grandfather gave Noah some tea then turned to Noah’s son, put his finger on his fore head between his eyes and said, “Rest.”

The child fell immediately asleep.

Now that, my friends, is an awesome trick. That is a trick that God should have given every single parent ever in the history of time, amen.

I promise I would use this power wisely. I wouldn’t make my children sleep at random times of the day. Just at bedtime. Well, and if/when they wake up in the night. But that’s it. Promise.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I.E.P. Take Five

As kindergarten winds down we have to make plans for first grade. Yesterday, I spent about forty minutes with Olivia’s current teachers, her principal, her speech therapist and the woman who will be her teacher next year.

She’s done pretty well in a typical kindergarten class. She’s reading above grade level but her math skills are below. She’s writing well when she wants to write well.

And therein lies the problem. Olivia can be stubborn. She comes across as a difficult child because she tends to bond with one adult in each setting and then steadfastly refuses to speak to any of the others who might be in the room.

Teachers can’t test a child who won’t respond to them. They can’t possibly report on what she knows if she won’t show them what she knows, what she can do.

So next year she’s going to be an official first grader but she’ll be in a self-contained classroom with one teacher, one aide and three other students.

For Olivia, having a two to one ratio between the students and teachers is a great move. Another positive to this is that she’ll be with a teacher she’s already been seeing every day this past year. The special education teacher will be the one who is in charge of this self-contained classroom. Olivia already talks to this teacher, is comfortable with her and her aide, who again, will be in the classroom next year.

The class will be concentrating on the first grade curriculum at a slightly slower pace. There will be fewer distractions, less noise than that which is typical of a classroom with up to thirty kids and two adults.

All this is great. It really is.

When I told my mom and my husband about this plan, they both thought it sounded like the perfect thing for Olivia.

And yet…why do I feel a little sad for my girl? Is it because I fear she’ll lose out on the social aspect of being in a typical classroom? Maybe. I also worry that if she’s not around her typical peers for more than a few minutes at a time each day, she’ll fall farther and farther behind.

But I also know that first grade is going to lay the academic groundwork for the coming years and if she were placed in a classroom with over twenty kids and two adults, she’d definitely be left in the dust academically.

While she’s held her own academically, being in a typical classroom this year hasn’t done her a lot of favors socially. She still doesn’t talk to her peers, she won’t eat lunch at school with her peers. She won’t participate in small group discussions with her peers.

Academically, she does better one on one with an adult. So for first grade, we’re going to go with something as close to that as we can.

I’m consoling myself and my stupid fragile feelings with the fact that next year for first grade Olivia will join her typical peers for lunch, their ‘specials’ (gym, music, art, and computer classes) and recess. She will be exposed to these kids in social settings but she’ll also be getting the very best academic start she can.

I’m also telling myself that social stuff can come later. She has time to get comfortable with her typical peers. Right now, she doesn’t even seem to want to. But she does want to read, she does love to write. She hates to count but we’re working on that.

For now, I’m happy with the plan in place for first grade. I trust the teacher she’ll be working with. I know this woman wants what I want, for Olivia to do her best, and for her to be confident enough to let the rest of us know all that she really does know. Her teachers can't test her if she won't talk to them. They can't report on what she knows if she won't reply when they ask her questions. Right now, she'll talk to Mrs. A. I have high hopes that days working directly with Mrs. A next year will help Olivia build confidence in herself and her own abilities and knowledge.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

End of the Run

So our run is over.

I’ve been all braggy since October of 2012 when Alyssa went back to school after her tonsillectomy. See, she hadn’t missed a day of school since having her tonsils out. She’d been so disgustingly healthy. I was so proud of my decision to have those offending tonsils removed because obviously they were the culprit in every single illness she’d ever had up to that point.

Right? I mean, duh.

So on Monday I was leaving work with the intention of driving directly to the school to pick Alyssa up from her study group that ended at 5:00.

My phone rang as I got into the car. It was Tom, telling me and he and Olivia and Alyssa were waiting there for me to come home. Alyssa had ridden the bus home because her stomach was hurting and she didn’t feel up to staying for the study group.

Okay. No biggie. I went home, made dinner, which was eaten with gusto by every member of the family.

After homework, baths/showers, books, etc. we went to bed. And through the night, I heard Alyssa get up three times. Weird.

Yesterday morning I asked her if she was okay, that I’d heard her get up several times in the night. She said her stomach still hurt and didn’t get up for school.

We let her stay home and Tom said by lunch time, she was feeling better but that it was good she’d stayed home.

Alas, our run of no missed school days is over. And I can no longer blame the tonsils for anything at all, since they no longer exist.

We had a good run, though.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Too Busy

Alyssa was so grouchy this weekend. She, who spent the night at my mom’s on Friday, who spent Saturday with a friend to celebrate said friend’s birthday, who was home for all of three hours on Sunday before being whisked off to a movie with me and my mom.

She was grouchy.

I picked both girls up from my mom’s on Saturday morning so we could do our usual library, lunch, grocery shopping run. Alyssa was so ouchie in the car. Everything Olivia said irritated Alyssa. She was moaning about being hungry.

I finally asked her what was wrong.

“I don’t know!” she wailed.

Turned out, she really was hungry. After three pieces of original recipe chicken from KFC, she was much more pleasant to be around.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to enjoy the protein enhanced charm because as soon as we got home with the groceries, she had to run to pack a bag so I could take her to her friend Tallulah’s party. She was spending the night, which meant she had to take more than her mud boots (purchased that day for that very party) and a birthday gift.

Tallulah’s mom was bringing Alyssa home the next morning.

When she got home, she was tired from a late night with her friends and probably a let down from suddenly being surrounded by, ugh, family.

She wasn’t too bad, though, just a little pouty here and there. I can handle that since I’m sort of a pouty person myself. I say this with a bit of a shrug, not pride. We pouters can’t exactly always help it.

Then we were off to the movies with my mom. We saw Russell Crowe play Noah. My mom was the one who had the biggest issue with the dramatic license the film makers too.

Alyssa’s biggest issue was that it was a fairly long movie. Sigh.

But you know what? I get it. She was away from home all weekend long. She never really had down time and that makes for a grouchy eleven year old. This is why I’m all about not over scheduling and yet, that’s pretty much what this weekend was all about.

Next weekend we have my sister-in-law’s baby shower on Sunday but that’s it. Should be plenty of time for a certain eleven year old to veg out with her tablet, practice her flute, read and read and read some more of the three books she usually has going at any given time.

We all need down time. I need to remember that the next time she’s a little irritable after a busy weekend. Even if the busyness is full of things we enjoy doing, it still takes us away from the much needed down time.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Morning Rush

After the girls were on the bus this morning Tom mentioned that things had felt rushed.

I agreed.

He then went on to say that he hates mornings like that because they seem to lead to me yelling at Olivia as I try to do her hair.

Huh. Okay.

I replied, non-argumentatively, that I agree that it’s very unpleasant to be rushed and that while I’m standing over Olivia with a brush asking her to please stand still, he’s yelling at Alyssa to finishing eating and put on her shoes.

We both agreed that non-rushy mornings are better.

But see, I don’t think I yell so much as I stand there and repeat myself to Olivia to please stand still, please stop moving your head, please come back here, I’m not finished.

I realize, though, that what sounds like a reasonable tone of voice to me may sound like yelling to him.

He didn’t argue that he yells at Alyssa, so we agreed on that point.

I think he’s harder on Alyssa than necessary. I’ve told him this, aware from the all-hearing ears of the girls. I think he expects her to know things that we haven’t taught her yet and that he needs to be kinder, gentler when he’s giving instruction. I tell him that she’ll learn better when he used a nicer tone of voice, especially if it’s the first time he’s told her something.

I think he takes it all in but then gets overwhelmed by the rushiness of some of our mornings. He wants her to know what he expects of her without him having to tell her.

We’re all a work in progress, even twelve years into being together.

Of course, the whole morning rush thing could probably be avoided if no one turns on one of the Diary of a Wimpy kid movies during breakfast. Alyssa has proven many times in the past that she doesn’t early very quickly when she’s got something else on which to focus.

I do believe Tom will be instituting a ‘not television during breakfast’ rule starting next Monday. I’m behind him one hundred percent, I just hope he can enforce it with little to no yelling.

I’m sure he’ll try, just like I’ll try to do Olivia’s hair in the same manner.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


This week had been nice. I feel a sense of freedom knowing we don’t have to worry about Thursday night gymnastics anymore.

I don’t know why the rest of the week should be affected by our suddenly free Thursdays but it has been.

On Monday evening Alyssa and I had to take a quick trip to my mom’s. Olivia stayed home with Tom to watch two episodes of Cops Reloaded. She’s a funny one.

On Tuesday, I made mini muffins for the lunches Olivia takes to school but doesn’t eat until she gets home and can sit in the recliner with her dad. In this she’s just weird.

I also made biscuits to go with the potato soup Olivia and Tom were going to have for dinner. Then, get this, I folded two loads of laundry and put most of it away. I know! So productive.

Last night I made pancakes for Olivia’s lunch for the next few days. Obviously, we want to fill her up since she won’t eat while at school. Then I put the rest of the laundry away.

I feel like this week had been so much more productive than the last, oh say, twenty weeks. We’re all more relaxed, we have time to sit down to dinner and talk to each other. We take a little more time to laugh and even wrestle (A and O, not me and Tom, ahem.)

Mixed in there is also homework for Olivia, reading every night and bedtime routines that can’t be messed with.

Freeing up that one night feels like we’ve taken an enormous load off our shoulders. Weird that one night would make such a difference. But here we are.

And because I think she’s awesome and everyone else has posted videos of their kids singing parts of “Let It Go.” Here’s Olivia.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

At the Movies

Alyssa and I went to see Divergent last weekend. It was sort of a last minute attempt to squeeze as much out of spring break as we could, since we basically did nothing last week to commemorate the girls being on spring break.

Wait, we went roller skating on the first Saturday of spring break. Oh yeah, and I primed the coat closet the Sunday after we went roller skating.

And!! I took Monday off work so Tom could go somewhere that day and the girls would have adult supervision.

But yeah, other than that, it wasn’t much of a spring break, since the weather sucked, as usual for this winter.

So off Alyssa and I went to the movie.

But before you feel sorry for Olivia, who stayed home with Tom, they ate cupcakes, watched Frozen, played on her tablet and had a ‘party.’ That is what happened in their own words.

The theater we went to is an older one. Once upon a time, there was only one screen and there was an actual stage in front of the screen. Upon viewing the movie The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia, my dad, siblings and I were mooned by some dudes jumping on that very stage.

Alas, in an effort to be more modern and accommodating, the theater put a wall between the seats and created two screens, doing away with the stage altogether.

Alyssa and I like to get to movies early. I, stupidly, always assume that everyone in the tri-state area is going to have the same idea I have on the very same day and fear the movie will sell out. I know. It really is stupid.

So we were there almost a half hour early. Early enough for Alyssa to eat half her popcorn and for us to use the bathroom, which is in the basement of the theater. Worse than being in the basement is that the bathroom was freezing cold. It was at least forty degrees colder down there than it was on the main level. I was surprised my pee didn’t freeze as it exited my body. Gross? Yes. But still a concern while peeing in that freezing bathroom.

Once we were settled back in our seats, Alyssa and I talked. And we laughed. I love making my girl laugh. She’s a funny one but sometimes, I can get her. I kept pointing out how shiny my shoes were. She kept shushing me. This made me want to do it more because she’s cute when she’s embarrassed.

Though I didn’t understand why she was embarrassed. There were all of six other people in there as we waited for the movie to start. I figured we’d beat the rush. I was wrong. By the time the movie started, the theater held about fourteen of us. Nowhere near capacity.

I love that Alyssa is old enough to enjoy these movies with me. I love that she is still willing to be seen in public with me. I love that even though she pretends to be embarrassed by my antics, she laughs and wraps her arm through mine, connecting us, holding tight to that bond we forged eleven years ago when I looked into her eyes at her birth and vowed to love her forever.