Wednesday, November 26, 2014


A few weeks ago Alyssa asked me what I’d buy here if we won the lottery.

I thought for a minute before telling her that honestly, her life wouldn’t change all that much if we won the lottery.

(For the record, we don’t even play the lottery, so winning is not an option. The girl just likes to imagine a scenario where we could/would buy her a horse.)

She asked me why her life wouldn’t change.

I explained that she’s got a pretty good life right now. Sure, we refuse to buy her a cell phone or a lap top but that’s because she’s eleven years old, not because we don’t have the money for it.

I told her that we’re incredibly lucky to be living a life that allows us to provide her and her sister with all their basic needs and still have a little left over to occasionally buy them the things they want.

She started to argue that we never buy her anything she wants when I pointed to the combat boots she was wearing. She didn’t need those boots. She wanted them and I was able to get them for her.

I’m so incredibly thankful for this life we’re living. I never want to take for granted the privilege we live with. I know how lucky I am that I don’t worry about which bill to pay this week. I don’t have to put all the bills in a hat and draw to see whether we’ll have electricity or gas money this month.

Tom and I work hard but more than that, we’re very lucky to live in the place and time in which we live. We’re lucky to have the means to provide for our children while hopefully instilling in them the need to continue to better ourselves, to work harder for an even better life.

I did tell Alyssa that if we ever did win the lottery (really do need to start playing) her life wouldn’t change much but mine probably would. If we won the lottery, I could stop working. I could volunteer at her school and embarrass her every single day.

She stopped asking for a horse at that point and left the room in a huff.

I wonder if it was something I said.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Birthday Party

Olivia’s birthday happens to fall on Thanksgiving this year so we decided to throw her birthday party on Sunday, the 23rd just to avoid all the confusion of a party disguised as a Thanksgiving dinner.

We had it at Jungle George’s again this year. It was such a success last year that we couldn’t justify not doing it again.

There are so many great things about having a party somewhere that is not our house.

One: We don’t have to clean. Right now our house is a disaster because Tom put in new floors in the entry, hallway, kitchen and dining area. All the trim is currently off the walls in those areas because yes, I’m going to paint. I really, truly am. And so there is dust and crap everywhere and the door to the pantry is in the living room and the table is covered in the stuff that usually sits on the pantry floor and so yes, it would not have made sense to have a party at our house at this time.

Two: The location of JG’s is much closer to Tom’s sons’ houses than our house is. It’s about a half hour away from J and D as opposed to an hour and fifteen minutes, which means they can bring their kids to the party and we all get to see each other for a couple of hours.

Three: I don’t have to clean up after the party. I pay JG to pay people to do that. Everyone wins.

Four: The kids can run around like maniacs for a couple of hours and no one is worried about anything breaking. Again, everyone wins.

This year we invited sisters who are in A’s and O’s class, so they’d both have a friend there as well as their niece, nephews and cousins. It was great fun.

Olivia was in Frozen heaven with a new Elsa Barbie, a Kristoff doll, a pair of Frozen pajamas and a blanket with a scene from Frozen on it. So much Frozen!!

Do you want to build a snowman?


Of course we’ll still make a big deal of Miss O on her actual birthday but I think her party was a big success. She slept well that night, after all the driving to and from West Lafayette and then the enormous fun that is being the guest of honor at a birthday party.

Eight is going to be awesome!

Monday, November 24, 2014

That Time Mapquest Sucked

There’s this road in Indiana called the Hoosier Heartland Highway. It was created to take the place of Old 25. Whatever. That road sucks.

It sucks almost as much as mapquest sucks.

Those two things, the Hoosier Heartland Highway and mapquest conspired to turn what should have been a three hour drive into a four and a half hour drive for me and the girls this past Saturday. There are some funky roads in Indiana down around the Logansport area. Just saying.

And about that damned Hoosier Heartland Highway; would it kill the person in charge of roads to put up a few signs on that road? There is nothing there. Seriously…nothing. No signs telling you where you’re going and how far you have to go to get there. There are no gas stations, not signs of life whatsoever. It’s a horrible road. Well, except that it’s new and so the actual act of driving on it is fairly pleasant. But if you need to pee or ask for directions, forget about it.

It was just a really long day.

Thankfully, we left for the PUDM (Purdue University Dance Marathon) with plenty of time to spare so we made it to the opening ceremony and all was well but we were frazzled.

When we left the building the dance marathon was being held it was dark. I’ve driven from this particular building to the hotel quite a few times over the last few years but this time…was different.

I got turned around, I made a wrong turn, there was a freaking car that wouldn’t get off my tail and I’d had it.

I finally turned into a parking lot just to get away from the car behind me and get my bearing and that damned car turned in too! I parked so they could go around and guess what? The car that had been behind me parked right next to me. I was starting to freak the hell out when two women got out of the car and pranced away, obviously heading out for a night out. Ugh!!

So I still didn’t know where I was but needed to not be in that parking lot.

Alyssa and Olivia were trying to be helpful but yeah, they’re eleven and eight, so not so much navigators.

I found Grant Street, headed the way I thought the hotel would be, found a parking garage, started to pull in, realized I was trying to enter the exit, stopped myself from doing that, might have sworn and Olivia laughed at my attempt to enter the exit.

I found an alley. AN ALLEY with a road sign that said I was about to turn on to Grant Street. Yes! That’s where I needed to be. But which way did I need to go?

I rolled down my window (much to Alyssa’s discomfort) and called out to a male/female couple walking past. I asked them if they could tell me which direction I need to go to get to The Union. They pointed and told me it was a block away.

I turned in the direction they pointed and found myself at the intersection of State and Grant. Somehow, I’d gotten on the other side of State Street. I still don’t know how that happened. Ugh!

But alas, we made it to the hotel, Olivia took a bath and ate some cheddar bunnies, Alyssa took a shower and ate some blueberries.

I declared I should never, ever be allowed to drive again and watched a little Property Brothers before we all fell asleep.

Sadly, my self-imposed driving ban lasted about twelve hours before I had to get back in the car and go back to the dance marathon.

After two hours there, we got in the car AGAIN to drive back to Fort Wayne where we held Olivia’s birthday party at Jungle George’s. Great fun was had by all and there were no more driving mishaps.

We even managed to navigate the Hoosier Heartland Highway with no more frustrations. But that doesn’t make up for the fact that there are no road signs on that road. That needs to be addressed. For reals.

Friday, November 21, 2014


A few nights ago we were all sitting at the kitchen table finishing dinner when Tom noticed some ink on the table.

He glowered at me and the girls, wanting to know who’d written on the table.

Olivia said, “I didn’t. I was writing on paper and it went through the paper to the table.”

I assured him, “It will come off. It always does.”

He rolled his eyes at the implication that there is often ink on the table.

Whatever. I finished dinner and cleared the table.

The next night as I was washing dishes, Tom called from across the room, “You were right, the ink came right off the table.”

“Awesome,” I replied.

He continued, “I cleaned it off this morning.”

Ahhh. Okay. I got it. “I forgot to wipe it off last night, didn’t I?”

He nodded, “I kind of thought you wiped off the table every night.”

Ha! I actually did laugh at this. I asked him, “What gave you the idea that I did that?”

I looked around the house. Right now it’s pretty cluttered due to some home improvement stuff going on. We don’t live in filth but I could definitely be a better housekeeper.

My comment actually got a smile out of him.

We do our best but there are always places we could improve.

I keep telling him that if we don’t laugh at how similar we are to the Hecks from the tv show The Middle, we’ll cry.

I mean, we don’t have a hole where our kitchen sink should be, but there is definitely room for improvement when it comes to clutter. I’d say our house looks ‘lived in’ but that implies a sense of comfort and really, there are just piles of crap that need to be cleaned up more often than they are.

Soon. I promise. Right after I paint the family room, dining area, kitchen and entry way.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Can someone please save this little boy?

His name is Devine.

He needs a home. He's only seven years old. He needs the therapies that Olivia needed, he needs someone to take him home, to love him and to let him show them what he can do. Just like Olivia needed that.

I wish we were a family for whom adoption was an option. But we're not. But I know there are people out there, amazing people who are looking for an amazing child to bless them and their home. Do you know where his mommy is? Are you his mommy?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Potatoes

Ahh yes, the potatoes. Julie mentioned the giant mounds of shredded potatoes from our breakfast at Denny’s last Sunday. It was insane how many potatoes they piled onto each plate.

See, I don’t really eat potatoes, especially not for breakfast but Alyssa likes hash browns, thanks to my mom, who convinced Miss Picky Eater to try them a few months ago while at McD’s.

‘Hash browns’ are on the Denny’s menu. They come with almost everything on the breakfast menu. I don’t usually get them but I did this time because I figured Alyssa could eat them. I got her a side of bacon, one scrambled egg and a ‘hash brown’ of her own. Except Denny’s hash browns are not an oval of potatoes that come in a handy paper envelop the way McD’s hash browns do.

Denny’s hash browns are an enormous pile of shredded potatoes. Yes. Enormous.

So there were several piles of shredded potatoes among the six of us eating breakfast. Some of those piles did not get eaten because there were just so many.

Another thing I forgot to mention in the original post about our big, amazing weekend at IU was the cookie.

It was an enormous chocolate chip cookie with purple frosting spelling out Happy Birthday Olivia.

She loved it.

We decided to save the cookie for Tom. Olivia declared, “Daddy would love to eat this cookie with me.”

And she was right. He most certainly has loved eating that cookie with her. In fact, they’ve been eating that cookie for the last three nights.

Last night, Olivia got the piece of the cookie with the O. She was so excited. She looked at the cookie after Tom cut her portion out of it and told us, “Now it’s just Happy Birthday Livia.”

I asked her when she got so smart. She rolled her eyes and ate her O.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

We're All Tired

So, the last two nights have had Olivia sleeping all night long; in her own bed. I know! Wonders never cease.

Anyway, travel exhausts her and so she’s been sleeping well. But during our awake times, everyone in our house is cranky these days.

Tom is laying new flooring in our kitchen/dining/entry areas. He’s cranky.

The girls and I have traveled almost 500 miles in the past four days. We’re tired and cranky.

When we got home last night from my mom’s (I have to go there to watch the latest episode of The Walking Dead every Monday evening; Olivia takes a bath there while I watch, it keeps her from seeing the zombies and other crap an eight year old shouldn’t see) Tom was almost done with the floor for the night.

We both said a few things and he said, “Don’t get mad. Remember that we’re all tired.”

We said a few more things and I reminded him, “You can’t get mad. Remember, we’re all tired.”

And then we kissed and made up.

See, we’re lucky we are self-aware enough to be able to actually say things like that. Of course, there are times when we aren’t aware of how cranky we are and we just get pissy with each other.

But last night the tiredness wasn’t so great that we were overly mean to each other. Sometimes, reminding each other that we’re both tired is our way of saying, “I love you.” That and sometimes taking the girls from one room to the other so one of us can have a moment of peace and quiet. It’s the little things, I tell you.

Another sign I was tired was that I couldn’t even stay awake long enough to watch Scorpion last night.

It appears from this post alone that I watch a lot of television. It’s true. I do watch a lot and we don’t even have cable.

But even I, television addict that I am, can decide that I’m just too tired to watch. That’s when we know that it’s time for a time out for me. Or, you know, bed.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Giant Unicorn

That kind right there kind of describes our weekend. It was a giant unicorn kind of weekend.

My mom and I took the girls down to Bloomington to attend the Indiana University Dance Marathon.

It was amazing as usual.

This was the first year that Olivia was sponsored by a sorority. Let me say right here that every other sponsor (ie, the Alumni Association) has been wonderful and generous. But the girls of Delta Phi Epsilon went all out. They were generous beyond belief. They made this weekend more special than ever for both Olivia and Alyssa.

I have pondered over the years how hard is must be to be the typical sibling of a child with special needs, especially a child like Olivia, who’s special needs aren’t really that apparent. I worry that Alyssa feels lost in the shuffle that is our celebration of Olivia.

But the ladies of DPhiE made sure Alyssa felt as special as her sister this weekend.

When we walked into our hotel room on Friday night, we were greeted by a giant unicorn. As in, this thing is almost six feet long. It’s HUGE.

Olivia looked at it like it might pounce on her and eat her head. But Alyssa’s eyes widened, her face lit up and she pounced on the unicorn (which she names Sparkle Eunice) before it could pounce on Olivia. Olivia grinned as she watched Alyssa fall in love. Olivia then promptly forgot about the giant unicorn in the room and found the rest of the stuff that had been left for her. She found Chap Stick (one of her very favorite things) and nail polish (another of her faves). She found a Frozen coloring book and several candy bars. And not the little regular sized bars, oh no. The ladies of DPhiE gave her the GIANT candy bars, one Hershey Milk Chocolate bar and one Hershey Cookies and Cream bar. She was in sugar heaven. She also got some gummy bears and several other edible items.

But that wasn’t all.

When we arrived at the Tennis Center the next morning and there was more stuff! There was a sheet hanging on the wall with Olivia’s name and a unicorn. Olivia loves finding anything with her name on it. We got to take that sheet home with us and my mom plans to make a quilt out of it.

They had decorated an A and an O for the girls to hang in their room. Someone had painted a scene of Elsa which was beautiful.

There was also a two foot stuffed Olaf. I know! Again, Alyssa was so, so excited.

Olivia? She’s not so much into stuffed animals of any kind. But she sure loved watching her sister get all excited about those things.

She also got some feather boas. Craziness in such a good way.

We stayed many hours, told Olivia’s story on stage and then went home to sleep off the adrenalin buzz.

Olivia took three baths during our two nights/days at the hotel. I watched some HGTV and we messed around with her sleep number beds. Have I mentioned before that I hate sleep number beds? I’m sure they’re awesome for other people but I have never found a number that is comfortable for me. Seriously, never.

In the end, the only number that mattered was the 3.2 million dollars that IUDM raised for Riley Hospital for Children. How flipping amazing is that? They are changing the lives of children at Riley and the lives of those children’s parents and siblings.

We are so lucky to be a part of such a phenomenon.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Too Tight!

Anyone who has done any research on 5p- Syndrome knows that people with 5p- are going to have issues with their speech.

Some of this research even says that afflicted people will be non-verbal. Period. As in, this syndrome takes away any and all ability to speak.

Parents of children with 5p- in this day and age will tell you that the research isn’t true. Some of our children can and do speak very well.

My daughter is one of those lucky kids who has found her voice and uses it often.

Just this morning when I was putting her shoes on her (almost always a production) she shrieked, “Too tight!!!”

I sighed and took the shoe off and loosened the laces before stuffing her foot back in.

But you know what? Instead of sighing at her, I should have thrown Olivia a damned party. My child, the one who isn’t supposed to be able to speak, at least according to research that is probably 40 years old, can tell me when something is uncomfortable. She can tell me when she is sick, what hurts, if something is bothering her.

She can tell me about her day at school, a time when I am not with her.

I worry so much about Olivia and the possibility of mistreatment. It is so easy for less than ethical people to victimize children like mine, children who often can’t tell anyone that someone is hurting them. But Olivia can tell, she can tell me if something is wrong, if something is happening that hurts her or makes her uncomfortable.

I know how lucky we are that this is the case. I am so grateful for this.

I can’t imagine not hearing her voice, not knowing every single though that goes through that beautiful brain of hers.

So even when we’re rushed in the mornings, trying to get everything done before the bus arrived, I want to take a moment and bask in the sound of her beautiful voice, her words, her thoughts, even if she is shrieking at me that her shoe is too tight or that I’m ‘killing’ her as I brush the tangles from her hair or even that the shirt I picked for her to wear is too boring.

How amazing is it that this morning she asked me why I’d picked out a boring shirt instead of a tunic? I didn’t even know she knew the word tunic. She probably heard it from someone at school and used context to figure out the meaning. But however she worked it out, this morning she used the word properly as she scolded me for not picking out a tunic and instead picking a boring shirt that ended at her hips instead of skimming over them.

She’s always listening, always learning, always taking in the happenings of her world. She’s always putting her own spin on what she’s seeing, hearing, learning and then she puts back into the world for the rest of us to appreciate her brilliance and wonder at her awesomeness.

Monday, November 10, 2014


Last Friday was my birthday. After renewing my driver’s license I was able to go to lunch with Olivia. She’s always so excited when I can join her for lunch. I’m so lucky to be able to do this every so often. I’m sure her teacher appreciated the extra time after the regular lunch time when she’s usually with Olivia coaxing her to eat some of her lunch.

After lunch, I went to my mom’s house where she surprised me with a new sewing machine. I know! So exciting. Now I can actually sew stuff myself. Let me tell you how excited I was when I managed to thread my first bobbin and then thread the needle for the first time.

Those first two pieces of material that got sewn together will always be special. I hope to gain enough momentum to sew some pajama pants for the girls for Christmas this year.

I picked the girls up from school, fed them dinner and then my mom, Alyssa and I went to a movie. It was fun.

So here I am. Forty-four as of Friday. And you know what? My forties have been pretty great. I feel so lucky to be where I am right now. I’m working on getting comfortable in my own skin, whatever that means. I’m learning from my girls every single day and that is such a blessing.

And get this…after over eleven years of marriage, my husband and I still like each other most days. I know! That’s pretty awesome if you ask me. Love? That's kind of a given, but actually liking each other? That takes work.

So yeah. Forty-four.

Four is my favorite number (yes, I have a favorite number ,what of it?) So I figure that the year I have two fours in my age must go down as being the best year yet.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Being Heard

So there is something that I do that drives my husband crazy. And I’m trying to figure out how to stop doing it because I understand why it bothers him. But it’s so, so hard to fix it when you’re the mom.

Example: This morning, I asked Tom if it was raining. Before he could even answer, or perhaps as he was answering, I was yelling at the girls to stop pestering each other.

He got all pouty because I didn’t listen to his answer to a question I asked.

I know. I can’t help it.

Sometimes, he’ll be talking to me and I’ll actually be listening. But then one of the girls (or, more often than not, both of them) will call out to me and I’ll stop listening to Tom so I can listen to them.

This makes him pouty too.

I get it. I really do. I understand how frustrating it must be to be talking to your spouse and have them stop listening in the middle of your sentence because the children have suddenly become more important.

But see, the thing is, they sort of are more important. At least, they are right this second. They’re needs are usually pretty immediate.

Here’s another thing, I’m the most important person in the house to all three of them. I don’t say that with conceit so much as with a sense of being overwhelmed. When any one of them has something to say, they want to say it to me. When they have big news, I’m the first they want to tell. I’m lucky that way. But I’m also only one person and when three people, two of whom are children, are vying for my attention, someone has to get the short straw. And more often than not, it’s Tom.

And he’s the adult, he can wait.

Except when he can’t. Because it really isn’t fair for him to always be last on the priority list. I know this and I’m working on it. I really am, even if he sometimes can’t tell.

I’m not sure he sees the times when he’s talking to me and one of the girls will come up and start to talk, at which point, I put up a finger to shush and stall her and continue to listen to my husband.

Because he has things to say, important things, things that he deserves to have heard by his loyal and dutiful wife. Or, you know, me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Baby

Tom asked me this morning if Olivia is really going to be eight this month.

Yes. Yes, she is really going to be eight years old this month.

He expressed his surprise at this confirmation. Not because we wonder where the time has gone. We’ve definitely been here, present, all these years and while, sure, they’ve flown by, I can also see the lines of every single one of those eight years on my face.

Instead, the reason it seems so outrageous that our baby is almost eight years old is because, well, she’s still such a baby in so many ways.

See, Olivia is really easy to baby. She’s got this delicate, baby-like air too her. She seems to fragile even though she’s not really. She’s sweet, sassy and loves to have others take care of her.

Yeah, we’re a couple of suckers, is what I’m saying.

Here’s the thing…Tom or I still feed Olivia her meals at home.

At Gram’s house, Olivia feeds herself perfectly well. But at home, when we sit down to eat, Olivia will look at her plate, look at me, look back her plate and say, “What about feed me?”

And yes, it’s a cleaner process for either me or Tom to shovel the food into her mouth.

So our eight year old is still very much our baby. And it’s our fault.

We’re not doing her any favors at all by doing this. I know this. I also know that we need to just get over the issue of the mess and just make her feed herself.

And we will…on November 28, when she’s really and truly eight years old.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Alyssa is on a hug fest these days. She’s almost constantly asking for hugs.

I stop whatever I’m doing each time she asks for a hug and I hug her.

I told Tom this morning that he needs to do the same.

Yes, she asks for hugs at inopportune times but these hugs mean something. I think they’re her way to making sure she’s important enough to us that we’ll give them no matter what else is going on.

I get it. She’s at an age where she can feel herself pull away from us and that’s scary.

I took her to a Halloween party last weekend. She’s been to this friend’s house a few times, to other Halloween parties, in fact. When I took her when she was in second and third grades, I stayed at the party. We missed the last two years’ parties and so this year, when I called to RSVP, the friend’s mom let me know that I was welcome to stay if I wanted.

I laughed, thanks her and said, “I think Alyssa’s at an age where she actually wants me to leave.”

And she is.

Except when she isn’t.

She wants to be all independent and tough and awesome but in some ways she’s still my little girl, my child who still needs hugs from her parents.

I reminded Tom this morning that as her father, he needs to give Alyssa appropriate male affection because if he doesn’t, she could very well go looking for male affection and it probably won’t be appropriate.

He looked skeptical but then appeared to agree. We’ll see.

My girl is at a tough stage and it’s only going to get tougher but she’s smart, and she’s logical (when she’s not overly-emotional.) She’s also willing to talk to me when things are bothering her, a thing I do not take for granted. I know how lucky I am to be this girl’s mom. I just hope I don’t screw it up too much.