Friday, August 29, 2008

This is why we only go out once a week.

Yesterday was our day to go out. And by "out", I mean that we took a day-long trip to our nearest Major City, where I used to work and where most of our friends live.

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but Major City is an hour's driving distance from our house. Yep, that's right. We live in The Middle Of Nowhere, so driving is a must to get to anything (the nearest W*lMart, for example, is over 20 miles away).

We really look forward to our weekly outings, but they always leave us exhausted, and the driving is a big part of that. I don't mind the drive, but Olivia is reaching an age where she's not entirely satisfied with being restrained for an hour. Add to that the fact that our van's air conditioning is starting to lose it's effectiveness, and it makes for a very long day.

We started early because I wanted Olivia to nap in the car on the way to town. She tried, poor thing, but her head kept falling forward (the big downside to her new carseat). She managed to get about 30 minutes of nap in before she woke up and took a huge interest in everything outside (the big upside to her new carseat).

We ran several errands before lunch. In the car, out of the car. Olivia did very well and didn't fight being strapped back in. We went to lunch with friends. Olivia ate and entertained, then climbed all over the booth while I chatted with the others awhile longer. She'd finally HAD ENOUGH of this chatting business and made it known by getting right in my face and WHINING so loudly that I had to take notice. We left and ran several other errands. In the car, out of the car. Olivia seemed to get more and more tired with each short trip in the car. After our last stop, I told her that she could relax because we were going home. And she fell asleep (or, rather, passed out) before we got out of the parking lot.

She slept a lot better on the way home. She just lay her head to the side so it rested on the little headrests they make for these fancy schmancy car seats and sucked on her pacifier all the way home. So peaceful. And while I had the A/C running full blast (and blowing mostly warm air) all the way home, the poor thing left a huge sweat mark on her carseat when I took her out.

Overall, Olivia was (and usually is) very good during our outing. She was mostly content to look outside and babble to herself and clap to the music on the radio. But she was completely wiped out by the time we got home. She FINALLY had the opportunity to crawl around and play, which she can't do much when we are out, but OMG, she was such a drama queen all evening. She'd drop a toy, and that would send her into fits of wailing. I'd leave the room for a minute...more wailing. Sometimes she'd just start wailing for no apparent reason. She'd just be sitting there, studying the doll she was holding, and then she'd start to cry. You'd think the thing had bit her or something. Sheesh.

She went to bed early last night because I was simply tired of dealing with all the CRAZY. And now she's catching up on her naps. That is good, because this is a holiday weekend. Which means more running, more parties, more long trips and more missed naps.

I think we may camp out at home all next week just to make up for it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Sometimes I watch Olivia at play and think about how much this little person has changed in her nine months of life.

When we brought her home, she was this wide-eyed bundle who did very little other than make her parents aware of her most basic needs. We marveled when she learned how to grasp toys and roll over. She slowly became aware of her surroundings and began to explore.

Now, she has made it very obvious that she's an intelligent individual with her own preferences and habits. She knows that she's not supposed to play with the DVD tower, so she does it anyway, and then she tries to play it off as if she was just putting the DVDs away when she is caught. She always thinks that it's Daddy on the line when the phone rings, and she wants to "talk" to him. She understands when she is tired and tries to tell me that by crawling up on me and laying her head on my shoulder. Although she doesn't communicate in clear words, she has her own way of making her needs known that is sweet and toddler-like, but uniquely her own.

Motherhood constantly amazes me, but not just the fact that I'm a Mom. Mom is not a job or is a very specific vocation. In the same way that marriage is a specific vocation that joins a certain man and a certain woman to each other, motherhood (and fatherhood) binds us to a specific child or children. I am Olivia's mom, and that fact alone with help define the type of mother I will be. My actions and decisions will be guided by what is best for her, what her particular needs are, and what will help her become the individual she was created to be. In a very concrete way, she is teaching me how to be her Mom.

Yes, she's in a forward-facing car seat. Can you see how tall she is?
Poor thing was all scrunched up in her other seat.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Going out

I feel like I've become such a recluse. Usually, we stay home for days on end, keep to the nap schedule, get things done around the house. It takes SO MUCH ENERGY for me to make the decision to leave the house for an outing.

Don't get me wrong...I love going out with Olivia. It's just that it feels like it has to be planned well in advance. We have our once-weekly trip to "town" to do errands and have our playdate with other kids. We have church and occasional family gatherings on Sunday. We sometimes have Saturday obligations. But those are planned, and I have advance warning so I can think out Olivia's adjusted nap schedule and prepare her bag and lunch and everything.

Case in point...I have a couple of checks to deposit at the bank. This requires being in the car with Olivia for about a half-hour. I fully intended to run this errand yesterday, but after her first nap and lunch and lunch clean-up, I was afraid we were too close to sleepy time again and feared that Olivia would fall asleep in the car and would wake upon arriving home and then refuse to nap again (this is common). And then our whole afternoon would be shot. So the checks are still in my purse, waiting to be deposited.

Another example...I have two library books due tomorrow, but I have absolutely no desire to get out and go to the library.

I suppose I could combine these two errands, but they are not close to each other and would require at least 90 minutes away from home. The library is close to a park, and it is a beautiful day, so we could go play on the swings. But then Olivia's almost sure to fall asleep on the way home and put us in the car-nap dilemma.

Can you see how leaving the house is sometimes more trouble than it's worth?

Olivia is catching up on naps this week. Our weekend activities prevented any consistent napping, so yesterday she took two 2.5 hour naps. So far today she's on schedule for the same. Luckily, she's not disagreeable when she's nap-deprived (as long as we keep her adequately entertained), but she is a little less "crazy" when she gets her naps. Naps keep her calm. I don't know how else to explain that.

This week, Olivia is working on her walking. She's still only taking 3-4 steps at a time, but now they are slower and more balanced (as opposed to quick and leaning as she falls toward something soft). It's also becoming harder for her to hang from the table now that she's tall enough to comfortably reach it with feet flat on the floor.

I discovered a few more "facinating toys" around the house...including this purse, which kept Olivia occupied for a good half-hour yesterday. She was having so much fun putting things in the purse and pulling them out. So easily entertained...until I'm doing the dishes or laundry, and then the only thing she wants to do is hang on my legs until I pick her up. Go figure.

Friday, August 22, 2008

First steps

This morning, Olivia was standing at her toybox off to my left, and I was sitting on the floor next to her staring blankly at the TV (it takes me awhile to fully wake up). And it happened...she toddled over to me. I wouldn't have even believed it except that I saw her out of the corner of my eye. Three perfect little steps and then she sort of fell in my direction. Just to prove to myself that I wasn't imagining it, I managed to get her to do it two more times. And that was all I could get out of her. She's a little too impatient to stand still for two seconds and then obediently walk in my direction. There are toys to be played with, after all. Distraction everywhere! Still, it's a start, and now that she is becoming aware that she is, indeed, a biped, I'm sure it won't be long before she masters the walking thing.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Yard Sale

Our housing development has an annual yard sale. It is a big deal. Primarily because ours is a big community (something like 12 subdivisions) with a bunch of rules, including one that says something about not allowing yard sales except on the appointed date. And since a large percentage of the 700 or so households participates in the sale, it is a big deal for the larger community of people who come to our neighborhoods and shop. Yard sale junkies, this is your paradise.

We have decided to participate in the sale this year, and we are going all out. Introducing a baby to the household really helps put your storage priorities into order. In addition to selling off excess furniture that used to inhabit our living room (furniture that has been replaced by toy boxes and miscellaneous baby stuff), I've been cleaning out closets, the garage, and pretty much any place I can think of to find more sale-worthy items.

The problem is that even as I sort and price piles and piles of sale stuff, our remaining junk seems to spread.

Part of my objective here was to clear out in preparation for a future baby #2 (not in the works yet, but remember, there's only one yardsale a year!). There's a chance we will have moved by then, but there's also a strong chance that we'll still be in this house when we decide to expand our family. And honestly, I'm not sure where we are going to put a new baby.

I've been thinking through this over and over. There's only one logical place, because a new baby CANNOT inhabit the same room as least not immediately. She needs sleep, and new babies do not sleep consistently, and I'm not going to fight that battle with two cranky children, thank you very much.

A new baby also cannot stay in our room for long. I know it works for some people, but co-sleeping didn't work with the first one, and I have no reason to believe it would work for our next baby.

Which means that our future second child would need his/her own room at least until he/she learns to sleep through the night consistently.

So that leaves us to our third bedroom, currently acting as our office. This bedroom contains two very full bookcases, a small entertainment center/TV stand (which is also jammed with books), a tall filing cabinet, and an old office-style desk with matching cabinet. That's a lot of furniture for a 10' X 11' space. It also has a small closet (not walk-in) that is stuffed, STUFFED full of miscellaneous items. And this is AFTER I cleaned out this closet for the sale.

Stuff just seems to grow to fit the space available. I don't want us to be the kind of people who are forced to buy a new house simply because they can no longer house all of their stuff. Ditto for storage units. If it can't fit in our house and we don't really use it, then why are we keeping it?

Gah! I'm completely ready to get this stuff out of the house. Maybe then I can start dealing with the remaining stuff. Did I mention, GAH!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Endearing behavior

I feel like I've been writing a lot about some of Olivia's more frustrating behaviors, like climbing and getting into everything she's not supposed to have. While it's cute to watch her learn new things, it's also hard to keep up with her and make sure she's not hurting herself with some of the more potentially dangerous new skills.

However, one thing I've been noticing more and more lately is that Olivia has some very adorable, loving and sweet behavior patterns that have developed. Like these:

When I'm sitting on the floor and she crawls up into my lap to give me a hug, or stands up behind me to pat me on the back.

When she leans in for a sweet, open-mouth nine-month-old style kiss.

When she lights up with a big smile as soon as she sees Daddy drive up at the end of the day.

When she lights up and giggles when Daddy brings her in to our room in the morning to wake me up (he still gives her the first bottle of the day).

When she starts giggling in response to one of her toys making noise.

When she laughs and rolls on the floor, inviting me to play the tickle game with her.

When she claps and smiles at the end of a meal, as if she's applauding the good food I've prepared.

When she waves at passing cars or at Daddy when he leaves or comes home from work.

When she stands smiling in her crib, waiting for me to pick her up after a nap.

This child is so sweet and always ready to smile. She really is a very happy, content baby. We are so blessed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

In the land of "No"

Our house has been transformed over the past few months since Olivia has been mobile and exploring. Shelves that used to hold breakables and collectibles now hold toys and stuffed animals. Hard-edged furniture has been moved or replaced. Certain doors are kept closed when she's awake so that she doesn't tear up a pile of bills or pull bookcases down on herself.

There are certain other things that could not be easily removed. Like the dining room table, for instance (and chairs). These remaining obstacles (or, in Olivia's view, playground equipment) create an ongoing challenge for all of us.

Olivia, being the active, super-tall 9-month-old that she is, is in a stage where everything is meant to be climbed. She uses her toys as stepping stools, stacking them and climbing on them to get high enough to pull herself onto the couch. Then she grabs onto the back of the couch and tries to pull herself up and launch herself over the back of the couch. So far she has not been successful, but only because we've caught her before she managed to go hurtling head first off the back of the couch.

She uses the slats on the kitchen chairs to try to climb up. She reaches up to grab onto the table and then...wait for it...HANGS from the table. As if she were trying to do a chin-up. She does this on the piano too.

All of this provides some interesting challenges for us. We don't want to cage her into a little safe zone where she can't do any exploring at all, but we also don't want her to lose her grip on the table and crack her head against the cabinet. So, we are trying to teach Olivia the meaning of the word "No".

Olivia has been familiar with "No" for awhile now, but she hasn't always responded appropriately. There are still times when she just laughs and continues until we pry her away from her dangerous behavior. But she's starting to recognize the tone and the word as a command meant for her. She turns and looks at us when we say it, as if she knows she was caught doing something she wasn't supposed to be doing. So maybe we are getting somewhere with this.

In other news, Olivia can stand up from sitting unassisted now (as in, using no props to get to standing). She doesn't do it often, but she can. Yesterday, she tried to take a step before falling. She's getting closer...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Nine Month Studio Photos

Absolutely priceless.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Dear Daddy,

From the first hours after my birth, I heard your deep, soothing voice, calming me in the midst of all the confusion of nurses and doctors and strange faces. I spent hours staring at you and learning your face. I knew you were my Daddy.

I felt comfortable and safe in your arms.

I could sense how much you loved me, and I loved you too!

Over the past nine months, you have taught me a lot. I enjoyed visiting your college and meeting the mascot.

I really loved learning about the piano and hope to become as good a pianist as you are!

I enjoyed seeing new things with you.

Even when you wore me out showing them to me!

I look forward to all the new things you will show me and teach me in the future. But most of all, I just enjoy spending time with you, Daddy! You are the best Daddy a girl could ever want. I love you very much!

Happy Birthday Daddy!
Love, Olivia

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Counting the cost

We got our final legal bill in the mail yesterday. FINAL BILL!

This should be the last bill we have that is associated with Olivia's adoption, so I got all the receipts out yesterday and added it all up. Our total for adoption expenses came pretty close to what I'd estimated in my head, but the number was still a bit shocking. I guess that's because when we first started this process and Olivia's birthmother was living in our state, the preliminary estimates for legal fees were much lower (MUCH half). Then came the ICPC process, and another attorney, and WAY more fees, and there you go.

When you write it all out on paper, it seems like a lot. But then you see this...

...and suddenly the numbers mean nothing. What we have is priceless. The money is just a minor detail on our journey to becoming a family.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


The doctor says Olivia is healthy and growing (like we didn't know that). Unfortunately, I'm horrible at remembering the actual numbers they give when they are measuring her, but I do remember percentages. Olivia is 59th percentile for weight and head circumference (I think she weighed 19 3/4 lbs).

She is 98th percentile in height.

This didn't come as a surprise to me at all. After all, she is nearly as tall as her three boy cousins, all 7 and 8 months older than she is. My husband fears that she's going to be 8 feet tall as an adult, but I highly doubt that. She might get some looks from basketball coaches, but I certainly don't think she's going to be an Amazon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Nine Months Old

I think I mentioned last month that these monthly photo shoots are getting to be a challenge. I must have taken twenty pictures this morning, most of them featuring an effort by Olivia to leap off of the chair, but I did get a few keepers. She did a great job of smiling. Unfortunately, my camera is proving every day that it's not up to the task, so some of the best smiles are the pictures with the worst focus. Grrr...

I threw this photo in as a comparison shot to Olivia's 7-month photo shoot.

She seems to be getting taller. This is her at 7-months.

We'll find out how much she's grown later today. She has her 9-month check-up with her doctor, so I'll have all the vital stats later.

Some new things Olivia has learned in the past month:

*Stand unassisted (until she realizes she's doing it, and then she falls)
*Climb effectively (I caught her standing on top of her blocks table this morning, trying to get to the stuff on top of the folding table behind it.)

She's growing up so fast!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Back to normal

Well, after a week of vacation and activities with the cousins, life is finally back to normal.

Except that normal is a little different now. Before vacation, I could count on two solid naps from Olivia, a semi-regular bedtime and a very regular early wake-up (5:55 a.m., almost to the minute).

For the past several days, Olivia's naps have been inconsistent (she still takes them, but it's harder to predict their duration). She's also sleeping quite late in the morning. She's been waking up between 7:00 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Not that I'm complaining! It's just weird. Maybe it's because she is still fighting a snotty cold, or maybe she's just catching up from her lack of sleep from last week. It might just be temporary, but I'm savoring every late-morning wake-up.

Other than the sleep differences, Olivia has been back to her normal self. She's playing happily and getting into everything she's not supposed to have. Today I caught her trying to squeeze herself behind the TV stand. She was trying to reach that pretty wire that everything plugs into. I thought it was hidden far enough back there that it wouldn't be a problem, but apparently I was wrong. She also ended up tangling herself up in the dining room chairs this morning. Seems she was trying to climb through them to reach a toy she had thrown in there. She's like a little monkey. But a cute monkey. Especially when she follows me around the house and holds onto my legs. That's when I know she's tired of playing by herself and wants some Mommy time.

Can you believe that my precious little baby will be NINE MONTHS OLD tomorrow? Seems impossible to me.

Friday, August 8, 2008

And so it goes...

I am quite sure I am in the beginning stages of a cold. As much fun as it is to spend time with the family, exposure to so many little kids (not to mention the absence of any decent nap during the entire vacation) inevitably leads to snottiness for Olivia, followed by a full-blown cold for both of us (I'm hoping my husband escapes it completely since he doesn't have the luxury of naptime).

Olivia has been congested now for three days, but since the cousins are staying at Grandma's (just a short 10 miles away) and we live really close to an amusement park that has a great waterpark, we couldn't resist an outing yesterday. We met Grandma, Grandpa and the little cousins (and their parents) for some fun in the sun.

Olivia has a blast in the spray park.

She played so hard that she fell asleep in the two mile drive home and slept straight through to morning. She'd spend every waking moment in a pool or sprinkler if I'd let her.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Back from the Smokies

Yes, we have returned from the Great Smoky Mountains. This is where we stayed.

This is some of the nature we saw.

Trey and Olivia hanging out on our cabin's porch.

We threw Daddy and Uncle Brad an early birthday party.

We went to the aquarium.

"In weather news, it looks like the midsection of the country will be experiencing a strong front of fish coming in from the East."

Olivia and Trey like to stock up on hugs whenever they see each other.

Olivia got to pet a camel.

But her favorites were the baby goats.

On our last evening there, Daddy and Olivia's uncles and Grandpa went go-kart racing. Olivia was cheering hard for Daddy!

Olivia has four other little cousins who were also on this vacation with us, and we got LOTS of photos with them, but I won't publish identifying photos unless they say it's OK. In the meantime, I have a few non-identifying ones that will go up on our photo blog shortly. More about vacation when I've had a chance to recover.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Boring household item, or incredibly exciting plaything?

Yesterday, Olivia managed to reach our brand-new flyswatter, which sits up on top of the box that holds our trash can, and when did she get so tall?

Anyway, apparently the flyswatter was the most intriguing item she had seen in a good long while, because she carried it around for a good half-hour while I was cleaning up after dinner. She sat on the kitchen floor and whacked it against the floor, then she crawled over to the dining room chairs and whacked on them for awhile. Then, she found this facinating plastic box of clothes to smack around.

These are her latest round of hand-me-downs...all in 9-12 or 12 month sizes. (Did I mention the tallness?) We had just brought them home to be sorted and put away, but in the meantime the box set up camp on the dining room floor and became the object of Olivia's attention for a good long while.

Olivia finally started to get bored with these new "toys" and came over to hang onto my legs and beg to be picked up, but I wasn't finished cleaning yet. So I opened the box of clothes, thinking she would be occupied with emptying the clothes onto the floor for at least enough time to let me finish what I was doing.

A few minutes later I peeked around the bar to find this:

She is getting much bolder with her climbing. Sheesh.

We're leaving on vacation tomorrow, so I won't be posting for awhile. I have a general rule on vacation that I avoid computers as much as humanly possible. It helps me focus on just being present to the family (did I mention that this is a vacation with my entire family?). But I'm sure I will have tons of cute photos and silly stories to share about Olivia and her cousins when we return. Happy August!