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.