Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sixth Grade and First Grade

So we’ve finished two months of this school year. How’s it going?

Sixth grade seems to agree with Alyssa. She comes home with homework most nights but doesn’t complain about it, gets it done with minimal fuss and has passed all tests given to her.

She still has some pretty fabulous friends. Just this year, though, she’s mentioned the ‘popular’ kids. She actually puts air quotes around the word popular. Ha. She’s funny. She doesn’t understand how kids are deemed ‘popular.’ I think she wants to understand it so she can crack the code. She says she doesn’t care if she’s popular but I think every kid wants to be part of the cool crowd.

The thing is, she and her core group of friends are sort of their own kind if ‘in’ crowd and I’ve been trying to explain that to her. I’ve told her how it was when I was in school, how much I really just wanted to hang with people I actually liked rather than with people everyone else though was ‘cool.’

I think she gets it even as she ponders the necessity of a hoodie in hopes of fitting in.

We put some more color in her hair this past weekend and she tried on a hoodie but hated the way it felt. She picked out a black jacket that zips up the front instead. She looks pretty cool to me.

First grade is way less socially stressful, let me tell you. In first grade, it doesn’t matter if you wear the right clothes or shoes. First grade is all about spelling tests (done verbally for Miss O, thanks so much) and learning to eat lunch at school.

First grade has brought two falls in the hallway and one pinched hand during gym class. Olivia’s being put through the physical wringer, that’s for sure.

But she seems as happy as her sister. She still doesn’t really care if she has friends but she’s taking more if an interest in what those non-friend classmates are up to. It’s a start, I think, toward wanting to interact.

What I want most for both of my girls is that they be happy. That they find people who let them be themselves and make them feel good about who they are. I want them to work hard and to their fullest potential. I want them to make mistakes and learn from them, I want them to learn to laugh, at themselves and life in general.

I hope sixth grade and first grade continue on this path, a path that leave happy, if tired, kids each night. They’re learning, both academically and socially. They’re learning their way in their worlds, worlds that don’t always include me. But I’m there, on the periphery, a steadying hand when needed, a cheerleader, a shoulder. Whatever they need from me, in these grades and beyond.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Will You TIckle Me?

I can’t count how many times Olivia asks that question. She asks it of me, of Tom and even of Alyssa, in hopes that someone, anyone will tickle her.

Before my weekend in Phoenix, I thought maybe Olivia was looking for an excuse to sit on my or Tim’s lap and just be near us.

After my weekend in Phoenix, I realize that when she asks us to tickle her, Olivia is actually asking for sensory input. She’s feeling a need and the only way she knows to ask for it to be fulfilled is to ask us to tickle her. She wants to sit next to (or on) someone, feeling their warmth, their strength, and she wants, or needs us to touch her, to tickle or scratch or even brush her skin. She’s asking for tactile sensory interaction without using those words.

I figured that out during one of the amazing sessions I attended a couple of weeks ago. Barbara C. was awesome as she explained that kids with sensory issues sometimes need more input than others in order to figure out their place in the space around them.

Sounds weird, huh? But sometimes, kids (and even adults) can feel lost in the space around them. Sensory input grounds them, makes them more aware of their bodies and how they fit into space.

This weekend when Olivia asked me to tickle her, I did. I sat with her and I let her lay across my lap. I tickled her back and her neck and her tummy. I tickled her feet and knees as she squealed and laughed. Part of this interaction, I know, was just her wanting to be near me, both of us concentrating on the other in that moment, but the other part was her need for sensory input and I was glad to give her that.

Later, I explained to Tom and Alyssa what I’d learned, how this helped Olivia get through her day. They both nodded like I was crazy but then watched Olivia calmly go about her business after a bout of tickling.

I’m so grateful for the session because I think it makes me a better mom. It helps me provide what Olivia needs when she asks for things like this. It also helps me understand that when she finds a quiet corner into which she can huddle, she’s looking to eliminate sensory stimulation. I can help her calm her senses when I know that’s what she needs.

All this to say, sometimes, when Mom goes away, she comes home with some awesome tools to make life better for everyone in the family.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Coming Home

There is something so wonderful about coming home after a trip. Even though I was only gone for about 63 hours, which is a little over two and a half days, coming home felt special.

I told the girls about the trip a couple of weeks before I left. I wanted to give them time to process the idea of me leaving before they were slapped in the face with the actuality of it.

When I got home Sunday night, three minutes later than scheduled, the girls had the back door open before I had even pulled into the garage. Olivia stood on the top step, her hands clasped to her chest, waiting for me to get out of the car.

Alyssa had no such patience. She was at the car, opening the door herself so she could hug me. She needed that physical reassurance that I was truly home.

Even as I hugged Alyssa, I called to Olivia, “Come here!”

She giggled with glee and ran down the stairs to join in the hug Alyssa and I were sharing.

This entire past week has been similar. When I get home from work, the girls are there to greet me, to show me affection and love.

We’re a pretty affectionate family already but when Mom spends two days and two nights away from her babies, those babies feel it. We’ve been making up for those missed hugs, those missed kisses, those missed “I love you”s.

My house is a mess right now, the kitchen floor needs swept and mopped, the entryway needs swept and decluttered. The carpets need to be vacuumed and there is a basket of clothes in the girls’ room that needs to be put away.

But my children know they are loved. They know their mom missed them while she was away and in the end, that is so much more important than an immaculate house.

It’s nice to go away because it’s wonderful to come home again.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Eyeball Update

Olivia did amazingly well at her eyeball appointment yesterday. She answered questions (in whispers, but still, they were answers that the examiner could hear and understand!), she sat still when she was asked to do so and when it became apparent that she wasn’t going to respond to the male doctor, he just shrugged and said there were other ways to figure this stuff out.

From the start, the female assistant said O appeared to have fairly blurry vision.

After the doctor was finished, he declared her vision at 20/400. That’s where my vision was when I had Lasik eye surgery back in 2008. So I know how bad her vision it. It’s bad, like really bad.

She also has astigmatism in each eye. How bad the astigmatism is wasn’t really explained but it’s there.

Other than that, her eyes look healthy, thank goodness.

Her new glasses will be ready in two weeks. I can’t wait for her to be able to see, to really see what is all around her.

And get this, I’m not wallowing in mommy guilt over not knowing that she needed glasses. She’s done the vision test each year and this was the first year the nurse called with concerns. We moved on this concern as soon as it was voiced to us.

We don’t know what we don’t know. You know?

And now that we know, we’re doing what we can to fix it for her. It’s what we do. And it’s okay that we don’t know everything. We keep on trying, keep on doing our best and after an eyeball appointment, you buy your kids some fries and DQ Arctic Rushes in neon blue because it was just one of those days. Fries and artificially flavored crushed ice always make everything better.

And for the record, Olivia is way excited to be getting glasses. I’m writing this here so I can look back and laugh at myself the first and twenty-first time she loses/breaks/refuses to wear her glasses. Because we all know those things will happen and we’ll get through that too.

Look at me, all zen and crap.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

We'll See

So yes, the school called me again a week or so ago. This time, it was the school nurse. She’s lovely.

She was calling to tell me that she was worried about Olivia’s vision. See, Nurse B had tried to give O a vision test twice in the past couple of weeks and while Olivia did fine on the first two lines, she just looked away after that. She did this both times.

This is not Nurse B’s first interaction with Olivia. She knows Olivia can be stubborn. But O has done well in the past few years (remember, this is her fourth year at this school) and so Nurse B didn’t want to just chalk it up to stubbornness.

She admitted that it could very well be that, but she’d feel better if we took Olivia to an optometrist to have her vision tested by a professional.

I assured her I’d get O in as soon as possible and that I’d let her know how the exam went. She hung up happy that she’d called.

From the time Olivia was an infant, her right eye has kind of ‘wandered’ when she gets tired. Sometimes, if the camera catches just the right moment, her eye can still look a little wonky.

But we had her seen when she was about two and a half by an eye specialist in Indianapolis who declared her fine.

So, we’ll find out this afternoon.

As soon as Nurse B and I hung up I called the practice I used to see back when I wore glasses. My first question was if they could test the vision of stubborn children.

When I was assured that they could, I went on to say that my daughter has special needs, she can be non-verbal when she chooses and she might be a difficult patient.

I was again assured that they’d be able to test her just fine.

The appointment was made and here we are, counting down the hours until Tom brings O to me so I can take her to her appointment.

She asked him this morning if today was “Eyeball Day.” It took me a minute to figure out what she meant.

When I told her about the appointment, she got a gleam in her eye. I think she might actually WANT glasses.

Tom, on the other hand, dreads Olivia getting glasses. He’s picturing loads of broken glasses. Olivia is quite the tumbler. I assured him we’d figure it out, if she does end up needing glasses.

Honestly, I think she’d be adorable in glasses. But I do worry about having to make her wear them on her more stubborn days.

We’ll see. One way or the other, we’ll know in a few hours.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sometimes Everything Comes Together Just Right

I am the first to admit that I can be flighty and scatter brained. Remember, I am the one who scheduled a flight last year and was off by a month. A MONTH!! I can be such a flake.

This year, though, thanks to Julie checking my itinerary before I processed it, everything was right.

Wait, not quite. I did forget to wait at the kiosk for my second boarding pass but that was caught right there in the Phoenix airport, where the nice lady behind the counter was able to print it for me and all was well.

So yes, that happened.

But the rest of the day? Awesomeness! Seriously.

Julie and I got to the airport at about 6:30, which was just right because security took FOREVER. But even that wasn’t all that stressful, because, duh, we got there with plenty of time, unlike the lady behind me in line who was wearing a baby and only had ten minutes to get through security and make it to their gate. And! Yes, there is always an and. And the baby was hungry. Poor little darlin’.

Ahh, but Julie and I were the picture of relaxed as we watched the sun rise enough to hit the tops of the mountains outside the airport. So pretty.

As we watched the beauty that is an Arizona sunrise, I said something so completely and totally stupid. I said, “I love visiting Arizona. It’s beautiful here. But I think I’d miss rain.”

Ha. Hahahahaha. What’s that you hear? Is that karma laughing in the background? Little did I know that five hours later, I’d be climbing into my car and driving through pouring rain for over an hour on my way home.

“You’d miss rain?” Mother Nature cackled. “I’ll make sure you never have to miss rain, you silly twit.”

Earlier in the weekend, I’d stressed just a little over the tight-ish connection I had in Chicago and the fact that I was arriving in Terminal 1 and leaving out of Terminal 2. I had 42 minutes between my arrival in Chicago and my departure to Detroit. Any sort of delay was going to make things tough.

But after an amazing motivational speech by Kevin Bracy, I decided to let it go. I also decided not to entertain any possibility that I wouldn’t make that connection.

When I called Tom from the airport in Phoenix, I told him I’d call him when I was in Detroit. I didn’t tell him I’d call him if I missed my flight in Chicago, I didn’t even mention the tight connection. I was going to make that plane and I was going to call him for Detroit.

We relaxed on the plane from Phoenix to Detroit, though I admit to not drinking anything during the three hour flight for fear of having to pee as I made my way from the very end of Gate C to Gate F in O’Hare.

Then, behold, the angels sang. Well, okay, so the pilot came over the intercom and declared, “Welcome to Chicago, O’Hare. We’re arriving about ten minutes ahead of schedule.”

And get this! There was not dawdling on the tarmac, there was no gate change that necessitated us taxi-ing from one gate to another. No, everyone was very civilized as they gathered their belonging and deplaned.

Being the smart woman I am, I checked my bigger bag in Phoenix, figuring it was just a bunch of dirty laundry, if it missed the flight to Detroit, it would make its way home eventually. I’d put the girls’ souvenirs in the smaller bag I carried on. So smart!

Julie and I got off the plane, found some monitors, hugged goodbye and I fast walked through the airport, following signs to gate F.

Then I came to the end of gate B and…it was a dead end.

I asked three airport employees for directions to gate F and they told me I was just in time. They directed me down some stairs where a shuttle was waiting to transport me and four other lucky passengers across the tarmac to terminal 2.

There was a very helpful gentleman who told me that my gate was across the hall from the stairs I’d be taking to get back into the airport. And, he told me, the ladies room was next to my gate. The skies opened and blessing rained down upon the land.

I checked with the lady guarding gate F2B and she told me we’d be boarding in about twenty minutes.

I used the bathroom, bought a sandwich (that breakfast Julie and I had in Phoenix was long gone) and a bottle of water and waited.

Boarding commenced and everyone was so nice.

I didn’t have to climb over anyone to get into my window seat, which is unusual, let me tell you. Even more surprising was that as people continued to board the plane, no one sat next to me. And then the flight attendant closed the door and STILL no one sat next to me. I had two whole seats to myself. I put the arm rest up, pulled down the tray (we were high in the sky by this point) and ate my sandwich, relaxed and happy to be that much closer to home.

And then we landed, my bag found its way onto the baggage carousel and together, my bag and I found our way to my car.

I called Tom from my car to tell him that I was finally in control of my travel and I’d be home in two and a half hours.

The rain added some time to my travel. I was three minutes later than I’d anticipated when I pulled into our garage, where Lyss and Liv were already waiting for me.

It was so, so lovely to see them.

Yes, it’s always nice to get away, but it’s even nicer to come home.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

New State

I’ve been known to sit and count all the states in which I’ve stepped foot. Weird? Maybe. But I don’t get out much and so this is kind of fun.

For the record my poor children have both been to four states. Four. I know, I’m a neglectful, terrible mother.


This weekend, I get to go to a state to which I’ve never been. I’m so excited.

I am going to Arizona to meet up with some amazing women I met online several (okay, almost eight) years ago. I found an amazing online support group right after Olivia was born and spent some time in the NICU.

Wait, let me backtrack. Julie, the amazing, wonderful Julie found the online support group when her daughter was born 15 weeks early and spent over 90 days in the NICU.

When Olivia was born and spent her time in an isolet Julie encouraged me to go on this site and share my story. I hemmed and hawed. I said that Olivia ‘only’ spent eleven days in the NICU, that was nothing compared to Julie’s daughter’s time spent.

Julie kept at me and I’m so, so glad she did. When Olivia was four months old, I went on that site and spilled my guts about the things I felt during O’s time in the hospital and about how we were still, at that point, dealing with a very unhappy, sickly baby.

The welcome was amazing. No one asked me what I thought I was doing there, talking about a full-term baby who only spent eleven days in the hospital. No one though my story was any less than any other parent who worried over their child.

This led to some amazing online friendships and eventually, real live friendships with women who get it when I talk about the Little Debbie Christmas tree cakes. They get those twinges of PTSD. They understand my wonder at O’s accomplishments and my worry over Alyssa being the typical sibling of a special needs child.

And so this weekend, I get to go see these friends yet again. We get together once a year and it’s amazing. It’s cathartic to see them, to hug them, to cry a few tears and laugh so, so many laughs.

Tom and the girls have my mom as backup should things get tough at home. But I have faith in all of them that the house will still be standing when I get home on Sunday evening.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Math Logs

First graders have a log for math. We’re supposed to work on math facts five times a week.


I feel lucky that we already read three books a night. We’ve been doing this for about three years. It’s part of our schedule, we just do it. The writing of these books into her reading log doesn’t necessarily come naturally but we’re getting there.

But math facts are not part of the schedule and I’m not a natural at finding ways to incorporate these things into day to day life.

Because the math (and reading) logs are turned in on Wednesdays, last night, I was calling randomly calling out to Olivia, “Hey, Liv! If you have two oranges and I take one away, how many do you have left?”

Once she answered (which wasn’t always), I’d say, “That’s a math fact.”

And into the log it went. Here’s where I confess that we did four of her five math fact moments last night. The log will show that we did them on different days. Alas, the log lies.

I’m that mom. The one who is lazy about practicing math facts.

Does our over-achieving in the reading log make up for it? We’re supposed to read five books a week. We turned in 18 books on this past week’s log.

I’m just hoping that by being an over achiever in one area and an under achiever in the other, we end up averaging out to be a regular old achiever at the end of the day.

Yes, yes, I know it doesn’t work that way. Maybe next week, I’ll get five books that have some sort of math fact in them so that we can count those in the reading log AND the math log.

I kind of love that idea. I’m all about multi-tasking.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Can I Help?

Over the years, I’ve wallowed in guilt over not letting my kids help me cook or bake.

They always ask and I always just want to do it myself. It’s easier, cleaner, etc. if I do it myself.

But I knew, logically, that they weren’t learning anything at all by racing around me as I did the work in the kitchen. I wasn’t teaching them life skills by doing it all myself.

So yesterday when I announced I was going to make cookies, both A and O asked hopefully, “Can I help?”

And this time, I said yes.

Before we started I figured out which job each girl could do with minimal mess.

I had Alyssa measure out the flour, salt and baking soda into a small bowl and then mix it all up.

I let Olivia unwrap the butter, letting it drop into the bowl as she did so. She also dumped the sugars into the bowl after I measured them out for her.

I let Olivia start stirring the sugars and butter as Alyssa added the eggs and vanilla.

Then, once the mixture got stiff enough that the girls couldn’t muscle their way through stirring it, I took over.

We add three different types of chocolate chips to our cookies and so each girl got to dump in some chips. Olivia volunteered for the job of eating stray chips as they made their way on to the lip of the bowl. She was extra good at that one.

Once the cookies were baked, A and O took great pride and presenting a plate of them to Tom, letting him know that they had helped make them.

He declared the cookies the best ones ever baked. I’m inclined to agree. I think this might the beginning of some great things to come.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Making My Connections

I am an introvert. I get my energy, my peace, from being alone.

I lived in two different apartments in Chicago for four years. I lived in those apartments alone. I loved it. I loved that there were weekends when I didn’t speak to anyone at all, save the cashier at the grocery store on the corner.

I liked my solitude and enjoyed my aloneness. I don’t think I ever felt lonely.

But I did, after four years of being alone, move closer to home (Okay, I moved HOME) because I knew something was missing in my life.

It wasn’t people so much as a sense of belonging that I missed.

Yes, I had friends and I visited those friends fairly often.

But I was always sort of on the outside looking in on those friends. I know they loved me and they were always great about including me but I was always the extra in our groups.

Even at home with my family I was the extra one. And mostly, I was okay with that.

I knew I wanted more, though. I wanted to belong, I wanted to find something into which I fit. I wanted to connect. I wanted to find a way to not cringe when I saw people hugging, to not flinch when someone stepped too close to me. I wanted to connect with someone to the point that I wanted them to hug me, to stand close enough to touch me.

I went on a lot of first dates my first two years back in the area where I grew up. There were very few second dates. That connection, it was elusive.

But then I met Tom and on our first date, a connection was made. There was a third date, then a fourth and then we lost count of the dates and he and I became us. I met his older kids, I even met his ex-wife.

I met his siblings and he met my parents and my siblings.

Then we had Alyssa and got married. Yes, in that order.

A few years later, we have Olivia and here we are, all connected.

I am not longer the extra in a group. I’m the mom, the wife. I’m part of the glue that makes us a family. They’re all happy to see me when I get home and I’m so, so happy to see them.

I have children laying on me for hours at a time, every single day.

I have a husband who hugs me tight every morning before I leave for work and I never, ever cringe or flinch when one of them steps close.

There are moments when I wish for ten minutes in the bathroom alone but I know that 9:30 will roll around each night and they’ll all be asleep and I can do whatever I want to wallow in a bit of solitude. And it’s enough because for them, these three people to whom I’m connected? I’d even give that up if it made them happy. That’s how amazing our connection is.

That’s how lucky I am to have each of them.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

She Ate

Yesterday I called home as I walked to my car to see if we needed anything before I made the drive home. Before we hung up, I asked Tom how O’s lunch with her teacher went.

He declared, “She ate everything but two crackers.”

She ate. At school. Everything but two crackers.

My child ate her lunch at school and I wasn’t there urging her to take one more bite.

Last year she ate her lunch three times. I was able to go to her school three times to have lunch with her and those were the times she ate.

Yesterday, she ate her lunch.

Yes, she was in a quiet classroom with just her teacher but this is huge. This is awesome.

This is worthy of mommy tears.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

When the Teacher Calls

Alyssa is in the sixth grade. I have never, EVER received a phone call from one of her teachers. Not while at work during school hours, not at home in the evening. Just…never.

Olivia’s teachers? I can’t actually count how many calls I’ve received from either a teacher or the school secretary over the past three years she’s been in school.

Just this year alone, I’ve received two calls, one at 2:50 on a Thursday, just ten minutes before she was due to get on the bus. The school secretary was calling to let me know that O fell at school and was in the nurse’s office with an ice pack on her head. Spoiler alert: She was fine.

The second call came last night at around 6:30. The girls were finishing up dinner, Tom was away visiting his brother.

I answered the phone and when O’s teacher, Mrs. A identified herself, my first thought was, “Uh oh, are we having a rough year already?”

I didn’t think this because of anything O’s done at home. At home she’s been happy, relaxed, sleeping well (for her, not for a typical seven year old) and just plain normal for us.

The first thing Mrs. A said was that she was calling for all good reasons.

Whew! That was a relief.

She wanted to let me know that Olivia will start bringing home ‘word lists’ each Wednesday, starting today. The following Wednesday, Olivia will be tested on the spelling of these words. Basically, it’s a weekly spelling test but we’re not calling it that for some reason. Whatever. Mrs. A suggested that I work with Olivia on spelling these words out verbally rather than having her write them because writing takes so much concentration on Olivia’s part that sometimes the writing is the exercise and not the spelling.

I suggested at that point that Olivia be allowed to take her ‘word tests’ using a keyboard because that girl is GOOD with a keyboard. I don’t want to negate the importance of her working on her handwriting but when the content is more important that the way that content is conveyed, perhaps a keyboard would work. Mrs. A liked my idea and will work on implementing it.

Would you look at that, it’s like we’re a team or something, working toward a common goal. I am so grateful for this.

Next Mrs. A told me that Olivia’s communication this year is going really well. O is talking to Mrs. A in a classroom even when others are present, something she wouldn’t do last year. She (Olivia) is even talking to the new aide in the class, someone she’s never met before this year. She will also nod at one of the other first grade teachers. She’s not talking to her peers yet but we all have faith she’ll get there.

This was so nice to hear.

I know that Olivia can be trying when she refuses to answer a question. To have her teacher call me four weeks into the school year to tell me that Olivia is initiating conversations with the school librarian is awesome.

Having her teacher tell me that my child, my willful, shy, sweet child is a joy to work with, to hear her say that Olivia is answering questions and surprising her teacher with all that she really does know warms my heart.

I’ve always wanted her teacher to see her the way I do. I know they can’t possibly see her exactly as I do. I’m her mom, I love her and I think she’s amazing. I realize that teachers aren’t going to see her in that light. So to listen to her teacher tell me how much fun she is to have in class, how smart she is and how great it is to actually hear her voice, cue mommy tears.

The only low point of the conversation was when her teacher mentioned the fact that Olivia still won’t eat her lunch at school. I told her we were aware of this and that we still sent lunch every day and the minute she gets home each day, she sits at the kitchen table with her dad and eats her lunch.

But Mrs. A, in true inspiring teacher fashion, turned the subject back to a positive. She told me that she and Olivia have their classroom to themselves each day right after lunch. She said they’re alone in there for about twenty minutes and she wanted my permission for her to sit with Olivia at a table in the classroom so that maybe Mrs. A could encourage Olivia to eat some of her lunch. She thought the pressure of the cafeteria might be too much for Olivia and being in the quiet setting of the classroom, without others around to watch, might get her to eat. I absolutely agreed with this plan. I want Olivia to eat at school if possible. I want her brain to have nutrition and calories to work through the afternoon.

I feel like we got so, so lucky this year to have Mrs. A working with Olivia. I know Olivia is happy and knowing that Mrs. A sees me and Tom as part of O’s educational team is just the icing on the cake.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Wake Up Call

I realized this morning that I’ve taken something for granted for years.

My girls are very easy to wake up in the mornings. I walk into their room, touch Alyssa gently on the arm or the cheek (face, not butt) and tell her softly that it’s about time to get up.

By the time I’ve kissed Olivia and rubbed her hair back from her face, Alyssa has climbed out of bed and headed to the bathroom.

I know, right? Will it get harder as they get older?

I used to think so but now I wonder. I wonder if because they’ve always been crappy sleepers (to be fair, at eleven Alyssa no longer wakes me up in the night. Olivia, at seven, isn’t so kind) they just like to be awake and so when it’s time to get up, even if they have to be woken up, they don’t mind.

Alyssa does sometimes have grumpy mornings but she is my daughter, so this doesn’t surprise me.

But the jumping out of bed at 6am every morning, even on the weekends, does surprise me. I have never been a morning person and so raising children who embrace the morning, who love to get up and start their day before the sun even rises perplexes me.

But even perplexed I’m aware enough to be grateful that I’m not yelling at two kids each morning, screaming for them to get out of bed and get downstairs to eat breakfast.

I might whine at them a little at night to get them to go to sleep but I’ll take that over morning scream-sessions any day.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Just Peeing

I know all moms out there will get this but…it drives me insane that I cannot pee in peace.

The minute I get home from work, I hug and kiss Tom and the girls, I rinse out my lunch dishes and then I go upstairs to use the bathroom.

Every single time, Olivia follows me up the stairs.

This wouldn’t be that big a deal if she didn’t feel the need to stand RIGHT IN FRONT of me as I sit on the toilet, trying to pee.

She’s usually telling a Mush Mush story or something and yes, it’s awesome that she’s telling me stories that come from her very own imagination but my moment of urination won’t take more than a few seconds, can’t Mush Mush’s story wait? Just a few minutes?


Later in the evening, after dinner, when it’s time for jammies and books, I might again try to sneak upstairs for a potty break. Olivia seems to have some sort of ESP for when I’m peeing because the instant I sit down, she’s scampering up the stairs.

She’ll come into the bathroom, stand six inches from my knees and say, “Hi.”

Sometimes, I say hi back. Other times I mutter, “I’m just peeing. Can you go find Daddy for two minutes? I’ll be right down.”

More often than not, she grins at me, leans against the wall opposite the toilet and waits for me to be done so we can go down the stairs together.

Peeing in private is overrated, anyway. At least, that’s what I tell myself when O placed her soft, small hand in mine as we leave the bathroom after yet another group pee session. Someday…I’ll miss these moments.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


A few times already this year, Alyssa has asked for help with her homework. When it's math, I suppress a groan and try to help as much as I can.

But last night…oh, last night. I got to help her with language arts homework and it was so much fun!

I know, I’m having a nerdy moment but bear with me.

She was doing worksheets about pronouns. Pronouns!! Again, SO. MUCH. FUN.

After I beat my head against the table due to the grammatical structure of the instructional sentence (Ending with a preposition? Seriously?) we got to work. For the record, the instructions said, “Read the sentence. Write the pronoun and the antecedent it goes to.” Really. A language arts worksheet had that sentence. I just…I don’t even know what to say.

Alas, she wouldn’t let me get out my red pen and correct the instructions. Instead she laughed hysterically at my antics. I love a child with a sense of humor.

I think the most awesome part of the evening was the fact that Alyssa didn’t really need my help. I’d read the sentences to her and she figured it all out herself. She was obviously perfectly capable of reading the sentences herself but I think she liked me reading them out loud. I also think she just liked us being at the table together, spending some time one on one (or two on one, depending on where Olivia happened to be at that moment.)

I’m pretty sure Alyssa didn’t need my little tutorial about subjective versus objective pronouns but she was kind enough that she didn’t tell me to shut it as I nattered on and on. One of my biggest grammatical pet peeves is when people use the subjective pronoun when the objective is correct.

For example, “Just between you and I, this sentence is SO wrong.” The correct way to say that is, “Just between you and me, this sentence is now correct.” See? Me is the object of the preposition.

Anyway, it was a fun, fun ten minutes out of our night. Once again, I feel lucky to have a sixth grader who seeks my company, who listens to me chatter about grammatical rules, who laughs when I’m being silly instead of rolling her eyes and thinking about how embarrassing I am. I fear that stage is coming but I’m going to hug her tight and try to hold it off for a little while longer.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Sometimes people don’t get it. They don’t mean to be insensitive or awkward at all but that’s what comes out.

My dad visited last Saturday evening. He’s the one who really, truly hoped I was a carrier that caused O’s deleted chromosome so that it might be traced back to him. He wanted a reason for his lifetime of weirdness.

Embrace it, Dad! I wanted to yell. Embrace the weirdness. We’re all weird in some way or another, just accept it and celebrate it.

Well, he was sorely disappointed when the tests came back that Tom and I both have normal chromosomes. Her deletion was a random, spontaneous act of nature. We’re lucky she, the embryo, survived past the tenth week of gestation let alone to birth and beyond.

Neither of my girls speak to my dad. That has nothing to do with O’s syndrome and everything to do with the fact that they’re both shy, and sort of stubborn, children. They’ll wave to him when he arrived and wave when he leaves.

They will, however, talk to me when he’s there. So that’s not weird at all.

Olivia was doing just that the other night. She was laying on my lap, talking to me as my dad sat off to the side of us, talking at me too. I was trying to keep up with both of their monologues and doing a crappy job.

Then he abruptly changed the subject from politics (for the record, I HATE politics.) He said something like, “To the uninformed observer, she’s completely normal, isn’t she?”

He nodded toward Olivia as he spoke.

First, I wanted to say to him, “Dude, she can HEAR you and she’s not stupid. She knows when people are talking about her.”

I didn’t say that. Instead, I replied to something Olivia had said to me, hoping she hadn’t taken in what he’d said.

Then, I said to my dad, “She’s actually perfectly normal, to me and to all observers. What I know that the casual, uninformed observer doesn’t know is that she’s not just normal, she’s a miracle.”

“Oh,” he replied. He took a deep breath, smiled and said, “I like the way you think.”

How else can I think? I mean, seriously? I think my child is amazing. I think they’re both amazing, even when they’re driving me nuts because they won’t talk to their grandfather or the librarian they see every week.

But honestly, I don’t care if they’re normal. Normal is overrated and like I said above, we should all embrace our weirdness. We should find what makes us unique and celebrate that.

Who ever wanted to be normal anyway?