The alarm

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Confession: I was a late bed-wetter. I was such a deep sleeper that my body had trouble waking itself up to use the bathroom, and it was not until sometime in my 5th grade year when we finally got the situation under control.This was definitely a huge monkey on my back when I was in school, always having to decline sleepovers with my friends because I would inevitably pee myself overnight (but no way would I tell them the real reason I had to say no to these invitations).

My miracle solution was what we called “the pee belt,” a device that I wore that triggered an ear-piercing alarm the instant it got wet. The theory behind it is behavior modification, and eventually your body trains itself to recognize the physical cues and wake up to use the bathroom. I don’t remember how long I used that thing, but eventually it worked — in fact, it worked so well that now I wake up 2-3 times during the night to pee!

The Big Sis was night trained very early — like when she was still 2 1/2 or so. And while The Little Sis was daytime potty trained around that same age, she had the same issue as me — she was such a deep sleeper that she couldn’t wake herself up to use the bathroom and woke up with a super-soaked nighttime Pull-Up. We tried waiting it out, hoping she would outgrow it on her own, but as she approached her 5th birthday, it was clear that it was still an issue (and probably would continue to be). A little research showed that nighttime alarms are still the treatment of choice, according to nearly all studies, so I found one with good reviews on Amazon and we planned to get started as soon as we got home from vacation in mid-June. I figured during the summer was the best time to get started since we weren’t on quite as rigid of a schedule with getting her to preschool at the time.

Since The Little Sis’s room is on the other side of the house from ours, we moved her old crib mattress to our room and put in on the floor so she could sleep there and be closer for when we needed to help her overnight. It was about a 3-month process, but we have now reached the point where she was dry with the alarm for 2 weeks, has been dry without the alarm for an additional couple of weeks (I even put it away) and she is even taking herself to the bathroom all by herself now. (Even when she was waking on her own to go potty, she’d often try to get to the bathroom on her own but would become disoriented and need our help. I think she seems to be past that now.)

It’s a nice feeling to know we’re likely past this issue — and can probably move on to actually buying her a real bed for her room in the near future (she currently has a futon in there. But she sleeps on the floor. We rock.).

We humbly bow to the pee alarm.

On the run

Friday, August 19, 2016

Last year The Big Sis wanted to join Girls on the Run, but their meeting schedule conflicted with Girl Scouts, so we were unable to make that work. For those who don’t know, Girls on the Run is a 10-week curriculum for 3rd-5th graders “that inspires girls to define their lives on their own terms.” It also encourages positive emotional, social, mental, and physical development. The Girls on the Run mission statement reads as follows: “We inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.”

In addition, the organization’s core values are to:

  • Recognize our power and responsibility to be intentional in our decision making
  • Embrace our differences and find strength in our connectedness
  • Express joy, optimism and gratitude through our words, thoughts and actions
  • Nurture our physical, emotional and spiritual health
  • Lead with an open heart and assume positive intent
  • Stand up for ourselves and others

GIRL POWER, YEAH! I love the idea of this organization and the values it instills, so I was excited when The Big Sis brought home this year’s flyer and saw that the twice-weekly meetings will work well with our schedule this year. The participation fee is a bit steep considering we’ve had a lot of other back-to-school expenses this month, but as long as she was willing to commit to the activity, then we would gladly pay for it.

In signing her up,Β  I saw that there was a place to designate a “running buddy” for her. The running buddy will do the 5K in December with her to offer encouragement. Who would I know that would be a good running buddy for her? Hrm, well, it turns out that I’ve been looking for the right motivation to put exercise back into my schedule regularly (OMGNOTENOUGHHOURSINTHEDAY), so this is a great opportunity to actually do something about it. I’ve got someone COUNTING on me, so I can’t let her down. Now, I really don’t particularly LIKE running anymore (or ever, really, if I’m being totally honest), but I do know that I can handle a 5K, so it should be fine. I was doing some running earlier this spring, and I know it’ll take quite a bit of work to get to where I want to be post-ankle surgery (which was one year ago today, actually). I’ll give it my best shot, though. RAWR!

The fire drill

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Over the past year or so, we have come to realize that The Big Sis is prone to anxiety and worrying about everything whether it relates to her or not, and even (especially?) if it’s something pretty minor. She latches onto her worry, obsessing about it and unable to shake thinking about it.

One of The Big Sis’s major worries over the summer was about The Little Sis starting kindergarten this year. Mind you, The Little Sis wasn’t worried herself, but The Big Sis was worried for her, times 10. I tried to talk to her about it to see if we could pinpoint exactly what it was that she was worried about so I could allay her fears (at least somewhat). She finally revealed that she was worried there would be a fire drill and The Little Sis would be in the bathroom at the time and wouldn’t know what to do and would be scared.

I tried explaining to both of them what The Little Sis should do if that happened: Leave the bathroom, try to find her teacher (who’d already know to look for her), but if she couldn’t find her teacher/class then she should go outside with everyone else and find another teacher and tell them whose class she’s in, and that person would help get her back to her teacher. I also explained that her teacher has a list of all the kids in the class that she grabs when the fire alarm goes off and so she knows to look for the kids who aren’t there. However, The Big Sis continued to focus on this worry big time, despite me pointing out that the likelihood of that exact scenario happening was very low. She still never really seemed settled about it, but she moved on from obsessing about it (outwardly, at least).

Their school had their first fire drill yesterday. And THE LITTLE SIS WAS IN THE BATHROOM WHEN THE ALARM WENT OFF!!!! Of all the unlikely scenarios…then it came true! Thankfully The Little Sis reports that she didn’t freak out — she said she pulled up her skirt, decided to skip washing her hands, and by then her teacher had come to the bathroom (really close to their classroom) to collect the kids who were there. I’m a little afraid that The Big Sis is going to use this turn of events to justify her constant worrying, but part of me is a little glad this had come up beforehand and helped The Little Sis know what to do.

Five-year check

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Little Sis had her 5-year checkup earlier this week, and her stats looked like this:

Height: 3′ 9.5″ (95th percentile)
Weight: 58.2 lb. (>95th percentile)

This year’s milestone questions, which I think she’s all good on:

Can your child button some of his/her clothing, or some of his/her doll clothing?
Does your child react well when you leave him/her with a friend or sitter?
Can your child walk down stairs alternating his/her feet?
Can your child jump with his/her feet apart (broad jump)?
Can your child point while counting at least three objects?
Can your child copy a square?
Can your child name at least some of the letters of the alphabet when he/she sees them?
Can your child identify and print the first letter of his/her name?
Can your child recognize and name single numbers?
Does your child recognize common street and store signs (“stop” or “open”)?

Bring it on

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

And in another blink of an eye, summer has vanished. The calendar tells us differently, of course, as does the hot and sticky weather that persists, but with the dawn of a new school year, we have moved on from the lazier, more relaxing days of summer and have been whisked into the upcoming frenzy of the academic world. Time keeps on ticking into the future, as they say.

This year is a big one for us: In addition to The Big Sis starting 4th grade (say what?), we also have The Little Sis starting KINDERGARTEN (get out!) on the heels of celebrating her 5th birthday (jawdrop).

Our littlest baby is starting her own school adventure, and you know what? I actually couldn’t be more excited for her. I don’t feel sad about this transition. I wouldn’t even say that I feel bittersweet about it. Maybe I’m in denial and it’ll hit me later, rather unexpectedly. But part of it is because I know she’s excited. And I know she’s beyond prepared for this. But mostly I feel like I try to put an emphasis on truly enjoying the current stage my girls are experiencing without looking back too longingly at the past. Yes, we have great memories from her baby days, and from her toddler days, and from her preschool days. We soaked up our experiences in those stages and made as many memories as possible. And I know that new adventures await her — and all of us.

We choose to look forward, lest we stumble looking backward. Onward and upward! Fourth grade and kindergarten? Bring it on!

Another graduate

Friday, May 13, 2016

Just one blink of an eye and — BOOM! — we suddenly have another preschool graduate in our house. Clad in a white cap and gown, the Little Sis graduated from her pre-K program last Friday, and tears were shed, but not for the reason you might assume. Yes, my baby is no longer my baby, and it’s moments like these that harshly remind you of that fact.

No, the tears came because, unfortunately, I had to miss my little one’s major milestone because of a work trip that put me in Dallas when I really preferred to be sitting in an uncomfortable metal chair in the preschool’s gymnasium. It wasn’t the end of the world, of course, but it’s difficult as a parent when there are other obligations that force you to not be there for your kids.

I’ve been fortunate over the years because I’ve had such flexible work situations that allowed me to be there for everything else my kids (and/or The Husband and I) have deemed important — trunk or treat events, awards ceremonies, volunteering opportunities, etc. However, I’m in a position right now where I switched jobs recently, and with that job comes somewhat frequent travel (about 10 trips this year). Being such a new employee, I really didn’t feel like I could say, “Hey, so this first trip you need me to go on — but yeah, I think I’m going to bail on it.” If I were a longtime employee, I could see how it might have been easier to say such a thing, but as someone who is still new and learning the ropes, it just wasn’t in my best interest overall to do that.So I sat in a hotel conference room instead of at my baby’s graduation.

But, I chose not to focus on that end of things, and offered The Little Sis my support and excitement before I left, after I returned, and on the phone when I was gone. I had The Husband take plenty of videos during the ceremony, and I recruited some good friends to take some pictures for us. No, it wasn’t the same as actually being there myself, but I know better than to beat myself up about it. Long term, she’s unlikely to remember much about preschool graduation, let alone the fact that I wasn’t there in person.

In fact, now that I think about it more, given how terrible my memory is lately, give it another couple years and I myself will forget that I wasn’t actually there!

A self-esteem boost

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Yesterday I had to take a shower with The Little Sis to make sure she got her hair clean. We stepped into the shower, and she looks at me from head to toe and says, “I love how you came out.” A little confused, I asked her what she meant. She said, “I love how you came out — like how your body looks.”

If anyone needs a self-esteem boost, she’s your girl.


Then again, maybe look out for this one.

Also in this same shower, The Little Sis was looking at my gallbladder surgery scars, and she was acting a little freaked out. I told her they didn’t hurt me, and I poked one of them so she could see. She said, “Even if I bite it, it still wouldn’t hurt?” Bite it?! Why would that even occur to her as an option?!

Hidden laughter

Friday, April 15, 2016

I think The Little Sis is long past the point of needing to take a nap at preschool, but she gets one anyway. Which would be fine except for the fact that she then has a very hard time going to sleep at night, sometimes not asleep until after I go to bed (anywhere from 10 to 11 p.m.). Naturally, she’s then hard to wake up in the morning, and she then takes a nap at preschool because she’s sleep-deficient, and we get to do the whole cycle repeatedly.

Usually when she’s having trouble going to sleep at night, she’ll play with her baby dolls in her room. We can hear her talking when she does this, and it would be cute if not for the fact that it happens at 10 p.m. Many times she’ll invent numerous excuses for coming out of her room. Most are the typical bed-stalling tactics: “I needed another hug.” “There’s a monster under my bed.” “I’m thirsty.” Other times she gets more creative: “What happens if lava fills my room?”

Sometimes she’ll sneak over to The Big Sis’s room and go to sleep with her already-zonked-out sissy (typically after everyone in the house is already asleep). I am completely fine with this, as long as she goes in there quietly and doesn’t wake up The Big Sis in the process. Usually she’s pretty good about that.

However, a couple nights ago, she was sneaky and went over to The Big Sis’s room while I was still awake, and she wasn’t being quiet once in the room. Odd sounds kept coming from the room, clearly denoting a child that was not even attempting to go to sleep.

I turned the doorknob. I heard a little gasp. The Little Sis was standing in front of The Big Sis’s desk. INSTANTLY, while standing there, she closed her eyes. Pretending she was asleep.

You know…standing up.

It took everything in me not to bust out laughing on the spot.

Of course, then I thought: “Wow, how stupid does she think I am, that I would believe she was sleeping while standing up?”

I choose not to find out the answer to that question, though.

In a stern voice, I reminded her that she needed to lie down and go to sleep immediately. And then I went into the living room so I could release the laughter I’d kept inside.

Parenting sure is full of those moments, when you want to laugh about something your kid did or said, but you have to make sure you don’t react in such a way that could be construed by them as permission for the behavior.

It does make me wonder, though, just how many times I got in trouble as a kid, but my parents were secretly amused or even a little proud or impressed….

(Belated) 9-year-old well-child exam

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Big Sis had her (belated) 9-year-old well-child exam a couple weeks ago, and I forgot to update with her stats:

Height: 4’5″ (50th to 75th percentile)

Weight: 64.5 lb. (50th percentile)

BMI: 16.4 (50th to 75th percentile)

Blood pressure: 92-60

She had no visits to the doctor since her 8-year-old exam (and she might not have had any between 7 and 8 as well…). Everything looked good, and The Pedi didn’t have any concerns.

We do currently see a male pediatrician, and I’ve told The Big Sis to let me know if she ever wants to switch to one of the females in the practice, as I know that can be a preference that might develop as she gets closer to puberty and discussing girl-type things.


Bookworm, part 2

Thursday, March 31, 2016

I love to read. I mean, obviously, since my entire career revolves around reading (and I get paid for it!). But because I read day in and day out at work, often I’ve found my motivation for pleasure-reading to plummet, limited to magazines and other mediums that require only a short attention span (hello, Facebook, I’m looking at you). Several years ago, I decided to make reading more of a priority as one of my New Year’s resolutions, even if it meant sacrificing some sleep. That was a broad, undefined goal, but it did help jump-start my desire to read for fun, so overall it was a success.

Last year, however, I was more concrete with my reading goals and decided to take on the 50-book challenge that I’ve had a lot of friends attempt. Just to clarify, reading 50 books in one year is a very ambitious goal for me. I am a pretty slow and careful reader, which means that I can get through a typical book in about two weeks if I really press myself. But 50 books in one year meant that I needed to read each book in about one week, give or take.

I wasn’t really sure if I’d succeed, but indeed I finished book #50 on December 31, coming in just under the wire. (It probably helped that I had some time off after breaking my ankle, and again after having ankle surgery later in the year.) I won’t lie, though — it was a difficult challenge to meet, though I’m proud that I did it.

I briefly considered continuing the challenge again this year, but I didn’t want to put that pressure on myself again (because I really did feel some pressure to read each night so I wouldn’t get behind, and I didn’t want that pressure to turn me against reading). So now I’m back to a more generalized goal of just “reading more,” and if I hit 50 books again this year, then great! If not, no big deal.

So far, though, I’m pretty well on track — as of today, I have finished 16 books (and I’m a few days away from finishing another book, and probably five days away from finishing my current audiobook). So at the current pace for the first quarter of 2016, I’m set complete 64 books by the end of the year. That seems a little high realistically, though I do have a good number of work trips this year where I’ll probably read some during travel and also in the hotel room at night, so it’s not out of the question. I’m looking forward to seeing where I end up by the end of the year.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

To call The Big Sis a bookworm might be understating the situation. That girl eats, breathes, and sleeps books. My wallet is very appreciative of the library.

She’s been working through the Harry Potter series at bedtime with The Husband since probably late last year and (I believe) is currently on book 6 now. Because of her interest in that series, her teacher recommended the Percy Jackson series of books for her, and she inhaled that five-book series in less than a month. And each individual book isn’t some light 100-pager; these are pretty significantly sized books. She has now moved on to the Olympians series by the same author and is about halfway through the first book, weighing in at a hefty 500+ pages, after just two days.

I love how she tries to sneak in reading during whatever bits of downtime she can find. If it’s light outside, she wants to read in the car. (Well, she wants to turn on a light and read in the car if it’s dark too, but I don’t let her do that.) She’ll grab her book if she’s waiting on us to finish something before we begin helping her with homework, even if it’s just a couple minutes. She says she sometimes takes her book outside at recess, often reading even while taking her turn on a swing.

I know how important reading is for helping a child find the path to success, so I’m thrilled that she deems it so important herself. May her current passion for reading be a lifelong interest that always serves her well.

Sneaky sleep snuggles

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Our weekday morning routine involves me going to wake up The Big Sis first so she can start getting ready for school, since she has a bigger time pressure to get out of the house on schedule. After I’ve roused her, I go wake up The Little Sis so she can go to daycare/preschool. (The Husband is busy making the girls’ breakfast during this time, then he comes in to finish the wake-up process while I go get myself ready.)

But from time to time and for the last couple of mornings, I’ve encountered possibly The Cutest Thing Ever.

I go into The Big Sis’s room to wake her up, and I find our two little girls snuggled up together in the bed.

Oh, my heart!

I always pretend to be a little bothered by it, but mostly in a joking way because I really think it’s incredibly sweet. The Little Sis says that she wakes up during the night and wants to snuggle with someone, so she heads over to Big Sis’s room and settles right in. As long as she doesn’t wake up and/or disturb The Big Sis, then I have absolutely no problem with it.

With a 4 1/2-year age difference, their bond is sure to change over the years, so if they can have a few stolen moments of snuggle time overnight, then why not? We do let them sleep together on weekends, but the going-to-sleep process is often a disaster, as sleeping seems to be at the bottom of their to-do list, so we can’t really let them do it on weeknights.

Sneaky sleep snuggles seem like a very reasonable compromise for all.

One year

Monday, March 21, 2016

It’s hard to believe, but today marks the one-year anniversary of breaking my ankle/foot while training for a half marathon last year. It was a pretty awful day, and of course I had no idea at that time just what an extended journey it would turn out to be, but I have come through to the other side hopefully a better person for it. I can’t say that I wish to ever repeat going through it, but I recognize that many positives did come out of the situation.

I’m at the point now, a year later, where I don’t think about my ankle for probably 95% of the time, whereas before it was a constant issue looming over me. Yes, it does stiffen overnight. I can’t really sit cross-legged on the floor. It does swell if I walk too much, especially in non-sneaker shoes. I do still walk down stairs awkwardly. Trying on new shoes is a challenge because my feet are two different sizes.

But, despite all of that, I dug deep and worked hard at recovery and have gained back a significant amount of strength, range of motion, and flexibility over the past year. In addition, I most definitely have a greater appreciation for those who deal with physical handicaps on a long-term basis, and I am amazed both at how easily a small twig can change things for a person in a mere instant, as well as just how incredible our bodies are.

Bullet mania

Friday, March 18, 2016

All right, time for another bulleted update on random items since I’ve neglected the ol’ bloggie blog for too long. Not that anyone’s reading anyway! Here we go:

  • The Big Sis’s academic challenge team competed in the regional tournament a couple weeks ago, and they pulled out a third-place finish among the 77 teams competing and received a medal for the effort! Coming in second place in the region was another team from her school, with both of those teams just missing for first place.
  • We took both of the girls for eye exams recently (The Little Sis’s first, and The Big Sis’s second). The Little Sis got a clean bill of eye health, but The Big Sis has a slight astigmatism and they said that glasses to correct it were optional at this point. Chances are she’d need glasses in another year or two anyway, and either getting or not getting glasses now wasn’t going to change that, so we went ahead and got them for her so she can get used to wearing them before it becomes a necessity. I thought I might be upset if she had to get glasses, because I remember it was a hard thing for me when I needed them in 7th grade, but she’s actually really excited about having them, and she likes her frames, so I’m excited for her! I’m sure it helps her that so many of her friends already have glasses themselves, so there’s really not much of a stigma attached to it, at least in her current circle of friends.
  • I just wrapped up my second week at the new job, and so far so good! I’m still in the process of learning the ropes, and will be for a while, but I’m feeling more confident with what I need to be doing, and the feedback I’m getting is helpful and is indicating that I’m on the right track.
  • I will travel some for this job, and I just booked my first two trips, one to Dallas and one to Marco Island, FL, both in May. Overall I’m looking forward to the trips, though I’m a little bummed that the Dallas trip means I will have to miss The Little Sis’s preschool graduation. That part breaks my heart, but hopefully she won’t hold it against me for too long.😦
  • We had to go with plan B for our summer vacation this year because our dog needs surgery next week, so we’ve opted to go to Boston and Maine to visit with friends and family, so we’ll still get to have a vacation but will significantly cut down on costs since we won’t have to pay for lodging (and some meals). At first I was bummed about having to go with alternate plans, but everyone is looking forward to seeing us, so I’m getting excited myself now.
  • The Little Sis had something click a couple weeks ago, and she was suddenly able to read very simple books (like the BOB books)! She’s known her letter sounds for a while, and has been sounding out the letters in words when we read, but she wasn’t able to string it all together to form the words herself. But now she can, at least for words that are pronounced how they’re spelled — words like hug, dog, cat, can, etc.
  • I will admit I was hesitant to have The Big Sis join Girl Scouts this year, but she has really enjoyed the meetings and activities (and even the cookie sales), way more than I expected she would! I believe she came in third place in her troop for cookie sales, which isn’t too shabby at all, especially given the fact that she did the bulk of the sales herself (as opposed to me or The Husband constantly soliciting orders). We stepped back and let her handle the bulk of it on her own, and I think she learned a lot of good things along the way.

Making a break

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

After I accepted the offer for the new editing position, I needed to tell my current supervisor. I’ve been at my current job with him for 3 1/2 years, but I worked under him at my last job too, so we have a history going back 15 years. I have gone down with two previous ships, so to speak, and I am the type of person to see things through, so I knew he would be surprised at news that I was leaving. I had a pretty bad nervous stomach as I waited for him to arrive the morning I was going to tell him. Ideally I would have told him late in the day and then left for the day soon after telling him, but I was so torn up about telling him that I just needed to get it over with. And, as expected, he was pretty shocked and really didn’t know what to say, plus I could see he was quickly realizing the weight of what this meant. I am a hard worker and I am very good at my job, and I have a tremendous about of experience that they won’t find in just anyone pulled off the street, so I was going to be pretty difficult to replace.

I made it through that conversation, but there were still a few other people I needed to make sure I told myself before they heard it from others. One was our copy chief, who just lost another copy editor (that they haven’t replaced) about a month ago. He’s already under a ton of pressure from being overloaded, and I hate disappointing people, so I hated the position I was going to be leaving him in. Thankfully, he was so incredibly kind and gracious at receiving the news, and I expected nothing less than that from him.

Next I needed to call the managing editor and tell him, and he was a more difficult obstacle to get past. He fully realizes what I contribute there, and he didn’t make it easy for me to put in notice. He kept trying to sway me to change my mind, saying he’d go to the CEO with any dollar amount I wanted and try to get it for me if I’d stay. I explained that yes, I was making more money at the new job, but I really just had an opportunity to make a transition to a much more stable industry (medical), and I needed to take control and follow it. He still didn’t give up, and that put me in a position where I felt bad for doing what I needed for me, because I hate disappointing people, but at the same time, I really do appreciate that he was trying to fight to keep me. (Also, regarding that money he wanted to offer me to stay, where was THAT cash when raise times came and went without any pay increase?!)

My current colleagues have very quickly realized just how much I do there — I think they always realized on one level, but not in such specific terms — and how much I need to explain to them before I leave, so last week was a pretty draining one as I work through this transition to make sure they are left in decent shape.

I put in my official written notice the next day, and my supervisor wrote a very nice note back to me about how they’re going to miss me, and thanking me for my excellent performance over the years, and he concluded the email by saying, “You are irreplaceable.” To be 100% honest, I feel the same, but it meant so much to have that acknowledged by him.

My last day of work will be March 1, but my colleagues are doing a going-away lunch for me this coming Friday since a couple of them will be traveling on my last day. I’ll have a few days off before I start my new position on March 7.

A new path awaits.

Moving on to greener pastures

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Update on the GB surgery: My recovery went picture-perfect, and I was even back at the gym (for light exercise) 8 days post-surgery. It was definitely an easier process than the ankle surgery and recovery were.


At the end of December, I had a former colleague come to me, telling me about a new editor position being added at her company, and she thought I should apply. I hadn’t been seeking a new job, but my work stress is sky-high because of a lack of staffing and having more and more projects put on me. My friend said this position was stable, low stress, and pays decent. Hrm, I thought. I have exactly none of those things right now.

So I updated and sent my resume in mid-January, went out to find some interview clothes and shoes, and then waited to get a call for an interview, as I was pretty qualified for this position and figured my connection with my former coworker would at least land me an interview.

I prepared thoroughly for my first interview, getting interview books from the library, reading interview prep articles and blogs on the internet, and formulating rough answers to the most common interview questions. After all, it had been 15+ years since I had interviewed for a job, so I was definitely out of practice, and I’ve had a grand total of three previous job interviews post-college, so it’s not like I had a ton of experience in the first place. My friend/former colleague also holds an editor position at this company, so she was able to heavily guide me during my prep, letting me in on the internal lingo of the job, telling me in detail about the job so I could know how to target my questions, and even meeting with me the weekend before the interview to go over some final things.

Interview day came, and I was pretty nervous until I got there, and then I was fine. And, truthfully, it was about as perfect an interview as I could have hoped for. I was relaxed, didn’t feel or act nervous, my mouth wasn’t dry, my voice wasn’t shaking. I took control of the interview with the mountain of questions I had for them, and we had a nice, relaxed conversation with my friend and her supervisor for nearly two hours. Personality-wise, it really seemed to be a good match, which I knew was important to them because the department is small (four people before the new hire). Qualifications-wise, I really had most of what they were looking for. (I didn’t have a master’s degree, but I think my 15 years of on-the-job editing experience made up for that fact.)

I was contacted later that week to see when I could come in the next week for a second interview, and though my friend wasn’t allowed to say, I had a feeling I was the only candidate being asked to come in again, and that I was going to be offered the job. That was confirmed further when her boss told me, when I asked what to expect so I’d know how to prepare, that I’d be meeting with his boss, who likes to meet with candidates he’s thinking about hiring, and I’d be meeting with HR to talk about benefits. He also said to think about any questions I’d need to have answered before I’d be willing to accept an offer.

So, I went into this second meeting pretty confident in my position, and thus my nerves were washed away, and I performed well. The chat with his boss was nice and engaging, and I met with the other two people in the department and got along great with them (also had a chance to ask them about the reality of working there, as they’ve both been there 25-30 years). At that point, they said they were going to offer me the job, and I was shipped off to HR to talk some more specifics.

Even though they weren’t able to meet me where I wanted salary-wise, we weren’t too far off, and I’ll still be making 20% more than I am currently, plus I’ll have the opportunity for yearly raises, which have been basically absent over the past 10 years for me. I’ll have a pension available to me after two years, I’ll get to do some travel to some nice places (and get comp time for travel, which will be either paid out or converted to vacation time), I’ll get my own office (a first for me), they have an on-site fitness center, and the office is just 10-12 minutes from my house (current office is 20 minutes). Plus add in the fact that the job is not nearly as high-pressure with intense deadlines like I deal with now and the fact that I gain a whole lot more stability with moving to the medical industry and out of print journalism, and it was nearly a n0-brainer to take.

I accepted the job, and then the truly difficult part was coming…telling my current boss and team.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

I figure I added a metal plate to my body last year, so I might as well remove something to balance it out. So, to that end, I had my gallbladder removed having having sporadic issues with it for nine years now. At first my attacks were just during pregnancy, but that has changed over the last year or so, so I figured it was time to stop ignoring it.

Surgery went well, and thankfully I didn’t get sick from the anesthesia this time (unlike with my ankle surgery). The Surgeon told The Husband post-op that my gallbladder definitely needed to come out, so I’m glad I proceeded with having it done.

My pain seems to be largely under control thanks to Percocet, and the only real trouble I’m having at the moment is a raw, sore throat and a hoarse voice from the breathing tube they put in during the surgery. I didn’t have this side effect with the ankle surgery, but it’s been an annoyance this time around.

I’m taking the rest of the week off from work so I can focus on recovery, as I’m sure there will be highs and lows during the process. But, so far so good!

Stoned again

Friday, December 4, 2015

When I was pregnant with both girls, I had multiple gallstone attacks. We confirmed the presence of gallstones back in 2006 or so, but since I was pregnant, it wasn’t ideal to remove the gallbladder at the time. But then life happens, and when you’re not having symptoms outside of pregnancy, it’s hard to make yourself go in and say, “Hey, cut me open, will ya?” So I decided to take a wait-and-see approach to the gallbladder — I’d return to the doctor and do something about it if I started having attacks again. I had one in the fall of 2014, but nothing else, so I continued to look the other way.

But then I had an attack when I was in Kansas City visiting my sister in early August. Then a week before Thanksgiving, I got the initial dull pain in just the right spot that indicated an impending attack, but that time it didn’t go into a full-blown attack. However, on Thanksgiving night, after enjoying a wonderful meal with my loved ones, my gallbladder decided to protest, and I was woken up at 3 a.m. by that too-familiar pain. I’d classify it as a moderate attack, with nausea and vomiting toward the end, and it lasted until 6 a.m.

Hrm, perhaps it was time to stop ignoring my angry gallbladder.

I had to go to physical therapy for my ankle at 7:30, but I called my family doctor after that, and made an appointment to be seen late that morning. I was hoping they might be able to do the ultrasound to check for stones that day, so I skipped eating since I hadn’t felt up to eating earlier that day anyway. The doctor said it did sound consistent with stones (especially given their presence years ago, as well as a strong family history of it, with my mom and sister both having theirs removed around 2005 or so), and the nurse started calling around to find somewhere that was open that could get me in that day. They finally found one place that could take me, but not until 3 p.m., which made for a long afternoon of no eating or drinking. Since I had a pretty major headache, I went to take a nap to help ease that and also to pass the time until I could go there.

The ultrasound itself went fine. Thanksgiving leftovers didn’t seem so appealing anymore, but I took a plain turkey sandwich with me to the ultrasound so I’d have something I could eat as soon as I was allowed. I only managed to eat half the sandwich before my stomach revolted, though I did make it home before it all came back up. I still had my headache, and my stomach was very unsettled, so I went to sleep for a couple hours and woke up feeling weak but overall better. Unfortunately I had to pass on some holiday activities with my sister and her family that night, but I didn’t want to push it too much.

The family doctor’s office called on Tuesday morning, and they said my ultrasound was positive for gallstones (no surprise) and that the wall of my gallbladder was thickening, which, from what I’m reading, seems to often be a sign of gallbladder disease. They said they will refer me to a general surgeon, and that office should be calling me “within the week.” I was hoping to be able to get in this week since I’m on vacation, but as it’s Friday afternoon and I still haven’t been called, that ship has sailed. If I haven’t heard from them by Monday or Tuesday of next week, I’ll call my family doctor to find out where I need to follow up.

At this point, I’d say removal is not likely to be done this year. It would be nice since I’ve met my OOP max for the year and it would be free, but I also know that plenty of other people have the same thought and doctors tend to be pretty booked at the end of the year (not to mention them taking vacation time around the holidays). So, I’d say just after the first of the year is most likely, which might be better anyway because I’ll have new sick time available to take. And hey, I’d reach my OOP max pretty early in the year next year, which definitely has some advantages.

The birds and the bees

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The time had come.

I’ve talked to The Big Sis about body changes and puberty, and she knew that babies are made by combining the seed from the dad and the egg from the mom. But over the weekend in the car, she asked, out of the view and point blank: “So, how exactly are babies made, and do you just decide you want a baby and then it’s there?”

As we were all in the car together, I told her, “Good question. I’ll tell you about it later.”

Now, it would have been simple for me to pretend I forgot to address it later and hope it didn’t come up again. But I figured I should proceed with telling her about the nitty gritty while she was still eager to hear it from me. It would be a potentially uncomfortable conversation, yes, but I knew this talk would help lay the groundwork for whether she comes to talk to me about these things in the future as well. Being evasive would have only made her pull back.

So, later that night, before bedtime, I asked if she really wanted to know how babies were made. She did, and so I proceeded to tell her all about it, doing my best to explain some very complicated topics. She did declare by the end of it that she’s not going to have kids anymore, but overall I think the talk went very well. She did think it was gross (I assured her she’d likely change her mind when she was a little older), but she didn’t seem super embarrassed (nor did I), and she asked a lot of great questions — enough that sometimes it’d make me get a little sidetracked because there’s just so much of cover. In the few days since then, she’s also asked me a couple follow-up questions, so I really do hope that continues in the coming years.

NaBloPoMo? No.

Monday, November 9, 2015

It wasn’t until about the fifth day of this month when I realized, “Oh, CRAP! It’s November! You’ve missed out on NaBloPoMo,” which I’ve done every year since 2007. For a sliver of a second, I decided I’d write five posts to catch up, and then I’d stay on top of writing a post each day for the rest of the month, despite my obvious lack of dedication to this blog this year.

But the truth is that we’re operating in “(minor) crisis mode” currently, and taking on anything extra just isn’t going to work right now. For one thing, I’m operating at less than full capacity because of trying to recover this &*&^#@ broken ankle, meaning that most days I can’t even seem to get normal household chores done, let alone more than that. My bathroom right now? Needs attention in a bad way. But also, we are dealing with some challenging behavior issues with The Big Sis at the moment — she has been defiant at school this year — and so I have been spending nearly every minute of my free time reading, looking for ideas, and enacting various fixes to try to ultimately help the problem.

Example: She and I now do 10-15 minutes of “special time” each day, on top of homework time and reading time and talking time at bedtime. Special time is a block of time where she can choose the activity, and she can choose how much I participate or if I just watch her, and I am not allowed to question or suggest or correct anything she does in that block of time. In addition, she and I have started passing back and forth a blank notebook, and we use it to write notes to each other every day, sometimes multiple times a day. Sometimes we write about serious stuff, sometimes we write about less serious stuff, but the ultimate goal is to strengthen our bond and to give her a safe place to talk about things she might not want to address out loud.

With a daily routine that previously didn’t include much extra time in the first place, especially on weeknights, these things have been a struggle to fit in (again, on top of dinner and homework and extra-curriculars, and, oh yeah, giving her time to just PLAY and be a KID), but hopefully they will prove to be worthwhile.

The good news is that The Big Sis, despite her defiance and wiggles at school, brought home all A’s on her first report card, and she has passed each of her multiplication facts quizzes on the first try each week, so clearly she’s not struggling academically, at least.

Anyway, we’re trying to get down to the WHYs of her behavior so we know how to fix it, and while I think we’re uncovering some good stuff, it’s still quite a time-consuming and emotionally-draining process.

Thus, no NoBloPoMo this year.

I would feel bad about it, but I don’t even have time to fit guilt in!πŸ˜‰

The Little Sis – fall parent-teacher conference

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Little Sis had her fall parent-teacher conference this week, and the report was good. They performed the Brigance Screen III on her, which is an assessment she’ll take again once she registers for kindergarten. Out of a possible score of 100, she ended up with 83.5, which is great for where she’s at in preschool. Things that took off points for her: She couldn’t tell them her birthday, phone number, or street address. She couldn’t write her last name (hey, we finally just got her to NOT mirror-write her first name!) or draw a square, rectangle, or diamond (her attempts were close, but not quite). She was able to order a group of items by color but not by size, and then she wasn’t able to walk backward toe-to-heel for four steps (who knew we should be practicing that?!).


Thursday, October 1, 2015

After having surgery to add a plate and four screws to my ankle on Aug. 18, I had my six-week follow-up yesterday. The doctor said it’s not completely healed yet, but he thinks there’s enough healing that I can start bearing weight on it again (in the boot still), which is a definitely step in the right direction. So far that’s been a little more challenging than I anticipated, as my incision burns and hurts from rubbing on the boot as I take steps, but hopefully that’ll become desensitized soon enough.

I also was cleared to return to physical therapy, so I’ve got an appointment tomorrow with my PT for another baseline assessment and we’ll get started with exercises to help me gain back my range of motion, strength, flexibility, and balance. At this point it feels a little daunting, but I know it’ll get better as I work on it each day and with each PT session.

I return on Nov. 11 for my next follow-up with x-ray to see how the healing is going. I’m not going to get my hopes up given how long this has dragged out, but maybe there’s the chance I’ll have to hunt down all of my left shoes sometime in mid-November…

New doesn’t always equal bad

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

One of the hot topics in elementary school these days is Singapore math, or what people commonly call “new math.” In short, Singapore math teaches kids mathematical concepts in three ways: concrete, pictoral, and abstract. “Old math” — or, the way most current elementary parents were taught — was largely abstract, putting a focus on rote memorization and not as much with understanding the whys behind the concepts or how numbers can be manipulated once you understand place-value concepts. New math aims to add these other approaches in an effort to get kids to understand the meaning behind the math calculations they are doing.

Parent reaction to new math is often negative and very vocal. Part of it is that it’s often difficult to help your kids with homework when you know one way to do a math problem, but that’s not the approach the homework is asking for, leaving you feeling helpless as a parent. And one weakness is that there’s not much effort to educate parents about the new math approach, leaving frustrations high for both parents and kids.

But I think part of it, too, is the fact that many parents refuse to see value in anything out of their comfort zone — or rather, different from what they learned themselves — and they do not give new math concepts a fair shake. They are quick to declare that it’s “the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen” and “This is not math, this is garbage.” (Two direct quotes from a friend’s FB post on the topic.)

And what’s even better is when these people criticize the new-math approach, then a few sentences later talk about how they themselves are “bad at math.” Well, if that’s the case, then rote memorization DIDN’T do the trick for them, did it? Should we want better for our kids, even if (especially if!) it means taking a different approach than what you did in your own education?

I think if most parents took a few minutes to look at their kids’ homework with an open mind, they might see that this approach really holds some value and shouldn’t be brushed off just because it’s different from previous methods. A big part of new math is knowing how to do manipulations with numbers — which many adults do all the time in everyday life.

Let’s say I need to figure out a 15% tip on dinner, but I don’t have any scrap paper handy to do the exact calculation the old-fashioned way. And we’ll just pretend I don’t have access to a calculator, either. Well, I don’t know right off how much 15% of my total is, but I DO know how to calculate 10% easily, then I halve that amount and add it to my 10% calculation. Voila — I’ve just figured out 15%, but I didn’t do it the traditional math way — I did it using the new-math approach.

Another example: The other day, I blanked out on what 11×11 was. So I did 11×10 in my head first, because I knew that right off, then added the remaining 11 to it to get my final answer. Yes, I blanked out on what I once had memorized, but I still reached the answer I needed because I knew how best to manipulate the numbers. So much of everyday life math is done in your head — often there’s not time to pull out paper to write it out or even grab a calculator. Knowing how to manipulate numbers is a useful skill to have.

And it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. So far all of The Big Sis’s teachers have said they still teach concepts the old way in addition to the new way, that some kids are more comfortable with one method while other kids are better at another way. So why not offer an additional tool to students so our own kids don’t grow up proclaiming to others that they too are “bad at math”?

Activity shift

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

I’ve never been one of those parents with a great desire to overpack our family’s schedule with endless sports and activities. Most of the time, The Big Sis has just one activity going on at one time, especially if it involves a weeknight commitment. (Weeknights are crazy enough just getting dinner together, homework done, and everyone to bed at a semi-decent time.) Last year we did allow her to do dance (September through May) and then academic challenge team (I think that was from October until March), which at times was a bit much to juggle, but we managed okay.

At first we thought she wanted to do a different dance class this year, but when we got the class options, she was more interested in the cultural arts offerings than in any of the dance classes. These cultural arts classes run from October to December (10 weeks) instead of the whole school year, and they’re about half the cost of the dance classes. The two she was most interested in were Youth Drumming and Archery — and, miracle of miracles, they were being held on the same night of the week, back to back. (Youth Drumming = 6 to 7 p.m.; Archery = 7 to 8:15 p.m.) It’ll make for long Tuesday nights, of course, but I think I’d rather do that than have two activities on two different nights.

Once we got her signed up for those, she came home with an information sheet for Girl Scouts. She had shown interest in doing that last year, but we ended up passing on it. I’ve heard of others doing Girls Scouts or Boy Scouts and having just a once-a-month or twice-a-month time commitment, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to let her do that as well. Well, come to find out, her Brownie troop has basically a once-a-week commitment, which is more than I was counting on, but she’s very excited about doing this, and I do think it’ll be good for her, so we’ll let her participate this year and see how it goes. (And clearly it’s not like she has to attend EVERY week if it becomes too much.)

This week she ended up bringing home a flyer for the Girls on the Run program, which I think she’d like and would be a good experience for her and I’d really be interested in having her sign up for it because it’s a good program, but unfortunately that requires a time commitment of two days a week (Mon and Wed) right after school, which would mean The Husband or I would have to leave work early both of those days to pick her up, and that’s not ideal right now. Maybe she can consider doing that during another year, or perhaps even in the spring when she won’t have the drumming and archery classes at the same time.

Now, we’ve figured out The Big Sis’s activities for the immediate future, but we’ve sort of neglected doing anything for The Little Sis this year. Granted, a big reason is because we tried doing a preschool tumbling class for her last year and that didn’t go well (she didn’t want to leave my side, so we had to quit after three classes during we she never actually participated), and I’m a little gun shy about trying again. I’m considering, though, whether we should find a Saturday morning class for her this fall, perhaps swimming or a shorter (8-week) dance or movement class — one of the types of things that The Big Sis was doing at that age. I definitely don’t want another weeknight commitment at this point! I don’t love the idea of getting up early on Saturdays, but it’s better than another night of fractured dinners and rushed bedtimes.

When we get in the midst of this and I’m cursing myself for taking on more than we’d planned, remind me that at least we’re not doing something like soccer or softball that requires multiple weekday practices plus weekend games and tournaments!

Four-year well check

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Little Sis had her four-year checkup at the pediatrician yesterday. The Husband had to take her since I’m on crutches still, but he says everything went well.

Her stats:

Weight: 48 pounds (95th percentile)
Height: 42 1/4 inches (90th percentile)
BMI: 19 (greater than 95th percentile)

Her milestone questions:

Can your child balance on one foot for 2 seconds? (yes)
Can your child draw a circle? (yes)
Do others understand all of his/her speech? (yes)
Can your child name at least four colors? (yes)
Can your child play games with rules? (yes)

She finished up the appointment with four shots, which I remember being pretty terrible with The Big Sis. (I never even teared up during earlier shots, but I remember getting kind of upset at the four-year shots with her.) She did great with the first two, then cried with the second two, but she got her stickers and then some Dunkin Donuts with The Husband after, so it was all good. I praised her for being so brave, and she confided, “But I wasn’t all the way brave. I was scared a little.” I assured her that she had plenty of brave in her to do it, and she seemed pleased with that.

Now we get a break on shots with her — no more required until she’s 12! Hooray!

Under the knife

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

After getting a second opinion (and switching to that new doctor), I had ankle surgery on Tuesday morning, and overall everything went well. I had to be there by 8 AM, which was good because The Husband could take me after dropping the girls off at school and we didn’t have to enact Plan B for how to get me to the hospital.

I got there, went to registration, then was sent to the surgery waiting room. I was called back, had to change clothes, and after a series of questions and a bit of waiting, it was time to put in my IV. This was something I was dreading because I’ve had issues with this thing before. So I asked the nurse if she was good at sticking because I’ve had problems before, and she pulled out her ego big time. I should’ve known not even let her try, but then I thought I was being not very fair. First try: she blew out my vein. Second try: she blew out my vein. Good job, Ms. I’ve Been a Nurse 12 Years and Can Get It. She said she only does two attempts before getting someone else, and I wanted to tell her that there was no way in hell I was letting her try again anyway. I asked if they had anyone who is good at sticking kids since that takes more precision, and she didn’t really react much to that but then brought in the other nurse they had a nearby and asked if he would try. By this point, I was in tears and very upset, so he did a good job of calming me down, telling me that my job was to stay still, and his job was to get the needle in me, which thankfully he did on the first try.

We had quite a bit of waiting time after that, so we turn on the TV and watched some Three’s Company on TV Land, which entertained me quite a bit since I used to love that show when I was growing up. Finally I was taken back to the operating room at 10:55 AM. I remember moving from my initial bed over to the operating table, them giving me some oxygen via mask and strapping down my body and my arms. I also remember the anesthesiologist saying he was going to make up a cocktail for me to go to sleep. They never had me count backwards from 10 or anything like that – I was just out.

I’m told I was in surgery for a little over an hour, and that it went perfectly. The doctor told The Husband that both ends of my bone were loose, meaning there was nothing connecting them, not even really much scar tissue. So, a good sign the surgery really was necessary. He got a plate and screws in place and added in the synthetic bone graft, then put me in a splint that I will wear for a week. I go in for my follow-up appointment on Wednesday morning of this week, at which point I will have an x-ray to make sure everything looks good. I should also get clearance to move back to the cast boot, and I’ve asked if I can get a new one since my current one is pretty rank.

After I woke up in the recovery area, The Husband came back pretty soon after, and I continued to receive fluids as I woke up. I asked for some grape juice, though my stomach was angry anytime time I would swallow anything. They tried sitting me up in bed, but that almost immediately made me dizzy, lightheaded, and nauseated. I asked for something to throw up in, but I don’t think I actually threw up while at the hospital, though I could be wrong about that. I had to leave the bed down for a few more minutes, then tried again to sit up. I was having quite a bit of pain in my ankle, usually it would come and go but be very intense when I would have it. They had maxed out how much pain medicine they could give me, so we really needed to get discharged so we could go get my Percocet filled and start that.

I finally managed to get dressed with help, and they wheeled me out to the car. It felt like they were pushing the wheelchair so fast, and then I hit the hot air outside, and before we had even been in the car for 30 seconds, I was asking for a bag so I could throw up, which I did. The 20-minute drive home was pretty challenging, but I made it. I went right back to the bedroom, stopping at the bathroom first to pee, and I also threw up quite a bit then too. The Husband got me settled and then went to the pharmacy to get my Percocet and some phenergan I’d been prescribed for the nausea. I spent most of the day and evening sleeping on and off, and thankfully I was able to eat a normal dinner that night, and my appetite has been fine since then.

I spent most of the past week in bed with my leg elevated, just sleeping and reading and giving myself the time I need to recover. My ankle pain is some better now, though I do have definite moments of pain, but I was able to stop the Percocet on Saturday night and move on to ibuprofen. It’s nice to not feel like I’m in a fog all the time now. Technically I returned to work yesterday (Monday), working from home, but they went easy on me with my assignments, and I’m hoping that’ll be the case all week.

Weekend for two

Monday, August 24, 2015
(Oops — found this as a draft from a few weeks ago. Guess I’ll publish it now!)
The Husband and The Big Sis went out of town at the end of July, and so The Little Sis and I were left behind to enjoy a Mommy/Little Kid weekend.Now, I am not saying that parenting just one child is a breeze. Clearly it is not. But given the fact that I was left with the easy-going kid, and the fact that my workload and obligations were cut in at least half, it almost felt like a refreshing vacation. I didn’t yell or get stressed out once, which some days would be a minor miracle.

We started off the weekend with some grilled cheese sandwiches, a trip to the grocery store for ice cream sandwiches (her choice from the ice cream section!), and then a heated game of Chutes and Ladders. (She won!) The Little Sis watched a movie while I slept in some on Saturday, then we had breakfast before taking The Dog on a walk around the neighborhood. It was a beautiful morning, and though you could tell it was going to be hot later in the day, that heat hadn’t reached its peak yet, so it was quite pleasant out. Perhaps best of all was watching her chase butterflies, honestly thinking she was going to catch them without a net. She would gasp as she’d spot one, then traipse across the grass with a bounce in her step and her eyes on the prize, finding such joy in a simple summer pleasure.

We came back and had lunch, then played a game of Life, which she also won. (I had to handle her money for her, but she did a great job playing by the actual rules.) We relaxed a little bit before heading over to a good friend’s swimming pool during the late afternoon. We ended up staying for about three hours, and it was probably the highlight of the weekend for both of us. Someone had left behind some dive sticks, and we threw those for The Little Sis to chase for at least an hour, maybe more. It was also great for me to occasionally get some actual swim time in for a little bit of a workout (more than I’ve been able to get with the broken ankle). I can’t swim for real because I shouldn’t use my left foot, but there are plenty of things to do in the pool without that, and it’s not like I swim for real anyway without a broken bone (just a slow head-above-the-water crawl). We stopped at Culver’s for a late dinner on the way home, then she pretty much crashed in bed once we got home, leaving me another evening to watch a movie and read. Ahhhhh….

Sunday is our usual errand day, but you can totally package that up as an adventure to a 3-year-old, and she was sold. We took The Dog for another walk in the morning, had an early lunch at home, then set out for our errand “adventures.” Our main goals were finding a birthday present for my niece, as well as doing the weekly grocery shopping, with a couple other side errands in there as well, and we successfully accomplished our mission. Our reward was going home to make some homemade pizzas, and they turned out quite superb.

I’m pretty sure it was more of a vacation than our actual vacation was later that week!

The big bed

Monday, July 20, 2015

Have I mentioned that The Little Sis is made of rainbows and puppy noses?

The other day at bedtime, we were doing some roleplaying, and we were pretending to be friends. She mentioned something about having a big bed in her room, and this is how our conversation went.

Little Sis: “Yeah, I have a big bed in my room.”

Me: “Wow, really? I wish I had a big bed at home. My bed is TINY.”

Little Sis (thinking for a moment): “Well, we could take your little bed and give it to my dolls. And you could take my bed. I can just sleep on the floor.”

She then gave a look that was so self-satisfied, like she knew she was doing a very kind thing, even in pretend play. This kid has such a big heart.

Ten years

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Ten years ago, The Husband and I enthusiastically said, “I do.”

We promised to build a life together, and be each other’s ultimate partners in life. Bottom line: We promised to have each other’s back.

Not every day is perfect, of course.

But The Husband is the best partner for me. We laugh. We cry. We travel. We run errands. We raise children. And through it all, we always try to remember to have FUN.

Because without the FUN in life, what is there?

Happy 10th wedding anniversary to my partner in FUN. Cheers to 10 years, and here’s to many more!

Time to talk

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A couple weeks ago, The Big Sis and I were talking at bedtime, and somehow our discussion led to topics involving reproduction. I feel I’ve always done a good job in answering her questions honestly, specifically, and in an age-appropriate manner, but this time she asked exactly HOW the sperm (or seed, as we call it with her) gets to the egg. She then proposed curiously, “Do you swallow it?” I admit it: I crumbled in the moment. I said, “Something like that — we can talk about that some other time.” And then changed the subject. Mom talk fail!

Part of my fail was because it’s sometimes an embarrassing topic to tackle. But it’s also because there are a lot of other things to understand before getting to that part, so I figured it was time to find some books that tackle these very topics. At the recommendation of many friends, I found American Girl’s “The Care and Keeping of You” (the one for younger girls) at the library and brought it home last week. It starts out innocently enough, covering other health topics related to growing up, including braces, taking care of your face, and showering. After our first night reading it together, The Big Sis said, “Do you think we can buy this book? I might want to keep it for information later. And [The Little Sis] might like to read it later too.” I assured her that yes, we’d read it together first, and if she thought she might want a copy of her own, we could certainly buy her one. Each night she’s been eager to read this book with me, which is saying something because usually she prefers to read with The Husband instead of me.

A few nights ago we covered breast development, and now she’s super-excited to get a training bra (especially because one of her best friends has one). I hadn’t planned to do that this early, but I figure I should take advantage of her eagerness; I remember going out with my mom when I was in 6th grade or so, and I was just mortified to be doing it with her. I don’t want either of my girls to feel that way, so I should probably strike while the iron is hot.

I don’t believe this book gets into sperm-meets-egg topics, but it does cover periods, which isn’t a subject she was familiar with at all. After she got over her surprise about it, she had some good questions, and wanted to see the types of sanitary products they mention. I don’t have a period now (thanks, Mirena!), but I do still have a bathroom cabinet full of such products, so I opened each of them and showed her what they were like and how to use them. She asked to try them on, which I let her do with the various pantyliners and pads (not the tampons, though), and she cracked me up when she said, with a huge pad on, “Hrm, this is pretty comfortable!” Haha! I’m not going to sway her any differently; if that’s what she thinks, then I’ll let her continue thinking that! I figure no need to make it into a big deal, or something that she’ll dread.

We’re not quite finished with the book yet, but so far it’s been a good way to approach these topics that might otherwise not be addressed in a complete manner. My mom didn’t explain any of this stuff to me, and while obviously I figured it out, I want to make sure my girls know that I can be a good resource for this information, in addition to what they’ll learn from books, school, and their peers.

Role reversal

Thursday, June 18, 2015
After all the bedtime books have been read and the water bottled has been filled and the final potty break has been taken, The Little Sis gets five minutes of talking time with me, where we generally share additional details about our days with each other, or ask fun questions.
But her favorite thing to do during that five minutes (that often turns into 10 or 15 minutes…oops) is to play “Mommy/Baby,” a role-reversal game where she gets to be the mommy and I get to be the baby, and we play a wide range of scenarios. It’s such a great exercise for her to step into my shoes to experience the power of being a mom and making decisions, and to hopefully see things from my point of view from time to time. It’s also interesting to me because I can see our own parenting methods mirrored right back at me, and it’s a good chance to take a step back and see maybe what is and isn’t working. I also have a chance to see exactly what lessons she’s understanding and were we may need to make a few tweaks.

So many moments from our role-playing end up cracking me up. One time she pretended to take me to the zoo, but she told me that I had to stay in the car and I couldn’t go inside. I did ask if she’d buy me a (real) lion, and she totally agreed! She also regularly buys me tigers and penguins at the zoo.

Another time more recently, she told me she was going to have to go to the grown-up playground (not sure what that is, but sign me up!) and would have to leave me at home. I said, “Mommy, I don’t want you to go. I’m scared to be by myself.” She looked at me seriously, cradled my face with her hands, and said, “Baby, you won’t be alone.” She paused. “The doggy will be here with you.”

I promise I don’t abandon my children in parking lots and/or make the dog babysit the kids!

Empty nest but full hearts

Monday, June 8, 2015

This year we had a robin build a nest on top of one of the columns of our back porch, so we were eager to see if we ended up with a batch of baby birds. MamaBird kept coming back to the nest quite often, so we were pretty sure there would be some little ones on the way. Sure enough, in early May, we heard little cheeps and soon discovered that we were hosting four baby birds. All of us really enjoyed checking on them and watching MamaBird come feed them, though I will admit it was a little sad when the baby birds started leaving the nest as fledglings. The Little Sis in particular was disappointed when they started off on their own.

I’m sure we’re in for quite a hit when our own baby birds leave our nest down the road.

Feed us!

The first baby to leave the nest:

The third bird to leave the nest. This was taken just seconds before it took off in flight:

How my 3-year-old sees me

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I’m a little late posting this, because The Little Sis did it for Mother’s Day, but it’s been a crazy couple of weeks here and I just now got it uploaded. The rice thing cracks me up because that’s the one food that I reliably do NOT eat.πŸ™‚

(Not so) tiny dancer

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Big Sis had taken a couple dance classes previously, but they had lasted for a max of 8 weeks and didn’t have any sort of final performance associated with them. Back in September, we signed her up for a school-year-long jazz/hip hop class through our city’s parks and rec department. After 22 weeks of classes, they had their spring recital this past weekend, and it was a lot of fun for both her and us.

She was somewhat nervous beforehand on Saturday, but I think she was handling herself pretty well and didn’t really show her nerves. Her class did a dance routine to the Jonas Brothers’s version of “Poor Unfortunate Souls” (which I hadn’t heard before — not that version, I mean), and I’m eager to get the DVD of the show to watch with The Big Sis so she can see that she really did well. She’s not at a competitive dance talent level or anything — but that’s not really what we were after here. We wanted her to have a positive dance class experience, and I think that was achieved.

I asked her if she’d like to take a dance class again next year, and she says next time she’d like to take tap. I love the parks and rec dance program because it’s a good way to get an introduction to different kinds of dance without the pressure (whether real or perceived) from a more formal dance studio, so we’ll see what we can find that will fit our schedule next school year.

Oh, and p.s., I love that her class’s costumes were age-appropriate. Have you seen some of the dance costumes out there for kids? Yeesh!

I’m one lucky mom

Sunday, May 10, 2015


Monday, April 27, 2015

I went to the orthopedic surgeon last Thursday, and had my x-rays done (nearly five weeks post running accident). The break in my foot is healing well, but the ankle break still has a gap where the bone hasn’t come back together yet. He sees signs of healing, though, so he said I can start transitioning to weight-bearing gradually as my foot allows, remaining in the boot for another month to protect the foot as I add weight. So I’ll still be using the crutches to help me get around for a little while longer, but hopefully I’ll ditch those in the near future and can return to more of a regular daily routine.Β 

I’ll also need to get some physical therapy started (waiting to hear back from the ortho office about a question first), aiming for twice a week for that.

All in all, it’s about what I expected. I go back on May 22 for another set of x-rays to see how things are progressing.

Switching roles

Monday, April 20, 2015

Once upon a time, I knew how to play chess. That was many, many moons ago, and to say my knowledge of the game now is rusty would be very generous. I wasn’t a chess whiz, by any means, but I do have fond memories of teaching myself how how play (via a computer game we had on floppy disk) and then challenging my dad to games. That phase didn’t last long, but I remember being so proud of myself for learning it on my own.

Recently The Big Sis started taking an interest in chess. She’d gotten a set for her birthday, but she actually ended up learning at her after-school program. She kept talking about it so much that I asked her over the weekend if she’d teach me how to play. We have “No Stress Chess,” which is a great system for teaching beginners, so she took on the role of teacher to educate me about the game. It quickly became clear just how much of a novice I am when I tried to move one of my pieces to attack another, and she looked at me for a few seconds and then said, “You’re trying to attack your own piece.” Hahaha! We got a big laugh out of that one!

But on a more serious note, it was interesting to be in a position where she had this wealth of knowledge that she was trying to pass on to me. She did very well explaining moves and rules to me, and maintained quite a bit of patience as I asked question after question about possible moves and strategy. She was even sneaky with me a few times during our practice game and would say, “I don’t care of you capture my [piece],” and so that’s the move I’d make, but then that would just set HER up for a better move. Chess is all about strategy and thinking many moves ahead, but I didn’t think she’d caught on to that part of the game that proficiently. That’ll show me, I guess!

Their first chess game

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Spring conference

Monday, April 13, 2015

We had The Big Sis’s spring conference at school on Thursday, and this one is structured a little differently than the others. For this one, it’s a student-led conference rather than a teacher-led meeting, so The Big Sis was in charge of telling us what and how she’s doing in school, and we also received her third-quarter report card. The Teacher did comment that The Big Sis is one of her best students, and she’s great at making effective use of any down time in the classroom because she grabs a book and reads so as not to disturb the other kids who might still be working.

This was The Teacher’s comment in her report card this quarter: “[The Big Sis] puts her best effort into all the assignments. She stays on task with little supervision. She is a self-motivated student. She is a joy to have in class.”

As part of the conference, The Big Sis got to share with us a piece of her writing, and I couldn’t believe how long and complex it was! We only had time for her to tell us about the characters and plot, but I can’t wait until it comes home and we can read the actual piece. She seemed so excited by it, though a little shy and nervous to share it with us. The Teacher didn’t say this to us, but I would definitely say one of her school weaknesses is a lack of confidence in herself even though she performs well, so we’ve certainly got to figure out how to boost that so she can more clearly see the skills and talent she has.

Trash talk

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

I am not a crafty person. At all. I’m just not good at it. It’s stressful to me. I’m never happy with how anything turns out. I despise the mess it makes. I don’t have the patience for it. In fact, I’ve always joked that half the reason we sent the girls to daycare is so they could learn how to do art projects there, and I wouldn’t have to do it here.

Somehow, over the past year or so, mostly on her own, The Big Sis has gained the desire to turn what I call trash (though it’s really recycling) into artwork. She’s made a haunted house and a huge mailbox, among many other things, with her rescued boxes and other items. This baffles me greatly, as this is the kind of art project I am the most terrible at: turning trash into treasure. But she likes it, and I try to encourage it (while trying to keep her from bringing home OTHER PEOPLE’S TRASH, which she has done before. Multiple times.).

A few weeks ago, The Little Sis had a “homework” assignment for daycare: make a garbage monster as a family project. Thankfully, I knew we had a resident trash art expert among us, so we consulted The Big Sis, who helped The Little Sis plan out how this garbage monster would take shape. The Husband did most of the actual work putting it together late last week, but I cheered him on from the recliner. I think it turned out looking really good, and The Little Sis was on cloud 9 when it was time to take it to daycare, The Husband said.

The finished product: