Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Baby Shower

My cousin’s daughter is having her second child in January. She has a three year old son and is expecting a daughter this time.

Let me preface this before I don my shawl and bifocals and settle into the recliner with an afghan on my lap and a hat on my head to cover my thinning hair and keep my pale, age-spotted scalp warm. Preface: I know that every baby is a celebration. My first pregnancy and the birth of my first child was no more amazing and wonderful than my second pregnancy and the birth of my second daughter.

That said…this cousin (first cousin once removed if you want to be technical, and you know how I feel about technicalities) threw herself a baby shower.

She is threw herself a baby shower.

She sent out the invitations and she hosted this party. Sure, she asked her grandma to provide the food because why would she put her pregnant self out to buy shit and cook/prepare food? Several of her grandma’s sisters (my mom and aunts) provided decorations and even more food.

I feel so crotchety but this makes me crazy. It feels like a demand for presents. She sent invitations out with instructions as to where she’d registered. She sent several social media reminders over the past month or so. I just…

Okay, so yes, she moved up here in the last few months from Mississippi. Apparently, she gave her older sister all her baby gear because she wasn’t sure she’d have any more. She’s twenty three years old and already has one child. The odds of her not having another child were pretty slim.

But, since she gave all the stuff she’d used for her son away, she needs more stuff, new stuff, PINK STUFF if you will.

So she threw herself a baby shower.

I don’t get the gall.

I mean, she has a mother (who really is kind of useless, just saying) and a grandmother. She has a sister. She has friends. She couldn’t go to any one of those people and gently suggest, or hell, just outright ASK one of them to throw her the shower? That would just feel so much better, less like she feels entitled to presents from everyone.

Is this a generational thing? Am I officially an old biddy?

It just feels so icky. And yet, I feel bad that it feels icky, like I’m the one being weird about all of this rather than the entire situation being weird and I’m just responding to the weirdness with weirdness of my own.

Sigh.

But of course I went to this shower. And I took a gift. The gift was a box of diapers because I’m awful like that.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Almost Thirteen

We have a running joke in our house.

When Olivia is being especially difficult or deliberately lazy or just glorying in her idiosyncracies, one of us will say, “It’s hard to have a four year old for eight years.”

She’ll laugh, things will be reset and we’ll go on with our day.

And sure, it’s funny. It lightens an otherwise stressful situation.

But it’s also true.

Chronologically, Olivia will be thirteen in just over a month. But socially, she’s about eight years old. She has no desire to attend or even host a sleep-over. She’s perfectly happy to hang with Mom and Dad on the weekends. She’s shown no real desire to wear makeup. She’s very fashionable and makes decisions about her wardrobe but she still wants help putting on some of her clothes.

She doesn’t NEED help but she wants it.

She’d much prefer to have someone spoon feed her rather than feed herself. This is exasperating, and sometimes, admittedly, infuriating.

I remember when she was a baby and not crawling when she was a year old. It was like having an infant for almost two years.

My cousin’s sweet daughter is a year older than Olivia. S is in a wheelchair and she’s still tube fed. My cousin has had an infant for almost fourteen years.

I shouldn’t be complaining about my thirteen years with a four year old.

But I am; because I can. And because you can’t actually compare O and S.

See, the thing is, I KNOW Olivia is capable of so much more than she actually does. I know she can dress herself. I know she can feed herself. I know she can bathe herself.

But…I can’t trust her to wash her own hair. I don’t know if she’s capable of changing the toilet paper roll. Those things take some serious coordination and I just don’t know if she’s got it.

I don’t know if she can stop herself from scribbling on her work at school. I want to think she can but I just don’t know.

She is physically capable of taking out an old pad and putting in new one on when she’s having her period but I don’t think she truly know when she’s supposed to do that. I’ve tried to explain it to her but it just doesn’t happen without help.

I joked the other night at a Music Boosters meeting that I only have one more year after this year because after Alyssa graduates, I won’t have a child in the music program. Olivia is not a joiner. I don’t know if she wants to be or not but I do know that she simply isn’t able to force herself to speak above a whisper while at school. There’s a block that affects her physically.

It makes me sad because I think she’s capable of so much more but her brain and body won’t work together to let her do all she could do if they would cooperate.

So we celebrate her strengths. I read her fiction, I listen to her imaginations, I laugh at her jokes and enjoy her laughter when she’s in on the joke.

We let her express herself through her fashion and exclaim in wonder when she always gets it right.

I know how lucky we are that she is who she is and she is capable of so much but I also grieve the person Olivia would have been had that fifth chromosome not had a deletion.

I know these amazing kids of mine are not done doing awesome thing. I know that this coming year, the year she is thirteen, could bring amazing achievements. I won’t stop trying to teacher her, to lead her toward growth and accomplishments. But I’ll also continue to try and celebrate exactly who she is.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Snack Break

The other night we’d been in bed for at least a half hour when Olivia called out, “Are you going to be mad if I say I’m hungry?”

I replied, “I’m not going to be mad but I am going to be sad because I’m not going downstairs to find you food at 9:45 and so you’re going to have to go to sleep hungry.”

She sighed and went quiet for a few minutes.

Then she said brightly, “Hey, since tomorrow is Friday, maybe I can have a late snack.”

I told her that sounded like a good plan and went on to suggest that she try and ask for that snack before we went to bed because once we’re in bed, dude, the kitchen is closed.

She gave it some thought and asked, “Can a person have breakfast for a bedtime snack?”

“Why not?” I asked. “Lots of people have breakfast for dinner so why not for a snack?”

She agreed with my logic and informed me, “Tomorrow for my snack I’m going to have toast with strawberry jelly, a banana and some blueberries. Then, I’m going to have a bowl of cereal.”

The cereal thing…ha. Hahahaha. She’s awful about eating her cereal in the mornings but then again, she’s on a schedule and doesn’t handle that sort of thing well. Maybe eating cereal at night will be easier for her than trying to eat it before the bus each morning.

The next morning, she reminded me to stop and buy blueberries for her evening snack. Probably better ad bananas to that list too since I usually only buy enough to last us from Saturday to Friday so and if she’s eating an extra… well, we’ll see.

Hey, maybe she’s going through a growth spurt. Tom measured her recently and she’s exactly 5’3”. She might hit 5’4” yet.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Cheezit

So my mom’s cat went missing. He’s this big, beastly orange creature with a loud cry and a coarse fur. I kind of can’t stand him.

But my mom and step-dad adore this monster. So when he went missing on a Monday, they were understandably upset. My mom went so far as to drive the around the country block to see if she could see him in the ditch or along the side of the road. She just wanted to know.

I didn’t find out that he was missing until the Thursday after he’d been gone since Monday.

The girls and I had visited my mom that Monday. When we got there, my step-dad’s brother and nephew were also visiting. My step-dad (have I ever given him a blog name? No? Yes? I feel like I did and that I called him Lloyd. So yes, let’s go with that.) Lloyd and his nephew J were out on the deck shooting a gun. Yes, surely you can hear my eyes rolling over that one.

But whatever. They were doing that. Cheezit the cat had greeted us when we arrived, as he does. He loves guests and always lays on the cement, rolling around showing his tummy and begging for scritches and scratches.

I ignore him and Olivia screeches when he comes near but Alyssa always stops and pets the creep.

He didn’t come running to see us off that evening when we left but since Lloyd and J were shooting the gun, maybe Cheezit had gone into hiding.

When the girls and I got home, we heard a cat crying from inside the garage but Tom insisted that it was Leo, who happened to be on the front porch. We accepted his explanation and went about our evening. Now? I’m not so sure the crying was Leo.

Liv and I visited my mom and Lloyd on Thursday afternoon. Lyss was at work.

It was then that my mom told me that Cheezit had been missing since Monday. They’d called Lloyd’s brother and the nephew J to see if maybe Cheezit had climbed into the back of J’s truck and hitched a ride to his farm.

No. He hadn’t been seen.

My mom worried that the cat HAD gotten into the truck but then jumped out along the way and hadn’t been able to find his way home. The night he’d gone missing the weather had been awful. Rain and wind had swept in, which could have disoriented him.

I got home that night and told Tom about this missing kitty. He said something about having seen another cat around our house, thinking it might be Harvey (who’s been gone for about two months now) but that this phantom cat was darker than Harv. And it definitely wasn’t Leo, who is bigger than Harv but a much lighter orange than Cheezit.

Friday morning as I was heading off to work, Tom opened the garage door and said, “That’s your moms’ cat!”

What?!?

When he’d opened the door, Leo waltzed into the garage like he owned the place (I mean, he kind of does) and the other cat, the one that turned out to be Cheezit, had run. But he hadn’t run far. He’d gone to the front porched and laid himself out on the bottom step, like it was some sort of boudoir.

I called his name and he just looked at me. I picked him up. He’s enormous, it was definitely Cheezit.

I told Tom I was going to take him home. Going past my mom’s on my way to work is only about a mile out of my way.

That cat cried the entire drive to my mom’s house. It’s only four miles but it felt like forty with that animal wailing all the way there.

He also prowled the car, moving from the front seat to the dash, where he tried to sit IN FRONT OF MY FACE. I told him he had to move so I could, you know, SEE TO DRIVE.

He finally went to the back of the car where he continued to scream.

I talked to him the entire drive, telling him what a good kitty he is (he’s not) and how glad his mom and dad were going to be to see him. I told him he was going home and that it would be okay.

When we pulled into the driveway, he looked out the window and almost lost his mind. I know animals don’t think the way humans do but I swear that cat KNEW he was home.

I managed to get him out of the car and into my arms. The TV was on so I knew someone was awake.

I took Cheezit into the sunroom and knocked on the kitchen door.

Lloyd came to the door and saw that I was holding his cat.

When he opened the door, I said, “He was on our front porch this morning. He must have gotten into my car on Monday and we just never saw him.”

Which, you know what? That makes no sense. The way that cat reacted to the drive back to my mom’s, if he’d been inside my car, we’d have known it and Olivia would have lost her own mind dealing with a yowling cat in the backseat with her.

What I think might have happened is that he found a spot under the car, like somewhere under the hood and managed to not get mangled by the engine.

I don’t know.

What I do know is that Lloyd was near tears with relief to have that monster back in his arms. He was holding and petting Cheezit when I left, murmuring about how glad it was to have him home.

It was nice to see a man and his cat reunited. I felt like I’d done my good deed for the month.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Perks Keep Coming

For the record, a child who is twelve, almost thirteen, does not want to go out in the rain to trick or treat.

Ahhh.

That’s the sound of my relief in her declaration that going out in the rain to get candy we could totally buy at the store ourselves is not worth it.

Though to be completely open, she was getting her costume time in the night before said rainy trick or treating. My mom took her to my aunt’s nursing home for a parade/party and that was enough for Miss O.

Have I mentioned that every single new stage in this whole parenting gig is so much better than the last?

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Self-Improvement

You know you look like hell when your 82 year old co-worker tells you that you look tired.

Yes, that happened. May is 33 years older than I am. She’s also incredibly kind. So her telling me I look tired at the end of the day, well, it’s probably true.

Ever since I came through my cancer fight (am I through it?) I’ve tried to better myself.

I haven’t actually figured out how to control my eating but maybe these other little improvements will bleed into that. I have hope.

In the past six or so months I’ve been really good about washing my face each night before bed. Then I put coconut oil on my face for the night.

I’ve been doing the exercises for my lymphedema on a pretty consistent basis. I wish those exercises would motivate me to do more exercises but alas, not yet. Someday?

I switched to gentler shampoo for my fragile new hair. Ha. You know what? It’s not actually that fragile. I feel like this new hair is actually stronger than the hair that fell out two years ago. But I still want to take better care of it so I’m using a shampoo that’s free of parabens and sulfates as well as alcohol.

I got the sleeve for my left arm and wear it daily.

I’ve been drinking my water,

I take my multivitamin whenever I think of it and try to remember to take my apple cider tablet each morning.

I need to floss more often but we can’t all be perfect, Alyssa.

There’s obviously so much more I could be doing but I feel like I need to celebrate the little things I’m doing to try and be better.

One small drop of coconut oil at a time, is what I’m saying. Maybe these small drops of improvement will grow into a giant pool of greatness.

Hey, it could happen.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Lunch with a Judge

Alyssa’s class recently got to sit in on a Supreme Court case that was being heard in a nearby town.

She mentioned the night before they were going that one of the dudes in her class was going to have lunch with the judge.

I laughed and said, “Ohhh, how did he get so lucky?”

She shrugged and said, “The teacher asked the office for the three students with the top GPAs in our grade and they offered the opportunity to them. I said no.”

Way to bury the lede there, sister!

I mean, okay. I’m not actually surprised that she’s in the top three of her class. She’s a smarty pants who consistently (as in always) gets straight As but to have it confirmed is kind of awesome.

She asked later, “Can you imagine ME sitting down to lunch with a judge?”

“Sure,” I said. “You probably wouldn’t talk much but I can picture you there.”

She’s come a long way since her stint on the Quiz Bowl team in seventh grade. She sat there like a lump, never once buzzing in to answer a question, even though she knew some of the answers. She was quite shy then and while she’s still a bit reserved, she’s not nearly as withdrawn as she once was. Having started working, especially with the public has helped a lot.

And let’s not forget her performance background. Getting on stage, either alone or with a group, goes a long way toward helping a person come out of their shell.

All this to say I’m proud of the smart, sweet, funny girl she’s become and can’t wait to see what more she has to offer the world as she sets off to change it for the better.