Thursday, June 29, 2017


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 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 had several matches in the search for my grandma’s close relatives.

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

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

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

How cool is that?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Computer Desk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 26, 2017

Too Fat to Swim

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

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

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

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

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

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

The other mom asked her why.

“I’m too fat to swim.”

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

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

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

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Wednesday at the Zoo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Expressing Her Badass Self

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 19, 2017

Being the Big Sister

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 15, 2017

PSA - Automatic Flush Toilets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 8, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

Though Liv often challenges those dibs.

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

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

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

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

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

Once again, we have a win/win situation.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

An I-Phone of Her Very Own

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

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

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

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

No? Good.

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 5, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 2, 2017

Home Summer School Challenge

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

Girlfriend has a lot of hair. See:

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

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

I asked him, “You or me?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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