Monday, October 31, 2016

A School Party

I took a vacation day from work last Friday and helped at Olivia’s school Halloween party. I’ve been incredibly lucky over the years to be able to attend these parties with the girls.

I’m also lucky that they WANT me at the parties. Ha!

These parties are completely parent-led. We moms (and the occasional dad, there was one there this year, he’s totally a hero) plan the games, snacks, crafts, etc. We separate the kids into four or five ‘centers’ and then divide them into groups of three or four (and sometimes five) and put them in a center for about ten minutes where they get to play a game, do a craft or eat snacks.

This year Jaxon got to join me in Olivia’s class. His school was on fall break and so I invited him to come to O’s school party. His school doesn’t do parties of any kind so he was sort of in awe of this one.

I’m lucky that O’s teacher and all the other parents were so accommodating and just rolled with having one more kid in the room. Jax and O decided they wanted to be in the same group. He really is one of her very favorite people in the whole world and I was really glad they got to spend time together.

Olivia was acting up a little (flapping her hands, being giggly) because her mind was blown by the fact that her worlds were colliding. I mean, there we were, in her classroom at school and right beside her was Jaxon, the most awesome cousin in the world. And her mom was across the room helping kids make haunted houses out of craft paper.

I think the best part of the party, though, was when one of her classmates at my center asked me if Olivia talked at home. I get this question every year. I always answer the same way. “Oh yes, she talks at home,” I informed the boy. “Sometimes she talks so much and so loud that I have to ask her to quiet down for a few minutes just because I can’t get a word in.”

The boy laughed and said, “I’d like to hear her talk. She’s really shy, isn’t she?”

And there it is. Her class really seems to like Olivia. They don’t see her as a girl with a syndrome. They see her as this cute, funny girl who is really shy.

Way back when she was two years old and we finally got her diagnosis, her doctor told us that the fact that her face doesn’t give her syndrome away might be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, she looks ‘normal’ and so people expect her to act normal. This is what some parents have taken to calling an ‘invisible disability.’

On the other hand, looking ‘normal’ is a benefit because, well, people treat her like she’s ‘normal.’ They don’t see a child with a syndrome, they see Olivia. They see a shy girl who doesn’t talk much (at all?) and thankfully, they all like her enough to want her to talk.

I have hope that we’ll get there. I told the boy who asked the question that I hope she’ll talk to all of her classmates by fifth grade.

His eyes got huge. “Fifth grade?!?” he said. “I hope we don’t have to wait that long!”

Me neither buddy, but I’m being conservative here. For now, I’m glad she participates, that she can do everything currently being asked of her in a typical, mainstream classroom. I’m thankful that she’s accepted and that she still enjoys being at school.

And I’m thankful that I get to be there for moments like that Halloween party, to see her being silly, to see her classmates enjoying her antics and to see her cousin bring out even a little of her awesome personality for those who don’t always get to see it.

Can you stand the Draculaura awesomeness of this girl?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

How Olivia Felt

This is a follow up on a comment on my last post regarding Olivia and her status as a non-verbal child.

I showed Olivia the sheet of paper I made with her name and the phone numbers for her dad and her Gram. She read the paper and grinned at me.

I assured her that I would do everything I could, you know, like driving safely and being aware of our surroundings but if something happened and I couldn’t talk to anyone, she should hand that paper to a police officer or a firefighter.

She shrugged at me, and made some weird sounds because she’s Olivia and that’s what she does when she’s uncomfortable. But I knew she got it because of her shrug and weird sounds.

Olivia acknowledges that she doesn’t/can’t speak to strangers or really anyone who isn’t immediate family. I think she wants to do so though. I think she wants desperately to talk to her friends and teachers. She wants to be ‘normal’.

But right now, she can’t and so we’re doing what we can to help her until she can. Because you know what? I truly believe that we will get to a place where Olivia can and will talk to others. It may not be this year or even next but we will get there.

I have an aunt who is lovely. But she’s also a bit clueless when it comes to special needs. She asked my mom recently, “Why don’t you just make her talk to people?”

My mom and I laughed over this. I mean, sure, that sounds awesome. We’ll just make her do it.

Except it’s not that she won’t. She simply can’t right now. She tries. She whispers at school. She’ll talk above a whisper to all of two teachers/therapists/aides. These are women she’s worked with for over four years and it’s taken this long for her to be comfortable enough with them to make conversation.

At home, she’ll talk to one of her classmates when she’s there to spend the day. It takes a bit of time but if I leave them alone, she’ll eventually get over whatever it is that takes away her voice.

We are doing all we can to help her find her voice. We’re trying to so hard to make her comfortable and assure her that her voice is important and that we all want to hear it.

I don’t think making the paper for her to hand to emergency personnel scared her at all. I think she was pretty confident in my ability to avoid an accident and in my health. But having it back there made me feel better and I think Olivia is pretty aware of my moods. Since I felt better having it there, she felt better.

I love Julie’s idea of a bracelet with all that information for her. First of all, Olivia loves all things jewelry. And since it would be considered a medical bracelet, I’m hopeful that first responders would be quick to notice it. I’ll be looking into that before our next trip alone.

Monday, October 24, 2016


Olivia and I loaded up the car on Saturday and drove 162 miles from home to Purdue University for a dance marathon to raise money for Riley Hospital for Children.

Fun was had by all and it was great.

But…the time leading up to the trip was fraught with anxiety on my part.

See, this was the first time O and I had done this kind of thing alone. Usually Alyssa goes with us. But this year, she wanted to stay home and attend the birthday/Halloween party of one of her friends.

I figured that at thirteen years old, she’s old enough to make that kind of call and since Tom was home to take her to the party and pick her up the next morning, it really didn’t make sense to make her go with me and Olivia when she just didn’t want to do so.

But without Alyssa, it was just me and Olivia.

Which is fine, right?

Except…what if we were in an accident and I was unconscious? What if strangers tried to talk to Olivia, who looks like your typical nine year old girl and she just sat there? What if she was needed to tell them who she was because I couldn’t do so?

So I made a sign for her. It sat on the seat beside her and said, “My name is Olivia Ordinary. I have 5p- Syndrome. I am non-verbal. I my mom can’t respond, please call my dad, Tom Ordinary at XXX-XXX-XXXX…”

It also listed my mom’s name and her landline and her cell.

And the more I thought about that sign, the more freaked I got. I mean…obviously, we didn’t even need this little piece of paper with names and phone numbers on it. But I worried. I worried so hard.

But my worry transferred itself to the route we were taking.

The last time we went to Purdue University was two years ago and I missed a turn and got all turned around and flustered.

And damn it, West Lafayette is so freaking confusing. Of course it is. It’s a college town, so there are a bazillion one-way streets. It’s a nightmare when you only go there one time a year. So yeah, I was stressed about the drive.

But I probably wouldn’t have been nearly as anxious about the whole thing if it hadn’t just been me and Olivia going. Just the two of us…

We did it, though, because she really wanted to go. She doesn’t talk much (at all?) to the college student who is assigned to be her ‘buddy’ but she did go draw on a big dry erase board while I ate the dinner provided for us. And she and Sarah danced as we waited to go in and be introduced with all the other Riley families.

And in the end it was fine. I made the right turn at the right place and didn’t have to backtrack during the drive. I made all the right turns onto all the one-way streets and made it to our hotel with no problem.

Sure, we had to go back into the hotel twice to finally get out of the parking garage but that was low stress too.

I’ll probably keep that sheet of paper with Olivia’s name and the phone numbers in my car just because, well, it’s a good idea. I mean, even if Lyss and/or Tom were with us, well, we could all be incapacitated and she’d still need to be able to communicate and handing a piece of paper to a stranger is way more likely to happen then her suddenly speaking to them.

It’s just one of the things we have to worry about because we have a mostly non-verbal child. Sure, she’s not non-verbal at home but get her around anyone who is not immediate family and she’s clams right up.

If she could help it, I’d get frustrated but I don’t think she can. I honestly think she WANTS to speak to others but she can’t force the words out. And so for now, we’ll pass notes as necessary. The written word is still a form of communication and I’m going to run with it for as long as she needs me to.

Friday, October 21, 2016

And Then I Took a Nap

Last night when I got home from work, Tom informed me that Olivia had one page of homework to do.

I opened her folder and found THREE pages of homework. One was something she’d obviously started at school but hadn’t finished so it counted as homework because, yeah, we needed to finish it.

We sat down to work.

First we did the math. It was subtracting three digit numbers. No biggie, really. Except she also had to write an estimate of what she thought the answer would be AND come up with an number model of how she came up with the estimate. Ugh! So much busy work. I mean, seriously?

THEN! Then she was supposed to write a sentence on the back of the math worksheet explaining how she’d come up with one of her answers. I was all…what? For real? What were they even looking for? I truly didn’t understand what the point of that was. She subtracted…duh.

In the end, that’s what she wrote. “I used subtraction to find the answer.”

I’m sure whoever wrote the worksheet wanted a more in depth answer, such as, “I took four from seven and got three. I realized I couldn’t take seven from six, so I borrowed from the five, which made the six sixteen and the five four…”

Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen. Honestly, I don’t even think it would have happened with a typical third grader but it definitely wasn’t going to happen with MY third grader.

So the second worksheet was questions about a story we’d read the night before. They wanted to know pretty specific detail and I finally, by the end, just wrote by the last two questions, “We do not have this book at home. We cannot answer these questions.”

We had to study spelling for the test today. “Studying” entails me telling Olivia the word, her writing it down. I snapped at her after the first word, “You don’t have to write in GIGANTIC letters.”

In my defense, I was tired.

So she went the other direction and tried to write as small as she could. Sigh. I told her, “If you’re concentrating more on the size of the letters than the actual words you’re writing, you’re not actually getting anything out of this exercise.”

Then I had to fill out her reading and math log. I know she’s probably supposed to do it herself but , come on, it needs to be legible, okay? Each week, we have to do a second page of the reading log. It’s always a little different but it’s basically trying to get her to actually read for content rather than reading just to prove she can read the words.

When that was done, I had been home for forty minutes and hadn’t even taken off my shoes. I did just that and joined Tom in the living room where he was watching television. I told him I was going to lay on the couch in protest of homework.

I fell asleep about three seconds after laying down and work up over an hour later.

And that’s how I ended up taking a nap on a Thursday evening.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Everything and Nothing

I fought for over two years to find Olivia’s diagnosis. I have two years’ worth of posts (almost daily for a while) in the archives of ShareYourStory where I lamented not knowing what was wrong with my baby.

I also spent a lot of time talking about sleep because back then I was getting very little of it.

But that search for a diagnosis was very much the focus of a lot of my posts. I thought having a diagnosis would change everything.

In the end, it actually changed nothing.

We continued with therapies. We continued loving Olivia. We went on with treating her like Alyssa’s little sister, expecting that she would walk even if the research her doctor told us not to do (duh, of course we researched 5p- syndrome) said she wouldn’t walk.

We continued to talk to her even though the research said she would never talk back to us.

And I continued to post at Share. I continued to lean on the women I’d met there, women who were further in their journey and who understood my desperate need to help my baby be the best she could possibly be.

Nothing changed.

And yet, everything changed. Suddenly, having a diagnosis of 5p- syndrome (aka Cri du Chat) meant we had an answer to why Olivia only weighed five pounds and two ounces even though she was born nine days past her due date. That’s 41 weeks, two days gestation for anyone counting.

We now knew why she didn’t sit up until she was a year old, didn’t crawl until she was seventeen months old, why she didn’t walk until she was twenty-nine months old.

That answer meant the world to me; even if it didn’t really change anything.

It changed my heart. It gave me something to focus on. It let me see that even at two years old, Olivia was already defying the odds that the research gave her. It showed me that she was amazing and I was allowed to be so proud of her just for being her. Every single milestone started to mean even more than it already had meant, which was a huge morale booster.

But nothing changed when I thought about Olivia and who she was. She was still my feisty, stubborn girl who rolled her eyes at her occupational therapist. She was my second born, my baby, who fought so hard to learn everything that came naturally to her sister and her cousin, who was a year younger than she was.

She was still my competitive sweetheart who watched that one-year-younger cousin walk and decided that damn it, she could do that too. And so she did.

Getting that diagnosis opened a whole new world for us. It brought new Facebook friends into our world to show us that we were alone in this world of 5p- syndrome. Even though the statistics say that only 1 in 50,000 babies are born with 5p- syndrome each year, there are lot of these amazing kids out there. And their parents love them as much as we love Olivia.

But still, the diagnosis changed nothing when it came to my main source of support, which continued to be ShareYourStory. This is the place where I vented before the diagnosis and it’s where I’ve continued to post both celebrations and frustrations for the past almost eight years since receiving Olivia’s diagnosis.

This place is everything to me. It’s provided lasting, deep friendships for which I am so grateful. It’s a place where I can vent, where I can laugh and cry and not feel judged for anything that’s happened.

It’s a place where I can give back to others who are facing diagnoses of their own, who are facing NICU stays, who have been dealt the most difficult journey of all, a world without their child. In this place, we can support each other, lean on each other, be each other’s everything while expecting nothing in return.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Best of Friends

I got home last night at about 8:40. I was supposed to be home around 7:00 but my flight from DC was delayed by an hour and then, it was raining in Detroit. I hate it when it’s raining and I have to drive roads in the dark that I’m not very familiar with.

But I made it.

And it was worth it.

My weekend was so lovely in so many ways. My flight out of Detroit left right on time and actually arrived in DC early. EARLY!?! I know, right?

I was the first one to arrive at the our destination city and so I was able to buy the girls souvenirs before meeting with the first of many friends who were coming in from all over the country. Around 11:30 the last of our core group arrived and we made our way to our hotel where we were lucky enough to be able to check in early and drop off our bags.

We managed to get a little sight-seeing in that afternoon and spend the evening laughing and, for some, (not me) drinking. Much bawdy laughter ensued during a crazy game of Cards Against Humanity.

I was lucky enough to room with Julie and Laura. And these two generous, gracious women let me have my own bed. See, they’ve known me for what seems like forever at this point and they know that Olivia STILL tends to join me in my own bed more often than I appreciate (once is more often than I can appreciate these day…just saying.)

But because they’re loving and generous women, they made sure I wasn’t missing home too much.

At one point, Julie pulled up Pentatonix’s cover of the song Cheerleader so I wouldn’t miss Alyssa too much.

And on Saturday morning, after Julie and Laura worked out at the hotel gym (I did not join them because, well, because I didn’t want to) Laura climbed into bed with me and asked me to scratch her back.

I responded to her the same way I respond to Olivia these days. I rolled away from her and muttered, “Sleeping.”

Everyone should have friends like this.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


This time for the past, oh, eight years, I’ve gone away for a weekend. Away is in, alone, leaving the kids home with Tom. I’ve been to places like Houston, DC, Orlando, Atlanta, Phoenix and this year, I’m heading back to DC for three days and two nights.

I leave on Friday morning and will get home Sunday evening.

So yes, one weekend out of each year, I leave my family.

Yesterday morning as I walked into the kitchen, I heard Olivia ask Tom, “Why does Mom always have to go away?”


Obviously, this amuses me. I mean, 1/52 is not always. But when you’re nine years old and your mom is kind of your whole world, it feels like she’s always gone because that one weekend feels like it lasts forever and it blocks out all those other 51 weekends when Mom is home.

But it’ll be okay. They’ll be fine and next weekend they’ll probably have forgotten that I was ever even away…until next year, when Olivia laments again, “Why does Mom always have to go away?”

Never fear, I am leaving them well stocked. There is plenty of soup (never again will I leave them with the possibility of running out of soup!), I made oatmeal raisin cookies (Tom’s favorite) last weekend. This evening I’m making triple chocolate chip cookie (Olivia’s favorite) and sugar cookies (Alyssa’s favorite). The girls and I are going to the grocery store tomorrow after Lyss’s orthodontist appointment to get any other staples needed for the 64 hours I will be gone.

And, get this, there is a grocery store a mere ten miles away from our house. And even better, this grocery store allows men to shop there. I know!! So even if they do find that I’ve somehow failed them, Tom and the girls can get in his car, drive to the store and BUY anything their little hearts desire.

And because she’s a freaking hero, my mom is picking the girls up on Sunday around noon and taking them with her to a baby shower for my cousin. So they won’t actually be stuck in the house all weekend as they both feared.

Seriously, it’s going to be fine.

And best of all? I get to hang with some of the most awesome women I’ve had the honor of meeting and we’re all going to try and come up with more ways of supporting families who have lost babies, have babies in the NICU or bring home babies with birth defects.

This whole always leaving my family thing? It’s for a good cause.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Fall Fun

For the past four years, the girls and I have made a point of visiting a local farm and navigating their corn maze.

They have a wagon ride through the woods, a ‘train’ ride for the kids, which is really these weird plastic barrels with a side cut out of them on top of sets of wheels and then pulled by a tractor.

This year we invited my mom and my nephew Jaxon to go with us.

It felt like the perfect day to spend several hours outside. The sun was shining, there was a breeze blowing and it was a chilly 60ish degrees, which made jackets perfect and cozy.

As always, when we first arrive, Alyssa and Jax had to climb the stairs and go down several slides made from weird yellow piping/tile.

Olivia tried but got scared on the first landing of the stairs and I had to ‘rescue’ her. If Alyssa hadn’t already gone down the first slide, she’d have brought her sister down, she’s awesome like that. But since she was already on the ground on the other side of the apparatus, I went up the stairs to help Liv down.

Then Jaxon had to climb into the corn bin and scoop corn for a few minutes.

There were games to be played, tricycles to be ridden and let’s not forget about the maze we needed to navigate.

We finally headed for the maze with Lyss leading the way. She’s pretty good with the map.

Jax insisted on being right by her side and Liv wasn’t going to be left out so my mom trailed behind them, only giving directional advice when asked.

Alyssa rocked that maze. She OWNED it. It was really fun watching her confidently take turns and twists and backtrack when necessary. She’s just a perfectly awesome kid.

The littles (because in our world, even at eight and nine, O and J will always be The Littles) stayed right on her heels, following her blindly through the maze, trusting their hero to bring them out without any trouble at all.

After the maze, Lyss and Jax rode on the ‘train’. It was adorable.

Then we took the hayride through the woods. It was the perfect length, long enough to be worth the wait but not so long that two year old Connor (Jaxon’s little brother) got bored with it.

After the hayride, we wandered around a little longer, bought some gourds, my mom bought a beautiful bluish purple mum and then we headed home.

I’m thinking all three kids slept well that night. But I wouldn’t know because they spent the night at Gram’s. Which, of course, means I slept incredibly well because there were no calls of “Mom!” through the night.

Friday, October 7, 2016


Wednesday evening was rough in our house. Olivia couldn’t seem to fall asleep, tossing and turning and just basically driving me crazy on the couch.

Alyssa had found a new video (to her) of Avi Kaplan singing and playing the guitar. She wanted to watch it over and over.

At 9:10, Olivia asked tiredly when we were going to go to bed. I told her to just try to sleep right there and she sighed and rolled over again, digging her shoulder into my thigh.

I looked over at Alyssa, who was starting obsessively at her tablet. She saw me looking at her and sighed, “How have I missed this video all this time?”

I may have rolled my eyes at her. I mean, sure, I get it. She’s thirteen and she’s crushing hard on all of Pentatonix but Avi’s absolutely her favorite and so…I do get it and yet, at that point, I was over it

So I told her we were going to bed soon.

She sighed a different sort of sigh this time and said, “Can I just watch this one more time?”

I sighed (there was a lot of sighing going on in our house that night) and muttered, “Fine.”

It hit me. I was NOT being a nine mom that night. I was dipping into the low sixes if you must know. I was tired, I was irritated that my children would just NOT go to sleep. I wanted ten minutes of not having a one child rolling on me and another child talking to me about a group that I, while I can appreciate their talents, I’m kind of tired of hearing about.

I was just kind of done.

Olivia rolled over AGAIN and I stood up, pushing her off me. I declared, “Okay, let’s go. Sorry, Lyss, but I can’t do it tonight. That video will be on the internet forever. You can watch it more tomorrow. Come on, Liv, let’s get you into your bed where you can toss and turn all night long and NOT dig your elbows, head, and shoulders into my leg.”

Yeah, I was a real treat by this point.

We trudged up the stairs and as I was tucking Olivia in, she stopped me to ask me, “What about my Monster High blanket?”

I rolled my eyes and snapped, “Am I done tucking you in? Have I stopped and walked away? Of course I’m going to put your Monster High blanket on you…if you’d give me a chance!”

Again, not my proudest moment. But this child…she can make me crazy when she asks me to do the very thing I was just about to do if she’d have waited ten seconds before making her demand request.

I finally got her tucked in, Monster High blanket and all, kissed her goodnight (gently) and wished her sweet dreams when Lyss came into the room for her hug.

I apologized to her for being so grumpy and promised that tomorrow I would try hard to be better.

She assured me that she thinks I’m a perfectly fine mom and we went to bed.

So many sighs.

On my way home from work last night, I decided that I needed to go into our evening as if I were a robot who’d been programmed to be kind and loving. I told the girls this because I knew it would amuse them and they both told me that I’m weird. But they said it with a smile as we sat down to dinner so I felt like that was a win.

By the time we made our way upstairs to be that evening, I could happily say that I’d done it. I’d managed to be kind and loving and attentive to my children for most of the evening. I hadn’t yelled or grumbled or become overly frustrated at any point.

I think I need to do the programmable robot thing a little more often, if only because a loving, attentive mother is nothing less than my children deserve. Does ‘programming’ myself make it less real?

Nope, at the end of the day, getting attention is attention and love is love and that’s what they need from me. Of course, they also need rules and limits and to sometimes be reminded, kindly, that even Mom has her limits and that’s okay too.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

BGSU Middle School Honors Band

I got an email earlier this week congratulating me on the fact that my child had been accepted into the Bowling Green State University Middle School Honors Band.

As I read the welcoming letter, I vaguely remembered Alyssa bringing home some paperwork that she filled out and I signed requesting that her teacher write a letter of recommendation for Alyssa to apply to this very thing.

And look at her now, fully accepted.

There were more forms for me to fill out as well as a link to the site at which I could make the $65 registration payment.

I decided to go home and check with Alyssa to be sure she still wanted to do this honors band thing before forking over a non-refundable $65 dollars. I mean, if she had decided not to do it, that’s not a little (at least to me) amount of money to be leave my account for nothing.

When I got home Alyssa was so excited to share the news with me that she’d been accepted into the one-day intensive program. She told me that her band director had emphasized to those who were accepted that their parents were NOT supposed to pay the $65 registration fee, that the school’s music boosters program was going to pay for everyone.

Well, that was nice to hear.

But the best part was how much Alyssa is looking forward to this. She takes her music very seriously and is very excited.

I’m excited for her because I know it’s something she’ll take seriously and that she’d enjoy and remember fondly for years to come.

Obviously I’m very proud of her and want to continue to support her in things like this as long as it makes her happy. I love that she's willing to work so hard at this sort of thing. She admitted that she's a little bit afraid of this opportunity because it starts at 8am with rehearsals that will go throughout the whole day and end with a concert performance that evening but she's going for it because she realizes that some things are worth working very hard at in order to do them well.

She's a pretty darned awesome kid even if I do say so myself.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Putting the 'Pal' in Principal

Okay, bad pun but the sentiment is there.

I had a meeting with the principal of Olivia’s school today. Her teacher was supposed to be there too but had a last minute appointment and couldn’t make it.

I feel like we got so lucky when we moved to this school district. This principal has been at our school for about three years. She’s on the young side (probably early forties) for a principal and she’s just so lovely.

She cares about the kids and seems to have taken a personal interest in Olivia and her education.

The first thing she said to me when I arrived was, “I want to make sure Olivia gets the most normal education possible. That’s why it’s so important to me that she remain in the typical classroom. I want to pave the way for her to keep learning as much as possible. She’s going to be surrounded by typical people her entire life, this is the time when we can teach her how to deal with those people to the best of her ability.”

This meeting was mostly to talk about state-administered reading fluency tests that are coming up later this month. Olivia will be taking this test but if she doesn’t pass (she doesn’t test well even though she reads VERY well) she will not be held back from moving on to the fourth grade next year.

Mrs. M went on to tell me how well she feels O is doing this year. She said she tries to spend about fifteen minutes a day with Olivia and her goal is to have Olivia speak an entire sentence to her before she leaves the elementary side of this school in sixth grade.

“Olivia is such a mystery,” Mrs. M said. “Her syndrome is so rare that I will probably never get to meet another person with it.”

I nodded and said that most doctors will go their entire careers without having a patient with 5p- syndrome. I told her how lucky I feel that we have the medical providers we do have and how much I appreciate all that her doctors and her teachers/therapists/Mrs. M do for Olivia.

“She’s so sweet,” Mrs. M said. “But she can also be so stubborn. I’ve never met anyone quite like Olivia.”

I appreciate an educator who admits that sometimes she doesn’t really know how to help my child but who isn’t giving up on doing just that. She said that sometimes Olivia defies the assistance put in place to help her. Sometimes, the very thing that is supposed to make school easier for her makes her dig in and refuse to even try.

I agreed and said that all we can do is keep looking for ways to help Olivia help herself.

“Her biggest fear,” I told Mrs. M, “is being viewed as different. She KNOWS she’s different but she doesn’t want it pointed out or made any more obvious than it already is.”

I mentioned how awesome Mrs. H is at helping Olivia not feel singled out.

Mrs. M gave me some ideas to work on at home to help Olivia develop her already really good reading habits. We’re going to institute a reading journal, in which I will encourage Olivia to write about the characters we’re reading that day. I can ask her questions and ask her to write the answers.

Reading isn’t a problem for Olivia but writing…well, that’s more challenging. Thankfully the test she’ll have to take will be done at the computer not written out by hand but there is still the struggle O has with attention. She’ll have an aide by her side to keep her on track and keep her from erasing all her hard work the first time she gets distracted or bored.

As always, we are so lucky to be where we are, working with this team to help Olivia be the very best she can be. We’re on track for an excellent year and with all the help in place and Olivia doing her very best, well, we’re all looking forward to third grade being the best one yet for our little mystery.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Lucky Thirteen

Thirteen years ago today, I walked down the aisle of the church I went to Bible School in as a child and said, “I will.”

That simple two line sentence was in response to the question of whether I would take Tom to be my husband.

He said the same thing when asked if he’d take me to be his wife.

And here we are.

Has it always been awesome? Well, no, of course not.

But it’s mostly been worth it. And that’s saying something.

This morning I was hugging Alyssa goodbye and Olivia joined in. She wanted it to be a group hug. Then Tom joined and we were all bound together, kind of the physical manifestation of how I envision our family. It was cool.

I feel lucky that I can look back on the past thirteen years and see more good, more fun, more laughter than bad, hard tears.

I still swear by the advice I give to new moms. Don’t make decision about your relationship/marriage during the first year of your baby’s life. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just had your first baby or your fourth baby that first year is going to suck and you’ll probably hate your partner more often than you love him/her. But if you stick it out, it usually gets better. It can get so much better.

These days we make a pretty good team. He packs Olivia’s lunch, I wipe her butt help her with homework. He makes them breakfast, I do their hair (when Alyssa lets me help her with hers, which is rarely, but Olivia makes up for it by letting me do her hair every single day.)

I won’t say that every day is perfect because, duh, that would be a lie. But most days are good and I’m grateful to be able to say that now, thirteen years after we kissed that perfect kiss in front of our friends and family.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Staring Down October

I realized this weekend that October is booked. We’re not that family that has something going on every single weekend. We don’t have activities each evening throughout the week either.

We’re all homebodies and are happiest when we have nowhere to be and no one expecting us.

But somehow October weekends became booked when I wasn’t looking.

This past weekend, Alyssa had an All-County band concert. She was amazing and loved the whole process. She gets such a kick out of making music and performing. She very much enjoys it when her teacher points her out as a perfectionist who practices hard to do as well as she does.

So yeah, our usual Sunday of baking and cleaning and doing laundry was interrupted by a concert a half hour away. But it was worth it.

Next weekend we have plans to hit up the local corn maze and pumpkin patch. Because you HAVE to do that kind of thing in October. This will be our fourth year of visiting this maze and it’s always great fun, especially since I no longer have to carry Olivia even part of the way. Yay for strong legs.

The weekend after that I’m heading off to DC for a weekend with some of the most amazing, strong, smart woman I’ve ever been blessed to know. The only bad part? I have to leave my house at 3am that Friday morning so I can drive to Detroit and board a plane at 7am. Yeah, that kind of sucks but, well, worth it once again, right? Right.

Then we have the Purdue dance marathon the weekend after that. We head to West Lafayette on Saturday afternoon, come home Sunday late morning and then we’re supposed to drive up to Battle Creek, Michigan for my grandma’s 91st birthday party. That’s a lot of driving. Just saying…

And the weekend after THAT is Halloween. Right now it’s only October 3rd and yet it feels like this month is already flying by.

Yikes, talk about busyness.