Wednesday, July 29, 2015


So, I saw a cardiologist today. Back in May my chest started hurting. Mostly at night when I was lying in bed, before the pull of slumber dragged me down.

I’d lay there and think about the pain, worry about what it meant, pray that I didn’t leave my twelve year old and eight year old daughters without a mother in the near future. I worried myself sick over the thought of dying in my sleep. How would either A or O every get over that?

I know kids are resilient, I know they’d have Tom and my mom and so many others to love them through my death but I still worried incessantly about it.

Finally, in June, I went to see my family doctor. He didn’t take my symptoms lightly. He immediately referred me to a cardiologist. However, I felt a sense of relief when the first they could get me in was in late July (today.) I figured if my family doctor was truly worried, he’d have found a way to get me in to the cardiologist sooner than over five weeks after my appointment with him.

So I went about my life. I had pain here and there and I was grateful every single morning when I woke to Olivia’s sweet voice or the tapping of her small hand on my face. I was grateful that I woke up and greeted her when the alternative felt almost around the corner.

Yes, I was feeling little morbid in the past few weeks.

I imagined Alyssa meeting the other girls she shared a dorm with during her freshman year and her having to say something along the lines of, “I lost my mom when I was twelve.”

I worried about how that would alter her, scar her, change her.

I worried about Olivia. Who would coddle her? Who would wake up at 2am when she called from her bed, just wanting a middle of the night kiss?

The cardiologist announced about three questions into our conversation that he could say with 99% certainty that my symptoms had nothing do with my heart.

We continued our conversation a bit longer before he told me that what I probably suffer from is GERD. Basically heartburn. He wants me to take an antacid such as Previcid daily for six weeks and then go see him to confirm that my symptoms have disappeared.

Can I tell you how relieved I am? Can you, dear reader, imagine my sigh as I exhaled the last few months’ worth of stress? I’d hoped this was the case but honestly, I was willing to pay the deductible to have someone with an advanced degree in medicine to confirm it.

I was told that the labs I’d had done a month ago to check my cholesterol and glucose. He went on to say that my cholesterol is excellent. My glucose is just this side of being high (113 when normal is supposed to be below 109) so we’re going to watch that and the remedy to that is to lose weight. Yeah, duh, right?

Because he’s thorough, the doctor went through the rest of his questions and after I’d answered them all, he finished with, “So, basically, you’re a healthy, happy woman.”

Yes, please, I’m so very happy with that diagnosis.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Her Mini-Me

Alyssa hurt her foot last Friday before I got home from work. She twisted it as she was going down the stairs in our garage. It’s bruised and was swollen most of the weekend. She iced it and used a spare crutch we’ve had around the house for years, using bacon duct tape to attach a wash cloth to protect her armpit.

Yeah, so she’s limping and probably kind of milking it, because, who wouldn’t, right?

Olivia, on the other hand, is in excellent health and as such, is feeling a little neglected as Mom and Dad go about getting things for Alyssa, asking her how she’s feeling, helping her up, etc.

So Olivia started limping on Saturday. Of course, she first asked Alyssa which foot she’d hurt (the right) so that Olivia could ‘hurt’ the same one.

Of course this irritated Alyssa, as she asserted, “Make her stop that! I’m the one who is actually in pain.”

I tried not to laugh because, well, honestly how was it making Alyssa’s ‘actual’ pain more intense when her sister limped around the house?

What pained Alyssa the most was that she had to stay home with Tom on Saturday, the day we (this week, ‘we’ was Olivia and me) go to the library, lunch and the grocery store. Alyssa couldn’t be expected to limp/crutch her way through The Walmarts, so she was stationed on the recliner with the remote, her tablet and a book. Poor kid.

Honestly, though, her foot does look like it much hurt like a bitch. But each day the limp has lessened and the swelling has come down and soon the bruise will start to yellow and all will be well.

As Tom said, “At least it happened during the summer rather than while school was in session.”

Because, yeah, she’d be crutching it to school if she had to. I’ll give it to her, A’s not one to miss school if she can help it. She may have been switched at birth.

Friday, July 24, 2015


This is a public service announcement to all those kindergarteners out there who are wondering why the hell they need to master using scissors. (Because there are so many kindergarteners out there reading mommy blogs, right?) I mean, why scissors? Why do little tiny hands have to figure out how to use scissors and cut a straight line?

When will we ever use this skill in real life?

Well, I’m here to testify that in real life, at a place called WORK, where they pay you to show up and do stuff, you just might have to cut with scissors. How do I know this? Because this week, all freaking week long, I’ve had to cut strips of paper. The paper cutter wouldn’t get close enough or straight enough for me to use it consistently so scissors it was.

I cut and cut and cut some more, using those fine motor skills I mastered way back in kindergarten.

So keep up the practice, kids. It just might be necessary for your job. Even if you do have a college degree, which, as it happens, I do have. And yet I’ve spend almost 40 hours this past week cutting…with scissors.

Now, algebra? I’m not so sure where that is ever going to be needed in real life.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


“Did you always cry this?” Alyssa asked me last night.

We were watching a new show on Fox called Home Free. It’s a group of couples competing to win a house. Each week, the group renovates a house for a deserving family. What the couples don’t know is that the houses they’re renovating are actually going to be theirs. Each week, the couple that is sent home is taken inside the newly renovated house and told that this house is theirs.

It’s sweet.

One of the couples is actually a pair of sisters who are competing for a house to give to their parents.

When this was announced, I teared up and said, “That’s so sweet.”

Then there was the commercial last week where a little boy who missed his dad who was deployed overseas kept writing him letters, folding them into paper airplanes and throwing them over the fence.

The older gentleman next door gathered all the paper airplane letters, boxed them up and sent them to the little boy’s dad. The boy’s dad in turn sent a bunch of letters back to the neighbor, who folded them into airplanes and threw them over the fence to the boy. Oh, the tears that flow during that one, even during subsequent viewings.

My answer to Alyssa was that no, I haven’t always been this big of a sap. Commercials haven’t always been able to reduce me to a sobbing mess. I haven’t always sat in movie theaters fighting tears while an imaginary friend calls out, “Take her to the moon for me.” Ohhh, Bing Bong.

“When did you get this way?” she wanted to know.

I thought about it. I realized that having kids has brought my sappiness to the surface. I feel more strongly now, the sadness kids might feel when they miss a parent. I feel the ache of growing old and perhaps becoming obsolete.

I tear up in joy when something is just sweeter than I can take, something so selfless as two twenty-something girls working so hard to give their parents a home.

My girls have shown me so much joy, provided me with so much to fear and have made me grateful for every single day that I get to wake up and be with them even one more time.

If that makes me big ol’ sap…so be it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I Smell Like a Basset Hound

Alyssa spent the night with a friend on Monday night. She was invited Monday morning, Tom let her go to the friend’s house for the day with instructions to call home at 5:00 to see if I was willing to let her spend the night.

Duh. Unless she doesn’t want to spend the night with someone, I’m usually pretty okay with her staying over at her friends’ houses. I know most of her friends’ parents and we all seem to like each other. At least we like each other’s kids, which is nice.

So when I got home yesterday evening, she met me at the door.

“I haven’t seen in since Sunday night!” she exclaimed, engulfing me in a hug.

I love this girl so much. She’s seriously just so awesome.

I hugged her back and said with a smile, “Well, if you weren’t so popular with your friends you might be home more.”

“You left before we woke up yesterday,” she accused.

“I know,” I replied. “Livie cried buckets of tears over that one. But we made up last night while you were gone.”

She rolled her eyes and said, “I smell like a basset hound.”

I sniffed her, not really noting an hint of dog and told her, “Well, it has been since Thursday since you last showered. Unless you count swimming in the lake on Sunday.”

She groaned. “I’m gross.”

I laughed and hugged her again, ignoring her vague scent of lake and dog.

“I think I slept on do hair last night,” she told me as I started dinner. “S’s dog slept on my feet, so I had dog hair under me and a dog on me.”

“Dogs like you,” I suggested.

“Yeah, but I’m ready to not smell like them,” she declared. “I’m going to take a shower.”

It was really good to have her home.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Why I'm Not Actually a Terrible, Horrible, No-Good Aunt

Okay, so every single time Jaxon is at my mom’s house and we show up, the very first thing he asks me is if the girls can spend the night with him at Gram’s.

Now, I always answer in the negative because I know my mom doesn’t actually want them all there over overnight. She doesn’t have the sleeping space for them, they’re a lot of work and honestly, the girls would rather just go home with me anyway.

So I knew what was coming when we showed up last Monday evening. My mom was cleaning her car, Jaxon was there because he was going with us all the next day and there was still much packing to do in both my house and my mom’s house. The minute I stepped foot in her house, Jax was asking, “Hey, Tommie, can the girls spend the night?”

I told him we still had some packing to do and for him to enjoy the girls while we were there and that we’d all be together for the next three days.

He walked around the house muttering, “I wish they could spend the night.”

Then he started crying, “They never get to spend the night when I’m here.”

I managed to not laugh when I told him, “Buddy, they don’t spend the night when you’re NOT here.”

He didn’t appreciate my humor, not one little bit.

As the girls and I got ready to leave, the tears started flowing. He wandered out to my mom’s front yard, where a swing hands from an enormous maple tree. He sat forlornly on the swing as I buckled Olivia into the car.

I glanced over at him and said to Alyssa, “If he’d asked to come to our house, I’d have said yes.”

And it hit me. I was being a jerk. If I’d have said yes to him if he’d asked to come to our house, why wasn’t I just inviting the poor kid?

So I went out to the tree swing and asked, “Buddy, the girls can’t stay here but would you like to come to our house for the night?”

The tears stopped instantly and he leapt from the swing to run in and tell Gram that he was going with us.

My mom gathered the few things he’d need for the night and thanked me for taking him. I told her I kind of figured it would actually be easier for me to have him at my house where he and Liv would entertain each other than it would be for her to try and soothe his hurt feelings even as she packed for the coming trip.

So see…I was a nice aunt on Monday but by Thursday, I was tired and ready to be back down to just two kids. And that kid…he’s great but he can take a lot of mental energy, what with the talking and the talking and the talking and the demand for near constant interaction and did I mention the talking? Whew.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Summer Vacation

“Can we do this every year?” Alyssa asked as she and I fast walked through the crowds at Cedar Point last Wednesday.

I laughed at her and said, “Well, since this is our fourth year in a row coming here, I guess you could say we DO do this every year.”

We had a great time even though it was VERY chilly on the Ferris Wheel as we looked out over a very choppy Lake Erie.

Rest assured, though, that about fifteen minutes after that very Ferris Wheel ride, Olivia informed me that she was ready to change into shorts and just a couple of hours later, Olivia and Jaxon were frolicking in the new kiddie pool at the Hotel Breakers, the hotel right on the beach by Cedar Point, where we stayed a couple of nights to enjoy the park, the beach and yes, the pools.

When we left Sandusky on Thursday instead of driving west toward home, we headed east, toward Vermillion, which is where my mom spent several years of her childhood. She hadn’t been back in many years and wanted to show us the neighborhood where she and her eight (living at home at the time) sibilngs spent so many years of their lives.

The lake is so beautiful from the Vermillion shore. The neighborhood was older, the houses were on the small side. I’m trying to imagine fitting a family of eleven in one of those houses and it seems like it would be a tight squeeze.

It was so nice to listen to my mom reminisce about her days there on the beach, the time she spend with her sisters and caring for her brothers. They had some tough times but my mom has never been bitter or hardened by those times.

The kids were pretty great on the drive to Sandusky and from Vermillion. It only got rough about a half hour from home when they started getting loud and crazy.

Of course, like many vacations, this one had to end in tears. Not mine, or the girls. Poor little Jax wasn’t ready for the fun to end.

Even with the warning from his Gram just twenty minutes before, “Jaxon, I’m telling you right now that you are not going to spend the night at Tommie’s house with the girls tonight. Everyone is too tired for company.”

He quickly surveyed us, “Tommie are you really too tired for company?”

“Yup,” I muttered, already trying to plan the evening of unpacking and laundry and dinner, ugh, yes we got home just in time for me to have to make dinner, yuck!

“Lyssie, are you too tired for company?”

“Ahh, yeah!” she quickly told him. She'd been his go-to person for the last few days, she was way too tired for the company of a seven year old boy.

“Livie, are you too tired for company?”

Olivia just grinned at him and squealed, but then she doesn’t actually have to do any work when we have company, so her vote didn’t count.

As we unpacked our crap from my mom’s car, Jaxon wandered around the driveway, making his way toward Tom on several occasions, to mutter, “I wish I could spend the night.”

Tom ignored him like a champ and my mom ordered J into the car.

The tears flowed. That boy can cry at the drop of a hat. He got that ability from my brother. It’s impressive how quickly and easily the tears flow.

Sadly for this poor kid, we’re all hard-hearted enough not to be affected by a few crocodile tears or the wails of an exhausted seven-year-old as he drives away with his gram.

And that is what we did on our summer vacation.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Preparing to Pack for Vacation

I had to wake the girls up this morning so I could drop them off at my mom’s on my way to work.

Why is it on the days when they don’t have to go anywhere, these two wake up at 6 and on the days when I need them up so we can leave by 7:15, I have to go WAKE them up at 7. Why? Weirdos.

Anyway, after I went in and made some noise in their room, turned off a fan and finally said aloud to the sleeping lumps, “Anyone who wants to go to Gram’s needs to get up now or spend the day lamenting with Daddy.”

Olivia bounced out of bed and scampered down the hall to my bathroom where she found a shirt I’d laid out for her to put on for the trip to Gram’s because, yes, I may let you sleep in just your pajama pants because ‘it’s soooo hot because I’ve been running around the house like a maniac before bed’ but you must wear a shirt in the car on the trip to Gram’s. It’s just the rule.

She told me she was glad I’d picked that shirt because it says Cedar Point on it and we’re going to Cedar Point in just a few days and can we please take that shirt for her to wear to sleep while we’re at the hotel at Cedar Point?

Yes, Olivia wakes up with energy and enthusiasm to spare. She starts talking before her eyes are open, as if we’re mid conversation. It’s weird and cute and sometimes annoying because I’m not like that in the morning. I kind of need about an hour to myself just to wake up fully and get all the fuzz out of my brain.

But since at that point I HAD been awake for an hour, I could reply with equal enthusiasm, “Sure, we’ll pack that on Monday for you to wear while we’re at Cedar Point. We’ll wash it this weekend and pack it up in your very own suitcase.”

She then started in on all the things she wanted to be sure I packed. She wanted to take a couple of Barbies, some Pringles, her tablet and don’t forget the charger and maybe a pair of shoes.

I told her to remember those things, especially the shoes, because she was going to get to ‘help’ me pack her bag and it was up to her to remember all that she wants to take. (Never fear, I will ensure that there are shoes in the bag AND on her feet when we leave for Cedar Point on Tuesday.)

This girl. Her enthusiasm is contagious. Her zest for life and her energy are boundless. I am so lucky to get to be on this journey with her.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

First Swim of the Season

So yes, this summer has been a cold(ish) rainy one. There had been very little swimming in our lives until the weekend of the Fourth of July, which, as posted earlier this week, was spent in Battle Creek, Michigan with my mom, my grandma and several of my mom’s siblings. My aunt is lucky enough to live on a lake and so, because there was no way on this beautiful earth that we were keeping Olivia out of that water, we took swimsuits, bug spray and sun screen and let the girls have at it.

The water was cold, by the way. I did not take a suit as I knew it would be cold and besides the temperature, I’m not a big fan of swimming in lakes. Pools? Awesome, I’m so there. Lakes? They’re mucky and dirty and fishy and yuck.

But the girls love it.

My aunt’s house is a quick walk to the public access beach which two docks, a raft and a lovely playground. It also has a few benches for weary moms (and dads if they happen to take their kids swimming, it does happen you know) to sit and relax while their children run, jump, swim, climb and run again, over and over and over.

Now that they’ve braved the cold of a Michigan lake in July, there is no keeping the girls out of our local community pool or the local lakes. They’re already clamoring to go swimming again.

Good thing we’re heading to Cedar Point and the glorious, filthy Lake Eerie next week. There will be swimming galore.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Sleep - Eight (Twelve?) Years In

Anyone who had read any part of either of my blogs for any amount of time know that I’ve spent more time and words complaining about sleep than any person really has a right to do.

To be blunt, I’ve been sleep deprived for, oh about twelve years. I know! And yes, it sucks.

But it’s probably my fault that my children weren’t better sleepers as babies and toddlers. I’ll admit that I never ‘sleep trained’ them. I never made them cry it out. I never put them to bed awake and walked away. I never ignored them in the middle of the night.

And yes, gasp, I co-slept with both of them.

But in the past, oh six months or so, something has shifted and everyone is finally, FINALLY, sleeping in their own beds. And most of the time, everyone is sleeping all night long.

Sure, a couple of times a week, Olivia will either call to me from her bed or come find me because she woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep without a kiss and perhaps a back scratch at three a.m. But the majority of nights find us all going to our own beds, falling asleep all by ourselves and waking up the next morning with nary a peep in the night.

And let me tell you…it is a beautiful thing.

Another beautiful thing? Olivia ASKS to go to bed these days. When she’s tired she doesn’t just want to sit on the couch with her head in my lap and my hand scratching her back/arm/thumb web, instead she wants to go up to her room, get into her bed and go to sleep with no help from me whatsoever.

Can you even imagine?

I am here to assure those who are in the throes of sleep struggles that it gets better. Sure, it might take over eight years but it does get better.

What do you mean, that doesn’t make you feel better? I just said that it gets better. Maybe not tomorrow, or next month or even in two or three years but someday everyone will sleep all night long in their own beds.

And get this, if you’re a lazy parent like I am? These things will happen all by themselves with not intervention needed from you. Just be patient and know that at some point, perhaps when your kids are twelve and eight, they won’t be waking you up two or three times a night every night.

Yeah, I don’t think I’m helping anyone, am I?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Chore of Making Kids Do Chores

When I got home yesterday Alyssa informed me that she did nothing all day. Nothing. At all.

She didn’t necessarily say this in a gloating manner. Her tone was more matter of fact.

Later I saw a basket full of folded towels and asked her if she’d folded them.

She reminded me, “I didn’t fold them. Dad must have. Remember? I did nothing today.”

Huh. Okay then.

Later that evening I thought back to when I was twelve. My seven year old brother and I were home pretty much alone most days while my mom worked. I had several aunts who lived mere blocks from our house and my grandma was nearby as well but Jason and I were basically on our own from about 6am until 3ish pm.

On those days, we watched a lot of television, we played outside a lot and about an hour before our mom was due home, I made a list of things the seven year old (!) needed to do and I did a bunch of other things, including washing our breakfast and lunch dishes, hanging wet laundry on the line, vacuuming the living room, picking up miscellaneous toys throughout the house, folding whatever laundry might have dried during the day and come in off the line.

I remember feeling so great about my mom coming in and finding the house tidy.

I wonder if I’m doing a disservice to Alyssa by not giving her a list of things she needs to do every day. I don’t think she has a clue about what Tom and I do around the house daily to keep it from turning into a chaotic mess. *ahem, my brother’s house coughcough*

She’s twelve, which means she’s perfectly capable of running the vacuum cleaner of the carpets every other day. She could sweep the kitchen/dining area floor, wash her breakfast and lunch dishes and even fold a load of laundry.

Okay, to give her credit, she does feed Bomber the fish every day as well as brush Orville. She also feeds Orville and scoops his poop out of his litter box daily. But that’s it. And those things have had to be drilled into her.

I really don’t want her to be the girl who gets to college and has no idea how to run a washing machine. Or who doesn’t recognize when it’s time to pick the crap covering the floor of her room. So, yes, I have some parenting to do in the next few years. Sigh.

See, that’s part of my problem. It’s easier to do things myself than nag my child(ren) to do them. It’s sort of like cooking. I have totally neglected to teach my kids to do pretty much anything in the kitchen because it’s more work to let them ‘help’ than it is to just do it myself.

But this isn’t about me. It’s about them, teaching them skills that will move them forward in life and in giving them the chance to feel a sense of accomplishment.

So yes, I’m going to get my butt in gear and start parenting those girls! Really, I am.

Monday, July 6, 2015


This year was no the first year Olivia attended festivities that ended with fireworks lighting up the sky.

It was, however, the first year she got to lay on a mattress with her sister, looking up at the sky as fireworks lit it up only to be reflected on the lake that lay all of four feet from where O’s (and A’s) mattress lay.

It was also the first year that Olivia fully appreciated the beauty, the majesty, the GLORY of the fireworks.

We went to Michigan with my mom to visit with my aunt and Grandma. While there, we were lucky enough to be able to watch the fireworks shows (yes, plural) that were put on by my aunt’s neighbors.

Olivia and Alyssa were given a mattress upon which they sprawled, gazing up at the sky as it darkened enough for the fireworks to begin.

For the first hour, Olivia oooohed and aaaaaahhhhed over the beauty of the lights in the sky. She exclaimed that they were so pretty, so beautiful.

Finally, she ran out of exclamations and declared that it was all just so glorious.

My mom and I shared grins over O’s head, loving her excitement even more than the fireworks, which were, in fact, pretty awesome. There were three different residences setting off fireworks and so at some points, we didn’t even know where to look from our point on my aunt’s deck.

Olivia might still be about five or six emotionally but you know what? She keeps growing, she keeps maturing, she keeps the wonder and beauty of childhood alive for all of us.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Know how I know that Olivia enjoyed the movie Inside Out? She only had to pee twice during the movie. I know!! She had to go the bathroom six times during Cinderella. SIX!!!

So two times during a movie is definitely proof that she actually enjoyed the movie.

And since the movie, she’s watched more Youtube videos of kids doing their makeup like the characters in the movie than I care to count.

She’s especially enamored with Disgust. We found a plush Disgust doll at Walmart last week and O’s slept with it all week. That doll goes everywhere with Olivia. She’s decided she’s going to be Disgust for Halloween this year. It should be a fairly easy costume actually. We already have green eyeliner and mascara, my mom is a whiz with a sewing machine and I can get green hairspray.

This morning O asked told me to go to Walmart and get her the Disgust doll that talks. She said that while the doll she already has is great for sleeping, it’s not as much fun to play with as one that talks would be. Ha. Hahahaha. She’s so funny to think that she issues the orders.

Alas, I did actually get the talking doll today but only because it was the LAST one on the shelf. I’m not going to actually give it to her until some other day when a present is in order. Girlfriend needs to learn that I don’t always jump when she issues an order.

Orders kind of disgust me actually.