Monday, July 17, 2017

These Girls

I apologized to Alyssa the other night.

Why? Well, let me tell you.

While we were at the family reunion a couple of weeks ago, I was telling a story. I don’t even remember the story now, only that Alyssa was part of it. And during the story, I said something about her rolling her eyes or sighing. Something that portrayed her in a less than flattering light.

She was right there and she protested, saying she hadn’t done or said whatever it was that I’d said she’d done or said.

I thought about it for about a week and realized that while I fully confess to being the queen of hyperbole I need to turn in my crown when it comes to telling stories about Lyss. Especially when she’s right there. It’s not fair to me to tell a story and exaggerate some of the features of that story if it makes Lyss look bad. She is such a great kid and she deserves for me to tell stories that show how great she is, not how she’s a ‘typical teenager.’ Because really, she’s not all that typical.

So I told her all that and apologized if I’d ever made her feel bad when I was telling stories. I promised her that my stories will be more true-to-life and less exaggerated for effect, especially when she’s the star of those stories.

Livie, on the other hand, is still a my mercy.

Except with that girl, I don’t usually have to exaggerate to make the stories more interesting/funny/whatever.

Alyssa marched with her high school marching band in the Bean Days parade this weekend in Montpelier, Ohio. The parade started at 1:00pm. We got there at about 12:10 to try and get a good seat. Seats being on the sidewalk along Main Street. We got a decent spot under a tree across from the Circle K gas station. Once we were settled, my mom held our spot while Liv and I went to the gas station for refreshments and a potty break. (Ha! Alyssa hates it when I use the word “potty”. She insists that if a person doesn’t have a child three or younger, using the word “potty” is unnecessary. She’s prefer we say we’ve got to waz than say we have to use the potty. Whatever. P.S. No exaggeration here!)

Once we made our way back we settled in and waited. And waited and waited and waited. The parade didn’t actually make it past our post until 1:20. Alyssa’s band was the third to the last group to march by. That happened at 2:10.

Olivia managed to gather quite the loot of candy even though Jaxon wasn’t there to be her gatherer. She managed to rouse herself maybe three times to move from her perch under the tree to the road (maybe four feet away) to pick up a couple of suckers that had been tossed her way. But the rest of the time the people in the parade literally tossed candy into her lap. I mean, what? When we attend the 4th of July parade in Angola, kids are just about knocking each other over to get to the candy and the boys next to us acted like there was an invisible fence between them and Olivia. When the candy was on her side, those boys acted like it didn’t exist. It was weird.

Finally, once the band marched by (I got video!! Wheeee!) we gathered up the root beer stained quilt (Thanks, Liv.) and my mom’s chair and headed back to the car.

We’d walked maybe ten feet when Olivia deadpanned, “Well, that was…fun.”

Then she laughed at her own joke and opened another DumDum.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Calming Down

Last Sunday was a busy day. I woke up before Olivia (unheard of on a weekend morning) and started getting things ready for the family reunion.

I needed to cut up the Rice Krispie treats. Squares, simple, non-watermelon squares, thank you so much. I put all the ingredients for the green bean casserole on the counter to be mixed and baked just before we left for the park so it would still be warm when we got there.

As is usual when I’m not in my bed when Olivia wakes up, her first stop was to Alyssa’s room to ask her sleeping sister if she knows where I am. Alyssa mumbled at Liv to go downstairs and LOOK for me but Olivia decided to muddle around Lyss’s room for a bit, making a bit of a mess on Lyss’s bed.

The day progressed, we went to the reunion, came home and collapsed on the couch due to too much socializing and being outside in the heat all day.

We scrounged up dinner – HOT DOGS FOR ALL!! – and then settled in to watch Big Brother. It’s a guilty pleasure, I do not apologize.

When it was over, I announced that I had to go to bed since I had to work. Alyssa declared, “Oh, yeah, we still need to change the sheets on my bed.”

I probably groaned. I know I made some sound of defeat.

Alyssa then said, “Calm down, Mom. I can change the sheets myself.”

And the sun came out at 9pm on a Sunday night. The stars aligned, the angels sang and I realized with near-glee that I have a child who is of an age where she can change the damned sheets herself.

I might have hugged that child.

She laughed and said, “Thanks for not getting mad at me for telling you to calm down.”

I told her, “I’m just too happy about you being able to change your own sheets to be mad about that.”

Honestly, I’ve wondered in the past year or so if I’m doing Lyss any favors by doing most of the household chores myself. I worried about sending an eighteen year old off to college without any basic skills like laundry, making a bed, cleaning a toilet.

And look at that, she knows how to make a bed. She’s been doing dishes all summer. And I know she can run a vacuum cleaner like a champ. Now we’ll work on those toilet cleaning skills and I’ll be able to send her off to college with a clear conscience.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

It Was a Good Run

Someone else finally offered to take over the office of president of my husband’s family reunion committee. Tom’s been president for at least eight years and it felt like a LONG eight years. Just saying.

See, when he was president, that made me the ‘first lady.’

Trust me it’s not nearly as glamourous as it sounds. Basically, it meant that I had to go shopping at the dollar store (we have several in the area, some don’t actually only charge a dollar for everything in the store. It also meant that I felt (self-inflicted for sure) pressure to take more food choices than anyone else and I also felt like I needed to be creative in my food choices. Last year I made Rice Krispie treats that looked like watermelon slices. They were adorable but they were also more work than Rice Krispy treats should be.


It was a good run. I think Tom actually enjoyed his years of presidency. When he asked if there was anyone interested in taking over, on young (ish?) man asked, “What does the president do?”

Tom said, “Tell everyone else what to do.”

At that, the question asker was sold, a mock-vote was held and a new president took office.

We handed over the gift bags we’ve been using for a couple of years and Tom told the new president that he (Tom) will arrive at next year’s reunion early to help him (the new fearless leader) figure out what needs to be done and the whole exchange of office went smoothly.

And!! Next year I will make brownies with peanut butter M&Ms and green bean casserole. What? We’re in the freaking Midwest, it’s what we take to carry-ins.

On a more serious note, I think reunions are really for the older generation. The fellow that took over the presidency of the reunion committee is probably in his early thirties. I’m terrible with ages but that’s what I’m guessing. Last year was this guy’s first reunion in years. It was, sadly, his dad’s last. He father passed away in December.

The new president and his girlfriend are expecting their first child in September. And so the world turns. One generation dies and the next one is born. I think that the new president is feeling his own mortality a little bit from losing his father and expecting his son.

This is, obviously, speculation on my part but most of the attendees of this reunion each year are either very young or quite old. The very young are forced to come by their parents/grandparents and the very old come because, hey, they might not be around to do so next year. Those between the ages of, say 18 and 30 tend to be off living life and don’t have as much time or give as much thought to visiting with distant relatives once a year. But then they lose their parents and their babies are born and suddenly, family takes on a whole new meaning.

Out with the old (president) and in with the new! I wish the new first lady much luck.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Filling the Cup

Olivia enjoys drinking cold water. She much prefers her water to be refrigerated for several hours before drinking. We keep a gallon of water in the fridge and refill her cup all day long using that water.

But in the evenings, when she’s had her last drink of water, Tom or I (or sometimes Alyssa if I ask her REALLY nicely) will refill Liv’s cup directly from the kitchen faucet and place it in the refrigerator so it can sit overnight and chill for her morning consumption.

She obviously gets this preference for icy cold water from her dad because I much prefer my water to be closer to a tepid temperature. In fact, you can just go ahead call me Amy Farrah Fowler because my drink of choice is tepid tap water. I fill a bottle with water each morning when I get to work and it’s warmed nicely to room temperature by the time I get to each lunch. I CAN drink cold water but I’d rather not.

Anyway, back to Olivia and her nightly cup of water. The water is in a cup that has a lid because, duh, we’re no stupid around here.

The night before last, I suggested that she refill her own cup from the faucet. I mean, the child is ten and a half years old. She’s almost five feet tall (in fact, she might actually BE five feet tall, we haven’t measured her in a while.) and she can very easily reach the faucet.

I took the lid off her cup and made her refill the cup at the faucet. Then I put the lid back on and had her put it in the refrigerator. Note, I used the word ‘made’ because she was reluctant to take on this responsibility. That’s Olivia. She much prefers to let others do for her. Whenever anyone suggests that she do something for herself, she responds with shock and indignation. Fold her own underwear? Feed herself a chicken nugget? Where do we come up with the outrageous demands of the poor precious snowflake? Don’t we realize how fragile and delicate she is?

Yeah. No, she filled that cup herself.

Last night she tried to hand me her cup and I pointed to the kitchen. “You can fill it yourself,” I informed her.

She huffed and sighed and retreated to the kitchen. She returned a couple of seconds later with her cup, saying, “I can’t get the lid off.”

Okay. So yes, she has weak hands. I’ll give her that. I took the lid off and handed it and the empty cup back to her.

She wanted to know, “Why can’t you just fill it?”

“Because you’re big enough to do it yourself,” I told her, returning my gaze to the television where a riveting episode of Big Brother was being aired.

She sighed again but returned to the kitchen, filled the cup, replaced the lid and put the filled, lidded cup back in the fridge.

She can do so much more than she wants to do. She can do so much more than we require of her. But we’re getting there; one annoying chore at a time.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Birthday

It’s Tom’s birthday! Go Tom!!

He’s not big on celebrations. I mean, duh, he’s a DUDE, so he has to act all tough and pretend that he doesn’t like it when we make a fuss of him. But we do it anyway, because, hello, birthday!! We love birthdays. We, of course, being me and Alyssa, and Olivia. And Tom’s great about making our birthdays special so he deserves the same, whether he enjoys the fuss or not. Pssst…I think he kind of likes it even though he threatened to turn off his phone this morning so none of the older kids could call him. I told him not to be a birthday Scrooge.

But sometimes I think it’s just for show. He doesn’t like to make a big deal but he seems to appreciate it when the girls and I do it for him.

So we got him a few little gifts. I bought a cheesecake because it’s his favorite and we’re going to have a nice, low key celebration for our favorite guy.

We’re lucky to have him and I think he knows that we know it.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Reality

The reality of having a child with special needs is that they (usually) continue to grow in a typical manner even if they are immature for their age. Their bodies don’t know or care that their minds aren’t ready for things like puberty, menstruation, shaving legs, etc.

So while a child might be mentally/emotionally seven years old, if their body is older, well, you guessed it. That child will still reach puberty at the typical age.

I’m sure it’s obvious by now that someone in our house, the someone who had 5p- syndrome, started her period. I don’t want to name names because she deserves a little privacy but this isn’t so much about her as it is about me and how I, her mother, am dealing with this new, ahem, development.

Because let’s just get this part out of the way…she’s fine. She’s all in with this whole having a period thing. I mean, it’s just one more thing that makes her more like her sister, and what could be better than that.

But I have to confess that it’s more work the second time around than it was when the first girl hit this part of her life.

We’re rolling with it because, duh, that’s what you do. And let’s face it, she’s VERY high functioning. If I had to say how 5p- really effects Olivia is that’s it’s made her emotionally and socially immature. But we’ve got this.

I guess the whole reason I’m even writing about it is because I know that parents find this site when they’ve first received a diagnosis of 5p- syndrome and they’re terrified. They’re grieving the baby they thought they were having. They worry that their child will never be ‘normal’.

And okay, yeah. So none of us would ever call Olivia normal. But only because she’s extraordinary. Sure, I helped her a lot this weekend but I let her do the ‘work’ of dealing with this new issue. I asked her if she thought she needed to change each time she went to the bathroom. I showed her how to use the pads, showed her how to take them out and wrap them up to throw them away.

But I did all this with Alyssa too.

This is all a part of growing up. Special needs hasn’t stopped that from happening and honestly, I’m grateful for that. I want her to grow up and have as ‘normal’ a life as possible. I mean, don’t we all want that for our kids?

Okay, so I wish we’d have a couple more years before dealing with this but…we don’t. So we’re dealing. And hey, it’s better now, during the summer, than, say, October, when she’s in school. At least we’ll get a couple of months of practice before heading back to school and having even one more thing to worry about on top of grades and homework and ‘friends’ and gym class (which she hates.)

So yeah, focusing on the positive here.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Family

This is not actually my story but I’m related to the main character so…I’m telling it.

My grandma is almost 92 years old. She was born in 1924 to a single woman in her early twenties. Yeah, my great grandmother was an unwed mother back when that sort of thing might have resulted in a stoning. Sadly, I’m not actually joking here. If I were, yeah, bad joke.

But here’s the thing. My grandma grew up not knowing her father. Her mom got married when she was two and had two more daughters. My grandma grew up calling her stepfather “Daddy” and loving her sisters.

My grandma grew up, got married young (at 18, which is kind of when people got married back in the 1940s and she started having babies. My mom is the fifth of my grandma’s twelve children.

My grandma currently lives with my aunt. This aunt is my grandma’s ninth child, her sixth daughter. This daughter thought it would be cool to do the whole Ancestry.com thing and so she and my grandma spit into a vial, sent that saliva off and waited.

A few weeks later, they got their results. They were interesting.

Most interesting of all, though, is that Ancestry.com had several matches in the search for my grandma’s close relatives.

In fact, they found FIVE half-sisters. Sisters my grandma didn’t know existed because she’d never known her father.

My grandma has talked to several of these sisters and she’s just so excited to have found them. Word of mouth says they’re excited to have found her too. She was her father’s first born daughter.

So in a couple of weeks my mom and four of her sisters are taking a plane ride with their mom to visit a small town in Alabama, which is where her sisters live. My 92 year old grandma is going to meet her sisters for the first time.

How cool is that?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Computer Desk

Alyssa mentioned a couple of weeks ago that she’d like a desk in her room. She said it was hard to play Minecraft on her laptop while lying in her bed.

Hmmm…that sounds like a first-world problem if ever I heard one.

But I’m a first-world mom who takes her child’s ‘problems’ seriously. So I started thinking about what we could do about a desk for her.

I didn’t want to give up the desk that holds my sewing machine. I mean, come on, I JUST started using that machine again, why would I give up the piece of furniture upon which it sits? How will I EVER turn all those T-shirts into a quilt if I give my desk to my poor, beleaguered daughter?

Ahem, right. So, no, she wasn’t getting my sewing desk. Obviously, there was another solution to be found.

And find it we did…at WalMart, of course. Where else, I ask you.


We found this model at our local WalMart for $20.99. She didn’t need a big desk, she just needed something she could put her laptop on and maybe use for homework this fall.

When we got home, Lyss went right to work. She really did do most of the assembly. It took us maybe a half hour, but that’s from the minute we opened to box until we turned the desk over and put it against her wall. That includes the time it took me to gather my tools (the instructions say you need a rubber mallet. I used my hammer because I have no rubber mallet. I just hammered very gently with my trusty hammer.)

She’s very happy with her new desk. I’m very proud of the work she did putting it together.

Though now she claims she needs a new chair because the one she is currently using “isn’t very comfortable.”

I might just might make her wait to deal with this latest first-world problem.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Too Fat to Swim

The girls and I made our way to the community pool a couple of weeks ago (back when it was HOT around here, instead of this insane cool spell we’re having, which is putting the temps in the freaking 50s at night, yikes!)

So yeah, the pool. The water was so cold that day but so worth it because, yay, first swim of the year.

Yes, I do put on a swim suit and join the girls in the pool. No, I’m not happy with my body and I am VERY uncomfortable in a swim suit. But my girls like having me swim with them. They like having me nearby and joining in the fun of frolicking in the water.

We ended up getting out of the pool a few minutes before the final whistle that day because someone declared that she had to poop. Swimming often helps improve digestion in one of my children. I won’t say who but let’s just say when she says she needs to poop, we get out of the water and find a toilet.

While waiting outside the bathroom, I happened to overhear a couple of other mom’s talking. They were hovering at the edge of the changing room. They could see the pool but weren’t near enough to be splashed.

One of the mom’s, a larger lady, said haughtily, “I don’t swim.”

The other mom asked her why.

“I’m too fat to swim.”

And maybe it was my imagination but I swear that woman looked toward me when she said it. I was standing maybe ten feet away, waiting just outside the bathroom stall.

I didn’t react because honestly, whatever she was saying, it wasn’t about me. Even if she meant for me to hear it, I refuse to be told by another fatty that I’m too fat to swim. I have my own body image issues. I don’t need to take on the issues voiced by another.

I am going to continue to swim with my kids. For one thing, I like swimming. Whether you’re fat or not, 90+ degree weather is HOT and it’s nice to immerse yourself in a pool of cool, chlorinated water and play with your kids. For another, my kids don’t care that I’m a fatty. They enjoy my company and want me near them. I’m going to milk that one for all it’s worth because these dear children are never going to be this young again. They’re going to keep growing, up and away. And so, fat or not, I’m going to take every moment of joy and fun with them that I can.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Wednesday at the Zoo

I took yesterday off work and my mom and I took my girls and my nephew to the zoo.


For the record, ages 9, 10 and 14 are perfect for a visit to the zoo. There was very little whining, no one even once asked to be carried. We didn’t have to take or rent a stroller and everyone could carry their own drink. It was awesome! Thought, Liv did ask me to take a picture of her tired feet as we sat on a bench while Lyss and Jax went into the pen wit the goats.


We didn’t know that yesterday was World Giraffe Day but found out once we got to the zoo. There were many little tables set up with projects/information to celebrate World Giraffe Day.

In honor of World Giraffe Day, we fed the giraffes. Well, let me rephrase that. Alyssa, Jaxon and I fed the giraffe. Olivia, to whom I tried to hand a piece of lettuce, looked at me like I was out of my mind and wrapped herself around her Gram on a bench, daring me to try and make her get near that giraffe. His name was Jelani, by the way. Also, fun fact, that giraffe’s head weighs 200 pounds.


So instead of Liv handing Jelani the lettuce, I gave it to him. And bonus! I got giraffe slobber on my right index fingernail.

Olivia was appropriately disgusted by this fact. She gave me a disgusted look, avoided my hand and asked with disdain, “Can we leave this area now?”

I do think it is kind funny that I took a kid who hates all animals, real and stuffed, domesticated and wild, to the zoo. But she was there for the people (me, her sister, her cousin, her Gram). She likes us all and likes to spend time with us, even if that time is spent feeding giraffes while she climbs onto her Gram’s head and perches there like a baby orangutan, waiting for the opportunity to spring away to the nearest tree limb to avoid giraffe spit.

We saw a lot of sleeping cats. The lions were sleeping, one of the tigers was sleeping (the other was pacing along the fence line, we wondered if it was close to feeding time.)


In addition to yesterday being World Giraffe Day, I think it might also have been World Day Care Day at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. There was SO MANY day cares there. There were groups of about twelve to fifteen kids being moved from one area to another by frazzled looking twenty-something adults who probably hated their lives in those moments. I would like to say that whoever came up with the idea for days cares to have the kids in their charge wear matching shirts for outings like this was brilliant!

While the place may have been crawling with day cares it was still a lovely day to visit the zoo. The weather was perfect, the apes were adorable. The FWCZ has a two year old orangutan named Asmara. She’s flipping adorable!! And her mom was so attentive. Honestly, some of the parents of human children we saw yesterday could have learned a few things from Asmara’s mom. Just saying…

Can I end with a question? Why do people take infants to the zoo? I mean, I kind of get it. When you have older kids and just want to get out of the house…but infants don’t want to go to the zoo. They don’t want to be outside in that heat, in the sun. They want to be at home where their bed is, where they can be cool and comfortable.

I know, babies can sleep anywhere but…it just seemed so miserable for most of the infants saw yesterday. And the adults in charge of the infants didn’t seem to be having much fun either. Because I was lazy and knew it wouldn’t be fun for them, I was one of those moms who refused to take my infants to think like this. I know there are people who don’t think having a baby should keep them from living life and hey, go you, if that’s your way. But I kind of figured infancy doesn’t last forever. The zoo was going to be there in a year or five.

Just a little food for thought on a gloomy, and yet sticky Thursday afternoon.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Expressing Her Badass Self

Alyssa got her ears pierced a third time this past weekend.

She’d been dropping hints about doing this for several weeks. And when I say ‘hints’ I mean, she’d basically been saying she wanted to do it. She said her friend Amelia had mentioned get at least one ear pierced a third time and she, Alyssa, kind of wanted to do it before Amelia did, so that Lyss wouldn’t come across as a ‘copycat.’

Ha! You couldn’t pay me to be teenager again. Just saying.

One of her ‘hints’ was to ask me if my third earring hole hurt more than my other two. I managed to NOT roll my eyes and told her I didn’t think so.

Then she asked me how old I was when I got the third piercing. I think I was about sixteen but I honestly don’t remember.

On Saturday morning the hinting got annoying constant enough that I finally just said, “If you have the money to pay for ear piercing, I’ll take you to Claires.”

The sun had some competition from the smile she gave me.

On the way to town, she weighed the options of just doing one ear (like I did all those years ago) or doing both. I told her that the cost would be the same, but it was up to her.

In the end, she decided to do both. I told her that definitely makes her more ‘badass’ than I am. She found that amusing, considering I’m so far from being a badass that anything and everything is already more badass. Just the fact that I’ve managed to type the word badass four times now shows how NOT badass I actually am.

For the record, it appears that, for Alyssa, the third is more sore days out from the actual act of piercing her ears than the two before were. She is taking it well, which is good because, she did kind of nag her way into this pain and I wouldn’t be bothered in the slightest to remind her of that very fact. Yep, it turns out I AM that mom.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Being the Big Sister

I was thirteen when my youngest brother, M, was born. He was such an awesome baby. Well, except for the colic but hey, I was his big sister, I didn’t really have to deal with his screaming self most evenings. And the colic ‘only’ lasted a few months. My mom probably remembers that part of his infancy more than I do. She was poor working woman who had to come home each day to a screaming infant.

As M got older, I helped out with him a lot more. I was a teenager and he was a toddler and it was just how things worked in our house.

It should probably be mentioned that my dad is not M’s dad. My parents divorced when I was eleven. J was seven and, obviously, M wasn’t here yet.

My dad moved in with his brother, who lived three houses away from where we lived with our mom. We saw my dad several times a week and he took us out to lunch every Sunday. Yeah, my mom really got a break then, didn’t she? Yikes!

Anyway, when M was about two, he often wanted to go with me and J when we went with my dad. One afternoon, he was particularly insistent. He really wanted to go. My dad didn’t mind if we took him along, but I was resistant. See, I knew that if we took him, he’d be my responsibility. My dad is…kind but he’s not all that great with little kids.

My dad took me aside and said gently, “I know you don’t want the work of taking care of him but it means so much more to him to go with us than it does to you to not have him go.”

He was right. We took M with us. It was fine.

Yesterday we were at my mom’s dropping off a card and some small gifts for my step-dad for what Alyssa dubbed, “Grand Pawp” day and my mom invited Lyss and Liv to go with her to her mom’s today.

They said yes because my grandma lives with my aunt who lives on a lake so they’d get to swim and play at the park and it would be fun for all.

Except, the more Lyss thought about it, the more she realized that if it was just her and Liv and Gram, a lot of the care for Liv would fall to Lyss because that’s how it works. Livie clings to Lyssie if I’m not around for her to cling to. And while they know my grandma and my aunt and cousin well, Livie gets ‘weird’ and shy and clingy and Alyssa was dreading that.

Lyss hemmed and hawed about it most of the evening last night. Livie declared that she didn’t care if they went with Gram or stayed home but she was doing whatever Lyssie was doing. Which just make Alyssa feel that much more put upon.

Finally, I pulled her aside and explained, “You already told Gram you’d go. You can have Gram ask A for the wifi password (that was one of her excuses for not going, not knowing my aunt’s wifi password.) You can take your sketch pad and some paper for Liv. You don’t have to swim the entire day (another excuse was that we’d gone swimming that very day and she didn’t feel like swimming the next day.) Pawn Livie off on Gram every so often. It’s just one day, a few hours even. You’ll be riding in the front seat of the car, Liv will be in the backseat, you’ll have a break from her on the drive to Battle Creek and the drive back. Gram knows how Livie is. She wouldn’t have invited you guys if she didn’t want you to go. You should go.”

I wasn’t as eloquent or as thoughtful as my dad had been but she decided I was right and she’d suck it up and spend the day with her Gram and her clingy sister.

Being the big sister is hard sometimes. I get that. I’ve been there and didn’t get a T-shirt for it. But in the end, it meant more to Livie and to my mom for them to go than it did for Lyssie not to go. And I think she got that.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

PSA - Automatic Flush Toilets

Okay, so yes, public restrooms are gross. They just are. They can’t help that there are probably hundreds (thousands?) of people making use of them daily.

But can we all agree that if the automatic flush doesn’t, you know, automatically flush down the waste produced by any particular individual, then that individual should manually flush the toilet?

I can’t count how many times I’ve entered a public restroom and glanced into a stall and found, ummm, gross stuff floating in the toilet bowl.

A simple push of a button takes care of the problem and the toilet is once again usable.

I mean, sure, in an emergency, I could pee on someone else’s pee but, ewwww! Gross!

We all know that it’s possible to manually flush an auto-flush toilet, right? Right!?!

Well, then. Perhaps there are people out there who do not know that they can manually flush an auto-flush toilet. Let me set the record straight. If you pee (or, ewww, worse, poop) into a toilet that is supposed to automatically flush once you’d finished your business and have stood up but that toilet does NOT flush, please, PLEASE, for the sake of the next ‘customer’ don’t just leave your, ahem, droppings to fester in the toilet water. That’s just gross.

No, instead, if you don’t hear an automatic flush, turn around and face the results of your work and find the button that allows you to manually flush the toilet. It’s there, either on the back wall above the toilet or on the side of the toilet workings (NOT the freaking bowl!). It’s usually near the sensor that would normally activate the automatic flushing mechanism. Press that button and everything will be happily flushed away, leaving a bowl of clean water ready for the next ‘customer.’

Seriously. It’s not hard to push a button and it’s so much nicer for those who come after you.

No one wants to open a stall door and find the disgusting remnants of someone bathroom use.

Just please make sure the damned toilet is flushed before you leave. Please.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Peanuts

Tom has put Alyssa to work this summer. We have about a bazillion bags of packing supplies in our barn loft, our basement and in the upstairs of the detached garage (outbuildings were a biggie on our must-have list when we were looking for our house.)

I’d brought home at least two bags of packing supplies a week for several years. These bags made the move with us from our old house to our current house.

Tom has decided that having bags of ‘packing supplies’ is too annoying. He wants to have bags of ‘big’ bubble wrap, ‘little’ bubble wrap, brown paper, and yay, packing peanuts.

So he set Alyssa up in the garage (attached) to start sorting the packing supplies and rebagging them.

As he was helping her figure out what to sort and keep and what should be tossed, he mentioned the peanuts. Alyssa stopped what she was doing and asked him what he’d said.

He repeated, “I want the peanuts in this bag.”

She blinked at him. See, Tom says the word ‘peanuts’ differently than Alyssa and I do. We emphasize the NUT part of the word. You know, “PeaNUTs.” He puts the emphasis on the first part of the word so it comes out like “PEEEEnits.”

What Alyssa was hearing, though was a word very similar to penis.

She was very confused as to why her dad was talking about sorting penis.

He caught her look of confusion, picked up a packing peanut and said, “See, peanut.” Again, he said this as ‘PEEEEnit.’

Well of course this turned into a running joke in our house.

Alyssa will ask me if I like ‘PEEEnits’ and I’ll declare that I do indeed like ‘PEEEnits.’

If I ask where their dad is, Alyssa will remark that he’s probably outside with his PEEEEnits.

The other day, she mentioned that she’d told all her friends the PEEEnit joke and one friend in particular said, “I wish my mom were as chill as yours.”

That is high praise from the teenage crowd. I’ll take it!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Goals

I dropped the girls off at my mom’s this morning on my way to work. There was no special occasion, my mom just mentioned she’d be home for the day and said if the girls wanted to spend the day with her, they were welcome.

Duh, of course they wanted to spend the day at her house. Not only is her wi-fi better, but she has CABLE. Alyssa can watch unlimited episodes of The Middle without interruption. Olivia can lounge around in her underwear and no one ever suggests she put on pants.

It’s win/win. At least it is if you consider each of those ‘wins’ to go to a girl a piece. Not sure if my mom considers it a win but she’s the one who suggested it so…no take backs!!

When we first got there, my mom and stepdad were on their respective ends of the couch (it’s a long sectional) and Alyssa was quick to claim her spot next to my mom.

I use the phrase ‘next to’ but the more appropriate description is probably ON TOP OF. I mean, most of Lyss’s body was on the couch beside her Gram but at least a third of her (her leg, her arm, part of her hip) was across my mom’s body, as if Lyss was laying claim to her Gram.

And I suppose she’s got that right. I mean, she IS the first grandchild and so she’s got dibs on her Gram.

Though Liv often challenges those dibs.


Quite honestly, I feel like my mom is totally grandmother goals. She’s got this magnetism that pulls my kids (and my brother’s) in and makes them want to please her, to bask in her joy and her adoration.

I hope, if my girls decide to make me a Gram someday that I can be as awesome as my mom is.

My own grandmother, bless her heart, is lovely. She was also totally over kids of any kind by the time her twelfth child was grown and out of the house, which is kind of when I was born. Wait. Actually, my mom’s youngest brother is only about 7 years older than I am. So when my grandma was becoming a grandma, she was still very much into mother-mode. So yeah, she just didn’t have any more to give.

But my mom was SO ready to be a Gram when Lyss was born. She adores that girl (and the subsequent girl and boys who’ve come along since Lyss) and she makes sure everyone, but especially Lyss, Liv, J and C know it.

They’re so lucky to have her but if you asked her, she’d say she’s lucky to have them.

Once again, we have a win/win situation.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

An I-Phone of Her Very Own

Alyssa discovered that you can have an I-Phone with Trakfone service. She’s a clever one.

She also found out that she could purchase a reconditioned I-Phone for around $70. She started scrounging up her odd dollars and cents. She also mentioned ever so casually to her dad, her Gram, and her Pawp this new information she’d found out about the I-Phone.

Do I even have to say that within about six hours of telling me about the I-Phone opportunity, we were sitting at the computer placing the order for her reconditions I-Phone?

And that less than five days later, she had her precious I-Phone 5s in her excited little hands?

No? Good.

Because she does. And she loves it. She feels to much more ‘with the times’ now that she’s got a lovely I-Phone.

And okay, I admit it. I kind of love the filters she gets through Snapchat on this I-Phone. They’re cute.

They’re funny. Sometimes, they’re even creepy. But she’s enjoying them and she’s playing with them with her sister.


Her phone even takes pictures of me that are good enough for me to post. Amazing, right? See for yourself:


So hey, yes, my fourteen year old has an I-Phone. But guess what? She actually bought it herself so I am not even apologizing for her having it. She investigated it, she found it, she purchased it. She’s pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

Monday, June 5, 2017

When You Let Your Kids Play Outside at 8:30pm

When you go outside to play on a balmy summer evening at 8:30, you’re going to want to go in and wash your feet at 9:20pm.

When you go in to wash your feet, your children will join you because…bathtub with warm water + dirty feet = fun!!!

When you let your children join you as you wash your feet, your ten year old is going to want to turn ‘feet washing’ into a full-on bath.

When your ten year old wants to turn feet-washing into a full-on bath, you’re going to let her because…have you smelled her lately? Whew!

When you let your ten year old turn feet washing into a full-on bath, you’re going to need to wash her hair because, a bath doesn’t count if her hair doesn’t get washed.

If you wash her hair, you’re going to have to rinse her hair.

When you rinse her hair, she’s going to shriek that you’re killing her when you pour water over her head.

When she shrieks that she’s dying, you might laugh so hard you pee your pants.

When you laugh so hard you pee your pants, you’ll be glad you didn’t change into your pajamas after you washed your feet.

When you finally get done attempting (but not succeeding) to drown your ten year old, you let her lay in the empty tub because it’s what she likes to do.

When she’s finally done laying in the empty tub, it’s after 10pm and you’re very tired.

Even though you’re very tired (and it’s a Sunday night, so you have to work the next day) you have to help your now-clean child get into her pajamas.

Once your now-clean child is in her fresh pajamas and neither your child nor her pajamas are stinky, you’re going to notice that her sheets are stinky. Yikes!

When you notice that her sheets are stinky, you decide that they have to be changed because a clean, non-stinky child wearing clean, non-stinky pajamas cannot sleep on stinky sheets.

When you finally put clean, non-stinky sheets on your clean, non-stinky child who is wearing clean, non-stinky pajamas, you are able to put that clean, non-stinky child in bed and tuck her in.

When you tuck her into her clean, non-stinky bed, you notice that it is now 10:30pm. You’re very, VERY tired. You lean in to kiss your clean, non-stinky kid on the head and tell her good night.

When you lean in to kiss her, your clean, non-stinky child leans up to receive your kiss and she head butts you in the nose.

When your clean, non-stinky child head butts you in the nose, you gasp, clasp your hands to your face and leave the room before the expletives can escape from your lips.

When you leave the room, you examine your throbbing nose and are relieved there is no mark from your child’s unintended head butt.

When you’re examined your battered face, you realize it’s now 10:40 and you need to put on your pajamas.

When you put on your pajamas and make your way to your bed, you’ll realize that you only have about six hours before you have to get for work.

When you realize you only have six hours before you have to get up for work, you’ll have a hard time falling asleep because you’ll be anxious about needing to fall asleep.

When you finally fall asleep, you’ll be so tired you’ll dream about oversleeping.

Just…don’t let your kids go outside to play at 8:30 on a work night.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Home Summer School Challenge

Last night after I brushed her hair (amidst squeals and shrieks of pain, which, duh, wear your hair down all day and it’s going to hurt to brush it at the end of the day) Olivia took it upon herself to ‘sooth’ the back of her neck by dunking her head under the faucet of the bathroom sink.

Girlfriend has a lot of hair. See:


So this made me…unhappy. I told her to knock it off. Tom heard my admonitions and took it upon himself to yell at her too.

Then he declared, “Okay, one of us has to go!”

I asked him, “You or me?”

He shook his head vigorously and said, “No. You can’t go anywhere. Lyssie needs you. It’s either me or Olivia.”

Olivia stood toe to toe with her dad and declared, “DAD! I need her too!”

Things are starting out…rough this summer, to say the least.

I think we need to channel O’s energy into something positive, rather than leaving her to sit and watch Youtube videos of the Merrell twins for hours at a time.


That’s not to say that the Merrell twins are bad Youtubers, just…she needs to get outside, run around, play in the sun and fresh air and do other things, things that keep her brain from atrophying.

I get Tom’s frustration. By the end of a Sunday evening, I’m ready to go back to work just to get a break from arguing with Liv. But I also think that as the work-at-home parent, he might need to stop the ‘working’ part of being at home once in a while and just…be at home with the girls.

This weekend we’re going to work on a schedule for A and O. They need to do more than be on electronics this summer. They need chores (believe me, Olivia is perfectly capable of folding towels and even washing windows, even if she doesn’t want to do those things) and they need academic activities to keep them up on what they learned last year.

And the guy who declared, “One of us has to go!” He’ll help me plan this scheduled and he gets to be the principal of project Home Summer School…whether he or the girls like it or not.

Olivia has so much energy, she needs help channeling her energy into good because if she doesn’t get it, we’ll all be in trouble and I’ll spend all summer scrubbing melted red Chap Stick out of my footstool. And nobody wants that.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Lessons Learned From a Fourteen Year Old

My daughter is so wise. She’s so smart about so many things.

Lately, I feel her watching me and learning from me more than ever. And I think I’m probably failing her.

But maybe, as I learn from her, I can teach her too.

She often calls me out for apologizing too much. She reminds me that I don’t have to say I’m sorry just for taking up space. She tells me that I don’t have to apologize for existing.

She’s a smart one.

I often hear her arguing with her dad, using logic and intelligence, not caving to emotions and I want to applaud her even as I sit back and try to learn from her.

I’m a crier and I hate it. I hate that whenever I have any sort of emotional reaction, it comes out of my face in tears. I come across as a weak, weepy mess and I want it to stop!

She and her friends are constantly taking selfies that are…less than flattering and then sending them to each other. I want the confidence they have. They know they’re beautiful which is why they can take bad pictures, laugh at them and then share them. It’s adorable and I wish I could bottle the confidence they exude and sell it to those of over 30 who would rather sever a limb than share any unflattering pictures of ourselves.

She’s not afraid to try new things. This may just be something having to do with being young but I want to celebrate every single time she puts herself out there, tries something she’s never done before, sees herself as just as capable as anyone else and is willing to show the world what she can do. The honors bands and choirs she did this past year were new to her. She had to meet new people, go to new places, audition for things when she’d never auditioned before and she was rewarded for her bravery, her confidence.

I hope the world is always kind to her. I hope she always stands up for herself and those she loves. I hope that instead of changing to make herself fit the world, Alyssa makes the world change to fit her.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Summer of Firsts

Alyssa marched in her first parade as a member of the high school marching band yesterday.

The day before, she performed with the high school band at the graduation ceremony. She declared it, “Soooooo boring.” Ha! Oh my love, the boring things you have to look forward to in your life! Hahahaha.

She has to attend band camp this summer (not at all like the Band Camp of American Pie fame.) It’s held at the high school from 8am to 3pm for a week. There will be two more parades this summer.

We’re thinking of changing up our vacation this summer. For the past five years we’ve gone to Cedar Point, spending two days there and enjoying the pools, the Lake (Erie, don’t you know?) and beach and spending an afternoon in Vermillion, the small Ohio town just east of Sandusky where my mom grew up. It’s right on the Lake too and is so, so pretty.

I think this year we’re going to head south and explore the caves in Kentucky. I don’t know how long we’re going to be gone but we (my mom and I) think it will be nice to do something different. The kids are always just happy to stay in a hotel with a pool so as long as that happens, they’ll be happy.

I’ve also decided that I’m going to take advantage of some of my vacation days and take a Wednesday here and there throughout the summer. I figure we can go to the zoo in Fort Wayne, hit up the community one town over from our house, go to the lake (smallish one closer to home than Erie.) I think a mid-week break might just be nice to make the work week a bit less stressful. We’ll see if that happens or if it just makes Thursdays worse because of the work building up on the Wednesdays that I’m not here. How’s that for being a ray of sunshine?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Up and At 'Em

Each day this week I’ve had to practically drag Olivia out of bed to get ready for school. I get up between 5:30 and 6:00, depending on the day. I try to wake Liv up around 6:15 to give her time to just relax before starting in on getting dressed, doing hair, eating breakfast. She needs about ten minutes to just sit in front of the space heater (in LATE MAY!) and cook her feet before she’s really able to function enough to, oh, put on underwear.

This morning, though, was different. My alarm went off at 5:30. I turned it off and rolled over, knowing the next alarm would go off at 5:45 (what?) At 5:32, Olivia called from her bed, “Mom?”

I muttered, “What?”

She asked me something I don’t even remember and I gave some answer and told her to go back to sleep, it wasn’t time to get up yet.

About thirty seconds after the second alarm went off (WHAT?!) she started to tell me about a dream she’d had. I didn’t listen because I went back to sleep.

Because I wasn’t listening, she called, “Mom!?”

I called back, “What! Don’t you know it’s time to be sleeping not chatting?”

She laughed and continued to chat as if we were in the middle of a conversation.

This kid. One regular school days, I have to literally drag her out of bed.

But on the last day of school, she can’t wait to start the day.

I suppose I understand. Kind of. Okay, not at all. She still had to go to school even if it was the last time for third grade. Who doesn’t want to snatch even five extra minutes of sleep?

Oh yeah, Olivia…that’s who doesn’t want to snatch a few extra minutes of sleep. Crazy girl.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

3-2-1

We’re almost done. This afternoon, either Tom or I will pack O’s last lunch for 3rd grade. Alyssa will pack her last lunch for 8th grade. As of 1:30 tomorrow afternoon I will have a 4th grader and a freshman in high school.

Wheee!! This whole life is passing me by so very quickly. The lives of these beautiful girls are flying by. I want to grab it by the pigtails and slow it all down.

Alas, I can’t do that. So I’m holding on tight to this ride and trying to take it all in, absorb all the love, the memories, even the irritation, so when I’m old and they’re grown I can look back and bask in love we’ve nurtured and grown.

I will confess that 3rd grade has been the most challenging so far for Miss O, though. I don’t know if it’s just that the academic requirements are the most difficult so far (they say 4th grade will be that much harder still…) or if it was the combination of teachers (she had a new special ed teacher this year as well as, obviously, a new classroom teacher (it was also her classroom teacher’s first year teaching 3rd grade, this same teacher took eight weeks off for maternity leave during the middle of the year)) but life wasn’t always easy this year.

I got more emails and notes home this year regarding behaviors, requesting suggestions for how to motivate her, and just informing us of issues than we ever received before.

Olivia can be…stubborn. Yeah, that’s a good word. She either wants to work hard and totally gets the work or she…doesn’t. I honestly don’t think she can control these things either. Math is difficult and when we sit down to do math, I can see her shutting down. She needs a lot of one-on-one time and redirection when working on math. She loves to write but sometimes those fine motor skills get in the way and she doesn’t space her letters well, making her handwriting hard to read.

She wants to do well. I know this. She beams whenever anyone tells her she’s doing well. She knows she’s smart she just has a hard time showing it sometimes.

Her fashion sense, however, continues to be impeccable.


She brought home a sheet of paper on which she and her classmates had to write nice things about each other. She got a lot of compliments on her hair and her outfits. One kid did suggest that she might talk to her classmates a little more. How she laughed at that one.

As she gets older, Olivia is beginning to understand that she’s different from her peers. She pointed out to me several times this year that she did math sheets that were different from her classmates’ sheets. She is still very socially awkward and she knows it. So far, she doesn’t seem bothered enough by her social awkwardness to do anything about it but it’s only a matter of time.

I want so badly for her to have friends. I want her to come out of her shell and talk to her peers. I want them to see how funny she is, how sweet she is, how imaginative she can be. I want her to have the kind of friendships her sister has and honestly, I’m not sure she’ll get that.

We’re trying though. This summer we’ll work on math facts, we’ll read, she’ll write stories both on her tablet and one paper. We’ll have playdates with classmates and encourage one on one communication between her and her peers. We’ll help her maintain the academic gains she made this year and prepare her for 4th grade.

And we’ll continue to help her remember how to behave in public. We’ll encourage good behaviors and develop consequences for less favorable behavior. We’ll keep on striving to reach her fullest potential.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Car Trouble

I’m so irritated by my car right now. It’s a 2012 Chevrolet Equinox. I loved it when we first got it. We bought it from an older gentleman who’d purchased it new. It had very low miles and we’ve had it for about three years.

When we were in Bowling Green several weeks ago for Lyss’s choir thing, my mom, Liv and I were driving around town wasting time until it was time for A’s concert. While sitting at a stoplight, my car dinged at me, three little warning chimes and then the StabiliTrak light came on and a warning came up on the console telling me that “Engine Power is Reduced.”

Yikes!

The car did not die, though, so when the light turned green, we limped over to a parking lot and turned the car off. We let it sit for about ten seconds and I turned it on again. The warning lights/statements were still on.

I turned the car off and called Tom. While on the phone with him, I turned the car on again and this time, the warnings were off. Well, except the ‘check engine’ light, it stayed on and has stayed on since.

We were an hour and a half from home. This was not a good feeling, knowing I was having car trouble and we were that far from home.

We obviously made it home and all was well for a couple of weeks.

Until Saturday, when the stupid StabiliTrak light came on AGAIN, this time while idling in the driveway while waiting to pick up Lyss from a sleepover after the JH dance.

I turned the car off, waited two minutes, turned it back on; still being warned about reduced engine power and the need to service the stabilitrak. I turned it off again, waited, no reset this time. The lights remained on.

We drove home at forty miles an hour. Thankfully, we were only about six miles from home. But ugh! So annoying!

So Tom spent most of Saturday and Sunday working on the stupid car. He changed some parts, cleaned some other parts, checked out a lot of YouTube videos of other people working on cars and on Sunday afternoon he declared it fixed. He’d driven it to town, exchanged some parts, put new parts on right there in the parking lot of Auto Zone and drove it home. He swore that it drove better than it had in months.

I test drove it to my mom’s. We sat in her driveway for a couple of seconds (literal seconds!) letting it idle because, yeah, that’s when the stabilitrak warning light comes on.

IT CAME ON AGAIN! This time I took pictures of all the lights and warnings because I wasn’t actually sure my darling, devoted husband believed me when I’d told him about them before.

See, he’d never actually seen these lights and warnings. And the parts he’d replaced had nothing to do with the stupid Stabilitrak and he was getting REALLY annoyed with me asking about it.

And I was getting annoyed with having to ask about it. I just wanted it fixed, whatever that meant. I hate having a car I don’t feel like I can rely on. I mean, I’ve driven some clunker in my day but this car is NOT a clunker. I shouldn’t feel like I have to rev the engine while sitting at a stop light to keep it from idling too low and having the warning lights come on again.

So…where are we right now?

The check engine light is still on. The “Service Stabilitrak” warning is off. There is no warning that the engine has reduced power but there is a weird clicking that can be heard when the car is running.

Tom thinks we need to just trade the stupid thing in. He has done some research and apparently Chevrolet was going quite a bit of experimenting on the Equinox between 2010 and 2012 and we got one that doesn’t seem to have quite been done right.

We don’t want to deal with constant repairs or warnings or issues. We just want a car we can rely on to start each day, get us where we’re going and then get us home again. That’s not asking too much.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Speaking of Abandoment Issues

Last Friday on our way home from a choir contest (they got a superior rating!) Alyssa played a video for me and my mom. It was of Avi talking about needing to take a break from Pentatonix.

Alyssa was…sad. Is that the right word? I’m not sure. She was concerned and confused. She wants to support Avi but she also wants Pentatonix to continue being who they are, making the amazing music they make and she worries if they replace Avi with some other bass, well, it just won’t be the same.

She worked her way through these emotions all weekend long. She cried a little. She wrote PTX Forever on her wrist in solidarity with the rest of the Pentatonix of the world.

I teased that this was like when the Beatles broke up. Which, obviously, it’s not to that scale but she and a lot of the more…fanatic…fans were fairly upset.

She was obsessed with reading every single tweet that was tweeted, watching every reaction video posted, responding to all Instagram pics posted. She talked about it pretty much non-stop, going back and forth between her love for Avi himself and her fandom for Pentatonix as a whole.

I reminded her often that in his announcement video, Avi said he was taking a break, not that he was quitting forever. He said he’s going to continue to make music but that the breakneck speed at which Pentatonix has toured and traveled and performed has become too much for him and he needs to slow down, regroup, figure out where to go from here.

She understands but she’s also fourteen and feels all the things so deeply, as only a teenage girl can feel them. She’s doing better already. She’s consoling herself with the fact that Avi is performing in all the events that PTX committed to do before his announcement, so he’ll be in Indianapolis on August 10, which is when we’ll also be in Indy to attend the Pentatonix concert.

It also helps that she’s super busy with end of school year events. Tomorrow is Olivia’s annual field day, it’s also the Junior High Dance. Monday we have to attend an academic awards ceremony for Alyssa. Next Thursday is their last day and it ends at 1:30.

I’d say bring on summer but summer is bringing its own version of busyness with marching band, band camp, summer intervention.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Junior High Band/Choir Concert

We attended our last EVER Junior High Band/Choir concert on Monday. I make the distinction that it was Junior High because, duh, we’ve got four years of high school band/choir concerts ahead of us.


Fun times, indeed.

Actually, it really was fine. I had to get there a half hour early because Alyssa had to be there a half hour early and even four miles seems silly to drive back home when it’s only a half hour. I sat next to Alyssa’s friend Tessa’s mom, which was nice. She’s lovely. Actually, we’re really lucky because most of Lyss’s friends’ moms are lovely. Oh, damn, I just realized that if most of her friends’ moms are lovely, what if I am the NOT lovely mom of that friend group? Unnerving thought!

Tom and Olivia arrived at 6:59 for the 7:00 concert. And get this…Olivia behaved VERY well. I mean, like REALLY well. She was a paragon of appropriate public behavior. It was awesome.

The concert began with the choir, then the fourth grade performed using their recorders.

Yes, it was as ‘awesome’ as one might think. Though to be fair to this year’s fourth graders, they were actually better than I’ve ever heard a group of fourth grade recorder players. So that’s something.

After the fourth grade, the tiny little fifth grade band played. They were…fifth graders.

The sixth graders were also…sixth graders.

The junior high band, though, was pretty great. I mean, for junior high students, right? But since my kid was one of them of course they were awesome.

I really am proud of how far she’s come as a musician and a performer. She seems to enjoy herself so much these days as she’s making music either through singing or her flute.

The sad part, though, is the awesome band director who has been at the school for four years is leaving at the end of this school year. They haven’t hired a new ‘instrumental music teacher’ yet, and Lyss and all her friends are very hopeful that they’ll find someone as awesome as Ms. P has been. I hope so too. I’d hate for her musical education to suffer because of a bad teacher.

But here’s to another year in the books…almost. Only six more lunches to pack. Just saying.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Those Damned Math Sheets

There were so many tears last week and they were mostly due to half-page math worksheets.

Every single freaking day, Olivia brought home a half-page math worksheet. This worksheet was supposed to have been done that day at school during ‘morning math work’.

It was never done while at school. What was done at school was a bunch of doodling and scribbling upon the half-sheet of paper.

I asked Olivia so many times last week what her teachers/aides were doing while she was scribbling all over her morning math worksheet.

She’d shrug at me.

She did take the time to explain that the worksheet she was doing was different from the worksheets the rest of the class were doing.

I don’t know if this bothered her but it seemed as if she thought this was enough of an explanation for why she was scribbling all over hers. I mean, we’re talking SCRIBBLING. She’d write random words, lines, squiggles, circles. You name it, she wrote it on her math worksheets. Wait, unless you name numbers. There were no numbers on her math sheets. It’s almost as if she’s allergic to numbers.

So yes, these math sheets were sent home every single freaking day last week with a note asking, “Please have Olivia complete the morning math sheet that she didn’t complete at school today.”

And to do this, I’d have to erase ALL.THE.SCRIBBLES each evening. Most of the time, not all the scribbles would come off but I could get it fairly clean and we’d sit down to do the work.

Sometimes this math work was complicated. Like story problems such as, “Eric had 75 cents. He bought a candy bar for 45 cents. How much money does he have left?”

Olivia’s brain doesn’t quite compute how to figure what the actual problem is.

I mean, she can do 75 minus 45 if it’s written as:

75
-45


But figuring out the starting point in the story problem is difficult for her. I mean, duh, girlfriend has a chromosomal deletion! Let’s give her a little break, ‘kay?

On the second day she brought home a scribbled-upon math sheet, we took away her tablet. I mean, there had to be some kind of consequence, right?

She lost the tablet from Tuesday evening until Saturday morning. She didn’t seem to think it was that big a deal.

Friday, though. Oh, Friday. I checked her folder. There was another math sheet. This time, there would be no erasing. She’d gone after that thing with crayon. I was lucky I was going to be able to read it well enough to rewrite the whole thing.

At that point, I informed her she was losing all doodling privileges. Oh, the tears fell when she heard that. She loves doodling (as shown by the doodling on the math sheets.) I informed her that the day she managed to come home from school without a destroyed math sheet, she’d get her home doodle pad back.

We talked about it all weekend long. I reminded her each time she asked for a pad of paper and a pen that she couldn’t have it because she wouldn’t stop doodling on her math.

I honestly don’t know how much of the doodling/scribbling is in her control but I will say, there was no math sheet yesterday.

I wonder if her teachers took the email I sent yesterday to heart or if Liv just learned a little self-control. My email suggested that Liv needs more help at school during morning math work than she was getting. That if there was an aide or a teacher available to guide her in the math work, maybe she wouldn’t decide that doodling was a vial option since she couldn’t figure out the problems on her own.

Whatever the reason, she didn’t bring home a math sheet and for that, I’m so very grateful. And for the record, I did get her back her home doodle pad. She was one happy doodler.

(She got around not having paper this weekend by drawing with chalk on the driveway but…shhhh, let’s not talk about that.)

Monday, May 15, 2017

Freshman Orientation

Whew, now that all the stories about the Junior High honors choir trip are told (not really, I haven’t mentioned my stupid car…) I can finally talk about Freshman Orientation.

Alyssa and I went to her school at 6pm last Monday evening to listen to her principal and guidance counselor talk about the importance of maintaining a good GPA, how there is a path for every student in their school; such as the academic honors diploma, the college credit classes, 4 County (a sort of vocational school in our area) and blah, blah, blah.

I was in a mood that evening. I think it was because earlier in the day I’d stupidly searched for ‘thinspiration’ on Pinterest and it depressed me/made me mad. That one about not taking orders from a cookie? Bite me. And the whole, nothing tastes as good as being thin feels…really? Are you sure? Have you ever had a York peppermint patty?

So I was in a mood; a cranky, irritable, three-year-old who dropped her cookie mood.

I listened to the speeches, followed along with the slides on the projector screen. But I was so distracted by all the fat mothers in the audience with horrible haircuts.

And it hit me. I’m a fat mom with a horrible haircut. The people behind me were probably as distracted by my fat rolls as I was by the fat rolls of the women in front of me. (Maybe not, I was wearing a sweater, and it camouflaged my fat rolls…just saying.)

I hate that I’m so judgey. I hate that I think about this so much that it filters over onto other people. But ugh! So much back fat and so many horrible layers in hair. I mean, seriously, I wondered of that one women let someone cut her hair with garden shears.

And then! Then the stupid principal called up the senior class president to give a speech to the students in the audience. OMG. This guy thought he was so funny.

He wasn’t.

He was irritating in that way that only eighteen year old dudes who think they’re funny can be.

And he had a beard. Did I mention he was eighteen? I know. It was gross.

All in all, we came away with information. We have some options.

I reminded Alyssa that since I have a BA, she has to at least meet my level of education if not surpass it. She rolled her eyes at me. I didn’t care because I was going home to have a cookie.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Amelia's Mom

As we sat in the lobby of the music center waiting for the junior high honors choir to begin, my mom and I made idle chitchat with the parents of one of Lyss’s friends, Amelia. The four of us made a concerted effort to ignore Olivia. I appreciated Amelia’s parents’ efforts. They were quite admirable.

But this isn’t actually about Olivia! I know. Who knew I could write anything that didn’t involve the little darling?

It’s actually about how refreshing it was to sit and talk to Amelia’s mom. This woman was so refreshingly unapologetic about how much she is OVER doing mom things these days.

She didn’t even pretend to feel bad about being thoroughly annoyed by all three of her kids for various things. It was awesome!

Her son is finishing his freshman year of college. She said he brings a ton of laundry home every single time he comes home, which, she declared, is WAY too often. Ha! She said that the night before the JH honors choir, he arrived at 8pm with his usual duffle bag of laundry. At first she informed him she was not doing his laundry that weekend but then, she said he started talking about stuff she just didn’t want to hear about so she escaped to their laundry room just so she didn’t have to hear his voice.

She didn’t have much to complain about her middle child, a daughter who is a junior in high school. This child, she said, at least cooks.

But she told me and my mom that her youngest, Amelia, who is Alyssa’s friend, is so wishy washy about every little thing and goes back and forth on all decisions. She said the latest obsession is whether or not she’s going to play sports in high school. Amelia’s mother informed her that she has until next fall to make any decision at all and she doesn’t want to hear another word about it until early August.

I wanna be just like this mom when I’m a grown up mom. I love that she’s letting her kids that her very existence doesn’t rely on them and their needs. She’s reminding them that she’s a person too and she doesn’t have to cater to their needs.

I could learn a thing or twenty from Amelia’s mom.

Though, to my credit, just this past Tuesday at Lyss's last JH track meet EVER I informed her, "If you're cold, I could give you my sweater but, yeah, I kind of don't want to. So I'm not going to. You can go get your sweatshirt out of the locker room." I'm getting there...

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Jr High Honors Choir - part 2

On the Friday evening before the Saturday at BGSU the girls and I went to my mom’s house for a quick visit.

While there, my mom told me she’d decided she was going to go with me to BGSU and we’d spend the day around Bowling Green. She suggested we take Olivia with us.

I’d planned to leave Liv at home with Tom because I knew she’d be bored, especially during the concert.

But my mom made a good point when she mentioned that every time I have to go somewhere with one kid and leave the other at home, I’m so torn between the two. I always feel like I should be where I’m not. Maybe that’s a hold-over from when Liv was in the NICU and I always felt like I wasn’t where I should be. When I was with her, Alyssa, sweet little three year old Alyssa, was at home. When I was at home with Lyss, tiny little newborn Olivia was in the hospital. I was never where I was supposed to be because I was supposed to be in two places at once.

Ahem. Okay, sorry for that brief therapy session.

Anyway. It was decided that Liv would go with us and we’d find things to do and places to be while waiting between dropping Lyss off at 8:30am and her concert at 4:00pm.

And it was fine. It was fine all day long until it wasn’t fine anymore.

Let’s back up. First, we headed to Hobby Lobby and wandered around there for about an hour. Then we went to TJ Maxx and wandered there too. Pizza Hut was across the street from TJ Maxx so we decided that was convenient.

By the time our pizza was eaten (it took FOREVER for it to arrive and there were MAYBE four other tables in the entire restaurant) we decided that even though it was still two hours before the concert, we’d head back and look at the cool building on the BGSU campus that looks like a sinking ship.


After the sinking ship tour, my mom decided to sit down in the lobby of the concert hall and I let Olivia run around the ramp outside. It was a fun ramp that went in a semi-circle so she thought it was pretty neat. She ran around it many times before declaring she was tired and wanted to go sit with Gram for a while.

We sat down, she played on a wavy bench and all was well.

Then other parents started showing up. And my mom and I started talking to these other parents and Olivia was no longer the center of attention nor did she have the potential for being the center of attention and at that point, as far as she was concerned…it was on.

She started asking for snacks and moving her wavy bench closer and closer to my chair. And asking questions in the middle of conversations. To give her credit, when we’re around strangers, she doesn’t talk very loud so she wasn’t bothering anyone but me.

I finally excused myself to go out to the car and get her some snacks. She opted to stay in with my mom. When I walked back into that lobby, Olivia was laying on the floor. My mom reported that the minute I walked out the door, Liv calmly settled into a prone position on the floor. My mom had told her to get up several times but she just grinned and laid there. Sigh.

She did get up when she saw me because she knew I had food.

She ate her snacks and continued to quietly pester me. I acknowledged her often but tried not to derail conversations when she interrupted.

Finally, hall opened and we got to go sit down for the concert. We had to sit through four songs by the college ‘a cappella’ group. I put a cappella in quotes because this group had a piano playing along with their song. So yeah, not so much a cappella. But whatever.

When Lyss’s group finally took the stage, Olivia lost her mind. She realized that her sister was on stage and that mean I was paying attention to her sister and not to her. She started bouncing in her seat. She started tugging on my arm. She put her face in my armpit. She kissed my hands, over and over and over.

Now, bless her, Tessa’s mom suggested that Liv couldn’t help these behaviors. So kind of her to give my little monster the benefit of the doubt. I know better. My mom knows better.

After several hissed orders to settled down, I decided to ignore her.

My mom said that the grin on Liv’s face as she upped her antics was almost funny, if she weren’t being such a brat.

In the end, A’s part of the concert only lasted about fifteen minutes so I only had to put up with Olivia and her naughtiness for that long but in the moment, it felt like forever.

I’m not saying I won’t take her to something like that again. But I am saying that we’ll have some stern discussions before it happens. And, thankfully, each subsequent experience will happen to a slightly older, hopefully more mature Liv.

Monday, May 8, 2017

BGSU Junior High Honors Choir

This past Saturday, my alarm went off at 5:30 (earlier than the work week…ugh!) and I hit the shower. I was in Lyss’s room at 5:45 to make sure she was awake and Olivia was up at 6 asking when her blueberry pancakes would be ready.

By 7am we were on the road toward Bowling Green, Ohio, home of Bowling Green State University.

I needed to have Alyssa there by 8:30 to check in for the junior high honors choir. Since we were going that way, I offered to take one of Lyss’s friends with us, Tessa, so that Tessa’s mom wouldn’t have to get up at the ungodly hour of 5:30 and drive the hour and a half trip and then find something to do until the 4:00 concert.

My mom went with us and after we dropped Lyss and Tessa off, we headed to McD’s for breakfast (why yes, Olivia is part hobbit…she very much enjoyed her second breakfast) and then wandered around the town trying to find things to do. We were NOT going to drive the hour and a half back just to turn around and go back AGAIN to watch the concert.

We found things to do, dealt with a minor bit of stress (more on this later this week) and Alyssa stayed back with her friends learning new songs, hanging with college students and, apparently being annoyed all day long.

When we went back to Moore Musical Arts Center on the BGSU campus, Alyssa and her friends were on a quick break. She informed me she was singing the alto part. I was impressed. She usually sings soprano and so this was a new thing for her. I thought that might be a good thing.

No.

It was not a good thing; at least as far as Alyssa was concerned it was NOT A GOOD THING.

The concert was performed. It was lovely. We met up with our various kids and headed out.

And the rant started.

We went to McD’s (AGAIN) with Tessa and her mom and Lyss and Tessa compared notes on how messed up the entire day had been. See, Tessa usually sings alto. Lyssa usually sings soprano. On this day, they were required to sing the other’s part. Gasp.

To add insult to injury, at registration that morning, Alyssa was given the wrong-sized T-shirt. When she signed up for this event, she wrote on her form that she wears an adult medium T-shirt. She received a child large.

If I were ordering a shirt like this for Olivia, I’d ask for a child large. For reference, Olivia is 4’9” tall and weighs about 85lbs. Alyssa is almost 5’8” tall and weighs more than 85lbs.

Here’s a picture of each of them wearing the very shirt Alyssa was so pissed about.



Once we hit the road for home, my mom, Olivia and I were subjected to an hour long rant about the injustice of Alyssa having to sing the alto part in that choir.

Oh, and the people in charge of this honors choir thing didn’t even give the kids water. They had pizza for lunch but nothing to drink. That might be the biggest grievance in my book but I don’t sing, so I don’t know how important it is to be allowed to sing what one considers one’s part. Though, honestly, I should understand it after listening to it all the way home from Bowling Green.

When we got home, Lyss quickly texted every single one of her friends (all fifty of them) and all but one told her she was completely justified in her angst and frustration with the day.

That last one? Well, she was quick to point out to Alyssa that SHE (the friend) is an alto and was forced to sing soprano (for the record, this wasn’t Tessa speaking) AND this poor dear had received a shirt that was WAY too long. It wasn’t too long. I saw this young lady’s shirt, it was fine. But whatever. Alyssa took this one-upping badly. I mean, I get it. But I pointed out that maybe this friend was just short on empathy at the moment and needed to vent too.

Alyssa found her friend’s vent insensitive and frustrating because, DUH, she was mid-vent and didn’t want her vent to be high jacked by someone else’s vent.

What we went through was pretty much Lyss’s version of a tantrum. I’ll give it this much, it was well-thought out and never once did she raise her voice during her hour and a half rant. She did repeat herself often but…she’s fourteen and felt very put out by the entire situation.

We ended up finding out that her choir teacher was the one who messed up the vocal ranges of the girls who participated in the honors choir.

Makes me wish I’d recorded Lyss’s rant so I could forward it to Mrs. F since it was, basically, her fault my mild-mannered teenager was on the very edge of losing her beautiful mind.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Can We Slow It All Down Just a Little?


Freshman…what the hell? I mean, yes, I know, time flies and it seems like just yesterday she was three years old and saying things like, “Mommy, hold you.” And, “Can I have some macamoni and cheese?”

But here she is, on the cusp of her freshman year of high school.

I wish that when I were fourteen, I had the confidence, the character, the strength my Lyss has. She’s a loyal friend, an admirable musician, a speedy-fast runner. She tells her dad when she thinks he’s being a jerk and manages to do so with a smile and leave him feeling like he’s her whole world.

I hope these strength, this confidence never leaves her. I hope when she’s forty she’s still this feisty, this sure of her own convictions. I want her to change the world. I hope the world doesn’t come along and change her instead.

I just want to wrap her in bubble wrap and keep her with me a little while longer. I want to protect her and keep her innocent and not let the big, bad world touch her.

But I owe her more than that. I owe her the trust that she can handle this world. She can make a difference in her world and change it to suit her, not the other way around. She’s strong, she’s so freaking smart, she’s beautiful. She’s got this.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Pushing Through

Alyssa stayed home from school on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. She didn’t have anything going on that required a doctor visit, just a vague, “I don’t feel good.” She said her stomach hurt and she felt dizzy and tired. These were the first days she’s missed all year so Tom and I believed her words and let her stay home.

When I got home from work yesterday, she was singing in the shower so I knew she was feeling better.

But alas, I started feeling icky. Like Alyssa, it was nothing specific, just a vague achiness.

But Olivia had homework that needed to be done. We also needed to study her spelling words. Once all that was done, it was 5:40. For a minute, I considered going in and sitting on the couch. But I knew if I did that, I wouldn’t want to get up and make dinner. So I pushed through. I started dinner for the girls and it was done by 5:50. They were eating by 6 and Olivia was in the bathroom at 6:20 ‘reading a magazine.’

Yeah.

But because I pushed through my vague icky feelings, I was upstairs in the tub by 6:50, blessedly alone.

I made my way back down at 7:20, ready to finish the day. O’s school reading assignment was done by 7:30, she was finished with her evening snack by 7:50, her teeth were brushed by 8:00 and we were all heading to bed at 9:00.

When I woke up this morning, my ickiness was gone and I made it to work with nary a thought to calling in.

Here’s to pushing through and getting it all done even on those days when you just don’t wanna.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Diva

Just before the girls and I headed out for our weekly shopping trip, Tom called me. He needed me to search for local U-Haul rental places.

See…he’d left that morning to go to an auction. Along the way to the auction, he stopped at a garage sale. As he was making a pile for himself in the corner of these people’s garage, the dude running the sale said, “Why don’t you just buy it all?”

I think the guy was joking. Tom was not when he asked, “How much will you take for it all?”

This house had been empty for a year. The house had just been sold to a neighbor and they were trying to sell of the contents for the widow who’d lived there previously. There was a lot of crap in that house. A LOT.

It ended up being a ‘family affair’ as Tom called it. He was so excited about this little excursion. We even managed to rope my mom and step-dad into helping. It was actually kind of insane, if you ask me.

After we’d arrived and the home owner and her children (who were older than my mom!) left, I told Tom, “So, basically, you paid these people to let you pack up their house?”

He was too gleeful to even take offense. There were so many treasures in this house, he assured me.

Whatever. There were also a lot of dead bugs.

We ended up being at that house for about five hours, wrapping dishes, packing boxes, declaring that so much of the stuff we were dealing with was GARBAGE. Ahem.

Alyssa was an awesome helper and when she got tired of packing boxes, she asked if she could do her sister’s nails. We’d bought some fancy-dancy press-on type nails while at the grocery store earlier that day and O had been pestering me to put them on her all afternoon.

When Lyss asked if she could do them for Liv, I said, “Yes, please!”

So they sat in the empty living room on a blanket my mom had brought and ate snacks and did their nails.

A while later, I suggested we go outside and get some fresh air before we started on the crap (I mean, treasures) in another room of the house. While out there, I exclaimed over a fancy lilac tree. It was so pretty, with frillier than usual flowers and that glorious lilac smell.

As she was attempting to smell the flowers, Olivia tripped over some wrapped fencing. She caught herself and then promptly tripped again. When she finally recovered, she stopped for a moment, caught her breath, looked at her hands and declared, “I didn’t lose any of my nails!”

My little diva definitely understands what’s truly important. She might have skinned the hell out of her shins (she didn’t) but she didn’t lose a nail.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Vindication

Olivia stayed home (okay, wait, she stayed with Gram) from school last Friday. I woke her up like normal that morning and all was going well. She’d changed out of her pajamas and had put on her shirt and was in the process of pulling on a pair of tights when she announced that she didn’t feel well. She positioned herself at the toilet and threw up. It was gross and awful. She was sweaty from the effort of vomiting and while she’d made it to the toilet, well, not all of the puke made it in there. She swiped her arm across her mouth before I could stop her and so the shirt HAD to come off.

I rushed to get her some clean pajamas and a washcloth which I used to wash her face and then let her use to wipe her mouth again. I got her some water to rinse her mouth and told her that once she had her pajamas on I’d brush her teeth to get rid of the nasty taste of regurgitation. Ick.

We got her cleaned up and headed downstairs to impart the good (to Olivia) news that she would not be attending school that day.

Tom looked at me with near-panic. Evidently, he’d planned on doing things that did not involve child care. Huh.

I asked him if he’d like me to call my mom and see if she was available to watch Liv that day.

I could almost see the release of tension in his shoulders as he nodded and said to tell my mom he could come get Livie afternoon if she needed him to do wo.

I made the call, my mom graciously came to the rescue and we went about our morning.

I mentioned that Liv was actually probably fine now, that she’d probably thrown up due to eating too much junk the night before (it had been a Thursday, so Lyss and I were at a track meet until after 7 so Tom had fed Liv and then let her eat way too much chocolate, at least according to the contents of the toilet that morning…wait, is that TMI?)

He brightened at that thought and said, “You’re probably right, she really could just go to school.”
“No,” I clarified. “Even if she is fine, which obviously, I hope she is, I don’t think a kid who pukes at 6:30 in the morning should have to go to school that day. Puking is one hundred percent a get out of school for the day event.”

He started to argue and I stopped him, “Do you want to get a call from the school at noon letting us know someone needs to come get Gaggie McPukerton?”

At that, he agreed and Livie and I continued to pack her stuff for her day at Gram’s.

And what do you know? My mom called me at work at 12:30 saying that Liv had thrown up again and had no change of clothes.

I’m an idiot. I had packed Liv’s book, her tablet, a movie, a blanket and …. No clothes.

My mom’s house is only three miles from our house but she hadn’t been able to get Tom on the phone. I told her the way to get into our house in case he wasn’t there and she and Liv started head over there.

Tom finally called me and said he’d take several pairs of pajamas to my mom’s house and all was well.

And while I felt like a dipshit for not taking a change (or three) of clothes, I did feel just a little vindicated over the fact that she had, in fact, thrown up again and I was absolutely right in keeping her home from school. Not that I’m glad she threw up, just that since she did, I’m so, so glad she was at home (or, rather, at Gram’s) to do it rather than at school. No one wants to puke at school.

Like I said to my mom, if I were the stay at home parent, these issues wouldn’t even need to be discussed. Unfortunately, I am not that parent and so…the opinions of others (okay, one other, whatever) must be considered. Sigh.