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Archive for the ‘Olivia’ Category

Something New

We tried something new this Thanksgiving.

Nope.  Not a recipe.  Not a new game.  Not shopping on Black Friday.  Not even something REALLY fun like sleeping in.

Olivia and I took a trip.  To the Emergency Room.  Where we discovered (much to my surprise, actually) that she had broken her wrist.

Oh, and to make it even better, she had to have a HUGE splint on to immobilize it for 6 (!!!!) days.  We were out of state when it happened and they wouldn’t cast it immediately to accomodate swelling (of which she had none).  Then it was the weekend and orthopedic doctors don’t have office hours, which was too bad because Olivia was VERY intrigued by the idea of getting a cast from the same doctor that casted me several times as a teenager.  🙂  Then we weren’t able to get an appointment here at home until the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

I think I just about lost my mind trying to follow the emergency room orders of “don’t let it get bumped around at all until it’s casted”.  Uhhh, she’s an eight year old kid.  With two younger siblings.  And an hours-long car ride home in which she sits at the very back of the mini-van where I cannot keep the closest eye on her.

But it gets even better.  At her appointment last Tuesday, I learned that the location of her break is a prime spot for “bone slipping”–when the bone shifts and causes it to heal unevenly aligned.  Nice.  That earned Olivia an above-the-elbow cast and weekly appointments for x-rays to check alignment.  After three weeks, we get to move to a shorter cast and xrays for 3 more weeks.

Perhaps you’re asking what happens if they discover, at any point, that the bone has slipped.  I sure did.  Well, it turns out that they’d sedate her, re-break the bone, and start the process all over again.  Gah.  It makes my stomach turn just thinking about it.

Luckily, things look good so far.  She was just xrayed today and everything looks perfect.  I did tell Olivia that she is NOT ALLOWED to break any more bones, though.  She also had a major to-do about 3 years ago when she fell off a chair, dislocated her elbow, and came very close to severing a nerve.  That particular incident also happens to be one of my most horrible “bad mother” stories, so I’ll just save it for another day.

Needless to say, this year’s something new is not a Thanksgiving tradition I hope to continue!


Photographic Evidence

In the Apple Orchard with Grandpa Jerry

My Dad came up for a visit.  We had a wonderful time…except for the stomach bug that kept his long-time girlfriend, S, in the hotel room all weekend.

Picking Pumpkins

The very next weekend we went back to the same place for the pumpkin fields.  Notice that we were all wearing short sleeves (and were too hot in long pants!) last weekend, yet had to drag out the fleece jackets just seven days later (and were still cold!)?

Action Shot

We’ve watched Olivia play some great soccer.

Darth Vader

Olivia carved her own pumpkin from start to finish this year

Haunted House

We carved some fantastic pumpkins.  My carving contribution was an Elmo for Amelia, but I didn’t even realize until I uploaded pictures that I never took a picture of it.  I hope it’s not mush when I head out to snap a picture of it in all it’s lighted glory.  I just went to check:  Yep…mush.  There will be no photographic record of the cuteness.  😦


80s Day at school

Olivia and Owen dressed for 80s Day at school.  Yes, I’m completely aware that the 80s Rocker wig and the preppy turned up collar don’t go together.  🙂  I wanted to turn Owen’s curls into a “Flock of Seagulls” style or use a piece of the wig to make a “tail”, but he would have nothing to do with those once he saw this monstrosity!  Olivia thought it was HILARIOUS that I dressed like this every day when I was her age!



Some little sweetheart decided she just had to turn 2!!!

Trick or Treat

We trick or treated in our neighborhood after the birthday party.  Yes, it’s weird, but our city doesn’t do trick or treating on Halloween.  The city schedules it for the afternoon of the closest Sunday.  Our neighborhood does their own little thing on the Saturday evening closest to Halloween.  It is VERY strange to get used to…

Anyway, Owen is Darth Vader.  The giraffe is Amelia.  Olivia is a preteen Dracula.  Other party revelers are a candy witch  and an (older) preteen Dracula.

Halloween Lunch Menu

Olivia and Owen had a little lunchbox surprise for Halloween.

Looks Delish!

The mummy and vampire blood were the biggest hit. 🙂
And there we have it.  One month condensed into just eleven pictures.  Enjoy your weekend everyone!


A couple of weeks ago, Olivia came to me asking to talk.  I mentally geared up for a conversation about baby origins or adoption or something along those lines.  Instead, this is how the conversation went:

Olivia:  Mom, I’m really worried about something.  Something about being an author and illustrator when I grow up.  [This has been her future career of choice since 1st grade.]

Me:  What’s worrying you?

Olivia:  Well, I think you are inhibiting my chances to write the best stories.  [Yep.  She used inhibiting.  Which later led to a side conversation about how she learns such fantastic words to use.  She replied with an eye roll– like I asked the stupidest question in the world–that all you have to do is hear an interesting word, figure out what it means by how the person said it, and then remember that so you can use it later.]

Me:  How’s that?

Olivia:  Well, Patricia Polacco [her newest favorite author/illustrator] writes these awesome stories about things that happened to her as a child or to her mother or her grandmother.  Well, and we just don’t have anything that interesting happen around here.  You need to make some changes.

Me:  Hmm.  What do you suppose might make more interesting things happen in your life?  What changes are you thinking of?

Olivia:  Well, for one.  We need to move to the country.  Every single hill and place has some strange name out in the country.  And we need to know some weirder people.  Maybe people with unusual names.

Me:  Auntie A and Auntie K live in the country and they have llamas.  Does that count?

Olivia:  Not really.  They are too normal.

Me:  Oh.  [Little does she know! :)]  It seems like your thinking about elements in Patricia’s writing that really make her stories come alive.  [They really do.  She’s a wonderful storyteller.] Personally, I think the key to writing a really great story is that, no matter what details you’ve got to work with, you figure out the big idea and use your details to build up that big idea.  Should we take a look at one of Patricia’s books and see what I mean?

Olivia:  No.  That’s not what she does.  It’s that she has all sorts of really cool things happen to her.  And I don’t.

Me:  Well, how about we visit her website?  I know you can email her from it.  When my classes at school have emailed her in the past, she got back to us all three times.  You can ask her about her writing process.

Olivia:  She would write me back?  Oh, that is so cool.  And I bet she tells me all about how she writes.  And I bet it’s not AT ALL like you think.

We explored the website and she crafted her email.  Since she doesn’t have her own email address, she used mine under the condition that I not open the reply without her when it arrives.   From my past experiences, I know to expect a turnaround time of about a month or so, but I cannot stop checking my email to see if a reply is sitting in my inbox.  I think I’m as excited to get it as Olivia is!

Gone Visiting

I just sent Olivia off for a week at Grandma’s house–two states away.  Both she and my mom have begged to do this since the summer Olivia turned five.  The first summer, I knew she wasn’t ready.  The next summer, I was pretty sure she was ready for a couple of days, but not a whole week.  With an eight-hour drive each way, going for a couple of days just didn’t seem worthwhile.  Last summer, I knew she was ready.  Turns out I wasn’t.  BUT.  I promised her I’d make myself ready by this summer.  And here it is.

They are both so excited and giddy!  My mom has painstakingly planned out all sorts of fun for the two of them.  She’s got an agenda and an alternate agenda for weather that’s too hot and an alternate agenda for weather that’s rainy and a blank agenda for when they decide on something completely different!  For Olivia’s part, she woke at the crack of dawn, dressed in a flash, and practically glued herself to the window.  My mom drove up late last night and stayed in a hotel to get some rest.  She headed over mid-morning to visit for a bit and to fetch her sweet-pea.

I’m absolutely certain that they will have a wonderful time…and I know she is in excellent hands.  Will she get spoiled with way too much junk food and screen time?  Yes.  But that’s one thing a Grandma is for, right?  Besides, the memories and the relationship-building and the one-on-one attention will make up for that a thousand fold.

Have fun, my growing-up-too-fast little girl!

A reading quandry

I love this picture of Olivia.  It sums up a huge piece of “her” so well.  Olivia is a reader.  A read anything, anywhere reader.   She figured out the “code” early and she hasn’t stopped.  She reads constantly–we went to the library on Thursday afternoon and by Saturday afternoon three of the chapter books she checked out were finished.   We have a problem, though.

She’s going into the 3rd grade.  But this isn’t the problem.  She reads at a 7th grade level.  But this isn’t the problem, either.  Put the two together and then we have our problem.

So much of the material that matches her reading level is full of completely inappropriate content for a 3rd grader.  Personally, I think a lot of it is completely inappropriate for a middle-schooler, for that matter.  We still manage to find plenty for her to read, but most of it is historical fiction, (some) fantasy or non-fiction.  And as she says, “Sometimes, I just want to read a good book about friendships and fun.”  Most of the fiction at her reading level is all about middle school angst and back-stabbing friends and finding boyfriends.  Completely beyond her developmental level and not at all what I care to be exposing her to.  Middle school is rough enough when you’re in middle school.

For now, we’re managing.  She brings any books she’s considering to me for perusal before we check out at the library.  I’m doing a ton of online research to find a few series’ that meet her needs.  When she needs that “friendship fix” she re-reads an old favorite.  But she reads so quickly and voraciously that I need to find that perfect cache of books–and fast!

I find it interesting that there are TONS of books out there that are geared for below-level readers.  Books where the content matches age-appropriateness, but the reading level is two to three years below that.  Obviously there is a need there, and I’m grateful those books are available.  I use many in my own classroom, in fact.  But in conversations with many other teachers, literacy specialists, and librarians no one has been able to find evidence of books that meet the opposite need.  And Olivia is proof that there is a need there, too.  Anyone up for a writing challenge?

Sheets and Clothespins to the Rescue

Today was a day…a very rough day.   Three overly tired kids made for many, many meltdowns.  I should’ve known what I was in for when Owen, awake for maybe five minutes had a rolling on the floor, sobbing fit because his chair was pushed in crooked at the table….and then a few minutes later when I poured him too much cereal–“I wanted five less O’s, Mom!”…and then a few minutes later when I asked him if he wanted to brush his hair or teeth first.  And that was just a 10 minute snapshot of one of three kids throwing fits!

We struggled through the morning and lunch.  I knew Amelia would nap and be better.  I silently prayed that Owen would fall asleep in his bedroom at quiet time.  He’s apparently a mind-reader because just as the thought resounded in my head, he screamed at me, “And I’m NOT TIRED and I’m NOT going to fall asleep!”  And he didn’t.

After quiet time I knew I needed to pull out the big guns.  So I grabbed some sheets, pillowcases, and clothespins.  We built a fort in the living room.  I don’t know what it is about building a tent, but it’s magic for my guys.  Tears and grudges held over from the morning instantly fell away once the roof was on.   There was actual giggling–peals of laughter–by the time we had the pillowcases pinned in place for doorways. We tucked ourselves inside our fortress for a little snack and all was well with the world.

I stepped out for a few minutes and when I came back there had been some redecorating:

me:  What’s up with the stacks of boxes and books in front of the door?

olivia:  It’s to keep people out.

me:  Who?

olivia:  Governor Weasel (the nickname they’ve given our swarmy, union-busting governor) and people who don’t understand that love is what makes a family.

owen (calling out from inside the tent): And giant squid!

olivia:  Besides, everybody knows that friends should just come to the back door. [I think I should paint this on a little sign and hang it on the outside of the front door.]

So I went in the back door…and found Owen trying to pin a pillowcase to the “ceiling” with clothespins.

me:  Do you need some help, Buddy?

owen:  Yes, please.  I’m trying to be a good daddy and need to make a hammock so I can rock my baby to sleep.  [Oh, melt my heart!]

  And that’s just what he did.



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