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˜‰


Seeing double

Sunday, November 30, 2014

As a parent, I can now understand why my own parents very often got my sister and I some of the exact same things for Christmas — less fighting over stuff. We hated it at the time, as we were always interested in the other person’s presents, but that’s the approach Mom and Dad took.

The Big Sis and The Little Sis are hyperaware of each other’s belongings these days, so my MO for Christmas shopping this year is to buy them the same thing (where possible). Frozen t-shirt? Grab one in each size. Plush doll? One of the same for each of them. Pajamas? Two penguin sets, please! Sheets? Each will get a set to match their rooms. The big Santa gifts won’t be the same, but wherever possible I plan to double up.


And thus ends NaBloPoMo. I did pretty well, missing just one day, I believe. And, I know I’ve said this every year lately, but hopefully doing this will inspire me to continue posting on a more frequent basis. Gone are the days of new posts 6 days a week, but hopefully I can manage better than a new post every couple of weeks as I’d done lately.

So crabby

Saturday, November 29, 2014

I thought The Big Sis had stolen my heart when we discovered that she loved crab legs. (Like, enough that she declares it’s her favorite food.)

But fast-forward a few years to tonight, when we found out The Little Sis loves them too. This makes me very happy to share that with them.

Well, except for the fact that now I have to share it with them. Which means that I also have to do all of the crab leg opening, and they eat it faster than I can get it out (and I’m pretty fast getting it out). Three times the amount of work for less than 1/3 of the meat. Hrm, not sure I get the best deal in this whole thing…

How to cohabitate with me successfully

Friday, November 28, 2014

1. Find a place for all of your things.

2. Return your things to the designated place where they belong.

Simple, right? Not so much in our house, apparently.


Another type of thanks

Thursday, November 27, 2014

I am thankful for the two little rugrats who drove me up a wall for half the day today on Thanksgiving.

Without them, I might be a little saner and a little richer, yes, but I’d also be missing out on so much.

Wordless Wednesday: The Little Sis’s first game of Candyland

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Losing it

Monday, November 24, 2014

It’s bedtimes like tonight’s that make me feel like I have no idea what I’m doing and no clue how to get my child to listen to me without repeating myself 15 times (minimum) with increasing volume each time until I’m screaming until I’m hoarse (which still doesn’t work, of course).

Some days I win the lottery with these girls. Some days I lose badly.

Is this thing on?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

I don’t really write for others and instead write for myself primarily, but I realized I haven’t had a non-spam comment on the blog since February. Granted, part of that is my fault since I’ve gone MIA for weeks at a time, and I certainly have cut back on my own blog commenting (and reading, actually), but I was just curious if anyone was still around reading here.

Giving thanks, in another way

Saturday, November 22, 2014

This morning was the St. Jude Give thanks walk, which we participated in last year when our friend’s daughter Abby was in the final stages of her too-long battle with sclerosing rhabdomyosarcoma. Abby gained her wings in February, so I thought it was even more important to continue our participation in the walk in her memory, doing our part to ensure her legacy is everlasting.

This is a walk that takes place in many locations across the country, but the closest walk to us is a little more than an hour away in Cincinnati. Originally all four of us were going to attend, but once The Husband’s vasectomy was scheduled, we realized the walk would be less than 48 hours after surgery, so probably not a good idea for him to push it with a walk of undetermined distance. (Last year it was pretty far, though.) So he and The Little Sis stayed home, which allowed her to attend a classmate’s birthday party, and The Big Sis and I hit the road at 6:15 a.m. to make it up there in time to check in and do the walk. It was definitely cold out (low 30s), and there was some kind of wintery precipitation (sleet maybe?) coming down at one point, but overall it was a good walk, giving us time to reflect on Abby’s impact on us as a family. Our friends and family very generously donated to our walk, allowing us to raise a combined $600.

Another bonus to doing this is showing The Girls by example why it’s important to support philanthropic causes, and hopefully instilling that early will make it something they will continue in their own adult lives. I think a lot of people have good intentions in this regard but often don’t follow through, so the earlier this starts, the better.

Reinventing games

Friday, November 21, 2014

At dinner the other night, The Big Sis told us that she and her friends were playing Truth or Dare at lunch. As a parent, hearing “Truth or Dare” automatically triggers red flags, though I figured it was pretty innocent considering it was taking place in the school cafeteria. My curiosity piqued, I asked her for some examples of what they did. Before sharing that, she proudly declared, “I always pick dare!”

I’ll just say that I am not surprised by that.

Anyway, she said that one she had to do was to dip her tortilla chip into her cheese sauce, then put some applesauce on it before eating it. Okay, that sounds innocuous enough.

Then she said, “Do you know how we know whose turn it is?”

No, but I was certainly curious.

She said, “We take [my friend’s] empty Capri Sun and spin it around, and wherever the straw points, that’s whose turn it is.”

I was amused and horrified and impressed all at once.

But mostly amused, to be honest. All I could think was, “Oh my! They just ‘invented’ the 2nd grade version of spin the bottle!”

I’ve gotta keep an eye on this one!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Question: What do a vasectomy patient and a Christmas tree have in common?
Answer: They both have decorative balls.


Two and through.

For as long as I’ve envisioned having kids, I pictured having no more than two. You’ll note that we hit that number with The Little Sis, so something needed to be done to avoid additional brown-eyed, dimple-cheeked babies from taking over our house.

I’ve had a Mirena for three years, but that’s not necessarily a long-term solution. As of right now, I’m undecided if I’ll have a new one put it in when the current one comes out in two years — I love it, but the insertion was very difficult (even the PA said it was the hardest one she’d done), and I’m not sure I want to do that again. I’d be open to having my tubes tied, but that’s a fairly invasive surgery, so the responsibility fell to The Husband to go the vasectomy route. He was open to the idea when we discussed it a few years ago but needed a little more time to let the idea settle. And understandably so, as it is rather permanent.

Because The Husband had maxed out his out-of-pocket commitment re: medical expenses with his gallbladder removal earlier this year, we figured it would be a good time to have this done. So he went for a urology consultation last week and scheduled the in-office surgery for today.

Overall, things went well. The doctor was great and had a sense of humor that meshed well with The Husband’s (the joke above was told by The Urologist. Also, The Husband is threatening a tattoo above his boy parts that says, “For entertainment purposes only”).

The procedure took about an hour, which was a little longer than estimated, as The Urologist ran into a little bit of trouble at one point, but all in all it was fine. We set up The Husband with some lortab, a bag of peas, a takeout pizza dinner, and an early bedtime (see also: lortab). He was in a bit of pain when he went to bed, but hopefully that’ll get better soon.

Extra thankful

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

We found out last night that a friend of The Husband’s lost his years-long battle with a brain tumor. He was just 32.

If that doesn’t make you feel thankful for your own life and appreciative of your own health, then you’re doing something wrong.

Peace and love to his wife, family, and friends.

Pain in the neck

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Signs you are getting old: When you are just standing there talking to your youngest child’s daycare teacher when all of a sudden you get a crick in your neck (that continues to bother you hours later at home). You weren’t doing anything out of the ordinary. You didn’t whip your head around suddenly. You didn’t sleep funny. You were JUST STANDING THERE.

Please let this ease soon, because it’s not fun.

Volluntiering for reeding thyme

Monday, November 17, 2014

One of my favorite things each week is my volunteer time in The Big Sis’s classroom, as I am fortunate to have work supervisors who allow me this flexibility each Friday morning. This is the third year I have done it: kindergarten year I did literacy activities with the kids and then read with them one-on-one each week, and last year I did something a little different by leading groups of five in automaticity drills (basically giving a timed test so they could practice quick recall of their addition and subtraction facts).

This year my volunteer time coincides with their literacy block, so I happily returned to working one-on-one having the kids read to me. I didn’t mind helping with the math drills last year, but reading is my first love, and I like the idea of doing what I can to help other kids hone their reading skills.

Confession: I am not a great out-loud reader, even now as an adult.

Looking back in school, that’s one thing I wish I’d had more opportunities to do — reading out loud to someone else — as I would rate myself just a so-so to poor verbal reader nowadays. We never really read out loud in small groups (that I remember…), but instead it was always done in front of the entire class. Something about reading for the whole class jangled my nerves, and I never performed very well in those situations. But I feel like if I’d had more practice reading aloud in smaller groups or one-on-one, then perhaps I’d be a better verbal reader now.

I remember one time when I was in probably 7th or 8th grade, I was chosen to read a passage out loud, much to my chagrin, and I came across the word “annihilate.” I knew what the word meant — and I’d even said it in casual conversation before — but somehow the connection hadn’t been made in my brain, and much to my embarrassment, I pronounced it “ANN-hill-ate.”

Then one time in 5th grade, the whole class (no joke!) had to write sentences because I mispronounced the word “participle.” (I pronounced it “par-TIS-uh-pull,” which you’d better believe I know now. The whole class had to write sentences because no one volunteered to correct my pronunciation when asked.) It’s funny, but even now as a newspaper copy editor, I need to know how words and names are spelled, not necessarily how they are pronounced, so very often I say a word a certain way in my head so I remember it better, even if that’s not really how it should be pronounced. I have to be very careful when I speak to make sure I pronounce it the real way instead of phonetically.

So I’m glad to give these 2nd graders some my time each week so they can practice reading out loud in a non-pressure environment. Some of the kids have no problems whatsoever, while others struggle a bit more and could use further practice.

I can certainly relate.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

I love weekend mornings when The Big Sis wakes up, comes into our room, and asks if she can go into The Little Sis’s room. If we’ve heard The Little Sis jabbering away to herself, we tell The Big Sis she can go in, and together they select some books and The Big Sis reads them to The Little Sis. Sometimes they can entertain themselves like that for 30 or 45 minutes, and it’s just the best thing in the world to hear over the baby monitor.

Other people’s trash

Saturday, November 15, 2014

I do appreciate The Big Sis’s creativity when it comes to turning our trash/recycling into art, but for the love of everything holy, the girl needs to STOP BRINGING HOME OTHER PEOPLE’S TRASH TOO.

That is all.

Flashback Friday: The Dog — Nine Years Ago

Friday, November 14, 2014

Book it

Thursday, November 13, 2014
Reading is one of those things that’s very important to me. It’s such a big part of who I am that I turned it into a career as a copy editor. However, reading in a high-pressure, deadline-oriented environment on a day-to-day basis means that I’m often not super-eager to get right back to it in my free time at home. Oh, but the problem is that I LOVE books. I lean toward nonfiction generally…things like personal memoirs (both celebrity and non-celebrity), true-life stories of overcoming adversity, and humor-based books, though I do throw in some fiction selections regularly to round things out a little.

There have been many times in my adult life where I’ve had to completely abandon reading books for pleasure because I was just too overloaded with reading at work. I’d go months at a time without immersing myself in a book for fun, then eventually I’d resolve to make the time for it and would fold it into my daily routine once again.

Last winter, I came up with a decent solution: I figured I’d give audio books a try. I don’t have a long commute each day — 20 minutes each way — but that seemed like enough time to at least see if it might work for me. To be honest, I was dubious. I didn’t think I’d like audio books, despite The Husband and several friends giving them generally positive reviews. Historically, my alone time in the car is my designated thinking time, and I figured my mind would wander too much to focus on someone reading me a book.

And, at first, it WAS a challenge for me. My mind would wander and I’d need to rewind the book, fearing I’d missed something crucial that would have me confused about the plot later if I didn’t catch it. But slowly, I retrained my brain to focus on the audio book, and soon I found myself dreading arriving at my destination because that meant turning off the book and leaving the action just hanging there.

I’ve been listening to audio books for probably a year now, and I genuinely love that it’s helped me recapture some of my “reading” time. (Side note: There needs to be a new verb that means “listening to an audio book.” That’s often cumbersome to say, and you can’t really say you READ it, because you listened. I propose a combination of reading and listening: risten. “I ristened to the audio book in the car today.” Better suggestions are welcome, of course.)

An unexpected offshoot of this audio book adventure has been that it jump-started my interest in actual book-reading time, and I’ve been devoting about 20 to 30 minutes before bed each night to reading a book I can hold in my hand. (Full disclosure: Most of the time it’s physical books, always from the library. Sometimes it’ll be a Kindle book, also from the library. But most of the time it’s a real book. My preference for real books vs. Kindle books is definitely fodder for a future post.)

Just guessing, I’d say I’ve read maybe 50 books this year (I don’t keep track, nor do I really have much desire to keep track), which isn’t bad considering that number was much, much lower in recent years. I’m sure at some point, my work reading will cause me to need a break from pleasure reading, but I’m confident I’ll always come back to it in one form or another.

Wordless Wednesday: Babies no more

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Insert clever post here!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Well, I made it to Day 12 of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) before having trouble thinking of a post topic. Actually, the issue isn’t usually writer’s block, but a lack of prioritizing time for writing. I almost said “no time for writing,” but that always feels like a lame cop-out excuse to say that. If I put a higher priority on it, there would be time for it — though, of course, that’s always at the expense of something else. But lately I haven’t prioritized it like I want; instead, I’ve been prioritizing things like reading, exercise, and, yes, sometimes a half-hour of mindless TV before bed. To create more time for writing (and other activities) means sacrificing those other things, which I just haven’t done lately.

So this is going to serve as my post tonight, and then I’m going to watch a TV show and then finish a book before bed. And I’m not going to feel a bit bad about a lame post. πŸ™‚

What IS art?

Monday, November 10, 2014

One big pro of daycare for me is that it has allowed The Girls to do plenty of artwork. I am not an artsy or craftsy person by nature myself and, quite honestly, have little desire to do such projects at home in the time we spend together. (Though, for the record, I do suck it up every once in a while and do something really basic.) So, the fact that they get a chance to do this at daycare (and school for The Big Sis) is awesome. Three cheers for daycare!

However, one big con of daycare for me is all of the artwork (“artwork”) they come home with. At our last daycare, I thought I had finally figured out a pretty good system to determine what to keep and what to recycle. Basically anything with a handprint or a footprint was kept, as well as anything that showed a noticeable developmental progression. That way I was keeping a small selection of the good artwork but didn’t feel pressure to keep every little thing.

Then we switched daycares.

I swear the ONLY projects our new daycare does involve handprints and/or footprints! This is overall not a complaint, as they produce some nice kid artwork — much cuter projects than our last daycare — but it doesn’t help me pare down the volume of artwork that comes home if I continue with my previously successful system for what to keep and what to toss.

Thankfully the amount of artwork to come home has slowed down in elementary school, at least compared to daycare standards, so presumably there’s an endpoint to it within the next couple of years.

What a deal!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

When it comes to children’s clothes, I’m often hesitant to spend too much money, as they’re likely to either wear them out or outgrow them before you truly get your money’s worth out of it. So I’d say that 98% of The Girls’ clothes come from consignment at Once Upon a Child. I can generally get pants that run from $3 to $8, and winter shirts from about $4 to $10 each (and less for shorts and summer shirts), plus they have frequent sales (today was 30% off everything in the store…I got four pair of pants and a shirt for $13 today) that make it worth checking in periodically.

I think the key to success when shopping consignment is to have a general idea of what you’d like to find, but be open and not too set on something very specific. You might run across a shirt you fall in love with, but it’s slightly small for your child. Now, at a regular store, you just look on the same rack and see if they have the next size up, but it’s not guaranteed that they’ll have the next size up at the consignment store (or, if they do, it’s almost certainly not going to be easy to find). Consignment shopping is not for everyone, but I find it’s worthwhile to end up with more clothes (many of which are good brand names that retail for much more) for the same amount of money you’d spend elsewhere.

Singin’ baby

Saturday, November 8, 2014

You know what’s just the best?

Hearing your 3-year-old singing through her monitor, even though it’s an hour past her bedtime, her angelic voice warming your heart with each off-key line.

Flashback Friday — November 2011

Friday, November 7, 2014

(Don’t) make it stop!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

I’ve made no secret of my love of musicals. In fact, I even made a post 3 1/2 years ago where I talk about how eager I was to be at the point of introducing The Big Sis to musicals in a kid-friendly way. This interest/hobby is a big part of who I am — and who I have been for a long time now — but it’s certainly not appealing for everyone. So it makes me truly appreciate the fact that The Big Sis still enjoys musicals, perhaps more than ever before, in fact.

Annie remains a favorite, and she watched The Sound of Music for the first time over the summer and enjoyed that as well. She also is particularly interested in the Wicked songs that come up on one of our Pandora stations. Most recently she and The Little Sis watched Teen Beach Movie (yes, we were a little late to that party) and they both fell in LOVE with it. And, I have to admit, part of me didn’t really want to like it…the part of me that says, “Hey, this was a movie made for people much younger than you are now.” But…but…it’s a musical!

And a confession: I LOVE musicals that acknowledge that they’re musicals. Which means I adore the song “Make It Stop” from Teen Beach Movie. (In addition to Spamalot’s “The Song That Goes Like This.”)

Wordless Wednesday: Fall family fotos

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

So sorry

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I learned early on with The Big Sis that you can’t make someone apologize — you simply cannot force words out of someone else’s mouth. I remember when she was in preschool and would do something that warranted an apology from her to another child and she would flat-out refuse. Short of making threats to get her to apologize (which didn’t feel right), we didn’t really have many other options besides apologizing to the other child on her behalf and hope that she paid attention to the behavior we were trying to model.

In example #4593 of how The Little Sis is completely different from The Big Sis: The other day, The Husband was driving The Little Sis to a gymnastics center for a birthday party. Unfortunately, I got a call from The Husband right around party time — he said that as they arrived at the gymnastics place, The Little Sis threw up in the car, so they were headed back home. I ended up laying her down for her nap that afternoon, and she snuggled up to me and said in a tiny voice, “Mommy, I sorry I fwew up in Daddy’s car today.” Oh, the poor girl! I assured her that she had no reason to apologize for throwing up in the car. It just reminded me how, here she is, apologizing for something beyond her control and thinking about how her actions have affected others, whereas The Big Sis has historically been less empathetic and more attuned to what’s going on in her own world.

(And that’s not to say that The Little Sis is inherently better than The Big Sis…it just goes to show the differences in their personalities.)

Fall conferences

Monday, November 3, 2014
A couple of weeks ago, we had The Little Sis’s fall parent-teacher conference at daycare. Our old daycare didn’t do formal assessments like this, but I find it’s nice to gather information on where your child is currently, what her strengths/weaknesses are, and find out what skills she should be working toward. The Little Sis’s report was very positive — they said she is happy and bright and friendly and is right where she should be regarding things like letter recognition, color identification, and more. One thing we should probably practice more at home is writing her name, as her attempt at that was largely unrecognizable. (I think I made out part of her first letter, but only because I know what it should have been.)

The other comment was that she had been going through a few weeks where she had unexplained accidents a few times a week (which we obviously knew about), but by the time we met for the conference, we seemed to have a better handle on that, so hopefully we’ve moved past that. (Translation: She gets two gummi bears from us for having “potty power” at daycare, and the accidents disappeared immediately. Knock on wood.) They were most impressed with how many letters she knows the sounds of right now — they said they’re not focusing on that at all right now, but we’ve been taking advantage of her strong interests in letters and letter sounds at home, and I’m glad to see it’s benefiting her.


Last week we met with The Big Sis’s teacher for her fall conference. We were told that the Big Sis is above grade level in all areas of assessment, and her MAP scores (199 for both reading and math) are right where they’d expect them to be for her. The Teacher has no concerns with The Big Sis, academically or otherwise, which is always a relief to hear. (I did challenge The Teacher, mostly jokingly, when she said The Big Sis followed all directions the first time. I noted that I’d love her to do the same at home.)
What’s interesting, though, is that we had a 20-minute time slot for the conference, and the first 10 minutes were spent talking about The Big Sis, then somehow The Teacher got sidetracked and told us all about her long journey (that included seven miscarriages) to at-birth adoption of her daughter, who is now 6. I shared that The Husband and I understood such heartache, as we had to take our own medical steps to get The Little Sis and had experienced two losses of our own. That part of the conversation went on so long that we exceeded our initial 20-minute time slot and went over by 10 minutes. Oops! (Sorry, other parents who were waiting!) I have to say, I certainly didn’t expect The Teacher to share all of this with us, but it was nice that she did. (I’m going to pretend that we gave off a vibe that indicated to her that we’d understand, instead of imagining that she told 24 other sets of parents the same stories!)

Work it out

Sunday, November 2, 2014

I am constantly floored by just how easy-going The Little Sis can be most of the time. The other day at dinner, I said something to her — it doesn’t matter what, but it was something that didn’t sit well with her. She said, “Mommy, I so mad at you.” I calmly told her that it was okay for her to be mad at me, and she could talk to me again when she was ready. About five seconds later, she got up, came over to me, gave me a hug, then said as she was sitting down: “Now I so happy again!”

InstaHappy girl!

Happy Halloween from Dorothy and Ariel

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Fizzled fo-shizzle

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Well, I fizzled at the end of Noblopomo, as my sister and her family were in town, but we were at my dad’s house basically the whole time, so not much downtime at home. Oh well — I did pretty well during the month, especially since the blog has taken a lower priority over the past year or so.

Some random thoughts and tidbits:

*We’re still not in what I would consider an active potty training stage with The Little Sis, but she took a huge leap forward over the weekend, staying dry all day on Saturday and Sunday and wearing training undies for most of that time. We’re considering sending some extra undies and extra clothes to daycare tomorrow to see how it goes there. I find it hard to believe that she’d be potty trained THAT easily, but I think it’s probably worth taking a chance.

*My apologies if this offends anyone, but it’s frustrating when people travel with their dogs, then it creates a problem for others. My sister and her family drove 11 hours with their 1-year-old (read: full of energy) German shepherd. I will say that he IS a good dog — and will be even better when he chills out in a few years. However, The Little Sis happens to be going through a stage where she’s scared of big dogs getting in her face (despite being fine with our golden at home), so needless to say, it was quite stressful when the dog would come her way (or heck, even look at her), and she’d completely freak out. On a good day she wants to be near me all the time, so she was super clingy to me when the dog was around — not so great when I’m trying to make a big meal in the kitchen. In fairness, they did send the dog outside a lot of the time when she was screaming, but they couldn’t keep him out all the time, so it was incredibly stressful for both her and me. All I could think is that I could’ve enjoyed the weekend so much more if they had just left the dog at home.

*We have a seasonal outdoor ice skating rink in a downtown park, and yesterday I got brave enough to take The Big Sis ice skating, just the two of us. I hadn’t been skating in at least 15 years (maybe longer) and she hadn’t ever been, so I wasn’t sure how it was go, but it was GREAT! Yes, she fell down a lot, but she got right back up and was actually a natural. At times, she was going so fast and pulling ME around! I only fell once in our 90 minutes on the ice, though that one wasn’t so great because I ended up falling on top of The Big Sis, which got her crying and we had to sit out so she could calm down. But aside from that one incident, it was SUCH a great time together, and she wants to go again soon with The Husband.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

I am thankful to live a life that leads me to be so exhausted after cooking food all day, visiting with family all day, and breaking up quarrels between young children. In the moment, it can be stressful, but in the aftermath, it is all so humbling.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I sit here as my two girls are joined by their two cousins in a sleepover at our house. There was a Christmas movie and popcorn and laughter and now they’re settling into bed, no doubt staying up late talking in the dark. The Cousins live 12 hours from here, so at best we see them once every year or two. (Though this year it was a little more often because they came when my mom was sick, and also for her memorial service, plus we made the drive to their house for our vacation this year.) Anyway, my sister and her husband are (understandably) enjoying a night out at the movies since they are free of children for 15 hours or so. I am happy for them, but I am a little sad for us…

Sure, they agreed to keep The Big Sis with them for a sleepover tomorrow night (much appreciated!), however we’ll still have The Little Sis with us and can’t go out ourselves. :-/ We don’t have an abundance of babysitters in the first place, but have even fewer FREE sitters available, and certainly none we could ask pretty last-minute to stay with The Little Sis on Thanksgiving night while we go out. We can’t really go out earlier in the evening tomorrow (when my sister might be able to watch The Little Sis too…if The Little Sis would even let me out of her sight, as I couldn’t get much more than a foot away from her today without her freaking out) because we have our Thanksgiving dinner planned for approximately regular dinner time, so the timing just wouldn’t work before The Little Sis would have to go to bed. They are leaving on Saturday morning, so Friday night isn’t an option.

The Father-in-Law made a comment to the effect that he’d like the girls (both of them!) to visit him over the summer in Connecticut, which would be terrific and we’ll try to work out. But the logistics of driving up there at least 9 or 10 hours — twice (once to drop off, and once to pick up) — makes the whole thing seem so daunting. We’ve done it before with just The Big Sis, but it wasn’t easy by any means.

I’ve lost track of how many times I wish we had family we could call — even last-minute — and say, “Hey, this came up and we’d love to do it — can you watch the kids?” However, this is not a luxury we have. :-/

Making lemonade…and Scrabble words

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The other story I submitted for my mom’s memorial service earlier this year:

Even when she was faced with great obstacles in life, Mon always wanted to try and make the most of the situation and have fun where possible. When she was going through chemo in 2005, I would go to the hospital with her during her treatments, and we’d pack up some games to take with us, generally having a variety to choose from, but almost always coming back to the classic Scrabble each time. Under normal circumstances, we were fairly evenly matched, but wouldn’t you know, almost every single time we played during those chemo sessions, Mon would win the game, beating her journalist daughter quite handily, to the point that I would jokingly accuse her of cheating by sneaking something into the chemo meds she was receiving.

Some days we would get to enjoy our Scrabble games in one of the private rooms, laughing and talking our way through the minutes and hours to pass the time, though sometimes there wasn’t a private room available and Mom would get treatments in the common area, sharing a space with other patients who were also receiving chemo. But that didn’t stop our fun — we still brought along our Scrabble game, and nearly every time we played it in the common area, someone else would watch us and comment on how great it was for us to pass the time in that way, making the most of a tough situation.

One woman made a point to come over to us and proclaimed, “I’ve been coming here for a long time, and I don’t think I’ve seen anyone have more fun during their treatments than you.” And that woman was probably right — Mom had a way of knowing how to enjoy life, even during the toughest of times.

Pull pull pull!

Monday, November 25, 2013

I forgot that particular childhood obsession when you’re trying desperately to pull out a loose tooth but can’t manage to extract it fully no matter what you try. Sure, each effort gets you a little closer, but in the end you’re still left with a tooth ensconced in your gums despite all the effort. You just want it OUT! NOW!

And that’s exactly where we find The Big Sis these days. Her first top tooth is super loose but still hanging on, and so far no matter what she tries, it won’t come out. So the past two nights have ended with her up past her bedtime trying to pull the tooth out but ultimate giving up (well, being told she had to give up) when it was time for bed and hoping the next day brings the desired result.

Funny on the timing but she had her dental checkup and cleaning today, and everything looks good. Three of her four six-year molars are all the way through, and usually they put sealants over those, but The Dentist wants to wait until all four are in so he can do them at the same time. That fourth one is just under the surface but not breaking through quite yet. Anyway, no cavities and just the usual reminder that flossing is especially important for her because her mouth is small and her teeth are super crowded.

So where did we go straight after the dentist? Out for frozen yogurt (which means an excuse for a bowl of candy for The Big Sis). I totally rock.

No limit

Sunday, November 24, 2013

This is a story I had the minister share at my mom’s memorial service. I haven’t really saved it anywhere other than email, so I’m going to post it here.

Anyone who knew Mom well could tell you that two of her favorite things in life were beach vacations and shopping — and she tried to combine both whenever possible. One year, she, Dad, and Sis, and I were spending the week in Panama City Beach, and the city map showed the location of a shopping center that Mom decided she just had to get to. Dad was in the driver’s seat and Mom was playing navigator — but it’s probably important to note here that Mom often couldn’t read maps that well and didn’t want to — Dad claims that she may have even taken some pride in that fact. But there she was, trying to get to this shopping center, so she was paying extra attention to make sure Dad got us there.

“Keep going straight on this road, then turn onto Limits Drive,” she told him. Dad obeyed, as he knew better than to get in between Mom and her vacation shopping. But we kept driving, and there was no Limits Drive in sight. “Turn around,” she said to Dad. “You must have passed it.” So Dad dutifully turned around and looked more carefully for Limits Drive this time. But still no Limits Drive.

It was time for someone else to take a look at the map, and Mom pointed out Limits Drive on the map to the others. “See? Right here it is,” she pointed. Sure enough, a dotted line was shown on the map, and if only they could find that road, it would take them directly to the shopping center.

“Um, Mom,” I said, probably with an obligatory teenage eye roll. “There’s no such THING as Limits Drive. The dotted line you’re looking at is where the city limits are marked on the map. There’s not actually a road there. We have to get there a different way, on a road that actually exists.”

We all got a good laugh out of it, and it became a frequent family joke that still continues to this day. Mom was always good-natured and took the relentless teasing at her expense. So, Mom, wherever you are, we hope you’ve finally found your Limits Drive — and that the shopping you find there was worth the wait.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

I was on a pretty good roll with NaBloPoMo, then a yucky stomach bug hit me on Friday morning and I was out of the game. Boo! Hiss!

People play

Thursday, November 21, 2013
As shown in yesterday’s Wordless Wednesday, The Little Sis has been playing with her Little People a lot lately. She’ll set them in chairs around a table and have them eat dinner…have them go on trips in the airplane…have them use the potty in the house.
Anyway, she’ll set up these little scenes, then ask me to take a picture! “Go get camera?” she’ll say.

A girl after my heart!

So I’ll take a picture, then of course she wants to see it. So I’ll hold the camera for her, and she says a quiet “ahhhh!” almost under her breath when she sees it, then she always asks, “I hold it.”
So I let her hold it.
And she looks at it, amused and self-satisfied.
Then she carefully turns off the camera and hands it back. “Here go!”

Wordless Wednesday: People play

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ten things

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

So there’s the meme going around Facebook where you share X number of things people might not know about you. For a variety of reasons, I’m not too keen to do it there, but I’ll share here so I can have a post for today. πŸ˜‰

1. I should have received the school-wide typing award my junior year in high school. We did a series of timed tests to determine who got the award, and I had the highest cumulative score, but another girl scored a couple points below me and received the award instead of me, simply because she was a senior and I was not, the teacher told me.

2. I took German in junior high and high school but didn’t take any foreign languages in college. In fact, most people who get a journalism degree go for a BA, but I didn’t want to take anymore foreign language classes, so I opted for a BS, which is often viewed as tougher. I was the only journalism degree my graduating year who opted for the BS. I don’t speak German now, but my 8th grade teacher said she wanted to teach us a phrase that’s immensely useful, and indeed I have always remembered it. Es hangt davon ab. “It depends.” πŸ™‚ I can also say that I go into the city. That’s about it. πŸ™‚

3. As a copy editor, sometimes I say things in my head how they’re spelled, now how they’re actually pronounced, so I have to be careful when speaking sometimes. However, this goes back to my school days as well. I was shamed by my 5th grade teacher for mispronouncing the word “participle.” I said it “par-TIS-iple.”

4. I like my shower and bath water as hot as possible.

5. Aside from Love Actually, my favorite Christmas movie is “A Very Brady Christmas.” For reals. It is so bad, but I love it.

6. My kids are 4 1/2 years apart, the oldest born in January and the youngest in August. My sister’s kids are 4 1/2 years apart — also with the oldest born in January and the youngest in August.

7. I quit swim lessons when we were told that we were going to have to jump off the high dive the next day. My low dive jump had not gone well, as I struggled a bit to tread water, and I had no interest in doing it off the high dive. I swim fine now. About seven years ago, I finally conquered my fear of the high dive and jumped off it. While I can’t say I want to do that repeatedly, I’m glad I sort of tied that loose end.

8. My initial inspiration for becoming a journalist was reading “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl” as she wants to be a journalist. Coincidentally, we also share a birthday.

9. I don’t always have a specific side of the bed — it’s whichever side of the bed is closest to the bathroom.

10. I have had two broken bones but never have had a cast. One was my nose when I was younger and cracked it on the edge of the concrete porch. The second time was as an adult playing intramural softball for work and I came down on my leg weird and slightly cracked my tibia.