Friday, January 26, 2024


IEP season is upon us. I’ve received four emails from the school this week. One was from her intervention specialist to schedule a meeting to go over her IEP.

The second one was from her art teacher, who is frustrated with O’s lack of focus in her class. Sigh.

The third email was from the school psychologist who says Olivia is due for an eval by him but after talking to her teachers, he doesn’t think the evaluation is necessary and that we should just continue with her IEP as is. I mean, duh. It’s not like her diagnosis has changed.

The fourth message was from the speech therapist at the school. She wanted to let me know that she wasn’t aware that O wasn’t going to have the evaluation with the psychologist and so she’d done her own testing and wanted to know if I was okay with her using those results at our IEP meeting. She was also sweet about saying how proud of how far Olivia has come since she started working with Ms. B back when O was in 1st grade. That was very kind of her.

I was about to say that it’s weird how some of O’s teachers/therapists click with her and adore her and see how hard she works while others just see the frustrating parts of her but you know what? It’s not really that weird. We all have people with whom we click and people with whom we don’t. That’s just a symptom of being human.

Ms. S, the art teacher, actually really does like Olivia. She just wants Olivia to try. And sometimes, most of the time, actually, she does. But then there are days, or even weeks, where Liv is just…not into it. And when that happens, it’s really hard to motivate her.

The night I got the email from Ms. S, I had a talk with Olivia. I waited until O was in bed and knelt by her bed. I rubbed her hair and asked her, “You know you’re smart, right?”

She kind of shrugged at me.

I told her, “You are so smart. You really are. Sure, there are things that are hard for you but that’s okay. You keep trying. Heck, I hate math and gym too.”

She laughed at this.

“But even the things that are hard for us, we have to keep trying. And even when we get bored, we have to try and stay focused. That’s kind of your job at school, to focus on the class you’re in and get through it.”

I asked her if she didn’t like the current type of art they’re working on. She said she liked it okay but it’s confusing to her and she isn’t sure how to do what Ms. S wants her to do.

I told her that it’s okay to ask Ms. S for clarification. I gave her some words to use and reminded her that Ms. S is the teacher, that it’s her job to explain what she wants in ways that Liv understands. I offered to email Ms. S to let her know that O is confused about the current lesson. Liv asked me to wait until next week, to see if she could either figure it out or ask her teacher herself. That, my dears, is maturity if I ever saw it.

She’s trying over here. I think she’s seeing her peers do things that are hard for her and she’s measuring herself by the same standards and feels like she’s failing. That makes me sad and makes me want to kee reminding her that she’s got her own strengths, her own struggles and she’s doing her best and in the end, that is enough.

She is enough. She always has been and she always will be. I just need to keep saying the words until she believes them.

Sunday, December 31, 2023


Where to start…

We lost our dad in 2023. That’s obviously the biggest, most impactful thing that happened. I think I’m still processing it. I feel like I haven’t even really started to grieve.

I miss him but I’m not sure it’s really hit me that he’s truly gone.; that he died. He's dead.

I was there when he died. My siblings, nieces and nephews and I were all with him in those last days. He entered the hospital on a Tuesday and died just after 3:30am on a cold March Saturday. We took turns spending the night with him in the hospital. My brother was amazing during those days. He stayed Tuesday and Thursday nights. My niece stayed Wednesday night.

Dad rallied so much on Wednesday that the medical professionals were planning to move him to a nursing home on Thursday but on Thursday morning, he took another turn for the worse and he stayed in the hospital.

My nephews, 15 and 13, wanted to stay at the hospital on Friday night. Honestly, I didn’t want them there. It was going to be just me and them and my dad and I didn’t really have the bandwidth to be responsible for them. But I also didn’t have the heart to tell them or their parents that they couldn’t stay.

So they stayed. But I was a ‘mean’ aunt and told them they had to be off their computers (they were gaming more than anything) by 11 that night. I just said that Dad needed quiet.

Amazingly, I didn’t even have to tell the boys to shut it all down at 11. They just did it and quietly went to sleep.

The lights were low and I dozed in the chair near my dad’s bed. I checked on him every half hour or so because I guess that’s what one does when one is on death watch.

Over his last days in the hospital, I was the one who went to the nurses and let them know when Dad was in pain. I so desperately wanted to be sure he wasn’t hurting. He’d spent a lot of his life in pain and I wanted the end to be as comfortable as possible. He was so frail, so thin. I just wanted to make sure he knew he was safe, that we loved him and would miss him but also that we’d be okay, that it was okay for him to let go and be at peace. He was the last of his ten siblings. Both of his parents had been gone for over 50 years. I know that while he loved us very much he was also very lonely in the last few years of his life.

I…I wish I’d been a better daughter. I wish I’d been kinder and more generous with my time. I wish I’d been more patient and less frustrated with perceived inconveniences. I wish I’d taken the time when he was lucid to let him know how much he meant to me, how much he impacted the person I’ve become.

So many wishes and now he’s gone.

I believe in heaven. I believe our soul, our essence, the thing that makes us who we are goes on, becomes more or…something. I don’t believe that death is just the end. I’ve felt my dad around me in the months since he died. So…there’s that.

The nurses were so kind. They responded to my requests so quickly and never acted like I was bothering them.

I know this is their job but…I’m grateful for their patience and kindness.

I think I planned to say more but this is all I've got on this last day of 2023.

Happy New Year indeed.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Growing Pains

Alyssa has one week of her freshman year of college left.

Let's let that sink in.

One more week.

We moved her to College Town the first week of August and she's spent maybe three nights here at home since.

I'm trying to feel all the feelings over here and let it simmer and not burden her with my missing of her. She's living her life. She's loviving her life and I want nothing more than that.

She's had a great freshman year at school. Her College Town is only an hour-ish away from home. She's thriving. I'm so proud of her. She works, she does her homework, she sees her friends, she Snapchats with me.

But I don't think she'll ever live here with us for any length of time (like more than a day or two) again.

She will ALWAYS have a place wherever I am. I hope she knows that in her heart but I also know that she doesn't ever really want to come home again. I get that even as I grieve for myself.

We've raised her well. She's smart, she's independent, she's resilient, she's strong. She's loyal and kind and she owes nothing to anyone other than kindness and respect for her fellow humans. She gets to live her life and I'm so happy that she's doing that.

I'm rambling here. I think every parent of independent kids miss those kids even while they're proud of them. I WANT this for her even thought I miss having her around the house.

I would welcome her back here in a heartbeat and yet I know that if she ended up back here at home, it would be because something happened to derail her current plans for her life and I don't want that for her. I want all her dreams to come true, even if that means I never get to tuck her into her bed under my roof again.

Monday, April 11, 2022


On a recent trip with my mom to visit my aunt and grandma, it was decided that the kids (kids being individuals who wre 16, 15, 14 and 8) would dye Easter eggs.

One of my aunts asked if we'd dyed eggs the previous year.

I admitted that we had not. She asked me why.

I told her that the messes my now 15 year old made were more tolerable when she was 4. I mean, four years old make messes, right? It's a learning experience.

However, the fact that my 15 year old still makes the same kinds of messes she once made when she was four is much harder to take.

I try. I try really hard to be patient and just ignore the messes until I can clean them up but you knwo what? It's just easier to avoid the activities that tend to be super messy.

The activity of dyeing eggs is one that needs a little manual dexterity unless one is going to just dip their hands directly into the dye. Guess how one of my children chooses to dye eggs?

Yes. I do believe our Easter egg dyeing days are coming to an end.

Is it wrong that I'm not actually sad about this?

Sunday, March 27, 2022


I always wanted to be one of those cool, edgy girls. You know, the ones with the cool ear piercings and funky hair. The ones who didn’t give a shit what anyone else thought of them.

I was not that girl.

I tried a few times, though. I got a fun piercing in the upper cartilage of my ear. Alas, my non-edginess mean it never healed and when I took the earring out to clean the almost-infected (is there such a thing as almost infected?) piercing, the stupid hole closed in the five minutes the earring was out.

So that was that.

When I was 28 I got a belly button piercing. It was so cool. I wasn’t even all that thin but I did it anyway. I was NEVER the type to wear a crop top and show off my piercing but knowing it was there made me feel a little cooler, a little edgier.

Again, though, my lack of cool kicked in when I took it out while in the bathroom in a bar called The Corner Pocket in Fremont, Indiana. Why did I do such a thing? Oh, well, that’s something I’m very much not proud of. My (ick) boyfriend at the time said something off-hand about not really liking the piercing and so…yeah. Not my strongest moment as an independent woman.

Eh, I’ve forgiven the 30 year old I once was. I mean, she was confused and sad and she’s come so far to be the woman I am now so…whatever. Can’t go back and tell her not to do that. Can’t go back and tell her that that dude was worthless. She had to learn those lessons and come out the other side.

If only she’d been edgier, right?

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Science Homework Hell

*sigh* Yet another post about the nightmare that is 8th grade science homework.

I’m bored and I’m writing this shit.

The most current chapter was about Newton and his idiotic laws that don’t actually affect anyone (except that they kind of affect us all, you know, what with gravity and all) other than those who go into jobs where they have to figure out momentum and acceleration and force and all that bullshit.

You know what Olivia is not going to do with her life? She’s not going to be a crime scene investigator. She’s also probably not going to be an engineer of any kind. She’s never, NOT EVER, going to use the formula to figure out momentum. She’s just not.

Hell, I’m 51 years old, I work outside the home(have done so since I was 16, thank you very much) and I have never, NOT EVER, needed to use the formula to figure out momentum, which, by the way, is Newton’s third law, in case you were wondering.

I know. Who the hell cares? Not me, that’s for sure. And yet, there we were, for what felt like the 111th night in a row, doing science homework and figuring out momentum when all we knew was the force and the mass of something.

OMG. Please, someone tell me why a child with an IEP had to do this kind of homework. She got nothing out of it except to see her mother distraught and crying. It was ridiculous.

Each evening on my drive home, I’d tell myself that tonight it would be different. I wouldn’t internalize the difficulty of the homework. I wouldn’t let it get to me. I would just…do what we could and not let it ruin our evening.

And yet…there we were, trying to figure out the moment of something with a ridiculous formula that didn’t even make sense.

Let me remind you, I have a freaking bachelor’s degree from Indiana University. I am not stupid. Olivia is not stupid. But this homework…was impossible.

Earlier in this unit of 8th grade science, I sent Alyssa a snap telling her how sorry I was for when she was in 8th grade and she was going this homework on her own. I feel like I failed her because I didn’t know how hard her homework was. I never want her to have to tell her therapist, “My parents always said they never had to worry about me because my sister needed so much more help than I did. “ I mean, damn, there’s a guilt trip for you, right?

The night I cried, Lyss suggested I just google the answers. I replied that I TRIED to google them but each time I put in the question, the stupid sites would want me to log in to read the answers. It was as infuriating as the homework itself.

Finally, Thursday rolled around and I pulled into the driveway. I took a deep breath and readied myself for a stressful evening.

Olivia met me at the door to inform me that…there was no homework that night. She asked immediately if we could go to Gram’s.

I replied cheerfully, “No! We’re going to take a nap!”

I settled her on one end of the couch, myself at the other, our feet meeting in the middle. We each had our own blankets that also covered the other and fell asleep for an hour and a half. She read fan fiction on her phone while I snoozed.

And when I woke up Tom was cooking dinner. I know. The stars aligned, the angels sang and all was right in our little world for a few minutes (back on the guilt trip, I feel weird and guilty for writing that sentence knowing what’s happening in the world and especially in Ukraine right now. The horrors, the insanity, the evil that people (Putin) are capable of just feels suffocating and here I am bitching, whining, moaning about 8th grade science homework. What a self-centered little bitch I am.)

Saturday, March 5, 2022

I Never Knew Teeth Could Be So Beautiful - Olivia Ordinary

After three years and four months, Olivia got her braces off on March 3. It was a big day for her. Not only were the braces that had abused her mouth for 3+ (THREE) years coming off, but she could finally chew gum and eat popcorn and Starburst and suckers. She could brush her teeth and not have to dig food out of the hardware in her mouth.

She could smile and see shining white teeth.

She was, obviously, ecstatic.

We all were.

And the cherry on this awesome sundae? Her sister happened to be home that evening when we got home from the orthodontist. Sure, said sister didn’t actually come home specifically to celebrate the loss of brace face. But we didn’t let that stop us from celebrating with KFC and root beer. Alyssa even let Olivia think she’d come home just for the occasion of the braces coming off.

I’m very proud of kind Lyss is to her sister.

Olivia took a lot of selfies that afternoon. She declared that her smile was now it’s very own filter. It was so bright and white. Her teeth are so straight.

She enjoyed the food, the attention, the selfies. She enjoyed running her tongue over her now-smooth teeth and asking everyone (me, Tom, Lyss, Gram, Pawp) to touch her teeth because they were so smooth and slimy (her word).

It was awesome; and gross, but mostly awesome.

I know this is a rite of passage. I know that everyone’s braces come off at some point but can I just say how glad I am that she got to have this moment? Some parents with kids with 5p- syndrome opt out of braces even though our kids tend to have some pretty serious orthodontic issues. I get why some do choose not to go the orthodontic route. It wasn’t easy.

I had to put her bands in for her for months. I am so, SO grateful to never have to put my fingers in her mouth ever again. Braces are painful and if a child isn’t able to comprehend why they’re being tortured. But with Olivia, she understood the point of the pain and was able to handle it.

And now that it’s over, I’m so glad we did it. She loves her new smile. She loves her teeth.

Just before she fell asleep the first night with her braces off, she said happily, “I never knew teeth could be so beautiful.”

That confidence, that feeling like she’s special and beautiful and perfect, you can’t put a price on that. Even though, in this case, we kind of can since this case of orthodontic treatment cost $6700. But it was worth every penny to hear her joy, her reverence as she beheld her new, perfect, braceless smile.