Thursday, February 25, 2016

Snow Days

So yeah, we’re in the area that got blasted with snow over the last two days.

Today is the girls’ second day off school thanks to the weather.

They’re happy campers. Though Lyss was a little disgruntled this morning when I suggested she use this day of to shower. What is it with teens and showers? They either take three hour showers or avoid the shower like the plague for days on end. Whatever. At least Liv still loves to bathe.

Once again, I’m incredibly grateful to have a spouse who works from home. He can do these snow days with nary the batting of an eye.

I left work early yesterday (I’d had a half day vacation scheduled because I was supposed to take Olivia to the dentist. That didn’t happen.) and got home around 2:30. Liv immediately asked me to sit on the couch with her. What I thought she meant to be a few minutes of snuggle time was actually mean to be her leaning against me while she played Minecraft on her tablet. Ugh.

About an hour after I got home I mentioned casually that the snow outside was awesomely heavy and would pack nicely.

Olivia picked up on what I was saying immediately and asked, “Can Dad go outside with me and play?”

Why yes, Dad absolutely could go outside with her!! I got her dressed in snow pants, coat, hat, mittens and boots. She asked if she could take her toy binoculars out with her since we’d declared that her glasses didn’t need to be worn in the blowing snow. We okayed the binoculars.

She was ready! And out they went, where they proceeded to build the derpiest snowman ever created. Then (unpictured because it’s unfit for mixed company) they turned that snowman into a snow lady who was very much expecting a snow baby (it was horrific, trust me.)

They ended up staying outside for almost two hours, only coming in when they were both soaked to the skin.

Alyssa and I? We stayed warm and dry safely inside the house, though obviously, I did venture out a few times (only to the porch) to take pictures of them.

It was a wonderful afternoon for all of us. I wish I could have stayed home with them today, alas, the roads, while bad enough to close school, weren’t bad enough to close my work. Poor me.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Earrings, Earrings, Earrings

A few weeks ago, Olivia asked me when she could start changing her earrings.

We looked at the calendar and found the date that Alyssa had so kindly circled and written, “Can change earrings.”

It was February 20, six weeks to the day after O got her ears pierced.

She squealed with glee at the idea of changing her earrings.

She couldn’t wait!

My mom had already bought Olivia a pair of sparkly red heart earrings and those were the first ones she wanted to wear when we took her Elsa starter earrings out.

She was so happy.

We went to Walmart later that day (the one where the evil grandmother was a few weeks ago, thankfully, we didn’t hear her at all on this visit) and O found a pair of red earrings that were very reminiscent of the ones Wonder Woman wears during all three seasons of the show. She had to have them. They were cost a dollar so how could I refuse?

The minute we got to the car, she asked to change from the red hearts to the red balls.

So two earring changes in one day.

But then she wore those red balls for a few days before deciding on Tuesday that she needed to exchange them or a pair of green earrings that would match her camouflage clothes. Apparently, Tuesday was camouflage day at school. Who knew? Not me. And not Alyssa. But Olivia knew and she was determined to wear camouflage that day. Eh, whatever, right?

Then, this morning, she declared that since today is not camouflage day, she needed to change her earrings again.

I see a pattern. I see this child wanting her earrings matching her outfit every single day. And okay, no problem right? I mean, it takes all of ten seconds to change from one pair of earrings to another.

The problem is that she can take up to ten minute to PICK OUT which earrings she wants to wear. The child owns three pairs.

Her sister, however, has way more and O has already started perusing her sister’s stash.

I think we’re going to have to pick out earrings the night before because we don’t have a spare ten minutes in our morning routine for this sort of shenanigans.

And she’s already asking when she can wear dangly earrings.

Fourth grade, I declared.

“Why fourth grade?” she wanted to know.

“Because that’s when your sister was allowed to wear them,” I answered. It was a random age I picked out years ago when Lyss started clamoring to wear dangly earrings. Fourth grade seems just mature enough for this to happen. And since we’ve already set the precedence with the big sister, the little sister can follow suit.

Yeah, this ear piercing thing was a fabulous idea.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Quiz Bowl Nerves

She was nervous. She didn’t come out and say so, but I could tell.

She was quiet on the twenty minute drive to the school where the Quiz Bowl was being held.

She asked, “What if I don’t say anything at all?”

“That’s okay,” I assured her. “I’m just proud of you for showing up. That takes guts.”

She’s so much better than I am at everything in this world. When I was her age there is no way I’d have done what she’s doing.

She amazes me every single day.

She visibly relaxed when the rest of her team arrived at the school. They all relaxed even more when their teacher/coach showed up.

Her team won their first round. Sure, one kid answered probably ninety percent of the questions but they were all there, they all participated and I am so proud.

The second team our kids played was really high strung. One girl, at least, was wound very tightly. I think that threw our team off a little. They were quieter, less likely to buzz in to answer because the other team was so ‘in your face’ about it all.

But that’s okay too. They learned, they participated, they earned that experience and those memories.

Alyssa was glad when it was over and we could go home. She was tired from a long weekend of English projects and friends and just wanted to go home, shower, eat some ice cream lovingly scooped by her dad and snuggle on the couch.

I got a new blanket last week and it matches our living room so perfectly. The blanket is amazingly soft and just heavy enough that you feel it when it’s draped over your lap. I’ve shared it with both girls but not before telling them both, “This is mine. I will share it with you but you will not take it over.”

Yeah, I’m like that with blankets but only because I have to be.

The Quiz Bowl is over for another year and Alyssa is glad. She fell asleep under my new yellow and gray blanket, relaxed in the knowledge that her next public performance with be with her flute and two other girls at the solo/ensemble contest in April. I think, as smart as she is, she’s much more comfortable playing music than she is answering academic questions.

But I’ll keep encouraging her to branch out, to try new things, to explore all her talents because I feel like the world deserves to know just how amazing my girl is.

Monday, February 22, 2016


I was very irritable last night. Why?

Well, I hate the recliner in our living room. HATE it. I mean, really truly detest that chair. And it’s the chair I have to sit in if Olivia is going to eat in the living room. Yes, we eat in our living room. Get over it.

Yikes, sorry for biting your head off. Guess I’m not quite over my crankiness, huh?

Anyway, we don’t sit on the couch to eat because even though it’s three years old, it’s still in very good shape and if we were to sit on it to eat/feed someone ice cream, well, it wouldn’t stay in good shape for long, now would it?

No, it would not. So the recliner it is. And yet I hate that chair so much. I hate sitting in it, I hate sitting by it. I hate it.

So there’s the recliner sitting in its corner, all hated and all.

And then there is the other adult living in our house having all these thoughts and opinions on EVERY DAMN THING and it makes me insane with rage sometimes.

When this other adult shares a thought or idea with me, I always, ALWAYS give a comment of support. I never give suggestions on how this other adult could make their idea BETTER. I just support their endeavors.

But when I make a suggestion or have an idea of my own, there is always discussion, always an opinion, an opinion that I didn’t ask for, and ways to make my thought, my idea better. There is always something wrong with what I’ve suggested.

I don’t argue opinions. I won’t. Opinions aren’t fact, they can’t be proven. They’re just someone else’s thoughts, someone else’s own ideas or feelings. You can’t argue feelings.

And yet, every single feeling or opinion I offer gets debated and I’m so, SO tired of it. I don’t always say something in hopes of opening up a discussion. Sometimes, I just make a comment to make the other adult in my house aware of what I’m doing, rather than asking for another opinion or option.


This is what happens when you cohabitate with someone who has very strong opinions on pretty much everything in the entire world. And see, I don’t really have strong opinions on all that much. When I do have a strong opinion I’ll fight for it, but it doesn’t happen often enough for the other adult near me to really understand how frustrating it can be for someone else around you to always have a thought on what you’re planning/doing/cooking/cleaning/WHATEVER.

We discussed this a little last night, my partner in this life and I. We discussed how hard it is for me to even mention anything at all because it just means, to him, that I’m opening the subject for discussion.

He said he doesn’t mean to run roughshod over me, that he just often feels really strongly about something.

At that I said, “Yeah, you feel strongly about everything. And as far as you’re concerning, you’re always right. Sometimes, there isn’t a right or wrong, there are just two different ways to do something.”

I’m not sure he got it, quite honestly. But at least said something.

Except, it was after I said something that my real crankiness came bubbling up, setting in my chest like a cinder block. Then I sat in that horrible chair to feed Olivia some strawberry ice cream and I hate every single minute of it.

Then we watched Funniest Home Videos and there was so much stupid going on in those videos that I could barely stand it.

The girls were entertained, which is awesome. I did laugh a few times because they laughed so hard but my irritation at everything was there, looming over the room.

Thankfully, my children find me resting bitch face hilarious and all was well in their world.

In the end, that’s what counts the most.

Friday, February 19, 2016

While at The Walmarts

We live in a tri-state area. Which means we can drive from Ohio (home) into Indiana and then up to Michigan by driving about thirty miles total.

One Saturday a couple of weeks ago, I needed to go to Coldwater, Michigan to pay a bill. I know. In this day and age, one would think that one wouldn’t need to go TO THE STORE to pay a bill. Alas, I couldn’t find a way to pay that stupid bill online and so away we went. Road trip to Michigan for the win!

Ahem. So since we were all the way up there (thirteen whole miles over the border into Michigan) I decided we’d just buy our groceries at the Walmart in Coldwater rather than drive back into Indiana to buy them are our usual Walmart.

This Walmart is reminiscent of the one in Huntington, where we used to live. It’s laid out very much like that Walmart, bigger than the one we frequent most these days.

While we were there, Alyssa suggested we get a brush for Harvey, the stray cat that Tom started feeding around Thanksgiving. As we wandered the pet section, looking at the brushes, I found one just like the one we’d had for Orville. I asked Lyss what happened to that brush.

“Dad buried with Orville,” she reminded me in a soft voice.

“Oh,” I replied. “Yeah, I remember that now. That was really hard for him, you know.”

She nodded, pointedly looking at the brush selection.

“I think about him every day,” I continued. “Whenever I pull into the driveway and see the cross over where he’s buried, I tell him that we love him and miss him.”

Alyssa turned to me, tears in her eyes and said, “Oh, Mom.”

I realized I too had tears in my eyes and I pulled her to me in a hug as we both cried gentle tears.

Olivia looked on in confusion. I mean, hello, her mom and sister were hugging and crying in the pet section at Walmart for Pete Sakes! Because she’s very compassionate, Olivia wrapped her little arms around both me and Lyss, joining in our hug even though she actually loathed Orville and doesn’t mourn him even a little.

We finally pulled away and Alyssa found two tissues in the pocket for us to dry our eyes. We laughed at our emotional outburst and went on with our shopping.

Next stop was the jewelry section. O wanted to look for ear cuffs. Lyssie had gotten one at Claire’s the weekend before and Liv had coveted that thing for a week.

As we browsed the earrings, we could hear some other customers just one aisle over, at the jewelry counter. A little girl about to get her ears pierced.

Except, she didn’t want to. She was scared and her mom was trying to soothe her.

Her grandma, however, was berating the poor child for being a big baby.

This obnoxious woman was in one of the motorized carts that Walmart provides. She was hissing and booing the child for showing emotion and acting like it was the worst thing ever for this little girl (probably seven years old) for not wanting to let someone stab an earring through her earlobes.

It was incredibly unpleasant to hear this woman go on and on at the child. She kept saying things like, “You’re such a brat! This is the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever had to experience. I can’t believe you’re such a baby!”

I whispered to Alyssa, “She’s being horrible to that poor little girl who is just scared. What’s so important about getting your ears pierced that she has to treat that poor kid like this?”

Alyssa nodded wisely and replied, “Besides, who wants to get their ears pierced at WALMART!? That kid is smart to be scared.”

I stifled my laugh and we tried to ignore the vitriol that horrible woman was spewing at her granddaughter.

But she was hard to ignore. She was just getting started. Each word out of her mouth was worse than the one before it.

Finally, I sighed and said probably louder than I should have, “That woman is being a bitch!”

Alyssa raised her eyebrows at me. I rarely swear around the girls. Normally, I’d have said she was being a witch but witch wasn’t a strong enough word for that grandmother. Her bitchiness was spewing across the store.

She might have heard me. She might not have. She didn’t acknowledge my comment but did, soon after I declared her a hateful bitch, roll away on her motorized cart, continue to declare her granddaughter the biggest ungrateful baby in the world and the most embarrassing specimen of human excrement she’d ever been forced to endure.

Egads, she was horrible. I was glad she’d gone away. The little girl sniffled with her mom and they also took their leave, probably to follow in the wicked grandmother’s wheel tracks.

My girls and I continued to look for ear cuffs, finding none. Just as we were about to leave the jewelry department, the mom and daughter came back. She mom asked the jewelry associate if they could try the ear piercing again, now that Grandma From Hell was nowhere to be seen or heard.

The mom said apologetically to the clerk, “My mom can be a little intimidating.”

I said to no one in particular but this time not loud enough to be heard by anyone but my own children, “No, her mom isn’t intimidating, she’s a raging bitch. I’d ban her from ever being near my kids again if she were any relation to me.”

Of course, this is probably not true. I’m sure the mom (daughter of Cruella) was as browbeaten as her poor little girl. If I’d been raised by someone like that I’d probably be shell of a human being and unable to stand up for myself or my children too.

Thankfully I was raised by a lovely woman who shows lots of love and very little impatience and no hatefulness whatsoever.

Too bad not all kids in the world get that kind of upbringing. If they did, we’d probably be able to solve all the world’s problems. I mean, all you need is love, right? Love IS all you need.

And maybe a good cry with your best girls in the pet aisle at your local Walmart. That always warms the heart and spreads peace on earth.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Taking Turns

So on Tuesday I was sick with a headache. I managed to get through most of my day at work by pounding water and Excedrin but by 4pm, when I collapsed on our couch, I was done for the day.

Tom stepped up big time and managed most of our evening routine while I dozed on the couch, mostly with a blanket over my face to block out light and noise.

Wednesday morning dawned, waking a new me. I felt so much better it was as if a switch had been flipped. Whew, I thought, as I went about my morning.

Except…when I got downstairs, Tom was looking a little pale and explained that he was having an off morning.

His off morning turned into an off day and when I got home at 5:00, I found him in the recliner with a blanket, already almost dozing. Poor guy.

So it was my turn to take on the girls for the night. Thankfully, they both seem to be feeling just fine and frisky.

It’s times like this when I remember how lucky I am to have a partner who can step up and get things done when I can’t quite get off the couch. And the girls enjoy reminding Tom how lucky he is to have me around to fill in when he can’t stay awake past 5:30pm.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


On Super Bowl Sunday Tom went to his brother’s house to watch IU basketball. Have I mentioned that we’re too cheap to pay for cable/satellite in our house? Yeah? Okay.

So he left as I was putting lunch on the table for the girls.

About fifteen minutes into eating lunch, Olivia asked if she could be done. I looked at the food on the table, saw that she’d probably eaten less than a quarter of the soup I’d given her but had eaten all the yogurt and the grapefruit, I told her yes, she could be done.

“I can?” she asked, surprised.

See, we usually cajole her to eat just a little more. She can be finicky and irritating about food and eating.

But that day? It didn’t matter as much. So I replied, “Sure, if you want to be done, you can be done.”

She happily hopped down from her chair and went on her merry way.

Alyssa gave me a look of confusion.

“This is going to be a yes day,” I declared.

“Cool,” Lyss said. “Can I be done too?”

She’d eaten everything but the Pringles I’d put in a bowl for her and Liv to share. Of course, she could be done. Heck, even on a non-yes day, I’d have let her be done if all she was leaving was junk.

I have come to the conclusion that I don’t want to be a ‘clean your plate’ mom. I just don’t. I don’t think it teaches kids anything except to ignore their body’s signals. And that’s not a good thing to teach.

I don’t care about ‘wasting’ food. Once it is on someone’s plate, that food isn’t going to be eaten by someone else whether or not it’s eaten by the person it was meant for or thrown away. The idea that we’re ‘wasting’ good drives me crazy. I’m trying to give the girls more ownership of how much they eat at each meal.

Anyway, yikes, that veered quite far from the whole ‘yes day’ topic, didn’t it?

I managed to keep up with my yeses all day long. If their request wasn’t outrageous and didn’t put anyone at risk, I said yes.

O requests a bath at 3pm? Why not!

It was a good day.

I realize that hearing no once in a while is good for kids. I know that they need boundaries and limitations.

But I can’t help but feel like the world would be a better place if we could all hear yes a little more often.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


I woke up this morning with the kind of headache that makes you want to crawl into a hole and pull some dirt on top of you. Yeah, it was that bad.

As a result, Olivia couldn’t stop hugging me. Hugs, when you’re nine years old, are the cure for everything. And quite honestly, they were very nice and soothing.

Alyssa kept insisting that I needed to stay home from work.

Alas, that was not something that could happen today. I suppose I’m lucky that I’m needed at work. I mean, if they didn’t need me, I would probably be out of a job so…here I am, suffering in almost silence.

But, on the bright side, the headache seems to be retreating a little. It could have something to do with the two extra-strength ibuprofen tablets along with the two Excedrin tablets I took about an hour ago.

Tom suggested that it’s my current diet that’s making me sick and told me that perhaps I need a cookie and a Coke. I confess I’m tempted, so, so tempted to take his advice.

Monday, February 15, 2016


Last Friday after school Alyssa asked me if she could have some friends over.

First question was, “When?”

“Tomorrow?” she suggested.

“Are we talking overnight for just for a few hours?”

“Overnight,” she declared.

“How many? Because before you answer, I’m thinking two is ‘having friends over’ and three and more are a party.”

“Okay, two.”

“What will you guys do?”

“I want them to come over so we can sing acapella.”

Well…okay then.

She’s been mildly obsessed with the acapella group Pentatonix lately but I honestly never thought she’d want to invite friends over so they could sing together.

I love the idea, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s awesome that she and her friends are that much into music.

So when S and T showed up, S with her ukulele and T with her flute, I couldn’t have been happier.

They even let Olivia join their musical group. She found a drum set, a guitar and her recorder.

The four of them made beautiful music.

And I sat on my couch thinking about how lucky I am to have a teenager who would rather sing acapella with her friends and play her flute/ukulele/guitar than just about anything else.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Socially Awkward Genius

Alyssa and I enjoy watching the television show Scorpion on Monday nights. It’s a fun, smart show with lots of action.

She asks me most evenings what we watch that night. For some reason, I am the TV guide of our family.

When I mentioned Scorpion this past week, she said with glee, “Oh, good! Socially awkward geniuses.”

I laughed and agreed. Then I said, “Like you, right? But wait,” I continued before she could reply, “you’re not socially awkward.”

She gave that statement some thought and then said, “Well, I kind of am when I’m away from my friends.”

And you know what? I get that. I get that so much.

Our friends, whether they’re junior high friends, high school friends, college friends or adult friends are our cushion, our comfort zone. These are the people we’ve found who get us, who understand that there will be moments when we’re total dorks or a little reserves or just plain crazy.

Friends are the people who choose to be around us even when we’re at our worst and we’re (usually) lucky to have them.

I love that she’s surrounded herself with loving friends who embrace all that makes her special. I also love that she’s the kind of friend around whom others want to gather.

So she’s socially awkward sometimes? Big deal. Heck, half the battle is KNOWING these things. Some of the characters on Scorpion don’t even seem to know they’re awkward.

And heck, I think I’ve done alright with my life and I’m WAY more awkward than my sweet Lyss.

I think she’s going to be just fine, awkwardness and all. I mean, who cares if your awkward sometimes when you’re a genius? (Of course I realize that my girl is not at the genius level of Walter O’Brien, but she’s my daughter, so obviously I think she’s awesome…so there.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Potato

One of the benefits of turning thirteen for Alyssa was that she was finally, FINALLY allowed to get her own Facebook page. A lot of her friends got them before they turned thirteen but the Facebook rules are that you have to be thirteen and our family is all about the rules.

She signed up the weekend after she turned 13.

One of my rules was that she had to friend me and she could not hide posts from me. I mean, come on, she maybe be thirteen but that’s still very young and she definitely still needs to be parented.

The other day I saw that one of Lyss’s friends had tagged her in a post. This actually showed up on my page; I wasn’t looking through A’s page, though if I had been, that would have been okay too because yeah, mom here.

Anyway! The post was this:

This girl…Lyss’s friend, is very sweet but also comes across (to me) as needy of outside encouragement. Please don’t think I’m judging this girl, who from this point on will be called Faith because I’m tired of writing ‘this girl’ and ‘Lyss’s friend’. I was so much like Faith as a teenager. I needed people to tell me that I wasn’t fat, that I was pretty, that I was awesome in all ways that were important at that very moment. I also really, REALLY wanted everyone around me to read my mind and know exactly when I needed encouragement and what kind of encouragement.

Yeah, I was a delight as a teenager, let me tell you.

I am only posting this because I want to say how great I thought Alyssa’s reply to this post was.

She wrote, “I think the potato is cute.”

She didn’t feed into Faith’s need for someone to tell her that she doesn’t look like a potato. She didn’t exclaim, “Oh Faith! You’re so pretty, why do you say things like this?”

She said, “I think the potato is cute.”

And it is cute.

Which is one more thing I appreciate about my girl Lyssie. She sees beauty, fun, kindness, GOOD in so many things in this world. She hasn’t taken a page from my book and decided to seek the approval of others. Instead, she has this internal confidence, this internal sense of self that can’t be taught.

She amazes me every single day and this was just one more thing that made my heart fill with pride and joy at being this girl’s mother.

She’s her own person, she knows she has so much to offer and give the world and she also knows the world has a lot to offer her if she’s willing to work toward her goals. She doesn’t need people to tell her what she’s worth because she has a sense of self-worth that astounds me even as I wish I could bottle it for girls like Faith, or perhaps even girls like me, still.

My hope, my prayer for my Lyss is that she always hold on to this self-worth, this confidence, this beauty that comes from deep inside her. She’s not just an amazing daughter, she’s an awesome friend and I hope that Faith learns from Alyssa that your worth as a person doesn’t depend on how popular you are or who your boyfriend is but on how you see yourself, how hard you work toward your goals, how good a friend you are to those who care about you and about whom you care.

(For the record, I do believe that Alyssa gets her confidence from Tom.) ((Well, from his genes and her knowledge that she is so very, VERY loved by so many people, my mom being one of the most important people. Multi-generational families are the best. THE BEST!)) (((Did you know that Lyss, Liv and I practically lived with my mom and step-dad during our years of commuting? I will never be able to thank them for all they’ve done for me, Tom and the girls over the years; like I said, multiple generations helping raise kids for the win!)))

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Giver

Alyssa’s class recently read The Giver by Lois Lowry.

While we were at the library last weekend, Lyss suggested we get the book so I could read it. She’d enjoyed it enough to want to talk about it with me. And can I just say how much I love that she recommends books to me? I mean, how awesome is it that when she’s reading a book (at school, no less!) she thinks to herself, “I think my mom would enjoy this.” What a great kid I have, right?

It was a quick read, I finished it last night. If you like dystopian young adult books, this is a good one. It was actually in the J-Fic section of our library, rather than the YA-Fic section but I think it’s a little mature for Olivia and her second grade classmates and was just right for seventh graders like Alyssa.

So I finished the book and went in to tell A and O….

Wait, this might be classified as a spoiler. So if you’re going to read the book and hate spoilers, don’t read any further. If you’re like me and spoilers are a way of life, forge on.

I finished the book right after dinner last night and went to find A and O.

Upon spying them on the couch in the living room, I informed them, “You should both be glad you weren’t born in the same community as Jonas and Gabriel. If you had been, you’d both have been released by the time you were a year old.”

Olivia barely glanced up at me. She was playing with her tablet and so was in a technology-induced fugue state.

Alyssa, though, looked up and asked, “What?”

“You read the book,” I told her. “You know what I mean. Gabriel wouldn’t sleep through the night unless he was with Jonas. Because of that, he was going to be release. And you know what that means.”

I gave her a meaningful look.

“Oh!” she said.

“Yeah, so be glad you weren’t born in that community because if you had, you’d have been released because you AND your dreadful little sister were terrible sleepers until you were both over two years old.”

Alyssa grinned. “We’re also lucky to live in a place and time where love exists. That’s the real reason you didn’t ‘release’ us.”

I rolled my eyes. She’s got me there.

For the record, my nine year old woke me up three times last night. THREE TIMES! Need I remind everyone that she’s NINE freaking years old?


But wait…I guess I do have to point out that that kind of waking isn’t the norm anymore. It’s actually quite rare, which is perhaps why it’s stuck with me today. Well, that and because I’m tired, still…again.

Saturday, February 6, 2016


A couple of days ago, Alyssa mentioned off-handedly that one of her teachers asked her to join her school’s quiz bowl team.

I told her that was awesome and sounded like a lot of fun and asked her she wanted to do it.

She shrugged and mentioned that one other kid in her glass, a boy, was also asked to join.

She then said that the teacher mentioned they might have to stay after school to practice and asked if that would be a problem.

I told her that if she wanted to do this, we would make it not be a problem for her. She could stay after school and someone (Tom) would pick her up when Quiz Bowl practice was over.

The next day, I told Tom about the quiz bowl and explained that there would be afternoons where he’d need to pick her up. Then I told him pointedly, “This is an honor for her. We are supporting her in this because it’s awesome that her hard work at school is being noticed by her teachers.”

He shrugged and said, “Okay, I’ll just need a reminder each day she’ll need to be picked up.”

I love that she’s been asked to do this. I love that she wants to do this. I love that her good grades and hard-working spirit have been noticed. I want her to do things that are fun and interesting and different.

One of her friends, a girl who was sent to kindergarten at four years old because she’s so darned smart is jealous that she wasn’t picked for the quiz bowl. This girl is a just-turned-twelve year old seventh grader who is taking several eighth grade level classes. She’s getting Bs in those classes. She’s obviously very smart. But I can’t help but think that if she were in seventh grade level classes, she’d be getting better grades.

She might also have been asked to join the quiz bowl. Then again, maybe not.

I told Alyssa not to take Bea’s issues to heart. If Bea has a problem with not getting invited to join the quiz bowl, that is not Alyssa’s issue, it’s Bea’s problem. She can ask the teacher why she wasn’t asked if she wants to do so, but Alyssa doesn’t have to carry the burden of her friend’s concerns.

Alyssa shrugged at me and said, “I don’t care if she’s bothered or not.”

Alyssa knows she earns the grades she gets. That girl has a confidence I envy. I wish I could bottle it and spread it around because she amazes me. She’s smart, she’s beautiful, she’s sweet, she’s kind, she works so hard and is rewarded for it.

I’m so lucky to get to watch her take this journey called life.

Friday, February 5, 2016

When Mom Hides (or Why Mom Hides)

Wednesday night felt hectic and yet, really, when compared to earlier in the week, it was the most low-key night we’d had.

By 7:30, I was tired. So, so tired. The girls were in the family room. Alyssa was practicing her flute and Olivia was ‘singing’. I put the quote around singing because, well, sometimes her voice is less than melodious. I know! I know that’s a horrible thing for a mother to say. We’re supposed to think our darlings are precious and beautiful and their voices will change the world and bring about peace and goodwill to men (and women!)

Alas, I couldn’t bring myself to enjoy the sounds that were coming from the family room. They weren’t pleasant or even benign. Those children were making noise. Sure, they were having a grand old time making that noise but it was just noise; loud, enthusiastic noise that didn’t ring sweetly in my ears.

I retreated to the living room where Tom was watching the television at a higher-than-I’d-prefer volume but honestly, Law and Order louder than necessary was a reprieve from what was going on in the family room.

I told Tom, “I’m laying down on the couch and covering myself with blankets. Maybe the girls won’t notice that I’m here.”

The blankets were actually a nice barrier from both the noise of the television and the cacophony that was coming from the family room.

I dozed a bit while under my cocoon of blankets but not enough to not her Olivia come in at one point and ask Tom, “Where’s Mom?”

He replied, “I don’t know. Maybe she went upstairs.”

She didn’t choose to go upstairs to look for me and instead asked him to get her some ice cream.

At about 8:00, Alyssa decided she’d done enough flute practice and came to ask Tom the same question Olivia had asked. He gave A the same answer, with a bit more detail than I’d have preferred. He told Alyssa, “Maybe she’s upstairs pooping.”

I choked back laughter. Alyssa went to the bottom of the stairs, declared there were no lights on up there and came back to the living room where she spied the suspicious lump that was me under blankets. She yanked the blankets off my warm body and asked, “Have you been there all along!?”

I blinked up at her and nodded in answer.

Then Olivia asked me to help her find pajamas and brush her teeth.

After all was said and done, I didn’t feel even a little guilty for ‘hiding’ from my children for a half hour. I don’t even feel guilty for their dad having lied to them about my whereabouts during that time.

Sometimes, a mom has to retain her sanity in whatever way it takes. That night, it took me hiding in plain sight. Tomorrow, it might mean I have to escape to the basement to do laundry. Moms are always on the clock and taking even half hour breaks now and then are a must.

At least in my house, they are.

Thursday, February 4, 2016


This week has been…tough? No, not really tough so much as…off? Yeah, off.

I mean, Sunday was a wash what with the time spent at Urgent Care and The Walmarts (with a stop in between at McD’s, can’t forget that one) and then Monday was just weird.

I mean, most Mondays see me and the girls heading to my mom’s house for an hour or so of visiting and then home for dinner, reading and bed.

But this past Monday, the visit needed to be cut short because Olivia desperately needed a bath. Not only to wash off the sickies as much as we could but also because she hadn’t actually bathed since the previous Tuesday.

Don’t judge! She’s nine, so she doesn’t get nearly as stinky at the rest of the people who live in our house if she goes a few days between baths. And sometimes, it’s just tough to get it together. Just saying.

Anyway, she NEEDED a bath. So we cut our visit with my mom short so we could get home and have dinner before heading up for O’s bath.

Ten minutes after we got home, two minutes before I was about to put food on the table for the girls, our doorbell rings.

“No way!” I say, looking across the room at Tom. We both assumed it was my dad because no one else ever visits us, especially on a school night.

But no. It wasn’t my dad. It was one of my aunts. My mom has a lot (A LOT!) of sisters and this was the youngest of those sisters.

She had a carload of things she wanted to drop off for Alyssa to go through. She was quick to tell me that she wanted the hangers back. I assured her I’d get them back to her.

As she carried in the third armload of clothes, she asked if we were busy. I told her I was about to feed the girls their dinner.

She was visibly upset but said she was just tired and stressed from helping her brother (their oldest brother, my mom has a lot of brothers too.) I told her I hoped she felt better soon and we said our goodbyes.

I got the girls’ dinner on the table and was just sitting down with them when the doorbell rang again.

Are you FREAKING kidding me?!? This time, it WAS my dad. See, he usually visits on Friday but he’d missed the last Friday.

He showed up with some junk mail in his hand, which he considers his ‘in’ whenever he knows he’s coming over at an inconvenient time.

I let him in and informed him that he’d arrived during dinner. He followed me to the kitchen where he sat while I made sure she girls ate.

After they were finished eating, he followed me around the house for another ten minutes or so while I said again and again, “Okay, Liv, almost bath time. You have to have a bath tonight.”

Finally, since he wasn’t going to take the hint, I said, “Okay, so I really have to go up with Olivia while she takes a bath.”

He followed me to the front door where I said goodbye to him and whew, that was that.

After Olivia’s bath, I found Tom and asked him if I’d been rude to my dad because, yes, sometimes I border on rude when it comes to setting boundaries with that man.

Tom was kind enough to tell me I hadn’t been rude, that it was a school night, Olivia needed a bath and my dad was impeding our progress toward that bath. He was, in fact, an uninvited guest who needed to leave or HE was the one being rude.

Whew. I feel kind of bad even writing that but honestly, I think I need to get over that bad feeling because Tom was right. When someone comes to your house on a night that they know you’re busy, it is not rude to let them know, kindly of course, that you are busy and so can’t visit with them.

Boundaries people! I’m learning them and enforcing them and working on not feeling guilty about it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


Ahh, the joy of a child on prednisone. Mix in a little OCD and...yikes.

This morning, I was upstairs finishing up my morning routine and heard quite a bit of this:

“Stop that! Olivia, settle down!”

And finally:

“Go, get away from the table.”

At that point, I heard her laugh and head for the living room. I supposed we’re lucky she doesn’t take anything either of us says personally or let it hurt her feelings because ugh, there are days when she’d try the patience of a saint.

For the record, no saints live in our house.

Alyssa escaped the drama and joined me upstairs. I asked her what was up with her dad and sister.

She shrugged, “Oh, you know how Livie always needs to wipe her cup, she spilled her milk and it made Dad mad.”

“She can’t help the wiping, you know.” I said this more to myself than to her. I get Tom’s frustration, I mean, cleaning up messes gets old fast. And Olivia is so high functioning that sometimes we forget that her OCD really isn’t in her control.

Not that I don’t have my moments of frustration with this sweet, darling child who simply MUST hop before she sits down at the table, on the couch, gets into bed, climb into the car, sits on the toilet, steps into the tub…you name it, she’ll hop before doing it. It’s so irritating and yet I know…I KNOW she can’t help it.

And so, knowing this, we attempt to parent her patiently and kindly and yet there are moments, like this morning, when we feel like we can’t take one more wipe or one more hop.

Add steroids into the mix and life can get volatile.

I sent an email to O’s teacher this morning warning her of the potential for irritation in the form of a nine year old girl who is taking prednisone to help her heal from an illness.

She feels so much better, thanks to bot the steroid and the antibiotics that she’s bouncing off the walls and yet she still tires easily and needs more rest than she is willing to admit.

This too shall pass, as we all know. She’ll get well, the steroids will leave her system, we’ll all deal with the OCD and life will go on. It just might be a little messier for the time being.

We can handle that. If only because there’s no other choice.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

One Day More

It was decided, after looking at her pale face and red nose that Olivia would take one more day off school to continue her recovery and let the antibiotics clear out the strep from her throat.

Tomorrow, she’ll head back to school with a note stating that she should be excused from strenuous activity, such as gym class.

For me, it was an easy call but I did have to take Tom’s opinion into consideration. He is, after all, the parent who would be home with her on this second day of sickness. I get the idea he’s feeling a bit like Prisoner 24601 just before he got his yellow ticket of leave.

He looked at Liv, looked back at me and asked, “What do you think?”

And go me, I didn’t return the question to him. I told him, “I think she needs another day at home.”

And so there she is, snuggled on the chair, her tablet on her lap, her water by her side, a box of tissues (with lotion!) nestled next to her.

I think tomorrow she’ll be ready to go back and hit the books but sometimes, you just need one more day at home.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Rolling With Life

My typical Sunday is spent doing laundry, cleaning up the house, hanging with the girls, etc.

But that was meant to be yesterday.

Alas, Olivia woke up on Friday with the sniffles. On Saturday, the sniffles were still there, her nose running freely most of the day. Ick.

Sunday dawned and she announced that her throat hurt and she was really pale.

Tom and I both looked in her throat and without even saying a word, it was agreed that I would be taking that child to Urgent Care.

Olivia and I got dressed (okay, so I got dressed and I got some pants for O to wear under her nightie), Alyssa gathered way more stuff than she needed and we headed to my mom’s where Alyssa had requested to be dropped off while O and I were in town.

We ended up spending two and a half hours at Urgent Care. It was insanely busy and the wait was crazy long. Thankfully, Olivia didn’t have a fever and so wasn’t too miserable. She did have an incredibly sore throat, so I kept the water flowing into her.

By the time we were seen and released with a prescription for an antibiotic and a steroid for the strep throat she was diagnosed with, I was feeling like the day was slipping away.

So much to do, so much waiting done instead.

We went to McD’s to get O a Happy Meal so she could eat it in the back of the cart at Walmart while we waited for her prescriptions to be filled. She was starving and ate everything in that Happy Meal in spite of a throat ravaged by strep.

So yeah, that’s where we are. This was what she looked like most of yesterday.

I’ll be keeping track of the strep this year and won’t be surprised if we make a trip to the ENT by the end of the year. She will likely end up like her sister…sans tonsils.

But guess what? That laundry did get washed and dried. Folded and put away? Not so much, but everyone has clean clothes down in the basement, just waiting to be found and worn throughout the week.

Even the best laid plans are sent spiraling when your kid wakes up with strep throat. Ugh!