Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Keurig Incident

Like everyone else in the world, I had to return a few things to The Walmarts in the days after Christmas.

Unlike everyone else in the world, I actually had receipts. I know! Go me.

So on Sunday, Olivia and I headed off to The Least Happy Place In The World.

Can I say right here that I hate confrontation. I realize that anyone reading who knows my aunts (I have a lot of aunts on my mom’s side) probably can’t begin to imagine someone from that side of my family not liking confrontation but I hate it. I don’t like to draw attention to myself, I don’t like to create drama, I try to avoid making things awkward.

So imagine my discomfort and that of the rest of my line-standers when a woman lost her shit when Walmart wouldn’t let her exchange/return/whatever a Keurig thingy that she had.

I don’t know what the problem was. I was too far back in the line to hear the beginning of this interaction.

The first I heard of it was this woman stomping from the customer service desk to a checkout lane and saying loudly to her husband, “They won’t exchange it. Put everything back in the cart and just leave it, we are NEVER buying another thing from Walmart again.”

So there! And ha on The Walmarts, right? Because they care that one person is never, EVER going to shop there again.

Except wait! She’s not done with the service desk, thank you very much. Because see that sign behind the desk? It says, “Customer Satisfaction Guaranteed. We will make it right through refund, exchange or repair.”

This woman read that sign, OUTLOUD, at least three times in the span of five minutes, each time declaring, “I am a customer and I am NOT satisfied.”

She demanded to see a manager.

The poor customer service reps were just trying to avoid this obnoxious woman’s gaze. One of them finally murmured, “She’s calling the manager right now.”

The dissatisfied customer huffed and puffed and read the sign again in exasperation.

Whew. It must be exhausting to be that indignant.

I don’t know how it all turned out. Once I’d returned my three items and received my cash payout for having had my receipt AND my original packaging, Olivia and I were on our way. We left that delightful woman and all the awkwardness she was spewing.

I did wish the clerk who’s so kindly waited on me a nice day and good luck. She smiled and rolled her eyes.

I’m learning that there are people out there who rely on the fact that most of us have been socialized to avoid awkwardness to get their way. People like this assume that if they make people uncomfortable enough, they’ll just roll over and give in in hopes that the awkward person will just go away.

People like that are awful. I avoid them as much as I can because, yeah, awful.

When I got home and told Tom the story of the Keurig, he wondered why it wouldn’t be exchanged/refunded. He actually defended the woman’s behavior, saying he couldn’t imagine a reason that The Walmarts wouldn’t exchange it or refund her money.

I suggested that perhaps it hadn’t actually been purchased at Walmart. He conceded that I had a good point.

Having worked at a Walmart for quite a few years, Tom has experience with people like that. Since he’d been a manager, he knows that the policy is to just make the customer happy and move on.

And maybe he’s right. I mean, Walmart is a corporation that is not at risk of going out of business if they refund someone the cost of a Keurig.

But I hate the idea of giving into someone like that, if only on principle.

And no, we’ll never know the end of this story because the awkward was so thick around there, O and I had to escape to the donuts for a breath of fresh, donutty air.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Undecking the Halls

We love Christmas around here. We put up the tree each year the weekend after Thanksgiving and enjoy looking at the lights everyone around us puts up.

Our tree goes up in our living room in front of our big window that looks out into the front yard. While we love it there because it can be seen from the road and it’s beautiful to see when we pull into our driveway, we’re always a little (a lot?) relieved when Christmas is over and we take the tree down to reveal our lovely window all over again.

I haven’t felt well these past few days and because of the holidays, there hasn’t been a lot of time to just rest away the ickies. So on Sunday, Tom took the girls at 7:30 and sent me back to be for a couple of hours.

While I slumbered (read: coughed for two hours while lying down) Tom was busy in the living room taking down the Christmas tree.

This, for obvious reasons, makes him my hero.

I am usually the one tasked with putting up and taking down the tree. This year, I dutifully (and joyfully, mostly) put up the tree. But it took us over a week to actually get enough ornaments on it to call it good. We only opened three of our five boxes of Christmas decorations this year.

Tom insists that next year we’re going to open all five boxes, if only to go through them and purge the items we don’t want. Oh, he’s an ambitious soul, isn’t he?

So when I came down to fine the tree not only undecorated but also disassembled and put away, with the furniture moved back to the usual places and the carpet vacuumed, I could have kissed that man. Except that might have given him my nasty cough and I don’t want to do that. So instead I wheezed, “Thank you for doing that.”

He mumbled something that sounded like, “You’re welcome.”

Then he glanced over at where I’d slumped onto the couch and he asked, “How long would you have slept if you hadn’t set your alarm for 9:30?”

I replied, “Well, since I never actually slept much thanks to my coughing, I don’t know.”

He told me I looked tired.

I thanked him with more sincerity than you might think.

But honestly, having the window open and the tree down was the best gift he gave me this year.

That man…sometimes he still manages to surprise me, even after all these years.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Merry and Bright

We had a lovely Christmas.

Alyssa got the phone she’s wanted for, well, forever. I was lucky enough to get to send her the first text.

Olivia got her Bitty Baby from American Girl and a tablet from her Gram that has a keyboard and so she calls her laptop. Yes, she calls it that to rub it in to her sister that her tablet is that awesome.

We spent hours and hours at my mom’s house on Christmas day. The girls played with cousins, Tom talked to my brothers and step-dad and I settled on my mom’s couch under a blanket so I could cough the afternoon away while watching a Tiny House Hunters marathon.

We had a great visit with Tom’s sons and their families. We all marveled several times about how great the grandkids were, all six of them. They’re eight, six, five, three, three and one and they were all amazingly well-behaved.

The one-year old, Eliza, fussed each time she saw her dad but Tom isn’t intimidated by a crying baby. I mean, come on, he survived Olivia’s infancy, so a fussy baby doesn’t affect him at all, he’d just carry E out of sight of her dad and all would be well.

For a self-proclaimed Scrooge, Tom was very merry this holiday. He tries every year to bah-humbug his way through Christmas but each year the fun of watching kids open presents, of seeing their joy gets to him. I love that about him.

It didn’t even matter that the heating element went out in our oven on Christmas Eve. My mom took the pie I’d planned to bake home with her and baked it for me. I baked brownies at her house on Christmas day to take to Josh’s house the next day and we just rolled with it.

Tom ordered the part for the oven and it should be here on Wednesday. All is well and merry and bright in our little corner of the world.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas To All

A little Christmas Past:



And just because they're so cute I can't even stand it.

Thursday, December 24, 2015


My and Tom’s first Christmas (Grammar Tangent: Please notice that I did NOT write “Tom and I’s first Christmas…because, yeah, that’s just stupid and REALLY incorrect…ahem) together we weren’t sure what was going on.

His older kids, J, J, and D (we need names here, don’t we? Non-googleable names, since who knows if those guys want me writing about them…alas, I’m doing it anyway but I will do so without using their real names. So henceforth, Tom’s oldest son will be Josh, his oldest daughter will be Jennifer and his younger son will be Devlin) were 18, 15 and 14. They were great kids but they were also used to very specific things from their dad.

They spent Christmas Eve with us and then went back to their mom’s house around noon on Christmas day for the rest of the Christmas break.

That first Christmas Eve we got pizza and watched movies on Christmas Eve and exchanged presents the next morning and basically had a very nice time. As Josh, Jen, and Devlin got older, they stopped spending the night on Christmas Eve but they did still come over for pizza and gifts.

These days, both Josh and Devlin have added their own wives and kids to the mix and so everyone is that much busier.

But Lyss and Liv have gotten used to the idea of pizza on Christmas Eve and so that’s what we do. It’s nice to not have to worry about what to make for dinner.

Once the girls were old enough, I incorporated a tradition from my own childhood into our Christmas Eve schedule. A and O get to open one present on Christmas Eve. Sadly for them, they don’t get to pick which gift. They have to open the one I have chosen. By this point, they always know they’re getting Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve but the knowing doesn’t take away from the fun of opening the present and getting to put on fresh new jammies.

This year none of the older kids are coming on Christmas Eve but we will have pizza (I’m getting hot and sour soup from our local Great Wall restaurant because…yum!) and the girls will get their jams.

Then on Christmas day we’ll drive the three miles to my mom’s house to exchange more gifts, eat more food and spend time together. Tom will drive separately from me and the girls because we like to stay longer then he does and when you’re only driving three miles, it’s not hard to justify taking two vehicles.

In the years since Josh and Devlin married and had kids we’ve tried to work with their schedules to see them at some point in the holiday season. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Having all these branches of families makes scheduling hard.

But this year, Josh’s wife, Kim got in touch with me and we figured it out. The day after Christmas, Tom and I will load up the car with gifts, throw Lyss and Liv in there too and head an hour or so south to see Josh, Kim and Devlin and all their assorted kids. We don’t see them nearly often enough so we’re always willing to adjust our schedules to meet theirs. This was one of those years where the stars have aligned and once again, we acknowledge that we’re a lucky, lucky bunch.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

To Even Things Out

Okay, so that last post was…um, cranky. Sorry about that. The Walmarts does that to me every single time. I should really just stop going there. Alas, it’s so convenient so I will probably not stop shopping there.


But the Christmas spirit truly is alive and well in my heart. I have my Grinchy moments but I’m trying over here.

Okay, so I was cranky last night when I had to wash the dinner dishes even though I didn’t even eat dinner. There was a bit of muttering and perhaps a little tossing of forks into the utensil bin. Not loud enough to elicit attention from the three family members who DID eat dinner but did not bother to wash the dishes but with just enough force to relieve a little bit of my frustration at the entire situation.

But then when I went to bed, I gave myself a stern talking-to.

I reminded me that while I didn’t eat, Tom did feed Olivia so that right there kind of evens out the evening chores because that child can still be a lot of work, I tell you.

Then I told myself to calm the heck down and remember that all is well in our world. We’re lucky to have enough food in our home for those who want to eat. We’re lucky enough to have a house and fuel to run our furnace (which probably won’t run today since the temps are supposed to be in the mid-60s today.)

I think my Christmas spirit might be a little smothered by the headache that has been plaguing me all week. This freaky weather is doing a number on my stupid head.

On the bright side, I actually didn’t wake up with a headache this morning. Go me!

Most of the girls’ presents are wrapped. All of my shopping is DONE and hey, that’s always a nice thing to be able to say (write?). I still have to wrap Tom’s gifts and the things we got for his older kids and the grandkids but we aren’t going to see them until the day after Christmas, so I have all the time in the world!

The girls help my spirit a lot with their excitement, their joy at the lights, the decorations, the PRESENTS. We’ve been watching movies and singing carols and if Alyssa isn’t on her tablet or the computer, she’s playing her flute, which is great in that she’s practicing and well, let’s just say she’s only been playing for two years and so…I’m so glad she enjoys practicing so much. Yes, I am.

All in all, everything is well in the Ordinary household. We’re lucky to have each other. We’re lucky to be together and I like to think we all know this. Which is, of course, another lucky thing.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Freakin' Christmas

I was a The Walmarts today, as one always is, right? Right.

Anyway, there I was, walking along at a normal speed, not racing through the store, not lollly-gagging, just walking along. I came to the end of an aisle and a woman and what was probably her grandson were coming from the right side of the aisle I was going to turn down (I was heading for the Country Crock, with calcium, if you were wondering) and I stopped the instant I saw them.

The woman’s cart continued on and once she was in sight, I apologized for ALMOST hitting her cart with my cart.

And what do you know, that cow glared at me. She gave me the most awful look, as if I’d deliberately almost hit her stupid cart. I walked away muttering, “Merry Christmas to you to bitch. I mean, seriously, it’s not like I actually hit your cart, you hag.”

Yes, I was awash with the holiday spirit.

But come on. When someone apologizes for something that didn’t even actually happen, it wouldn’t kill you to smile a little, perhaps nod in understanding and move along.

But she couldn’t be bothered. I’d probably made her pause for half a second as she waited to see if I was going to slam into her.

And again, I did NOT slam into her. I stopped a good six inches from her cart.

Why do people have to be so cranky? Is it because we’re strangers and she can get away with being awful because she hopes she’ll never see me again?

I don’t know.

What I do know, is that when someone almost hits my cart and then apologizes for the near-miss, I smile, I tell them there was no harm done and we move along. All is well, everyone was polite and cordial to each other and no one had to walk away swearing because their feeling was a little bruised by the death glare I didn’t give because it wasn’t necessary.

Sigh. Where is the love, I ask you. Where is the love?

Monday, December 21, 2015

Separation Anxiety

Over the weekend, my brother posted on facebook that his son, who is eight and in first grade, spent the night for the first time with a friend.

Okay then. That’s awesome. For them.

Every kid is different and I love that. There’s also the fact that sweet J has been shuttled back and forth between his mom’s and his dad’s houses since he was two years old, so he’s kind of used to spending the night at lots of different places.

My girls, on the other hand, are not so much into not being at either home or at my mom’s.

Alyssa’s first sleep-over didn’t take place until she was in fourth grade.

Olivia’s has not yet happened.

And on the far other side of the spectrum, a couple of weeks ago, Lyss invited her friend M over to spend the night. When I called M’s mom I was warned that M had only ever spent the night with two people, and one of them was family. I was further warned that M might not be able to stay all night.

I assured M’s mom that I understood that and we’d be find if she needed to go home the night she was with us.

The girls went home with my mom that afternoon and when I got there after work, everyone seemed to be having a great time. M is a funny, outgoing girl who didn’t seem to have any reservations about being at our house. We had pizza for dinner, I made Olivia leave the girls alone for a while and all seemed well.

When Olivia went up to the girls’ room at 8ish to get pajamas, I found Alyssa in her unicorn onesie and M sitting on the bed, crying.

I asked her gently, “What’s wrong?”

She sniffled, “I don’t feel good.”

I looked at Alyssa and she shrugged.

I suggested that M call her mom if she wanted to do so. She very much did want to do so.

Fifteen minutes later, after M talked to her mom, I talked to her mom and then M talked to her mom again, M’s mom was in our driveway, picking up her daughter.

During my conversation with M’s mom, she told me that she’d told M to suck it up and tough it out. She REALLY didn’t want to come pick M up. I told her I understood that sentiment but that M really did seem pretty upset.

I was also thinking to myself, “Dude, your kid toughing it out is making my kid miserable. Come pick her up!!”

But I didn’t say that. I let M and her mom hash it out and in the end, in my opinion, they came to the right conclusion.

As we said goodbye, I told M, “Come back when you feel better.”

I told Lyss that I think maybe M needs to be an afternoon hang-out friend rather than a spend-the-night friend. She agreed. She also told me she was glad that M’s mom picked her up. She said that she thought that M really just missed her mom. She admitted that there are times when she’s at a friend’s house that she misses me too but she reminds herself she’ll see me the very next day and that calms her missing of me. She’s a great kid, that Lyssie.

I told her that if word got out at school that M had to go home, she could tell everyone that M just didn’t feel good.

Lyss said, “If word gets out, it will be because SHE told someone. I won’t be telling anyone that she went home early.”

My girl has a lot of compassion.

A few days later, Alyssa told me that M told her she (M) suffers from separation anxiety.

I told her that was normal and that M is lucky to have such a great friend in her. I told her that we all mature at different times and it’s okay that M still likes to be at home.

She admitted that while she enjoys hanging with her friends, her favorite place to be is at home with us.

My heart grew two sizes in that moment.

Friday, December 18, 2015

But You Can't Have Too Much Fun

She let me do the Princess Leia buns. I know!

When I got home from work last night, Lyssie informed me that she was going to let me do her hair the next morning because her friend Nora (of the Porch family) was going to do her hair too and she didn’t want to be the only one.

There was only one caveat: “You can’t have too much fun with it,” she declared.

I replied that I couldn’t promise how much fun I would or wouldn’t have, because, dude, my seventh grader was letting me do her hair in Princess Leia buns! I mean, come on, the mere idea puts me into a tizzy of fun. The actual process? So! Much! Fun!

So that was our evening and morning. How awesome are my kids and their school? I love that they get to have these fun days that break up the monotony of school.

And for the record, I tried to convince Alyssa to wear a Star Trek shirt with her Leia buns. And I did this BEFORE we watched the episode of Big Bang Theory last night, where Wil Wheaton showed up for the premiere of the new Star Wars movie in a Star Trek costume, flashing LLaP fingers. So...that means I'm at least as big a geek as the writers of The Big be honest, now that I write that out, I'm not sure it's a good thing. Not sure it's bad either, just...not sure of anything at all.

Wait, I am sure that it was great fun doing my girls' hair this morning. That's one thing of which I can be sure. Yes.

Oh, and she didn't wear the Star Trek shirt. Sometimes, even when she's being great fun, she's no fun at all.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Junior High Band/Choir Concert

On the way to the orthodontist on Tuesday, Alyssa told me that last year, in sixth grade, she was always very nervous before a band performance.

But, she said gleefully, this year, she’s not nervous at all. No, she’s EXCITED. Then she did jazz hands, which is absurdly adorable when a twelve year old (who will be thirteen in FOUR weeks) does it. Seriously. If you know any kids in their late-pre-teens or early teens, you should totally get them to do jazz hands because, yes, so flipping cute!

I was happy to hear that she was excited about the band and choir concert that was a few hours away. I love that she’s learning to enjoy performing. She’s got a lot of years ahead of her for band and choir and whatever other endeavors that put her in front of an audience.

I feel like we made the right decision when we moved to this school district. Alyssa has made such great friends, friends who support each other, who believe in each other, who are there for each other.

Everyone needs that, but middle schoolers seem to need it most of all. Friends make everything a little easier.

She’s been preparing for this concert for most of the school year. Obviously, all of the students have. We’ve been listening to her sing Christmas music since early October and she practices her flute almost every day, which means we’ve heard the selections for the concert over and over again; the flute part anyway.

I love her choir and band directors but I’ve enjoyed teasing Lyss for the past month about how if I were one of the music directors of the school, I’d be totally picking more modern music for the choir to sing or the band to play. She rolls her eyes at me and defends the musical selections, suggesting the teachers chose those pieces because of their difficulty.

Ha. Okay. I really do love this age so, so much. She amuses me so and I annoy her so and all is well in our world.

Tomorrow is the last day of school before “Winter” Break. The junior high and high school are having Star Wars dress up day. The only reason I know this is because Olivia needed to pee during Alyssa’s concert and so I took O to one of the restrooms in the junior high hallway. There was a flier taped to the inside of the stall door declaring Star Wars dress up day. It reminded students to keep their costumes school appropriate. Okay then.

I am trying to convince Lyss to let me do her hair in either Princess Leia buns or the triple bun thing the heroine of the new movie wears.

She let me practice last night but made no promises about actually letting me do her hair like that for school where her actual friends would see it.

I think it’s adorable. She still thinks I’m weird. Again, all is well in our world.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Christmas Totem Pole

It’s been a week of Christmas Spirit.

On Monday, Olivia’s class participated in the elementary school “Winter” program. Yeah, I know. They called it the Winter Program and yet there was Santa so, yes, Christmas.

And for the record, Olivia makes a most excellent totem pole. We found this out by watching her NOT perform during her Winter program. There was lots of movement choreographed by the lovely music teacher. Olivia made no attempt whatsoever to try and do what the kids around her did.

She did, however, interact with me and Tom and Alyssa, who were about thirty feet away in the front row of the bleachers, watching the show. She smiled at us, she nodded when we nodded, she grinned when we attempted to do the movements she was supposed to be doing.

Earlier this year, Mrs. F, the music teacher, asked me what I wanted her to do about Liv’s refusal to participate. I offered to have O come sit with us during the program. We planned to do just that. But her aide had other plans. She said it really didn’t matter if she didn’t participate. She felt like it would be better for Olivia to be right there amongst her peers even if she didn’t clap or dance or wiggle or even sit on the bleachers at any given time. So that’s what we let her do.

We let her stand there like the awesome totem pole she is and it was awesome. She had so much fun. She got to stand next to her friend, Delaney Porch, getting the occasional side/one-armed hug and she smiled at her and she watched her peers perform and she was part of it. Kind of. And that was enough for her.

When we asked her if she had fun, she replied with an enthusiastic, “Yes!”

So we’ll keep putting her out there and she’ll probably keep being an awesome totem pole and Tom, Alyssa and I will laugh at her antics, her individuality, her insistence at doing things her own way.

Next up, Alyssa’s band and choir concert was the next night. That was fun too.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Well then...

I want to be in the holiday spirit. And I am, most of the time. But there are moments when it just gets sucked right out of me and then I’m floundering for hours (days?) trying to get it back.

I am over-sensitive. I know this. I accept this. I even try not to be this way but after all these years of being over-sensitive, well, here I am, reading tone into every word people say to me, wondering if they’re mad at me or judging me or whatever. I have a hard time when someone, pretty much anyone, tries to tell me a ‘better’ way to do something. It feels, to me, like they’re saying that the way I’m doing something is WRONG and that makes me more than a little crazy.

So yeah. Being over-sensitive means that my husband any person in my life can’t say much of anything that sounds even a little like a criticism because it will hurt my feelings.

That said, I will also say that I HATE being micro-managed. Even when said ‘manager’ doesn’t even realize he is micro-managing, it kind of pisses me off.

See, I’m kind of gray. I think there are sorts of ways to do something and still have it done life. There are people in my life who are very black and white and if you don’t do something their way, you’re doing it WRONG.

Yeah. So not much fun happening around these parts these days. But it will get better. It always does. Thank goodness.

So yeah, I got nothing.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

They Love Me So

I am so ridiculous when it comes to worms. They freak me right the hell out. I can’t stand them. I get all queasy and shivery and jumpy at the mere mention of the disgusting things.

I can’t help it. They’re just so awful. I supposed others react to spiders the same way I react to w*#@s. Yes, I don’t even like the word and the fact that I typed it in the first sentence of this post is how much I am willing to sacrifice for the sake of clarity on this here blog.

So yes. They’re gross. My family is very much aware of my disgust for these creatures.

In fact, Olivia is kind enough not to mention the w word. She’s very fond of stomping on the inch version of the horrific little monsters. She loves how they kind of pop under her shoe. Ick. Ick, ick, ick!! Let me point out right here that Tom is the one who taught her that disgusting game. *Shudder*

Anyway, when she talks about them she calls them ‘inch-doubleyous” so as not to gross me out with the w word. Isn’t she sweet.

After each rain, Tom is kind enough to go out to the garage and sweep the area around the garage door so I don’t have to see what the rain washed up against or even underneath the door. He knows I just can’t take it.

As we were putting the Christmas tree up this past weekend, Alyssa happened to find a nasty surprise on one of the ornaments. She asked me what it was. I glanced down, saw what was probably the rounded corpse of a w#$% and looked away quickly.

I said, “I don’t know for sure but I can’t. You know I can’t even look to see if it’s just fuzz or something because, ewwww. Go get your dad.”

She went to find him while I hid my face and tried not to cry.

I know. I’m so very ridiculous.

Have I ever mentioned that I don’t like bridges very much? There’s this walkway at a nearby mall that is sort of a bridge across the two halls above the food court. I hate that walkway so, so much and yet I make myself walk across it every time we’re at the mall. I get queasy and a little dizzy each time I do it and yet I refuse to let myself be paralyzed by something like that.

And yet…all that mental strength I show when dealing with the bridge/walkway at the mall? I can’t muster it when it comes to creepy crawly worms. I just can’t. I don’t have to deal with those things in day to day life.

Bridges? Can’t always be avoided but in my world, w$%^s can be avoided. At least they can when you have a husband like mine.

Tom followed Alyssa into the room, looked where she pointed at the ornaments, the very place I was pointedly NOT looking at, and he picked up the offending horrible piece of ick and quietly left the room.

And that’s how I know that man loves me.

He never once made fun of the fact that I was quietly losing my mind just a few feet from where he was dealing with awfulness, my hands covering my face so I didn’t have to see what he was doing and my breath hitching ever so slightly as I fought tears of disgust.

Nope, not a single chuckle at my overreaction. Seriously, that’s what I call true love.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Christmas Tree

Putting up the tree was always a big deal when I was a kid. During my earliest years, we always went and bought a freshly cut tree. It was awesome to smell the tree throughout the house.

I was probably twelve-ish when we got our first artificial tree. Putting it up was similar to putting up the real tree. My mom put on the lights and then let me and my brother have at it with the ornaments.

Back when I thought I’d marry young and have kids a few years later, I thought we’d put up our first tree and then put one ornament on it, the first one we bought together as a married couple.

Yeah, that didn’t quite work out the way I’d planned.

Instead, I didn’t marry until my early thirties. By then, I had quite the collection of Christmas ornaments and so for my and Tom’s first Christmas together, we just put up a tree, slapped the ornaments we had on it and called it good.

When Alyssa was big enough to help, I let her put the ornaments where she would and left them there, so those first few years, we had a very bottom-heavy tree. I loved it because it was ours and I wanted Alyssa to know that whatever she put on the tree stayed where she put it.

This year Olivia and her OCD are driving Alyssa and her own version of OCD crazy. It’s actually pretty fun to watch.

Olivia decided yesterday that she wanted to clump the golden bulbs together on a few branches near the bottom of the tree. She likes being able to look at her reflection in the bulbs.

I honestly didn’t care because again, the tree if for the girls. I’m not all that particular about what goes where. I’m really just glad I’m not doing it all myself.

Alyssa fussed that since Olivia is tall enough, she should be putting the ornaments on the tree higher up and spacing them out.

I gently told her to leave her sister alone, reminding her of trees of Christmas past, when she put them on the low third of the tree and I left them there. I told her about the tree we had the year Olivia was born, when I was too overwhelmed to get many ornaments out so Alyssa used her own toys to as decorations. We had stuffed cats and horses, puzzle pieces, princesses and blocks on that tree. It broke my heart even as it warmed it.

Alyssa rolled her eyes as I told these stories but she also stopped telling Olivia to move the golden bulbs to other places on the tree.

I will let these girls decorate our tree however they want for as long as they’ll do it.

Honestly, I think I’m lucky that my youngest child, who is NINE, still wants to bunch the bulbs up. I love that in so many ways she’s still very much my baby.

Friday, December 4, 2015


Olivia has discovered Junie B. Jones. This is awesome and horrible all at once.

She can be found reading all the time. Awesome, right?

Sure, except that she wants to read when she’s supposed to be eating, and when she’s supposed to be brushing her teeth and when she’s supposed to be putting on her shoes. Yeah, you get the point. She wants to read all the time and there are times when reading can’t be the priority.

But yay, she’s turning into a reader!!

I do love Junie B. She’s funny and silly and…naughty. And sadly, both of my girls tend to take on some of Junie B.’s less attractive traits when they’re reading her stories.

So we’re dealing with a little naughtiness from Olivia on top of her wanting to read constantly.

But I remind myself that we went through this with Alyssa when she first started reading Junie B. Jones books and she got through it. We all survived the naughtiness and she moved onto to books that didn’t bring out her inner brat.

So there is that.

I tell myself Junie B. Jones chapter books are an awesome gateway to other, longer, less naughty books. So for now, I’m letting her read away, except when I need her to do other things, like you know, sleep or eat.

Thursday, December 3, 2015


When Olivia was a baby, she had a wonky eye. It was the right one. Whenever she was tired, her eye would ‘wander’ about in its socket, sometimes heading left, sometimes heading right. Mostly, it drifted right.

You couldn’t see the wonk often in real-time but we did capture it in pictures quite often. It was disconcerting to notice it in pictures when I hadn’t noticed it in the moment.

When she was diagnosed with 5p- syndrome, I mentioned the wonky eye and her developmental pediatrician referred us to IU Ophthalmology.

Olivia only went once. They declared her eyes to be healthy and said that the ‘wonkiness’ was just a sign of muscle weakness and since it was really only evident when she was tired, there wasn’t much we could do.

So we did nothing.

She started wearing glasses a year ago in September. At her first appointment, her doctor didn’t even notice any wonkiness.

At her appointment this year, I mentioned that she’d taught herself to cross her eyes. I told the doctor that she’d had to work REALLY hard to do this. It absolutely didn’t come naturally to her.

He applauded her work ethic and said that being able to cross her eyes was actually a sign that the muscles in O’s eyes were getting stronger. He told her to keep working on those muscles.

This is one of those times when you won’t hear a mom (me) telling her child to stop making weird faces. She and I cross our eyes at each other often, just to prove we can.

This child of mine, she never ceases to amaze me. What we all

Crossed eyes and all, she’s so beautiful.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Just Doing It

Here’s the thing…my dad likes to tell me about how my sister tells him that I was this extraordinary mom when Olivia was a baby. Like I went through something amazing that other people wouldn’t have been able to do.

Except, no. That’s not true. Anyone else would have done exactly what Tom and I did when Olivia was a baby. You get through it by living every single day. You wake up, you soothe your screaming baby, you feed your four year old, you soothe the baby again, you feed the four year old again, you try and make the baby nap, you give up on the nap and you feed the four year old yet again.

And you just keep doing that until you don’t have to anymore.

Then you start doing something else.

Each stage of parenting is hard but they’re all a different kind of hard. The infant stage was REALLY hard for me, if only because of the sleep deprivation. And, well, babies are boring. Sure, they’re cute but they’re also boring. Way boring. Just saying.

The toddler stage of parenting has its stressors, what with potty training and weaning and learning to talk and tantrums and ugh, I’m so glad we’re past all that.

But we got through it, special needs and all, because that’s what people do.

We get up every single day, we figure it out and we’re grateful at the end of the day when we’re all together and still breathing.

So when my dad talks about how amazing I am for mothering my children, I kind of want to smack him. I get that he’s trying to give me a compliment. I do get that. And I never actually slap him or even snap at him that duh, I’m their mother, OF COURSE I’m going to mother them. I guess I wish he’d stop making me out to be a saint or a martyr.

I’m neither of those things. I’m a wife and a mom. I’m a daughter and a sister. I’m a friend (though sometimes, not a very good one.) I try to do right by everyone in my life but I fail miserably sometimes. And when that happens, I apologize, try to move forward and do better next time.

I apologize to my girls every single day for lapses in my mothering. They’re kind kids, they forgive me. And I forgive them when they make me crazy in Walmart. (What is it about Walmart? That place makes me insane with rage.)

It’s what we do because we’re human and we love and we live and we’re grateful for reminders to not shake the screaming baby.

To my dad and my sister (neither of whom read here, I’m pretty sure but still…) thank you both for thinking so highly of me. But I promise you, if you’d been given a child with special needs, you both would have handled it just fine. It’s just what you do.

I do not look at Olivia and see special needs. I look at her and see my child, my daughter. One of my greatest loves. I see beauty and grace and adoration. I see strength and intelligence and perseverance. I see my baby, the one who cried and cried and cried and then, one day, she stopped crying and she started laughing and today, there is so much more laughter than tears and that makes those early months so worth it.

I told everyone during those first few screamy months that it would get better.

And guess what? It did. It got so, SO much better.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Actually, Finally Nine

Olivia turned nine a few days ago. We had her birthday party on the Sunday before her actual birthday. My mom hosted the party and fun was had by all.

On the morning of her actual birthday (that’s what she called it leading up to and the day of her birthday) she woke to find that Alyssa and I had blown up 85ish balloons and left them strewn about the house.

Olivia giggled at all the balloons and then stood next to me, wondering if she’d grown overnight. Was she taller now that she was finally REALLY nine, she wondered?

I made her some blueberry pancakes, which she fed entirely to herself, because, yeah, she’s nine now and that means she’s big.

After she ate her breakfast, she helped wash the dishes because nine year olds are big enough to help with chores like that.

Then we went up to get dressed before the Porch girls arrived for an afternoon of fun.

And can I say right here that it drives me CRAZY that kids’ clothes go from a size 7/8 to a 10/12. What happened to the nines? I mean seriously? Where are they?

Olivia is too tall these days for most 7/8 pants but the 10/12 pants we have stored from Alyssa’s days as a pre-teen are too big around the waist.

What the hell?

Olivia is long-waisted with long legs. But she’s also on the thin side, so pants that fit in length are too big around the waist. So…maybe if someone, ANYONE, made pants that were sized to fit an actual nine year old, we’d have pants in our house that would fit her. As it is, she has pants that either fit in length and fall off her waist or fit around the waist and end above her ankle. Not fun in the middle of winter.

So here we go again. I know I bitched about this when Alyssa was nine too.

I’m thinking the winter solution is going to have to be leg-warmers. I will get her several pairs, she can wear them over her too-short pants that still fit around the waist and by the time spring arrives she’ll either fit into the next size up or her 7/8 pants will be short enough to be called carpris.

The things we have to do to appropriately clothe our kids. Sigh.

Monday, November 30, 2015


It appears we have a new cat. His name is Harvey. He’s a stray that Tom sort of caught. Actually, this kitty has been hovering around our house/yard for months but during the summer, when Orville was still our one and only, Harvey would sneak into the garden and eat our scraps, then scamper away when Orville spotted him.

Last week, Tom didn’t tell us that he’d caught the cat in our detached garage. He kept him in there for over a day then went out with some food and coaxed the hungry kitty out for breakfast.

We’d bought a bag of cat food the weekend before Orville was hit. It hadn’t even been opened.

Last Tuesday, Tom casually mentioned that he’d been feeding the stray that we’d seen throughout the summer.

I got a little snippy and said something about that was fine, whatever, that stray would never be Orville. Alyssa and I might have both cried a little. The memories are blurry. Ahem.

Tom ignored my maudlin comment and said that he’d noticed that the bag of cat food we’d planned to give to either my mom or my brother but that had instead sat in the garage for a month, had been chewed open by the wily cat who was obviously hungry.

So he’d been feeding this kitty for a week or so before he told us about him. By that point, the cat was feeling a little more trusting of Tom and even let me pet him the next day. I reminded him that if he was feeding this cat, he was staking a claim on him.

He replied, “Not necessarily.”

I retorted, “Oh yes, necessarily. Once you feed a stray, you are telling that animal that he’s found his home.”

Tom shrugged but didn’t comment further.

Then Alyssa made his acquaintance. And a love match was made. That little stray cat, a cat who had no reason to trust that we wouldn’t hurt him, followed Tom and Alyssa around our yard after she’d finally gone out to meet him.

He is scared of the road traffic and much prefers to stay in the barn where Alyssa visits him every few hours, staying for quite a while because he tries to block her from leaving. He meows at her when she gets there, climbs into her lap to make sure she has easy access for petting.

We’re hoping to plump him up and keep him healthy. He has an appointment with our local vet soon. He’s already proving to be an excellent mouser and an even better pet.

As I posted on Thanksgiving on Facebook, I’m so thankful for healing hearts, both mine and Alyssa’s.

I think Harvey is glad he’s found us. I know we are.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Social Butterfly

Seventh grade has brought quite a bit of social fluttering to Alyssa’s schedule.

Not only is she busier with school (homework every night, weekends included, band and choir performances, art projects/shows) she’s also got a lot of social invitations going around.

In the past three weeks she’s either spent the night with a friend or had a friend over to our house for a night on each weekend.

Last night, a Tuesday! she was invited to go with a friend and the friend’s mom to a Bingo game.

Because she’s doing so well in school, always gets her homework done, practices her flute without cajoling from me and/or Tom, we tend to let her do these social things as they come up.

But…Alyssa is like her mom. She’s an introvert. She loves spending time with her friends but not getting enough down time, alone time, she wears out quickly and easily.

Last night after the Bingo game, which ended around 8:00 and she got home from at 8:30, she was worn out.

She said to me, “Please don’t let me go with any friends to anything for at least two weeks.”

I hugged her close and laughed, “Even if you swear that you want to go?”

She shrugged. “I love my friends but they make me tired.”

“How about if we have a couple of friend-free weekends in a row?” I suggested.

She nodded her agreement. We do love her friends but sometimes the best things in life are best enjoyed in small doses. We are having the Porch girls over on Friday, but only for a few hours. That’s just enough to get friend time in without wearing a girl out.

Overnight events are just sometimes too much. Alyssa is not a night owl. She needs to be asleep by 10:00 each night in order to be functional the next day. Most of her friends would rather be up until 3am and then sleep until noon.

That’s not our schedule. We go to sleep early(ish) and get up early(ish). We like it that way and so going friend-free for a couple of weeks seems like a good plan.

After that, we’ll try to space it all out for her.

She has told me she appreciates that I am willing to be the ‘bad guy’ when she doesn’t really want to go to a friend’s house but doesn’t want to tell them. I will say no and she can tell her friends that her mom is mean and won’t let her do something.

I’m okay with that. That’s just one more aspect of parenting that I’m getting pretty good at, even if I have to say so myself.

I am just glad she’ll tell me these things so I can help her get her alone-time needs met even as she and her friends meet each other’s social needs.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

So Thankful

I’d like to think that I’m thankful for all my blessing, luck, whatever you want to call it, all year long but today is the day to express my thanks and so here goes.

I’m thankful that we’re all healthy.

I’m thankful that we have a home, food in our fridge, clothes on our backs and shoes on our feet.

I have a job that provides much for our family, allows us to provide the necessities with a little left over to enjoy some frivolities every so often.

I’m thankful for extended family. There is something to be said for multi-generational families. My girls get so much from being in close contact with my mom. She’s an amazing source of information and support for me and the girls just adore her so, so much. I love the love the flows from the generation before me to the generation after me. I am so lucky to get to watch their relationships grow and prosper.

I’m thankful for a supportive husband. I mean, he’s pretty amazing. As much as I might grumble or roll my eyes when he gets ‘lectury’ with me, I’m lucky to have him in my corner, on my side, at my back. I really wouldn’t want to do this alone and I do know how lucky I am that I don’t have to.

On this day, and every day, I try to focus on the good, the wonderful, the blessing, the luck that I’ve encountered, that I received each day. There’s something to be said for greeting each day with a grateful heart.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

AM Chaos

Sometimes our mornings are nice and smooth, everyone getting up right on time (or *gasp* early), everyone (the girls) eats their breakfast in a timely matter and there’s even time at the end of breakfast, after shoes are donned and teeth are brushed, for everyone to do something fun before hopping into the car or onto the bus.

This morning was not one of those easy, smooth, carefree mornings.

This morning was full of frustration, dawdling, admonitions to EAT ALREADY, scowls and annoyances. It felt chaotic, hectic, unbearable.

When I finally made my way down a little after 7:00, Tom was just about ready to throw both girls out on the snowy deck. Alyssa wouldn’t look up from her tablet long enough to eat her breakfast and Olivia wanted to ‘write’ as she ate her cereal. It’s hard to hold a pencil and a spoon at the same time unless your ambidextrous and Olivia is not. She kept asking why she had to feed herself when Tom has two perfectly good hands and could feed her so she could write while he did.

He looked up at me in exasperation.

I told Alyssa to go put the tablet away and took O’s pencil and paper away.

All that did was create grumbling from the under 13 crowd but, alas, sometimes a grumble or two have to happen when parenting occurs.

We’re a team here but there are days when one or the other needs to step in and take up the slack. We’re human, we get tired, we get frustrated, we loathe repeating ourselves and parenting is one long track of repetition.

So we fight through the chaos with the hope that tomorrow will be smoother, easier, less grumbly.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Yellow Note

I got an email from Olivia’s teacher last week. It was to tell me that Olivia was coming home with a yellow note. A yellow note is a note from your child letting you know what they did that was unacceptable at school that day.

The child writes out their infraction, they sign the note, they bring the note home so parents can sign it and then it goes back to school.

Olivia wasn’t following directions. While at the school computer with instructions to work on math facts, Olivia was instead, surfing the web, looking at dresses.

Yes. It’s true. She was looking at dresses instead of doing math.


Okay then.

How do we address this?

Obviously, we talked to her about not using school computers to look at dresses. School computers are for school work, dresses are not school work.

But damn, I had to fight the smile and the laughter over this one. I’m sorry. I really am but it was funny.

I mean, come on, who else out there would rather look at pretty dresses instead of doing math facts? Duh, all of us, right?

Of course I held it together until after Tom and I had a stern talk with Olivia, asking her if she understood what she’d done wrong, telling her that the school computers are for school work, blah blah blah.

Then, after she left the room he and I stifled laughter and had a moment of shared amused exasperation. Our youngest child is so awesome and yet so awesomely frustrating in all the best ways.

When she came to my bed at midnight on Sunday night, I groggily asked her what was wrong. She stood there for several seconds before coming up with, “I’m just so lonely in my own bed.”

I scooted over and let her climb in next to me but as I did I told her, “Okay, but tomorrow, you’re going to sleep all night in your own bed because we both sleep better when you do.”

She gave a contented sigh as she leaned into me and whispered, “Maybe you sleep better when I stay in my bed but I sleep better here.”

She’s got me there. Actually, it’s pretty obvious that this kid has me wrapped around her little, sleepy finger.

To end on a positive note, last night, she DID sleep in her bed all night long. Not a peep out of her, no cries of loneliness, no sighs of grief at not being in her bed, just deep, sweet sleep for all of us. Sometimes giving in doesn’t mean starting all over with attempting consistency.


Monday, November 23, 2015

She Shines

This girl melts my heart even as she exasperates me to the point of throwing grown up tantrums.

We had a group birthday party for Olivia, who will be nine this week, Jaxon who turned eight last week and for Sabella, who turned ten last week.

If O had been born on her due date, her birthday would have fallen right between Sabella’s and Jaxon’s. As it is, she gets to be eight a few days longer while Jaxon has already joined her in the world of eight year olds.

My mom was gracious enough to throw the birthday party at her house. It was wonderful.

We invited the Porch girls to join us along with all the family that was there. Olivia was in her element as one of the birthday girls. She got dolls and jewels and dress-up clothes. She got to play games and blow out a candle. She ate cake and laughed at jokes.

Eight has been awesome with this girl. I imagine that nine will be just as wonderful if not better. She’s growing and maturing and learning. She never stops asking questions and trying to figure out the world and her place in it.

When she’s not following me from room to room sharing her very vivid imagination, she’s wrestling with her dad, playing outside in the freshly fallen snow and bugging her sister.

Those things in the above paragraph? They’re what typical eight year old do. While we get that she’s not completely typical, we are so, so lucky that our Livie lives such a perfectly, wonderfully life just this side of ordinary.

She shines a bright light where ever she goes and I feel blessed to be able to bask in it and watch her as she changes the world to suit her.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Secret Doors

While at the mall last weekend, Alyssa’s friend purchased a book. On the way home, she was reading the book and found a quiz. Both A and S took the quiz and then they asked me the questions.

When we were done, I was declared to be a purple chair. Not sure what that means but S began reading the personality traits of a purple chair.

I didn’t actually pay that much attention to what she was saying until she mentioned my love of secret doors.

“I DO love secret doors,” I gasped. “I’ve always wanted to have secret doors and passageways all through my house.”

Everyone in the car laughed but I was actually serious.

I’ve had so many dreams involving secret doors and rooms and passageways.

I’ve imagined cutting a secret door between the closets in the girls’ room and the guest room in our house. There are other places I’ve considered putting secret doors or rooms.

It’s all just so fascinating.

I mean, imagine the zombie apocalypse. Now imagine roaming walkers and hungry people who are willing to do just about anything to take what is yours.

If we had a secret room in our house, we could hide in there, with all our supplies, until the zombies and humans finished ransacking the rest of house, finding nothing of use because, duh, it’s all in the secret room, that’s…yep, a secret!

I might have given this too much thought.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Just Sick Enough

Alyssa had a cold last week.

It was bad enough that she stayed home from school last Monday. She never stays home so this was a serious cold.

She did return to school on Tuesday but has been coughing and blowing through tissues by the box ever since. She requests cough medicine daily and needs a decongestant nightly.

Even with all this going on, Tom and I let her have a friend over on Friday night so that friend could go to the mall with us on Saturday. That was fine since I could control when they went to sleep. Okay, so I couldn’t actually make them SLEEP but I could make them turn off the light in A’s room and remind them, repeatedly that we were getting up early the next day and they needed to sleep.

Lyss’s friend mentioned the next morning that they went to sleep early the night before.

Lyss replied dryly, “For you.”

That day Alyssa seemed to feel pretty well, though she still sounded congested and coughed a few times.

Throughout the day, the girls received texts from a third friend. This friend wanted A and S to come to her house that evening. I told them that if S’s parents were okay with it, I’d drop them at T’s house and pick them up at 10 that evening. S declared that T wanted them to spend the night and her (S’s) mom was okay with that.

I told Lyssie that I didn’t want her to spend the night because, hello, still sort of sick. She told me she was cool with just going over for the evening.

All went as planned until 9:45, when Lyss texted me. “Hi, I haven’t coughed all evening. Can I stay later or spend the night?”

Ha. Nice try.

I replied, “I’m glad you’re feeling better. I’ll be there at 11.”

Again, she was pretty cool when I picked her up. I explained to her that I know what happens when she stays at either S’s or T’s house. They don’t go to sleep until at least 3am and even though she’s on the mend, she still needs more sleep than she’d get at her friend’s house.

She agreed with me that she would sleep more at home and twenty minutes after we got home, she proved me right about her needing more sleep because she was in bed and fast asleep.

I’m so lucky that she listens to me and doesn’t get mad when I put my parenting skills to work. But even if she did get mad at me, she still would have been home and maybe even in trouble. As it was, she had a little fun, got decent rest and finished a social studies project Sunday afternoon without needing a nap.

Yep, I’m putting this one down in the parenting ‘win’ category.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Hissy Fit

On Saturday we went to the mall. By we, I mean my mom, the girls and I. And by the girls, I mean Alyssa, Olivia and Alyssa’s friend S.

We stopped at Toys R Us before we went to the mall and Olivia got a cheap pink crown that came with some clip on earrings.

She wore the crown and earrings through Barnes & Noble, through the mall to the food court and all during lunch but then decided that the carousel wasn’t necessarily earring-worthy, I guess.

So she handed them to me and…I put them somewhere. I guess.

I think she handed the earrings to me as we were spinning on the tea-cup-esque feature of the carousel. She much prefers that thing to the animals that go up and down. And she wants me to ride it with her.

(Aside: We rode the carousel once and had to sit on a bench because the kid who was first in line got the spinny thing first. No big deal, we’d already purchased a second set of tickets. We waited through a run of the carousel so we could be first in line and get the spinny thing on our second ride. A sneaky little kid tried to hi-jack our turn on the spinny thing but thankfully, I’m bigger and bossier and we got their first. He tried to sneak in around my butt as I unchained the ride but I blocked him and gave him the teacher/mom look that said to back off. He muttered, “Darn it!” I replied, “Sorry dude, we were first in line and we were here first.” He stomped off and Olivia and I quite enjoyed our ride. I felt no guilt whatsoever over blocking out that kid for that ride. End Aside.)

So on Sunday, she asked me for those earrings.

I looked at her blankly.

She reminded me of the sparkly earrings she’d handed to me and informed me that I put them in my purse.

I declared that I knew which earrings she meant but I didn’t think they were in my purse.

She insisted that I’d put them in my purse.

I told her I hadn’t.

She suggested I look.

So I looked. I looked through that entire freaking purse, getting angrier and angrier with each pocket I searched. I ended up taking every single thing out of my purse, fuming the entire time, getting louder in my fuming as I tossed a bottled of ibuprofen across the kitchen table in my ire.

Olivia sat next to me calmly the entire time, watching me throw my tantrum as I continued to insist that I didn’t have her damned earrings.

Once my purse was empty, I showed her triumphantly that there were no earrings in there. Yes, I’m so very mature, thank you so much for noticing.

Then…I thought back to when she handed me the earrings. What else was I holding at the time?

Oh yeah, the Barnes & Noble bag.

I left innards from my purse on the kitchen table, found the bag from the bookstore, looked through it, retrieved the earrings, both of them, and handed them to her with a muttered apology.

Then I cleaned up the table, put my purse back together and searched out my daughter.

I hugged her and apologized for the tantrum I’d thrown.

She asked, quite sincerely, how an adult could throw a tantrum. I told her I’d pretty much shown her how it worked just a few minutes ago, hadn’t I? Then I suggested that maybe it hadn’t been so much a tantrum so much as a hissy fit.

Olivia found the phrase ‘hissy fit’ to be so hilarious that she had to tell Tom all about it when he came in. He’d been lucky enough to miss my hissy fit but I wasn’t lucky enough for him to miss hearing about it.

But get this…I didn’t dwell on it the rest of the day. I let it go. I wasn’t at my best, sure, but I hope to learn from it and maybe keep my cool a little better next time. Because we all know there will be a next time, don’t we?

Friday, November 13, 2015

Conference and IEP Amendments

It’s that time of year again. Parent/Teacher conferences happened yesterday. Wheee!!!

So much fun to be had by all.

Honestly, it was a good meeting. I always go into these conferences with a little trepidation. I mean, we all know that Miss O can be a challenge. She’s sweet and stubborn and smart and frustrating and funny and sort of anti-social all rolled into an adorable, exasperating little package.

I met with both her regular ed class teacher and her special ed teacher. They’re both wonderful women who seem to genuinely care about Olivia. If they don’t, they’re both amazing actresses and deserve Oscars for their performances.

The good: Olivia is reading at a third grade level. She comprehends what she reads, she can explain the story after reading it, she puts inflection into the narrative even when not asked to do so. She enjoys books and telling stories. Her imagination is huge and her ability to talk about what she’s thinking has improved tremendously over the past couple of years.

Socially, she’s also coming along well. While she still doesn’t talk quite as much to her peers as we’d like, she is well-liked among her classmates. There is one girl specifically who seems to watch out for Olivia and wants to help her whenever possible. This girl is the classroom shoe-tyer. She just waits for an opportunity to help Olivia by tying her shoes. I think this is sweet.

There is a boy in the class who sits next to Olivia at lunch every single day. He keeps an eye on what she’s eaten and encourages her to eat more. I don’t even know which boy this is but I adore him from afar.

She’s started sitting with her class again in the cafeteria and she’s actually still eating. She doesn’t eat as much as she was when she was sitting either alone or with just a few classmates but she is eating and we consider this a win.

The Not-So-Good: She doesn’t test well when she’s left to her own devices when testing occurs. She tests very well when her special ed teacher sits near her and keeps her on task. Mrs. A never gives O the answers, she doesn’t read the questions or the test to her, she just reminds O to take her time and really read what she’s been presented. So we’re amending O’s IEP to reflect the need for a one-to-one aide during testing.

We’re also amending the IEP to state that Olivia doesn’t have to do quite as much classwork as the rest of her classmates. She needs more time to do the work and so she’ll be given as much time as the rest of the class and be graded on what she gets finished without being penalized for the parts not finished.

This does not mean that Liv is being allowed to not learn areas of the curriculum. She still has to master all the skill, but she doesn’t have to do homework for an hour a night just to get done what a typical kid would finish in twenty minutes. I love this amendment.

She still doesn’t actually play with her peers at recess but she definitely considers having recess taken away from her to be a punishment and she will do almost anything to avoid not going outside with her peers. I find this interesting. I love that she wants to be near her peers even if she isn’t actually interacting with them. I tell myself that she’s learning from them through observation and at some point will be ready and willing to actually play with these kids.

All in all, it was a good conference. Obviously, my conferences for Olivia are always going to be different from the ones I had when Alyssa was in elementary. The biggest complaint her fourth grade teacher could come up with was to suggest that Alyssa work on her handwriting. Ha! She even laughed when she said it, very much aware of the silliness of the constructive ‘criticism’ she was giving. She admitted that she was advised to give the parents something their kids could work on.

But Olivia is trying. She’s growing and learning and continuing to improve and that’s all we can ask of her. She works hard at school and at home. Sure, she has to be reminded to stay on task but even some typical second graders need that.

The important thing is that we’re not giving up on her and she’s not giving up on herself or school. I’m so proud of this girl and how far she’s come. She’s doing so much more than most people expected of her and I just glad to be able to watch her change her world, one sparkly dress at a time.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


Anyone who knows me at all knows that I’m not really all that consistent.

I realize that is part of the reason my girls were such horrible sleepers as babies.

I’m trying hard to rectify this issue lately when it comes to Olivia sleeping in my bed.

Each night before we go to sleep I remind her that she’s going to stay in her bed that night.

She’ll nod, acting like she agrees with me and almost every night this week, she’s come to my bed around 2am, asking to climb in with me.

The lazy part of me wants to just scooch over and let her have her way.

The practical side makes me get up, walk her back to her bed, tuck her in and kiss her goodnight. When she inevitably asks why she can’t sleep with me, I gently remind her that it’s just not comfortable to sleep together in my bed. She’s poky and jabby and surprisingly good at hogging the bed. My back ends up hurting and I’m cranky the next morning because I got crap sleep the night before.

I’m learning that if I stay consistent with not letting her sleep with me, after a few nights she’ll not even bother getting out of her bed. But the first night I give in and let her snuggled up in my bed, I’m in for at least a week of walking her back to her bed and reminding her that we all sleep better when we’re in our own beds.

I’m a little slow at this mommy thing, obviously. But I think I might be getting the hang of it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Simplification: Step One

So yes, I want to simplify my life. I think I’m going to start with the mornings, since, you know, they’re the start of the day. Makes sense, right?


So mornings…are hectic. Why? First of all, because I’m not a morning person and so I roll out of bed like a turtle trying to get off its shell. Then I lumber down the hall to the bathroom where I wince as I turn on the light. If I’m lucky, I’ll get to brush my teeth and use the toilet before Olivia joins me in my bathroom where she’s plops herself down in front of the space heater and cooks her feet while I gather the things I’ll need after my shower.

But really, that’s not the most complicated part of the morning.

The most complicated part of the morning is getting Olivia to get dressed.

See, these days she’s got very strong opinions on what to wear each morning. Yesterday, for example, she changed shirts three times before she was satisfied with her ensemble.

This makes me crazy because our mornings are very scheduled because I snooze until the last minute. See the paragraph above about me not being a morning person. By the third change of clothes I’m usually hissing, “Come on Liv, it’s not like I have all flipping day.”

Yes, not my finest moments as a mother. I’m working on that one.

In an attempt to curtail all this changing of clothes, I am going to start having Olivia help me pick out her clothes for the week on Sunday afternoon. For the past five years, I’ve laid out clothes each Sunday. But I’ve never asked for her input and this year it appears she needs to have some input. I feel like getting her thoughts on the week’s clothes on Sunday. Sunday afternoons are much less stressful and scheduled than Monday mornings.

And best yet, if I have her help pick out the outfits she’ll wear each week, she’ll have only herself to blame if she hates that morning’s clothes. I know real mature, right? Who’s the parent here? I can just see myself snapping that at her some Thursday morning when she’s declaring the shirt not fancy enough and the pants annoying.

Sigh…this might not be the best plan and yet… it’s a start. We can tweak it as we go if necessary. And sure, I can maybe grow up just a little bit. Of course I can.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Happy Birthday!

So yes, Saturday was my birthday. I very much like having birthdays. I don’t even care about age. It’s just fun to celebrate and be reminded that there are people who are happy you’re in their world.

As I stared down the aging process and accepted that I’m officially in my mid-forties (44 is still early forties in my book) I realized that I want to use this year to make our lives better, simpler, less cluttered both literally and metaphorically.

I have a lot of clutter in my brain, a lot of noise that is not good noise. I need that to quiet down.

I also desperately declutter my house, my car, my desk at work. Heck, my whole life.

Case in point: I tried to make pie crust from scratch this weekend. It did not end well. Wait, okay, the pie crust that I tried to make did not end well. The pie itself ended just fine because I drove four miles to the grocery store and bought some Pillsbury ready-made pie crust and Tom, Olivia and my mom enjoyed some lovely raspberry pie that evening.

But the process of attempting to make that pie crust? It just wore me out. It was awful. And it deflated me so completely it was ridiculous. Tom couldn’t understand why the failure of the pie crust crushed me so thoroughly. He read the recipe and didn’t understand what was so hard about it. I agree with him. It reads as such a simple thing, what with the flour and the shortening and the salt. Alas, it was a huge disaster and I have vowed, much to Tom’s disgust, to never EVER try to make pie crust again.

So help me, if he buys me one of those damned pastry cutters shown in my cookbook, I will not be responsible for my actions. Seriously.

But other than the pie crust debacle, it was a lovely weekend. We had cake (well, the family had cake, I had tiny cupcakes because I hate the whipped cream frosting they prefer on cakes. Ugh!) and I had cashew chicken and hot and sour soup from our local Great Wall.

I got a book and a couple of movies. My mom covered my footstool in this lovely yellow and cream fabric that makes it look new. The girls were awesome because they just are.

My brothers both called/texted to wish me a happy day and Julie, because she’s awesome too, texted.

I have the greatest family and the best friends. I’m not sure I deserve them but I’ll hold them close anyway and continue to try and better myself in hopes of being truly worthy of them at some point.

So, word for the next year, the year of 45? Simplify. Do I want to do this? Will it make me happy? Will it enrich my life? Will it make me a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend? If yes, let’s go for it. If no? Walk away and look for the next simple thing.

Here’s to forty five years of me.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Tics and New Outlook

Our darling Olivia has had a few tics over the years. The biggest probably doesn’t even count as a tic since it can be classified as a whole issue all by itself. You know I’m talking about the hair pulling, right? Yeah, that was the biggest and she overcame that one all by herself.

This latest tic, though, is driving me crazy. She bounces and then makes this weird sound in the back of her throat. Sort of a hum crossed with a sound like she’s clearing her throat. As she makes that sound, she’ll jump maybe an inch off the ground, landing with a thump and then making the sound again.

It’s awful.

I know she can’t help it and yet I struggle to keep myself from telling her to knock it off. In fact, I sometimes lose the struggle and command, “Stop bouncing!”

Those are not my proudest moments. I’m lucky that she just ignores me, bounces one more time and then goes about her business.

I realize that she’s not bouncing AT me and yet it’s so irritating. I try so hard to remember that she’s probably not even aware that she’s doing it until I tell her to quit it.

I wish I were the type of loving, gentle mother who could just ignore the bouncing, secure in the knowledge that it, too, will stop when she’s ready to let it stop.

Instead, I can be heard from the shower telling her, “Stop bouncing. Stop it, stop it, stop it!”

And in the next breath, I’ll tell Alyssa to not yell at her sister for something she (the sister) can’t help.

Yeah, mother of the freaking year over here.

But you know what? Something Julie said recently on Facebook really resonated with me.

I shared a post about wishing my daughters could see themselves the way I see them.

Julie commented that the reverse is true, that we should try to see ourselves the way our daughters see us.

That right there…it was beautiful.

You see, I have so many faults, I get so cranky and tired and achy and irritable and my kids love me anyway. They seek me out, they want to be near me because, and I honestly believe this is true, my good moments far outweigh my bad ones. The irritation is erased by the hugs. The tiredness is blotted out by the kisses and back scratches.

The “Stop bouncing!” is eclipsed by the “I love you so much.”

They see so much good in me, so much potential to be the mom they need, the mom they deserve. I need to remember that. I need to seek out what they see and let it shine brighter than ever. I need to remember that to them, I’m the best mom in the world, because I’m theirs. I need to live up to what they see when they look at me.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

No Filter

An acquaintance of mine (shall we call her Danielle? Yes, let’s.) asked me yesterday how Alyssa is doing since Orville’s untimely death.

I replied that Alyssa is doing very well, thank you. She was very sad for about a week and then evened out. She seems to have found a place of peace about the whole thing.

I mentioned that the day after Orville died, Alyssa had two tests. She managed to get an A+ on one of the tests and only missed two for a solid A on the second one.

To my co-worker I said, “I feel like the fact that she could work around her grief to the point of getting those kinds of scores on her tests is a mark of emotional maturity.”

Danielle was nodding wisely when I added, “Either that or she’s a sociopath. You know, one or the other.”

Danielle let out a startled laugh and said, “I can’t believe you said that.”

I shrugged and she walked away. I’m aware that some might have found that comment offensive but it’s so glaringly obvious that Alyssa is not a sociopath that I thought it was funny. Perhaps I’m the one without emotional maturity. Or just no filter.

Lyssie is an awesome, smart, sweet person who works hard, has a great sense of humor and feels all the feelings deeply and truly. Hannibal Lector’s daughter, she isn’t.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Attention Seeking Little Sisters

“Why is she such a weirdo when my friends are around?” Alyssa wondered the other day as we drove to Gram’s house.

Olivia was in the backseat minding her own business, just being quiet and, dare I say, normal? Perhaps even ordinary.

“She wants your attention,” I replied. “When you’re with your friends, you’re giving them your attention and the best way Livie can think of to get your attention is to act crazy. So she does.”

“But it’s so annoying!”

“Of course it is, that’s what gets your attention.”

Olivia’s syndrome manifests itself mostly through social issues. She doesn’t really have friends at school because she won’t talk to her peers. But she does have a relationship with her sister. She interacts with Alyssa and so sees Alyssa as her friend. When Lyss’s friends are over or when we’re out and about and run into friends, Liv sees Lyssie with her friends and I think Liv is jealous that her sister is giving all that attention to someone who is not her.

I do my best to distract Olivia when Alyssa is with friends but it’s hard for all of us.

And when Olivia acts out, she really does go to extremes. She makes weird faces, she shrieks, she laughs hysterically. In the end, I can understand why Alyssa is embarrassed, even if just a little, by her sister.

I think, though, that a lot of sister relationships are like this, even sisters where there is no syndrome involved.

I finally told Alyssa, “Little sisters are annoying. They can be embarrassing but I’m sure your friends understand that her behavior is not something you can control. You’re friends are good people, they know that Livie is just silly sometimes and they think it’s funny, not something to judge you against.”

“I know,” she sulked a little. “I just wish she’d stop being weird.”

Oh Lyss, I think those words have been spoken countless times by big sisters everywhere for all time. It’s just the nature of being siblings. You deal, you get annoyed and at the end of the day, you’re grateful for your siblings. Really.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

So Normal

Last Friday Olivia’s class had a Halloween Party. It’s one of three times in the school year when parents are invited to the school to spend the afternoon with their kids.

I worked the snack table, handing out cookies for the kids to decorate and spooning frosting onto their plates.

Another mom (let’s call her Lara) joined me and helped hand out juice boxes and pretzel packs. The kids were divided into four groups of four, so we had nice small groups coming to our table every fifteen minutes or so.

Olivia’s group was the last one to make it to the snack table. While they were there, her teacher, Mrs. P came up and whispered something in O’s ear. Liv smiled and nodded. Mrs. P asked me if Olivia had thanked me. I smiled and said she had.

“That was our only goal for today,” Mrs. P said with a smile.

As Mrs. P walked away, the mom working next to me asked what that was all about.

I told her that we were working on getting O to talk while at school.

“She doesn’t talk?” Lara asked.

“Oh, she’s perfectly capable of talking,” I laughed. “She talks constantly at home but here at school, it’s more of a challenge.”

Lara replied, “I wish I’d thought of that when I was in school.”

“Well,” I said, attempting a quick education on the complexity that is Olivia. “Her not talking isn’t really a conscious choice on her part. We’re working hard to get her to talk here. She sees the speech therapist, and since she does have 5p- syndrome, a lot of her challenges are just part of her biology.”

Lara looked over at Olivia, who was happily smearing orange frosting on a sugar cookie. “She looks so normal. She’ll probably outgrow it, right?”

I wasn’t sure what she was suggesting Olivia would outgrow but replied, “We’re hoping she’ll out grow the not talking thing. That’s why we work so hard with her but since her syndrome is chromosomal, it’s kind of something she’ll have to deal with her entire life.”

Lara shook her head. “But she looks so normal. She’ll probably outgrow the syndrome thing.”

At that point, I gave up trying to educate Lara. She didn’t get it. And why should she? She’s probably never heard of Cri du Chat or 5p- Syndrome. She has no reason to understand it.

She looks at Olivia, she sees a cute little girl with a mischievous smile and pretty hair. She sees ‘normal.’

And sometimes, I’m okay with that. I don’t need to educate the whole world. I don’t even need to educate every single one of Olivia’s classmates’ moms. I decided in that moment to let that mom hold on to her ignorance, her belief that O would outgrow her chromosomal disorder. It wasn’t worth taking time from the awesome kids at the party to explain that a person’s chromosomes just don’t change as they grow. They are the same at 90 as they were at conception.

For that moment, I let Liv be a ‘normal’ kid who was a little quirky. And honestly? It felt good to just let it go at that moment. Just call me Elsa.

Monday, November 2, 2015


This year while at the conference I attend each year, I told our story quite a few times. And each time, I used the word only with air quotes.

How obnoxious are air quotes? I mean, seriously. I need to cut that crap out.

So yes, I used air quotes and talked about how Olivia spent ‘only’ eleven days in the NICU.

I used the air quotes to let people know that I knew that there is no such thing as only. Except, obviously, I still felt the need to throw that only out there anyway, thinking the air quotes negated it.

I think, no matter how much I tried to deny it, I used the word only to let everyone around me know that I didn’t think that Olivia’s eleven days in the NICU compared in any way to the days, weeks and yes, months other babies spent in the hospital.

I wanted everyone to know that I respected the fact that their children were sicker than mine. That they’re children spend more time in intensive care than mine and because of these things, obviously my pain from having O in the NICU didn’t compare to anyone else’s.

But you know what? There’s no comparison because pain is pain. There is no award given to the person who suffered the longest or the hardest. There’s just suffering.

And by acknowledging that, I’m giving up the ‘only’.

My story now reads: My daughter spend eleven days in the NICU immediately following her birth.

My full-term newborn spend eleven days in the NICU.

I went to the hospital to have a baby at 41 weeks and two days pregnant and when my baby was three hours old, she was taken from the hospital where she was born and transported via ambulance to a larger hospital with a NICU equipped to care for her. She spent the next eleven days in that NICU. I spent the first night of my daughter's life an hour's drive away from here. Beginning the very next day, I visited her every single day, dividing my time between the NICU and home, where my three year old waited, no understanding why her sister was not home with us.

No matter where I was during those eleven days, I felt like I should be somewhere else.

If I was with Olivia at the hospital, I felt like I was neglecting Alyssa at home. When I got home, within minutes, I felt like I was the worst mother ever because my baby was at the hospital, all alone.

There is no only in that story. There is pain. There is grief. There is suffering. Our entire family suffered during those eleven days we were separated from each other.

No one ever expects their newborn to spend time in the hospital. For me, having had a fairly uneventful pregnancy that ended with an induced delivery nine days after my due date, I absolutely didn’t expect my baby to end up in the NICU.

My daughter spent eleven days in the NICU immediately following her birth. It was hard. It was painful. It was unexpected and I wouldn’t wish those eleven days on anyone else.

Here we are, coming up on Olivia’s ninth birthday and I’m finally letting go of the only and embracing the trauma that we all suffered during her eleven days in the NICU. I believe that by embracing the pain, I’ll be able to let it go. By letting go of the ‘only’ I’ll be able to see that our experience was as valid, as painful, as hard as anyone else’s. It was our experience. We lived it. We were lucky to survive it. And we’re so, so lucky to be able to tell the story of it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Always Amazing Me

I know I’m supposed to think that my kids are amazing but this past week has shown me once again how sweet, how thoughtful, how simply amazing my girls are.

The loss of Orville was very hard for Alyssa. She still gets quiet and sad throughout the days and nights. But the same night we had to tell her about his death, she came down from her own grief for a minute to say, “I would have hated to have to be the one to tell me.”

Her ability to come out of own sadness for even a moment and acknowledge that her dad and I had a hard task was heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time. Her maturity in the midst of sadness is beautiful.

Olivia’s empathy as her sister sobbed was incredibly sweet. Let me remind you that Olivia is not a fan of animals and yet she cried over Orville because she was sad for her sister. She knew how heartbroken her sister was and it broke her own heart to witness that sadness.

While I’d give almost anything to go back and change last Thursday, to wait a half hour before letting Orville out of the barn or hold him tight until it was time to go to school and work, I can also acknowledge that losing him has given us all a moment to hold tight to each other.

We had a very gentle weekend, a time when we were all just together, just present. WE were all a bit more soft spoken, a little less likely to snap at each other. We understood that we were all a little shell-shocked and we remembered to make kindness a choice.

Monday, October 26, 2015


This weekend was all about distractions. We tried to find things to do to take our minds off the fact that Orville is no longer with us.

I picked up a pizza for dinner on Friday and when I got home, Tom already had the oven preheated because Alyssa had asked to go to the high school football game with her friends. We had maybe an hour before I needed to drive her into town (a whole four miles) to meet up with her friends.

It was good for her to get out and hang with good friends who care about her.

I picked her up at around 10 and she asked if she could sleep in my bed again that night. I told her I would love that and we headed up to go to sleep, holding hands and not saying much. No tears were shed but I know we were both aware of why she needed to be extra close to me.

Saturday was our usual library, lunch, grocery shopping but we also threw in a stop at Rural King (a local farm supply store) where Alyssa spend the cash her Pawp gave her for getting all As on her report card (two of those A s were A+, we’re very proud of this girl.) She got two new Schleich horses. Honestly, I was surprised there were any that she didn’t have, considering how expansive her collection is. But she did manage to find the male and foal to one of the female horses she already has. She likes to complete families. She’s sweet like that.

Then we headed to Hobby Lobby where we found a few frames for the pictures of Orville I’d printed off the day before. Just a little something to help us remember him thought right now, it feels like we will never forget.

When we got to the grocery store, my mom called me to let me know that a few of my cousins and aunts were coming to her house for the evening. One of my cousins was in town from New Mexico and was hoping to see as much of the family as possible. My grandma’s 90th birthday just happened to be that day too so it was one big celebration.

The girls and I went over that for several hours that evening, again thankful for the distraction.

On Sunday, we realized that it was the last day for our local Corn Maize (seriously, that’s how they spelled it) and Alyssa really wanted to go. I decided to indulge her. It gave us a reason to be outside, away from the house and the chance for some physical exercise. We all needed it.

We put up the cross that Tom made and I held Alyssa. She didn’t cry but she did need me to hug her for a long time. And that was okay. I will hold that girl from now until the end of time if she needs me to.

We’re facing her grief head on even as we find distractions to help her get to a point where it just doesn’t hurt quite as much. I ask her how she is, she hugs me tight and we move on.

My cousin Aaron said once, “Pets are just a future tragedy.”

He was right and yet…we’d pick Orville all over again if we could go back.

And right now, Bomber, the betta fish seems to be loving being the favorite (only) pet in the family. He pretends not to see the food Alyssa drops into his bowl so she’ll stand there and point it out to him until he deigns to eat it. Bomber is over five years old and so gross and yet I really hope he hangs in there for at least another five years. I should probably google the lifespan of betta fish just so I have that knowledge.

Well, that was depressing. Trusty old Google just told me that the average betta fish lives in captivity for three years, five if it has received good care while at the store and up to seven if very well cared for. Huh. I guess our well water is doing old Bomber some good. I hope so because I kind of need this disgusting fish to hang out with us a little longer.

Friday, October 23, 2015


We adopted Orville from our local animal shelter almost four years ago. It was a Friday; Friday the 13th to be exact. He was a beautiful black cat and I was morbidly excited to be adopting a black cat on Friday the 13th. I’m weird like that.

He was a gift for Alyssa on her ninth birthday, which was the very next day. She was so excited because he was her very first pet, if you don’t count the fish we’d had over the years, which she didn’t because, duh, you can’t pet fish.

Yesterday morning Orville was hit by a car and killed.

Tom called me at work. He’d moved Orville from the middle of the road and was preparing to bury him. He told me he was going to wait until I got to tell Alyssa. We knew she was going to be heartbroken.

Throughout the day, I’d catch myself fighting tears as I thought of my little girl finding out she’d love her beloved kitty. He could be such a brat when he ran from her but he did it because he knew she’d chase him. He loved her so much and was always ready for a snuggle and a belly rub.

Alyssa did take it very hard when we told her. She held onto me and sobbed throughout the night. She went through our computer files and found pictures of our sweet Orville. She changed the background on the computer to show him at his fluffy best. She found a picture of her holding him and made that the background on her tablet.

She loved him so much and is very sad that we’ve lost him.

As I hugged her, telling her how much I loved her and how sorry I was, I reminded her that he’d been a very well loved cat. He’d had a great life with her, always well treated, always loved. He was an excellent mouser and was probably hit as he was crossing from our yard to the neighboring field to look for mice. He didn’t suffer. There was no blood from the accident.

I don’t think this helped her so much as just having my arms around her, holding her tight and letting her feel whatever she was feeling. I think we’re going to be talking about Orville a lot in the coming days, weeks, whatever.

Olivia never really liked Orville. She’s afraid of animals, even ones as sweet as our Orbit. (We called him that sometimes…) But as she watched her sister sob Olivia’s eyes teared up and she leaned against me.

She said, “I’m sorry Lyssie’s cat is gone. I didn’t even like him but seeing her so sad it breaking my heart.”

Oh my lovey girl! I didn’t know how much Olivia would understand about Orville being dead but I’m so proud of her for understanding her sister’s sadness, her grief.

I held both my girls tight and whispered to them that I was just so sorry.

Alyssa pulled herself out of her sadness enough to ask why Liv was crying.

I told her, “She’s sad that you’re sad. But don’t worry about her. You are not responsible for her feelings. You just feel what you feel and let me worry about her.”

She nodded and leaned into me again.

As we fell asleep last night (Lyssie slept with me so we could be close) I whispered a prayer. I asked God, the Universe, anyone who was listening, to please, please, please let this be the worst, hardest thing she faces for a long, long time.

Death is a part of life. I get this. But it’s so hard to watch your child grieve.

I know that people tout losing a pet as a rite of passage. I get it. But I still hate it. I hate seeing her hurt, I hate seeing her in so much pain and not being able to fix it.

I asked her last night if, knowing she’d lose him after not quite four years, would she adopt him anyway?

“Of course I would,” she said strongly. “He was meant to be ours, even if we didn’t get to keep him as long as we wanted to.”

Wise words from my sweet twelve year old. She’s already seeing that even when we lose the thing we love, we don’t lose the love. We don’t lose the memories. We don’t lose the good that we gained from having him in our lives for those four years.

We loved Orville so much and he brought every single one of us (even Olivia, maybe) joy and happiness and comfort. He will be missed.