Friday, November 30, 2018

A Miraculous Ladybug Birthday aka The Best Birthday Yet

Olivia would like to report that turning twelve was the best birthday yet. She’s still happy with a ‘party’ of her mom, dad, sister, Gram and Pawp.

We had pizza for dinner and then it was presents and dessert.

I made a cheese cake (from a box, I’m not that ambitious), bought a few cupcakes, had half a pie left over from one I’d made last weekend and we also had some rice krispy treats left over from the ones I sent to school for Liv to share with her teachers and classmates.

We put a candle in the piece of cheese cake she requested and sang happy birthday. During the entirety of the song, she was reading the book she’d opened ten minutes earlier. She blew out the candle and went back to her book and devoured her cheese cake.

She’s very into a Netflix series called Miraculous Ladybug. It’s set in Paris and is about a teenage girl and her adventures as a superhero called Ladybug and her sidekick Cat Noir. Ladybug wears a body suit that is red with black polka dots.

Guess what Gram got for Olivia for her birthday…Yes! It’s a red with black dots body suit. It’s so perfectly Ladybug that Olivia can’t stand it.

I got her a couple of action figures (one Marinette, the girl who is Ladybug and one that is Ladybug herself.) She also got a book about Ladybug and Cat Noir. There were a few other things but the Ladybug items were the biggest hit.

I realized last Christmas that Olivia still needs toys as presents. She’s still very young emotionally and I’m okay with that. I want her to stay young and playful. So toys it is.

I’m so glad she had such a great birthday. I hope this means she’s on to her best year yet.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Circle of Life

Amy’s first grandchild, a baby girl, was born on Olivia’s birthday. This makes her and Olivia birthday buddies. J Our family is big enough that most of us have birthday buddies. If Olivia had been born on her due date of November 18, she’d be sandwiched by Sabella, who was born a year earlier than Liv on November 17 and Jaxon, who was born the year after Olivia on November 19. It would have been kind of cool. But as we all know, Miss Liv needed those extra nine days to cook.

Amy’s daughter, H, lives in California with her husband, D. He’s in the Navy and so she goes wherever he’s stationed. According to my mom, H was in labor for about 45 minutes. Can this be possible? My aunt N, Amy’s mom, H’s grandma, was so worried about H. Amy had really hard deliveries. Her doctors let her labor for something like twenty hours before finally delivering both H and her big brother T by c-section. I’m so glad that H didn’t have to suffer the way her mom did.

They named the baby Arden (Auntie L hates this name, we tell her to get over it, she got to name the one child she had and gave no one, probably not even P, her son’s dad, any say at all so…yeah.)

Amy loves babies. That s at the end of love was a typo and I almost corrected it to a d. But then I realized that…she’s still out there, somewhere, loving us all, but most especially loving her daughter and her new granddaughter.

Or, if you believe in reincarnation, maybe…maybe Amy’s found her way back into the family.

I’ve had moments over the years of this feeling like I’ve known this world before, like I sought out my mom’s soul before I was even born, that we knew each other before this life.

I don’t know. Can you be a Christian and still believe in reincarnation?

There is so much we don’t understand about life beyond this world, this realm, this dimension.

All I know is that there is more. More live to live even after we stop living and more love to give because we never stop loving, even when our hearts stop beating, the love goes on.

Welcome to the world Arden Z. You are loved near and far, forever.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Under Pressure


While at the surgeon’s office last week, the nurse expressed concern that my blood pressure was high. She was so concerned that she had me wait until the exam was over and then took my pressure again.

It was still high.

She urged me to meet with my family doctor to ‘start a discussion.’

Now, yes, the numbers she reported were high. But I quickly pointed out that while at the chemotherapy oncologist’s office just a few weeks before, my pressure was perfectly normal. So…

I made the appointment to start the discussion.


I know he’s going to tell me I need to lose weight. I mean, duh. Anyone who looks at me knows I need to lose weight. That’s a given.

My biggest problem (other than the fact that I love sugar in most forms) is that a remnant of chemo is the taste of blood in my mouth. It’s gross. When I’m not eating, the taste is very much present. When I am eating, the taste is gone. So, you guessed it. I eat all the damn time just so I don’t have to taste blood.

My doctor has gone through chemo, so I asked him if he’d suffered this side effect and if so, what did he do to either alleviate it or at least curb his desire to eat everything in sight. Except, he didn’t have any advice because he didn’t have that side effect. Lucky him, poor me.

So the verdict is…I get to start a three month trial of high blood pressure medication. My doctor wants me to have some blood work before starting the meds. So I’ll do that on Saturday and then take my first pill on Saturday afternoon.

Getting old (and being fat) sucks. Just so you know.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018


Today, she is twelve.

What does twelve looks like when you’re Olivia?

Twelve looks like being 5’2 ½”.

Twelve is the start of liking to sleep in. Until this past summer, Olivia was up at the crack of dawn, ready to attack the day. As she enters the final stretch of being a preteen, she’s discovering the joy of extra sleep. Yay for me!!

She can do so much and yet…she doesn’t actually want to do a lot of the things she can do. For example, she’d rather not feed herself, thank you very much. She DOES do so, (for the most part) because we make her but she’d much rather sit back and allow someone else to shovel food into her mouth.

She’s incredibly creative and loves to write. She writes what she calls ‘fan fic’ a lot. She creates stories around both her imaginary friends, real life friends and family and fictional characters from movies and television shows she enjoys. She loves for me to read these stories and honestly, she’s pretty darn good at coming up with scenarios.

She quite tech savvy these days. She loves her tablet and has yet to ask for a phone. She has no one she’d want to text/message anyway.

She still thinks most of her peers are weird and annoyingly social. She would rather spend time at home with me and Tom and Alyssa or at her Gram’s.

She’s very much into fashion and wants to be sure her clothes are well accessorized. She notices every change I might make to my own accessories. If I change earrings, she notices. If I wear a bracelet, she’s the first to point it out and tell me that she likes it.

She’s amazing at spelling, struggles with math. She hates gym and music classes but loves art and technology. She’s so very glad this year that the only kids performing in the Christmas program at school are the kindergarten t hrough fourth grades, and the fifth and sixth grade bands. She’s in fifth grade but not in the band (I feel like Ms. V should sent me a thank you note for that) and so she gets exempted from the program. She gets to be in the audience, where she prefers to be.

We can take her to things like the musical where her sister was a cast member and she’ll sit through the performance with minimal complaint. She doesn’t like movies much, though and will find excuses to get up, such as having to use the bathroom every ten minutes.

The musical this year, though, was just interesting enough that she sat through it, often awed by the special effects of the plant moving and then eating people. It was fun to watch her watch the show.

She annoys her big sister just by being herself. Sometimes, yes, it’s deliberate, she is, after all, a baby sister. But sometimes, she can just breathe too loud and it will annoy her sister. But that’s life and I often find it amusing to watch them interact. Olivia doesn’t take Alyssa’s annoyances personally and that’s probably a good thing.

In so many ways, she’s twelve. In others, subtler ways, she’s still about eight years old.

I would still, in a freaking heartbeat, take 5p- away from her. I would give her all her chromosomes and watch her soar. She’s amazing just as she is but I would take away the challenges if I could.

I would give her friends and listen to her tell me to leave her hair alone, she’ll do it herself. I would check her homework each night instead of having to sit beside her and sometimes beg her to do it. I would buy her a musical instrument and go to mini-Bomber cheerleading sessions because if she didn’t have 5p- syndrome, she’d probably be a cheerleader.

And let me state here that I don’t care about cheerleading. I don’t care about band. I care about Olivia and all that she’s probably missing out on because of 5p- syndrome. I want so much for her

I’m grateful for her health and her happiness. I’m so very glad that she’s high-functioning but I wish, so very badly, that she were just her, without the 5p-, without the labels.

But since I can’t wish the 5p- away, we embrace her for who she is. The loving, funny, sweet, smart, empathetic (sometimes) girl she is. She makes her own joy and we should all try to be a little more like my Olivia.

I hope her twelfth birthday is the best one yet. I am so very glad I get to be her mom.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Midnight Thoughts/Prayers/Wishes

Sometimes I lie awake at night and worry about how my family, my daughters especially, will deal with my death.

I truly believe that death isn’t the end. But I also acknowledge that if I’m dead, I’m not here, physically with them anymore.

They’d be on their own, the girls and their dad, trying to make it without me.

My sweet Livie. Oh how I don’t want to leave her.

I know Alyssa will miss me but I also know she’ll make it. She’s so strong, so resilient. She’ll be so sad and I don’t want her story to have the words, “I lost my mom when I was…teen years old.”

But Livie, oh it breaks my heart to think of her losing me. I know that sounds really conceited but that child and I…we have the bond that only parents of special needs children can understand.

At the one and only 5p- conference we attended, the moment that sticks out to me the most happened in the New Attendees meeting. We were all sharing a little about ourselves and one dad brought most of us to tears.

He admitted that, though he’s ashamed that he feels this way, he hopes he outlives his son. He is not wishing his son dead but he knows that no one will care for his son the way he and his wife do.

No one will love Livie like I do. Yes, her dad loves her. Her Gram loves her but I am her primary caregiver. I do so much for her and when I die, she’s going to miss that.

I hope to not die for a long, long time. But having fought cancer, I can’t help but think that my time is limited, like, really, truly limited. Will I still be here next year? I hope so. I pray that I am.

A few nights ago, I prayed to God to let me live to see Alyssa graduate from high school. I know if I get to that point I will ask for more time. I want forever with my sweet girls.

I’ve had my mom for 48 years. I want that for my girls. I want them to have me well into their adulthood because I think they deserve that. We all deserve that. I’m a good mom. I want to continue to be a good mom to them.


This is nothing more than any other mom wants for her kids.

I know that. I know that I don’t love my kids more than most moms. I know I’m not any more special than any other parent.

But I still want to be here. I want to continue to watch them grow, to guide them, to care for them.


Please God, let me stay here, let me mother my girls.


Friday, November 23, 2018


I didn’t post a ‘thankful’ list yesterday, obviously.

I try to pray every day and all my prayers start with being grateful; with saying thank you for every little thing I have. Even though I try to be thankful every day, there’s something to be said for taking a moment, even if it is the day after Thanksgiving and making a list of all the things one has to be thankful for.

Most importantly, I am so very grateful to still be here, to still have a life to live. I’m here, I’m alive, I’m able to mother my girls and be a wife to my husband.

I am thankful for knowledgeable doctors who have dedicated their lives to saving people like me.

I am thankful for my husband and how hard he works to make my life easier. I am not the easiest person to live with but he makes me laugh every single day and does things behind the scenes that just make my world better. I don’t necessarily believe in soul mates but I do think that if we’re very lucky, we find one of the few people in the world who make us better just by being with them.

I am grateful for my girls. They make life interesting. They are both so funny and they tolerate my inane sense of humor so well. They think I’m nuts and I’m okay with that. Every time Olivia asks me why I become British whenever I watch The Great British Baking Show I have to laugh. I tend to pick up whatever accent is being spoken. I can’t help it. So yes, when I watch TGBBS, I speak with a British accent. When we watch H2O (a cute Netflix show about mermaids set in Australia) I speak with an Australian accent. When we watched the Netflix show Insatiable, I picked up the adults’ southern accent. It’s annoying, sometimes even to me, but it’s fun too. You should try it!

I am grateful that both my parents are still alive and healthy. They’re always there for me, always loving me and having that kind of consistent support my entire life is definitely a big part of who I am.

My brothers are awesome to and I’m so thankful for them both. I love being the big sister, I always have.

Friends are another area for which I’m thankful. I got to see Julie three weekends in a row. That was AWESOME. We had gone more than a year without seeing each other (thank you, cancer treatments) but those three weekends were so great. Even if the visits weren’t long enough, they were what we needed. I hope everyone has at least one friend they can go a long time without seeing but when they do finally get together, it’s as if they were never apart.

I am thankful for my faith. It has sustained me greatly over the past year. Knowing without a doubt that this is just one part of the world, the part that we can see and smell and hear is so comforting. Knowing there is more, there is an ‘after’ helps me when I’m at my lowest. I am so very, VERY thankful to my beautiful cousin Amy who has touched me from Heaven, let me know she’s not really gone but has moved on and is still loving us has deepened my faith and my belief in more than the here and now.

Finally, I’m so grateful for love; romantic love, parental love, sibling love, friend love; love that transcends life and death and illness and pain. Love guides us daily and I have to believe there is more love in this world than hate. I have to believe that love will conquer hate and make the world a better place. I believe that Heaven is built on love, the love God has for us, the love we have for Him, the love we have for each other.

Thursday, November 22, 2018


I need a t-shirt that reads:

Band Mom
Track Mom
Drama Mama

We just wrapped this year’s musical. The school put on Little Shop of Horrors. It was really fun. There are some seriously talented kids at that school. There are also some less talented kids but I won’t name names because that’s just mean and they’re kids, for Pete’s sake. (I started to type Pete Sakes but figured that joke is old at this point…) sigh.

I helped with hair and makeup again this year for the musical. That was an adventure. There was one other mom. ONE. OTHER. MOM. She did most of the hair, I did most of the makeup.

Guess what? That other mom also works full time. I know for a fact that there were kids in this play who have parents (usually moms) who do not work. Were they there at 5pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoons until after 9pm each night doing hair and makeup?


You want something done? Ask a working mom.

I made several ‘bump-its’ for the girls to wear in their hair. The other mom, let’s call her Dani, made four wigs for the four ‘street urchins’. Sure, her daughter was one of the urchins but it was still really freaking nice of her to cut and color three MORE wigs for the other three girls.

I did the makeup for the boy who played The Dentist. He was very nice but had only bothered to audition for the play because his girlfriend was cast as Audrey (the lead) and she’d lamented that not enough guys were going out for the play. He hadn’t expected to get the part and so was totally unprepared for what was asked of him.

I did Alyssa’s hair because, duh, she’s my kid. I also did the hair of one of her besties, Simone. That was kind of fun.

Now that musical is over, I get to move on from being a drama mama back to being a band mom. Now we start pep band at basketball games. I’ll probably go to one game, just to watch the band. It’s what I do.

Come March, April and May, I’ll go back to being a track mom. I am not looking forward to the snow, rain, wind, freezing temperatures that lead blistering sun and increasing humidity that come with track season.

One funny moment in my drama mama life was when the show was over on Saturday night, I was waiting for Alyssa to finish changing out of her costume so I could help her take her hair down. There were only a few of us in the room.

The girl who voiced the plant, Audrey II, came into the room, looked around a bit frantically and then walked up to me. She said, “Everyone I know well is already in the cafeteria at the after-party. Will you smell me and tell me if I stink?”

I laughed. Then, being the good drama mama I am, I sniffed her and told her she was fine.

She thanked me and said, “I didn’t know who to ask but then I saw a mom and knew I could trust you to tell me the truth.”

I told her I have a huge fear of being stinky so I totally get it.

It was a moment.

There was one other moment that wasn’t so entertaining. When Alyssa and I got to the school on Friday evening to start getting ready for the play (two hours before it started, just so you know) we went to the back of the school where we always went for practice, rehearsal, what the heck ever. We got there just as Tessa, one of Lyss’s friends, arrived. The three of us made our way to the door.

The door was locked, which wasn’t unusual. We saw Audrey’s mom inside. We knocked. She moseyed on over and let us in.

Then, as she walked away, she said over her shoulder, “Future reference - these doors will be locked to people can’t just come and go during the performances.”

Yeah, okay, thanks for the info, Susan. You’re a big help. Future reference…we’re not the people you’re trying to lock out. I made the thing that made your daughter’s hair look amazing on Saturday night, so yeah, you can just shut your trap and keep your future references to yourself.

Yikes, I just reread that last paragraph. I didn’t mean for this to be a bitch session. But then, I also don’t always expect to be treated like a second class citizen just because my kid isn’t the freaking lead, so…yeah. There’s that.

And for what it’s worth, the next night, Audrey and her mom were locked out right along with the rest of us schmucks while we waited for the director to get there with the keys to the building. Ha. Hahahahaha.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The Ways I'm an Awesome Wife

So we all know I’m very far from perfect. I’m whiny, lazy, a mediocre cook, a lackluster housekeeper, blah blah blah.

But I try.

And there are some areas in which I’m an excellent wife to my long-suffering husband.

Example 1: I scheduled flu shots for the four of us. I do this every year. That in itself makes me an excellent wife and mother. I mean, hello, I care about my family’s health and take the time and energy to make appointments for preventative care. So yes, that’s one.

But further into that example is the fact that I know my husband hates paperwork. He can’t stand filling out forms.

So the other day at the doctor’s office, I arrived before tom and the girls. I filled out all the forms to update Alyssa and Olivia’s files. They still weren’t done when I finished the girls’ forms so the receptionist asked me if I wanted to start on Tom’s so that when he got there, all he’d have to do was sign.

Sure, why not? I figured it would just make his life easier. And it did. He was very grateful to just have to write his name three times. See, I’m a most excellent wife.

Example 2: When I am home, I am in charge of helping Olivia with all of her self-care. Even through chemo, at my absolute worst, unless I was asleep or otherwise incapacitated, I was the one who helped her. She’s pretty capable these days but she does need supervision when dealing with a few things. I’m that supervisor. I feel like as she gets older, it’s better for both her and to Tom that I step up and do these things. Score another point in the awesome wife category.

Wait, actually, example 2 should actually count as more like five point in the awesome wife category, because some of that self-care stuff is just gross.

I buy all the groceries because after eight-ish years as a manager at WalMart Tom hates stores like that. So I spare him the horror of entering them by being The Grocery Shopper of family. I tell him often that he’s welcome. (No I don’t. He does so much for me and the girls that sparing him WalMart visits is the least I can do. But it still counts as an example of my awesome wifeliness.)

I work to provide our family insurance. That’s huge in my book. We could have gone bankrupt in the past year with all my medical expenses if I hadn’t worked all these years and had insurance. So yes, I’m an amazing wife and mother.

As anyone who even semi-regularly reads here, I run myself down a lot. The voices in my head tell me often how stupid I am, or how lazy, or how lucky I am to have my husband and daughters because I’m not worthy of htem.

But I am. I deserve all their awesomeness as much as they deserve mine. I just have to remind myself of that every so often. I pray every single day that there is more good in my than bad and that I’m creating more good, happy, healthy memories for my girls than bad, negative, damaging ones.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Art of Negging

I would like to think that at the ripe old age of 48, I would be immune to the neg. You know what I mean, right? It’s when someone (usually a man) says something that sounds like a compliment but is really an insult designed to make you doubt yourself and see him in a good/better-than-you light.

Men, right? (Oh, for goodness sake, I KNOW not all men.)

Sure, women probably do this too but I’ve really on encountered asshole men who do it with consistency.

I am pretty sure I was negged at work the other day.

I am sometimes asked to pick up lunch for some of the sales people/engineers/whoever might be having a lunch meeting. Whatever, no big deal, it all pays the same, right?

At first, one of the sales dudes asked me to send out an email to what he called ‘the group’ for orders to a food truck that comes to town every Thursday. Fine, okay, except…who is ‘the group’? I’ve been here for all of three months. I don’t actually know who ‘the group’ is yet. Give me a freaking break.

So he emailed me the names of ‘the group.’ Fine, I sent the email. Ten minutes later I received a call from one of ‘the group’. The holiday dinner for plant 2 (the company for which I work has four plants) was the day of the lunch First Dude wanted me to bring in from the food truck.

Okay, I said. This is being headed up by Sales Dude, maybe you need to talk to him about this?

Mmmm, kay?

Ten minutes after that, ANOTHER member of ‘the group’ stops by my desk to mention the holiday lunch. I repeat what I’d said to Dude 2. He (dude three) says he’ll take care of it.

An hour later, Original Dude shows up at my desk.

Hey, he suggests, we should just have our lunch on Friday.

Okay, I agree. Except the food truck only comes on Thursday, so from where to you want lunch?

Thank goodness for me, the president of the company, also a member of ‘the group’ was walking by so Original Dude asks him where he wants lunch brought in.

He’s the president because he doesn’t hesitate in making decisions. He says where he wants lunch and says it’s because it’s easier to get to and from than most other places in town. Works for me, President Dude.

Original Dude repeats what President Dude said as if I weren’t sitting RIGHT THERE and didn’t have ears of my very own.

I say, “Got it.” Then…because I’m one to think out loud but not because I wanted OD’s input, I said, “I’ll resend the email and attach the new menu. What time do I need to order for pick up?”

Remember, I wasn’t actually asking for Original Dude to give me this answer. No, I was just thinking out loud and was going to find out the answer all by myself.

But because Original Dude is a MAN, he had to give his twelve cents. He said, with an obnoxious smile, “You seem like a capable woman, I’m sure you’ll figure it out.”

This was absolutely NOT a compliment from him. He was, without a doubt in my mind, trying to make me feel small and stupid. I could tell by the smug, creepy smile he gave me.

I didn’t respond. There was nothing I could say. If I’d called him on the comment, he would have said I was overreacting and taking what he’d said wrong. I didn’t want to agree with him because, while yes, I am capable, I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of a reaction one way or the other.

Ugh! Some days I just can’t even with men.

Again, I know…not all men. But enough to make me want to not have to deal with ANY men.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Why We/They Dance

So while we were at PUDM, Alyssa admitted that she hadn’t given Naomi any kind of background on the trip we were taking. She didn’t bother to explain that it was an overnight event that was raising money for Riley Hospital for Children.

So, while we were there, I gave a quick synopsis.

My story went a little like this:

I have a cousin who has a daughter who has to go to Riley every few months, sometimes every six weeks. This child has a feeding tube, she’s in a wheelchair, she has a shunt. She had open heart surgery when she was a few hours old. She’s had several other surgeries over the year. She’ll be thirteen this month and she’s had more medical procedures done to her in her thirteen years than most of us will have over the span of our entire lives.

Her parents do not have insurance. She, the child, is probably on the state-run Medicare/aid program but it’s not very good coverage.

Riley Hospital has never, not once, turned S away. They’ve never denied her care. She’s always treated with the utmost professionalism and love by every single doctor, nurse, caregiver in that hospital.

They can do this because of these dance marathons. The dance marathons raise money so that every single sick or injured child who enters that hospital receives the care they deserve, not the care they can afford.

That’s why these college kids are out there raising money, dancing their butts off, spending an entire weekend getting emotionally and physically exhausted, so that kids like Olivia and Riley and Sabella get the care they need to live their greatest lives.

When I finished speaking, Alyssa, Olivia, Naomi, Morgan (Olivia’s buddy) were silent. I think Morgan might have wiped away a tear. They all just sat there for a minute and then Morgan said, “That might be the best explanation of dance marathons I’ve heard yet.”

That was nice of her to say.

I wanted to give Alyssa and Naomi a background and an understanding of what it means to put your own interests aside for even one weekend. I know that for most dancers and committee members, the dance marathon is a season, not a weekend. These people work so hard all year long. They raise money all year long. They work on dances, food, programs, events and putting the kids first all year long.

I am so grateful to every single person who has ever participated in a dance marathon. As a Riley family, we are so happy to be included, to be able to share our story and remind every person there why they’re doing what they’re doing. It is our honor and privilege to encourage the dancers to jump one more time, to stay awake one more hour, to raise one more dollar. Sabella can’t go to the IUDM, the noise would be too much for her. But I’m going to encourage her mom to look into taking her to PUDM. They make it more comfortable for the kids with sensory issues to participate without discomfort. If they can’t do it, we will continue to do it for kids like Sabella, who’s story would inspire so many, if only they could hear even the short version.

Back in the day when I was a dancer at the IUDM, I remember we often said, “We dance because they can’t.”

Some of them can and they do. But those who can’t? We’ll keep on dancing for them.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Not That Tiny

She’s growing up. She’ll be twelve in less than two weeks. She’s a year from being a teenager.

She’s sassy and sweet and funny and argumentative. She will pick a point in something Tom or I say and will not let it go.

But I’m glad she’s tough like that. She can be so shy and unassuming that I worry about her being overlooked so I want her to stand up for herself, even if it does drive me insane sometimes.

She wants us to explain WHY we when we tell her to do something. She doesn’t understand WHY she can’t yell back at us when we yell at her. Perhaps we shouldn’t be yelling so much? Hmmm…

She loves to read and hates doing math. I don’t know if that is so much a 5p- thing or an Olivia thing. It’s hard, sometimes, to separate the girl from the syndrome. I know she’s incredibly high functioning but she is definitely affected by that missing DNA and her amazing abilities, while awesome and something we’re incredibly grateful for, doesn’t negate the fact that life is still sometimes a struggle. Just because others struggle more doesn’t make her struggle any less for her. (Pain Olympics anyone?) I, like any other parent out there, wish so much that I could fix things for her, take away the struggles, the pain, the hardship and make life perfect for her.

She still plays with Barbies but loves technology in the form of her tablet and the computer just about as much. This age is hard to buy for when it comes to birthday/Christmas presents. She needs warmer, longer pants but pants are fun presents to open on Christmas morning.

She’s getting braces in January. I think she’s excited about it. I know she understands why and we’ll be able to explain the pain to her. I realize there are parents out there who decide against braces for their kids with 5p-. I respect their decision. I just know that this is the best decision for MY kid. Because she sucked her thumb for over four years, she has a bit of an overbite, which could cause her teeth be damaged if she were to fall and land on her face and let’s be real here, that possibility is very high with my tiny girl.

She’s had a cold for over a week now. This is the first illness since our encounter with the flu over eight months ago. I know how lucky we are but I still hate that when she gets sick, it takes so much longer for her to fight off those germs. I hate that she has to suffer, that she has to have antibiotics, that she needs cough medicine and pain medicine and fever reducer to kick something that a typical kid would fight off in a couple of days with little to no medicine.

But we do what we must. We all do. All our struggles are unique to us and we take what we’re given.

Olivia takes what life has given her and she shines. She soars with joy and laughter. She gives us all so much love and light. I often feel like I’m failing her and yet…I’m so very grateful to be along for the ride that is the journey of her life.

And even if she does get taller than me, well, she’ll still always be my tiny girl.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Driving - aka Another Rant

I’m not a nice person when I’m driving. I’ve mentioned this before, in detail.

But this weekend, poor, sweet Naomi got to experience two days in a row of more than three hours in a car with me.

I’m pretty sure she thinks I’m evil personified at this point.

I’d be fine with driving anywhere and everywhere if other cars and people would just get out of my way.

And let me be fair here and say that US 24 between Wabash, Indiana and where it turns to join with US 35 is a nice, desolate highway. It was so nice to be able to just drive and pretend we were in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, just the four of us, looking for a place to hunker down and fight off the living dead.

But the closer we got to West Lafayette, the more the living inserted themselves into my lovely zombie fantasy.

We got to the rec center where the dance marathon was being held. Alyssa didn’t like the first parking spot I found and so I drove around to find another. A bus was parked, with its flashers on, along the roundabout in front of the rec center. There were no people getting on or off the bus. There was no one to be seen around the bus, living dead or alive. I waited, perhaps not so patiently, for a few minutes (it may have been seconds, who’s counting?) and then whipped around that stupid bus (it was a FREAKING BUS!) to make my way out of the roundabout and into the adjacent parking lot.

We drove forever, with me muttering that I hoped we didn’t have to walk a damn mile to get back to the rec center.

We finally found a parking spot, it was only a half mile from the rec center (I am, obviously, exaggerating, it was probably only a quarter of a mile) and I bitched and limped and moaned the entire walk to the center. We all had to pee and we’d been in the car for about five days at that point. It was time to be done driving.

We hung out at the rec center for a few hours. I only had to walk the three miles to the car once to get some medicine for Olivia, who was achy and perhaps a bit feverish from the drive. She bounced back pretty fast and had a lovely time getting presents and being doted upon.

We left the rec center around 8:30 or so and headed to the hotel.

Now, I’ve been to West Lafayette about ten times in the past ten or so years. But it’s only once a year and I only ever make it to the campus by sheer luck and tenacity. We stayed in the Union Club hotel. Alyssa (or maybe it was Naomi) put the address to the Union Club into their phone and used the GPS to guide me. It was only a mile or so away. But as everyone knows, college campuses have an insane amount of one-way streets. Why? Who the hell knows, because engineers are stupid, that’s why.

The GPS was stupid too. It wanted me to go the opposite direction of the way I needed to go, so I ignored it and went the way I knew I needed to go. The GPS dealt and recalculated. I can be smarter than a computer sometimes. Just saying.

We’d only gone about two blocks when someone fool in a car ahead of me wanted to parallel park. Growl.

I whipped around them too. They may have honked at me. I don’t know. I didn’t hear it. Either A or N mentioned hearing honking but at that point, I didn’t especially care about a parallel parking fool’s honking horn. I just wanted to get to the stupid hotel. At that point, Naomi remarked that she could tell I’d driven in the city before. She might have been commenting that I need to chill the hell out but she was too polite to actually say it in those exact words.

The GPS sent me around the block once and tried to do it twice but I was, once again, smarter than the computer. I found the parking garage across the street from the hotel and then proceeded to go up and down the damn aisles looking for a spot that wasn’t reserved for campus vehicles or tiny cars (who is driving these tiny cars and why are there so many parking spaces reserved for them? I mean, I have NEVER seen a tiny car parked in those tiny car parking spaces…just saying (okay, just bitching but whatever!)

Once we were parked in the ridiculously narrow spaces in which no other cars had managed to pull into correctly, we all wiggled out of the car with our doors barely opened because we’re so very conscientious of other people’s property and we didn’t want to ding the doors of the cars parked next to us even though they kind of deserved it with the way wonky way they parked. Sigh. Whew. So much annoyance for one chubby mumsy.

Then we had to get all the crap out of the back of the car. I always overpack. Why? I should know better and yet…I don’t. I pulled a wheeled suitcase that had my and Olivia’s clothes. I carried a cooler with Liv’s antibiotic in it and the shoulder bag that had our bathroom gear (HBA items, if you will.) Alyssa carried the heavy-ass snack bag along with her own backpack of clothes and HBA items. Olivia wore a backpack with her entertainment items and carried the gift bag she’d received at the dance marathon.

Naomi carried her bag and her coat and I don’t even remember what all she carried because it was all so very insane what all we were all carrying. And it was flipping cold. And it was dark and I was tired and we were all hungry and yes, I was still very annoyed with the entire world. Come on zombie apocalypse!

Alyssa tried to get Olivia to carry the blanket that we always have in the car. Olivia was not having it. She insisted she was carrying quite enough, thank you very much. She does have tiny hands, you know.

Alyssa relented and carried the stupid blanket herself. We trudged across the street (after waiting for traffic because as you know, there is ALWAYS traffic) and made our way into the hotel.

We were on the third floor. We had to wind our way through the halls of the hotel just to find the elevator, which was quite possibly the tiniest elevator ever invented. My big ol’ butt barely fit inside that thing once the other three and all our luggage was inside.

We finally, FINALLY made it to our room. Yay!!!! We dumped our stuff, Alyssa and Naomi started scanning their phones for a pizza place that would deliver to our location. Olivia took off her boots and socks and claimed her bed, climbing in and snuggling up under the blanket she’d refused to carry from the car.

I apologized to all and headed to the bathroom to…um, you know, it’s not necessary to share EVERYTHING. You know? Right.

After the pizza was delivered and eaten, Olivia settled in and was asleep before 10, which is good because yeah, she’s still sick. What the hell were we even doing there? I should have stayed home with this poor sick child and let her relax at home instead of dragging her halfway across Indiana and back in the span of twenty-four hours.

Mother of the freaking year here.

The next morning, all of twelve hours after schlepping all of our crap from the car to the hotel, we got to do it all over again. We headed back to the dance marathon to see the closing ceremony and the reveal of the amount raised for Riley Hospital for Children. It was neat and fun and totally worth it.

We hit the road after 10am because the McD’s was insanely busy and we had to go in because O wanted pancakes. Which is fine. It’s FINE! I wasn’t going to let that child try to eat pancakes in my car. I didn’t want to be wiping syrup off the sunroom for a month. The sausage burritos were totally worth the wait.

Once we were finally back on US 25N aka Hoosier Heartland Highway, I was able to settle back into my zombie apocalypse fantasy and enjoy the drive home.

We’d been in the car for maybe two hours when Olivia sighed and said, “I feel like I’ve been in this car for twenty four hours.”

Oh, kid do I feel you.

We’ve been home for several days and my hips still hurt from sitting in that car for so many hours over the last couple of weeks.

On the bright side, I don’t have to drive forever to see Julie again this coming weekend. Only too bad for her and her family, they DO have to drive all those miles to come all the way up here. And interstate 69 is not the most excellent road for pretending to be outrunning a hoard of zombies.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018


One would think that my eight months off work would have caught me up on the sleep deprivation I suffered while the girls were little and I was commuting.

One would be wrong.

I’m still tired. All the time.

We went to West Lafayette last weekend for the PUDM. It was fun. But the beds in the hotel where we stayed were awful. I slept so badly I may as well have not slept.

Olivia slept great but she’s twelve, twelve year olds can sleep on a pile of rocks and be comfy.

People my age? Not so much. The rocks would need to be covered with a mattress and the mattress would need to be covered with a topper, then I’d need a high thread count sheet to cover the mattress topper. Then, if you please, let’s add the flat sheet because I’m old school like that, a couple of quilts and a comforter that I can kick off when I wake up in the dead of night covered in gross sweat. And that’s IF everything above has been provided and I am asleep on the bed of rocks alone. Add another person and we’re in big trouble and there will probably be no sleep.

I’m ready for this month to be over. I hate wishing the time away but we’ve been so busy, always running, always cramming stuff in.

No wonder Olivia is sick.

This week we are getting our flu shots on Thursday, I’m taking food to play practice, you guessed it, Thursday. The performances are Friday and Saturday.

Next weekend is Thanksgiving. I’m currently thankful that we don’t have to travel to family for dinner. Though, let’s remember that even though we only drive three miles to my mom’s each holiday, I still managed to hit a deer last Thanksgiving. And I don’t think the deer was killed, she got up and ran away while we sat there in my car, which suffered over $8000 worth of damage. Sigh.

But that’s all in the past, where we definitely want to leave 2017. It was a tough year and I’m glad to have survived it. 2018 has been better than 2017 but I am hoping and praying that 2019 will be better still. I suppose I could take the attitude that it will be what I make it. I would like to think I have the power to shape my own destiny.

The problem is, I don’t seem to have the power to shape my own bedtime, let alone my own destiny.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018


Anyone who has read my blog for any amount of time knows that we’re a family of co-sleepers. Alyssa slept in our bed from the first day she came home from the hospital. She might have spent two nights in her crib before we took it down and put it away until Olivia came home.

Olivia slept in a bassinet for the first couple of months because she was on an heart monitor at first and it was dangerous for her to be in the family bed. But once she was off the monitor, she was in our bed too.

When we moved to Ohio from Indiana, the master bedroom was so big, that I just put our queen sized bed in there along with a couple of smaller beds. Seriously, it was still not crowded.

In the end, Tom tended to fall asleep on the couch, I put the girls to bed in the queen bed and I slept on a twin bed in the same room with them. That was the case for the first several years in our current house.

So I got used to not sleeping with anyone and it is glorious.

A few years ago, we decided it was time for the girls to sleep in their own room. So, because I’m a hoverer, we all three moved from the master bedroom to the larger of the three other bedrooms. The girls were in bunk beds, Alyssa on top, Olivia on bottom. I was in a full bed. That lasted until Alyssa’s fourteenth birthday (so going on two years ago.) At that point, she kicked me and Olivia out.

Alyssa now sleeps in her own room. See, it happens, eventually, to everyone. . Just saying to everyone who thought it was insane that we were sleeping in the same bed/room forever. Everyone should do what works for them. I’m not judging anyone who chooses to put their baby in their own crib in their own room from the start. If that works for you, go you. It didn’t work for me. But I know it works for most people. So yes, stepping off my non-judgmental soapbox now.

Where was I?

Oh yes, Alyssa sleeps in her own room. We need to take the bunkbeds down now that she’s sleeping in the full bed in her room. It would give her ever so much more room…one of these days. For sure.

When Lyss kicked us out, Olivia and I moved back down the hall to the master bedroom. But we didn’t go back to sharing a bad. Oh hell no. She sleeps in a twin bed and I’m in the queen. Tom is still on the couch, for anyone interested. He always falls asleep there watching tv and I figure I get two of us to bed I don’t want to be responsible for making him get up and come to bed too.

All this (almost 500 words, good lord!) to say that Olivia and I shared a bed last weekend at the hotel in Bloomington and it…was…awful.

That child has no concept of personal space. The first night, I put a blanket between us. It helped not at all. I pushed her leg off me no fewer than five times. She weighs about 105lbs and still took up more than 2/3 of the bed. Please just believe me when I say that I weight more than she does. I hugged the edge of the bed all night long both nights.

The second night, I woke myself up whimpering, “No, no, no, no.”

I’d been dreaming that Olivia had her head in my back and was pushing at me. It turns out it was her knee. Apparently, she wanted more than her 2/3 of the bed. She wanted the whole thing and was trying, in her sleep, to kicked me out. I had to push back at her knee really hard just to get her to give me three extra inches of bed.

The next morning when my mom got up to get dressed, I limped across the room and laid down in her vacant bed.

Ten minutes after I’d vacated the ten inches of bed that Olivia has allotted me, she woke up and asked me what I was doing.

I replied, “Escaping the torture.”

“Can I join you?” she asked sleepily.

I managed a laugh even though every joint in my body ached. “No, you’re the one who was torturing me.”

Alas, I wish I could say that I will never share a bed with that child again but I think when we spend the night in West Lafayette this Saturday I’ll have to brave it all again. I will try the blanket thing again, though. While the blanket was there, she didn’t jam her knee into my ribs so that’s something.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Straight Out of My Nightmares

And eww and every other sound of disgust you can come up with.

On our way back from Bloomington this past Sunday, we decided to stop at a gas station to use the bathroom (and get something to drink so we could use the bathroom again later in the trip) before we got to 465 where there is really no convenient way to stop.

We stopped at a Shell.

The station was fine, the gas was actually about $.10 cheaper than any of the other stations we’d seen on our trip.

The first clue should have been that one accessed the bathroom from outside the building.

The second clue should have been my disgust at having to touch the door to open it, it was grimy and gross but I figured it was from being an outside door.

No. We should have walked away, gotten in the car and driven to the CVS that was a mile away. The problem is that we didn’t know the CVS was a mile away because we had driven past all this in the dark on Friday night. We weren’t sure there was another bathroom anywhere nearby (of course there was, duh!)

Olivia and I entered with trepidation.

I caught a glimpse of the toilet and gagged. I said to Liv, “Okay. I’m going to wipe off the seat and then we’re going to hover over it to pee.”

She looked at me. She looked at the toilet. She took a step backward and declared, “No. I don’t have to pee.”

“Livie,” I started to argue.

She interrupted me. “No. I am not peeing in that. I don’t have to go.”

I remembered when she was seven and flat out refused to pee in a port-o-potty. I knew there was no arguing with her. And who wanted to at that point? I wanted to get out of that disgusting, filthy, germ-ridden bathroom.

But I had to pee.

So I took a deep breath, wrapped my hand in toilet paper (A LOT OF TOILET PAPER) and wiped the seat. There was more than just a few ‘sprinkles’ of pee on that seat. It was also evident by the, uh, color (gag!) of the samples on the seat that more than one person had peed on that seat. It was probably more like five, or hell, a hundred. It was soooo gross.

But honestly, even the pee on the seat was nothing compared to the ring around the toilet bowl itself.

My mom later said she couldn’t tell if it was the remnants of diarrhea or vomit but it was crusty. It had been there for a long, A LOOONG time. When the toilet was flushed, the water just kind of skimmed over the ring around the bowl. It might even have been mold. *shudder*

That bathroom hadn’t been cleaned in, well, maybe not ever.

The only thing that could have made it worse would have been if it had had one of those rags that hangs down in a loop, that you pull down and find a dry spot to wipe your hands. It didn’t, thank goodness, but if it had, it would have made the entire experience that much more surreal.

I hesitated to get back into my car after standing on that bathroom floor. I mean, if there was piss on the seat, you know damn well it was all over the floor.

We slathered ourselves in hand-sanitizer when we got back in the car and then we laughed over the awfulness of the entire situation. What else could we do? It was either laugh at how awful it was, or cry.

Olivia insisted she still didn’t have to pee even when we came across another, cleaner facility. Girlfriend was going to let her bladder burst before she peed in that cesspool of horror. To her credit, she didn’t use a bathroom until we were well along the way on I69 (it was the rest area between Indy and Fort Wayne, very well maintained, thank you very much.)

When we got home and told the story of the bathroom from hell, I said something along the lines of it being right out nightmares I’ve had where I have to pee so bad but the toilet is either overflowing with chunks falling to the floor in the flood of water and filth or I can’t lock a stall door and am trying to squat and hold the door at the same time.

Alyssa asked, “What kind of awful dreams are you having?!?”

Hasn’t everyone had that dream where they have to pee (because they really do have to pee but are asleep and so the need to pee translates into the dream) and they’re either in a filthy bathroom or they’re being stalked by a killer and are trying to pee really quietly but never quite empty their bladder (because, obviously, they haven’t peed in real life and so the urge doesn’t go away.)?

She (Alyssa) claims to have never had that dream. I think maybe she just doesn’t remember the times she has had it. But she did say, rather sassily, “But I probably will NOW.”

Ha, I kind of hope so because I’m that kind of mom.

For the record, I’m also the kind of mom who cleans the toilets in her house on a regular basis, so in the end, it all evens out.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Parent/Teacher Conference

I meet with Dr. C last week to talk about one of our favorite people, Miss Olivia.

There were no surprises. Olivia is doing very well in reading and writing. She’s an ace speller. She whispers to all of the teachers and aides.

She’s struggling with math, has some good days and some not-so-good days. She just really doesn’t actually care about math. Anything that doesn’t come easily to her is ‘boring’. I get it. I really do. But girlfriend has to know how to add and subtract. Plotting lines? Not so important but adding two quarters and knowing she has fifty cents? Yes, important.

One pleasant story Dr. C told me is that Olivia plays with one of her classmates at recess. There is a boy who is in second grade (Dr. C teaches kindergarten to sixth grade students who need a little extra help) and no one else will play with this poor baby. The first time he asked Olivia to play with him, she shrugged and then…drum roll…she played with him!!! OMG!! I’m so proud of her. Not only is she interacting with another kid, she’s being the nice kid who is playing with one that no one else will play with.

I do kind of want to know why the hell the other kids are being allowed to ostracize this child. It makes me crazy when that is allowed to happen. But according to Dr. C, both O and her little friend are very happy with the current arrangement. They chase each other around the playground and enjoy each other’s company. I’ll take it.

Dr. C said that Olivia is actually one of her easiest kids to teach. Sure, she’s also one of the most stubborn but she’s almost painfully polite, she never has outbursts, she doesn’t get loud and unruly. If anything, when she’s overwhelmed, she withdraws and gets even quieter.

Dr. C said that she’s told Liv that she, Olivia, is the only kid in the classroom who is allowed to yell at the teachers. Olivia did laugh at that one.

I’m so grateful for teachers who work so hard to find a way to reach my child. Olivia is a tough nut to crack. Somedays I feel like I’m not reaching her and I’ve been in her life forever. New people don’t always get her. She can be frustrating and I know a time or two, some teachers have given up altogether. I understand that. But I’m grateful for the ones who go the extra mile, who try that much harder to find a way in and are helping Olivia find her way out of her own head.

*Are most parents done doing parent/teacher conferences when their kids are in high school? I don’t see any of Alyssa’s teachers. She’s got a 4.0 GPA and she’s involved in all the extracurricular things. She’s good, she’s amazing, she talks to me when things are frustrating her (I’m looking at you, Spanish) so yeah, unless the school reaches out to me, I won’t be scheduling any meetings with her teachers.

Monday, November 5, 2018

The State of My Hair

Because everyone wants to know and also, but mostly, because it drives me crazy on a regular basis.

I actually can’t stand it. It’s awful.

I let it air dry one Saturday evening and the poof was out of control. It was so fluffy I thought it might fly right off my head and join a flock flying south for the winter.

The back…ugh. I wore a scarf one day last week and by the time I got home, the back of my stupid hair had been pushed up so far that it looked like a wig. It was high and out from my head.

The curls are just awful. The top and back is curly but he sides are not. So it’s just so stupid.

I recently threatened to ask one of my fellow Edon mom’s where she gets her hair cut just to put my hair and myself out of our misery.

Alyssa implored me to just fight through the awfulness. The only way to get past the horror story that is my current hair is to continue to let it grow. If I get it cut/trimmed, it will just keep being this short and this awful.

And so I bitch and moan daily about the trauma my hair is causing me.

All this to say, I know I’m lucky it’s growing back and that it’s coming back so thick and fluffy. I know things could be worse. Hell, they HAVE been worse. But it’s my hair and I’ll complain about it if I want to.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Fitting It All In

These next few weeks are going to be busy. Livie and I leave for Bloomington immediately after school/work on Friday, November 2 for the IUDM. We’ll be there until Sunday morning. We’ll stop in Auburn (a town about 40 minutes from home) and buy groceries on our way home.

When we get home, I’ll unload the groceries, the luggage, start some laundry and head to Defiance, where Alyssa will be performing in an honors choir.

The weekend of November 10-11, we’re all (all being me, Liv, Lyss and Naomi) heading to West Lafayette for the PUDM. That’s only Saturday night and into Sunday so we can pack on Friday night and leave around 11 or noon on Saturday.

The weekend after that is the school play, which is Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I’ve signed up to do hair and makeup so I’ll be just as busy as Alyssa in the hours before the play. I also signed up to take food for the actors on Thursday, yay for them, getting to eat something I cook. Ha!

The weekend after the play is Thanksgiving and then we have Olivia’s birthday the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Whew.

Along with all this, obviously, I’m back to working full-time, 40+ hours a week. That leaves little time for things like, oh, cleaning the house, laundry, groceries (I’m figuring that one out.) Alyssa needs a costume for the play that is in three weeks. I need to schedule flu shots for the entire family. I have a mammogram next Monday, I’m pretty sure the girls have orthodontic appointments Tuesday. My birthday is Wednesday.

So much to do!!!

I’ve been trying to chip away at the list. I hit up Good Will on Tuesday to try and find costume items for Alyssa’s Customer #2 character. They’re doing The Little Shop of Horrors, which is set in the early-ish 1960s. I kind of figure Customer #2 is somewhere in her mid to late twenties. I spent maybe ten minutes in Good Will and came out with a wool skirt, a cardigan and a button up blouse, all varying shades of beige. Alyssa told me several times, “I’m not supposed to look nice, the shop is on Skid Row.”

So yes, beige it is.

My mom has some brown shoes that are perfect with the costume and we’re set. It only cost me $11, which I have to say, I’m very proud of. Go me!!

Now we just have to figure out how we’re going to do her hair. That ought to be fun.

I’m tired just thinking about all this. Alas, I guess I will sleep on Friday, November 23rd. I’m penciling it in on the calendar just so we don’t schedule anything else at this point.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Last Trick or Treat?

Our community held Trunk or Treat and trick or treating last Saturday. It was a chilly, misty day but it was fine.

Olivia dressed as a lady bug. She’d originally planned to go at Barbie, in a bubblegum pink prom dress we found at a consignment store for less than $20. We attached straps to it and took some of the sequins off the area under her arms and it was ready to go.

But then, a few weeks ago, she discovered this cute little cartoon called Miraculous Lady Bug and she’s become obsessed with it. When we found a lady bug costume at Walmart for $12.97, she couldn’t resist. The Barbie dress will just have to suffice for next year.

Speaking of next year, though…she’s going to be twelve, almost thirteen next year. She’s already 5’3” and while emotionally, she’s all of eight years old, she looks all of her almost-twelve right now. Next year she’ll probably look even older than her almost-thirteen years.

So this year might have been our last trick or treat experience.

Because I was thinking along those lines, I made Alyssa go with us. Now, when I say I ‘made’ her, let me clarify that I said, “Hey, Lyss, I think you should go trick or treating with us.”

And she said, enthusiastically, “Okay!”

And that was it. She put on a pair of butterfly wings, some eyeliner and a flowered headband and away we went.

A friend of Lyss’s, let’s call her Sophie, lives in town and so after we hit up the church parking lot for Trunk or Treat, we swung by Sophie’s house and she joined us for our jaunt around the neighborhood.

It was fun. There were a lot of kids out, obviously they were mostly little kids, like seven and under but a lot of the houses we stopped at called Alyssa and Sophie over to get candy. Most of them said something along the lines of, “You took the time to put on costumes, you deserve candy too.”

I thought that was incredibly kind. I hate that kids are expected to be all grown up just because they hit the teenage years. I want society to let them keep being young as long as possible.

I talked to my mom a few days after our trick or treating fun. We decided that going forward, we need to have a family Halloween party so that everyone of all ages can dress up and enjoy the spirit of Halloween. We can have candy, games, contests. It will be great.

And no one will have to grow up too soon.