Monday, June 30, 2014

No Swimming for You

June has been a rainy month around here.

This is good for our garden, not so good for our plans to head to the pool.

On Friday evening I mentioned the possibility of going to the pool on Saturday.

Tom said it was going to rain and I’d better rethink those plans.

Unfortunately, Olivia heard me mention the pool and it was all she could think about from that point on. Just before she fell asleep on Friday night she asked if we were going to go swimming. I whispered that if it didn’t rain we would.

The first thing she asked when her eyes popped open at 5:30 on Saturday morning was if we were going to go swimming.

I told her the same thing I’d told her the night before.

When we got home from grocery shopping it started getting cloudy. By 1:00, when the pool opens, it was raining.

I’m lucky, my kids tend to roll with the thunder (ha) so it really wasn’t that big a deal.

They were especially happy when we let them go outside and play in the rain. Tom and I stayed on the front porch because we’re boring adults but the girls had a blast running around and getting soaked.

It was no day at the pool but it was better than sitting inside and watching through the windows as the rain fell.

It rained again Sunday, so we still didn’t make it to the pool.

But we have high hopes for the Fourth of July. Tom, our wanna-be meteorologist has declared that Friday, Saturday and Sunday of this coming weekend are going to be beautiful. We’ll be spending that beautiful time at the pool, wearing Olivia right out. That girl sleeps really well on days when she gets to spend more time in water than out of it.

Friday, June 27, 2014

All Good

Things are good right now. As in, no complaints, not a lot of stress. Yes, things are good.

I’m almost afraid to say that because it often feels like karma will sense this and come along and bitch slap me.

On the other hand, it feels like we’re not appreciative if we don’t say it once in awhile.

Things are good.

The girls are growing and healthy.

Tom and I are happy doing our thing and raising our girls.

We’ve had tough times in the past and I’m grateful to be in a time of peace, of joy, of love and happiness.

I also know that the good times don’t always last and so I’m trying to savor them while I can.

We’ve been blessed. We are lucky. These things I know.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

What a Chore

Alyssa has been asking recently if there are any chores she can do around the house to earn either money or computer time.

I like the idea of her earning screen time rather than just letting her sit in front of the computer or her tablet for hours one end.

While visiting friends last weekend, I heard our host tell one of her kids it was time to put the dishes away. Eureka! I’d never even thought of that as a job for Alyssa. Duh. She’s absolutely tall enough and strong enough to do something like that.

It got me thinking about what else she can do around the house.

Folding towels doesn’t take a high school diploma. Last night, she folded and put away two loads of towels.

I suggested she could vacuum every few days (let’s not get carried away with the idea of vacuuming every single day now) and Alyssa replied, “But I’m not good a vacuuming.”

I told her, “The only way to get better is to practice.”

She wasn’t amused.

She also wasn’t amused when Tom told her she could help him weed the garden. He wasn’t kidding though and this weekend may be her first venture out there. I should take pictures/video because I’m betting she won’t have nearly as much fun as she did yesterday when she was folding towels.

We don’t count feeding her cat and fish as time/money earning chores. Those are things we expect her to do simply because he animals depend on her. Well, to be honest, they depend on me or Tom reminding her to take care of them but let’s not nitpick, okay?

I’d have her wash the dishes but Tom’s not sure she’s ready. Heck, he’s not sure I’m ready for the monumental task of washing dishes and I always tell him he’s more than welcome to do them all himself, to which he replies, “No, I’ll let you keep practicing.”

He’s all heart.

I think my biggest problem with handing over household chores to Alyssa that, quite honestly, it’s always just been easier to do them myself than to teach her the way I want them done and then nag her until they get done.

But I’m realizing that I’m doing her no favors by parenting this way. She needs to learn this stuff and being helpful and needed is important to us all. So this weekend, she’ll get a basket of her clothes, freshly washed and dried which she can then fold and put away all by herself.

Ask for chores in our house and you shall receive them.

What chores am I missing? What do your kids do around the house that I could assign to my eleven year old daughter? Or hey, let’s go all out. What can I have my seven year old do to help out too?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Moms Like Me

Can I just say how great it was to spend time with my friends this past weekend and see them parent?

Why was it so great? Well, because seeing them in action, women I see as wonderful mothers, they got annoyed, they got frustrated, they parented much the same way I do.

It was such a relief.

I worry so much that I’m too lenient, too harsh, too firm, too soft. Do I give in too often? Not nearly enough? Do I get annoyed more often than other moms? Am I too snarky? Do I snap at my kids, is my voice too stern?

I am a real mom, who is also a real person. I get tired, I get annoyed, I get frustrated and yes, I even sometimes give in because I’m too tired to push my girls to behave for good behavior’s sake.

Being around other moms who are just as real, sometimes just as frustrated and just as firm or even just as lenient, it was refreshing.

I learned that we all have our moments where we have had it with our kids and their quirks. We all get tired and a little snappish. And it’s okay because we’re in this together as we try to raise our kids to be functioning members of society.

I’m on the verge of giving myself a break and stopping all the negative thoughts that so often try to bury me in doubt. I’m doing okay. I’m human and I’m a mother and my girls are awesome which means I must be doing something right.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

When She Reads to Me

Alyssa is a reader. I am so glad for this. I’ve been reading since I was four years old and reading is such a pleasure, it’s relaxing, it can be an escape, it can be educational. I just love it so much.

When Alyssa was in first grade, she still wasn’t much of a reader. She definitely didn’t do it for pleasure. She would read the required amount for school but that was it. I worried about this. I feared she’d miss out on the joy that reading can bring, the worlds that are created, the characters that stick with you even after you read the last word of the last sentence on the last page. I worried so much.

Second grade brought a new thrill for her, though. Alyssa discovered the Junie B. Jones series of books and the joy of reading was on!

Now, as she heads into sixth grade, she’s found all kinds of books to enjoy. She’s read most of the Warrior series (a book about cat clans.) She loves the Diary of a Wimpy kid books and the Dork Diaries.

Last night after Olivia was asleep, Alyssa read some of the Dork Diaries to me. I was not at all interested in this and really wanted to watch Master Chef.

But she was so enthusiastic about what she was reading. She was so amused and wanted so badly to share it with me. So I bit my tongue and let her read. And it was great. She obviously found the book hilarious and wanted to share it with me.

How awesome is it that my eleven year old wants to share things like this with me? I know this closeness, this desire to share won’t last forever so I’m not going to let these moments slip by.

Master Chef will wait, my daughter and her desire to read to me, to share her hilarity, her wit, won't.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Quick Trip

A, O and I made our way west this past weekend to visit with some friends I usually only see once a year. It was great to see these women and finally meet their kids, children whom I felt I already knew from hearing/reading about them from their moms.

We drove about four hours on Friday, spent the night and then drove back five hours (all five hours in. the. rain. Seriously, it stopped raining when we were three miles from home.)

During the time we were in Aurora, IL, we spent time at a playground, watching a baseball game, eating dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings (where the kids, at their own table, may have spoken all of three words to each other since they all had those hand-held trivia games.) We also swam in the hotel pool and at a community pool.

It was lovely but felt very fast paced, even when we were all sitting in my friend K’s beautiful house waiting for some strange dudes to be done laying carpet in her basement. The kids all seemed to hit it off right away.

Well, okay, so Olivia was a little clingy because of K’s dogs, who were lovely and redeemed their entire species after our last bike riding debacle with the evil poodle. K’s dogs barked when we first got there, which, duh, we were strangers and they were protecting their home. But, sadly, O hates all dogs and the instant she hears barking, she’s climbing up my leg.

And yes, Alyssa almost sat at the adult table during dinner because the only chair left at the kid table was between two boys and hello, that was NOT going to happen. Thankfully, Julie’s awesome daughter is cool about boys and she offered to switch seats with Alyssa. Alyssa was much happier to sit with her back to my back and beside one of the other girls. That Alyssa is so, so much like me sometimes I can’t even stand it.

But other than those two moments, we had such a great time.

I met two of these three women through the March of Dimes. The other, Julie, I’ve known, well, forever. She’s the best friend I’ve ever had and I am so lucky we met during college. The fact that we both had kids who served time in the NICU (yep, I just said it that way) is just one more reason for us to be so close.

So yes, Olivia spent eleven days in the NICU due to having 5p- syndrome and not being able to breathe very well on her own immediately after birth.

But those eleven days seem like a walk in the park when you consider the time the kids of my friends did. All three of these women had preemies. Their babies did a minimum of 87 days in the NIU. And they’re walking talking miracles today.

We are all so, so lucky that the March of Dimes exists and does the research it does. We’re also lucky that it supports families and brings us all together to support each other.

Friendships are often hard (for me) to come by in adulthood. I am so incredibly blessed and lucky to have made friends with these beautiful women.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mall Walkers

Olivia had an appointment yesterday with the pediatric dentist. She needed a cavity filled and a crown placed on another tooth.

The work took less than a half hour and the doctor or his assistant came out twice in that half hour to tell me how well she was doing. I love that place. Anyone in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area looking for a pediatric dentist should go see Dr. Tim Olinger. For reals.

I asked Alyssa the week before if she was going to go with me to take O to the dentist.

She shrugged and said, “If we go to the mall after the appointment I’ll go with you.”

I laughed and said, “Yeah right.”

She shrugged again (she’s a shrugger just like her dad and R) and said, “I’ll stay with Dad then.”

But the more I thought about it, the better the idea of the mall sounded. We only really get down to visit the mall a couple of times a year. This was the perfect excuse to go and ride the carousel, eat a piece of Sbarro pizza and just wander the place in relative peace.

It was awesome how very uncrowded the mall is on a Wednesday afternoon. We’re usually there on a Saturday when everyone and their entire family is there. This was so much better.

I really wish I didn’t have to work but still had disposable income so we could hit up the mall in the middle of the week more often.

By the end of our mall visit, Olivia was done. The numbness from the dentist visit had worn off and her teeth were starting to hurt. She wanted me to carry her the last 100 or so yards to the car as we left the mall.

I only managed about half way before deciding she could suck it up and walk because that child is no longer three years old and less than thirty pounds. My back can’t carry 50+ pounds very far anymore.

We ended up going to Target right after leaving the mall where I picked up some children’s Tylenol for Olivia. She was tired, cranky and her teeth hurt. She didn’t even want to try on shoes. I knew at that point it was time to take her home.

Today we get to see our regular dentist do the girls can get their bi-annual cleanings. It’s a dental kind of week for poor Olivia.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Tom has talked about putting a new roof on our front porch and garage for, oh, three years now. When we moved into our house almost four years ago, he noted that the roof on the house itself was fairly new but the ones on the garage and porch were in rough shape.

But then life happened and roofing didn’t.

Until it did.

Last Wednesday, Tom drove an hour and a half to pick up his brother. They turned around and came back in time to go to sleep that night. But bright and early Thursday morning, there they were, tearing the old roofing off both the porch and the garage.

I was glad I had to leave for work because I couldn’t really stand to watch them up there. I’m not big on heights myself but just watching other people clamber around on roofs makes me feel edgy. It’s as if I’m just waiting for one of them to make a wrong move and tumble off the roof onto the sidewalk, where bones will break and blood will pour. Yikes.

Thankfully, no wrong moves were made and at about 8pm on Friday evening, they traipsed their dirty, sweaty selves into the house, declaring they were done.

I was impressed with the quickness and quality of their work.

Tom says the new roof should last thirty five years. That’s good news, by the time the garage and porch need a new roof, I’ll be 78 years old and probably in a retirement home chosen lovingly by my adoring daughters, both of whom I’m sure will visit their dear old mother often. Or not. I guess we’ll see. But the positive thing here is that I don’t have to worry about the roof ever again. I hope.

I do realize how lucky I am to have such a hand husband who also has handy brothers. I would have had to spend way too much money to pay someone to do this job if Tom weren’t around to do it. The girls and I voted once he was done and we’ve decided to keep him for at least a little while longer. He’s a good guy to have around.

And would you look at that before picture? He even covered my flowers/plants in such a way that they weren't crushed by the old roofing as it was torn down. Seriously, he's a pretty awesome guy.




Monday, June 16, 2014

We Left Him on Father's Day

So yes, the girls and I abandoned Tom yesterday. We went to see Maleficent and let him at home to do, well, whatever he wanted.

See, there have been many Mother’s days where I just wanted some quiet. In fact, a few years ago, I left Tom home with the girls on Mother’s day and went to see two movies, by myself. It was awesome. I even remember which two movies I went to see, that’s how great my time alone was.

On Saturday I asked Tom what he wanted to do on Father’s day. He shrugged. He’s a shrugger. So irritating.

Anyway, after the shrugging, I mentioned the possibility of taking the girls to see a movie on Sunday and asked if he’d feel abandoned if we left him home along on Father’s day. This time, he didn’t shrug. His eyes actually lit up at the idea of having some time to just relax.

So it was decided.

We did ease the abandonment a bit by giving him presents before we left for three hours. So there is that.

And fun was had by all. Get this, there was no guilt for any of this. I’ve come a long way.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Sleep Training Fail

The night before last was ugly.

With Olivia’s near-constant illnesses over the past two months or so, I was letting her climb into my bed no matter what time she woke up because, well, she was sick and she sleeps better when she’s next to me.

Well, she’s well now (knock on wood) and I want her to go back to not coming to lay with me until after 5am. See, even though she sleeps better next to me, I do NOT sleep better when she is next to me.

Wednesday night, she woke up at 12:30 and asked me if she could lay with me. I told her I was really tired and needed to sleep by myself. I got up and rubbed her back for about ten minutes then went to use the bathroom.

She followed me to the bathroom! I walked her back to the bed she shared with her sister and rubbed her back for another couple of minutes. I then kissed her and told her I was super tired and needed to sleep. I told her to go to sleep and she could come to my bed when the clock said it was five o’clock.

She tossed and turned for about fifteen minutes. Finally, she sat up and called, “Mom?”

I muttered, “What?”

She asked, “Can I come lay with you.”

I told her to lay down and go to sleep. I told her, again, that I didn’t sleep well when she was in my bed and that I was really, really tired so she needed to sleep in her bed instead of mine.

She started crying.

I was instantly pissed, furious even.

I hissed, “Why are you crying? Just go to sleep!”

I’m not proud of myself but damn it, it was 1:15 in the morning, she’d had me up and down for forty-five minutes by this point and I was so freaking tired. I just wanted her to go to sleep so I could go to sleep. But I didn’t want her to sleep in my bed because sharing a bed with a 52 pound seven year old is not comfortable. I wanted to sleep in comfort.

I got up, stomped to her bed and handed her the dream light that is usually at the bottom of the bed. I also gave her a tissue and, getting my irritation under control, asked her gently what was making her cry.

She sniffled and said, “I don’t know.”

Let me say that I do not believe that an eight month old can be manipulative. But I do think a seven year old can. I think she thought that if she was sad enough, I’d put her comfort over mine. That night, she was wrong. I did not give in. I did not cave.

I kissed her again, told her I was sorry I was so angry but that she needed to go to sleep in her own bed and I was going to sleep in mine.

Alyssa had woken up at this point because of the fussing both Olivia and I were doing. She rubbed O’s back for her for a few minutes and we all went to sleep.

I had high hopes for last night, since I hadn’t given in to her emotional manipulation.

Alas, last night, instead of just calling to me from her own bed, she woke up, got out of bed and arrived at the side of my bed without making a sound. She whispered, “Are you so tired tonight too?”

I muttered, “Yes.”

She gave a sort of hiccupy-half sob and I caved. It was 2:15 when she climbed into my bed.

We both got more sleep last night than we go the night before but the quality of that sleep was definitely less.

I know I need to be firm. I want to be firm without being unkind. But most of all, I want us all to just sleep. I don’t know what else to do. I know consistency is important and I’m trying, I really am, but she’s a sneaky little thing.

For the record, I am so sick of talking, thinking and writing about sleep. Unfortunately, sometimes, even though my youngest child is seven and a half years old, sleep is still the only thing on my mind because it is still so very much an issue in our house.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Therapist Barbie

My mom has graciously offered to watch the girls every Wednesday through Friday this summer. The girls are thrilled because Gram has way better food and television options than we do at home, where Tom limits their tablet screen time and makes them eat an actual lunch instead of letting them snack all day.

Grams really are the best, aren’t they?

So when I got to my mom’s house yesterday I half expected to find both girls on their tablets, still in their pajamas, hair unbrushed and chocolate smudges on their faces.

I found something very different. Both girls were dressed, their tablets were plugged into the wall, charging and ignored.

My mom had been cleaning her garage that day. She’d come across a bin of Barbies that had been packed out there a couple of years ago.

Both A and O were enchanted by all the Barbies and clothes that were suddenly available to them.

My mom said they’d been playing with the Barbies for hours when I got there. Olivia asked her gram if she could take a couple of the dolls home with her.

My mom said, “They’re yours, you can do whatever you want with them.”

When we got home, Alyssa went up to our toy room (what?) and brought down our own Barbie bin, from which they both pulled clothes and dolls to dress, undress and redress.

They played while I made dinner, paused to eat dinner, then played more while I cleaned the kitchen after dinner.

When I finally made them stop at 8:30, Olivia brought me a doll and a dress. She asked me to help her dress the Barbie in one of Merida’s dresses. It was clearly made for a Merida doll, not the Barbie she was attempting to dress, which was why it was hard to get on Barbie. Did you know that regular Barbies have bigger hips than Merida and Rapunzel? Now you do!

I loved watching Olivia work with the small clothes, putting non-bendy arms into dresses, fastening snaps and Velcro. It was great to see her working on her fine motor skills even as she had fun.

I love it when we can turn play into a therapy session and she never even realizes it. If you ask me, that’s the best kind of therapy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Dog Lovers Should Probably Skip This One

Okay, so yes, there are people who think dogs are people too. Or whatever.

My girls and I love to go for bike rides on the back roads between our house and my mom’s house. We go in once specific direction to avoid a house where a pit bull lives (or used to live, Alyssa told me on our last ride that the kids who used to get on the bus at that house moved, maybe they took their stupid barky, chasy dog with them. Ahem.)

But other than the pit pull we were able to avoid, our bike rides were lovely. Any other dogs that were loud with their barking were either in pens or in houses. All other dogs just sat in their yards and watched us go by. These dogs are lovely, wonderful dogs that do not deserve to get hit by a car. Just clarifying that we don’t hate all dogs. You know, for future reference.

Until last week.

Last week, we headed out on a bike ride because it was a lovely afternoon and there was rain in the near forecast. We wanted to get outside and enjoy the day.

At the second house past ours, we heard yapping. Then it got louder and louder and more and more furious. Suddenly, we was a blur of white as a smallish poodly sort of dog came racing out to the road, running in front of us, around us, barking like he wanted to bite someone’s foot off.

He was quickly followed by a large, very large brown dog that might have been a chocolate lab, but the biggest damned chocolate lab I’ve ever seen. This dog gave a big, mean sounding bark.

I yelled, “No!” and peddled as fast as I could.

Thankfully, the brown dog stopped at the edge of his yard. He didn’t bark again. Either my yell or his border stopped him. I don’t care which it was, I’m just glad he stopped.

Let me mention here that Olivia was in her trailer behind my bike, the flap up, leaving her vulnerable to both of those dogs. She was curled into a ball, terrified by these things.

The obnoxious white poodle thing followed us for about a quarter of a mile, barking the entire time, running ahead of us, chasing behind us. We yelled at it to go home and finally, it realized it was pretty far from home and turned around.

We were so grateful to be passed that damned thing we all breathed a sigh of relief. I stopped to comfort Olivia and told her I’d close the flap to her trailer before we headed home so she would be better protected if the dog chased us again. She was relieved by this offer.

The thing was, we couldn’t avoid that dog’s house. We had to pass by it again to go home. The only other way home was on a pretty busy stretch of road, a state route, if you will. We were on a country road with little traffic.

On our way back, Alyssa and I decided we’d race past the poodle’s house as fast as we could. We were almost past it when we heard the familiar furious barking. But we were already going so fast that the stupid thing couldn’t catch us.

I yelled, “I hope you get hit by a car!”.

And honestly? I sort of do.

I get that dogs should be allowed outside. But if your dog will not stay in your yard when you aren’t out there with it, that dog needs to be on a chain. If it’s going to chase people using a public road, the dog either needs to be inside or, as I said, on a chain.

We were all more than a little traumatized by this experience. It was awful. Olivia, who already hates any and all animals, it even more disgusted by dogs.

I know there are those who will think I’m a horrible person, but my girls and I have a right to ride our bikes on the road and not fear for our lives (as in Olivia’s case, she was so, so scared) or for the lives of our toes. If either of us had hit that stupid thing, the resulting bike crash could have been pretty bad. Sure, it might have hurt the dog too, which in this case, in my opinion, it would have deserved, but it could have caused serious bodily injury to me or one of my girls. And that isn’t right.

Dog owners, please, if you are going to let your dog be outside, please either make sure it will stay in your yard and not accost strangers on the road, or chain it up. Do the public and your dog a favor. Just because you live in the country doesn’t mean your dog owns the road in front of your house.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Long Arms of Grief

This past weekend we spent some time with my mom, her sisters and her mom. It was a lovely weekend filled with laughter and sprinkled with tears.

My grandmother gave birth to twelve children. Until this weekend, I never knew she’d also had several miscarriages.

In addition to those losses, she endured the death of her third born when he was six months old. Her seventh child, a daughter, died when she (the daughter) was twenty one years old. And about seven years ago, my grandma lost another child, a son who died of a heart attack at only fifty years old.

She’s suffered losses that most of us don’t think we could bear.

On Sunday morning, my mom and I were looking at some pictures and we came across one of Debra, my mom’s sister who died at twenty-one. Most of my mom’s sisters are blond but this sister was brunette. My mom said Debra was taller too, more like my mom than her other sisters, none of whom are taller than 5’3”. My mom is 5’7”.

My grandma joined us and my mom filled her in on the conversation.

My grandma looked at Debra’s picture and said wistfully, “I can’t wait to see and talk to her again.”

This brought tears to my mom’s eyes.

My grandmother is almost 90 years old. She lived with my aunt Lorry and goes to work with Lorry at a beauty salon every single day. She loves this. She folds towels, talks with Lorry’s clients, gets her hair styled, and basically feels useful and fulfilled. She reads a lot, prays a lot and is quite happy and healthy considering she had several mini-strokes over the past few years.

But she’s suffered and she still grieves her lost children. I don’t think I realized how much until this past Sunday when she gazed with love upon a picture of a daughter she hasn’t seen in almost forty years.

The pain of losing a child never, ever goes away. You learn to live with that pain and you find things that bring you joy, like your other children if you’re lucky enough to have them, reading, visiting with other old ladies at a beauty salon. But you never forget, you never stop missing the child(ren) you lost.

My brave, beautiful grandmother showed me that, something I think I knew intellectually all along but seeing it in the flesh, seeing the tears of a mother and a sister, feeling the tears as a niece who never got to know her aunt, it brought it home. Children die and we all grieve.

It seems the world should stop when this happens and yet it keeps turning, things keep happening, time keeps passing even as the grief goes on, passing from generation to generation.

My daughters were there as my mom and grandma and I talked about my aunt. They will remember that conversation, those tears, that girl who died so young, her mother who missed her so, so much.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Stupid Games

My girls love their RCA tablets. First thing each morning they ask if they can play with them. And we usually say yes, but obviously, we limit the amount of time they spend glued to those things.

When I’m home and the girls are using their tablets, Olivia likes to follow me from room to room as she plays and I work around the house.

She’s usually watching YouTube (she declared this weekend that she’d marry YouTube if she could, it doesn’t even matter that YouTube doesn’t even have arms.) She recently found videos of Barbies enacting scenes for her enjoyment. They’re quite G-rated so I don’t stop her from watching these things. She especially loves the one what include the Anna, Elsa, and Kristoff dolls.

Sometimes, though, she’ll be playing either Minecraft or Pixel Gun and she’ll want me to see some new weapon or tool.

She’ll try to explain what these things are used for and how she’s going to make the best of her virtual world now that she has these weapons/guns.

One day last week I’d had enough and told her that I was glad she found these games fun but I didn’t understand them and I really didn’t want to do so.

I think I might have even called the games stupid.

I know, major mommy fail right there.


Honestly, I think it’s okay for my children to know that I’m not necessarily fascinated by every little thing they do. Yes, I’m attentive and present in their lives but do I really have to feign interest in all their pastimes? I think not.

The gasps, though, at my declaration of Pixel Gun being a ‘stupid game’ were instantaneous. They were outraged that I’d say such a thing.

I backtracked and said, “Okay, so you guys think it’s a great game. That’s awesome. I don’t understand it. I don’t really care to understand it. It’s not so much stupid as it’s a game for young people, which you two are. I am not. Go about your Pixel Gunning.”

All was forgiven because my children think I’m funny if nothing else. I’m lucky, they’re good kids, even if they do enjoy a little too much Pixel Gun.

Friday, June 6, 2014

To Each Their Own

When I was pregnant with Olivia and tossing names around, one of my many aunts suggested that I spell O’s name Alyvia. You know, so it could be even more similar to Alyssa’s name.

I nixed that idea immediately with, “Spelling it that way would make it a completely different name.”

I say O’s name at Oh-Livia, not Ah-livia. So taking away the O and replacing it with and A would have changed the way I pronounced the name.

And honestly, I love that my girls have different initials. I can label something with just and A or an O and everyone in the house knows whose it is. Yes, I’m often too lazy to write all six letters of either girls’ name. (But, let me say right here, you will never, ever see me post something on any sort of social media like, “R sweet lil cat, Orville, caught a mole this morning.” Even I am not too lazy to write out OUR or LITTLE. Just saying.)

I get that there are people who like to be creative when it comes to naming their kids. I knew going in that Olivia was a popular name. I was okay with that. I love her name enough to be willing to overlook the popularity thing. And you know? She’s only ever had one class in which there was another Olivia. That was when she was four and in her very first gymnastics class. So…she’s not so much Olivia L. anyway, though again, I’d decided that if she were, it wasn’t the end of the world.

To be honest, I didn’t understand how changing the spelling of her name would change the popularity the name anyway. I mean, you’re going to pronounce Olivia and Alyvia, or, heaven forbid, Alyvyah (ugh) why bother with the different spelling? They’re still going to have to use a last initial or a nickname to differentiate themselves during verbal interactions at school.

Which brings me to…Knoa. The girls and I were at DQ a few weeks ago. A dude came in to order a cake. He had to say the spelling of his daughter’s name at least five times to two different workers at DQ because it was Raegan. He even laughed and said, “I tried to tell her mom not to spell it that way but she insisted.” Obviously, this guy was used to spelling his daughter’s name a lot.

There was another customer in line who spoke up after the guy was done ordering his cake. She was holding a baby who was probably about a year old. She said, “His name is Noah. It’s spelled with a K.”

I didn’t catch the guy’s expression but it must have been one of confusion because the woman went on, “Knoa. We knew Noah was a popular name, so we wanted to make his more unique.”

Excuse me, how does making your child spell his name for the rest of his life make Knoa sound different from all the other potential Noah’s at school, the park, on the t-ball teams?

I’m sorry, but honestly, I think Knoa is a stupid way to spell Noah. Noah is a lovely name. Knoa…is not.

Sadly, Knoa is not the most unique spelling of a name I’ve ever come across.

I received a thank you note from the mother of one of my daughter’s friends a few years ago. It was sighed, “Eighmey.”

It took me a few minutes to realize this was pronounced, “Amy.”

Why? Why do people do these things to their kids? What is wrong with Noah and Amy? Or even Olivia? All this creativity makes me wish I’d spelled Alyssa’s name Elissa, just to get rid of the Y in the middle of her name. I love her name and Alyssa is a traditional spelling for her name but I kind of hate that she’s tossed in there with all the Aydyns and Alysybyths.

However, all this ranting is fruitless. People don’t ask me my opinion when they are naming their kids. They don’t ask for my thoughts on how to spell their child’s name.

So, I have to accept that this is a To Each Their Own kind of world. Even when it comes to spelling. Which makes me sad.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Endless Summer

Today is the first day of summer break for the girls. I remember when I was in school, summers seemed to last forever.

I hope that’s how my girls feel. I hope they see endless possibilities stretching before them in the long days ahead.

This morning Olivia actually slept in until 6:30. I know!

I went about my morning routine and when it was time for me to leave for work, Olivia looked surprised.

Tom told her, “Mommy’s not on summer vacation.”

I sighed, “Poor me.”

The girls both grinned and gave me hugs.

We have a pretty relaxed summer ahead of us. The girls will spend three days a week at my mom’s and two days at home with Tom. I’m so lucky to have my mom nearby and Tom working from home.

Here’s to a great, sunburn-free summer.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


I am having trouble these days keeping up with my gray roots. Yes, I said it. I have gray roots. They’re not pretty and the worst part is that my hair is currently in a horrible growing out stage and so I tend to wear it in a ponytail most of the time, which emphasizes the damned gray around my temples. Yuck!

While at work one afternoon recently, we had a visitor who was dropping something off. She’s a woman who is definitely older than I am but still active and on the go. She has embraced the joy of not having to color her hair. She asked me if I was new here at work.

I told her no, that I’ve been here for fourteen years and that we’ve met on several occasions.

She asked me if my hair was a different color than it has been in the past. I said that it is probably lighter than ever because I’m trying to blend it with the gray.

She grabbed my hand and said, “No, not gray, call it silver. Silver is beautiful.”

Uh, okay.

Except, no. Okay, so this woman’s hair is lovely, it’s shiny and looks healthy and sure, it could be called silver.

Mine? Is not shiny, it’s not currently healthy because I’m probably over-processing it in an effort to find a product that actually ‘fixes’ the gray. It’s at a horrible length with obnoxious layers that lay weird and frizz most of the time. I hate it. I hate the gray and I hate the current cut. I won’t call it a style because there is no style too it, just ickiness.

I love that this woman is all about embracing the changes that come with age. She looks wonderful with her silver hair.

I do not feel I’d look lovely if I gave up the fight and accepted the gray. I’m not ready to take that step. Not yet. Maybe not ever.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Let's Add a Drug Allergy to the List

Yesterday afternoon I received an email from Olivia’s teacher. Olivia had been observed as having a rash all over her body.

The email came in at 2:30. I replied with a thank you and the assurance that we’d check Olivia out and probably take her to the doctor to get checked out.

I called Tom to give him a heads up and for him to read the pamphlet of the antibiotic Olivia had finished on Saturday.

And then I waited for Tom to call me back.

He finally called at 3:20 to let me know he needed to feed O her lunch but that he definitely thought she needed to be seen by a medical professional and he’d have her in town by 4:30.

I tried calling our family doctor. After two calls, I got the receptionist. After I described O’s rash and the events that preceded it, she said I should talk to a nurse.

She transferred me.

I went directly to voice mail.

I hung up and called Tom to tell him to meet me at Urgent Care. I mean, that was where Olivia got her pneumonia diagnosis anyway, so I could actually say we were just continuing her care with the doctor that currently knew her best.

And we were in luck, the doctor we saw a month ago for the ear infection and again last week for the pneumonia was the one who was on duty this time.

We like this doctor. She friendly, she’s knowledgeable, she doesn’t require unnecessary tests. She took one look at Olivia’s rash and declared Olivia to be allergic to sulfa based antibiotics.

She asked Olivia if the rash itched. Olivia shook her head that it didn’t.

The doctor laughed and said, “We’re making progress, she’s at least smiling at me and responding to my questions, even if she’s still not actually talking to me.”

She decided that since O’s rash didn’t itch, she wouldn’t need a steroid. She said she didn’t want to introduce any more chemicals into O’s 52 pound body if we could avoid it. She suggested benedryl at night and lotion if Olivia wanted it.

Then we went home.

This morning, the rash was a little worse but still didn’t seem to be itchy. Olivia took one look at her face in the mirror and asked if she looked like a teenager. It took us a minute to realize she thought she looked like she had acne. Ha. She really does take it all in. We’re just so, so lucky that she can get her thoughts out to us and communicate as well as she does.

The rash should go away in the next couple of days. And from now on, when asked if she has any allergies, the answer is yes, she’s allergic to sulfas. And now we know.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Sometimes Mommies Get Tired

My new nephew was born last week. Everyone was very excited but no one more so than his big brother, J, who is six and a half years old. He has two little sisters from his mom and step-dad. He adores his little sisters but when he found out that his dad and step-mom were giving him a brother, he was over the moon.

When I asked him if he was excited about his little brother several months ago, he told me, “Yes! I can’t wait to have a little brother. Little sisters are so much work.”

I laughed and said, “Buddy, a little brother is going to a lot of work too but he’ll still be fun.”

“I know,” he told me, all mature and crap at six whole years old.

While visiting my brother and his newly-expanded family at the hospital, J’s mom called and asked if she could come up and take a picture of J with his new little brother.

My brother said that was fine and then there she was. I was holding the baby at the time so when she got there, I had J sit in a chair and hold his brother on a pillow. So much cuteness.

We all chatted a little, small talk mostly. At one point, J’s mom said she tries hard to be a good mom but sometimes, it just doesn’t work out.

J asked her why she isn’t always a good mom.

She and I spoke at the same time. She said, “Because sometimes you just make me so mad.”

I answered, “Because sometimes mommies just get tired, Buddy.”

She turned and smiled at me. “That was a much better answer,” she said.

I shrugged. “I’m older than you are, I’ve gotten pretty good at answering tough questions like that.”

And it’s true. We aren’t always as patient and loving as we’d like to be because we’re almost always tired. Show me a mom who isn’t tired and I’ll show you a woman who has a live-in nanny. And I’ll bet you anything that that poor nanny is really freaking tired.

Taking care of kids is hard work, whether your work, work from home or stay home. This mommy gig isn’t for the weak, that’s for sure. I like to think we’re all just doing our best.