Saturday, February 6, 2016


A couple of days ago, Alyssa mentioned off-handedly that one of her teachers asked her to join her school’s quiz bowl team.

I told her that was awesome and sounded like a lot of fun and asked her she wanted to do it.

She shrugged and mentioned that one other kid in her glass, a boy, was also asked to join.

She then said that the teacher mentioned they might have to stay after school to practice and asked if that would be a problem.

I told her that if she wanted to do this, we would make it not be a problem for her. She could stay after school and someone (Tom) would pick her up when Quiz Bowl practice was over.

The next day, I told Tom about the quiz bowl and explained that there would be afternoons where he’d need to pick her up. Then I told him pointedly, “This is an honor for her. We are supporting her in this because it’s awesome that her hard work at school is being noticed by her teachers.”

He shrugged and said, “Okay, I’ll just need a reminder each day she’ll need to be picked up.”

I love that she’s been asked to do this. I love that she wants to do this. I love that her good grades and hard-working spirit have been noticed. I want her to do things that are fun and interesting and different.

One of her friends, a girl who was sent to kindergarten at four years old because she’s so darned smart is jealous that she wasn’t picked for the quiz bowl. This girl is a just-turned-twelve year old seventh grader who is taking several eighth grade level classes. She’s getting Bs in those classes. She’s obviously very smart. But I can’t help but think that if she were in seventh grade level classes, she’d be getting better grades.

She might also have been asked to join the quiz bowl. Then again, maybe not.

I told Alyssa not to take Bea’s issues to heart. If Bea has a problem with not getting invited to join the quiz bowl, that is not Alyssa’s issue, it’s Bea’s problem. She can ask the teacher why she wasn’t asked if she wants to do so, but Alyssa doesn’t have to carry the burden of her friend’s concerns.

Alyssa shrugged at me and said, “I don’t care if she’s bothered or not.”

Alyssa knows she earns the grades she gets. That girl has a confidence I envy. I wish I could bottle it and spread it around because she amazes me. She’s smart, she’s beautiful, she’s sweet, she’s kind, she works so hard and is rewarded for it.

I’m so lucky to get to watch her take this journey called life.

Friday, February 5, 2016

When Mom Hides (or Why Mom Hides)

Wednesday night felt hectic and yet, really, when compared to earlier in the week, it was the most low-key night we’d had.

By 7:30, I was tired. So, so tired. The girls were in the family room. Alyssa was practicing her flute and Olivia was ‘singing’. I put the quote around singing because, well, sometimes her voice is less than melodious. I know! I know that’s a horrible thing for a mother to say. We’re supposed to think our darlings are precious and beautiful and their voices will change the world and bring about peace and goodwill to men (and women!)

Alas, I couldn’t bring myself to enjoy the sounds that were coming from the family room. They weren’t pleasant or even benign. Those children were making noise. Sure, they were having a grand old time making that noise but it was just noise; loud, enthusiastic noise that didn’t ring sweetly in my ears.

I retreated to the living room where Tom was watching the television at a higher-than-I’d-prefer volume but honestly, Law and Order louder than necessary was a reprieve from what was going on in the family room.

I told Tom, “I’m laying down on the couch and covering myself with blankets. Maybe the girls won’t notice that I’m here.”

The blankets were actually a nice barrier from both the noise of the television and the cacophony that was coming from the family room.

I dozed a bit while under my cocoon of blankets but not enough to not her Olivia come in at one point and ask Tom, “Where’s Mom?”

He replied, “I don’t know. Maybe she went upstairs.”

She didn’t choose to go upstairs to look for me and instead asked him to get her some ice cream.

At about 8:00, Alyssa decided she’d done enough flute practice and came to ask Tom the same question Olivia had asked. He gave A the same answer, with a bit more detail than I’d have preferred. He told Alyssa, “Maybe she’s upstairs pooping.”

I choked back laughter. Alyssa went to the bottom of the stairs, declared there were no lights on up there and came back to the living room where she spied the suspicious lump that was me under blankets. She yanked the blankets off my warm body and asked, “Have you been there all along!?”

I blinked up at her and nodded in answer.

Then Olivia asked me to help her find pajamas and brush her teeth.

After all was said and done, I didn’t feel even a little guilty for ‘hiding’ from my children for a half hour. I don’t even feel guilty for their dad having lied to them about my whereabouts during that time.

Sometimes, a mom has to retain her sanity in whatever way it takes. That night, it took me hiding in plain sight. Tomorrow, it might mean I have to escape to the basement to do laundry. Moms are always on the clock and taking even half hour breaks now and then are a must.

At least in my house, they are.

Thursday, February 4, 2016


This week has been…tough? No, not really tough so much as…off? Yeah, off.

I mean, Sunday was a wash what with the time spent at Urgent Care and The Walmarts (with a stop in between at McD’s, can’t forget that one) and then Monday was just weird.

I mean, most Mondays see me and the girls heading to my mom’s house for an hour or so of visiting and then home for dinner, reading and bed.

But this past Monday, the visit needed to be cut short because Olivia desperately needed a bath. Not only to wash off the sickies as much as we could but also because she hadn’t actually bathed since the previous Tuesday.

Don’t judge! She’s nine, so she doesn’t get nearly as stinky at the rest of the people who live in our house if she goes a few days between baths. And sometimes, it’s just tough to get it together. Just saying.

Anyway, she NEEDED a bath. So we cut our visit with my mom short so we could get home and have dinner before heading up for O’s bath.

Ten minutes after we got home, two minutes before I was about to put food on the table for the girls, our doorbell rings.

“No way!” I say, looking across the room at Tom. We both assumed it was my dad because no one else ever visits us, especially on a school night.

But no. It wasn’t my dad. It was one of my aunts. My mom has a lot (A LOT!) of sisters and this was the youngest of those sisters.

She had a carload of things she wanted to drop off for Alyssa to go through. She was quick to tell me that she wanted the hangers back. I assured her I’d get them back to her.

As she carried in the third armload of clothes, she asked if we were busy. I told her I was about to feed the girls their dinner.

She was visibly upset but said she was just tired and stressed from helping her brother (their oldest brother, my mom has a lot of brothers too.) I told her I hoped she felt better soon and we said our goodbyes.

I got the girls’ dinner on the table and was just sitting down with them when the doorbell rang again.

Are you FREAKING kidding me?!? This time, it WAS my dad. See, he usually visits on Friday but he’d missed the last Friday.

He showed up with some junk mail in his hand, which he considers his ‘in’ whenever he knows he’s coming over at an inconvenient time.

I let him in and informed him that he’d arrived during dinner. He followed me to the kitchen where he sat while I made sure she girls ate.

After they were finished eating, he followed me around the house for another ten minutes or so while I said again and again, “Okay, Liv, almost bath time. You have to have a bath tonight.”

Finally, since he wasn’t going to take the hint, I said, “Okay, so I really have to go up with Olivia while she takes a bath.”

He followed me to the front door where I said goodbye to him and whew, that was that.

After Olivia’s bath, I found Tom and asked him if I’d been rude to my dad because, yes, sometimes I border on rude when it comes to setting boundaries with that man.

Tom was kind enough to tell me I hadn’t been rude, that it was a school night, Olivia needed a bath and my dad was impeding our progress toward that bath. He was, in fact, an uninvited guest who needed to leave or HE was the one being rude.

Whew. I feel kind of bad even writing that but honestly, I think I need to get over that bad feeling because Tom was right. When someone comes to your house on a night that they know you’re busy, it is not rude to let them know, kindly of course, that you are busy and so can’t visit with them.

Boundaries people! I’m learning them and enforcing them and working on not feeling guilty about it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


Ahh, the joy of a child on prednisone. Mix in a little OCD and...yikes.

This morning, I was upstairs finishing up my morning routine and heard quite a bit of this:

“Stop that! Olivia, settle down!”

And finally:

“Go, get away from the table.”

At that point, I heard her laugh and head for the living room. I supposed we’re lucky she doesn’t take anything either of us says personally or let it hurt her feelings because ugh, there are days when she’d try the patience of a saint.

For the record, no saints live in our house.

Alyssa escaped the drama and joined me upstairs. I asked her what was up with her dad and sister.

She shrugged, “Oh, you know how Livie always needs to wipe her cup, she spilled her milk and it made Dad mad.”

“She can’t help the wiping, you know.” I said this more to myself than to her. I get Tom’s frustration, I mean, cleaning up messes gets old fast. And Olivia is so high functioning that sometimes we forget that her OCD really isn’t in her control.

Not that I don’t have my moments of frustration with this sweet, darling child who simply MUST hop before she sits down at the table, on the couch, gets into bed, climb into the car, sits on the toilet, steps into the tub…you name it, she’ll hop before doing it. It’s so irritating and yet I know…I KNOW she can’t help it.

And so, knowing this, we attempt to parent her patiently and kindly and yet there are moments, like this morning, when we feel like we can’t take one more wipe or one more hop.

Add steroids into the mix and life can get volatile.

I sent an email to O’s teacher this morning warning her of the potential for irritation in the form of a nine year old girl who is taking prednisone to help her heal from an illness.

She feels so much better, thanks to bot the steroid and the antibiotics that she’s bouncing off the walls and yet she still tires easily and needs more rest than she is willing to admit.

This too shall pass, as we all know. She’ll get well, the steroids will leave her system, we’ll all deal with the OCD and life will go on. It just might be a little messier for the time being.

We can handle that. If only because there’s no other choice.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

One Day More

It was decided, after looking at her pale face and red nose that Olivia would take one more day off school to continue her recovery and let the antibiotics clear out the strep from her throat.

Tomorrow, she’ll head back to school with a note stating that she should be excused from strenuous activity, such as gym class.

For me, it was an easy call but I did have to take Tom’s opinion into consideration. He is, after all, the parent who would be home with her on this second day of sickness. I get the idea he’s feeling a bit like Prisoner 24601 just before he got his yellow ticket of leave.

He looked at Liv, looked back at me and asked, “What do you think?”

And go me, I didn’t return the question to him. I told him, “I think she needs another day at home.”

And so there she is, snuggled on the chair, her tablet on her lap, her water by her side, a box of tissues (with lotion!) nestled next to her.

I think tomorrow she’ll be ready to go back and hit the books but sometimes, you just need one more day at home.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Rolling With Life

My typical Sunday is spent doing laundry, cleaning up the house, hanging with the girls, etc.

But that was meant to be yesterday.

Alas, Olivia woke up on Friday with the sniffles. On Saturday, the sniffles were still there, her nose running freely most of the day. Ick.

Sunday dawned and she announced that her throat hurt and she was really pale.

Tom and I both looked in her throat and without even saying a word, it was agreed that I would be taking that child to Urgent Care.

Olivia and I got dressed (okay, so I got dressed and I got some pants for O to wear under her nightie), Alyssa gathered way more stuff than she needed and we headed to my mom’s where Alyssa had requested to be dropped off while O and I were in town.

We ended up spending two and a half hours at Urgent Care. It was insanely busy and the wait was crazy long. Thankfully, Olivia didn’t have a fever and so wasn’t too miserable. She did have an incredibly sore throat, so I kept the water flowing into her.

By the time we were seen and released with a prescription for an antibiotic and a steroid for the strep throat she was diagnosed with, I was feeling like the day was slipping away.

So much to do, so much waiting done instead.

We went to McD’s to get O a Happy Meal so she could eat it in the back of the cart at Walmart while we waited for her prescriptions to be filled. She was starving and ate everything in that Happy Meal in spite of a throat ravaged by strep.

So yeah, that’s where we are. This was what she looked like most of yesterday.

I’ll be keeping track of the strep this year and won’t be surprised if we make a trip to the ENT by the end of the year. She will likely end up like her sister…sans tonsils.

But guess what? That laundry did get washed and dried. Folded and put away? Not so much, but everyone has clean clothes down in the basement, just waiting to be found and worn throughout the week.

Even the best laid plans are sent spiraling when your kid wakes up with strep throat. Ugh!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Homework Drama

Olivia came home yesterday with a note from her teacher that said that there were some students in their class who were falling behind in their homework. It continued saying that each time a student didn’t turn in their homework, they would receive a point and when they reached ten points, that student would be required to stay after school for an hour for detention, during which time, they would be expected to finish their homework.

Parents were then expected to pick their child up at 3:55 after school, where they would be met by the principal, who would be waiting with the student for pick up.


Tom and I are pretty involved parents. (Some would probably say too involved, but I ask you, is that really possible?)

Olivia and I sit down every at the table every day after school and I ‘help’ her do her homework. And by ‘help’ I mean, I keep her focused while SHE does her homework. I do not give her the answers, I don’t hint at the answers. I might help her figure out the answer herself, providing tools for her to do so, but she does the homework.

When we’re done, I always put the homework back in her folder and put her folder back in her backpack.

Now, I realize that I should probably be making her put the homework in the folder and have her put the folder back in the backpack but by the time we’re at that point, she’s tired (math is hard!) and I’m ready for the whole saga to be done.

So when we saw that note last night, I was pretty sure they weren’t talking about Olivia. But to be sure, I sent her teacher an email today.

This was our back and forth:
From: Ordinary Mom
Sent: Friday, January 29, 2016 9:03 AM
To: Mrs. P
Subject: Homework
Good morning Mrs. P,
We got the letter regarding homework yesterday and I wanted to make sure Olivia has been doing and handing in all homework assignments. I tried to go online and find anything we might have missed but couldn’t find anything in the online classroom that needed to be printed.
Thank you.

From: Mrs. P
Sent: Friday, January 29, 2016 12:39 PM
To: Ordinary Mom
Subject: RE: Homework
Hi Tommie,
Olivia’s homework has been fine. We have had several students who have fallen off the homework bandwagon and so the whole class had to be reminded of our homework policy. The only thing online is our weekly newsletter that simply states not to forget math and reading logs weekly. Students also have the homelinks Monday through Thursday unless there is a unit test.
Mrs. P

From: Ordinary Mom
Sent: Friday, January 29, 2016 12:43 PM
To: Mrs. P
Subject: RE: Homework
Thank you so much. She insisted that she hadn’t been told that her homework was an issue but knowing that sometimes she’d like to ‘forget’ homework, I thought I’d check. I know that we need to keep up in order not to fall behind.

From: Mrs. P
Sent: Friday, January 29, 2016 12:39 PM
To: Ordinary Mom
Subject: RE: Homework
Thanks for all your hard work at home!! Have a great weekend!

I do so love a teacher who is willing to work with my neurosis when it comes to following rules. Dear, sweet, precious O is not so much about following the rules as Alyssa and I are but we’re working on it with her.

She understands that homework will be done every day, teeth will be brushed, hands will be washed after using the bathroom, etc. So she gets it. But if she can get out of something? Believe me, she’ll try.

So yes, I was relieved that we were not one of those families who are riding the detention train, next stop, the principal’s office.