Wednesday, September 30, 2015

But Seriously

Alyssa asked me last night if I take myself too seriously.

Ha. Hahahahaha. Oh, how I laughed.

Then, when I got myself back under control, I asked her who sat at the computer desk mere hours before caterwauling about being rubbed the right way?

Yes, I was singing a Christina Aguilera song. But I’d taken the sexual connotation out of it. My neck hurt and I just wanted someone, ANYONE, to rub it and make it feel a little better. Heck, even Liv’s weak little hands helped a little when she deigned to come up to me and nudge my neck with the back of her hand for three seconds.

By the time we sat down to dinner, everyone, including me was tired of my whining. I sat at the end of the table with my face in my hands, looking miserable and quite possibly insane. Alyssa asked, “What is wrong with you?”

Tom, from across the room, said, “She’s having a meltdown.”

Which, yes. I believe I was. And yet I was aware of how ridiculous it all was even in the middle of my meltdown. I managed to pull myself together enough to finish dinner and even do the dishes. But damn, I really wish someone in my family would take my requests for a neck rub seriously. I supposed if I were to just ask, you know, in a normal sort of voice, instead of wailing for all the world to hear, they might actually listen and react appropriately.

But back to Lyss’s question…no, I don’t think, most of the time, I take myself too seriously.

Where did this question come from, you ask? Why, let me tell you!

A few weeks ago she asked why I let her watch Z Nation, a zombie show that airs on the Sci-Fi network, but I won’t let her watch The Walking Dead or Fear the Walking Dead.

I tried to explain to her that I let her watch Z Nation because it’s a show that doesn’t take itself seriously. I mean, come on, it’s a show that has glow in the dark zombies, for Pete Sakes. And there’s a dude in trapped in the arctic circle with only a dog for a companion who talks to the survivors via police radio and other cobbled together devices. It’s all kinds of awesome.

On the other hand, the Walking Dead shows take themselves WAY too seriously, which is why they’re scarier and less likely to be approved by this mom for her twelve-year-old to watch. There is so much more psychological horror on those shows than zombie issues.

But I admit to enjoying all the shows mentioned above. I get a laugh out of Z Nation and I get delicious chills of terror from the Walking Dead shows. It’s sort of like Hannibal. That show was gruesome and so very serious and yet beautiful and artistic. It took itself way too seriously and it was awesome.

So okay, there may be times when I take myself too seriously (last Friday’s post about suffocating on monotony? Yes, a bit too serious.) but I’d like to think that I also make fun of myself on a regular basis, even in the middle of melting down. I mean, come on, anyone who sits around warbling about being a genie in a bottle can’t be taking themselves too seriously, right? Right.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

When It Rains the Bees Sting

Olivia was out of school three days last week with Strep. She was diagnosed on Monday evening at Urgent Care, sent off with me to get a prescription for an antibiotic and then home to spend Tuesday through Thursday on the couch with her dad.

We sent her to school on Friday with soft foods in her lunch because this bout of strep messed up her poor mouth. She had a sore under her tongue, another on the upper left inside of her cheek; her gums were raw but never quite bloody. It was awful.

I had her rinse her mouth every evening with a mix of peroxide and Benadryl (a suggestion from the Urgent Care doctor) and then with salt water (a suggestion from Liv’s Gram.)

As of yesterday, the sores were mostly healed, thank goodness. Because, ugh! Mouth sores are gross. Oh, and they make it hard to eat because, yes, sores. She’s eating much better these days and not just cream of chicken soup and applesauce, so there’s that.

So I was happy as I went home last night thinking that I’d be greeted by a couple of happy, healthy girls.

Instead, as I pulled into the driveway, I found a sobbing Olivia. She was crying because she’d run from the barn to the garage to meet me and Orville, that silly cat, had run with her and he terrifies her. She was so upset at his mere presence that I had to hold her for ten minutes just to calm her pounding heart.

Once she’d settled a bit, she told me she’d been stung by a bee that day while at recess.

This is the second time this year she’s been stung during recess at school.

I would REALLY like it if the school would do something about the bees, obviously.

I mean, come on! We just got this kid over freaking strep throat and she comes home with a bee sting.

I put some baking soda on her hand, gave her a dose of Benadryl and we went about our evening.

This morning when she woke up, Olivia showed me her hand. It was swollen, red and hot. Yikes! We put some Benadryl cream on it and then I gave her some more Benadryl liquid in hopes of counteracting her reaction to the sting.

I also sent her teacher a note, letting her know that O’s hand was swollen from the bee sting (THAT SHE RECEIVED AT SCHOOL!) and she’d probably have trouble writing that day.

Sigh. My poor baby can’t seem to catch a break. First strep, then bees and finally, a terrifying encounter with Orville. She needs to be swaddled in bubble wrap and put on a high shelf where she’s out of danger of infection, bees and cats.

Monday, September 28, 2015

My Face Lies

There must have been something about my face last weekend that said, “Talk to me, I care!”

Because of this apparent sign on my forehead, the women manning the drive thru windows at our local Wendy’s chose to vent their troubles to me in the fifteen seconds I had to spend with each of them.

We’d stopped at Wendy’s because the girls wanted Frosties. I get them as we’re heading to the grocery store and they eat them while we shop.

When I first pulled up to the speaker at the drive thru, the voice said, “One moment please.”

Okay, no biggie. We waited. The voice came back and tried to interest us in a combo. I replied, “No thank you, we’d just like two small vanilla Frosties, please.”

She told me the total and asked me to drive up to the first window.

I did just that. When I got there, the woman inside the window hissed, “I have to take the orders AND the money today!”

“Oh,” I said, startled by the venom in her voice. “I’m sorry you’re having a tough day.”

“Yeah,” she went on. “It’s a bunch of shit! I don’t get to leave until five this afternoon. I was supposed to come in at ten but we had a morning meeting at nine thirty and so I’ve been here since seven thirty. And I haven’t even had a break.”

Okay then. Since I didn’t have any change coming, I put the car in gear and said, “Well, I hope your day gets better.”

Then I turned to Alyssa, who was in the front passenger seat and rolled my eyes.

We pulled up to the second window to get the Frosties. At that point, the woman in charge of giving out the food handed the Frosties out to me. She was slightly out of breath.

“Sorry!” she said as she gave me a couple of spoons. “I had to walk all the way over to the Frosty machine to get these for you.”

“Thank you!” I called out and then we drove away before she could tell me anything else.

Alyssa laughed. “What is it, like ten feet from the window to the Frosty machine?”

“I know!” I said, laughing too. “What was wrong with those women? And does my face say, ‘Talk to me, I care?’ Because if it does, my face LIES!”

This caused Alyssa to fall into a fit of laughter that almost made her drop her Frosty.

I’m all for caring about our fellow (wo)man but damn, those ladies needed an intervention. Or maybe a vacation.

Friday, September 25, 2015


I feel like I’ve settled into a sort of monotony that is overwhelming me.

Every single day feels exactly like the day before. I get up, go to work, come home, do the home work and go to bed. Repeat ad nauseum.

There is so much I need to do around the house but it doesn’t get done because I’m either tired or the girls need attention or I just don’t want to do anything that is on the to-do list.

The to-do list is so overwhelming that I just don’t even think about it most of the time. Which is obviously part of the problem. The longer I don’t do anything, the longer the list gets and it’s all a vicious cycle.

I need something. Something to motivate me to break out of this monotony, this feeling of suffocating every single day.

See, part of my problem is that I know I have nothing to complain about. My kids are awesome. They make every single day worth waking up. The stories they tell me, the love I feel for them when I glance across the room or down into my lap if one of them is laying on me is so enormous. I am filled with gratitude that they’re mine, that I get to be their mother.

It’s not them. It’s me. I’m at this weird place where I don’t know what to do next. Where am I going? What am I doing? How am I changing even my own little corner of the world? How can I make every single day feel a little less ordinary, a little more exciting, a little more productive?

I’ll figure it out. I always do. I just…I guess I just need to keep breathing until the answer comes.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

High School Football...How I Loathe Thee

My high school was so small that when I was a freshman, the administration realized we simply didn’t have enough boys to go out for the football team. So they cancelled football. Yay? Well, yes, yay for me because I was in the band and that meant that when we had a football team, we had to play during the game.

So I only had to deal with one year of high school football before they did away with that particular torgure at my high school.

Alas, even though Alyssa’s school is almost as small as mine was, they grow those farm boys bigger and more aggressive twenty miles to the east of where I grew up. So yes, Lyss’s school has a football team.

Last weekend, the junior high band was invited to play with the high school band during the halftime of the football game.

Alyssa was excited for so many things. Of course she was excited to play with the high school band but she was also excited to spend an evening with her friends in the bleachers, to go to an actual football game. She’d never attended one before, because, duh, I didn’t want to go and Tom’s not a big fan of watching a game where he knows exactly no one on the team.

So seventh grade was the first year she attended a high school football game.

I drove her to the school at 5:00 because that’s when the band had to be there. I then went home, made dinner for Olivia, napped for fifteen minutes, because, um, I could. And then at 6:15, I headed back to the school.

See, I wanted to be there to watch Alyssa and the band play. Of course I did. My first born was playing in the marching band. It was a big deal. At least to me.

But this meant I had to endure the first half of the stinking football game before she’d take the field with her trusty flute.

I stood to the side of the bleachers and pretended to watch the game occasionally but mostly, I tried to stay out of the way of people who were obviously there to actually watch the game. It was so boring. It was also loud and the first half seemed to last for freaking ever.

With about five minutes left in the game, the elementary school secretary walked up to me. See, her mom and my mom are neighbors and they used to commute to work together before they both retired. So we have a vague connection outside of school. Let’s call her Mrs. A since her last name actually starts with an A. I’m clever like that, you know.

Mrs. A found me standing in my stupor of boredom and asked me, “Please tell me I’m not the only one who loathes things like this.”

It was as if I were Anne Shirley and had just caught of glimpse of Diana Berry across the lawn at the garden party. Mrs. A and I were instant bosom friends as we bonded of just how awful football is.

Actually, we bonded over how much we both hate almost every organized sport.

She was there for the same reason I was, her daughter is in the junior high band and yay, they were both playing that night.

The five minutes left in the first half took at least twenty minutes to pass and finally…FINALLY, the band took the field. We laughed over how H, Mrs. A’s daughter is probably smaller than the instrument she was playing and how flipping loud the piccolo was. We marveled over the dedication shown by the football players and cheerleaders who were also in the band. It was cool to see kids who didn’t choose between activities. Those kids were showing everyone that you can do it all if you want.

I didn’t want, though. I wanted to go home.

But, because I’m an awesome mom (in my head, please don’t burst my bubble) when they were all done and we’d told the kids how awesome they were, I asked Lyss if she wanted to stay and hang out with her friends or if she was ready to go home.

Bless her, she said, “Ugh, let’s go home. Football is so boring!”

That’s my girl.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Called It

Sunday afternoon, Olivia complained that her shoulders hurt. Later that evening, as she was eating her oatmeal, she told me the raisins the in the oatmeal were hurting her teeth.

I gave her a dose of ibuprofen before bed to stave off the aches and hoped for the best.

The next morning when I woke her up, she told me that her knees hurt. I kissed her forehead and noted no unusual warmth but still took her down to the kitchen to take her temperature. The thermometer stopped at a cool 98.1. Still, I gave her another dose of ibuprofen because of her achiness.

I then told Tom, “I’m calling it, she’s presick.”

He quoted the thermometer and basically told me I was worrying over nothing, that she probably hurt from playing too hard yesterday.

I replied, “Okay, but I’m still saying she’ll be sick by tomorrow at the latest.”

He didn’t roll his eyes but he might as well have.

We all went about our morning routines.

I kept my phone with me all day at work anticipating a call from the school asked that someone go pick up a sick Liv. That call didn’t come and so I went home at the usual time.

The second I walked in the door, I heard Tom and Livie in the living room. I couldn’t understand their mutterings so I went to find them. They were both cuddled under blankets and Tom looked up at me and said, “I think you’re going to want to take her to Urgent Care.”

He’d taken her temperature twenty minutes before I got home. It was 102.5 degrees. Firmly in the fever category. Firmly in the SICK category, if you will. And why yes, I will, thank you very much.

So I carried a sick Liv to the car, calling up to Alyssa that I was taking her sister to Urgent Care. She called back, asking if I would drop her off at Gram’s on the way. Tom started to tell her no when I asked, “Why not?” I mean, it’s on the way and really not a big deal.

And away we went.

We spent over an hour in the outer waiting room at Urgent Care. At one point, the only other people waiting was a mom and her two boys along with me and Olivia. The mom and her ruffigans had come in after we did but were called back first.

At that point, I did something I hardly ever do. I spoke up. I got up and asked the receptionist if it was weird that another patient had been called back before we had when we’d arrived first. She looked confused then went and checked the charts. She came back and reassured me, “You’re next!”

“Yeah,” I said, “That’s because we’re the last ones waiting.”

Snarky? Maybe, but damn it, I wondered if the mom with the two boys had been called back because her kids were being way more obnoxious than my kid.

The receptionist then tried to explain, “Well, sometimes it just depends on what you’re been seen for.”


We were finally called back, O was promptly diagnosed with strep and off we went to Walmart with a prescription for amoxicillin.

On the way to Walmart, though, we made a couple of stops. See, even with the strep and the achiness that goes along with it, Olivia was starving. During our endless wait at Urgent Care she asked constantly to stop at McD’s for a happy meal and then at Wendy’s for a frosty.

The kid has strep, who was I to tell her no? Okay, so yes, I could have but I figured she could eat while we waited for her medicine to be ready.

We got to Walmart, I parked near a cart return and I put the blanket we keep in the car down so she could sit in the back of the cart and eat her burger, fries and frosty in relative comfort while we waited for the ever-busy pharmacy at Walmart to do their job.

Twenty minutes later, my phone rang. It was a pharmacy tech, they were out of amoxicillin. I could come back to the pharmacy to get her prescription to take to another pharmacy. They were ever so sorry for the inconvenience and didn’t want me to have to wait any longer with a sick child.

Big sigh. Okay then. We put the twenty dollars or so worth of merchandise we were going to buy on a shelf near the pharmacy, got our slip back and headed to Meijer.

Thankfully, twenty minutes was just enough time for Olivia to finish her happy meal and her frosty.

At Meijer, there was no wait and, get this, no cost for the antibiotic. Amoxicillin is always free at Meijer. Can you even believe this? Holy crap, why have I been wasting so much freaking time and money at Walmart all these damned years?

We were in and out of there in ten minutes, medicine in hand and on our way to Gram’s to get Lyss.

We pulled into our garage at 8:35pm.

It was a long freaking day and there were a lot of words to say, “I called it! I knew she was sick.”

Yes, I wish she weren’t but sometimes it’s nice to say I told you so. Because, yeah, I totally did.

Mommy instinct for the win. The fact that she’s sick sucks but almost nine years into mothering Livie, I almost have this thing down.

Monday, September 21, 2015

When a Markers is More than a Marker

Tom and I have different parenting philosophies. We make it work but there have been countless times in the past almost thirteen years of us parenting together that I’ve felt run over, as if my thoughts and feelings and philosophies are wrong just because they might be different from this.

We’ve never sat down and talked about any of this. I’m a crier and so when I’m sad, frustrated, angry, happy, whatever, I cry and I hate that. I don’t want to have this conversation with him when it will end in tears for me and frustration for him. So usually, I clam up and shut down and by process of elimination, he ‘wins.’

But this weekend, I spoke up. And there were no tears from me, no anger from him. Just, you know, communication. Go figure.

Sunday found us doing our usual things. I’d started a load of laundry and was at the computer waiting for Alyssa to come home from the slumber party she’d attended the night before. Olivia had found an empty box by the garbage and turned it first into a helmet and then into a playhouse for her dolls. She asked me if she could draw on the box. I said sure.

She wanted to know what she could use to draw on it, I found her dry-erase markers and handed them to her. She went to work.

About ten minutes later, Tom came in from his work outside to wash his hands. As he passed where I was sitting and O was marker-ing, he said, “Those better not be dry-erase markers.”

Olivia looked up at me. I called out, “Why not?”

He didn’t answer for a few seconds and then finally said, “Aren’t they supposed to be for her dry-erase board?”

“Sure,” I replied calmly, “but she wanted to color on the box and I gave her the markers. What would you suggest she color on the box with?”

He suggested, “You could have given her crayons.”

“I could have,” I answered, “But the markers were more convenient.”

He finished the conversation with, “I don’t care if they dry out.”

I managed to not roll my eyes and told Olivia, “It’s okay, go ahead and keep using those markers.”

Tom went about his business, Olivia went about her marker-ing and Alyssa was home about fifteen minutes later.

Later in the afternoon, Tom suggested that he cook hotdogs over charcoal. Anything that leads to less cooking (even hotdogs) is okay with me.

As the girls and I sat at the table, eating our hotdogs and other things that yes, I cooked or at least heated up, Tom was rummaging through the refrigerator. He was trying to make space for leftovers and came across a container with one chicken leg. He’d baked drumsticks early last week.

He held it up and said, “Alyssa should have had this with dinner.”

I raised an eyebrow and said, “Why? She’s eating the hotdogs you just cooked for her.”

He laughed at that and put the chicken back in the fridge.

I decided it was a good opening and said, “You know, there are people in this world who don’t actually enjoy eating the same thing every single night for a week at a time.”

“You mean like me and my lentils and peas?” he asked.

“Exactly,” I said. I went on, “Some of us actually need variety to keep us from getting tired of certain foods. I think Livie is over the twice baked potatoes for a while and I know Lyss really does not want to eat that chicken after having it three times last week.”

All of this was said calmly, without tears and it was heard calmly without anger.

Later Lyssie actually thanked me for telling him that.

Sometimes, the stars align, there’s the perfect opening, everyone is in the right mood and conversations are had that lead to actual communication.

There is hope for us yet.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Negotiator

Tom and I are both really over sitting at the table at each meal and spoon feeding Olivia her food. The fact that she’s perfectly capable of feeding herself, of dipping a spoon (or fork *gasp*) into a plate or bowl of food and then lifting that utensil to her mouth with very little spillage is part of our frustration. We know she can do but she doesn’t WANT to do it. She wants to be babied.

I try to remind myself that this is an ongoing process and we can’t undo almost nine years of habit in two or three days. Tom needs to be reminded of this even more than I do. He’s decided it’s time for her to feed herself and he gets very frustrated when she pushes back. Yeah, I wonder where she gets her stubbornness.

She wants to know WHY she has to feed herself. My response is, “Because you’re a big girl.”

Tom replies, “Because you can!” (Yes, the exclamation point is spoken.)

She shouts back at him, “But I don’t want to!”

Ha. They’re fun to be around at 6:30 in the morning. Poor Lyss. At least I can drown them out with my hair dryer. Lyssie has to sit at the same table, attempting to eat her Cheerios while they try to shout each other into submission.

Earlier this week, Liv decided she wants to have a party for her classmates at our house. She doesn’t want this to be a birthday party, she wants a ‘just because’ party. She wants to have cupcakes, play Twister, give them a tour of our house and yard and maybe play pretend and dress-up.

She’s just sure that if all the kids from her class are in our house, she’ll talk to them.

I’d love to give her that chance. We started planning this party. She is in the process of designing the invitations. Yes, she’s quite the party-zilla. She wants to control every aspect of this party.

Tom heard us discussing party plans and decided to use the party as a motivator for Liv. He told her that if she starts feeding herself even one meal a day without a fuss, without complaint, she can go ahead with her party plans.

She tried to negotiate this point. “I have a better plan,” she told him. “We will have this party and then, when I’m a teenager or maybe a grown up, then I will feed myself all my meals.”


I interjected at this point, “Well, sure, that sounds great…for you. But lucky for me and Daddy, you are not the parent here and you don’t get to make the rules. You’re big enough and able to feed yourself so it’s time to start doing that.”

She started to argue her point and I reminded her that this was not a negotiation.

She huffed and puffed and sighed and then took a bite of twice baked potato using her very own hand to lift the spoon to her mouth.

This is very much going to be a work in progress. She cried yesterday morning as Tom urged her to eat her Rice Krispies. She fussed last night when I prompted her to eat her tomato soup (and in my defense, it was in one of those bowls with a built in straw, there was no heavy lifting to be done.)

But we’ll get there. Honestly, I keep reminding Tom that this is our fault. She’s been feeding herself at my mom’s house since she was four. We have just done it out of habit and the fact that it’s less messy when we feed her. But I’m willing to clean a few messes to let this girl learn a bit more independence. Now, if she would just embrace that independence herself we’d be well on our way.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Second Grade Homework

We spent an hour and a half last night on homework.

An hour….and a half. Ninety minutes total.

And by we, I mean Olivia and I spend an hour and a half working on things for school.

It was a nightmare.

We started the homework at 5:30, after I spend a half hour trying to figure out how to print the report Alyssa had spent an hour typing on our computer. We don’t have any Microsoft Office programs on our stupid computer and so she’d typed it using some word processing program she found online. But our computer wouldn’t print it without an Adobe serial number. So dumb. We ended up copy and pasting it into Notebook of all things and it worked. I informed Tom that we need to gift the entire family with Microsoft Office for Christmas and that it needs to be an early Christmas present at that.

But yes, Olivia’s homework. Ugh!

Not only is it tedious for me, it’s torture for her. Her fine motor skills are still weak and so after writing her spelling words for me (one time only, but if she misses any, I make her write those three times for practice) I found three pages of homework in her backpack. Two pages were all about the spelling and the last was math. She was so frustrated with just the writing portion of the whole thing that I wanted to cry.

We pushed through though and in the end, while we were cranky as hell, we were also proud of the work we’d done.

Then today, one of her teachers emailed me to check in and when I mentioned the horror of the homework, she told me that it would be okay if I write some of O’s answers for her. Which…yay? Yes, okay, yay. It will still get done, it will still be her answers, but I will write them out some of the time.

I hate that the act of writing sometimes gets in the way of us knowing what Olivia knows.

Well, that and her attention span, which is sometimes that of a gnat. There is just so much she’d rather be doing than addition or spelling words.

I want to say, “Suck it up, kiddo, you’ve got ten more years of this.” As if that would make a difference to her in the moment when she's bored and tired and eight years old. Instead, I just try and refocus her ever three seconds. Like I said, it’s way fun for both of us. Sigh.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Day Livie Was a Wienie

Way back at the end of the summer, I promised the girls I would take them to a specific park here in town. In fact, we had a day planned for it but when we arrived, I was reminded that we were smack in the middle of graduation season and the park was filled with graduation parties.

Now, I’m not afraid to go to a park where there’s a party going on but on this day, there just wasn’t even room to park, let alone play. And let me remind you that my girls have way more fun at parks, the lake, just about anywhere if they’re either the only ones around or if they’re the first ones there so they can kind of stake their claim, so to speak.

Last Saturday was on the cool side and I decided it was actually the perfect day for the park. I told the girls to dress in pants and short sleeved shirts and we took jackets with us.

When we arrived at the park, there was only one car in the parking lot but it was obvious that the owner of that car was setting up the pavilion for a party.

Oh well, families can reserve the pavilion but they can’t actually keep others out of the park, so we forged ahead with our plans to play and run and climb and slide.

Each time we go to a park, if it’s been awhile, Olivia needs to be reminded that she’s been there, she’s capable of climbing and sliding all by herself. On this day, she very much wanted as much help as Lyss and I would give her. She wanted me on the ground and Lyss at the top of the stand-alone slide. O would climb the ladder to a specific point and then want me to push her up by the butt while A pulled her by the arms. Then before she’d slide down, she wanted me at the bottom to catch her. Ha! That kid is so funny. I kept reminding her that the slide is barely longer than she is, she’d be fine even if I weren’t at the bottom to keep her feet from touching the ground too quickly.

She didn’t want to hear it. So, because I’m THAT mom, I helped her climb the ladder, I stood at the bottom of the slide and I climbed the other play structures with her.

Upon arrival at the park, we saw that there was a mom/grandma type with a baby (the child was all of eighteen months old, so yes, baby) who was walking around, climbing up the play areas, swinging, etc. The mom/grandma was on the phone this entire time.

There was also a five year old boy and another eighteen month old baby running around. I didn’t know if the mom/grandma was with all three kids or not but as I played with my own kids, I noticed that one of the babies had climbed to the very top of the structure. Alyssa was already up there and so I made my way up and asked Lyss to stand by one of the openings that would have led to a ten foot fall if that baby happened to trip. I took up sentry at one of the other openings.

As the baby made her way up the stairs that led to a spiral slide, I asked the five year old if she (the baby) was big enough to go down that slide. He assured me she was. I asked it loudly enough that the woman on the phone could hear me, just in case she was in charge of this baby.

When the baby started down the slide, head first, I heard someone shout from the pavilion, which was at least fifty feet away from the play area.

She called up to the boy, yelling that the baby was too little to go down that slide.

My thought was, “That boy is too little to be left to watch that baby.”

I kept my mouth shut though and judged her in silence. I’ll give her a little credit. She stuck around after that, keeping an eye on the baby herself instead of expecting her five year old to do it.

We ended up staying at the park for close to an hour. Liv got over most of her wieniness and had a blast. Lyss enjoyed my muttered snark at the lady who never, not once, got off the phone while her baby/grandbaby played around the park.

It was a nice way to say goodbye to summer and welcome fall. And admittedly, any time I can feel superior to other parents is a good one (for me.) Yeah, I’m kind of joking there. Almost…

Thursday, September 10, 2015

That Day I Stayed Home

Remember how last Wednesday I stayed home from work because Olivia had a dentist appointment? Yeah, that day. I too the entire day off even though her appointment was at 9:40 and only lasted a half hour. The dentist told me O would need to stay home from school the entire day and I figured I’d just stay home with her.

I kind of vaguely thought maybe I’d get a load of laundry done or maybe even clean out my closet.

Hahahaha. Right.

As noted Olivia cried the entire way home. She’d finally gotten herself under control as we pulled into our garage. At that point, she just wanted to sit next to me for a bit and continue to calm down.

After fifteen minutes or so, she decided she was hungry and really wanted some cream of chicken soup. Ahhh, Campbell’s how we love you and your delicious, instant soups.

I heated a can of soup up for her (on the STOVE, not in the microwave, Wonder Mom here, thank you very much.)

And then, yes, I sat in front of her and fed her, spoonful by spoonful, until the first bowl was empty. Then she asked for more. In the end, she ate the contents of an entire can of soup. Good eating, there, right?

Then she asked if we had any Jello. Which, yes, we did have some. So I fed her a bowl of that too.

All of that took about forty-five minutes. Then we laid on the couch together. I hoped she’d take a nap. I kind of wanted to take one with her.

It didn’t happen.

I don’t know where the rest of the day went but the time between when I finished feeding Olivia her soup and Jello and when Alyssa got home seemed just fly by. I used that time to, I don’t know, peruse Facebook, take pictures of Olivia post-dental procedure and post them on said F-book and, wow, I think I laid on the couch some more.

There was no folding of laundry, there was no sweeping of the kitchen floor. No closets were cleaned and no carpets were vacuumed. I might have washed a sink full of dishes but even that is up for debate.

I wonder if I were home every day if I’d get more done each day. I can’t be sure. I’d like to try, though.

Alas, that is probably not ever going to happen. We need my income and the insurance my job provides.

Poor me.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Complete Idiot

I think I need to start filtering the words that come out of my mouth.

I mean, duh, of course I need to filter the words that come out of my mouth, especially around my children.

The voices in my head hate me. I guess that means that down deep, I kind of hate myself. This is well documented and is an ongoing issue on which I am working.

Sadly, sometimes I lend an actual voice to the ones in my head. That voice is not nice to me. It says means things about me and sadly, my kids have heard it.

Last night was proof.

As I was putting dinner on the table, I called the girls to come and eat. Tom sat down to assisted Olivia in the consumption of her meal.

I’d put everything on the table except Olivia’s sour cream, which I was in the process of getting from the counter and taking to the table when she announced that I’d forgotten it.

I told her I was bringing it to her and then set it in front of her.

As I started to walk away, she said cheerfully, “You’re a complete idiot.”

Excuse me? I mean, really?

Let me just say right here that hearing those words from my eight year old is way harsher than hearing them from my own head or even in my own voice.

I told her that wasn’t a very nice thing to say and she apologized. But you know what? It’s my own fault she said that. She’s heard me say it and she probably doesn’t even realize how mean it is.

I mean, if someone says something about themselves, why is it wrong for you to say it about them? Right? Right. As a matter of fact, she asked a little while later what ‘complete idiot’ meant.

So yes, I need to be kinder to myself both in my head and out loud.

To give credit where it’s due, I would like to applaud myself for not making any derogatory remarks about myself while we were at the lake the day before. I thought them and I consciously told myself (silently) not to say them. Who wants to hear that kind of stuff from their spouse or mother? No one, that’s who.

If I can’t stop the voices in my head from being mean to me, I can at least stop giving them a voice that can be heard by my girls. They don’t need to hear that stuff. They don’t need to know that Mom is stewing in a bit of self-hatred. I want better for them. I want them to see a mother who loves herself as much as she loves them. I want them to grow up seeing confidence and strength, not self-deprecation and hatred.

If I can’t fix this for me, I need to do it for them.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Other People's Kids

In an attempt to squeeze one more drop out of summer, Tom and I tool Olivia swimming yesterday.

Alyssa didn’t want to go because “reasons” and so Olivia got both parents to herself. She was thrilled by this prospect and wasn’t sure who to drag into the water first.

She got around that one by telling us that we were all three going into the water. She’s just lucky that was already the plan.

We swam, we frolicked, Olivia jumped off the square of foam Tom takes to the lake with us, climbed back up and jumped again.

Finally, she was ready to just swim around with me for a bit. She and I swam maybe five feet from where Tom was now lying on the raft thing when a girl, maybe eleven years old, came up and asked me if she play on our raft with us.

I told her that Olivia was pretty shy and she wanted to just swim with me instead. Then I nodded toward Tom and said, “And now that he’s on it, he’s going to be hard to get off of it.”

The girl then asked if she could flip it over and knock him off.

Huh…okay then. I just replied with, “Like I said, he’s pretty hard to knock off.”

She apparently took that as a challenge because the next thing I knew, she was diving under the raft and springing up from underneath, dethroning the king of the raft.

She did this probably four times when two little boys, maybe seven and five came up to Tom. The older of the two boys asked, “May my brother and I play with you guys?”

Tom looked to me and I shrugged. The littler of the two boys said to his brother, “Austin, Mom wants you.”

The boys wandered off toward their mom and Tom looked relieved. The girl was still attempting to dunk him at every turn. Olivia tried to pull me away from the raft, you know, since it had become a magnet for strange kids.

I asked Tom, “You want me to stick close to you so that you don’t come across as the strange dude who was luring kids to play with him and his raft?”

He nodded gratefully.

A little while later, Austin returned sans little brother. He announced, “My mom said I could play with you.”

Okay then. At that point, the girl had abandoned her job of flipping Tom off the raft and her brother had replaced her, though he just wanted to jump off the raft, not dunk Tom.

So there he was, holding the rope to our raft while two strange kids climbed and jumped and climbed up to jump again.

At one point, I was nearby with Olivia when Austin called out to me, “Hey, watch! Watch me.”

I rolled my eyes. Oh yes, yes I did roll my eyes at this seven year old. Then I said to Tom, “I don’t hear that enough from my own kids, now I have to hear it from other people’s kids?”

Tom smiled in empathy.

After he emerged from the water, Austin turned to me and asked, “Did you see me?”

Are you kidding me? I mean, seriously! I have never met this kid before in my life. His mother didn’t bother to come over and make sure it was okay if he was risking his neck diving off our raft into three feet of water and he’s calling out to me, a stranger, “Watch me!”

Give me a break. I get it. I know there are kids who are awesomely outgoing and who love people. I get that my kids are probably freaks because of their shyness and their introverted natures but come on!!

I believe I mentioned before that I almost became a teacher. I changed my major in October of my fifth year of college because I realized that I didn’t like other people’s kids nearly enough to spend eight hours a day with them for the better part of a year.

I like other people’s kids when those kids come to my house to play with my kids. I like other people’s kids when I got to the school three times a year and help put on holiday parties for them. And if I know you and your kids? I like your kids. Your kids are awesome and beautiful and amazing.

But I do not like other people’s kids who invite themselves to play with our stuff while out in public and I’ve never met these kids or their parents. I just don’t. There it is.

I can appreciate that outgoing kids get far in this world. I mean, you don’t get anywhere if you aren’t willing to risk someone telling you no. I get that. And yet…boundaries are a good thing. Boundaries are lovely. Boundaries help keep this over-worked mom from having to hear, “Watch me!” from anyone who isn’t one of my own two beautiful, wonderful, charming children who actually have a right to say that to me.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Halfway Decent Human Being

We'd just settled into the booth at McD's for lunch when Alyssa said with wonder, "You haven't yelled once today."

Yes, I'm freaking mother of the year here. I get frustrated, I get annoyed, I get cranky and sometimes (way too often, it seems) I yell at my kids.

This day, though, her observation struck me as funny. Not that I think yelling is funny but the fact that I hadn't yelled all day was a nice change and I was obviously in a good place since I hadn't yelled and so I laughed.

Then I said, "Well, we did go to be last night at 9 and I got up at 8 this morning, so apparently, I need eleven hours of sleep to be a halfway decent human being."

Lyss and I laughed and laughed at that. Liv laughed because we were laughing. Then she asked, "Why are we laughing?"

This caused me and Lyss to burst into new waves of laughter.

It was good to be able to laugh at my foibles, my less-than-perfect mothering. I'm glad Lyss was comfortable commenting on the lack of yelling. I would never want her to worry that saying something like that might make me mean or, you know, yell at her.

I don't want to be a wire mother. I don't want them to someday be able to share horror stories about the way their narcissistic mother behaved toward them. I know I can't help but screw up my girls in ways I don't even know I'm doing but I want so badly to be good at this mothering thing. I want so badly to do it right, or as right as possible and still be human.

As we were leaving McD's Liv's flip flop came off her foot (it happens all the time, poor kid and her Rapunzel feet) and I told her it was okay, to get it back on and not stress over fixing it.

Alyssa asked again, "Why are you being so patient and nice?"

"Because right this second, I can," I told her.

When we got in the car, I told A that I'm sorry that I'm not always patient and nice. I wish I were but sometimes I'm tired or I hurt (my stupid 80 year old foot hurts all the damn time these days) or I've had a long day and I feel crowded and need a little space. I told her that I want to always be loving and kind and patient and fun but...I don't always get eleven hours of sleep the night before.

Then I laughed again and suggested, "Hey, maybe I should go to be at 7 each evening since I have to get up at 6 the next morning for work. I would be the best mom EVER during those two hours we'd get together each school/work night."

Alyssa joined me in laughter.

I amended my schedule, "Instead, maybe my boss would let me come to work at 10 each morning so I can sleep until 8 and then just go to bed at 9 each night."

Yeah, we all know that's not going to happen. But I need to harness these peaceful, decent feelings and reach deep when I'm at my tired, cranky worst. These girls deserve for me to try a little harder to be a halfway decent human being a little more often, even when I'm tired and cranky and just want five minutes to poop in private. Because we all that's not going to happen either and as the mom, I need to suck it up and figure it out and NOT be a wire mother. Because they deserve better. They deserve me to be at my best all the time, not just one random Saturdays when I've had eleven hours of sleep.

Of course, now I have to confess that at 1:45 this afternoon, not even six hours after waking up from eleven hours of sleep (let me say here too, that those eleven hours were not uninterrupted) my patience had dwindled. A crazy busy Walmart will do that to a person. Add to the crazy busy Walmart the slowest cashier in the history of Walmart cashiers (who has to count a cash payment FOUR damned times to figure out that two 50s, four 20s, three 5s and four 1s are $199? I mean seriously!?!) who was dealing with the most irritating of all customers in the history of Walmart customers and you have one irritated, cranky mother. Yes, that was me. Olivia had to pee TWICE during the wait in that line. It was insane.

We were supposed to be at a birthday party at 2:00. If we'd managed to get into any other line at the Walmart at 1:20, we'd have been fine on time, but no, we got the above cashier and the above customer and we were doomed.

And it was pouring rain as we walked to the car. O was whining about wet feet, my right heel hurt from where A had run into me TWICE while in the store and the half of my human side that had been decent all morning had run far, far away. All that was left was my cranky, irritable side.

Thankfully, there was much annoying traffic against which I could rail, which always amuses the girls. And amusing them goes a long way in making them forget my occasional wiriness. Thank goodness.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Keeping It Real

The other night, I was watching a movie with my older daughter. I hadn’t watched this movie before and so was as surprise as she was when a couple of teenagers began…doing things that twelve years olds do not need to watch.

There was no graphic nudity but there was, um, movement and such.

Ahem, yes. I’m going to wait a while on that Mother of the Year trophy after all, aren’t I?

So I covered her eyes and then whispered to her, “You don’t need to watch this. They’re…having the sex.”

She laughed and covered my eyes so I wouldn’t have to see ‘the sex’ either. She’s a very thoughtful child. I don’t know where she gets it.

After the bad teens were skewered by a stalactite that fell during an earth quake, I turned to A and said, “And that’s what happens when teenagers make bad choices. They die.”

I do this every so often in hopes of making awkward topics a little less awkward. I want her to know that nothing is taboo when it comes to talking to me.

Later she said, “I can’t wait to tell my friends about you covering my eyes during ‘the sex.’”

I told her, “Make sure you whisper the words ‘the sex’ because it makes the story that much funnier.”

Then I adopted an exaggerated ‘teen’ voice and said, “You guys, my mom is so weird! We were watching a movie and she covered my eyes, telling me not to watch ‘the sex.’ Then the teenager were killed during the sex and she told me that’s what happens when teens make bad choices.”

She laughed so hard I was afraid she was going to wake Olivia or Tom.

I like being able to make Alyssa laugh. I like that she’s comfortable sitting next to me and watching movies, even when awkward moments happen and we glimpse images of *whisper* the sex, *end whisper*, it’s okay. She’s growing up and I’m lucky that she’s still sitting beside me, laughing at my lame jokes and silly voices.

I’ll start to worry when she’s avoiding me and ignoring me and no longer talking or listening to me at all.

For the record, she told me I could tell this story.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Dr. O

Olivia had to miss school today for a dentist appointment. The appointment was at 9:40, she was given her dose of valium at 8:30 to relax her for the appointment and then she and I were on the road at 8:40 to get there by 9:30.

Once there, she got two fillings and a crown, all on/in molars on the left side of her mouth.

The dentist came out when it was all done and told me how well she'd done. He said she sat quietly the entire time, making his job much easier. He'd praised her quite often during the procedure, he said.

When she came out to meet me at the reception desk, she was very out of it. She couldn't walk a straight line and needed me to help her to the car. Poor kid was also very numb on the left side of her face.

One of the sucky parts of 5p- syndrome is the fact that O's body doesn't use its water well. She pees just fine but water that is supposed to be sent to the colon doesn't do its job and water that is supposed to make saliva also doesn't do what it's supposed to do. Because of this, she get plaque build up on her teeth and needs more dental work than your typical eight year old who brushes her teeth faithfully.

We left the dentist's office and headed toward home, planning to make a stop at Walmart to pick up some milk and a few other things. As we drove away, Olivia mentioned the numbness in her mouth. This numbness distressed her greatly. By the time we'd driven the twenty minutes to get to Walmart, she was in tears due to the numbness. I assured her the numbness would subside but that didn't comfort her. We ended up making a quick purchase of tissues before going to the toy section of Walmart to try and ease her distress.

We needed to pick out a present for a classmate who invited O to her eighth birthday party this coming Saturday. Once the gift was chosen, Olivia chose a prize for herself. She had, after all, been a star patient at the dentist.

Even after picking out a plush Elsa doll, Livie cried through the rest of our time at Walmart. She really couldn't stand the numbness. I stopped often to hug her and try to comfort her but it didn't help her much.

We got a few looks as she sobbed her way through the store. As we were checking out, she'd managed to get her wails under control for the moment and the cashier noticed O's red face. She asked if Liv had a bad cold.

I mentioned that we'd just come from the dentist and she was stressed by the numbness in her mouth. The cashier started to make a judgmental statement, something about not eating so much candy. I interrupted her and gave her a quick summary of rare chromosomal disorders, plaque build-up and never, EVER being able to brush enough to keep the cavities at bay, even without ever touching a piece of candy. She was quite nice after that but come on! Why does one need to even explain?

Whatever. It didn't even bother me at the time. I just wanted to get my sad, miserable baby out of the store and home where she could rest and recover.

Once we were home, she ate some cream of chicken soup and played with her new doll. The numbness is finally gone and there have bee no more tears. Her next cleaning isn't until February. Until then we'll keep brushing as well as we can, keep drinking lots of water and try to stay away from judgmental Walmart cashiers.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Why She's the Best Big Sister Ever

Last Saturday we snuck a trip to Meijer between lunch and Walmart. I needed to return a lunch box I’d bought for Olivia and we wanted to pick up some beans for a couple of bean bag chairs that have flattened over the past year. Alyssa informed me as we walked in that Bomber, our Betta fish needed food. Yes, that damned fish is STILL alive. My husband is just sure we got Bomber after we got Orville, but no, Bomber is older than Orville and Orville will be four years old this month. So Bomber is AT LEAST four and a half. Damned fish. That reminds me, I need to clean his bowl this evening. Ugh.

While we were looking for the fish food, the girls watched the fish swim in the tanks. They’re lovely because someone else gets to clean those tanks. No tank fish for us, thank you very much.

Because we were there, we had to peruse the book aisle because duh, it’s what one does when one is in Meijer.

Olivia found a coloring book with pictures of the characters from Inside Out. It came with a multi-colored pencil. She had to have it.

I know. I’m overly indulgent but coloring is still something she needs to do more often because it helps build strength in her hands. So yeah, I justified my spinelessness and got her the book. Alyssa found a copy of the latest Dork Diaries book and because I was getting Olivia something I let Alyssa put her book in the cart too. I need to grow some resolve.

Except…books! How can I say no too books? Reading is such a good practice, even fiction that isn’t particularly well written. Just saying.

Before she was even in the car Liv was clamoring for me to get her book and pencil out for her. As far as she was concerned the quarter mile drive from Meijer to Walmart didn’t give her nearly enough time to color. When I started to unsnap her seatbelt, she declared that she was taking her coloring book and pencil into Walmart with us.

I told her not to bother because she wouldn’t be able to walk and color at the same time.

“Let’s get a blue cart,” she suggested.

I reminded her that our local Walmart has done away with the blue carts (carts with seats on the back where kids can sit and be pushed by their parents. I loved those carts because they kept one Miss O contained…I miss those carts.)

She sighed. Then she perked up again. “How about if I ride in the back of your cart?”

“And where will I put the groceries?” I asked her.

She gave it a little more thought and came up with what she thought was a brilliant idea. “How about if you push two carts?”

Ha. Hahahaha…but wait. Alyssa stood waiting for us to figure it all out.

Without another word, I grabbed the blanket we keep in the backseat of the car and ushered the girls into the store. On the way in, I made my suggestion.

“Lyssie, will you push Livie in a cart while she colors?”

I think Alyssa thought I was joking. She looked startled by the suggestion.

“Isn’t she a little big to be riding in a cart?” she asked when she realized I was serious.

“Of course she is, but who cares?”

“Yes! I want Lyssie to push me so I can color. Lyssie, look, Mom brought my blanket so I can sit on it and not on the hard cart. This will be so great.”

A rolled her eyes but amicably lifted her sister into a cart after I laid out the blanket. Olivia settled in with a giggle and opened her book.

“I can’t believe we’re doing this,” Alyssa muttered.

I smiled at her and said, “Just think, you’re getting points toward your big sister of the year award.”

She smirked. “I think I already got that one just because Livie is still alive.”


We got a few weird looks as we wandered the store with our two carts, one full of groceries and the other full of a coloring eight-year-old. Honestly, I’m over weird looks. They don’t bother me at all. I just smile and nod and sometimes say something like, “I know, right? I wish some giant would come and push me around in a big old shopping cart.”

I consider things like this to be character building moments for Alyssa. She’s learning not to care what strangers think of her. She’s learning that sometimes, doing something nice for someone (even her little sister) is fun if only because it makes people look at you weird.

As for Olivia, she couldn’t wait to get home and tell her daddy how great her sister was for pushing her in a cart while she colored. I’m calling the entire weekend a win just because of that one act of kindness from my twelve-year-old.