Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Princess sisters

I think Millie is starting to "get" it.

Yesterday, she understood that she wasn't going to her "friends school" (daycare) but I think she just figured it was a special day.

It was today, after "Jesus school" (preschool) that she put it together.

I told her I had a special friend in the car -- and then very quickly amended that to say that Mustang was in the car, lest she think I thought a Grandma or Grandpa with me.

She immediately got excited and signed, asking if we were going home.

And I said yes. And then asked if that was OK, or would she rather go to "friends school."

But she didn't hear me, she was already three-fourths of the way down the hallway.


Myself, I'm doing quite well, just two days in.

I have to learn to stay less busy I think. I overdid it, yesterday and today, thanks in large part to a new furniture project. But there are a few things that I have long wanted to get done.

This morning, finally, I was able to finish a mini project for the girls' room.

I wanted to make a photo collection for them from their Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique experience at Disney World, when they were transformed into mini Elsas. I had considered making them their own photo book or scrapbook, but the photos fit their bedroom theme so nicely...

So I dug out some unused frames and got to work.

Every time I see this photo, I hear Oprah's voice, shouting,
"You're an Elsa, you're an Elsa, even Minnie's an Elsa!"

This was taken after two young ladies (mid-teens) stopped
and asked Lola if they could take their picture with her.
It was a special moment for her, since just a few minutes earlier
another young woman had stopped Millie ("The Girl on Fire") and
asked if she could take her picture with her and have her autograph.
It was just really nice that both girls had a "celebrity" experience
so no one felt bad or funny about it at all, if that makes any sense.

Plus, you know, all Princesses wear tennis shoes.  :)

 A pressed penny Lola saved from the trip.
(I can't believe we haven't lost it yet.)

Millie saw it when she came home a bit ago -- and loved it.

I'm excited to see Lola's reaction this afternoon....

Monday, April 27, 2015

Day One

It has been lovely. Simply lovely.

Friday, April 24, 2015

last day of work.

I go from excitement to fear in a moment's notice.

I'm happy and sad. And anxious and thrilled.

I did my nails last night, to work out some nervous energy. 
(For those not in News, - 30 -  was used by reporters to mark the end of an article.)

Just a little bit longer...

I keep trying to write my "last" (at least for now) article.

My mind drifts.

I save too many emails. My "happy notes" folder has 184 messages. 

Like this one:
Wow, you did an amazing job on my story today! I really appreciate all the
work you put into it, and I'm sure the (university) would approve. I have to tell
you, I've been interviewed quite a few times about my story--both print and
televised, and your interview was one of the most enjoyable I've ever had.
You did an incredible amount of research beforehand, asked knowledgeable
questions about the technical aspects of the treatment (I know how
complicated this stuff is), and laid it out beautifully on the paper! I hope
your employers know what a great reporter they have!

That particular email was written by a young man with cancer. Sadly, he has since passed on.

My job (I mean reporting in general -- I'm not speaking specifically about my current-but-not-for-much-longer employer) has had its challenges, its occasional frustrations.

But it's also brought me great joy and I was able to meet hundreds of amazingly talented and inspirational people.

I'll miss it. Even though I'm also excited for the next chapter.

So, yeah.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Shopping can be exhausting.

Lola can be exhausting.

She's a lot like me, always talking, always questioning, always wondering -- and lately she's been obsessed with everybody.

"Everybody has a mom."
"Everybody has legs."
"Everybody has a house."
"Everybody has books."

With each and every instance, we try to talk her through it so she understand that, no, not everyone has a home with two parents and a sibling, under a roof of their own, in a place of their own. We try.

Generally, these conversations go pretty well at home.

When we're out grocery shopping? Not so much.

This past weekend, while walking down the ice cream aisle (I swear we were only there for the frozen French toast sticks! Though now that I say that, I don't know if that's any better than the ice cream...) and Lola started in on it again.

"Everybody has a mom," she said. Out of the blue. Nothing prompts it, just her general thoughts on life.

"No, no they don't," I corrected.

"But everyone has to come out of a mom's tummy so they have to have a mom," she argued.

Well, they had a female carrier, yes, but does that really make one a mom? Or should I get into the whole concept of surrogates? At age 6?

"No," I said, simply. "Sometimes you might have a mom at first but things happen and maybe they can't stay with you or maybe they get sick or -- oh look, hot dog buns! What kind do you want? With seeds or without?"

Change the subject, change the subject, change the subject.

"Everybody has a dad then?" she continued.

"No, no," I said, "same kind of thing, sort of, kind of. Let's talk about this at home."

She ignores me, saying instead, "Everybody has a sister," and when I began to correct that, she added, "Or a brother."

"No, honey, there really isn't anything that 'everybody' has," I tried to explain. "Everybody has struggles, everybody has fears, everybody has feelings but there really isn't anything that everybody can physically hold that is universal for all people."

"Everybody has 100 cents," she countered.

"No, Baby, no, some people don't have money at all."

"Everybody has a clock."

No, no, no...

And then, finally, triumphantly, "Everybody has clothes."

"Well, no, not really," I said.

Lola was now exasperated, "They're not walking around naked Mommy!"

We were now in the baking aisle. The nice lady we passed who was nearby, trying to simply get her own shopping done, couldn't suppress a smile as I tried, unsuccessfully, to talk about clothing depots and donations, about places people can go to find things they need.

And then, once out of earshot (I think?) I begged, honestly begged, Lola to let it go until we got home.

A few days earlier, it was Friday afternoon. The beginning of the weekend.

I was happy, the kids were happy, it was time to relax and have a few days of fun. No real plans, just some family time.

We were driving home from daycare, taking the main stretch through town. Listening to songs, singing some "Wheels on the Bus" for Millie.

It was warm and sunny.

With a breeze and we even had the windows open.

Light and breezy. The best way to start the weekend.

"Mommy, I think that's where my grave will be some day," Lola said, simply, completely out of the blue, as we passed the local cemetery.

No introduction, no transition, just simple fact.

"Um, well, maybe," I stuttered. "But we don't have to talk about that today. Or tomorrow. Or, you know, ever."

I told her she has a long time before we have to talk about her grave.

"OK," she said, taking a breath.

And then, a few beats later, "Will you be buried there someday?"

Exhausting. She's so exhausting some days.

But she makes me laugh. Even when I want to cry.

Friday, April 17, 2015

the high bar

A little more than a month ago, Lola had an incident at gymnastics where she refused to go on up to the high bar. She was scared.

This isn’t anything new, Lola tends to shy away from lots of scary things. For example, we went through the same thing a half-year or so ago, when she refused to go on the high beam for a while too.

She didn’t get in trouble after the high bar incident but we had a lot of long talks about it, about how she shouldn’t be afraid to try new things. That her teacher wouldn’t ask her to do something unsafe. That she would be watched and protected the whole time.

We talked a lot about bravery, about being strong, about taking risks even if they’re intimidating. That when someone asks you to try something new, you trust them. That t teacher wouldn’t ask you to do something dangerous.

So she and I made a “contract” -- where she agreed that even if she was scared, she would at least attempt to go on the high bar the next time the teacher asked her to. Even if she didn’t feel comfortable hanging on it, she had to at least try.

Now, Lola happens to attend the daycare center that is attached to the gymnastics center. So, on occasion, they get to play in the gym and run around.

Wouldn’t you know, the next day I go to pick her up from gymnastics and she is sitting on the counter of the gymnastics center, crying, holding a bag of ice to her face.

Her daycare teacher explained that she got hurt jumping into the pit of foam. Lola tried to talk to me, but she was quite emotional, clearly in some degree of pain, and nearly hysterical so I just gathered the girls and got them into the car, where we could talk a little easier.

I asked her what happened.

“I was - (sob) - trying to - (sob) - do a flip - (sob) - off the mats into the - (sob) pit,” she wailed. 
As she flipped around, her knee came up and smacked her face, right in her lip.

“Lola, I don’t think you know how to do flips into the pit, do you?” I asked.

Pike jumps, tuck jumps, straddle jumps, sure, but not flips...

“(A friend) she told me I should try,” Lola said, taking deeper breaths, calming down. “And I know it was scary but you said I should be brave, that I should try to do things that are scary, that I should trust myself and be strong.”

This is where I think I beat my forehead against the steering wheel.

“Lola, I meant teachers. Gymnastics teachers, not your older friends.” 

But of course, it was a little too late for that.

So, that night, we talked a bit more, about the difference between listening to teachers’ requests and ideas from friends. We talked a lot about the difference between learning new skills at gymnastics with a teacher helping you and playing around at open gym.

Still, yeah, this one was all on me. Mommy fail.

As life happens, gymnastics since then has been focused on other skills, on their routines for an upcoming show. And Lola wasn’t asked to go back on the high beam. Still, that contract has been sitting in our house, waiting.

Last night, I snuck out of gymnastics for a bit to call someone and when I came back in, I saw Lola nervously waiting in line for her turn on the uneven bars. And then I saw that, one by one, the girls were going up on the high bar.

Now, one nice benefit of Millie’s communication delays is that we can all communicate to each other while we're far away from each other. I signed to Lola, Are you scared? and she nodded. But she didn’t ask that she be allowed not to do it and I certainly didn’t volunteer that option.

And then her turn came…

I asked her, later, if she had fun.

“Yeah, it was a lot of fun,” she said.

“Are you excited to do it again?”

“Um, no, not really,” She paused. “But I will."

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

catching up...

We were sitting down to dinner last night, in a bit of a rush because Lola had to be at gymnastics 45 minutes early for a group photo. So things weren't going as smoothly as they could have been.

Lola sat at her seat and sighed, "I wish I had orange juice."

And she was not-harshly reprimanded, just told that she shouldn't just "wish" for things to happen but, you know, actually get up and get them herself. Or, short of that, ask someone nicely to help her.

Ray went to get the orange juice while I suggested, again not meanly but perhaps somewhat firmly, that Lola should maybe consider getting a cup down to help her father out.

She sighed again, this time more loudly.

Millie was sitting next to her at the table and hit a button on her talker, "I am so lucky to have such a nice family."

I think it just might have been her first sarcastic statement.

We all laughed and the mood lightened, appropriately.


Life has been in transition, as we prepare for our changes coming at the end of the month, so forgive the lack of updates here. Between busy weekends and other happenings, I've just not had a lot of time to write here.

But the countdown is surely on, as I'm in my single-digit countdown of days left of work.

Ray has been  busy working at constructing my new garden! I'm so excited -- he did an amazing job, I think. Exactly what we wanted.

We can't really plant yet, of course, but he will soon start his crazy summertime hours so it was nice to get a jump on it.

I took the girls to their first-ever college tennis match last weekend. My old team was in town playing the local college team so I briefly visited with my old coach.

And the girls got to watch some doubles action.

And then, later in the weekend, we went and saw "Honk," the musical, a version of The Ugly Duckling. The girls loved it.

Did you catch that I had three little girls with me?

Yeah, so the Minnie Mouse...

Millie got her as a gift at Christmastime, and while she always liked her, she was never really obsessed with her or anything -- until last week. Now she won't go anywhere without her.

It is complicating my already-difficult daycare drop-offs even further. 

But it's also pretty dang adorable.

The other day, for Sunday School, I needed to find my confirmation photo (long story.) While digging around for it, I found an old box of Bethany things, from my own childhood, including a few large boxes of Barbie accessories.

Now the dolls themselves, those aren't that novel for the girls, as I frequently let them play with my old Barbies, but I've never before broken out the boxes of accessories and clothes, mainly because they've been too little to be careful with the itty bitty shoes and everything else.

In retrospect, I should have probably waited until the boredom that will come this summer, but, well, I'm impatient.

So I let them at it.
Lola was speechless.

Well, only for a few minutes.

As she opened each box and explored each outfit, she hit octaves only dogs can hear.

"You are the most awesome Mommy in the entire whole world!" she cried.

OK, win. I'll take that any day.

She's pretty special, that Lola.
She's growing up more every day. And while I kind of, sort of regret the giant mess she made in the living room, it was worth it, not only for the amount of excitement she had, but more so for the experiences we shared, as we dressed and undressed dozens of Barbies.

We're all looking forward to a fun summer.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter 2015

Easter love.

We had a nice holiday, visiting and celebrating with family. We did the egg hunt, the girls got baskets.

It was a little odd in that we didn't do the egg dyeing until Sunday evening, but we ended it on the most perfect note (in my opinion).

Lola was asked to go pick out a book to read to us and she came back with The Giving Tree.

Note her blue-dyed index finger.

Easter memories.