Friday, January 29, 2016

Homework Drama

Olivia came home yesterday with a note from her teacher that said that there were some students in their class who were falling behind in their homework. It continued saying that each time a student didn’t turn in their homework, they would receive a point and when they reached ten points, that student would be required to stay after school for an hour for detention, during which time, they would be expected to finish their homework.

Parents were then expected to pick their child up at 3:55 after school, where they would be met by the principal, who would be waiting with the student for pick up.


Tom and I are pretty involved parents. (Some would probably say too involved, but I ask you, is that really possible?)

Olivia and I sit down every at the table every day after school and I ‘help’ her do her homework. And by ‘help’ I mean, I keep her focused while SHE does her homework. I do not give her the answers, I don’t hint at the answers. I might help her figure out the answer herself, providing tools for her to do so, but she does the homework.

When we’re done, I always put the homework back in her folder and put her folder back in her backpack.

Now, I realize that I should probably be making her put the homework in the folder and have her put the folder back in the backpack but by the time we’re at that point, she’s tired (math is hard!) and I’m ready for the whole saga to be done.

So when we saw that note last night, I was pretty sure they weren’t talking about Olivia. But to be sure, I sent her teacher an email today.

This was our back and forth:
From: Ordinary Mom
Sent: Friday, January 29, 2016 9:03 AM
To: Mrs. P
Subject: Homework
Good morning Mrs. P,
We got the letter regarding homework yesterday and I wanted to make sure Olivia has been doing and handing in all homework assignments. I tried to go online and find anything we might have missed but couldn’t find anything in the online classroom that needed to be printed.
Thank you.

From: Mrs. P
Sent: Friday, January 29, 2016 12:39 PM
To: Ordinary Mom
Subject: RE: Homework
Hi Tommie,
Olivia’s homework has been fine. We have had several students who have fallen off the homework bandwagon and so the whole class had to be reminded of our homework policy. The only thing online is our weekly newsletter that simply states not to forget math and reading logs weekly. Students also have the homelinks Monday through Thursday unless there is a unit test.
Mrs. P

From: Ordinary Mom
Sent: Friday, January 29, 2016 12:43 PM
To: Mrs. P
Subject: RE: Homework
Thank you so much. She insisted that she hadn’t been told that her homework was an issue but knowing that sometimes she’d like to ‘forget’ homework, I thought I’d check. I know that we need to keep up in order not to fall behind.

From: Mrs. P
Sent: Friday, January 29, 2016 12:39 PM
To: Ordinary Mom
Subject: RE: Homework
Thanks for all your hard work at home!! Have a great weekend!

I do so love a teacher who is willing to work with my neurosis when it comes to following rules. Dear, sweet, precious O is not so much about following the rules as Alyssa and I are but we’re working on it with her.

She understands that homework will be done every day, teeth will be brushed, hands will be washed after using the bathroom, etc. So she gets it. But if she can get out of something? Believe me, she’ll try.

So yes, I was relieved that we were not one of those families who are riding the detention train, next stop, the principal’s office.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

So Luck...Really

I’m lucky that she can voice her opinions on everything from what we serve her for breakfast/lunch/dinner to what she’s wearing and how tight her shoes are tied.

I’m lucky that she can manipulate pens and markers to write all over every surface that doesn’t move.

I’m lucky that she can walk around in order to follow me from room to room to room.

I’m lucky.

We’re lucky.

And yet, when my hair is still dripping wet from my shower, I still have to put on make-up and the clock says I have about fifteen minutes before I need to leave for work in order to not be late, it’s very frustrating when Olivia seeks me out to let me know that she can’t possibly wear the outfit she’s got on because, one, it’s not fancy enough and two, it’s itchy.

I fussed at her, annoyed by this distraction from my own morning routine and then took her to her room where we found her a dress that was fancy enough to suit her vanity but soft enough not to scratch her delicate skin.

It’s a constant balancing act; all of it.

How much am I feeding into her sense of independence while not giving in to unreasonable requests?

Am I babying her too much? Does she really need all the help I give her or does she just want it and it’s easier for me to give it to her?

When I get angry or frustrated, is it even reasonable? I mean, she’s a kid. More than that, she’s a kid with special needs.

But then I step back and I know…I KNOW how much Olivia can do. I know how smart and capable she is. I also know that she’s immature so sometimes I just remind myself that while she’s nine years old, emotionally, she’s between six and seven years old.

But how much am I holding her back? How much more can she do if I just stop doing for her?

I’m not looking for answers here. This is just a vent and a reminder to myself that I really am lucky. This girl is a blessing. She’s as much a source of joy and pride as she is of frustration and annoyance.

Oh, that’s right, she’s a kid and like all kids she makes her mother crazy even as she’s makes my heart swell with love.

In the end, I know that I’m doing my best and I truly believe she is too. We’ll continue to stumble and we’ll giggle over the silliness that is life and love and learning.

And it will be okay.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Gender Expectations

So I took a vacation day last week to take Alyssa to a mid-day orthodontist appointment.

I have a spouse who works from home.

Let that sink in.

I work outside the home. I have a place I have to do every single day, Monday through Friday, from 8am to 4:30pm and my spouse works at home, no timecards to fill out, no boss to check in with, no limited vacation days to schedule.

I will say that I wanted to be at that appointment. I wanted to be there for Alyssa. But I work about six blocks from the orthodontist’s office. I could have met A and T there, spend the thirteen minutes they spent on her teeth with her and then come back to work, having missed all of forty-five minutes.

Instead I missed an entire day.

My spouse, whom I do love very much, never once suggested that I not take the day off work. He never suggested that he bring her to town and then take her to school.

I truly believe that if our genders were reversed, there is no way in hell the husband would have been expected to take an entire day off work to take a child to an appointment of any kind.

Just saying.

I actually have no point here, just putting this out there because, well, I feel like it needs to be said.

I’m not really even bitching about my husband so much as saying that I think the expectations on mothers/wives today are still outrageous and outdated.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Single Parents

Last week Alyssa had to go to be at the school at 6:45 in order to sing with the junior high choir. They were singing the national anthem at the girls high school basketball game.

Awesome, right? Yes, absolutely awesome.

Except, even though I had to have her there by 6:45, she didn’t actually sing until 7:20, which meant we left home at 6:30 and returned home around 7:35.

Thankfully, Tom was more than willing (ha!) stay at home with Olivia so I didn’t have to drag her out in the cold dark for something that lasted all of two minutes but that we waited to even start for over a half hour.

I saw so many little kids at the school that night. Their older siblings were either playing sports or singing like Alyssa.

Some of the kids were having a blast, running around, laughing, eating junk from the concession stand.

But I also saw quite a few kids who were very obviously miserable. They were tired, cranky and ready to go home. And yet…they couldn’t because their older sibling was still busy.

I wondered if the parents who had to bring littler kids were single parents. Of course, it’s possible that both parents just wanted to see the older child perform/play but my mind went directly to the idea that the kids were there with their single mom/dad and so the parent had no choice but to bring little Jadon to the game so he could watch Madison play because there was no one at home to take care of him.

And I had all kinds of respect for that parent. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to do it on their own. And yet there they were, supporting their older kid, buying the younger kid some popcorn in hopes of helping him/her make it just another half hour.

I can imagine how much easier it would be to tell the older kid, “No, you can’t play that sport/sing in the choir/play in the band/do the school play/whatever extracurricular thing they wanted to do because I don’t have anyone to take care of your younger sibling(s) and it’s just too much to bring them to every event.”

Or even just take the older sibling to the event, drop them off, go home with the littler kid(s) and then go pick the big kid up when the game/concert/meet/whatever is over.

Single parents deserve all the kudos for what they do.

I’m tired all the dang time and I have a spouse at home who helps a lot with parenting and housekeeping and just being there to share a look when both kids are whining and everyone is tired and hungry.

Doing it alone is the work of a superhero.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Always Right

Alyssa has this idea that I am always right.

I’ve tried to explain to her that I’m not actually always right, it’s just that I don’t bother to argue about something unless I know I’m right.

Which means, that when I argue (debate? Discuss?) something with someone, I do so with the knowledge that I will be able to prove myself right.

I don’t argue opinions because those can’t be proven.

But when she said that Haymitch was the one who told President Coin and the dude played by the late and great Philip Seymour Hoffman to wash Katniss’s face because she was still a girl and the makeup made her look thirty, I knew she was wrong.

And I knew I could prove her wrong by showing her the scene and proving that Haymitch did not say that line, it was, in fact said by the soldier who ended up being one of Katniss’s greatest supporters.

I am a freak when it comes to movie details and…I read the book. Haymitch didn’t say it in the book either.

But anyway, when my step-dad informed me last week that O+ is the universal donor when it comes to blood, I knew he was wrong. I also knew that a quick google search would prove it.

So I argued, gently, that O- was actually the universal donor.

He tried to tell me that while I might be right NOW, as in, these days, but O+ USED to be the universal donor.

But no, I replied gently. Science doesn’t change. O+ has never been able to be given to people with a negative Rh factor. Those with a positive Rh factor can receive negative blood but the reverse is not true.

I don’t think he believed me even after ten minutes of discussion.

Alyssa finally told him, “Pawp, you can’t argue with her. She’s always right.”

I think he was annoyed with me for even trying to explain my rightness but…when I know I’m right, I will defend my facts.

I can’t help it. I can't let someone sit there and spout incorrect information for others to absorb. I just can't.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Age? Spoiled? 5p- Syndrome?

I wonder what to blame for Olivia’s recent spate of irritability. Is it her age? I mean, she’s nine, has anyone ever heard of the terrible nines?

Could be that she’s spoiled rotten, being the baby and all and having special needs and we’ve created a monster that we now have to deal with?

Can we blame 5p- syndrome? Do most kids with the syndrome act out on occasion, refusing to finish breakfast, defiantly laughing when a parent threatens punishment?

Who knows?

What I do know is that she’s being difficult and we’re all suffering for it.

We’re trying to be very consistent with our expectations of Olivia. There are certain things that we simply can’t expect her to do but those are few and far between. There are so many things we can expect her to do, like putting on her socks while I untie her shoes. Like using the bathroom and washing her hands without being told or picking up her book or toy and putting it where it belongs.

We try to expect her to do the same things we expected from Alyssa at her age. It’s not always easy. Not only does she have a rare chromosomal disorder, she’s also our baby and this girl is VERY easy to baby. She’s sweet, she’s cute and yes, she’s manipulative with that sweetness and that cuteness. She knows she’s the baby and she capitalizes on that fact.

I do think she needs more sleep these days. She’s sleeping great once she goes to sleep but she isn’t going to sleep at early as I’d like. We need to work on this and I think this weekend will be a good time to do that.

Thankfully, school doesn’t seem to be as challenging at home these days. I suppose if I had to choose, I’d pick home to be where she’s acting out even if it does make more work for Tom and me. I mean, her teachers are awesome; I don’t want to make their jobs any more difficult than they already are, you know, what with being underpaid and over worked as almost all teachers are.

So that’s where we are today. Still struggling here and there but also still having lots of laughs and fun around the Ordinary household.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Well, That Didn't Go As Planned

So the go to be early experiment of last night was a crushing disaster. She didn’t fall asleep until after 9:00.

Wanna know why?

Because Lyssie wasn’t up there with us. As we’ve established, Olivia is a creature of habit. She likes to have things scheduled and planned and just so. She also likes things to be consistent.

So it didn’t work for her for me to go up with her and lay down while she fell asleep. Her sister was missing. She wasn’t in the top bunk to Olivia’s bottom bunk. O just couldn’t settle when she didn’t know where her sister was.

But really, it’s not fair to Alyssa to have to go to bed at 8:00 just because her sister can’t fall asleep without her in the room. So we’ll work through this one too.

We’re going to try again tonight, though we’re pushing it back to 8:30 in hopes of catching O at just the right sleepy time.

Alyssa was frustrated last night too. See, she enjoys sitting beside me on the couch after Olivia’s asleep and just, well , being together.

She didn’t get that last night and she was understandably grumpy about it. As I was braiding her hair, Alyssa grouched, “Why can’t you just tuck her in and leave when it’s time for her to go to bed?”

Ha! She’s heard me grouch about that very thing.

I told her, “Because I never taught her to do that. I never did that with you either, you know.”

She begrudgingly admitted that she did know that.

I continued, “I hope when you’re a mom, if you choose to be a mom, that your kids are excellent sleepers, that you teach them from the start to fall asleep on their own, to sleep in their own beds, to go back to sleep on their own if they wake up at night. I hope, basically, that you’re a better mom than I am.”

She sighed. “You’re not a bad mom for not teaching us to sleep alone.”

“I know,” I told her. “I’m just as tired as you are of being tied to a routine but I know that works for you and for Livie. It’s one night, Sweets. We can snuggle on the couch tomorrow during The Middle.”

At that point, Olivia had gotten out of bed to come find us and Alyssa growled at her, “Go to sleep!”

I hissed at Alyssa, “Be nice. We’re all going to go to sleep now.”

And once all her dear ones were where they were supposed to be, Olivia (and Alyssa and I) did just that. We went to sleep and slept all night long. It was lovely.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Early to Bed

Olivia was a pest this morning. She didn’t want to get up (this is my morning child, who is usually trying to climb into my bed at 5:30 on the flipping weekends!) She didn’t like the clothes we’d picked out just two days ago, she didn’t want the breakfast Tom had ready for her.

I told her that tonight, we’re going to bed at 8:00. Alyssa shot me a look of distress when I announced this.

I hope my face conveyed the message that I planned to just lay down in the room with Olivia until she was asleep and then I could escape back downstairs to watch some Sliders with Alyssa.

But yes, I’m thinking that Miss O needs more sleep.

She fell asleep at about 8:45 last night. That’s just not early enough when she’s having to wake up at 6:15 on a regular school day. If only they’d delayed school this morning, she could have sleep for another hour, alas, our school didn’t think that 4 degree weather was cold enough for a delay.

But you know what’s great about all of the above? It’s pretty age appropriate for Olivia. I can imagine writing everything I just wrote about a typical nine year old.

Most of the time, I don’t think about Olivia having a syndrome or special needs. She’s just Olivia, cranky sometimes, irritating sometimes, mostly loving and funny and smart and silly.

So we’ll make an adjustment tonight to help make up for the sleep deficit she must be feeling after a long weekend full of fun. And tomorrow might be better. If it isn’t, we’ll go to sleep early again and maybe check to see if she’d getting enough water during the day or enough vegetables each day.

Life is all about adjustments. As long as we roll with the punches and adjust as we go, I’m pretty sure we’re going to be just fine.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Slumber Party

So it happened. We had six (including Lyss) thirteen year olds over on Saturday to help Alyssa celebrate her birthday.

I’m pretty sure the girls had fun. There was running and jumping and visiting Harvey, and cake and pizza and hide and seek and laughing and singing.

Tom absented himself for about seven hours, which eased the tension for him. He is miserable when we have these sorts of things. He hates the noise, the constant traffic into the kitchen for food and drinks. He hates that the girls don’t go to sleep at a decent hour, he hates that they eat nothing but junk the entire time they’re at our house.

I try to remind him that sleepovers/slumber parties aren’t about sleeping. They’re about making memories and being silly and eating junk food.

Then, when he rolls his eyes at my, I tell him to repeat to himself over and over, “It’s only once a year, it’s only once a year.”

In the end, it was all fine. Tom and I watched The Martian while Alyssa and her friends came and went from the kitchen. They giggled and played their musical instruments (like, they literally played their flutes/ukulele s/clarinets), sang, listened to music and talked and talked and then talked some more.

Yeah, they were thirteen year old girls.

I feel so lucky that Alyssa has such great friends. They were all respectful and yet so typically thirteen.

And all five girls were picked up between 10:59am and 11:03 the next morning. Not only are her friends awesome, they have awesome parents!

After the girls left, Alyssa and I went to my mom’s to pick up Olivia, who’d spent the night there with Jaxon. The little kids (ha! J and O are eight and nine.) were still in their jammies enjoying a quiet morning at their Gram’s house, playing on their tablets, eating macaroni and cheese and just being chill.

Wish I could spend the night at the girls’ Gram’s house sometime…

Friday, January 15, 2016

I Will Because She Can

With the help of my best friend in the whole world (thanks, Julie!) I am now committed to getting Olivia to a point where she is feeding herself.

We’re going to pick up some star stickers yesterday and she’ll get a sticker to put on that day of the calendar after each meal she feeds entirely to herself.

There may be a reward system that occurs after a specific, yet undecided, number of stars are collected on the calendar. Perhaps the stickers themselves will serve as reward enough. Who knows? This is going to be a work in progress.

And that’s just it, isn’t it? We’re all works in progress. My life as a mother continues to be a work in progress. My life as a wife too.

I want to succeed at this because if I fail at being Olivia’s mother, she is the one who will pay the price.

She’s going to my mom’s this weekend to spend Saturday night. My nephew will be there too. It’s their very own slumber party to mirror Alyssa’s 13th Birthday slumber party. It gives O something to which she can look forward and it gets her out of A’s hair for the evening while she spends time with friends. This is what I call a win/win situation.

Yesterday was a tough day for Olivia. She had a rough morning at home before school and came home from school with a yellow slip from her teachers. She was speeding through her math facts test and her teachers called her on it.

This morning was better and I told her I thought today would be better too.

She asked, “Do you think I’ll be good at Gram’s tomorrow?”

I replied, “Of course I do.”

“Why do you think I will?” she wanted to know.

“Because you can and I know you want to,” I told her. And I believe that.

She is able to control her own actions. She can behave when she wants to. Lucky for us she usually wants to do so. But sometimes, the ‘wiggles’ get to be too much for her and she loses control. At those moments it’s my job as her mom to teach her to reign it in, to figure out how to reign it in all by herself.

I can’t fail at this because to do so is to fail Olivia. She deserves so much more than live with the results of my failure.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Teenager

This girl made me a mom thirteen years ago. Thirteen! I know, right? While the years have flown by the days are sometimes long and last night was one of them.

She had a dentist appointment yesterday right after school. Then, because we were in town, we hit McD’s for dinner. I know, whatever. Don’t judge.

We got home just after six and Lyss settled in to do her homework. She had quite a bit and was stressed over it.

I took Olivia up for a bath and Lyssie followed us, bringing both her math book and her science book with her so she could work on the homework for those subjects. She kept asking me to help her, with a whine in her voice. I don’t mind the whine so much as I wonder why this A+ student is asking her mother, who was in seventh grade back in 1984 for Pete’s sake (Pete Sakes says hi, Julie.)

But once Olivia was settled into the tub, I settled myself next to Alyssa and we got to work on that homework. I found some of the information she needed for her science work and explained to her how to find the answers for her math. She did the actual work. And in the end, the homework got done, the little one got clean and everyone was happy.

I’ll admit that I am actually glad that Alyssa still wants my help with homework. I love that she still wants me to braid her hair each night after her shower. I consider myself lucky that each night after Olivia is asleep, Alyssa finds me so we can settle on the couch next to each other and just lean into each other while we watch an episode of Sliders.

I know how lucky I am that my teenaged daughter still likes me. I mean, sure, most kids love their parents even though they’re often loathe to admit it, but this smart, funny, sweet, kind, sometimes-snarky girl actually seems to like me and that’s pretty awesome in my book.

Bring on thirteen. As long as we keep talking to each other, laughing with each other, finding common ground and even being ridiculous together, I think we just might have this.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


Okay, so I shouldn’t loathe January quite so much since it is Alyssa’s birth month. It’s also my brother Mitch’s birth month and so I have much to be grateful to January for.

And yet…it’s so cold and gray and the snow has been falling and the wind has been blowing. The girls have yet to have a full day of school this week.

If tomorrow weren’t Alyssa’s birthday I’d say we should just call this week done and hibernate until next Monday and just start over.

We’ll get through it, though. We get to celebrate the awesomeness that is Lyssie, we have her slumber party to plan and experience this weekend and then, we’ll be over halfway through January and that much closer to spring.

Why did I have to be born in the Midwest? I realize that just because I was born here I don’t actually have to stay here and yet…my extended family is here and I don’t want to deprive my girls of the relationships they have with their grandparents, cousins, uncles, brothers, sister, nieces and nephews.

So here we are and here we’ll stay. But I reserve my right to bitch about the weather whenever the need hits.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

About Those Report Cards

So yeah, yesterday I mentioned money given to my girls by my parents as a result of report cards.

Tom and I don’t give money as a reward for good grades. The grades themselves are the reward. The knowledge they’ve gained as they earned those grades are the reward. Bragging rights to grandparents are a good reward too.

But hey, if my parents want shell out cold hard cash to my kids when they bring home excellent grades, who am I to tell them not to do so?

Alyssa was very proud of her grades. Last grading period she had an A in five subjects and an A+ in two subjects.

This time around, she came home with an A+ in five subjects and an A in the other two. I mean, wow, right? This girl amazes me. She works so hard and is so humble about it all. When I asked her how her friends did, she said she didn’t ask because she didn’t want to seem like she was bragging if they asked her how she did. How awesome is she?

Okay, so I could learn a little humility from my kid, couldn’t I?

Olivia’s grading system is on the 1, 2, 3 scale. A 3 means she’s going above expectations, a 2 means she’s meeting expectations and a 1 means she’s below expectations.

She came home with mostly 2s and a few 3s. We’re very proud of her too. She works hard too and even though she doesn’t seem to get quite the thrill from good grades that Alyssa gets, Olivia does enjoy a few dollars from Gram whenever she can get it.

And honestly, since school is almost like going to a job every day for most kids, shouldn’t they get some sort of monetary compensation for all their hard work? Okay, I may have just convinced myself that good grades for the sake of good grades isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…hmmm.

Monday, January 11, 2016

A Piecing Experience

We were, of course, at The Walmarts, grocery shopping. The girls had some cash to spend because my parents, awesome grandparents that they are, had given them both money as a reward for awesome report cards (that’s another post.)

We were in the jewelry section of the store, browsing the necklaces and the bracelets. Alyssa was looking at the earrings because, as we all know, she has both ears pierced twice and so she can wear to pairs at all times.

Olivia looked at some of the pierced earrings. Alyssa caught O looking and said, “If you had your ears pierced, you could buy some of these.”

Olivia pondered that statement. She gazed longingly at the earrings and then asked me, “Does Walmart pierce ears?”

“They do, but we aren’t going to get your ears pierced here. If you want them pierced, we’ll go to Claire’s.”

She thought a little more and then declared, “I want them pierced.”


This was the first time she’d ever actually said that. Over the years, we’ve asked her on several occasions if she wanted to get her ears pierced and each time she’d answer with an adamant, “No!” Then she’d look at us like we were crazy.

I suggested, “Okay, how about you give it a week and if you want your ears pierced, we’ll go to Claire’s next week and get it done?”

She didn’t really like that suggestion because, yeah, it involved waiting. She used logic to convince me that we should do it right then. “But next week is Lyssie’s birthday party and I’ll be a Gram’s. We should just do it today.”

And so that was that. We finished our grocery shopping, we got in the car and headed to the nearest Claire’s. The entire way, I asked her, “Are you sure about this? You know you can change your mind and I won’t be mad.”

“I’m sure,” she said gleefully, fully committed to this now that she’d decided it was time. “But you and Lyssie will hold my hands, right? The whole time they’re poking holes in my ears you guys will hold my hands?”

“Of course we will,” Lyss and I assured her.

She was almost vibrating with excitement. “I can’t believe I’m going to get my ears pierced,” she said over and over during the ten minute drive to Claire’s.

When we got there, we were lucky that there was no one else in the store so we got the lady who works there all to ourselves.

Olivia picked out her earrings. Can you guess which ones she picked? Go ahead, guess…

Yep, Elsa earrings. Of course Elsa earrings, right? I mean, not even pink sparkles can compete with Elsa.

She asked me and Alyssa several times if it was going to hurt. We both answered honestly, that yes, it stings a little and is a little sore after but that it really doesn’t hurt much.

She climbed into the chair and held out her hands for me and Alyssa to hold. I had to let go of her once so the lady doing the piercing could move from one side of O to the other but other than that, Olivia held tight to our hands.

And then she did it. She sat there and let that lady stab earrings through her lobes. And they’re adorable.

When we were done the first thing she wanted to do was go to her Gram’s house and show her. My mom has been trying to get Liv to get her ears pierced for years. This is only because Olivia so loves to be fancy and always wants earrings but do you know how hard it is to find clip-on earrings that don’t pinch?

Anyway, my mom was very proud of our girl for going through with it.

Tom’s response was, “Oh my gosh! You’re a woman now!”

Through the night, Liv gave that response a little thought and the next morning asked me, “Why did Dad say that? I’m already a young woman, even without pierced ears?”

All the next day she’d randomly announce, “All three of the girls in this house have holes in their ears. We all have our ears pierced.” And, “I can’t believe I have my ears pierced.”

She’s very proud of herself and loves the way her ears look with the earrings in them.

My girl is growing up.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Feels Like School Spirit

I overslept this morning by seven minutes.

I know, seven minutes shouldn’t seem like much but when you’ve got your morning routine honed to the very last minute, those seven minutes mean a lot.

So we were doing our things, all seven minutes later than usual and Olivia glanced at the clothes I’d brought to the bathroom for her to put on. She informed me, “I don’t want to wear those clothes.”

“Why not?” I asked pleasantly. “This shirt has a sideways smile and says ‘Hello’ on the back.”

“But it’s not blue,” she told me.

And I got it. Fridays are the days that teachers can wear jeans and blue school shirts. The girls’ school colors are blue and grey and so all the school shirts are either gray with blue writing or the opposite.

I happily went down the girls’ room and grabbed a pair of jeggings and a blue shirt with a silver star sequin star on the front. When I presented her with the new outfit, she smiled happily but then asked, “Do I have a blue shirt with a sequin heart on it?”

“No, just this one with the star,” I told her.

She gave it some thought and declared, “Well, since I wore the pink one yesterday with the sequin heart the star is good for today.”

I nodded at her thoughtful choice and reminded her, “And the silver is really just shiny gray so you’re totally wearing Bomber colors today.”

She dressed herself with glee, so happy with the fact that she was going to be wearing Bomber blue just like all her friends today.

I kind of love this new development. Sure, it’s a little inconvenient to have to go get her an entirely new outfit but it only took a few seconds (out of an already seven minute late schedule, but what the heck) but she was so excited to fit in. And I want that for her. I want her to want friends, to make friends, to be one of the crowd even if she is so very genetically unique.

I want her to want to conform, even if just a little because it means she’s becoming aware of those around her and that’s been one of her biggest challenges to date.

So yay for school spirit; I think it might be just what Livie needs to find where she fits in at school.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Honor Roll Me

Last night was a loooong. From the time I got home at 5:15 until after 8:00 I was either cooking dinner, cleaning up from dinner or helping one or the other girl with homework.

Olivia’s homework, honestly, has gotten easier as this year has progressed. Maybe she’s matured but I don’t have to work quite so hard to keep her on task these days. It’s a relief.

Alyssa was doing math homework last night and it was tough. It was percentages and fractions and multiplying and dividing and equations and have I ever mentioned that I have a degree in English Literature and NOT in math?

Ugh! It was so hard not to just tell her the answers because she was so frustrated with the whole thing.

At one point as I was helping Tom told Lyss to make sure that my name goes up on the honor roll next to hers since I was helping her so much. She made a disgusted sound at him and I laughed.

Alyssa is a very hardworking student. She starts her homework right when she gets home from school and is usually done by the time I get home. So last night was an exception to the rule; thank goodness for me because that math was…well, not so much hard as it was distasteful. I’m not a fan of math if I haven’t mentioned.

So we finally settled down to read a Junie B. story and I felt like I’d just worked a 12 hour shift.

This hands-on, engaged parenting thing isn’t for the weak, is what I’m saying.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Overprotective Much?

So now that Alyssa is almost thirteen (she’s only a week from being an official teenager!) I guess I should loosen the reigns.

I think that’s what is expected of me.

And yet…I can’t. Not yet. I feel like she still needs me in so many little ways.

She was invited to a friend’s house on New Year’s Eve. The friend’s mom, Stacy, called me to let me know that she wasn’t going to be at home that evening. She knows I’m not likely to let Alyssa go to anyone’s house if a parent/adult isn’t going to be there.

Alyssa was invited to spend the night. The friend, Thea, and another friend, Sabrina, were going to be there along with Thea’s older sister, who is nineteen and the older sister’s boyfriend.

Ugh. I didn’t like that scenario at all.

But I relented. I told Lyss that she could go for the evening but I didn’t want her to spend the night. I planned to pick her up at 10pm. I told her that while I’m sure the nineteen year old and her boyfriend are very responsible, they’re still teenagers too and I really wasn’t comfortable with her spending the night in a house where there was no adult present for most of the night.

I think she was a little disappointed but I’m lucky that she’s a glass half full kind of kid and realized she was probably lucky I was letting her go at all.

When I got to the friend’s house to pick Lyss up that night, she informed me that the sister and boyfriend had actually left the house at least an hour before I got there. The three thirteen year olds were there alone.

Okay…breathe. I know that a lot of thirteen year olds are perfectly capable of being home alone. I really do know this. And actually, Alyssa is one of those kids who is very responsible. But she’s also never actually been left alone before and I think she as just a little freaked that they were there alone.

I’m all for letting kids spread their wings and become independent. But I would like this to happen in as controlled environment as possible. Is that even possible?

It’s so hard to know kids’ limits, even your own kids.

When I was thirteen I was home alone every single day babysitting an eight year old and a five month old. I wouldn’t expect that of Alyssa though. Not because she wouldn’t be capable, but well, because I don’t have to expect it of her. In our house, she gets to be young, a kid, a little longer.

And I’m okay with being the overprotective mom. Alyssa has mentioned a few times that there is only one other mom among her friends’ mom who is as protective as I am. And that mom is probably the one I feel the most connected to, the one I’d be most likely to be friends with even if we didn’t have kids who liked each other so much.

So I count that as a positive in my favor for how I’m parenting my daughters.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Let's Be Realistic Here

I could go on and on about how I want 2016 to be the year I get my weight under control, get my house organized, focus on my health, be more patient with the girls, etc.

But let’s be real, those things aren’t so much resolutions as they are wishes that exist all year long and don’t suddenly become more important when the ball drops and the old year becomes new.

No, I’m going to be more realistic this year. My goals for this year are, I hope, more attainable.

I want to sleep more. I love sleep and I never, EVER feel like I get enough. I’m sure my husband would disagree about whether or not the amount of sleep I get is enough but he’s not the one in my head, dealing with being tired all the time.

I want to read more. I love to read and I never really just sit down and read. I make time here and there but I want to make it a priority. PS, reading to my children doesn’t count in this category. Junie B. Jones books are not my go-to books when I want to sit and read for pleasure. Yes, they can make me laugh until I pee my pants but they’re still not quite what I’m talking about when I say I want to read more.

I love movies and so I want to see more movies. Again, I’m sure my husband would say that I already see as many movies as possible, but he is so very wrong.

We all need to laugh more so that’s on my list too. Laughter is vitally important to quality of life.

I need to experience a massage given by someone who doesn’t ask after two minutes, “Can I be done?” Yes, I want to receive a massage by a trained masseuse.

I’d like to fight more. Fight? Yes, fight. I want to figure out what’s important to me and fight for it. See, I’m usually a go-with-the-flow kind of gal because most things just don’t matter enough for me to fight over them. Those closest to me have very strong opinions about just about everything and so I usually just go with what they want because it’s easier and I just don’t care as much as they do. But there ARE things that are important to me and I want to find my voice and learn to stand up for what is important to me.

Yep, that’s what I want for 2016. Sleep, read, watch movies, laugh, get a massage, fight. Sounds like realistic goals to me.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2015 Wrap Up

Okay, so I guess this is a thing. Wrapping up 2015 so we can move onward into 2016. Not that time will suddenly stand still if I choose not to do a wrap-up post but, what the heck…

Early 2015 brought lots and lots of snow. Ick. But on the bright side, the girls had a lot of snow days. Yay for them.

We went to our first 5p- Society Conference. It was…well, let’s just say I had mixed feelings about it. I didn’t feel like we fit in at all and yet the girls, my mom and I had a lot of fun swimming in the pool and hanging out in our hotel room.

We went to Cedar Point again this year. That’s always a fun time. But it was SO cold our first day there. Brrrrr.

Alyssa got braces. Her teeth are so much better already and they weren’t even that bad (that we could tell, the orthodontist saw something different) to begin with.

We lost sweet Orville.

We gained sweet Harvey.

Olivia went to school this fall and settled into the mainstream classroom. She rarely gets pulled out of class for therapies or special services. She’s had a few bumps but we’re getting there. Her teachers are amazing.

The heating element went out in our oven on Christmas Eve. The basement flooded in the days following Christmas when we had torrential rain. Tom’s building shelves for the basement on this very day to avoid the cleanup he faced in the days after the water in the basement.

Olivia slept through the night most nights in her own bed. Can I get a whoo-freaking-hooo? I mean, seriously. Girlfriend was eight years and one month old when she started doing this. I wasn’t sure what to think about this development, except to not even mention it because it might jinx the whole thing and we’d be back to square one.

It was a good year. We had our ups and our downs but the days were mostly up. I’m calling it a good year. Let’s see what 2016 brings.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Top of the Table

Tom announced a week or so ago that he’d like 2016 to be the year of organization in our household.

I agreed that it was a lovely goal. Then we celebrated Christmas by bringing MORE things into our house. Sigh.

So we decided to start small. We wanted to clean off the dining table, stop it from being a catch-all for mail, school papers, random dental files, you name it, it was probably on our table.

We actually eat at that table and so it’s a pain the butt to have to move crap each time we sit down to eat.

So yesterday, I cleaned the table. And it stayed clean all day long. I know!! I can’t even imagine it either and yet there it was, clutter-free.

We’ll see how it goes this evening when I get home and clean out Olivia’s school folder, which always has stuff in the “Stays home” side. The “Back to School” side is rarely as full as that other side.

But the table was the only thing I managed to declutter yesterday. And today brings work and school and regularly scheduled programming. Alas, I will still need to find a way to fit a bit of decluttering into all that.

Because the area by the garage door needs attention. The corner in the living room is desperate for someone to go through and purge that crap.

There are so many other areas of the house that need to be cleaned/decluttered/burned down and rebuilt.

Don’t even get me started on the master bedroom. Yikes!

But instead of doing all that yesterday, I snuggled under three blankets on the couch and dozed while the girls sat with me and played either together or separately on their various electronics. Yep, mom fail and house-keeping fail all in one swoop.

But it was only one day. The date on the calendar doesn’t dictate to us when we can make changes. So there’s always tomorrow for cleaning and decluttering. There’s tomorrow to start that new diet and try to exercise a little more than not at all.

We’ll get there or we won’t but we won’t let decluttering get in the way of actually living. There are still Junie B. Jones books to be read, dinner to be cooked and eaten, baths to be taken and laughed to be shared. Those things are more important that putting away the seventy thousand pairs of shoes piled by the back door (of which two pairs are Olivia’s, two pairs are Tom’s and the rest belong to someone who will not be names but her name is not Mom…)

For now, I'm going to enjoy being able to see the top of my kitchen table.