Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Strep Strikes Again

Alas, I fear it is time to get a referral to the ENT.

Olivia has strep throat…again.

My nephew had a dentist appointment yesterday so my mom brought him and the girls to town where she met my brother and other nephew at the local McD’s, which, happily, has a play area. She swapped boys with my brother, taking the two year old while he took the eight year old to the dentist.

She, the girls and The Monster hung out at McD’s until J & J were done at the dentist.

They were waiting for me at 4:30 when I got off work. I joined them at McD’s for a few minutes before they headed to Meijer and I went on my way to Subway to pick up dinner for me and Tom.

The line at Subway was insane. I probably waited twenty minutes before even getting to the counter to order our subs. There was only one dude working but I’ll hand it to him, he handled the crowd well.

Then, hooray, I was on my way home. A mile from home, my phone rang. It was my mom.

“LIvie’s sick,” she told me as soon as I answered the phone.

“Is she throwing up?” I asked. I’d just seen them an hour ago, she’d seemed fine. I thought maybe if she was throwing up, maybe she’d just eaten something that didn’t agree with her.

“No,” my mom said. “She says her whole body aches. I gave her some ibuprofen this morning because she said her throat hurt. She hasn’t complained all day so I didn’t think anything of it. She feels warm now.”

“Do you want me to meet you at your house and I’ll bring her home?” I asked.

“We’re still in town,” Mom replied. “I think I should take her to Urgent Care. She’s on the verge of tears because she feels so awful.”

“Okay,” I said. “I’m a mile from home. Let me drop off the subs, use the bathroom and I’ll be there in about twenty-five minutes. They should see her even without me. They have her information in file. But have them call me if necessary.”

Then I finished the drive home, quickly told Tom what was up, use the bathroom (THANK YOU LORD!) and hopped back in the car to drive the eighteen miles back to town.

Olivia and my mom were already being seen by the doctor when I arrived at Urgent Care. Lyss and Jax were in the waiting room. They refused to be left behind again and joined me when I went back to see Liv and Mom.

The doctor was still in there. She announced it was strep throat and was writing a prescription. She advised that we treat O’s fever with alternating doses of ibuprofen and acetaminophen.

Olivia laid on the gurney whimpering under a quilt my mom had in her car.

“Do you want to come home with me tonight?” I asked her as I brushed her hair back from her forehead.

She looked at me aghast at the very idea. “No, I want to go back to Gram’s. I promise to rest and drink a lot.”

“She might as well come back with me,” my mom said. “She doesn’t need to go with you to get the antibiotics and she will rest as well as my house as she would at yours.”

Tom was a little miffed that I’d let our sick child go back to her Gram’s where she might wear herself out but I told him that since Lyss and Jax were both already exposed to her germs and my mom assured me she’d make Liv rest, it would be fine.

He forgave me as he ate the sub I’d brought home for him. The subs were only a little cold since it had been over two hours since I’d purchased them. Food always goes a long way toward paving the road to forgiveness.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Easter Bunny Is Not Real

After I got the girls to bed on Saturday night, I filled their Easter baskets and then hid them so when the girls woke up on Sunday morning they could do the usual search and find process that they’ve always enjoyed.

As I was looking through the living room and family room for the perfect hiding places, Tom said, “You know, whenever you want to stop doing this, I think the girls would be okay. Olivia told me today that the Easter Bunny isn’t real.”

I glanced over at him and shrugged. “I kind of knew the girls no longer actually believe the Easter Bunny brings the baskets. I mean, they’re thirteen and nine. But I like doing this. And now that I get credit for it, I like it even more.”

He shrugged back at me and went back to whatever he was watching on television.

He’s always been kind of meh about Christmas and Easter. He’s always thought I go a little overboard on it all.

But then, let’s all remember that this is his second time around. He’s done the Christmas and Easter merry-go-round for, oh, thirty or so years. So I’ll give him a pass as long as his comments are as benign at the one about Olivia and the Easter Bunny.

I like to remind him that we are A’s and O’s only celebration. His older kids, by the time they were the girls’ ages, were celebrating with their mom and step dad and then with Tom so they didn’t need him to do quite as much. Since A and O are so unlucky as to have their parents actually still be married all these years later (watch my eyes roll out of my head) it’s our job to celebrate these things with them.

In the end, I just like doing Easter baskets and dying eggs. I like shopping for the perfect Christmas present for my girls (and my mom and my brothers and my nephews and okay, and my husband.) I like wrapping presents and hiding baskets. So even if he doesn’t, it’s not like I’m asking him to actually do any of the work. He just needs to sit back and smile as the girls happily go through their baskets, oohing and ahhing over their treasures.

Honestly, it’s not like I’m asking the poor guy to dress up as the Easter Bunny and hide eggs one Sunday a year.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Waving My Geek Flag

Why yes, I did drag my thirteen year old daughter to the movie with me this weekend to see Batman vs Superman.

Yes, it was great fun and we did both wear shirts with Superman insignia (Alyssa’s actually had Superman AND Batman, she was the winner that day.)

The day before we went to the movie, we did our usual grocery run. I wore a different Superman shirt that day. Yes, I have WAY more than one. Whatever.

For the past year or so, Lyss has pointed out that I bring out the friendly in people. I talk to the cashier, the deli person, the dude restocking the tomatoes. I’ve got a friendly face, apparently.

While checking out, our cashier noticed the awesome S on my shirt and mentioned the movie coming out. He asked if we’d seen it yet.

I replied that we hadn’t, since, you know, it was released THAT DAY. But, I continued, we hoped to see it soon.

The cashier informed me that the woman who plays Wonder Woman is the only woman in the entire movie. Hmmmm…that’s not actually true. Just saying. Sure, there were more male characters but then, when isn’t that true?

Then, as he continued to scan my groceries, we discussed the ridiculousness of Batman even thinking for a minute that he could take on Superman. Though I did point out that if Batman managed to forge a weapon out of Kryptonite, well then he stood a slightly better chance.

Then our groceries were all scanned and bagged and it was time for us to go. I bid our friendly checker farewell and the girls and I found my mom a couple of lanes over and headed to the car…where a dude who was gathering carts caught sight of my shirt and again, I found myself discussing the movie and it’s potential.

When I finally got in the car, shutting the door as this young man was STILL talking, I found my mom and Alyssa laughing. (By the way, I really did try to actually END the conversation with this fellow before closing my car door. But he didn’t get from my, ‘Okay then, nice talking to you, bye’ that the conversation was over on my end.)

Alyssa informed me, “I’m telling Dad that you flirted with the cart guy and the cashier today!”

I rolled my eyes and reminded her, “Be sure and tell him that both of those guys started the conversations, not me.”

As I pulled the car out of its parking space, I continued, “Oh, and don’t forget to tell Dad that those dudes were both maybe twenty years old, so yeah, no threats there.”

“You bring out the friendly in people,” Alyssa said.

Which…aww. That was actually really sweet thing to say.

I thanked her and then pointed out, “The friendly and the geeky. It’s probably kind of sad these dorky, twenty-something guys are sort of my people, isn’t it?”

My mom and Lyssie laughed at me. I think they enjoy my geekiness, my ability to find solidarity with other geeks in the world.

I guess this means I’ll keep on wearing my Superman shirts, talking about all the geeky things and smiling ruefully when I have to close my car door just to end the conversation with a socially awkward dude who is just happy to have someone who even sort of gets him.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Alyssa has headphones she wears almost constantly when she’s using her tablet so that we don’t have to hear one more song by Pentatonix and she can listen to ALL THE SONGS by Pentatonix.

These headphones seem to be noise blocking as well as music producing. We can talk to her from just across the room and she won’t seem to hear anything at all.

Tom has a booming voice. He should have been a college professor so he could give lectures in one of those huge rooms with stadium seating. He wouldn’t have even needed a microphone to be heard at the very top corner of one of those rooms.

And yet, he needs to raise his voice when he speaks to Alyssa while she’s wearing her headphones.

Last night, he called her name twice and she finally responded with, “What?”

Her tone wasn’t disrespectful or curt. She was just letting him know she’d heard him and was ready to hear whatever else he had to say.

But her “What?” bothered him. Let’s all remember that he was born in the early sixties to much older parents (that happens when you’re the eleventh of thirteen children) so he was probably raised by parents who were my grandparents’ ages.

I laughed at him (in a kind way! Sheesh.) and told him that it was a generational thing. Alyssa looked confused so I told her a story my mom used to tell me and my brothers.

My mom grew up on Mississippi. She was twelve when her parents moved her and her nine siblings to Northwestern Ohio. Her older two siblings stayed in the Tennessee/Mississippi area.

Her mother was very big on enforcing respect around her house. If she called one of her children’s name, that child was NOT to reply with, “What?”

They were supposed to acknowledge their mother with, “Ma’am?”

According to my mom, she was the worst culprit of the “What?” response. And whenever she said that to her mother, my grandma would ask sharply, “What did you say?”

At that point, my mom would come back with, “Ma’am?”

Then, my mom reports, she’d walk away from her mother saying under her breath, “What, what, what, what.”

So apparently kids being annoyed by their parents’ antiquated rules is nothing new.

Tom decided that since her tone was mild and not disrespectful, Alyssa hadn’t actually done anything wrong. Which…okay. I mean, she’s thirteen, gets excellent grades, chooses to spend time with her family and spends all her electronic time searching for acapella groups. I think we can let a few ‘whats’ slide, since, well, we never actually TOLD her that she isn’t allowed to reply with “What?” when we call her name.

Hello, welcome to the twenty-first century. I was a child of the late twentieth century and I never had to reply to my mom’s calls with anything other than a respectful, “What?”

So that’s settled. Whew.

The headphones though…ha! Apparently, they don’t block nearly as much sound as we’d thought. It seems Miss Lyss really is a teenage with selective hearing.

Later that same evening, when Tom asked her, in a purely conversational tone (rather than his usual lecturing tone) if she was ready for ice cream, Alyssa replied with a quick, “Sure.”

Ha! When it’s in her best interest, that girl can hear perfectly well, even when she’s wearing headphones and blasting a Pentatonix song.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Maudlin Music for the Masses

There is this amazing singer out there, one that everyone loves and idolizes. I agree with the masses that this singer has a lovely voice but her songs make me crazy with the maudlin, screamy, angsty quality they have.

And they seem to last forever, with her going on and on about the past and when we were young and how she’s moved on and trying to be happy for a long lost love as she gazes upon him from the other side (outside?)

I guess I can understand why others find this music so wonderful. I guess the soulfulness of her songs speaks to the pain others have felt when relationships fail or when they think of the one that got away. Or something like that.

I don’t know. I’m probably all alone over here in the corner where I hear the first cords of one of her songs and think, “Oh no! Not that song again, change the radio channel, change it now!!”

All this is not to say that I don’t enjoy some of Adele’s songs. I do. Her last album, the one before this most current one, had some great songs, very catchy and listenable. But this most current one is just not one I would choose to listen to even once.

Like I said above, I agree with the world that she’s an amazing singer. That woman can belt out a song. Her most recent music just isn’t for me.

But then, I’m sure she couldn’t possibly care less about what a forty-something mom in the American Midwest thinks of her music. Which…good for her. I do hope she continues to make the kind of music that makes her happy, that makes her most devoted fans happy.

Diversity is what it’s all about. I’ll just go put on some Coldplay and go about my day.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Dealing with Telemarketers

Sometimes I answer the operator extension at work.

I’ve been doing this for fifteen years. I’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out telemarketers less than ten seconds into a conversation with them.

Let me preface what’s coming with the acknowledgement that I KNOW telemarketers are people who are just doing their jobs. They are trying to make a living and get through their day. I know this.

And yet, they make me crazy with their fast talking, their refusal to let the ‘customer’ get a word in before they can finish their spiel.

A few years ago (it must have been almost ten since I was pregnant with Olivia at the time, yikes) I had someone call me and start the conversation with something like:

“Hi! Can you tell me the model number of the printer there on your desk?”

Me, looking around to see if I was being pranked, “Um, I don’t have a printer on my desk.”

The woman on the other end of the call gave an exasperated sigh and said, “Yes, you do. I just need the model number. We had someone cancel a big order for cartridges and I can give you really good deal. I just need to know the model number of the one on your desk.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, totally on to her by this point. “We don’t have printers on our desks anymore. We got rid of those a year or so ago. But thank you so much, bye!”

And then I hung up on her. See, a couple of years before that, I’d fallen for a scam like that one. I accepted the ‘deal’ of taking some printer cartridges that someone else had ‘cancelled’ and then we were hooked for a certain amount of time to buy the stupid cartridges at full price. It was not pretty.

I thought the whole thing was done after I hung up on the woman but she called right back to hiss, “You’re a rude bitch!” Then she hung up on me.

Wow. That was intense for a few seconds. After I got over the initial shock, I was able to laugh it off but for a second or seven, I was stunned that she’d bothered to call me back just to toss profanities at me. She must have been having a bad day.

These days, I’m a little less rude (but not much) when it comes to telemarketers. When someone calls to ‘update’ their data, I’ll tell them I’m not allowed to do that.

By the way, I’m TOTALLY allowed to do it but it usually take forever and I don’t wanna do it, so…I don’t. Even when they say it will just be a few questions and will only last a minute or so, they are LYING. There are always more than just a few questions and it always takes like ten minutes. And nobody has time for that.

Today I got to send a telemarketer to one of our other facilities. I answered the phone, she started in with, “I’m from...blah, blah blah, I just need to update our information. We have your address as other facility’s address…”

At this point, she took a breath and so I interjected, “That’ our billing address. Let me transfer you to them.”

And as I was clicking ‘transfer’ on my phone, she was trying to ask me what the address was for where I currently am.


Huh…maybe I really am a rude bitch.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Standardized Testing

In Ohio, state-wide standardized testing starts in third grade. That means that next year Olivia will be taking these tests.

Once upon a time (like back in kindergarten) it was hinted that with her diagnosis, we could get Olivia exempted from this test.

Over the past two years of school, she’s proven that she CAN take tests and even does well when given enough time to process the questions. So, next year, with the stipulation that she receives extra time to take the test, Olivia will be right there with her classmates, taking the standardized test.

She’ll also have a one to one aide beside her as she takes these tests. The aide cannot read the questions or the answers to Olivia, but she (the aide) can help Olivia stay on task as she takes the tests.

Another accommodation being offered to Olivia is that she will be able to take breaks during the testing process if needed.

It’s all good things happening over here.

I think the best thing I heard during our IEP meeting concerning the standardized testing is that she will be exempt from having to received what the state of Ohio deems a passing grade.

Most students get three tries during the school year to ‘pass’ this test. If they don’t succeed during at least one of those tries, those students will have to repeat third grade the following school year.

Her teachers, therapists and principal agreed that having to repeat third grade would be hugely detrimental to Olivia’s social growth. It would devastate her to have to watch these kids she’s come to like and even smile at (someday, I swear, she WILL speak to them at school!) move on to fourth grade while she, Olivia, stays in third grade with a whole new set of kids.

Once again, I find myself so grateful for educators who see the big picture. They see more then test scores. They see a little girl who is trying so hard. They see that she IS passing the grade when it comes to the day to day school work. They see that the standardized test structure might be difficult for her and they know that for her, being with her peers, ‘friends’ who know her and accept her eccentricities, who even seem to embrace her differences and want so badly to break down the walls she’s trying so hard to climb herself is so much more important than the numbers on a test score.

Obviously, I’m still processing the whole IEP thing. It’s amazing how even when everything is positive and you (I) feel like the rest of the team is totally, one hundred percent all on the same side (Olivia’s side) it’s still a lot to take in, a lot to process.

I can only imagine how much I’d be processing if I felt like the school was against us somehow. I know there are parents out there who aren’t as lucky as we’ve been. My cousin is one of them. She’s been fighting for her daughter’s educational rights for years. It’s exhausting.

I’m just a little tired from it all but I came away feeling like we all want the same things for Olivia.

We want her to talk to her peers. We want her to do her school work with minimal arguments  We want her to show us what she knows because we all know that her intellect is fully intact, she’s just good at hiding it when it suits her. We all find this girl to be charming, funny, smart, silly, exasperating. And we all take each day as one more to help her find her way in this world that can be so hard for her to navigate.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

'Tis The Season

IEP season, that is.

I got to spend over an hour with Olivia’s teachers, therapists and principal yesterday.

It was actually a lovely meeting. We’re incredibly lucky that Olivia has an amazing team who takes personal pride in her accomplishments and their part in helping her reach those achievements.

Olivia is doing very well this year with the help of her teachers, her therapists and yes, even the kids in her class.

We’ve decided that she’ll continue this path in third grade, spending the majority of the day in the typical third grade classroom with one to one help from the special ed. Teacher and the occasional pull-out for sessions with the OT and the ST.

Her biggest challenge this year is the same as always, social. She still doesn’t talk to her classmates. She will whisper to the teacher during small group projects but she can’t bring herself to actually talk to her ‘friends.’

Yet, the teachers report, her classmates love her. They dote on her, they want to help her, they all compete to see who can make her laugh out loud throughout the school day.

One of the questions that almost stumped me was when they asked me what my goals for Olivia are.

I didn’t know quite what they were asking. Did they want to know if I wanted her to be able to take calculus when she was in high school? Be able to tie her own shoes by the end of second grade?

Finally I said, “I want for her what I want for her sister. I want her to be happy and to feel successful in whatever she does. If she wants a job when she’s older, I want that for her. I don’t care if she lives with me forever but if she wants to live independently, I want that for her because that will help her feel successful and that will help her be happy.”

They seemed happy with that answer.

I mean, isn’t that what we all want for our kids? Happiness…success, whatever that means for each individual person…contentment…as much independence as is possible.

It’s not asking too much and I am incredibly grateful that Olivia has an amazing school team who will help me and Tom help her reach those goals.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Goodbye Bomber

He was a good fish, as far as fish go. I mean, he didn’t make me work too hard to catch him with the net when I needed to clean his bowl.

He was aware of when Alyssa was pointing at food and was quick to make his way to the surface of the water to gobble up whatever food was given to him.

He also very much enjoyed flaring out at anyone who dared to look at him through the glass of his bowl. Like I said, he was a good, funny fish.

According to my very lazy internet search, the average Betta fish lives about two years.

Bomber was five.

Yesterday, we found him at the bottom of his bowl on his side.

Tom saw five bits of food at the bottom of the bowl so we think he probably died the day before.

There were no tears over this loss.

I mean, come on, he lived three years, over twice as long, as his average kinsmen. That and well, he was a fish.

After losing Orville, I think Alyssa has been preparing herself for this day. We’ve noticed over the past couple of months that Bomber had slowed down. There were days when he’d be at the bottom of the bowl and one of us would ask, “Do you think he’d dead?”
Then he’d twitch and move and blow a bubble, letting us know that nope, not dead yet.

But perhaps the close watch we kept on him kept Alyssa’s emotions at bay, let her start to grieve for him even a little before he was actually gone.

And honestly, it’s not like a fish is cuddly. Ick, no.

But he was funny and amusing and sure, okay, also disgusting. We’ll miss him even though we’re not actually crying over him.

Goodbye Bomber. I hope you had a good life with us. We certainly tried to make it so, you know, with the regular feedings and water changes/bowl cleanings.

Friday, March 11, 2016


Olivia had a dentist appointment yesterday.

Over the years, we’ve tried several dentists, starting with a pediatric dentist near where we used to live. Alyssa informed me that the staff at this particular dentist was awful, they yelled at her and Olivia and it was traumatic for both of them.

When we moved five years ago, I asked my dentist (which is a mile from where I work) if he’d take the girls on as patients. They said they were okay with doing cleanings on the girls (they even let me go back with the girls during cleanings!!) but if Olivia (okay, WHEN) needed work done on her teeth, this dentist, Dr. I preferred to send her to a pediatric dentist because he, Dr. I, wasn’t experienced in working on kids with special needs.

So after her first cleaning with Dr. I, Olivia needed a crown and a filling. We were given a referral to two different pediatric dentists, one of which was the one we’d seen years before whom Alyssa reported was mean.

That was a no for me. I called the other dentist for a consultation. Not only did we not have experience with this one being mean, their office was also closer to our new home, so win/win, right?

When we arrived for our first meeting with Dr. O he surprised me by asking how 5p- affected Olivia. This dentist had researched her syndrome before ever even meeting my girl. He was the first medical professional EVER to do this. I was so impressed that I vowed to never change dentists again. Well, until they tell me that Miss O is too old to be their patient, which, well, then maybe Dr. I will be willing/able to work on/with her.

So we did the dentist dance for a couple of years. I’d make appointments for both girls with Dr. I for cleanings. After Liv’s cleaning, I’d have to call Dr. O, schedule a consult because she ALWAYS needed work after a cleaning. After the consult, we’d make another appointment for the actual work.

See, 5p- makes it difficult for Liv’s body to correctly use the water/fluids she takes in. Hence the constipation and the plaque on her teeth that leads to decay and discoloration. We brush and we rinse and we push the water and it helps but…she will always have 5p- syndrome and so she will always fight this battle.

Last year I realized how insane it was for us to see Dr. I for cleanings when we still had to see Dr. O for a consult before he would do the work prescribed by Dr. I. So we decided to start doing cleanings at Dr. O’s office. We figured we’d take the first step out of the equation and save a few dollars since we had to see Dr. O twice anyway.

Yesterday was Liv’s first cleaning by Dr. O’s staff. It went surprisingly well and fast.

When they called me back to talk to Dr. O about Liv’s teeth, I was surprised to hears that we didn’t have to go back for work. There were no cavities, her crowns are still sitting tightly on her teeth, the fillings are still set and all is well. We don’t have to go back for six months!


Oh, yes and like Lyss, Liv seems to be delayed in losing her baby teeth. At nine, she’s lost eight teeth total, four on the top and four on the bottom. And right now, she has no loose teeth. I mentioned that Lyss had to have seven baby teeth removed to prepare her for her orthodontic work.

Dr. O nodded and said it was very obviously a family trait and Liv might need the same plan of care. But, he said, we’ll wait another couple of years before consulting with the orthodontist on any of that.

Right now we’re going to continue to be diligent in our oral hygiene and keep up the good work.

Yeah, we’re pretty proud of ourselves and our clean, healthy teeth over here in the Ordinary household. We know how to take the little things and make them a big freaking deal.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


It’s getting worse.

That hop she has to do between every transition is getting worse.

It’s making me crazy.

Here’s a message from her teacher that I got this morning:
Today, I got upset with Olivia because she wanted to argue with me about a direction I gave her in math for an assignment. Afterwards I asked her if she knew why I was mad at her and she didn't know. I decided to place the work aside and work on it during recess. At recess time, she completed the work with no arguing and was sent to recess about 5 minutes late. I believe she didn't mean to argue about the directions, but she is constantly questioning orally directions given by myself and Mrs. S, the classroom aide. Is there a strategy you use at home when this occurs? We will continue to work on this at school.
Next, I have noticed over the past few months that she has to jump in place at least once, sometimes more than once before she will sit down. She also makes a clicking noise when she does this. I'm wondering how you want me to handle this behavior? I have asked her why she does this, but she doesn't know, so I've ignored it. Let me know if you have any suggestions. Thank you:)
She has also started to write a number 1 after her number before she writes her number, which is 8. (Olivia 1 8 - is what she writes on her paper). Do you know why she might be doing this? When I ask her to erase it she says why? She has also told Mrs. Shellhorse that she doesn't have to erase it at home.
Finally, thank you for being such a great support to the teachers at school. I'm proud of how far Olivia has come in so many areas as it relates to school. I want her to continue to improve on her academic and social skills at school. Please let me know if you have any suggestions on how the 'team' can do this.
Thank you again for all you do! You're a wonderful parent!

So yeah, it’s not just a bother at home, it’s starting to affect school.

Well, the hopping and the arguing. The hopping, I’m not sure we can stop without some sort of therapy, to be honest. I mean, what can you do, spray the girl with water each time she hops?

No, we’re not going to treat her like a cat on the counter.

The arguing, well, we’ll see about that one. She doesn’t really argue with me as much as she does with her dad but we can still talk about the issues at school with her and try to figure out why she does it and see if she can stop herself.

I know how badly she wants to be ‘normal.’ She wants to be one of the kids playing on the playground at recess. She wants to invite friends over and just be one of the girls. She wants to stop hopping but I’m not sure she can do this on her own.

The plan, for now, is to make an appointment with our GP, see if he thinks we’d benefit from a referral to a therapist of some kind (ABA? Other ideas I’m missing?) and see if we can help this amazing, smart, beautiful girl of mine.

I could probably deal with my own frustration with the hopping if she didn’t seem bothered by it too but since it is bothering her and seems to be affecting school, it’s time to stop ignoring it and figure out what she needs from us to get over this most recent speed bump.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Can't Have It All

Last week Lyss brought home a note inviting her to enroll in Art 1, a high school class. This is only open to junior high students by invitation.

It is a big honor to be invited to join this class. The letter stated that Alyssa has shown maturity and an aptitude for art and the teacher would love to work with her to encourage her artistic abilities.

I was happy for Lyss and asked her if she wanted me to sign the letter and send it back to the school.

She frowned a little and hesitated.

“You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to,” I told her. I could tell something was bothering her about the invitation to this class.

“It’s not that,” she began. “It’s just, if I take that class, I’m afraid it will interfere with band and choir and those are more important to me.”

Ahhh, got it.

“Well,” I told her, “I guess you really can’t do it all. If band and choir are more important, that’s what you need to do.”

I’m proud of her for already being willing to let some things go in order to concentrate on those other things that mean a little more to her. She’s very much into music these days and band and choir answer some need inside her to explore music and all the ways it can teach her, speak for her, be expressed through her.

Some people (me?) try so hard for so long to have it all, to be it all, to wrench every drop of experience out of life that they don’t really end up with anything because they’ve stretched themselves so thin there’s nothing left to actually enjoy what they have. I want more for my girls.

I want them to find what gives them the most joy and work on that, concentrate on that, explore all that has to offer. Sure, keep being open to new things but when something comes along that you just know isn’t as important to you as another thing, it’s okay to let it go.

Do I want her to keep drawing and painting? Sure, when she’s moved to do so but I also want her to follow her heart and if her heart says that music is her love, well, I support that with my whole heart.

And in the end, it was an honor to be recognized by the art teacher and invited to join the class even though she’s choosing not to do so. Having a choice is always nice.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Always Early

About that Family Fun Night…it was Saturday night.

Yeah, we (my mom, Olivia and I) drove the four miles to the school on Friday because, well, yes, I’m an idiot. But that’s been well established, right?

I mean, I’m the woman who arrived a week early to a party that was in Indianapolis. Let’s all remember that I live a good three hour drive from Indianapolis. So yeah, that happened.

Even though we tried to attend Family Fun Night twenty four hours early, we did make it back the next night and it was…underwhelming.

We attended one of these events when Alyssa was in either second or third grade and now I remember why we hadn’t attended any since.

While it was nice to get out of the house on a Saturday evening (Alyssa even went with us since she was home from Trudy’s house) and we picked up her friend Sally.

Olivia hated the games that were set up in the elementary hallway. There was the matching game where you pick a duck and try to match the number on the bottom to another duck’s bottom…huh.

There was face painting but the people who were doing that were, um, how do I describe this kindly? Oh, that’s right, I can’t. They were awful! They were basically painting kids’ faces one solid color and then swiping a couple of weird whiskers on their cheeks and calling them cats and/or dogs. So awful!

There was a bounce house with a slide but it was four tickets (50 cents each) for one climb and slide. Olivia refused to go in without me or Alyssa and we both declared we were much too (big) mature to do such a thing.

So we sat on the bleachers in the gym and watched people walk back and forth.

Olivia refused to go into the cafeteria to see what kind of food was being offered. She informed me, “I have to go in that awful place every day for lunch. It smells bad in there and they have terrible food.”

Okay then.

There will probably not be another Family Fun Night in our future…like, ever.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Family Fun Night

Alyssa is spending the night with a friend tonight so Olivia and I are going to the school and spending an hour or so with the rest of the community for some Family Fun.

The school puts on this little carnival-esque thing every year. We attended the year Alyssa was in second grade, our first year at this school and it was…okay. I mean, the games were cute and the kids got some trinkets but there was no reason to make it an annual thing we just had to do.

But Olivia’s older and more aware of her peers these days. And she said her classmates are excited about Family Fun Night and so, that means she’s excited. So away we go.

Olivia wants to be more social. She wants so badly to be like Alyssa and have friends over and maybe, someday, spend the night at friends’ houses.

She’s self-aware enough to know she’s not ready for the spending the night at other’s houses but she thinks she ready for a day with several friends at our house.

Huh…I guess we’ll see. This morning I told her that maybe during spring break, she could invite a few friends to our house for the afternoon.

I want her to have friends. It’s one of the things I’ve longed for for her for so long. So…I guess I’ll do the work it takes to help her along her way in this world of social relationships.

Let me just say that it’s not easy for an introvert to do this. But for my girl I’ll do whatever it takes.

Thursday, March 3, 2016


I am feeling stifled these days.

Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe spring will lift my spirits.

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m trying to diet and yet I hate it with every fiber of my being. Usually when I’m doing a weight loss program, my psyche is all in and I’m okay with what I’m eating. I don’t even want the junk I’ve given up. This time, I’m miserable. I hate the food on my ‘diet plan’. I hate eating because it’s just no fun anymore.

I don’t know.

I feel like I’m angry all the time these days. Heck, half the time I don’t even know why I’m angry, I’m just sitting around furious at the world.

I try hard not to be angry at my kids. They’re awesome and I want them to know this. And, lucky me, they usually find my anger (that, again, is not directed at them) to be funny to the point of hilarity. That sometimes actually lifts my mood. So there’s that.

Whatever. All this is coming across as so ‘boo hoo, poor me’ and that’s not good either.

How are the girls? They’re awesome. Lyss starts track on Monday. She has a solo ensemble performance in April. She’s performing in a flute trio. I love this for her.

I have Liv’s IEP meeting the Monday after that. That ought to be fun. She’s having a tough time lately too. She’s being more obnoxious than usual and it’s spilling over into school. She’s sassy and argumentative and it’s keeping her from doing her work at school. I’m sure we’ll discuss that in our meeting.

And Tom…he’s trying. He’s trying so hard and when I take a minute to drag myself out of the haze of anger that seems to surround me and recognize that, to realize that his love language is so different from mine but in his way he’s showing how much he loves us, it brings a little sunshine into my world.

That’s something to hold onto until the sun really does come out again.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

I Don't Mean to Be Rude But...

If you ever find yourself prefacing a statement with the above phrase, stop. Just stop because you know you’re about to be rude and saying that you don’t mean to be rude isn’t actually helping with your rudeness.

Just saying.

And people who say they’re ‘brutally honest’…whatever. Those people are just using their version of honestly to be brutal.

One of the people who visited our house last weekend chose to preface a statement about how mature my older daughter looks with the phrase, “I don’t mean to be rude but…”

And then she made a rude statement that included pretty young teenagers and pedophiles all in the same sentence.

Everyone in the room was disgusted by her comment and my aunt quickly pointed out that what this woman had said was basically a victim-blaming statement and it was uncalled for.

Ugh!! Just ugh!

And while I’m on the subject of preface comments let me state that if a person feels the need to say, “I don’t have a racist/sexist/homophobic bone in my body but…”

Well, just get ready because that person is about to make a racist/sexist/homophobic statement. That’s just how it works. So how about if we all agree that if we feel like we need to preface something we’re about to say with a phrase that denotes that WE are not rude or racist or sexist or homophobic, perhaps maybe we just shouldn’t say it what we were about to say.

Mmmm, kay?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


Tom brought the girls into town and met me at the orthodontist’s office for an appointment for Alyssa. Because it was after school, he was able to bring them to me instead of me leaving work, going to the school (twenty miles away), picking Alyssa up and bringing her back to town for the appointment. On those days, Tom has to be at home when Liv gets off the bus.

But yesterday he was able to bring them to me. It was a nice change.

Olivia and I went back with Alyssa and sat in the chairs provided to watch the fun of having braces wires changed.

We chatted, as we do and finally, Olivia said, quite matter-of-factly, “I have a yellow slip at home.”

I gave her a curious look, “What did you do to get a yellow slip?”

There was no anger in my voice. We were still just having a conversation.

She shrugged and answered, “I didn’t write a number on my line when Mrs. A told me to.”

“Why didn’t you write the number?” I wanted to know.

She shrugged again. She often doesn’t know why she’s misbehaving, she just does it.

I told her, still with no anger in my voice, “When we get home, you can’t be on your tablet. You have to wait until tomorrow after school when you can show us that you can follow your teacher’s directions.”

She nodded and went back to reading the book she’d brought from home.

Sigh. This girl…she’s so amazing and so exasperating all at the same time.

Sunday morning, as I was preparing for guests, she came to me very casually and showed me her new Barbie (a Monster’s High doll with two heads.)

She’d drawn on both faces with an ink pen.

“I did this and now I’m going to wash it off,” she declared, heading for the downstairs bathroom.

I stopped her mid-stride and said, “No, let’s go upstairs. That is not going to just come off with soap and water.”

When we got upstairs, I first tried washing the doll’s faces with a Magic Eraser. None of the ink budged from those faces. Then I tried nail polish remover.


I told Olivia that she’d made a very bad choice.

Then I did what any self-respecting mother in the year 2016 does when they have a dilemma. I googled ‘how to get ink off a doll’s face.’

I found a youtube video of a woman who drew on her doll’s face deliberately just to show how well pimple cream works to get it off. This woman wrote on that doll’s face twice to show two different applications. Then, when she was done, she said, “And if that application doesn’t work, well, you’re on your own.”

That last sentence kind of pissed me off, but I was already pissed off by O’s bad choice (I was trying hard not to yell at her, because, well, what good would that have done?) so I took it out on the youtube lady and hissed, “Thanks for nothing, you hag!” Then I shut the browsing window and got to work trying what she’d suggested.

And what do you know? It worked! I had to apply it twice (we have Zapzyt, which is 10% benzoyl peroxide), put plastic over the faces and lay them in the sun but it worked. One of the dolls, Peri, the one with the bluer hair, had her lipstick smeared a little across the left side of her face but other than that they’re fine. Olivia was quite relieved and promised to never hide behind the recliner again with a doll and a pen.

So we’re working on things over here. Every day, we work on them. Together, we work toward maturity and growth and a sense of personal accountability.

When we got home from the orthodontist last night, I went through O’s backpack and found the yellow slip from her teacher. Mrs. A wrote that instead of following instructions, Liv wanted to argue about the instructions and why she even had to do what was being asked of her.

So we had another discussion on what it meant to follow directions and how when Mrs. A or Mrs. P or even Miss S. told her to do something, she HAD to do it because they were the boss of her. They’re the adults, they want to teach her something and that’s why they’re giving her direction.

Yes, I want her to be independent but I also want her to learn and being defiant at school will impede her education.

She listened, she nodded and she promised that today, she’d follow her teachers’ instructions.

We’ll see.