Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Birthday Party

Olivia’s birthday happens to fall on Thanksgiving this year so we decided to throw her birthday party on Sunday, the 23rd just to avoid all the confusion of a party disguised as a Thanksgiving dinner.

We had it at Jungle George’s again this year. It was such a success last year that we couldn’t justify not doing it again.

There are so many great things about having a party somewhere that is not our house.

One: We don’t have to clean. Right now our house is a disaster because Tom put in new floors in the entry, hallway, kitchen and dining area. All the trim is currently off the walls in those areas because yes, I’m going to paint. I really, truly am. And so there is dust and crap everywhere and the door to the pantry is in the living room and the table is covered in the stuff that usually sits on the pantry floor and so yes, it would not have made sense to have a party at our house at this time.

Two: The location of JG’s is much closer to Tom’s sons’ houses than our house is. It’s about a half hour away from J and D as opposed to an hour and fifteen minutes, which means they can bring their kids to the party and we all get to see each other for a couple of hours.

Three: I don’t have to clean up after the party. I pay JG to pay people to do that. Everyone wins.

Four: The kids can run around like maniacs for a couple of hours and no one is worried about anything breaking. Again, everyone wins.

This year we invited sisters who are in A’s and O’s class, so they’d both have a friend there as well as their niece, nephews and cousins. It was great fun.

Olivia was in Frozen heaven with a new Elsa Barbie, a Kristoff doll, a pair of Frozen pajamas and a blanket with a scene from Frozen on it. So much Frozen!!

Do you want to build a snowman?

Ahem…

Of course we’ll still make a big deal of Miss O on her actual birthday but I think her party was a big success. She slept well that night, after all the driving to and from West Lafayette and then the enormous fun that is being the guest of honor at a birthday party.

Eight is going to be awesome!

Monday, November 24, 2014

That Time Mapquest Sucked

There’s this road in Indiana called the Hoosier Heartland Highway. It was created to take the place of Old 25. Whatever. That road sucks.

It sucks almost as much as mapquest sucks.

Those two things, the Hoosier Heartland Highway and mapquest conspired to turn what should have been a three hour drive into a four and a half hour drive for me and the girls this past Saturday. There are some funky roads in Indiana down around the Logansport area. Just saying.

And about that damned Hoosier Heartland Highway; would it kill the person in charge of roads to put up a few signs on that road? There is nothing there. Seriously…nothing. No signs telling you where you’re going and how far you have to go to get there. There are no gas stations, not signs of life whatsoever. It’s a horrible road. Well, except that it’s new and so the actual act of driving on it is fairly pleasant. But if you need to pee or ask for directions, forget about it.

It was just a really long day.

Thankfully, we left for the PUDM (Purdue University Dance Marathon) with plenty of time to spare so we made it to the opening ceremony and all was well but we were frazzled.

When we left the building the dance marathon was being held it was dark. I’ve driven from this particular building to the hotel quite a few times over the last few years but this time…was different.

I got turned around, I made a wrong turn, there was a freaking car that wouldn’t get off my tail and I’d had it.

I finally turned into a parking lot just to get away from the car behind me and get my bearing and that damned car turned in too! I parked so they could go around and guess what? The car that had been behind me parked right next to me. I was starting to freak the hell out when two women got out of the car and pranced away, obviously heading out for a night out. Ugh!!

So I still didn’t know where I was but needed to not be in that parking lot.

Alyssa and Olivia were trying to be helpful but yeah, they’re eleven and eight, so not so much navigators.

I found Grant Street, headed the way I thought the hotel would be, found a parking garage, started to pull in, realized I was trying to enter the exit, stopped myself from doing that, might have sworn and Olivia laughed at my attempt to enter the exit.

I found an alley. AN ALLEY with a road sign that said I was about to turn on to Grant Street. Yes! That’s where I needed to be. But which way did I need to go?

I rolled down my window (much to Alyssa’s discomfort) and called out to a male/female couple walking past. I asked them if they could tell me which direction I need to go to get to The Union. They pointed and told me it was a block away.

I turned in the direction they pointed and found myself at the intersection of State and Grant. Somehow, I’d gotten on the other side of State Street. I still don’t know how that happened. Ugh!

But alas, we made it to the hotel, Olivia took a bath and ate some cheddar bunnies, Alyssa took a shower and ate some blueberries.

I declared I should never, ever be allowed to drive again and watched a little Property Brothers before we all fell asleep.

Sadly, my self-imposed driving ban lasted about twelve hours before I had to get back in the car and go back to the dance marathon.

After two hours there, we got in the car AGAIN to drive back to Fort Wayne where we held Olivia’s birthday party at Jungle George’s. Great fun was had by all and there were no more driving mishaps.

We even managed to navigate the Hoosier Heartland Highway with no more frustrations. But that doesn’t make up for the fact that there are no road signs on that road. That needs to be addressed. For reals.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Inked

A few nights ago we were all sitting at the kitchen table finishing dinner when Tom noticed some ink on the table.

He glowered at me and the girls, wanting to know who’d written on the table.

Olivia said, “I didn’t. I was writing on paper and it went through the paper to the table.”

I assured him, “It will come off. It always does.”

He rolled his eyes at the implication that there is often ink on the table.

Whatever. I finished dinner and cleared the table.

The next night as I was washing dishes, Tom called from across the room, “You were right, the ink came right off the table.”

“Awesome,” I replied.

He continued, “I cleaned it off this morning.”

Ahhh. Okay. I got it. “I forgot to wipe it off last night, didn’t I?”

He nodded, “I kind of thought you wiped off the table every night.”

Ha! I actually did laugh at this. I asked him, “What gave you the idea that I did that?”

I looked around the house. Right now it’s pretty cluttered due to some home improvement stuff going on. We don’t live in filth but I could definitely be a better housekeeper.

My comment actually got a smile out of him.

We do our best but there are always places we could improve.

I keep telling him that if we don’t laugh at how similar we are to the Hecks from the tv show The Middle, we’ll cry.

I mean, we don’t have a hole where our kitchen sink should be, but there is definitely room for improvement when it comes to clutter. I’d say our house looks ‘lived in’ but that implies a sense of comfort and really, there are just piles of crap that need to be cleaned up more often than they are.

Soon. I promise. Right after I paint the family room, dining area, kitchen and entry way.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Please

Can someone please save this little boy?

His name is Devine.



He needs a home. He's only seven years old. He needs the therapies that Olivia needed, he needs someone to take him home, to love him and to let him show them what he can do. Just like Olivia needed that.

I wish we were a family for whom adoption was an option. But we're not. But I know there are people out there, amazing people who are looking for an amazing child to bless them and their home. Do you know where his mommy is? Are you his mommy?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Potatoes

Ahh yes, the potatoes. Julie mentioned the giant mounds of shredded potatoes from our breakfast at Denny’s last Sunday. It was insane how many potatoes they piled onto each plate.

See, I don’t really eat potatoes, especially not for breakfast but Alyssa likes hash browns, thanks to my mom, who convinced Miss Picky Eater to try them a few months ago while at McD’s.

‘Hash browns’ are on the Denny’s menu. They come with almost everything on the breakfast menu. I don’t usually get them but I did this time because I figured Alyssa could eat them. I got her a side of bacon, one scrambled egg and a ‘hash brown’ of her own. Except Denny’s hash browns are not an oval of potatoes that come in a handy paper envelop the way McD’s hash browns do.

Denny’s hash browns are an enormous pile of shredded potatoes. Yes. Enormous.

So there were several piles of shredded potatoes among the six of us eating breakfast. Some of those piles did not get eaten because there were just so many.

Another thing I forgot to mention in the original post about our big, amazing weekend at IU was the cookie.

It was an enormous chocolate chip cookie with purple frosting spelling out Happy Birthday Olivia.

She loved it.

We decided to save the cookie for Tom. Olivia declared, “Daddy would love to eat this cookie with me.”

And she was right. He most certainly has loved eating that cookie with her. In fact, they’ve been eating that cookie for the last three nights.

Last night, Olivia got the piece of the cookie with the O. She was so excited. She looked at the cookie after Tom cut her portion out of it and told us, “Now it’s just Happy Birthday Livia.”

I asked her when she got so smart. She rolled her eyes and ate her O.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

We're All Tired

So, the last two nights have had Olivia sleeping all night long; in her own bed. I know! Wonders never cease.

Anyway, travel exhausts her and so she’s been sleeping well. But during our awake times, everyone in our house is cranky these days.

Tom is laying new flooring in our kitchen/dining/entry areas. He’s cranky.

The girls and I have traveled almost 500 miles in the past four days. We’re tired and cranky.

When we got home last night from my mom’s (I have to go there to watch the latest episode of The Walking Dead every Monday evening; Olivia takes a bath there while I watch, it keeps her from seeing the zombies and other crap an eight year old shouldn’t see) Tom was almost done with the floor for the night.

We both said a few things and he said, “Don’t get mad. Remember that we’re all tired.”

We said a few more things and I reminded him, “You can’t get mad. Remember, we’re all tired.”

And then we kissed and made up.

See, we’re lucky we are self-aware enough to be able to actually say things like that. Of course, there are times when we aren’t aware of how cranky we are and we just get pissy with each other.

But last night the tiredness wasn’t so great that we were overly mean to each other. Sometimes, reminding each other that we’re both tired is our way of saying, “I love you.” That and sometimes taking the girls from one room to the other so one of us can have a moment of peace and quiet. It’s the little things, I tell you.

Another sign I was tired was that I couldn’t even stay awake long enough to watch Scorpion last night.

It appears from this post alone that I watch a lot of television. It’s true. I do watch a lot and we don’t even have cable.

But even I, television addict that I am, can decide that I’m just too tired to watch. That’s when we know that it’s time for a time out for me. Or, you know, bed.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Giant Unicorn

That kind right there kind of describes our weekend. It was a giant unicorn kind of weekend.

My mom and I took the girls down to Bloomington to attend the Indiana University Dance Marathon.

It was amazing as usual.

This was the first year that Olivia was sponsored by a sorority. Let me say right here that every other sponsor (ie, the Alumni Association) has been wonderful and generous. But the girls of Delta Phi Epsilon went all out. They were generous beyond belief. They made this weekend more special than ever for both Olivia and Alyssa.

I have pondered over the years how hard is must be to be the typical sibling of a child with special needs, especially a child like Olivia, who’s special needs aren’t really that apparent. I worry that Alyssa feels lost in the shuffle that is our celebration of Olivia.

But the ladies of DPhiE made sure Alyssa felt as special as her sister this weekend.

When we walked into our hotel room on Friday night, we were greeted by a giant unicorn. As in, this thing is almost six feet long. It’s HUGE.



Olivia looked at it like it might pounce on her and eat her head. But Alyssa’s eyes widened, her face lit up and she pounced on the unicorn (which she names Sparkle Eunice) before it could pounce on Olivia. Olivia grinned as she watched Alyssa fall in love. Olivia then promptly forgot about the giant unicorn in the room and found the rest of the stuff that had been left for her. She found Chap Stick (one of her very favorite things) and nail polish (another of her faves). She found a Frozen coloring book and several candy bars. And not the little regular sized bars, oh no. The ladies of DPhiE gave her the GIANT candy bars, one Hershey Milk Chocolate bar and one Hershey Cookies and Cream bar. She was in sugar heaven. She also got some gummy bears and several other edible items.

But that wasn’t all.

When we arrived at the Tennis Center the next morning and there was more stuff! There was a sheet hanging on the wall with Olivia’s name and a unicorn. Olivia loves finding anything with her name on it. We got to take that sheet home with us and my mom plans to make a quilt out of it.



They had decorated an A and an O for the girls to hang in their room. Someone had painted a scene of Elsa which was beautiful.

There was also a two foot stuffed Olaf. I know! Again, Alyssa was so, so excited.

Olivia? She’s not so much into stuffed animals of any kind. But she sure loved watching her sister get all excited about those things.

She also got some feather boas. Craziness in such a good way.

We stayed many hours, told Olivia’s story on stage and then went home to sleep off the adrenalin buzz.

Olivia took three baths during our two nights/days at the hotel. I watched some HGTV and we messed around with her sleep number beds. Have I mentioned before that I hate sleep number beds? I’m sure they’re awesome for other people but I have never found a number that is comfortable for me. Seriously, never.

In the end, the only number that mattered was the 3.2 million dollars that IUDM raised for Riley Hospital for Children. How flipping amazing is that? They are changing the lives of children at Riley and the lives of those children’s parents and siblings.

We are so lucky to be a part of such a phenomenon.