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


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.”


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:


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.


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.’


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


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


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.