Thursday, April 28, 2016

74 Seconds

When I arrived at the track on Monday to watch Lyss’s meet, she ran from the high jump area to greet me.

“Guess who doesn’t have to run the mile today!?” she said with evident glee.

I pretended to ponder the issues before laughing and saying, “You!!”

She jumped up and down and said, “I’m running the four hundred meter instead.”

I told her I was happy for her and let her go back to the high jump so she could get a little practice in before the meet started.

The boys high jump always takes FOREVER and by the time it’s the girls’ turn, they’re calling the girls over for their running events.

They made the first call for the 400 meter dash and Alyssa rolls her eyes and got up to go check in. My mom called after her, “Remember, this is a dash, not a jog!”

Alyssa turned and gave her a patented ‘teenager’ look and continued on her way to check in for the race.

We left the high jump area and went to stand near the finish line of the race, which happens to be the starting line too since the 400 is one lap around the track.

Alyssa started in lane one, which is the farthest inside the track. This also means she was the farthest back from the other starters since the farther outside the track you get, the more you’re actually running if you were to all start at the same spot.

The starting gun went off and away they went. My mom and I could tell from the start that Lyss was running much faster than she ever runs when she is doing either the 800 meter or the mile. She passed the first girl as they were coming around the first curve. She passed the next two on the straight away. She passed the last two on the last curve and flew down the last straight away toward the finishing line.

My mom and I were ecstatic for her. The thrill of watching your kid do something she didn’t think she could do is amazing.

She was so proud of herself. I hugged her as she tried to catch her breath and said, “I think they found your race!”

She laughed and took the water I’d offered her.

It was so much fun being there when Lyss got home and told her dad about her race. The pride, the JOY she felt in winning that race was evident.

The next day I was able to pick her up from practice (I’d left work early to take O to the consult to get the referral to the ENT) and so I was able to hear all the girls on her team cheering for her as she walked toward my car.

When she got in, I asked what that was all about.

She said that when practice first started, the coach told them it was going to be a tough running day. Then he said that Lyss had run the 400 meter dash in 74 seconds the day before at the meet.

Let me take a minute here and point out that my daughter ran a lap around the track in a minute and 14 seconds...ONE MINUTE AND FOURTEEN SECONDS. Holy shit, that's some fast running, is what I'm saying.

Ahem, so...

The coach told all the girls that if any of them (including Alyssa) could run the 400 and either hit or beat Lyss’s time of 74 seconds, none of them would have to practice hard as he’d originally planned.

The girls lined up, the coach started the race and Lyss reported that she again flew around that track. She said as she passed N, the girl who ALWAYS wins the mile and half-mile races, N called out, “What even?!”

Alyssa met her own time from the previous day’s meet and none of the girls had to run a tough practice.

I love that the coach let her prove that her first run of the 400 wasn’t a fluke. He used her as an example of conditioning, pointing out that because she never bitched or complained about having to run it, even though she consistently came in last or second to last in all the meets, he’d kept her in it and running that race gave her the stamina to run the 400 in an amazing time for a seventh grader.

I couldn’t be more proud of my girl and her work ethic, her sense of team work and her good attitude.

I could learn a lot from this kid.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Olivia has strep throat…again. It’s been less than a month since her last bout.

We saw our family doctor yesterday for a referral to the ENT. Her tonsils need to come out. It’s just time.

I keep reminding myself that Alyssa as O’s age when her tonsils came out and in the ensuing four years, she’s had strep throat all of NO times. I asked Lyss a few days ago if she’s even had a sore throat at all since her tonsils were removed and she said she had, but only when she’d sung too much or make a weird sound that scratched at her throat. She’s a nutball.

We’re scheduled to see the ENT on Tuesday, May 10th to discuss a tonsillectomy. In the time between now and then, I get to go to our local Urgent Care and get O’s records for the past year to prove to insurance that this surgery is necessary.

It’s necessary. We need to get this done because she needs to not have strep running around in her little body.

I remember the guilt I felt when Lyss was recovering from surgery. I remember those days as she suffered from the pain of the surgery and we suffered from her breath. I remember wondering if I’d made the right decision to have her tonsils removed.

Four years later? It was the right decision and it’s right for Olivia now too.

I’m hoping we can keep her healthy from now until her consult with the ENT. She’s on her fourth day of a five day course of antibiotics. She’s very obviously feeling better and for that I’m incredibly grateful.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Joy/No Joy

Alyssa’s last track meet was a relay event. This means that all the races were relays.

Alyssa ran a half mile leg in one relay and then a mile leg in another relay.

As she was coming around the track on the last lap of her mile relay, Tom and my mom said that she didn’t appear to be enjoying herself at all.

She was tired, she was cranky (with us only, her coaches constantly praise her for her work ethic and her non-complainy attitude) and her legs hurt.

My mom compared the look on her face to the one she had when she was competing the solo and ensemble event a couple of weeks ago. She loves playing her flute. It brings her so much joy to make music.

But running? It’s work for her. She doesn’t seem to enjoy it while she’s doing it. She plows through those runs, going at a steady speed the entire time, never slowing, never increasing, just running to get the run over with.

I mulled over what my mom and Tom were saying as I walked toward the finish line to give Lyss some water after her race.

As we walked back to my mom, Tom and Liv, I told Alyssa she didn’t have to run track next year if she didn’t want to.

She glanced over at me and said, “I know.”

Then, a little while later, one of the eight graders on her team came up to her and told her she’d done a great job in her race.

The smile on Lyssie’s face, the glow she got from that praise. It’s not joy, not really but it’s something I think she needs. She needs that sense of comradery, that sense of pride she gets in knowing that she’s doing something that doesn’t necessarily come naturally but that she can do anyway.

Over the weekend, we found her some running pants she can wear under her track uniform. I told her as we were leaving the store, “At least we know they’ll fit next year when you run track again.”

She grinned at me.

Yeah, she’s going to do it again next year. She’ll be the veteran next year, the one who knows the ropes, the one who has done it all before and who has earned her stripes if you will.

And even if she never finds joy in running, she will always know that she can do it, she can push through the frustration, the pain, the non-joy to a place of pride that she laced up her shoes anyway, that she was a member of a team and did her best and made them all, including herself, proud.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Balancing Act

Tuesday was the first track meet that was hosted by Alyssa’s school, making it a ‘home’ meet. That meant that we didn’t have travel to watch Alyssa compete.

But it also meant that Tom and Olivia joined us at the track to watch Alyssa run her races and compete in the high jump.

Should I retract that last sentences and say that it meant that Tom could watch Alyssa run her races and compete in the high jump and I got to take Olivia to the bathroom repeatedly?

Because yeah, that’s what happened.

Now, let’s remember that if I’m around, Olivia is going to want me to do things with/for her. I get that.

I’m also reminding myself that this was Tom’s first chance to watch Alyssa compete. He hasn’t been to any other of the other meets because they were pretty far away (forty minutes, and that’s COUNTRY driving!) and he stayed home with Olivia because yeah, she gets bored easily.

So honestly, it was fine. I was a little more annoyed with the whole thing the afternoon of the meet but probably because I’m still trying to figure out how to balance parenting two very different kids.

I know! I’ve been at this for over nine years, you’d think I’d have figured it out.

And yet as Olivia whispered to me that she had to poop (she’d tried to poop ten minutes prior to the latest announcement, only to declare while sitting on the toilet, “Maybe I’ll just try to go when we get home.) I was torn.

Should I have been torn? Of course not. The poor child had to poop. What do you do when someone needs to poop? You take them to the toilet.

Yet, since she’d JUST tried to go I was skeptical of her motives. I thought she was bored and just wanted an excuse to get up and walk. If the destination was the restrooms, so be it.

At the time of her announcement, we were sitting on the bleachers inside the track watching Alyssa and her teammates do the high jump.

Tom suggested that O wait ten more minutes and we’d be at home. She shook her head firmly, insisting that she needed to poop RIGHT NOW.

So, mother of the year that I am, I sighed and left the field, O in tow, heading for the restrooms.

I told her that if she didn’t actually poop this time I was going to be made.

Yeah, I said that. Better start shining up that Mother of the Year trophy.

Much to my dismay (relief? Disgust at the aroma?) she did poop and it was a pretty quick event. I apologized to her as we walked back toward the high jump area, telling her I was sorry I’d made her wait even a few minutes when obviously, she DID have to go.

So yes, it’s a balancing act. I want to be there for Alyssa as she competes and when Tom and Olivia aren’t there, I am. I’m there one hundred percent.

But when Tom and Olivia are there, I need to be present for Olivia too. Just because she isn’t competing doesn’t mean she doesn’t have needs that have to be met too.

Perhaps when they’re 26 and 22, I’ll have figure out how to balance it all.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


As I go on and on about Alyssa and how amazing she is, how proud I am of her for pushing herself out of her comfort zone and running distances she doesn’t think she can run I realize that I need to be more of an example to her.

I need to not be that parent who says, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

But it’s so hard. It’s so hard to get up every single day and do something I don’t enjoy. It’s so hard to eat lettuce and choke down celery when what I really want is a #7 from McD’s with extra ranch.

But if I’m going to preach to Alyssa that she should run the mile just because her coach thinks she can, I need to listen to my own preaching and remember that before I stuff one more mini peppermint patty in my face.

So…I’m going to try. I’m not sure I’m in the zone where it will be easy, but I can’t do anything if I don’t at least try.

Like Alyssa taking that first step in the mile, I can’t finish what I don’t start.

Monday, April 18, 2016


I was a junior in high school when I performed in my first and only ensemble at a solo and ensemble event for band.

I was in a flute quintet. We played The Entertainer. It was awesome and so much fun and I wished then that I’d started competing earlier in my band life.

This past weekend, Alyssa and two other classmates performed in a flute trio. They received a superior rating of 1 for their performance. That’s the best rating you can get. I was so proud of her and her classmates. They worked hard and were very well prepared for the performance.

I wish I could take the confidence Lyss has when she’s playing the flute and bottle a little of it to give back to her for when she’s about to run a race in track.

To give her credit, I have to admit that Alyssa’s confidence with her flute is well-earned. She practices a lot. She plays her flute way more than she runs. And that’s okay. Music is important to her.

But watching her on Saturday, first practicing with her classmates and then as they performed for the judge, I found myself amazed at how grounded she was, how confidently she stood there waiting for the judge to tell them they could begin.

My child, this girl who should be four years old, stood tall and proud as she and her friends began to make music. It was beautiful, both the moment and the music.

I thought about watching her run, knowing she wasn’t enjoying the run nearly as much as she enjoys making music and I realized again how mature she is, how well-rounded she is. She’s willing to do things she doesn’t necessarily enjoy because she’s a part of the track team and while she knows she isn’t the best runner there, she’ll out there anyway, trying, doing her best.

I hope she’ll always put herself out there, learning new things even as she embraces the things she’s obviously good at and continues to improve herself. She inspires me to try harder and learn new things.

When did my little girl become my inspiration?

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Mile

Alyssa raced in the mile run last night and then, a little while later, she ran the 800 meter run, which is really the half mile.

When the meet started, Alyssa declared she didn’t WANT to run the mile.

My mom muttered something about who Lyss shouldn’t have to do the mile if she didn’t really want to do.

I sort of agreed but then said that it was really just a part of growing up. I mean, here I am, getting up at the obscene hour of 5:45 each morning even though I DON’T WANT TO and going to work and doing stuff that I’d really rather not do but do anyway because, yeah, I’m a grown-up who has bills and responsibilities.

Of course, Alyssa did fine in both the half mile and the mile. She didn’t ever have to stop and walk during either of her races. She’s pushing through and proving to herself that even if she doesn’t really want to do something, she can still do it well.

When we got home, Tom was a little annoyed that she had to run the mile even though she didn’t want to. He feels like the kids should get to pick the events they want to participate in and just do those.

I told him the same thing I told my mom. I mean, really? Talk about chaos. We’d have twenty kids running the 100 meter dash and none running the mile. It’s not going to hurt her to have to do something she’s not fond of. Running a mile isn’t that big a deal (says the woman who couldn’t run a mile without passing out and perhaps dying!) when you’re thirteen and in general good health.

Heck, if we’re going to go with Tom’s thoughts on track meets and apply it to school in general, maybe Alyssa shouldn’t HAVE to go to science class since she doesn’t REALLY like it. Maybe we should just let her pick her classes. At thirteen, I can guarantee she’d choose band, choir, art and gym. The rest of the time would be study halls and lunch.

But that’s not how it works. She needs math and science and social studies and language arts classes. She needs to learn to think and those classes will help her do that.

Sure, track is a voluntary thing but still, learning to go along with what your coach feels is best for you is a part of life too. It’s a lesson in teamwork and trusting those who are in charge to know what they’re doing.

If struggled with those runs, I might be a little more on my mom’s and Tom’s sides but she doesn’t. Her coaches know what she can do and they just want her to try. They know she can do this and do it well if she just pushes herself a little harder.

I never really learned to push myself and look at me…I don’t want Alyssa to wake up in 32 years and realize that she’s stuck because she never pushed, she never even tried.

She’s got so much potential and if her coaches can tap that potential it will mean so much for her for years to come.

Obviously, this isn’t just about running.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

She Has So Much to Say

Who’d have thought that our child with 5p- syndrome, a syndrome known for leaving individuals unable to speak at all, would be the biggest talker in the family?

Last night during dinner, Olivia could barely stop talking long enough to take bites of her potato soup. Since the startup of track meets (there’s been all of one, with the second one tonight) Olivia feels like she doesn’t get to talk to me enough.

So all through dinner, she told me stories about Mush Mush and Katherine and English and Chlocla and Language (those are all of O’s imaginary friends, with Mush Mush being the main character in most of the stories and the others serving as supporting characters.)

Every few sentences, I’d nod at some thrilling tidbit and remind her to eat her dinner. She’d pause in her story-telling, take a bite, chew it a couple of times, swallow and start right back up where she’d left off in her story.

At one point, Tom got up to get something and we exchanged a glance over O’s head. I think he Mush Mush stories are getting to him. He spends more time with her than I do throughout the week. He was with her all evening on Monday (and will be tonight) while I was with Lyss at the track meet. He also is the parent who is home when Liv gets off the bus at 3:15. They’re alone together until they go pick Lyss up from track practice at 4:30. When I get home at 5:00, he’s so done with O’s stories and her attitude and her sass and her bouncing and running and pounding on the table, wall, countertop.

I get it. I do. It can be really irritating but I worry that all this alone time isn’t actually good for either one of them. They’re getting on each other’s nerves.

Thankfully, next week Lyss has a home meet. Tom and Liv can come to that and I can be on Livie duty while he watches the meet.

I know that in the end, it’s good for both Tom and Livie to have to deal with each other. I can’t always be the buffer between them but…I kind of want to be just that. I feel like the both need that from me. Which is probably why they need to not have me there all that time.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Sleep Overs

Julie’s comment on my post about the broken bed made me think about how I feel about sleep overs.

Honestly, I’m not a fan. I don’t especially like it when Alyssa stays with a friend but I also don’t enjoy myself when she has friends over.

I won’t stop her from going to friends’ houses and we’ll continue to let her invite friends to our home.

But I don’t have to like any of it.

When she stays with others, there’s the transportation to and from the friend’s house, making sure I know when to pick her, making sure SHE knows when I’m picking her up so I don’t have to sit in someone’s driveway for an insane amount of time.

I don’t really like having her away from me over night even though I know it’s good for her and this is a necessary step toward independence on her part. I know that, which is why I let her go but I don’t like it. She’s thirteen and it’s hard for me to know that other adults, who are not me, are in charge of her care for even a night.

Then there’s the event of us having friends over. Ugh. Honestly, I think it’s even worse. The work involved feels way more intense than necessary. The stress of being responsible for other people’s kids is one of the reasons I didn’t finish my teaching degree.

And damn but even one more thirteen year old in the house can be so loud.

There’s also the food, the drinks, the running up and down the stairs. It seems like it always rains when Alyssa has friends over and someone always wants to play in the rain, which means towels and a load of laundry to be dried.

Then there’s Olivia, who always wants to be included in the activities Lyss is doing with her friends. I try hard to keep O occupied but there comes a time when Lyss and her friends have to suck it up and include the little sister for a little while, just because it means so much to her and I need her to stop asking me if she can go with them for just five minutes.

Luckily, most of Lyss’s friends are the babies of their families and so they kind of ‘get’ Olivia and her desire to hang with the older kids. They (the friends) can often be heard telling Alyssa to be nice to her little sister.

So there is that one bright moment in the dark fog that is having friends stay the night.

Thankfully, Alyssa’s a bit of an introvert (I wonder where she gets that) and so she doesn’t really ask to have friends over all that often (once a month, maybe?) She loves spending time with her friends but also needs to decompress when she comes home/they go home. And that decompression time often lasts for weeks, so while I will very often go to bat for her with Tom when it comes to having friends over (he loathes having sleepovers even more than I do) I don’t really have to all that often.

For that, I am grateful.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Track Meet

How do I describe the misery that is a track meet being held at a track in the middle of open fields on a day where the high might have gotten to a balmy 51 degrees?

Oh, should I also mention that this meet happened on a Monday following an extremely wet, rainy weekend?

Yeah. So not only were we all shivering and trying to find that one spot in front of a lone pine tree that might be out of the wind, we were also standing on soggy grass that was one step away from being pure, disgusting mud.

Alyssa competed in three events. These events happened in this order:

High jump at 4:45

100 yard sprint at 5:15

800 meter run at 6:30

That’s a lot of standing around and waiting, for her and for us.

We finally left the track at 7:08 and headed for the nearest McD’s because not only was Alyssa tired and freezing, she was starving.

A bonus for the evening? Olivia stayed home with Tom. We’re a divide and conquer kind of family. I stood outside and froze for three hours while he stayed home and dealt with Olivia and her homework/yellow slip/being silly. In the end, I think we were equally miserable.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Remember the Good

We had a pretty good weekend. There were a lot more laughs than yells and, better yet, there were no tears this weekend. That’s always a win in my book.

Sure, there where whines while out buying groceries. Both girls’ feet hurt by the end of the trip. Those kids need to toughen up!

But there was also lunch at our newly re-opened Dairy Queen (Alyssa declared that it is HI-TECH thanks to the fancy-schmancy coke dispensers) and shoe shopping and a visit to the library.

We played The Game of Life on Saturday evening and Olivia was delighted when I offered her a wife instead of a husband. She snatched up that option faster than you can say, “Payday!”

She was also thrilled when she landed on the very last option for having more kids and got to add twin girls to her car. She debated for some time (like a minute or two, which seems like forever when you’re playing a board game with a nine year old) on whether or not her twins were conjoined. In the end, she went with identical but not conjoined.

Later that night, after Lyss and I watched a couple of episodes of the second season of Z Nation (zombie babies are just…I can’t even with the zombie babies!) I was trying to rouse Olivia from the couch so we could all go sleep comfortably in our beds.

I knelt over her and was saying, “Come on, Honey. Come on, let’s go to bed.”

I said this several times in the most irritating voice and then realized just how I sounded and said with a laugh, “Wow, that is so annoying.”

I finally got O on her feet and started ‘walking’ her toward the stairs. She stopped in the middle of the living room and actually leaned back against my supporting arm, her body stiff, as if, in her sleep, she was refusing to take one more step.

At that point, I laughed, “This is just so stupid.”

Alyssa was already on the stairs and almost fell over with laughter. I got Olivia walking again (I am not carrying that kid anymore. She weighs 70 pounds!) and we made our way up to bed where Olivia tried to climb into my bed before steered her toward her own.

I know I should be taking her to bed each night before she falls asleep but sometimes, like on a Saturday night, it just doesn’t happen. I don’t care that much and so neither should any other judgy-pants. Just saying.

Alyssa was still giggling in her bed as I tucked O in. She (Lyss) kept saying over and over, “It’s just so stupid!” For some reason, she found that comment too funny.

I’m glad they think I’m funny. I hope I’m funny more often than I’m grouchy or tired or sad.

I want their memories to be more about funny stuff than anything else.

Sure, I want them to remember that I was real, that I struggled to be the best mom I could be but I hope I succeed more than I fail. I hope that’s what they remember.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Time Out

Last night Olivia had to be dragged from the kitchen and settled onto the couch for a lengthy timeout.

What was she doing that was so heinous that she needed a timeout? Well, let me tell you!

She was being openly defiant to both me and Tom. We’d both told her to stop pounding on the walls/floor (she does this when she’s excited or bored or whatever) and she kept doing it. When we’d tell her AGAIN to stop it, she’d shout, “Why?!?” at us.

Why was she being so defiant? Because I was sitting at the kitchen table helping Alyssa with her homework and because I was doing that, Olivia was not the center of my attention.


Our evening had started the way it always does. I got home from work, I helped Olivia with her homework, I considered starting dinner. Alyssa was already at the kitchen table, lamenting the fact that her science teacher had given homework the night before a test. Then she groaned and asked, “I don’t get this! Will you help me?!?”

And so I sat down with her to read over the questions she didn’t understand.

That’s when Olivia lost her mind.

During the twenty minutes that I sat at the table with Alyssa, Olivia called out, “Mom, watch this!” at least seventy nine times. She pounded on the wall, she danced around the room, she asked me why her feet wouldn’t lay flat on the floor (because she was flexing her toes). She asked me to ‘fix’ her feet so they’d no longer be flexed.

You would think that I focus on her non-stop most nights.

For the record, I do not. But I also don’t usually have to help Alyssa with her homework. When I do that, I focuse on Alyssa and O couldn’t take it.

If I’m not focused on either one of them, she’s fine but because I was working directly with Lyss, Liv needed to intervene. She needed to make sure I would still divide my attention between them if something important was happening with her. You know, like her flexing her feet.

Tom, who’d started heating up dinner while I helped with homework had finally had enough and told O to knock it off.

When she yelled the “Why?!” at him, he decided her sass was out of control.

She sat in the living room for about fifteen minutes before crawling to the kitchen door and asking why she was in timeout.

I explained to her that shouting at us was unacceptable and she rolled her eyes.

I told her to go back to the couch.

This kid…she probably sat on the couch for a half hour before finally settling down enough to even discuss why she’d been sent in there.

It’s so hard to know what she understands and what she doesn’t. Is she deliberately being a brat or can she really not help it?

How much is just nine year old sass that needs to be SHUT DOWN versus her truly being immature and not understanding why her behavior is unacceptable?

We’re trying over here. We’re trying so hard to be consistent, to enforce rules, to be fair to both our girls as we navigate this whole parenting thing.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

And Then They Broke My Bed

Because of the awesome timing of O’s strep diagnosis last week, we cancelled the plans we had to have the friends of the girls (the Porch sisters, some might remember) over one day during spring break last week.

I wanted to prevent the younger Porch sister (Delaney) from being exposed to O’s strep germs and if Delaney wasn’t coming over, it didn’t really make sense for Nora to come over. Right?

I suppose I might be trying to justify my reasons for cancelling the plans. It just felt like too much at the time.

But then when I got home on Wednesday, knowing I had Thursday and Friday off work, Alyssa asked if she could invite a couple of friends over since the Porch sisters couldn’t come.

And since these would be A’s friends, leaving O free to rest (and annoy me because the antibiotics were kicking in and she was feeling much better) I said sure.

Lyss ended up inviting three friends over, which, as Tom rightly pointed out, isn’t ‘having a friend over’ so much as having a small party. Ugh! Which, you know, fine. She has a lot of friends, friends who are all friends with each other and she didn’t want to leave anyone out. I get it. And honestly, even with three extra teenagers in the house, it’s not really that much more work since they tend to disappear into Alyssa’s room for hours at a time, reappearing only to scrounge for food or drink or to harass the cat.

Usually when Lyss has friends over, Liv is right up in their space, asking me constantly if she can go with them to the girls’ room, if she can go outside with them, if she can just be near them. I guess this case of strep really hit her hard because she was pretty content to sit next to me on the couch while they were upstairs doing who knows what.

Oh, yes, I do know now what they were doing.

They were practicing the high jump. They were practicing it on my bed. That is until they broke my bed.

Yes, they broke my bed. They managed to snap the metal frame into pieces. It boggles my mind how I didn’t hear them from my place in the living room, which is right under the room in which they were practicing the high jump…on my bed.

After I’d put Olivia to bed that night, I went about my own bedtime routine. At that point, Alyssa came into my bathroom and said, “Can I show you something?”

It should be noted that she was wearing what looked like costume make up (dark eyeliner in exaggerated cat-eye), a skirt tied to her head with a Star Wars knee-sock and shorts over leggings. Obviously, they were doing some kind of dress-up thing.

I followed her down the hall and found my bed at an odd angle. The foot off the bed was pretty much on the floor while the head was still being supported by the unbroken end of the frame. Two of the three guest girls were sitting on the bed even though it was at this strange angle. I asked the girls to get up so I could look at the frame.

I then asked Alyssa how this had happened. She confessed to the high jump practice.

I impressed myself with my calm demeanor when I said to her, “I guess the lesson here is that you don’t practice the high jump on a bed.”

Then I made the girls help me while pulled the frame from beneath the bed and we put the box springs and mattress back on the floor. I calmly told Alyssa we’d talk about this the next day when here friends had left.

For the rest of the night, I had trouble sleeping. I was in the guest room with Olivia since she’d been ousted from her room by Lyss’s friends. I don’t know that it was the broken bed that had a low level of anxiety simmering in my chest or if it was a conversation I’d had with my mom the day before (more on that in another post…) but my mind wouldn’t shut down.

In the end, the bed is fine. Tom happens to be a very organized hoarder of sorts and had several bed frames in storage. He found one that works perfectly and all is well in that arena.

There were other, much more stressful things that happened the next day that made my mood plummet, but in the end, a broken bed was just a drop in the bucket in an entire day of let’s-just-get-through-this.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Right On Schedule

As I was putting the girls to bed the other night, I realized something.

I am finally able to kiss them both goodnight, tuck Olivia in, hug Alyssa one more time and then…leave the room. And after I leave the room guess what happens…

They go to sleep.

Can you even imagine the world of possibilities this opens up for me?

I mean, seriously!

Okay, so yes, I’ve been able to do this with Alyssa for a few years. But Olivia…I’d begun to despair that I’d ever be able to just tuck her into bed and leave the room and expect her to actually stay in bed and go to sleep.

But as I walked away a few nights ago with whispers that I’d be right back, I realized that Olivia is actually right on time with being able to go to sleep on her own.

Right on time if you compare her to her sister that is. I realize that in other households, with other (better) parents and other kids, my girls are about, oh, nine years behind on sleep patterns.

But whatever! We’re not going to compare our house to other houses, we’re going to compare my two girls to each other.

And when I do compare their sleep patterns, like I said, Olivia is right on schedule. I’m pretty sure Alyssa was around nine when I was finally able to tuck her in, kiss her goodnight and leave the room with the whispered, “Be right back.”

And when I came back fifteen minutes later (or two hours, but who’s counting? Certainly not my sleeping children) she’d be sound asleep. When I’d tried that tactic even six months earlier, she’d be up looking for me after ten minutes.

Six months ago? Olivia was still coming to find me if I tried to tuck her in and leave the room. But now, voila! She just smiles when I kiss her goodnight, whispers that she loves me and she goes to sleep.

Let me rephrase that. She goes to sleep, in her bed, by herself, without me singing to her, or rubbing her back, or lying next to her. She goes to sleep even though I’VE LEFT THE ROOM.

And she did it pretty much right on the same schedule as her sister.

Go me, right? I’m right up there in the running for mother of the freaking year now that I’ve managed to sleep train my nine year old.

I always said they wouldn’t need me to sleep with them when they went off to college. If I go by that goal, we’re WAY ahead of schedule and my girls could actually be considered sleep prodigies.

Okay, so we don’t need to take it that far. But I’m celebrating over here, is what I’m saying.

Monday, April 4, 2016

A Girl and Her Uncle's Dog

Because my mom didn’t have enough to do last week, she invited me to bring the girls to her house on Sunday evening and let them stay until Wednesday afternoon. I know! She’s insane.

I stopped by each day after work and spent a couple of hours with everyone but then went home to a blessedly quiet house and enjoyed several kid-free evenings with my husband.

Not only did she have my girls at her house, my mom also had my eight year old nephew. Both his dad and his step-mom work outside the home and so it was just easier for him to stay the nights at her house during his spring break. And when he’s there, my mom swears it actually easier to care for him if Lyss and Liv are there too.

I don’t argue because they love their time with Gram and with Jax so hey, we all win.

About a week before the kids’ spring break, my youngest brother called my mom. He’d been selected at work to go to Detroit for a week of training. It was a great opportunity for him. But he lives alone with his one year old dog, Axe. Did my mom think she could dog-sit for him?

My mom wasn’t sure how this would work with Livie in the house. Olivia is not a fan of animals. She just doesn’t understand them or trust them. They scare her with their unpredictability and their furriness.

We talked about it a little and decided that Olivia would just have to deal. I mean, she’s going to encounter pets over the course of her life. We could do whatever possible to keep her and Axe out of each other’s way but he couldn’t stay home alone and Mitch didn’t have anyone else to ask to care for him. I mean, it’s not like Tom and I were going to offer our home to a dog when we’d just gotten rid of our kids for half a week!

So they made do. And it was fine. It really was. Sure, Olivia insisted on eating her meals while sitting ON the kitchen table since Axe enjoyed being under the table in hopes of scrapped falling to the floor and she couldn’t stand the idea of him rubbing up against her, or, even worse, him licking her.

Alyssa, on the other hand, because Axe’s favorite person in the entire world. My mom was actually a little worried that Axe might reject Mitch if Alyssa were at her house when Mitch came to pick him up at the end of the week.

This dog followed Lyssie around from room to room. He wouldn’t go outside to pee unless she went out with him. He preferred to be touching her at all times, whether it was lying next to her and leaning on her knee or having his head in her lap. He sat outside the bathroom door each time she went in and closed him out.

It was cute and actually very good for her because Alyssa thinks she’d someday like to have a dog of her own.

Well, she thought so before she spend three days and nights with Axe in her care. I’ve told her for years that dogs are a lot of work; A LOT of work. She didn’t really believe me. I mean, whatever, MOM, we’ve had fish and cats.

After time spend with Axe, she understands what I mean. That dog wouldn’t let her get more than two feet from him before getting up and following her to wherever she’d moved, even if she was still in the same room with him. He needed to be next to her, preferably with her petting him.

I’d say it was a learning experience for everyone. Olivia realized that she can co-exist with an animal in a house (that dog really wanted her to like him too, but after enough screeches from her, he finally just stopped even trying to get near her.) My mom remembered why she doesn’t want a full-time dog of her own and Alyssa is rethinking the whole having a dog of her own thing too.

Once again, we have a win-win-win situation. I love it when things work out like that.