Wednesday, August 31, 2016

First Full Week of School

Whew…I’m so glad that’s over.

We got through the first full week of school (last week, which hence forth shall be call The Week of Hell or TWoH for short.)

I don’t know why it was so hard this year. I don’t remember it being this hard in years past.

Maybe it’s the fact that summer flew by. It feels like they just got out of school and here we are, back in, packing lunches each night, doing homework, laying out clothes and having arguments (Olivia!) over what to wear each morning.

Whatever it is, last week was full of it.

But so far, this week seems calmer, less hectic, less like I might need to get in my car and just start driving. And oh how awful I feel when I think like that. I mean, come on, we all know I’d never actually do it, but the fantasy is there if only because if I were in my car, driving away, the noise, the chaos, the stress that I felt during TWoH would be behind me.

I think part of my own stress is the fact that I never feel like I’m doing enough. Even when I’m so tired I could cry, or when my head hurts from who the hell knows, I feel like I should be sucking it up and giving more.

When I get cranky with the girls because it’s late and time for bed and they want one more minute of snuggle time, I feel awful because of course I should be grateful that they want to be near me. Of course I should be soaking this all in because someday they’re going to grow up and away from me.

And there’s Tom in the kitchen canning his hundredth jar of green beans or his fiftieth jar of salsa. Oh, wait, he’s going out to mow the lawn while the beans cool before he takes them out of the hot water bath. Watching him work makes me feel like a sloth. I feel like I can never, EVER keep up with him even though I leave the house all week long to go to work.

On the bright side (which might be why I’ve escaped TWoH) I did go through some clothes this past weekend and packed up four boxes for G, Tom’s granddaughter. She gets all of O’s hand-me-downs. I always tell her mom that once the clothes are in her hands, I truly do not care what happens to them. They can give them to other friends, donate them to their local Goodwill, burn them, whatever. I’m just always glad when they’re out of my house. Alas, those boxes are not yet out of my house, but they are off the ‘guest’ bed and in boxes, so I’m counting it as a job done on my part. Now it’s up to Tom, the hardest worker in our house, to get them to his van and to Huntington to G and her loving parents.

I feel like this post is coming across as negative when that wasn’t my intention.

What I meant to convey in the last 500 or so words is that this week has been way better than last week. We seem to be finding our groove, our schedule. Everyone and everything seems to have calmed down and we’re getting there.

Yeah, that’s what I wanted to say.

Monday, August 29, 2016

School Pictures

We have a photo wall heading up the wall of our stairway.

It’s got the girls’ school pictures, though, I have to confess, Alyssa’s pictures start at second grade because, well, we moved into our current house three days before she started second grade and, well, her kindergarten and first grade pictures are still in a box somewhere in the garage. Sigh…mom/wife fail number one…

But yeah, we have her pictures from second grade on up on the wall. O’s pictures are up there too, starting with preschool and going up to second grade.

This year’s school pictures are being taken this week.

I realized yesterday that I hadn’t yet put up last year’s pictures…fail number two…

Yes, I know in the grand scheme of things hanging pictures, or NOT hanging pictures really isn’t that big a deal.

But I kind of wanted to get last year’s pictures up before this year’s pictures were taken, so I found the frames I’d bought last year around this time…mom triumph number one…and put the pictures in them. Then I hammered a couple of nails into the wall and up the pictures went.

Olivia supervised the entire process and declared me a master picture hanger.

After last week during which I felt like every single second of every single day was a major fail I’ll take being a master at anything at all.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Sort Of

Each day this week when I got home from work, after hugs and kisses all around, I asked Olivia is she talked to her teacher or her classmates that day.

And every single day her answer was, “Sort of.”

I didn’t push further than that because, well, the school year just started and this girl is a work in progress. Aren’t we all?

She’s already farther along in communicating than she was last year at this time.

Sure, it helps that Mrs. H was one of her KinderKids teacher. But she wasn’t all that close to Mrs. H back in KinderKids because O was actually in the other Mrs. H’s classroom and considered her the ‘real’ teacher. The fact that the two Mrs. Aiches co-taught the entire class and just separated them alphabetically so they’d all have a place to hang their backpacks didn’t matter to Olivia.

But she’s also a little behind in the game this year because Mrs. A, the special ed teacher who’s been with her since KinderKids was moved up and is now teaching the fourth through sixth graders. Which…yay for fourth-grade Olivia next year but a little harder for third-grade Olivia this year who is getting to know a new special ed teacher, Mrs. B.

It appears (from what I can get from O in her less than forthcoming answers to my questions) that she’s adjusting fairly well the new teacher, the new schedule, the new classroom, the new locker.

I love that she’s been with some of these kids for four years, this being their fifth year together. It means the kids know her, they may not understand her quirks but they’re used to them and most of them accept her and think she’s sweet and funny.

What I want most for Olivia is that she feels accepted and that she’s happy. I want others to see her as I do, someone with a lot to offer, someone who would be a great friend if they’d just give her a chance. She be that friend with an impeccable sense of style who would advise them if they’d just let her. She’d tell them awesome stories that she’s made up about the Monster High characters as well as regale them with tales about what it’s like to have a teenaged sister.

These are the things I imagine for, wish for Olivia. I’m not giving up on her having those things. We’ll continue to muddle through it all together.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Taking Stress Home

I was grouchy last night. I was tired and irritable and wanted a little quiet.

The girls, on the other hand, are rarely quiet. And if I’m home, they rarely want to be anywhere that I am not.

Yesterday was tough at work. I hate Tuesdays…I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that before. Anyway, it was Tuesday and it was hard and I was tired when I got home.

But that’s no excuse for taking that stress home with me.

After dinner, I went upstairs to get pajamas for Olivia. While up there, (I’d managed to go up without anyone ((Olivia)) noticing I was leaving the first floor, so I had several minutes to myself) I read a couple of pages in the book I’m currently reading, I brushed my teeth and then I heard Olivia call up the stairs, “Mom?”

I took a deep breath and said, “What?”

She started up the stairs, “Where are you?”

I replied, “I’m here.”

Okay, so there are four bedrooms on the second floor of our house as well as two bathrooms and several very large closets so calling out ‘I’m here’ isn’t all that helpful. But I figured she’d follow my voice.

At that point, I decided to lay on the bedroom floor in hopes that my prone position would let her know that I just wanted a few minutes of quiet and maybe, just maybe, she’d go find her dad to regale with stories about the Monster High characters.

I’m such an optimistic fool.

Alas, while my foolishness held, my optimism did not. She laid down next to me on that dirty floor (I REALLY need to vacuum up there) and started talking.

Not five minutes after Olivia snuggled up against me and regaled me with stories of Draculaura dancing on our ceiling, Alyssa joined us with her tablet, playing a video on youtube of Pentatonix singing happily.

At that point, I crawled (because I’m SO mature) to Olivia’s bed and put my head underneath it. I was just so desperate for quiet, for peace for even just a few minutes.

Alyssa playfully tried to pull me out from under the bed. She pulled hard enough hurt my ankles but I tried not to let her know how much it hurt.

As I lay there, the stress of the day, the pressure of being ON all day long and all evening long got to me. I fought tears even as I heaved myself off the floor and went to Liv’s closet to get her some pajamas.

I tried to hide the fact that I was on the verge of tears but that Lyss is a perceptive one.

When the three of us got back downstairs, Alyssa tried to make Olivia stay with her in the living room while I got pie and ice cream for Liv and cake for Lyss. (I swear, the feeding never, EVER ends…)

It made me REALLY sad to know that my thirteen year old was so worried about my state of mind that she was trying to protect me from her nine year old sister. It broke my heart to know that my stupid mood, a left-over from work, made her feel like she had to be the adult in that moment...I never want my kids to feel like they have to parent me.

I put the dessert on hold and went in to tell Lyssie, “I’m okay, Sweetie. Really. You don’t have to worry about me.”

She gave me a grateful smile and let her wriggling sister go.

And you know what? I was okay. Those few moments of wallowing helped but what helped even more was saying out loud that I was okay. Facing my moment of weakness, letting myself feel all the feels and then deciding that the stress at work wasn’t going to crush me, it helped.

I helped O eat her pie and ice cream. I gave Lyss her cake and we settled in for the night.

When 10pm rolled around, I was able to laugh myself into coughing fits at Henry Winkler, William (aka Bill) Shatner, Terry Bradshaw and George Foreman as they made fools of themselves in Japan.

And then we went to bed and I got to wake up this morning and do it all again…

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Eighth vs Third

“They already gave us homework!” Alyssa lamented the minute I walked in the door last Friday afternoon.

It was the first day of school and she was disgusted that three of her teachers had given homework that very day.

Welcome to eighth grade, I thought with a smile.

She’s actually really good about doing her homework and I never worry about whether she’s left anything undone or if she even needs me to check it for her.

Olivia pranced through the room and announced, “My teacher said we’re going to review a lot of stuff and so we probably won’t have homework for a couple of weeks.”

I think that if Alyssa had been able to throw something at her sister at that moment without repercussions, she’d have done it.

Today was the third day of school. Alyssa packed her lunch last night as I packed Liv’s. This morning Alyssa was texting away on her phone as I cajoled Olivia to eat just a little more of her breakfast. Alyssa doubled checked to make sure her homework was in her backpack while Olivia asked again, “What is homeschool and why can’t we do that?”

Eighth grade is all about independence, learning to do and think for herself. An eighth grader is expected to know what her homework is, do it herself and turn it in without reminders. Eighth graders know when to shower, can pick out weather-appropriate outfits and, biggest news of all, they can sit in the front seat of the car.

Third graders, our third grader at least, still wear whatever Mom lays out for them. They eat what is put in front of them and hey bathe on the schedule set for them.

And that’s okay. They’re both still growing and learning and I am loving both the third grade stage and the eighth grade stage. I feel lucky to get to do this with these sweet girls.

Oh yeah, best of all (according to Liv), third graders still let (need?) Mom to do their hair.

We call this one: Beach Volleyball Hair.

(Please ignore the ugly pink countertops and the horrific clutter on said ugly pink countertops.)

Monday, August 22, 2016

School Prep

Every single August, I wonder where the hell I put the scissors Olivia used the previous year in school.

And I can never, ever figure out where they went and so we end up buying a new pair of scissors along with the twenty pencils, the two erasers, the bottle of school glue, the five folders (plastic, because they hold up better than paper, at least in O’s backpack,) the four one-subject notebooks, the dry erase markers and the new lunch box, because the one from the previous year smells REALLY bad.

Where are those scissors from the past five years?

I mean, seriously?

As I labeled and packed Liv’s new school supplies into two plastic WalMart bags, I reminded her, “You only cut paper with these scissors. You do not cut your hair or your clothes!”

She rolled her eyes at me and told me, “I only did either of those things one time, and they were both in first grade.”

Okay, fair enough, but I feel like if I didn’t remind her that scissors are for paper only, she’ll claim to have ‘forgotten’ that rule the next time she comes home with a shirt sleeve in tatters or one chunk of her bangs suddenly an inch shorter than the rest.

Each fall I tell myself that next year, when school lets out for summer, I will find a bin and label it “School Supplies” and into that bin, we’ll dump everything the girls bring home from their lockers/desks on the last day of school.

But then that day finally rolls around and we’re all so glad it’s finally SUMMER that the bin never materializes, it never gets labeled and the school supplies get strewn about the house until the disappear into the piles of clutter that accumulate around our house until I can’t stand it anymore and purge everything, only to have to buy more freaking scissors come August.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Déjà vu

The alarm went off at 6am…just like yesterday.

I looked out the window and was greeted by a dense fog…just like yesterday.

I waited until 6:10 to see if the school would call about a delay and when it didn’t, I woke the girls up…just like yesterday.

I braided Olivia’s hair (into a heart, of course), took her downstairs to clean her glasses and hand her off to Tom for breakfast…just like yesterday.

Then we went outside to take pictures…just like yesterday. In fact, the girls even wore the same outfits as yesterday because the minute after the call came in yesterday about school being closed, Tom sent them both upstairs to change out of their ‘first day of school’ clothes and into jammies.

Sadly (for the girls) the difference between yesterday and today is that there was no call about a delay or a cancellation. The bus arrived (though a little late) and off they went to school.

Here’s to the REAL first day of school.

And a pic of their shoes just because.

Thursday, August 18, 2016


The first day of school, that is.

Yep, the girls were supposed to have their first day of school today.

Fortunately for them…unfortunately for their dad, the day dawned very, VERY foggy and school was delayed two hours.

Then, an hour into the two hour delay, we got the call/text…school is cancelled due to the weather. I am sitting at my desk at work imagining the celebrating going on by two thirds of my family while the last third is probably weeping into his coffee.

Tom’s great about having the girls around during the summer. As they get older and more capable of taking care of themselves (for the most part) his work is easing but still, they have to have minimal supervision throughout the day and he can’t just decide one morning to head off to an auction if they’re at home with him.

So yes, he was excited about the start of school…and here we are, with the first day CANCELLED due to fog. Poor guy.

I say this as I laughed and laughed when the call/text came in letting us know about the cancellation. Because yeah, I’m at work, doing my thing, NOT having my day interrupted by two giggly, needy, loud girls.

On the bright side, we got to practice our morning routine today and we ROCKED it all the way down to the heart that Olivia’s braids created on the back of her head, which, of course, match the rainbow heart on her shirt. Tomorrow she’s determined to wear one of her Monster High t-shirts. We’ll see if she requests Draculaura pigtails.

And we got a cute 'first day of school' picture, even if the school day itself was cancelled.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Open House

In years past, the girls’ school held an open house the afternoon before the first day of school. This year the open house was two days before the first day of school.

I wonder if it is so the teachers have one more day between the open house and the first day. The open house is from 5pm to 7pm and I can imagine that the teachers end up being at the school until as late at 8, which would make for a long day right before school starts.

I like that the girls have one more day of summer break between the open house and the first day. It gave them a little reprieve.

So yeah, after that weird little prologue, we attended the open house last night. We took all their school supplies, which Olivia crammed into her desk and Alyssa crammed into her locker. Alyssa practiced opening her locker several times, probably already memorizing the combination, because that’s how she is.

Olivia acted like a nut because that’s how she is. She tends to get weird when her two worlds collide. As in, when I am at the school she gets silly and won’t speak to anyone, just danced around, moves her arms all crazy and sometimes even squawks at me when I try to talk to her or get her to talk to one of her teachers.

As we left the school I reminded her that the rule is she HAS to speak to her teachers.

Her third grade teacher is actually one of the teachers she had for her kinderkids class, so that’s kind of neat. This teacher is familiar with and to Olivia, which means half the battle is already fought.

When I reminded her of the ‘rules’ Olivia shrugged at me, as she usually does when she’s hearing something she doesn’t necessarily want to hear or agree with. However, I know this child and I know she’s hearing me. She’s taking it in and she’s processing it.

I have to believe that third grade is going to be just fine.
As is eighth grade…as Alyssa gears up for her year. Eighth grade…wow. It just blows my mind that this girl is mine. She’s so smart and funny and her love of music inspires me to find my own passions.

She’s excited about school starting if only because she can’t wait to get back into band and choir. She loves her friends and is happy to be around them again but her music classes are calling to her. She’s still mad about Pentatonix, as in FAN GIRL mad. She’s funny about it all. I’m glad she’s still rational enough to realize how irrational she is. Thirteen has been an amazing year and I hope that eighth grade is as good to her as seventh was.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

At Home Feeding Therapy

As of about a month ago, Olivia has been feeding herself everything at every meal.

This should be no big deal, right? I mean, Alyssa started feeding herself when she was, oh, about two years old. You know, that age when kids declare, “I can do it myself!”

Olivia has never been that kid. She’s never wanted to ‘do it myself.’ She’s always preferred to be babied, to let us do things for her, even things she’s perfectly capable of doing.

Eating was one of those things that, well, it was just easier to feed her at mealtime than to sit there with her and cajole, harass, beg the child to please eat. As long as someone was shoveling food into her mouth, the food was going into her stomach, not onto the floor, or just being wasted because she couldn’t be bothered to lift the spoon/fork to her own mouth.

But this summer brought some changes. After O’s tonsillectomy, we continued to feed her for all the above reasons. She was recovering, she didn’t want to eat because it hurt and so we ‘helped’ her by putting the food into her mouth for her.

A month after surgery, she and Lyss spent a day at my mom’s. When we got home, Alyssa declared that at Gram’s house, Livie always feeds herself because Gram is just too busy to sit there and do it for her.

Tom thought about this for a few days and then one day declared that from that day forward, Liv was going to feed herself.

She protested, wanting to know WHY she had to feed herself.

We answered that she was a big girl and could do it. She claimed she wasn’t big and didn’t want to do it.

We stood firm and these days, she barely fusses. She also barely makes any messes, so…hmmm. How much have we been holding this girl back?

First self-feeding and now tying her shoes? She’s proving perfectly capable of so much independence. I wonder what else she’s perfectly capable of doing that we just haven’t expected of her yet?

Monday, August 15, 2016

Now for Something Positive

Enough (for now) of the negative.

Tom taught Olivia how to tie her shoes last week. He was so proud of how patient he was during the entire process and how he figured out that if he bribed her with Reece’s Cups she was willing to work a little harder for a little longer. Brilliant.

We’ve watched a bunch of the Olympics (duh, right?) and managed to catch a little of the synchronized swimming yesterday. Olivia was fascinated. She kept asking, “How do they do that? Do they swim a lot to practice? How can they hold their breath that long?”

Later she asked if there would be more synchronized swimming for us to watch. I assured her that if there wasn’t any more shown on television, we’d go to youtube and watch videos of it. That satisfied her curiosity and need to see more, to learn more, to know more.

We went to the mall on Saturday to pick up a few things for the coming school year. While there, Olivia found a pair of Monster High skull earrings. On sale, these earrings were still $40. My mom and I agreed to split the cost and got them for her.

The lady at the jewelry counter asked Olivia if she wanted them in a bag. Olivia declared, “I want them in my ears.”

The lady started to bring over a mirror so O could change her earrings right there. My mom told the sale clerk that was okay, that I’d change the earrings for Olivia. But that moment, when the woman treated my daughter like a typical nine-year-old who would/could change her own earrings was kind of awesome. I realize how lucky we are that Olivia’s delays, her issues, the ways in which 5p- affect her are virtually invisible.

I’ve said it before that society is kinder to those who are conventionally attractive. While that’s not a fair practice, I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m glad my daughter benefits from it. There are things in her life that are hard enough. If being pretty can make her life a little easier, so be it.

While at the mall, we obviously had to stop by the bookstore. Olivia immediately made her way to the back where the kids’ books are located. Alyssa went with her because the stuffed animals are back there too.

After a few minutes, they came to find me, asking me to help them find the Monster High books. I followed them back and we looked and looked but since we didn’t know the name of the person who writes the Monster High books, we were having no luck. I found a store employee and she was able to take us directly to the shelf there where were three copies of the Clea DeNile books available.

Olivia picked up that book and hugged it to her chest.

What kind of mother would I be if I refused to buy her that book? Since I was paying ten dollars for a book for O, I told A that I’d buy her the stuffed border collie she’d already picked out. I know, I’m a sucker for those girls.

But this sight make me so, so happy.

My girl, nine years old, reading books that are age-appropriate, enjoying them so much she reads them a second time and then tells me all about the story. And her joy at finding, at the end of the book, that there were blank pages on which she was encouraged to write out her own thoughts, feelings, ideas for stories, those things make me sleep a little better each night when I start to worry about her future. There’s a really good chance this girl is going to do just fine.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Ms. Negativity

I’ve been…grumpy lately. School starts a week from tomorrow. Where did our summer go?

Sure, we hit up the pool, the lake, Cedar Point (amusement park on Lake Erie in Ohio) and did a few other things, like ice cream on the porch, lunch on the deck. There are chalk drawings all over our driveway and garage right now.

But I remember the summers of my youth lasting forever. There were long days and endless evenings. The mornings started slowly and we were outside more than we were in. There were cartwheels in the big side yard, swinging on the tire that hung from the old box elder tree. We played in the dirt with matchbox cars and rode our bikes endlessly.

I worry that my kids are missing out.

I worry that I’m failing them.

I’m sure most working moms feel this way and a lot of stay at home moms too. We all worry that we aren’t doing enough, loving enough, teaching enough.

At least that’s what I worry.

I worry I don’t speak up enough when my husband is being especially male, when he gets condescending and obnoxious. It doesn’t happen often but when it does, I shut down rather than call him out on it. Then I feel awful not just for me but for the girls because what am I teaching them? Are they learning that as women our thoughts, our opinions, our feelings don’t matter when compared to men?

I posted some quasi-political stuff over the weekend. My husband’s sister’s husband (so my husband’s brother-in-law?) got REALLY pissy over some of these posts.

I ignored his responses because…well, family and peace. But I felt like shit for doing so. What I wanted to say to him after his ‘not all men!” rant was, “Well, then, of course this post wasn’t about you!”

Something else I wanted to say was, “Okay, so NOT ALL MEN are sexist, rapist assholes. But until NO MEN are sexist, rapist assholes, we all need to step up, speak up and make the sexist, rapist assholes STOP IT.”

Also, “Okay, so YOU are not a racist pig. Great. Awesome. Here’s a fucking cookie. But until NO ONE is a racist pig, we all need to step up, speak up and let racist pigs know that we aren’t going to tolerate their bullshit anymore.”

But I didn’t say any of that and I’m mad at myself for not saying it. And now it feels too late.

I was outside finally painting the dresser I meant to paint over three weeks ago when I fell down the stairs and put a temporary stop to any painting attempts. I was taking the original hardware off the drawers. Tom was hovering around and said something about cleaning the dressers before painting them.

I thought he was talking about the drawer pulls and muttered something about throwing them away because they were ugly.

He replied, “Well, of course you think they’re ugly. You’re pretty negative about everything.”

Which…okay, so yes, I do express a lot of negativity. But, ouch. That one hurt and it made me feel like I shouldn’t be expressing emotion or thoughts at all. And I know that’s stupid. I know he probably didn’t even mean it that way, except, well, that’s what he said.

And for the record, those drawer pulls were UGLY. (How’s that for putting negativity out there? Damnit.) Not only were they ugly but two of the nine drawers had lost their pulls at one point or another so we needed new ones anyway just to make the drawers functional.

Okay, so yeah. That’s a lot of venting right there, isn’t it?

Monday, August 8, 2016

Not Ready for School

Several times this weekend, Olivia asked me if she had school on Monday.

I reminded her that Summer Intervention was over and she had all this week off; that she could stay in her pajamas all day if she wanted to.

She’d give me a small smile and then inform me, “I’m not ready for school to start back up.”

I’d tell her, “I know. Neither am I. Summer goes too fast, doesn’t it?”

She nodded and asked, “What if we lived where it was always summer?”

“You mean like you never had to go to school because summer vacation never ended?”

She grinned and nodded enthusiastically, “Yeah, what if?”

“Well,” I pretended to think about it. “You’d still have to learn stuff so I guess Dad would have to teach you here at home. Except that would be bad because you two can’t get along and you’d fight more than you’d learn.”

“Or you could teach me,” she suggested.

“I could but then we’d have to figure out a way for me to work from home because how could I teach you and go to work?”

She had a very quick solution to that one. “Dad could go to work!”

I laughed when Tom popped his head in from the kitchen, having obviously listened to this entire conversation.

“But how would everything around here get done if he had to go to work?” I wanted to know.

She didn’t have an answer to that one. But the wheels are turning.

She might not be ready for school to start back up in just over a week, but Olivia’s brain is already working hard at coming up with solutions to issues she deems problems.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

New Stairs

The day after I fell down the stairs going down into our garage Tom set to work to rebuild the stairs.

Since he was there to actually see me fall, he knew I was hurt. He also realized that while yes, I was carrying THREE empty dresser drawers, if the stairs had been a little more uniform, perhaps the fall wouldn’t have happened even considering the drawers that were in my hands.

He’d hated those stairs since we moved in six years ago. They were very obviously not original to the house. They’d not been built by the builder of the main structure, they were cobbled together by the previous owner, a heating and air guy who’d decided in error to put in a furnace and an air conditioning unit that was entirely too small for the house. Since he was a heating and air guy, I’m guessing he figured he could help the units limp along over the years.

Alas, he was a brilliant about stairs as he was about heating and air. He’d either built or had them built so that there were three steps from the garage floor to the small landing that led to the kitchen door. These three steps were, from bottom to top, an eleven inch step, an eight and a half inch step and the last step up to the landing was five and a half inches.

Yeah, not so great when you can’t watch your feet and you’re expecting the next step down to be the same as the first step you took.

Anyway, Tom took off the offending stair structure and began building an entirely new set of stairs, four steps in all that are all six and a quarter inches from one step to the next.

He also made the steps deeper, as in, my size eight and a half feet actually fit on each step now rather than my hobbit-ish toes hanging off each one of the other, horrible stairs.

He angled the steps so that each stair going down is a little wider than the one at the top, so if you’re carrying something up the stairs, you don’t have to angle quite so sharply at that first step. The rail on the outside of the stairs is also much wider and sturdier.

All this to say that he’s my hero, once again. He worked so hard to make steps that are safe and functional for us. I’m reminded once again that I really got lucky when I met and eventually married this guy.

Here is evidence of his carpentry genius:

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Last Week of Summer Intervention

Olivia is less than enthusiastic that she has to go to Summer Intervention this week.

It’s the last week it’s available. School starts on August 18 for reals, as in all day long. So she goes half days this week, is off next week and half of the week after and then, HELLO THIRD GRADE.

No fewer than five thousand times in the past days she’s asked, “Why do you think Summer Intervention is good for me?”

And every single time I’ve patiently answered, “Because it reminds you of what you learned last year in second grade and helps you get ready to learn more awesome stuff in third grade.”

Because it’s all true. She needs this time in school to remind her that being social is important, that sitting still and listening to the teacher is important, that taking it all in and then being able to spit it all back out is important.

School isn’t easy for Olivia. She doesn’t enjoy sitting still for hours at a time, socializing with her peers is almost painful for her. The work itself doesn’t come easily like it did for me when I was her age or the way it does for Alyssa.

But she tries. She gets up with a sigh every single day and trudges to school and enjoys the snacks at Summer Intervention and writes little snippets because she’s told to do so.

She tries. She tries so hard and for that I am grateful. I praise her and hug her and tell her how amazing she is.

She always hugs me back, smiles at my silliness and then launches into an tale about the Monster High crew and their imaginary visit to our house.

This girl…I wish I could smooth the way for her, make things a little easier, make them less stressful. But since I can’t go to school for her I can listen to her stories, laugh with her at dinner as she laments the unfairness of having to feed herself dinner (a tale for another day) and hug her as much as she’ll let me, reminding her every single day how much she is loved, how lucky I feel to be her mom, how she fits so perfectly into our little family, how without her, we just wouldn’t be complete.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Catch Up

With a vacation last week and school looming on the horizon, I’ve been lax here.

The girls and I along with my mom, my nephew Jaxon and Alyssa’s friend Amelia loaded my mom’s truck and drove a couple of hours to Sandusky, Ohio where we stayed a couple of days at Cedar Point, the amusement park of the Midwest. Well, okay, so the amusement park of northern Ohio.

Fun was had by all.

My back settled pretty well once we were on the road, with nary a twinge. There was a minor dull ache in the area I hurt the most but mostly that was controlled by over the counter Aleve.

Our day at the park was pretty awesome for everyone involved. This was Amelia’s first time ever visiting Cedar Point and she took it all in. She’s a bit more adventurous that Alyssa and wanted to ride the bigger roller coasters. Alyssa wasn’t so into it so I ended up riding Amelia’s first roller coaster with her. That was kind of awesome.

It amused me that she was more freaked out by the Ocean Motion than by the Gatekeeper. For reference, here is a picture of the Ocean Motion.

And here is a picture of the Gate Keeper.

But I get it. Not all rides are for everyone. And not everyone enjoys all rides…so there. Once we all accepted that, everyone relaxed a bit and had that much more fun.

We walked miles that day. I wish I’d had a pedometer or fitbit or whatever so I could say exactly how much we walked but I can say that the next morning my entire body hurt from all the movement. But it was a good hurt this time, a pain that meant we’d moved and exercised and had a blast.

I think maybe, for me at least, that’s what vacation is supposed to be. We’re supposed to have so much fun that we hurt the next day. We’re supposed to walk so far and so much that we have blisters on our feet and we fall into bed when the sun finally goes down.

It works for us…for now. And if/when it stops working? We’ll change it up and find something new that works.