Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Millie, in the last week or so, has become really affectionate.

She loves to come over, climb up next to you and give you kisses.

Or, when someone comes home, she ambles over and reaches upward, waiting not-so-patiently to be scooped up and cuddled.

I gave both girls a bath Monday night, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite times of the week. The girls splished and splashed together, and Lola happily entertained her sister.

Afterward, Millie was beyond enamored with her older sister.

And she went out of her way to show her appreciation the only way she knows how...

Running hugs.

- Bethany :)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Lola the Brave

Kids can surprise you.

We were finishing up the last of our back-to-school shopping on Saturday, walking from one end of our little mall to the other.

We passed by the local tween-ish jewelry store.

Lola slowed down, looking back over her shoulder almost imperceptibly.

"What?" I said, teasing her perhaps a little more than I probably should have. "You want to get your ears pierced?"

I've been asking her, mostly kidding, since she was about 4.

But this time, she smiled, shyly, but confidently.

And nodded.

The kid who screams bloody murder when she stubs a toe, the one who needs a bandage for every little scrape, even the ones that don't break the skin... she wants to get her ears pierced?

I was on dangerous ground here. I wanted to encourage her. But I would not lie to her.

I knelt down, looked her in the eye and asked her, "Are you sure?"

She nodded.

"It will hurt," I said. "It will hurt for just a minute, like when you get a shot. I know you can do it, if you want to. You're a big girl and Mommy and Daddy are so proud of you, whether you want to do this or not."

She rolled her eyes at me.

(She does this a lot now.)

And repeated, quietly, "I want to."

By now the clerk had come to join us, waiting to hear our ultimate decision.

I know my kid can be brave, when she wants to be.

But I'm also not stupid.

And there was no way I was going to have her walking around with one pierced ear for a dozen years or so.

"You can do them both at the same time?" I asked.


I told the nice store employee, on the sly, that it wouldn't surprise me if Lola backed out. But, yes, I'd like to start filling out the paperwork.

Lola took her place on the chair, a little nervous, but mostly excited.

She picked out the Hello Kitty studs.

I filled out the paperwork.

And the nice lady clipped back my older daughter's hair.

She drew dots on her earlobes.

And then it was time...

Now, with two nice store employees, they each took their position and lined up their needle guns.

Lola clutched my hand, grinning the whole time.

I told her she could close her eyes, if she wanted to.

She didn't.

And then...

... she cried out.

For just a split second.

Her face squinched and her eyes dropped big ol' crocodile tears.

Then, the nice ladies gave her a lollipop.

And I promised to let her pick out something special inside.

A minute later, she was just fine.

Happy even.

Lola the Brave.

She's growing up too darned fast.
- Bethany :)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Life with Lola: the love edition

Lola heard a love song on the radio yesterday afternoon and asked what the girl was singing about.

"It's about a girl and a boy who are in love," I said.

"Awww," she swooned. "Just like you and Daddy are in love."


Funnier still, when I relayed the story, with Lola's help, to Ray, he and I simultaneously added, "Most days."

At least we're in sync.

Most days.


Lola that same evening, later told us that the inside of her mouth hurt (I think she bit her lip).

"Were you kissing boys?" I teased.

"No kissing boys," Ray added, emphatically.

Lola smirked, "Mommy kisses boys."

Now, Ray is out of town, usually six days a week. There's not a whole lot of kissing going on under our roof most days.

So, understandably, Ray was a bit perplexed.

"What boys?" Ray asked, calmly but confused.

Lola laughed, "You."

Then she paused.

"And sometimes Mustang, too."

Happy weekend everyone.
- Bethany :)

moving on...

Wondering what this was all about?

Breaking up is hard to do.

And I don't mean husbands. Ray and I are just fine.

I mean day cares.

We love our daycare and we have very much appreciated everything they have done for us and our children, especially as we went through our challenges with Millie.

But some developments caused us to reconsider what is best for our girls right now. So I had to break the news yesterday that we're going to try a new facility once school starts.

It was not an easy conversation at all, so, yeah, I had a drink or two last night.

Two? What about that solo-parenting thing?


Ray came home early! Perfect timing.

And, as an added bonus, we went and got me a new cell phone.

So despite a mostly tough day, it ended on a much better note.

And that makes me happy.
- Bethany :)

Thursday, August 22, 2013


I haven't had a drink in weeks, perhaps even months.

(No, I'm not in recovery; I just avoid the empty calories as much as possible.)

But, tonight, there is a bottle of wine with my name on it.

(And, no, not the whole bottle, just a glass - I mean, I am still solo-parenting during the week.)

It has been a long, emotional morning.

- Bethany :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

weekend recap

We survived the garage sale!

Thanks to dear friends and family who came into town to visit and watch the girls, I was able to (mostly) focus on the garage sale, make a few hundred dollars, and deepen my summer tan a bit.

I still have one garage stall full of leftover stuff, but I'd say I easily sold 4/5 of everything I had for sale, including all but one of the "big" items.

So I'm happy.

In kid-related news, Lola and I were listening to this song the other day.

"Mommy," she said. "What are angel armies?"

So we talked some about angels, Jesus, God and how we're never really all alone, even when we might feel scared.

I took that as an opportunity to talk some about school and how, even if kindergarten initially is kind of intimidating, she won't be alone there either, that if she wants angels to keep her company, they will.

She laughed.

"I won't need angels at school, Mommy," she said.


"No, I will have all my friends and my teacher at school," she said.

Then she paused.

"Maybe in time-outs though. I get lonely when you put me in time-out."

- Bethany :)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

We're done.

Friday will mark the beginning of one of the stupider decisions I've made in recent years: to hold a garage sale (which, by the way, will be my first and last garage sale).

Ray and I months ago came to the mutual decision to rid our home of baby items, the stuff we no longer use and have absolutely no plans to use again.

In other words: We're done. Our family is complete.

Ray and I, together, last year came to the conclusion that we were done having children. We did so before we had Millie's diagnosis. So we know we made the decision on our own, without added considerations.

But this spring, we learned some genetic details that further cemented our decision. And while we did decide to stop procreating before that new information came to light, it also felt a little bit like a loss, if that makes any sense at all.

So I didn't know how I'd feel as I actually opened those baby tubs a few weeks ago, to begin sorting through and pricing baby items.


It felt freeing.

I really expected to get twinges of regret as I removed itsy bitsy newborn onesies and baby socks (that never did stay on the girls' feet but did work well as baby mittens).

Instead, my reaction was much like, "Oh, I remember when Lola wore this, she screamed for four hours straight, thank gawd I won't have to go through that again."

That's not to say there weren't fond memories. There were, hundreds of them.

And I got to share them with Lola, since she helped me pair up outfits. I recapped her on a lot of the clothing and their associated memories, what she wore to her first-ever wedding (at three weeks old), or what Millie wore to her first "real" photo shoot.

She especially got a kick out of seeing her name on her "butt panties," the diaper cover we'd special-ordered for her first birthday.

Of course, there were about a dozen outfits that I had to set aside, that I have no intention of selling, unable to part with them.

But, overall, I am enjoying the idea of the rest of it leaving my house, to move on to families that will (hopefully) actually use it.

We're done.

And, surprisingly perhaps, I'm just fine with that.

- Bethany :)

Monday, August 12, 2013


With both my daughters, I've been blessed with good sleepers.

I can pretty much count on 12-hour stretches each night with the potential of 13 to 14 hours on the weekends. So me sleeping 'til 8 a.m. on Saturdays is kind of a given and 9 a.m. is almost an expectation.

Every now and then, though, one of the girls will throw a wrench into my schedule.

At 5:45 a.m. this past Saturday, Lola comes bouncing into my bedroom, "Hi Mommy! Is it time to get donuts?"




The day before, I'd told Lola that if she was a good girl (my aunt was babysitting), I'd consider taking her and Millie downtown for some doughnuts in the morning.

So there she was, eyes wide, hopeful, so darned happy.

It wasn't even 6 a.m. yet.

I muttered something about it being way too early and drew the covers over my head.

But by then the dog was up, pacing around on the bed, needing to go to the bathroom.

And was that Millie I heard playing in her crib?

Stalling, I rolled over and my right cheek landed directly in a nice ol' puddle of puppy puke.

And I knew I was at a crossroads.

At this point, I had two choices. One, let myself get really, really annoyed and crabby. My day was starting way too early and the whole 4-5 seconds I had been (mostly) awake, it wasn't going well at all.

Or, I'd have to dig deep, find some leftover energy somewhere that could propel us all forward for a little bit longer; I just need enough positiveness to last until Ray got home, hopefully by 7 p.m.

It took a few moments. But I did find it.

I laughed off - and washed off - the puppy's mess on my face and stripped the bed, getting the first of nine loads of laundry into the machine.

I got Lola started on her morning routine and got Millie out of her crib.

I got the puppy outside and the cat fed.

I knew I'd need a little pick-me-up and nothing gets me energized like exercise. So, within the hour, the kids were packed into the stroller and we'd started the two-mile trek downtown. (Yes, I know my older daughter is 5 and doesn't  need to be in the stroller, but I was aiming for an actual workout, not a stroll. My goal was 15-minute miles and I couldn't do that with a dawdling youngster.)

We got downtown, bought some donuts for the girls and I, then, let them play a while at a favorite park.

I was feeling pretty good: Look at me, being all awake and invested before 8 a.m. And without a Caribou.

After a while, we headed toward home, but we took the long way, because I just had to register five whole miles. (That was sarcasm.)

About halfway there, I was booking it pretty good, on pace when I got a text from Ray. Not wanting to slow down, of course, I went to retrieve my cell phone from my back pocket. I kind of half-flipped it to my fingers, but I missed. I felt myself lose grip.

It went end over end, in the air, as I reaced fruitlessly to grab hold.

It landed, face-first, on the sidewalk.

I knew before I picked it up that it had shattered.

Sure enough, its screen looked like my windshield after a run-in with a large rock.

"Daddy's going to be mad at you!" Lola said.

I destroyed my last cell phone about six months ago, after dropping it in water.

This one was only about three months old.

Luckily, the phone is still operable - a little duct tape is holding the battery cover in place and the screen while splintered is still letting me text.

Ray has gotten more more used to my "I love you lots! Oh by the way..." texts so he wasn't mad as much as humored.

But I was still annoyed. Luckily, my contract is up this week so I should be able to get a new cell phone this weekend. (Hopefully this one will last me til at least Christmas for crying out loud...)

More than anything, though, I was ready for Ray to come home. And he did just that, arriving just in time to put the girls to bed that night.

Fortunately for all of us, the rest of the weekend went much more smoothly.

The kids even let us sleep 'til 8:30 a.m. on Sunday.

- Bethany :)

fitting in

You know what does not exist?

A support organization for those with Trisomy 16q24.1 to 24.3.

Millie is one of a kind. There is no documented case of another human being with the exact same genetic condition -- her so-called "problem" -- and very, very few with a near-similar makeup (and they have markedly different presentations).

Sometimes, often, I feel like we're on an island.

But last week, we got to, kind of, feel like part of a larger group.

Thursday marked Dairy Queen Miracle Treat Day, when DQ gave $1 from every Blizzard treat to Children's Miracle Network Hospital, of which Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare is a member (Gillette's is where Millie goes to check in with her neurologist and have some of her more specialized testing done).

So, I picked the girls up after daycare and we drove 15 miles to the nearest participating DQ.

And the girls had a treat; Millie's first DQ treat.

- Bethany :)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Princess Amelia

Recently, Millie has been taking notice of Lola's painted toes. And my painted fingers.

Since the actual act of nail-painting is done after she's already in bed (it's hard enough to polish fingers without adding an inquisitive 2-year-old to the mix), she has gotten into the habit of checking our fingers most mornings, to see if they changed color.

Well, this past weekend, I figured she was (maybe) ready for some painted toes of her own.

It took her a few minutes to figure it all out, the polish, the toe dividers, etc.

But once she linked it all together - that she was the one to be getting her nails done - she beamed.

She did so well with her toes that I did her fingers too, which was much, much harder.

But so very worth it.

And the best part? Lola got to help and take part in the whole experience as well. She was manning the camera to capture everything on "film" for me.

(Unfortunately, I forgot my mostly crappy camera requires you to actually hit the flash button to pop the flash up - it doesn't do it on its own - so every single photo is blurry and unfocused. But that wasn't user error; that was Mommy's fault for not thinking everything through.)

But that's beside the point.

The main point is that Millie, for perhaps the first time ever, felt like a Princess girl.

Afterward, in fact, she led us into Lola's room, where she indicated a desire to play Princess dress-up, so we did, layering on her necklaces, bracelets, rings and tiaras (which she promptly threw off; she hates having things on top of her head).

Ever since, she has carried around with her one of the play necklaces wherever she goes.

Princess Millie.

She is such a sweetheart.
- Bethany :)

P.S. Can you tell we finally got her hair cut this past weekend?

Monday, August 5, 2013


I'm sure I'm going to regret this later.

But I'll say it anyway...

I think I'm getting the hang of this solo-parenting thing.

It took me a few weeks, for sure. But I kind of, really, mostly, somewhat think I'm getting it down pretty well most days.

Take Friday, for instance.

It started with a doctor's appointment for Lola...

She was clean, dressed, polished (mostly) and pretty upbeat about the whole thing.

Because I was less than 70 percent sure that she wasn't getting shots, and I needed to distract her while we were there, we planned for our first-ever away-from-home scavenger hunt and brought along five crayons.

By the time the appointment was over, we found our five colored objects and Lola passed her vision and hearing tests without even one objection. And, added bonus, no shots!

So then it was time for some fun.

I'd promised Lola that if she ws good at the doctor, she could choose what we did the rest of the day (her appointment was at 8:30 a.m. so we had a long day ahead of us).

Lola, in the car, before we even pulled out of our clinic parking space, "I want to go to the swings ride at the place that is really far away!"

(Translation: She wants to go to Nickelodeon Universe at Mall of America, about four hours away from our house.)

Me: "Um, no. I meant you could choose what we do here all day, as in, here in Bemidji."

Lola: "But you said I could pick!"

Me: "You can pick, within reason."

Fortunately, the county fair was in town. And there was a midway...

So, I gave myself a few (dozen) pep talks, convinced myself that, yes, I could manage it on my own, with a 5-year-old who wants to ride roller-coasters all day long and a 2-year-old who is now well into her completely independent stage, and off we went...

Fortunately, both girls were angels.

And they loved it all.

Then, the impossible happened.

I convinced my super shy, introverted, afraid of people and all new things (except roller coasters) soon-to-be-kindergartner to take a pony ride.

Better yet, once she got atop the pony, she loved it.

In fact, since we watched the barrel racing a bit, she's now asking if she can take real horseback-riding lessons...

It was, honestly, one of the best days I can remember.

The only downside -- and it's a biggee, obviously -- was that we were missing Ray.

But I don't want the girls to miss out on experiences just because I'm a little (a lot) afraid of screwing up in public.

So, that evening, I pushed my luck a little bit more and we went down to the waterfront for the kickoff for our local dragon boat festival.

It went fine.

I think we were all mostly worn out from the fair. The parade was fun and such but the girls (and I) were wiped. We went home and crashed.

The next morning, Saturday, Ray was still gone so I packed the girls up for library storytime, more dragon boat racing, and not-everyday activities, such as digging in a big ol' pile of dirt in the middle of downtown.

By the time Ray did get home, we were all more than happy to stay close to the house.

And have lots and lots of Daddy time.

A win-win for everyone, I think.
- Bethany :)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

a perfect night?

2:30 a.m.

Millie starts whimpering.

That's not terribly unusual. She wakes on occasion, maybe once every week or two, cries for a few minutes and falls back to sleep.

So I pause.


2:33 a.m.

Millie begins shrieking.

So I half-run to her room and find her, lying on her back, screaming, or trying to, while trying to cough whatever is stuck in her chest out of her little throat.

I scoop her up. She catches her breath and waits expectantly until I hand over her "cuddles" -- in the last 2-3 weeks, she has suddenly become inseparable with with her blanket -- ans she lays her head on my shoulder.

And instantly falls asleep.

2:35 a.m.

I'm swaying in her nursery, debating.

Nice mom? Bring her to bed with me, something I haven't done in two years.

Mean mom? Lay her back down so she can get herself back to sleep.

Sometimes you just want to be the hero...

2:36 a.m.

I walk into my bedroom, Millie resting, still, against my shoulder.

She cries out as I pull her from me but when she realizes we're in Mommy's Room, she smiles.

I set her against my pillow and she whimpers, quieting only when I lie down next to her.

She pulls her "cuddles" to her chin and rolls over, resting her head on my chest.

And she sleeps.

I sleep.

4 a.m.

Mustang is not happy.

The Baby is in his usual spot, curled up next to Mommy's side.

He tries to wedge himself between us.

Millie shoves him out of the way.

Mustang whimpers.

Mommy giggles. And then shoos him to the foot of the bed.

Millie turns deeper into my side and I begin softly rubbing the small of her back.

We sleep.

5 a.m.

I'm being tickled.

I fight the very strong urge to throw whatever it is off the bed.

I loathe being tickled.

As I come to consciousness, I see Millie next to me, tracing her index finger over the length of my arm, the top of my hand, mimicking my previous rubbing of her back.

She's still sleeping. Or at least appears to be.

I smile.

And we sleep some more.

Entangled in each other's arms.

- Bethany :)