Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Off the Grid

It's been a while. I didn't mean to disappear but apparently, I don't recover from surgery very well.

So, to recap the past couple of weeks.

I got the cancer diagnosis on August 21. That was a Monday. I met with a surgeon on Thursday, August 24. He sent me for an x-ray and blood work that very day and scheduled an MRI for the following Wednesday, August 30. I met with the surgeon the day after the MRI. He told me that the MRI came back with good news, there was no sign of cancer in my lymph nodes. At that appointment, he also told me he had an opening for surgery the next Tuesday, which would be September 5.

I said, "Let's do it."

And so we did. Tom and I got to the hospital at 10am on Tuesday, September 5. Surgery was scheduled to start at 2pm but the surgeon wanted the surgery to be wire guided, so we got there early so they could insert a wire into the tumor so the doctor wouldn't have to cut more than necessary. The wire was inserted using an ultrasound for guidance. The radiologist who inserted the wire had a hard time finding the tumor. I told him it was pretty deep and he'd have to push harder on the ultrasound wand. They got the wire inserted and then I had to have some dye injected that would make it way to my lymph nodes. Even though the MRI showed no signs of cancer there, the surgeon planned to take out a couple of them for testing.

At about 1:00 my mom showed up to wait with Tom and relieve him so he could go home and wait with the girls when they got off the bus. At some point, my pre-op nurse gave me a Xanax, so I was quite relaxed before surgery. I dozed while waiting to be taken back to surgery. I remember being moved from the pre-op room to the operating room but once I was on the operating table, I remember nothing until I was back in the recovery room.

I evidently also take quite a while to wake up from anesthesia. It makes me very nauseas and so the post-op nurse kept pumping me full of anti-nausea medicine, which also made me groggy. The surgery only took about an hour and a half but I wasn't ready to go home until about 7:30 and even then, I was still a little sick to my stomach and VERY groggy. I slept the entire drive home and vaguely remember Tom and my mom helping me up the stairs to our house. I collapsed in the recliner and do not remember Tom helping me move to the couch to sleep that night. I do remember him giving me the first of the prescription pain pills. Yeah, more on those vile things later.

The next morning I felt better. In pain, but better. I woke up in time to hear Alyssa yelling at Olivia at the kitchen table, where O was being a brat about her hair. I felt good enough to go in and braid her hair for her, which made her happy and made her sister seethe. Alyssa is all about helping and making my life easier. Olivia...is not so much all about that.

My doctor called on Thursday after the surgery to tell me that pathology came back and they got all the cancer. It was contained to the one tumor (Pete) and my lymph nodes were clear. So yes, all good news. He asked me how I was feeling and I reported that I was doing okay.

I saw him for my post-op appointment last Thursday, September 14. After waiting with Tom in the exam room for an hour and fifteen minutes (much to Tom's disgust) the doctor finally arrived. He noticed that I moved slowly from the chair to the exam table. When he first looked at the site of my incision, he flinched a little and said, "Wow, I didn't expect that much bruising. Were you this bruised when we talked last week?"

I shrugged and said, "Well, yeah."

He asked Tom, "Is she always this stoic?"

I joked, "Eh, he probably thinks I'm pretty whiny."

Tom replied, "Not about this, I don't."

The doctor declared that I am much more bruised and swollen than he'd anticipated and decided I need to be off work another two weeks to recover. I appreciate this because I still tire VERY easily and I admit to still being in some pain.

But in the long run, I've been very lucky. The worst news I've had yet is the initial cancer diagnosis. The good news is that we caught it early, it's contained to the one tumor and hasn't spread. It is stage one.

I meet with an oncologist next Tuesday to discuss further treatment.

Today, I had a meeting with Liv's teachers, which means I've been able to think about something other than my own health/pain/recovery. That's always good, even if it is about how to motivate a child who doesn't feel that learning for it's own sake is motivation enough. But that's a post for another day. Tomorrow, maybe?

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Prep

How does one spend a nice long weekend before heading off on a Tuesday for surgery?

Wait, did I mention that I'm having surgery on Tuesday? I am. I went to see the surgeon last Thursday after my MRI on Wednesday, at which I was dubbed the valedictorian of MRI patients. So, sure, I might have given myself that title but the technician told me I was the best MRI patient she'd ever had. Even if she tells all her patients that, I'm taking the valedictorian title because, well, I can.

So the appointment with the surgeon on Thursday started with him telling me that the MRI results were good. It showed the cancer isn't in the lymph nodes. That's excellent news.

Then he asked what I thought of surgery on Tuesday. They're going to go in and take out the mass and leave as much breast tissue as possible. There will be a pathologist in the operating room to check the nodes. While the MRI showed good news, they want to make sure while they've got me on the operating table. I do like the idea of only having to be cut once if possible.

So this weekend has been one of prep. I have boatloads of laundry. My bathroom is cleaner than it's been since I moved into this house seven years ago. Yes, I'm kind of ashamed of that. Alyssa, bless her sweet heart, cleaned her bathroom too.

Tomorrow I have to wash the sheets on my bed and shower using Dial antibacterial soap. I am also going to mop the kitchen floor.

I've baked two batches of cookies, apple turnovers and cherry turnovers and blueberry muffins. Apparently, when surgery is looming, I bake.

I still need to clean the half bathroom and someone (Alyssa?) needs to vacuum. I've brought down the movies I might want to watch while I recover from surgery. I would like to dust because, yeah, my house seems filthy as I look around at everything I've put off thinking I have all the time in the world.

And I have kids and a husband to love. Honestly, I'm a very lucky gal.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Well Then

Last night I made my way to the girls’ school where I sat in the choir room with a bunch of other parents and listened to Mrs. F talk about a trip to Chicago that she’s planning for the high school choir.

It sounds like a lot of fun. I wrote a check for the first part of the payment for Alyssa to go on this trip. I filled out the forms and signed the permission slip. I even expressed interest in being a chaperone.

While there, I was able to talk to another mom, Mrs. Porch actually. Remember her? She has two daughters, one of whom is in Alyssa’s class, the other is in Olivia’s class.

We compared notes on how much we’re hating fourth grade. Not because the teachers aren’t awesome, they are amazing. No, it’s because fourth grade is hard and our daughters, Olivia and Delaney, simply don’t care.

They couldn’t possibly care less about whether one number is greater than the other. They don’t care about interrogative sentences versus exclamatory statements. They don’t care.

Which is why it’s so hard to get homework done each night. These girls don’t care and so we parents have to drag every single word, number, sentence, answer out of them.

And it’s hard work…for us.

But there is comfort in knowing that Olivia is actually just like one of her typical peers.

I guess the old staying is true…misery does love company.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Fourth Grade So Far

Fourth grade is kicking my butt. I don’t know if it’s kicking Liv’s butt or not, she’s a tough nut to crack sometimes but I’m about done with it and the girls have been back at school for eight days.

Last night we struggled through an hour of homework. That’s ONE HOUR of homework, in case I stuttered back there.


Now, to be fair to the teachers sending home the work, if dear sweet Olivia had let her teacher help her with two pages of math work, she might have only had forty minutes of work instead of an hour but alas, my stubborn love came home with a yellow letter stating she wouldn’t work with her teacher on her math work. So we had to do it at home.

Ugh!

I try so hard not to get frustrated with her and lose my patience. I mean, I don’t think she does this shit on purpose but sometimes it’s hard to not take it personally when I’m sitting at the kitchen table from 6 to 7 ‘helping’ her with her homework because she can’t be trusted to do the work herself. And honestly, I’m not sure she CAN do it without prompting and help and near constant cajoling and reminders of the math rules she’s working with and on and on and on.

I did tell her, quite sternly, that when her teacher offers help, she HAS to accept it. She HAS to do the work her teacher is putting in front of her. She HAS to interact with Mrs. K.

It’s only the second full week of school and I know that Liv takes time to bond with her teachers/aides/therapists but damn it, she’s ten years old and in fourth grade, it’s time to pull it together!

So easy for me to say, with my (fairly) typical brain and my 46 intact chromosomes.

And that’s why I try so hard to be patient and kind and remember that more often than not, she’s doing her best. Sure, she’s stubborn and yes, maybe a little lazy. And she might very well be manipulating me all the way around the block but who really knows?

So we’ll keep muddling through and figuring it out and hopefully, not doing homework for a freaking hour every night for the rest of this school year.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Cranky Pants

Guess what? I was not the one wearing the cranky pants this past weekend. I know! Big surprise, right?

In fact, one of my aunts (I have A LOT of aunts) told me I am one of the most positive people she’s ever know. Yeah, put that in your cranky pipe and smoke it.

No, the cranky pants this weekend were worn by one Miss Lyss. She was tired. She was overwhelmed by school and marching band and life in general. She missed our house and didn’t want to wait while her sister swam what was probably her last swim of the season. Oh, and she was hungry (Lyss, not her sister, who just wanted to swim.)

Let’s back up just a little. See, on Friday evening, Lyss’s school had its first football game. Alyssa plays the flute in the marching band so she had to be back at the school at 5:30 that afternoon. Thankfully, Tom made her eat something before I got home because I got home at 5:00, had time to pee (hello, it’s what one does when one gets home from work, just saying…) and then I hustled her back out the door at 5:15 to take her to the school. Oh wait, between walking in the door, peeing and then walking back out the door, Alyssa asked if her friend Tessa could come back to our house after the football game. I used the few minutes I had between suggesting the Lyss wear shorts instead of running pants under her band uniform to text Tessa’s mom and see if the overnight plans were okay with her.

The football game started at 7:00 and she didn’t call me to go back to the school to pick her and Tessa up until 10:30. So it was a LONG night for her. I get that.

Then they had to be up by 10:00 because T’s mom was picking her up at 10:30ish. So insert tired emoji here.

After Tessa left, Lyss had to pack some overnight supplies because she, Livie and I were heading to Battle Creek, Michigan with my mom to stay with my aunt (not the one who told me I’m a positive person) and all the other aunties, a few cousins and my grandma.

My aunt L was throwing a “Tea Party” for all of us, but the guest of honor was my cousin’s daughter, Sabella. She needs to visit with all of us more and it was great fun.

Though there were times when Alyssa was bored. I understand that. There was a lot of talk and visiting amongst the adults. The only kids were Alyssa, Olivia, my cousin E’s daughters, who are eight and not-quite-two. And of course, Sabella, who is eleven.

So boredom was to be expected. But it’s something one puts up with to hang with family. Sorry kiddo, family is important.

By Sunday afternoon, though, Lyss was done with tea parties and visiting and just wanted to go home. Though isn't she adorable in the hat she made for herself for the tea party?


And home we went…after Olivia gone one last swim in.


I mean, it’s late August. There very well may not be any more chances to swim this season. The local pool has been closed for a couple of weeks. The nights are getting cooler which means the lakes are cooling off. Fall is right around the corner. Bummer for all of us, right?

I do understand, too, that she’s probably stressed about my health too. I am trying to be understanding of her stress, her tiredness, her anxiety, her school work load. I want to be understanding while still holding her to the standards of being a member of our family.

You can put on the cranky pants but you can’t complain about them non-stop. At some point, you just have to come to the realization that they’re itchy and uncomfortable and you need to change into something more soothing.

I promised her that next weekend will be a stay-at-home weekend and that the best part is that it’s a three day weekend for all of us. That helped her a little.

She is a teenager after all.

And for the record, she wasn’t cranky ALL weekend. I have photographic proof. See?

Friday, August 25, 2017

Peace

I met with a surgeon on Wednesday. The appointment was originally scheduled for Thursday, but they called with an opening on Wednesday and I took it. I mean, who doesn’t want to move up something like that? Let’s get this party started!

The first thing the surgeon told me was that I am young and that I’ve caught this early. He didn’t want to commit to a treatment plan until we get a little more information so he sent me for a chest x-ray and some blood work.

I am scheduled for an MRI next Wednesday. I see the surgeon again next Thursday to see what these tests have shown.

He wants me to see a genetic counselor; so I will. This will tell us how radical the treatment needs to be.

I kind of hate this limbo right now. I want to get started, start doing something. But for now, we wait.

But even as I’m anxious to start I feel peaceful.

Especially at home with Tom and our girls, there is peace. There is such a sense of love and kindness. There is a gentleness that has settled over our home. I feel like we have a warm blanket wrapped around us, protecting us, sheltering up from the stress that is just outside the doors.

I have so many lovely friends who are praying and sending positive thoughts.

And I can feel that positivity. I feel the peace.

Thank you for that.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

So...

Yeah.

About six weeks ago, I noticed some pain. It wasn’t horrible. Just…weird. It was near my left armpit. I couldn’t tell if it was in the breast or the armpit, actually. It was vague.

A week after the pain started I mentioned it to my family doctor. I was there to talk about my stupid left foot but mentioned the armpit/breast pain too because, well, I was already there in the office. He did a little pushing in the general vicinity of the area I indicated the pain was and declared that since I’d had a clear mammogram just this past April, well, let’s just see if the pain resolves itself.

It didn’t.

Four weeks after that appointment, five weeks into experiencing the pain, I called my gynecologist. I mean, I just figured a doctor who’d chosen to specialize in women’s health might be the better bet on this second go around in discussing the pain.

This time, the doctor had me take off my shirt and bra and lie on the exam table. He pushed and PUSHED and yikes, I was able to say, “Yep, that’s where the pain is!”

He felt some ‘thickening’. He didn’t like the feeling of that thickening. He scheduled me for an ultrasound the very next day. This was last Wednesday.

Since I was there in the office, I decided to schedule an appointment for Olivia to get some vaccinations. She was due for them (maybe even overdue) and what the heck, the girls weren’t in school yet. Her appointment was for 9:15. My ultrasound was scheduled for 10:00 in the same building.

We arrived at the hospital for her appointment at 9:00 (because if you’re on time, you’re late!) and waited. She was finally called back at 9:35. I told the nurse, as nicely as possible, that I was supposed to check in for an ultrasound at 9:45 for a 10:00 appointment so if we could move Liv’s appointment along, that would be great. She made soothing sounds and said she’d be right with us.

We managed to get out of there in time for me to check in for the ultrasound at 9:50, only five minutes late. I was only a little stressed at this point.

I was called back for the ultrasound right away. They’re cool like that. The girls were allowed to come back with me and wait in the “Ladies” waiting room, just outside where the ultrasound was taking place.

The tech found a mass that was about 2cm. The ultrasound results were sent to the diagnostic center to be read. Twenty minutes later, a doctor was on the phone with me telling me that he’d like me to get a biopsy of the mass. The ultrasound tech and her co-worker, the mammographer told me to stick around, they were going to do their best to get a doctor down there in the next half hour to get the biopsy done.

We were walking out of the hospital by 11:30, biopsy samples collected and being sent off to the lab.

That was last Wednesday. The ladies at the imaging center told me it would take about three business days to get the results back to my doctor. I went about my life, got the girls off to their first day of school, went to work, bought groceries.

On Sunday at 5pm, I saw that I’d had a missed call from my gynecologist. He’d call about an hour before. On a Sunday.

That gave me time to get used to the idea that the results were back and they were not good news.

I called him back first thing Monday morning and he told me over the phone, “It’s cancer.”

Then he asked me if my husband and I could meet with him in his office at 2:45 that afternoon. He said he didn’t like to go into details over the phone.

Okay.

Tom and I met at the doctor’s office (which is in a wing of the hospital) and we were told that I need to meet with a surgeon. The doctor said it might take two weeks for the surgeon to fit me in.

The nurse came in and told me she’d already called the surgeon and I was scheduled to meet with him on Thursday…of this week. Yeah, that was fast.

So…we’ll see what the surgeon says on Thursday.

I’m still processing everything. I’m trying to be positive and calm. I’m trying to remember that this isn’t the death sentence it was so many years ago.

I’m trying.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Monotony

Olivia brought her first spelling list home last night. She was in a mood as we sat down to work on this list.

Her teacher had sent home a sheet of paper on which Liv was supposed to write her spelling words three times each. She’d also brought home a red pencil and a blue pencil with which she was supposed to write her words, using a regular pencil for the third copy of her words.

By the time we got home last night to sit down and write out these words, Olivia had already eaten two servings of mandarin oranges and an ice cream cone at my mom’s. Maybe the sugar was the reason for her nuttiness.

Or maybe…she was just being Olivia.

Whatever the case, she thought everything was hilarious. She laughed when I told her which word to write. She laughed when I told her to write it so her teacher could read it. She laughed when I’d erase a particularly messy or incorrectly spelled word.

I tried nagging her. I tried warning her that she was on the verge of a timeout and having her tablet taken away for the rest of the evening.

Nothing worked. She laughed at everything.

Tom came out and yelled at her. She laughed at him.

I finally just started saying each word in as monotone a voice as I could muster. When she’d act up, I’d repeat the word, still monotone. Once the word was written correctly and legibly, I’d say blandly, “Write it again.”

I started going this when we were on the third copy of the fifth word. I continued it through the rest of the 25 words on her list.

And what do you know? It worked. My non-reaction to her ‘hilarity’ made her stop with the hilarity. She wrote the words. I’d sometimes wordlessly take the pencil away from her, erase the word, repeat the word to her and tell her to write it again, reminding her every so often, still very monotone, to write it so her teacher could read it.

She was being a lunatic because she wanted a reaction out of me.

When the reaction went away, the lunacy went away.

Who knows if this method will work tomorrow? But the fact that it worked last night meant that we all survived and her spelling list made its way back to Mrs. K this morning.

I’m calling it a win in this battle called parenthood.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Fourth Grade - or - Why This School is the Best for Olivia

Open-house at the girls’ school was on Tuesday.

Thought Alyssa had picked up her schedule, locker assignment and combination a week before, we had to go Tuesday to drop off Oliva’s twenty folders (okay, three), her markers, the socks she’ll need to use as dry-erase erasers and the many, many, MANY other school supplies she’ll need for fourth grade (a protractor? Really….?)

We also paid the school fees for the year. Freshman fees are only $24. Fourth grade fees are $50. Damn, fourth grade must be a big learning year.

When we got to O’s new class room (at the end of the junior high hallway…that is one smelly hallway…just saying) we found her desk and the little card that told us which locker was her. It also had the combination to that lock.

Yes.

Fourth grade is the year they start with combination locks at Liv’s school.

Lyss’s class was the last one to wait until fifth grade for combination locks. She stressed about that damned combination from May until the night before her first day of fifth grade. I bought her a combination lock at Walmart in June that year so she could practice. She was fine…obviously.

Olivia…did not stress over the combination lock. She truly could not possibly care less about that combination lock.

The day of open house, she started practicing with the lock we’d bought Lyss all those years ago. Tom went so far as to lock Liv’s tablet in a box and the only way she could get it out was to master the combination lock.

She found something else to do. I think she’d decided, “Screw you guys. I mastered tying my damned shoes, forget combination locks!”

So we got to the school and tried the lock. She’d spin the combination thingy so fast you could barely see the numbers. Stopping at 22 was nearly impossible for her. I’d tell her when she got to 30 to slow down and try to stop right at 22.

Nope, every single time, she’d stop at 20.

We kept at it until my knees started to ache from kneeling beside her.

Her special ed teacher came along and watched our ‘progress’. She told me that the aide would be there each morning to work with Liv until she mastered the lock herself. She also talked to Olivia’s regular classroom teacher and asked if it was okay for O to keep her backpack and lunch in the classroom for at least the first few weeks until she got the lock thing down.

Mrs. K, her classroom teacher was very accommodating.

I didn’t have access to email the day after open house. But when I opened my email this morning, I had this message from Liv’s special ed teacher:

Good morning,

Here is what the office decided for Olivia's locker. They took her lock off of the one she will be using.

However, I still want her to practice a combo lock for the fine motor practice. She will practice with locker 000 and the combination is XX-XX-XX. She will practice in the morning with Mrs. K.

Mrs. B

How kind is that? They’re giving her the chance to learn to use a combination lock while taking away the pressure of having to do it first thing in the morning just to put her backpack and lunchbox away. They’re letting her learn but letting it happen at her pace.

I love Mrs. B. She insists that’s more stubborn than Olivia and quite honestly, Olivia needs a teacher like her. She makes her work while understanding that sometimes, she needs a little more time, a little more help, a little more patience.

We couldn’t be in a better place for Olivia to continue her education.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Going to a Pentatonix Concert - Part 2 - On Our Way

Because we live in the middle of nowhere. Okay, wait. We live in the middle of a cornfield. The cornfield is in the middle of nowhere.

Anyway, because we live in the middle of nowhere, we had to DRIVE to a place where Pentatonix will deign to perform.

We’re pretty much equal distances from Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana. But wait, this decision was actually pretty easy because the lovely Julie and her lovely daughter live in in Indianapolis and they wanted to see Pentatonix too (or, they were willing to go to the concert if it meant we’d drive down to see them…) So we got tickets back in May and made plans.

As the date neared, Julie and I figured out the logistics. She’d get home from work at 5. Her daughter would get home from school (school starts EARLY in Indy) at about 4:15. It takes about three hours to drive to Indy…in decently flowing traffic.

Alyssa and I left at noon because, duh, we know that traffic on I69 in Indiana does NOT flow decently.

Nope. It stops and it goes. It has lane shift after lane shift. Let me tell you, if I had to see one more orange barrel or orange sign warning of construction ahead I might have had to bring out the big bad words. Alyssa is fourteen. She could have handled it. And, as she reminds me, she rides the bus…dun dun dun.

At one point on the trip down to Indy on Thursday afternoon, the interstate highway became a parking lot. I literally turned my car off.

See, let me back up and remind everyone that I’ve had a bit of trouble with my stupid car. It’s a 2012 Chevy Equinox. I love most things about it. Except I don’t like that when it idles it can sometimes ding at me three times and then shows a warning light that there is reduced engine power. It basically means I can’t drive much over 40 MPH. It sucks. My husband assures me it doesn’t mean anything. He told me several times before this trip that the car was fine.

Okay.

It actually did run fine the entire drive down.

The drive home…wasn’t so great. We were three miles from Julie’s house on Friday morning. We were waiting at a stoplight to turn left and got to McD’s. I was stupidly just sitting there letting the car idle while we waited for the light to turn green.

And yes, you guessed it, REDUCED ENGINE POWER.

Damn it.

We limped over to McD’s. We parked the car. We turned it off.

The first time my stupid car did this was in Bowling Green while we were waiting for Lyss to perform in a choir.

We went in and ordered food. My stomach was in knots knowing I had to drive 465 and 69 on a Friday morning during morning rush hour to get home. I bought two breakfast burritos anyway. I stashed them in my purse knowing I’d want them when we were out of Indy and imminent danger of being stranded on the side of the highway.

Damn it!

When we left McD’s I started the car. In the past, the engine thing resets after ten or so seconds. Supposedly. It didn’t do that the time before (but it did fix itself in Bowling Green) so I figured we’d see.

It worked! Yay. I called Tom, told him the car was being stupid but that it had reset and we were heading home.

The plan was for me to use my left foot to brake and rev the engine anytime we had to stop.

We started and managed to hit the lights with very little stopping. Go us!!

We got on 465 and…two exits from where we got on they were cleaning up a crash. The right lane was closed. OMG! For freaking real? Yes, of course for real. We drove approximately eleven miles per hour for about six miles. My left leg was starting to cramp. Lefty isn’t used to doing so much work. Righty would have been fine with all the braking but she was busy revving the damned engine to keep the engine power at optimum levels.

Finally, FINALLY we passed the crash site (I hope no one was hurt…seriously, I’m not a monster) and we got up to 60. Lefty could rest.

The nice thing about 465 is that there are signs that tell you how far to your exit in miles and minutes. The first such sign told us that the exit for 69 was 11 miles away. It was also 23 minutes away. Which meant traffic was slowing down. Oh for the love of God! I warned Lefty to get ready.

And for the next, oh, eleven miles, we were in stop and go traffic about four lanes wide.

But finally the exit for 69 showed up. We made our way onto 69 and, get this, it was smooth sailing (am I mixing my metaphors here?) the rest of the way home. Lefty was happy to be done braking. Except for the fact that I still don’t trust my stupid car (though I did thank her for getting us home safely, like I said, I’m not a monster) and so if I’m at a stoplight or stop sign here at home, I’m still revving the engine. I thought when we bought this car we were beyond driving junkers. I guess I thought wrong.

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Pentatonix Concert - Before the Show

So we went. We saw. There might (there were) have been tears. We waited around after the show and were told by security that the group would not be coming out to greet fans. They do that sometimes and I wanted Lyss to have the opportunity to meet them if they did it in Indy. Apparently, it’s a venue thing and the venue in Indy wouldn’t let them come out.

If Avi ever performs with Pentatonix again and they go to Columbus, we’ll go there and maybe she’ll get to hug him.

The waiting in line to even enter the concert venue was weird. First, there were all these lines. They were all going in different directions. As we chose a line, this weird girl (woman? Hell, I don’t know. She was probably in her early to mid-twenties so, yeah woman. Oh wait, she mentioned a husband (about fifteen times) definitely, woman.) came along and stood behind us as we waited in the line.

The woman start talking to, well, I guess to us. She lifted a card that was hanging from a lanyard around her neck.

She said, “So is this the right line to pick up tickets?”

We said we didn’t know. We said we had our tickets and were waiting to get in.

She told us (about a hundred and seven times), “Well, I’ve already been inside and met them. I got their signatures. You’d think this would let me back in.” Again, she was holding up the card hanging from the lanyard. It was a VIP card. Whatever.

She then went on, “I should have just stay inside but I’m honest and needed to come out and find my husband. The tickets are in his name.”

We all nodded and tried not to stare at the lipstick on her teeth. She told us about meeting the members of Pentatonix about seventy million more times. She reminded us that she thought the VIP pass should let her back in eleven billion times and told us she should have just stayed inside but she’s too honest for her own good only about ninety-two times.

We noticed another line that was not going in the direction of Lipstick Girl (I’ve decided that husband or not, twenty-something or not, she’s too immature and WEIRD to be called Lipstick Lady) and aborted our mission in the other line for the new line. Lipstick girl found another set of concert-goers to freak out and we were free of her.

And then we waited some more. But at least this waiting was done in blessed quiet, more talk amongst friends and less talk from a weird, lipsticky show-off.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Indy Bound

PTX here we come.

Ha! Don’t I sound so very hip? Today before noon Alyssa and I will take Olivia to my mom’s where she’s going to spend the afternoon and the night with her Gram and her Jaxon.

After we drop of the littlest sister, the bigger sister and I are heading south to Indianapolis. We hope to get there around 5, at which point, we’re going to meet Julie and her beautiful daughter R at their house and then head out to grab some fast food and then….drum roll please…

We’re going to see Pentatonix in concert!!!!

See that part where we’re going to get some food? I hope Alyssa’s excitement at being in the same general vicinity as Avi Kaplan will let her eat.

We bought these tickets back in May when they first went on sale. Alyssa said last week that it hadn’t really hit her that we were going to see them. But over the weekend she started getting excited.

There may be tears.

There will be pictures.

Memories will be made. That might be the best part of all.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Say What You Want to Say

When did I become so afraid to offend anyone?

When did my opinion become so worthless that I hold it back no matter what because, yikes, it might offend someone (anyone!) were my opinion to be voiced and NOT match the opinion of everyone else around me?

I hate this about myself.

I hate that I hold it all in, that I keep my words to myself, my thoughts, my opinions because I don’t want to offend anyone.

I feel like the Katy Perry song “Roar” where she says, “I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything.”

I don’t want to be that person.

I’m just…tired of choking it all down. I’m tired of backing down because I feel backed into a corner or even ambushed and the surprise always makes me shut down and then the words, the thoughts just don’t come out and I sit there, fuming and sputtering and wondering what the hell just happened.

And the longer I fume and hold it all in, the more likely at some point, I’m going to explode.

When that happens, it won’t be fair to the person upon whom I’m exploding because, as stated above, I’ve been biting my tongue, sitting back and swallowing my ire for so long and yet, no one else knows this. They don’t know they’re dealing with a ticking bomb.

So it’s going to seem as if my anger, my frustrating, my irritation is coming out of nowhere. Even though I know it’s been building for freaking ever, no one else knows this and so I need to figure out how to let off some steam in a way that isn’t a rude awakening to all around me.

Example: I’m trying to teach my girls that they were not put on this earth to be ‘pretty’ for anyone. If they want to be pretty for themselves, great, fine. But random people who say shit like, “You’d be so much prettier if you’d smile.” Those people can bite it.

Last night after marching band practice (The band invited all the parents to the football field to see a preview of their football half-time show. It was great.) I mentioned to Alyssa how happy her friend Nora is. Lyss said, “Yeah, she’s always smiling.”

Another member of the family said, “Everyone is better looking when they smile.”

I said, quite calmly, “Yes, everyone is. Especially when the smile is genuine, like Nora’s always are. But when you force a smile because some stupid creep tells you you’d be prettier if you just smiled, well, that’s not necessarily prettier than your resting face.”

And the response I got was a snippy, “I didn’t say anything about that, did I?”

And I was so taken aback by the snippiness of the tone that I shut down and fumed. I thought we were having a conversation. But when I got what felt like nasty push-back, I had no response.

What I wanted to say, now that I’ve thought about it is, “You’re right, you didn’t. But because YOU have probably never had some random person tell you how much prettier you’d be if you smiled, you don’t get to shut me down when I share my opinion on something that I HAVE heard, more times than I can count. I want to teach our daughters that it’s okay to shut those creeps down. They don’t have to give a cringy smile. They don’t have to take the misogyny our society pushes at girls until they can’t even voice their own damned opinions for fear of being shut down. They can either shrug and walk away, leaving the awkward in the hands of ‘smile’ creep or they can voice their opinion, as loudly, as rudely, or hell, sure, even as kindly as they want. They get to own their bodies. They get to decide if something is worth smiling about. THEY get to decide. Not the old, white dude at Arby’s.”

And I will probably say something like that soon and it will shock the hell out of the people around me.

And I’ll probably cry either during or after my ‘speech.’ I hate that I cry but my emotions are very close to the surface and I feel strongly about this shit these days.

Damnit.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Snippets

I bought Olivia new shoes for school this weekend. The shoes I bought are an adult size 8. She’s ten and a half. Yikes!

I think it’s starting to hit Alyssa that we are heading to Indy for a Pentatonix concert on Thursday. We get to see Julie and Riley – YAY!! Alyssa said yesterday, “Only four more days…” Then her eyes got all dreamy. She’s just so flipping cute.

This summer has been…different. We didn’t go on our ‘big’ vacation to Cedar Point this year. With my mom heading off to Alabama with her sisters and her mother to see her mom’s long-lost, newly-found sisters, we just didn’t fit the Cedar Point trip in the schedule.

Instead, we’ve done a day here and there and honestly, it’s been kind of awesome. We did the water park, the lake, the pool. Last week we spent a day at my mom’s and the kids just played on the slip-n-slide and ate outside on her deck and roasted marshmallows over candles. And I got to just be with them. We weren’t on a schedule, we didn’t have anywhere to be. It was really nice.

We’ve seen a few movies, gone shopping at the mall even when we didn’t actually need anything. Those are days where the stress is low and the fun is high. I’m all about those kinds of days.

Alyssa has had band ‘camp’ (I put camp in quotes because it’s really been more like band class, in that she goes to the school, plays her flute, marches and learns music and choreography for about seven hours a day and then comes home. To me, camp should be an overnight thing. But whatever.) and she’s enjoyed it. I think she’s like seeing her friends daily this for a few weeks this summer.

Olivia has spent a lot of time in a giant box Tom brought in and cut a door and windows into. He even cut a small hole through which she could feed the plug of her tablet through. She sits in there (the walls are decorated with pictures she printed off) and reads/writes fan-fiction about the Despicable Me girls and the Inside Out emotions. I leave clean pajamas for her to change in to each morning when she wakes up. She doesn’t get dressed in actual clothes unless we’re going somewhere, which is usually just on Saturdays. I envy her Summer of Pajamas. She’s growing up and figuring out her own interests. I’m excited to see who she’s becoming.

Tom works in the yard and the garden. He lists things on Ebay, sells crap from the end of our driveway and basically just takes good care of us.

I do the laundry, bake all the berry things and sit back and marvel that this is my life.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Teenage Boys at the Park

This past Tuesday, my mom and I took the girls and J to the lake for a day of sun, sand, and swimming. It was lovely. The weather was perfect, the lake was not very crowded, since it was, you know, a Tuesday.

We swam for several hours, the kids played in the sand, we ate lunch out of coolers and then swam some more. There was also frolicking on the narwhal floaty. I’m pretty sure we had the coolest floatation device in the lake that day.


After we’d eaten again (swimming makes you hungry, don’t you know?) Alyssa asked if we could go to one of the local parks. We hadn’t been to that park yet this summer and so, why not?

This park has a pavilion in which there are quite a few picnic tables. The bathrooms are also part of the pavilion building. There is a play area with swings, a slide, a fireman’s pole, you know, all the fun stuff available at most fun parks.


When we got there, we noticed that there were probably about six or seven teenage boys hanging out on the picnic tables under the pavilion. I almost said they were loitering but that seemed unfair. I mean, it’s summertime. What are local kids supposed to do if they don’t have jobs? They go to the park. So what if they’re all around fifteen or sixteen years old?

Anyway, the kids were playing on the slides for about ten minutes when the teenage boys decided to join us.

Yeah. That was awkward. They climbed up the slide, up the outside of the playground equipment and basically looked like a bunch of chimpanzees taking over and staking their claim.

Alyssa, Olivia, Jaxon and I headed for another area of the park where a lone slide hangs out in the sun. They kids played on that a bit, Alyssa made her way to some bouncy things shaped like a motorcycle, a horse, a car and something else. She rocked back and forth. Olivia tried to climb up the lone slide (no one else was trying to go down. I always tell my kids if there are other kids trying to go down a slide, don’t ever try to go up it.) Jaxon found some dirt to play in.

When the teenage boys realized their antics were impressing exactly no one, they went back to the picnic tables.

We headed back to the shaded play area and Olivia found her way to the tall spiral slide. Jaxon went down the fireman’s pole twenty-two times. He counted.

And…the chimps came back. Well, sort of. They made their way to the giant turtle sculpture that has been at that park for over forty years. It’s one of the original pieces of the park. And once there, they egged each other on. I think they were trying to get Alyssa’s attention but she was so over their stupidity. At least two of the guys took of their shirts. She was NOT impressed.

We finally started walking toward the car, still ignoring the mating call of the pathetic teenage boy.

My mom is sure she heard one of them call, “But we didn’t get a number!”

I didn’t hear that and neither did Alyssa. But even if we had, we’d have ignored it because, please. As if!

For one, even if she doesn’t look it, she’s fourteen. For two, every single dude there was still waiting for his ‘glow up.’ They were just this side of hoodlums. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt and not calling them actual hoodlums because, well, they were never actually harassing anyone but that first time they descended upon the playground was verging on feeling like harassment so…yeah, just this side of hoodlums.

Good thing they don’t live near me or I’d be yelling at them to get off my lawn and shaking a fly swatter at them.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Emoji Movie

Alyssa really wanted to see The Emoji Movie. I was a little meh about it but figured it was worth the price of popcorn just to get out of the house on a Sunday afternoon. The laundry would wait.


I went in with very low expectations of this movie and was pleasantly surprised. It was cute and clever and I laughed out loud a few times.

But that’s not actually what this is about. It’s about the cinema we chose to visit to see the movie. We live in the middle of nowhere. We have to drive a minimum of twenty minutes to see any movie in the theater. And the closest theater is tiny, and old and doesn’t have Icees.


So instead of going to the Bryan theatre (the closest) we usually toss a coin and choose between Auburn, Indiana and Coldwater, Michigan. Coldwater might be five minutes farther away than Auburn.

On this glorious day, I checked the website for the Auburn theater, saw that they had a 3:20 showing of The Emoji Movie and the girls and I headed out at 2:15. It is maybe a forty minute drive but I’m nothing if not early for everything (right, Julie?) and I hate, HATE feeling like we might be on time because on time to me is late.

We arrived at the Auburn NCG Cinema at about 2:52. Perfect. That gave us time to buy tickets, popcorn, Icees (two blue, one Coke) and use the restroom.

I glanced at the ticket stubs I’d received from the attendant and saw that we were in Auditorium 1. I babysat that popcorn and Icees while Lyss and Liv went to the bathroom.

When they came back, we gathered our snacks and headed for auditorium 1. The door was closed. Huh. We could hear the sounds of a movie in there so we headed back to the counter where I asked the young woman from whom I’d purchased our tickets if the tickets were correct.

She confirmed that they were and then I saw it. She’d sold me tickets for the 4:15 showing of The Emoji Movie. I told her we’d wanted the 3:20 showing. She glanced at her screen and informed me that there was no 3:20 showing at that cinema.

Huh. Weird. I told her it showed that time on the website.

She said, “Well, you have to go to our actual website. Sometimes, if you just google movie times, it will pull times from surrounding theaters.”

Oh. “I actually did go to your website,” I told her.

“Weird,” she said dismissively. “Well, the popcorn is free refills so you can sit at the tables and eat your popcorn while you wait.”


Okay. Except…I don’t wanna sit in the stupid lobby of the cinema for over an hour due to a mistake on their website.

I told Lyss and Liv what was going on and Lyss said, “Wait, so their sign is wrong too then?”

I glanced up at where she was looking and right there, on the sign above the popcorn maker was the times listed for each movie. And get this, there was a 3:20 listing for The Emoji Movie. I made my way back to the counter, this time avoid Miss Weird and asked the first dude I came across if there was a 3:20 showing of The Emoji Movie. He looked (rather than just glanced) at his screen and said, “Oh yeah, it’s in auditorium 5.”

I asked, “So, even though we bought tickets for the 4:15 showing, can we just go into theater 5 and see the 3:20 showing?”

“Sure,” he said.

And away we went.

It was 3:10. We were the first ones in auditorium 5. We were followed rather quickly, though, but another family. And then another.

Then, before we knew it, it was 3:25 and…nothing. The screen was blank. The lights were still bright in there in auditorium 5.

And I decided that enough was enough. I did something I NEVER do. I got up out of my seat, went BACK to the snack counter and asked, “Uh, is there supposed to be a showing of The Emoji Movie at 3:20 in auditorium 5?”

The lady behind the counter said, “There sure is.”

I declared, “Well, it’s 3:25 and the screen is blank.”

She told me she’d inform a manager.

I returned to auditorium 5 and less than a minute after I sat back down in my seat, the movie started. No previews, though. I guess they lost their time for that when they didn’t start the movie on time.

I considered standing up, bowing and blowing kisses to those behind me in the theater, telling them all, “You’re welcome.”

But I decided I’d made enough of a spectacle of myself at the stupid snack counter that day.

For the record, we’re going to be heading north to Coldwater for our future movie excursions. In all the times we’ve seen movies up there, we’ve never had to work quite as hard just to see a movie as we had to work yesterday in Auburn to see The Emoji Movie.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Tendonitis, Plantar Fasciitis, and a Bunion

So my stupid left foot has been hurting for, oh, probably about six months.

When I told the podiatrist I finally saw last week how long it’s been hurting I may have even said, “Oh, only about five or six months.” He actually laughed and said, “Only? That’s about five or six months too long.”

I think I love this guy. At the very least, I almost cried in his office when he acknowledged that the weird bump on the outside left foot is not normal and that I do indeed have something wrong with it.

These last few months have been very much about me feeling like a big baby. Alyssa has been telling me for months to see a doctor. Olivia has, well, been being Olivia and Tom, well, I think he things I’m a whiny baby. He would never actually say that, though. But yes, I do tend to be whiny when I’m hurting, which is why I’ve been whiny for the past five or six months.

Anyway! I finally saw a doctor. Well, let me back up just a little. I saw my regular family doctor three weeks ago. He didn’t want to do an x-ray because, as he said, if I did end up at a foot doctor, that doctor would want very specific images of my foot. Dr. S wasn’t sure what those images would be and he’s not one to order unnecessary radiation. I like that about him. Instead, he gave me a prescription for an anti-inflammatory and said that if that worked to ease the pain in the outside of my foot and my heel (and yes, sometimes my bunion) I could take the anti-inflammatory for the rest of my life.

Uh, no. I don’t want to do that. That’s a downhill slope. First you start with an anti-inflammatory; then you start taking meds for hypertension. Then there is something else and before you know it, you’re taking twelve pills a day. No thank you. I’d like to put that off for as long as I can.

So after x-rays to determine if there were any breaks in my foot that were causing the sometimes breath-taking pain, it was determined that I have tendonitis in the outer left of my left foot. I also have a lovely plantar fasciitis going on with the heel of the same stupid foot. And to add icing to the cake that is my ridiculous left foot, I have a lovely bunion going on too.

Now, obviously, that bunion is no big surprise. I mean, that dude has been growing for years. I think I noticed it first in my late twenties. It’s a genetic thing. My aunts on my dad’s side all had bunions. I think Olivia will end up with them too. Sorry for the crap genes, kid. I was kid of the eighties and nineties. I work giant, comfy shoes. My bunion is not the result of fancy, pointy-toed shoes. But really, the cause doesn’t matter because it’s there all the same.

The good news about the bunion is that at this point, there is very little internal damage. However, the damage is going to accumulate over the coming years if we don’t go in and straighten out the big toe. So yes, the doctor is recommending surgery.

Surgery will mean two weeks of being off my feet complete and then six more weeks in a boot, with doctor’s order to sit frequently while at work. Yay!!

For now, we’re treating the tendonitis with a brace that provides extra stability to my ankle and the outside of my foot. I have a knobby ball I’m supposed to roll on my foot to stretch the tendons and relax my arch. They want me to wear custom-made orthotics too. We’re waiting to hear back from insurance on that one.

I go back in two weeks to review how the treatment of the tendonitis is going. At that point, I plan to discuss surgery options and hopefully just get it scheduled. If we’re going to do this, we need to do it now, before my place of employment closes at the end of December and I hopefully start a new job in January. I need to get it done while I have the insurance and the ability to take two weeks off work.

So yes, there’s a lot going on right now.


Oh, look, it's my stupid feet. That left one there is causing more trouble than it's worth.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Facts vs Opinions

When I said that I don’t have a lot of strong opinions in my last post, what I meant is that I don’t argue with people about opinions.

I mean, what’s the point? We all have an opinion and usually it’s not right or wrong, it’s just our opinion. I mean, my opinion that Dean Cain is the best Clark Kent of all time is no more right or wrong than someone else's opinion that Ben Affleck is the best Batman of all time (he's not...no, really, he just isn't.)

But facts? I’ll argue those…when I know I’m right.

It drives Alyssa crazy that I won’t argue with her (or anyone) if I don’t know, 100%, that I’m right.

Remember that time my step-dad tried to tell me that he had the universal donor blood type and then declared that his type is O positive? I simply couldn’t let that erroneous information stand without correcting it. I mean, there were other people in the room. My children, for example, who weren’t actually paying attention but might have taken in that information and filed it away to be used at some point and it was WRONG.

I gently corrected him, saying that the universal donor for red blood cells is actually O negative. He got a little huffy and when I explained about rH factors, he shut down and declared, “Well, O positive used to be the universal donor.”

Again…no. I mean, science and biology don’t change. So I had to argue with him. He hates being wrong but dude, don’t argue if you don’t know you’re right. Just saying.

On Wednesday night, Tom asked what I’d fed Olivia. He was a bit surprised that she hadn’t had some of the left over lasagna. I told him I’d fed her some of that the night before and she’d specifically asked for something different the next night. I mean, give the girl a break, she’d had lasagna Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. She deserved a break.

When I said that I’d fed her lasagna the night before, Tom interjected, “You mean, I fed it to her.”

I blinked at him for a second and said, “No, I fed her last night.”

He started to argue and I pointed out, “You fed her the night before last, which was Monday night, while I took Lyss to the school for marching band practice. Last night was Tuesday. I fed Liv.”

He gave it some thought, realized I was right and let it go.

Dude! You have been with me for 16 years. Have you not learned that I do not argue if I don’t know I’m right?

And honestly, it wasn’t even an argument. It was me saying something, him trying to say I was wrong, me proving I was right and us both moving on.

Alyssa so badly wants me to insist on something and then be proven wrong. Oh, dear sweet child. As if.

All this is not to say that I’m always right. I’m not. In fact, that’s why I don’t argue very often. If I have even the slightest doubt, I don’t argue.

But how fun it is when I do prove I’m right. That’s right, I gloat. I can’t help it. I’m not all that proud of my status as a gloater, but I’m probably not going to work all that hard to change it either. You’ve been warned.

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Tale of Two Dish Soaps

My husband has an opinion about most things. I don’t say this as a criticism, just as a fact of his personality.

I do not actually have an opinion on most things. Most things just aren’t important enough for me to think about deeply enough to have a firm opinion.

Dish soap, though…let’s just say that I’ve been buying Dawn dish soap for years because my opinion of it is that it cleans better than other, lesser dish soaps.

My husband, however, likes a bargain. His favorite store of all time is Aldi. He loves buying bread and milk and ice cream there. And most recently, he discovered Aldi has sells dish soap. And because Dawn was on my list to buy that week (this was probably a month ago) he bought Aldi’s apple-scented dish soap.

He was so proud of himself. He declared that he’s saved a bunch of dollars because the price of Dawn is so much more than the price of the green off-brand soap.

Sure. Okay. Whatever. I didn’t say anything. I just used up what was left in the bottle of Dawn I had under the sink and then moved on to the green soap.

I never once mentioned how awful that soap was. I didn’t tell my husband about how much more soap I felt I had to use to get a decent amount of suds when washing the dishes. I didn’t tell him that I often felt like the dishes needed extra scrubbing because the soap didn’t quite cut the grease the way Dawn did.

Because, see, even when I have an opinion, I don’t necessarily feel the need to share it if it feels like sharing it might come across as a criticism of a member of my family. I love my family more than I love my opinions.

And, this is the best part, I knew that if I was patient, Tom’s greasy hands would figure out on their own how much better Dawn is than the other stuff.

This past weekend while I was at the grocery store with my handy dandy list, I saw that my dear husband had added something to the list. He’d written in all caps “DAWN DISH SOAP”.

I smiled. I did not cackle. I may have gloated a little but I was so happy to be buying a new bottle of Dawn that I just accepted my own wisdom with grace and went about my day. Okay, wait. I did tell my mom this story because I needed someone (other than my three readers out there (you know who you are)) to know that my patience had paid off. I hadn’t had to fight about the dish soap. I didn’t have to shove my opinion of the dish soap down my husband’s throat. I waited and the grease and oil he works with daily made my case for me.

I used the last of the green, apple-scented soap last night and was so happy to throw that bottle away. Tonight the dishes will be washed with Dawn and I couldn’t be happier. We tried the other soap, learned it didn’t work and for that, Tom couldn’t be happier. I’m calling it a win/win situation.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Water Park on a Tuesday

This past Tuesday, my mom and I took the girls and the boy (aka, Jax, Olivia’s best friend) to a water park that opened near us. By near, I mean it’s about twenty miles away; which is WAY closer than Cedar Point, the amusement park we usually go to during the summer.


This the first summer that Black Beard’s Bay is open and when we first go there, I was skeptical. I mean, sure it looked kind of cool but also small and maybe boring? But once we got into the park, explored t the splash pad, saw the slides, took a gander at the pool and exclaimed over the hot tub, we were all excited for the day ahead of us.

Olivia was quite scared of the waterslides at first. They weren’t all that high but they were twisty and she couldn’t see where she was going.


The lifeguard was awesome in that she let me and Olivia go down one of the slides together so that O could get a feel for what it was like. After that, there was no stopping that girl. She went down those slides more often and we could count in the five hours we were at the park.


Alyssa and Jaxon managed to find other kids to have a ‘water war’ with. There were water guns and a cannon that shot water at passersby.


The pool was three and a half feet deep, which is perfect for our kiddos. Deep enough for Jaxon to cannon ball to his heart’s content and for Olivia to jump in over and over again and not so deep that we had to worry it was ever over their heads.


Going on a Tuesday was perfect. There were other families there but not so many that it felt crowded and no one ever had to wait to go down a slide.

All in all, it was definitely worth the $16/person to get in for the day. The fresh air, the sunshine, the exercise we all got was worth the price of admission.


Watching my sweet Livie, a girl some doctors predicted would never walk climb those stairs, jump into that pool, swim and laugh and run with her sister and her cousin, that too, was worth the price of admission.

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.