Monday, September 29, 2008

Sundays and the crunch-crunch of my favorite season.

We are enjoying some very warm days around here this September. Although mid-80s is a bit high for my liking, I am enjoying the cool evenings. Our one huge backyard tree, a maple, is rapidly losing its leaves due to the dry weather and the cool nights, but this has led to a rather pleasing familiar sound that always reminds us of the cooler days of Fall.

This is Olivia's first experience with the crunch-crunch of the leaves, and since she is now extremely confident in her walking skills (to the point of almost running) we had some fun yesterday playing with her in the backyard. She was tromping around in high-kneed baby style, randomly turning this way and that while exploring all corners of our backyard. The ground is a bit uneven, so she did take a few dives into the leaves, always coming up with a handful that went straight to her mouth. I will be glad when that leaf-eating stage is over!

Yesterday was a pretty fabulous family day. Because of our busy schedules and my husband's work responsibilities, it is rare that we have a weekend that is entirely our own. This weekend was, though, and the weather cooperated nicely.

Sunday was what I believe Sundays were meant to be...a day of rest and spending time with family. We headed out to Church early because Olivia was SOOO tired. We anticipated that she'd fall asleep on the drive and then we'd park by the river and read until it was time for Mass so Olivia could finish her nap in the car.

Our church, and old German parish that was established in what was once a rowdy river town, sits just one block away from the Ohio River.

So we went forward with our plan, and Olivia did sleep in the car for about a half-hour. We still had some time left before Mass was to begin, so we took in the cool morning breeze and the views of the river.

After Church, we went home for lunch and Olivia's nap, and then we headed out to our local state park for a free patriotic concert at their amphitheater. The concert wasn't great, but Olivia enjoyed the outing anyway. She really loves being outdoors.

We capped off the day by grilling out and playing in the crunchy backyard. A perfectly relaxing Sunday. This week, we are expecting a shift to seasonably cooler temperatures. Bring on the jackets! Olivia and I are looking forward to crisp fall days and playing in the yard.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


When we selected Olivia's name, I wondered how her name would end up being shortened into a nickname. Let's face it...four syllables is a lot. It's such a beautiful name, but I figured people would start calling her Liv or Livy or Ollie Rose (perish the thought!) or something.

So far, none of the obvious nicknames have caught on. In the meantime, though, we've developed a few rather odd nicknames.

First to emerge were "precious" and "sweet baby". These were what we called her in the hospital. Then we got her home, sleep deprivation set in, and "precious" quickly dropped off the list. Soon to replace it, though, was "Sweet Pea". This one has stuck for me and I still fall back on it from time to time.

She's been called "Rotten" when she's doing stuff she knows she's not supposed to do. She's also been referred to as "Stinky" when she's, well, stinky. "Little Butt" is another favorite of mine because her little hiney is too small to hold up most pants that are the right length.

But by far the most ridiculous nickname she has acquired so far is "Smooshie".

Don't ask me how this started or why, but somewhere along the line I started calling her Smooshie. I'm also the only one who does. I think it may have originated when she first started smiling because she smiles with her whole face, and I guess I got it from the way her nose wrinkles or gets smooshed up when she grins. Anyway, I think she is starting to RESPOND to this nickname. She absolutely knows her real name, but I just hope that when she starts to come up with her own version of her name, she uses her given name. If she starts saying things like "Ee-bah do it" (translation: I/Olivia will do it), it will be easy to explain to people that she is referring to herself. It might be a little more difficult if she says "Ooshie do it". Because there's no way you are getting "Olivia" out of "ooshie".

What strange nicknames do your kids have?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Cutting expenses

I've been working and reworking our budget, trying to squeeze some more money out of it so we accomplish more of the goals on our financial wish list (like stashing away more in college and retirement funds, save for #2, etc.). I'm trying to find ways to cut some expenses so we can do this more easily.

So I thought I'd ask the internet about it.

First, we are thinking of cutting cable out of our life. We watch entirely too much TV as it is, and 90 percent of what we watch (during primetime hours anyway) is network TV, so if we get an adequate antenna we should be covered there. Does anyone have any recommendations for a good antenna? Has it worked well for you? I have friends who get by with bunny ears on top of their TV (they live in the city, but still), so I figure we should be able to get good reception with a good outdoor antenna and booster.

Second, our biggest controllable expenditure is communications...cell phones, home phones, internet. Now, I'm NOT suggesting that we cut internet. I'm not sure either of us could handle that. My husband uses it for working at home (and often), and as for me, well it's my LIFELINE, people. It is my connection to the outside world.

I could, however, live without a home phone line. We hardly use it at all. I'm not sure how much it would save us, but it is a thought.

Also, we're considering a switch with our cell phones when our contract is up (November). We're with A*T*T*, and we're considering switching to TM*bile. Perhaps keeping one line on contract and doing the second line as a pay-as-you-go line. That way we have it in case it is needed, but we could use the contract line mostly. Does anyone have any experience/suggestions/recommendations to offer?

And here's the girl for whose college fund we would sacrifice cable and communications.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


I have a little more peace about the second adoption thing after doing some research and talking to another adoptive mom friend of mine. We have a pretty good idea about what our next plan of action will be, and although the timeline might be a little less predictable, I feel good about it. After all, Olivia came to us through no effort of our own. The whole match completely fell in our laps, and I can't explain it except to say that God just handed it to us. After thinking it through, I started to think that maybe the "business" of adoption isn't where we need to focus our energies. In other words, we don't need to pay the big bucks to ensure more control over the timeline and other details. Instead, we are going to trust God and go with our intuition, which is leading us to another agency. This agency specializes not only in adoption services, but also pregnancy counseling for women in crisis. They help empower women to choose life for their babies, regardless of whether they intend to parent or place for adoption. That makes me feel good. It may take longer to get a placement, but I think I'm OK with that.

Olivia is starting to get over her cold. She's not nearly as grumpy these days, and that's a VERY good thing. She's been working hard this week to improve her walking skills, and also to find new ways to get into trouble.

Yes, those are her diapers scattered all over the floor. She is fascinated by stacks of diapers, and I think it is because she knows she's not supposed to play with them. She has become an expert at finding things she's not supposed to play with. Like the lazy susan (the only think in the kitchen that hasn't yet been childproofed). And the window blinds. And the decorative jug that holds sparkly twigs and sits BEHIND a chest full of blankets so she won't bother it. She has started squeezing past the chest or trying to climb over it to get to the forbidden jug. *Sigh*

Yesterday, when we weren't looking, Olivia climbed the dining room chair and into her space-saver high chair (straps onto the dining room chair) and was just standing there looking all proud of herself. We had to remove the high chair to keep her from continuing to climb it. Sheesh.

Olivia has also mastered the art of the temper tantrum. At ten months. Boy are we in for a fun ride when she gets to be two!

Her new skills far outweigh the new challenges those skills present. Despite the fact that I have to physically remove her from the lazy susan at least 20 times a day, it's so fun to watch her show her little personality. And to know that in the midst of all her mischief, what she really wants is to get Mom's attention. I have to remember that when I get frustrated. It's rather flattering to be held in such high esteem, even by such a tiny person.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I'm always a little taken aback when we come across a stranger in the grocery store who says "What a cute little boy". Particularly when Olivia is wearing pink. What is up with that?

Granted, she was wearing purple yesterday (with FLOWERS on her pants, ahem), and sometimes various colors of purple look rather blue, but even so. When an old man walked by and said, "Well aren't you a good little boy" I almost cringed. It's just so OBVIOUS that she's a girl! Or maybe that's just a mother's perspective.

I always thought that kids with curls (girls or boys) tend to get labeled as girls, but I've noticed that some people (especially old men) think all little kids are boys. I saw an old man call my niece a little boy once, and she has long, curly hair. So I guess it really doesn't matter how I dress her, or for that matter, whether strangers think she's a boy or girl. That is, until they realize their mistake and get all embarrassed for calling her a boy. That has happened too.

On the topic of ambiguity (huge subject change here), I've uncovered some information that makes our adoption path for baby #2 a lot less defined. We had talked about going with a certain agency in our state that we had considered before Olivia fell into our laps. Well, I just popped over to their site today to see if they had any new information since I'd last checked, and I found a few things that were rather disturbing. I called their office to confirm and, sure enough, their fees have gone up. WAY UP. Like more than $6,000 up. That's a huge chunk of change, particularly when our preliminary calculations for adoption #2 were going to be a financial stretch, even after factoring in tax credit for our first adoption.

SOOOO...I guess this means that I need to do more research. Perhaps we'll go with a different agency, or research other options for independent referrals. It seems like it will not be as neat and tidy as I had hoped. Time to let God take the wheel again, because obviously I don't have much control over The Plan.

OK, so SOME of her clothes are a little more gender-neutral than others.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Walking, grumpily

Olivia has a cold. This one seems to be fairly minor, but is has increased the whine factor a great deal. She is just so clingy when she has a cold, which would be fine if holding her would calm her down, but she isn't satisfied with being held or not being held. She is just grumpy.

Despite the cold, she is toddling all around the house like a drunken college student. She takes quite a few falls, but she also manages to get to her chosen destination while remaining upright a good portion of the time. It's just so amazing to watch her walking. I still can't believe how fast babies grow into toddlers. *Sniff*

Ike passed through and left us with AMAZING weather. Today's temperatures are in the mid-60s, and it is breezy and slightly overcast. It is the perfect kind of weather to welcome Autumn. I love Fall, and even though I don't care for cold weather, the cooling temps in the 50s and 60s are always welcome.

Olivia and I are going to get out today and enjoy the weather. Maybe it will distract her from her grumpiness.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ike Strikes

I'm ready for Church, Mom!

Today, the remnants (HA!) of Ike hit our area of the country. We've received rain and effects from hurricanes and tropical storms before, but by the time it reaches us in the center of the country, it is usually just a lot of leftover rain.

Not today. Today we didn't get a drop. We did, however, get 50-60 MPH wind gusts for a good portion of the day. Lost some shingles and a lot of branches. There was extensive damage in nearby cities...we were lucky.

We arrived for Mass just about the time the wind really started to pick up. It was hard that it was difficult to walk against it. At one point on our short walk from the car to the church, I looked back at my husband, who was carrying Olivia. I saw that she had wrapped her arm around his neck and was burying her head in his shoulder, eyes closed tight. The wind didn't scare her at all...she was just protecting herself against it by using Daddy's shoulder. It was sweet.

In other news, Olivia is a walker now. She's not entirely steady, but today she walked from the living room to our bedroom...a good 30 steps for her...without falling, so I'd say that classifies her as a walker. In a week or two, she should be as steady as any toddler because she is practicing all the time. She seems to be very proud of her new walking skills.

Look, no hands!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ten months

Just ten short months ago, we became parents for the first time. Olivia was so tiny, so wide-eyed, so immobile.

And so much easier to get to sit still for her pictures. This is Olivia at one month old. Our biggest challenge for her first "monkey photo" was keeping her from falling over. In fact, I think that's why we used the monkey and the pillow in the first prop her up.

And here she is at ten months. As you can see, the monkey is no match for her now.

Poor monkey.

Olivia is very, VERY close to walking as her primary form of mobilization now. She's been practicing and can make it halfway across the room, stopping a few times to steady herself. I think she would have been there by now except that she's just so impatient and would rather crawl if it means getting there faster.

Our little girl is growing up so fast. One year ago yesterday is when I started blogging about our adoption plans. (I was catching the internet up on what had started a few weeks before, but that was back when I wasn't so good with the blogging consistency.) It's amazing to think how much our lives have changed since then.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Today is my niece's actual fifth birthday (even though we celebrated last weekend). It is just a normal kind of day. I had to go "to town" for a minor periodontal surgery (which was SOOO not pleasant). It is something I've been needing to do for awhile, and it just happened to fall on this day. Thursday, September 11th. I'm home now, coping with a mouthful of soreness and a baby who is very sleepy and fighting her nap because she wouldn't nap at the sitter's house and is now overly tired.

Just a normal day with its normal kind of challenges.

And yet, my mind brings me back to a similar, normal kind of day not so long which changed our nation forever.

I don't usually get all reflective about things that happen to other people. But this is different. Even though I didn't know a single person who was directly affected by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, I cannot forget how that day impacted our world forever. Our collective consciousness is forever changed by the events of that day and those that followed.

It's strange to think that all six of my parents' grandchildren were born in a post-9/11 world. Their history books will reflect the horrors of that day, but I wonder if they will ever really understand it. I wonder if they will understand the shock and confusion that Americans felt as they watched the towers fall over and over again on the nightly news. It will always be a part of the history of their country, but a part of me hopes that they can never fully understand the type of horror we all felt because maybe that will mean that they never have to witness such a thing in real time.

For me, it's a little surreal to think about. Like everyone else, I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news, and what I felt on that perfectly clear and sunny September day. For the first time in my life, I felt like I had witnessed (if indirectly) pure evil...something that was completely beyond my comprehension. The news brought me to tears for weeks afterward, and I still find myself in tears when I think about the people who got caught in the middle of this nightmare...the hundreds of acts of bravery, strangers helping strangers, people standing in line for hours to give blood.

There are really no words to make sense of what I am feeling today. It's just a normal kind of day, but for those of us who remember that day, it will always be something more.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I'm baffled by the sheer volume of clothes she has.

Over the weekend, we acquired some more hand-me-downs from the cousins. Most of them were 2T and larger, but there were a few things in the 12-18 month range, so during Olivia's record-breaking long nap this morning, I sorted and rearranged the drawers I had removed from her dresser. This is what we ended up with:

Aside from two t-shirts and a skirt that were new from Grandma, every single item in each of these drawers is either a hand-me-down or a yard sale purchase (and is in her current or soon-to-be size). I'm not kidding. And yes, I know the one drawer looks empty, but I filled it up as soon as Olivia's nap was over and I could get to the stack of cool-weather outfits I had stored in her closet.

I now have three sources of hand-me-downs (one on the swap system, and the other two sources are giving us clothes to keep). I have six diaper boxes full of "our" clothes that Olivia can no longer fit and two boxes full of larger sizes that she will grow into. I also have a box full of clothes to return to our swap source, a box full of tights, socks and belts, and two full racks of dresses, coats, and outfits. We're talking 20+ dresses and at least that many coats, jackets and sweaters, plus overalls, jumpers and other assorted outfits. Oh, and I almost forgot...I have a whole bag full of clothes to donate too...stuff that Olivia just never got around to wearing. We are saving a lot of it for our next baby, but we really cannot imagine ever needing ALL OF THIS STUFF!

I honestly do not know how people raise children without all these free clothes. In her entire lifetime, I doubt we have spent $100 on clothing for Olivia. And I'm going to milk this for all it's worth. Someday, she's going to be a teen or tween and be clothes-conscious and want all the latest styles. I'm sure we are going to spend more than enough then. We might as well take advantage of her clothing ignorance while we can. Besides, she has looked awfully cute in her assortment of hand-me-downs throughout her short life, don't you think?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

In which my head explodes...

After a much anticipated and more-exhausting-than-expected weekend, I'm battling back a two-day-long headache. A couple dozen different brands of pain killers later, it has finally dulled to a manageable level of pain.

This weekend, we went to an out-of-town wedding, spent the night in a hotel, and then went to my niece's fifth birthday party.

All in all, it was a fun weekend. But I always underestimate the complete horror that is sharing a hotel room with Olivia. She hates hotels. I always think it will get better with age, but it only seems to get worse.

Our first mistake was trying to get her to sleep in the hotel-provided crib instead of hauling our pack-n-play out of the car. Olivia is a sleep roller who prefers to curl up next to the crib bumper for her stationary sleep stages. This doesn't work so well in a crib with metal slats and no bumper. It completely freaked her out. By the time I figured out why she was so hysterical with sobs of exhaustion, it was past midnight. I finally remedied the situation with the pack-n-play, and she slept much better after that.

Despite the sleep deprivation, Olivia did well at the birthday party on Sunday afternoon.

As long as she is fed and/or entertained, she can endure a good long stretch without a nap. But her sleep deprivation was evident when we finally hit the road and she was asleep less than a minute after we left my brother's driveway.

Poor baby.

She has slept nearly 12 hours straight each of the past two nights, and is napping like a champ. So far, she hasn't shown any signs of getting a cold or anything, so we are crossing our fingers and hoping that the combination of exposure to lots of small children and lack of sleep won't lead to illness this time around.

I'm also in recovery mode, although I think my headaches are due to some sort of external factor and just exacerbated by the lack of sleep. It may be the air pressure. We've had some storms come through, and as much as we are (finally) enjoying the rain, I think the change in air pressure gets to me. My husband thinks I have migraines. I'm starting to think he's right.

We acquired three more bags of hand-me-downs from the cousins this weekend. Mostly 2T and 3T, but as we all know, these kids grow faster than we think. Olivia and I sorted and boxed them by size this morning. She absolutely loves when I sort hand-me-downs or laundry because I just dump everything in a pile on the floor and then start sorting it into piles. She likes climbing on top of the piles and inspecting certain items that catch her eye. It keeps her occupied for a good long while.

I'm off to finish some of the laundry before the princess wakes from her royal beauty sleep. I have to get SOMETHING done today, other than napping and feeding the baby.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Memoranda (with a little bit of politics, sorry)

To: Credit Card Companies, insurance companies, car dealers and other senders of junk mail
From: Olivia's Mommy

Thank you for generously using your postage budget to send us heaps of useless paper. My daughter likes mail, and since she's not allowed to play with any of the important mail, your mailings have been dubbed "hers". She happily studies your propaganda and colorful lettering for a few minutes before chewing and/or tearing the paper to shreds. It provides MINUTES of entertainment during which I can read through and file the important mail. My daughter and I appreciate your contribution to the harmony of mail time.

To: Olivia
From: Mommy

I know you think your toys are boring, but I would appreciate if you could sit in the living room and play with them for a few minutes. It is really flattering that you want to follow me around the house and all, but I'm afraid I may step on your hands if you keep sneaking up behind me.

To: Mommy
From: Olivia

I'm getting a little tired of these "errand" trips. You know how much I like shopping, but I don't particularly like being strapped into the car over and over for two minute trips from shop to shop. Enough already! Can't we find everything at ONE store and not have to go everywhere in one day? And why aren't we buying any toys on these trips? I know these stores sell toys, so don't tell me they don't.

To: Sarah Palin
From: Olivia's Mommy

Saw your speech last night. You go girl!

To: The Mainstream Media
From: Olivia's Mommy

Gov. Palin was not taking pot shots at you in her speech. She wasn't complaining about your scrutiny of her record. She was calling you out for your scrutiny of her family. Please, take Obama's suggestion and lay off the families already.

To: Barack Obama
From: Olivia's Mommy

I have no intention of ever voting for you, but kudos for telling the media to stick to politics and stop trying to drag Palin's family through the mud. That was quite honorable of you.

To: My readers
From: This blogger

Forgive me for throwing politics into this post. I couldn't help myself. This is the first time in my adult life that a presidential election has been the least bit interesting to me.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Where does she get all of this CRAZY?

My husband is out of town on business for a couple of days, so I had to get up with Olivia this morning (which is usually his job). Lucky for me, she slept in a little, so I didn't have to get moving until after 7:00. Unlucky for me, she seemed to wake up full of crazy.

I don't know what gets into her, but some mornings she just seems to have ants in her pants and CAN'T SIT STILL! As soon as she was finished eating, she was up and down and moving here and there. Crawl, sit, stand, sit, crawl, repeat.

She's also started what I call "bull breathing". She grins really big until she scrunches up her nose (see above photo), and then she breathes in and out really fast through her nose, like a bull getting ready to charge. She usually does this when she's being particularly mischevious.

She didn't stop to examine any toy for more than five seconds this morning and could not be bothered with books or anything to settle her down.


Speaking of books, I don't know how to get her to sit still for one. She likes looking at pictures and trying to bend the pages of her board books (don't ask me why), but getting her to sit still to listen to me read more than two pages of any book is impossible. Any suggestions out there?

We have a busy, busy day today. It is our errand day, and I have a very long list of errands. We'll leave just as soon as she finishes her nap, because without that nap, we are both in for a LONG day.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Holiday musings

Olivia is getting bolder with the walking. She can take five or six steps at a time now. Mostly, though, she'd rather crawl. After all, it is fast, easy and has little chance of leaving you with a black eye.

Also, tooth number six made its appearance yesterday. Now she has four on top (middle four) and two on bottom.

Olivia has developed this awful screeching scream that she uses now when she's really tired and really irritated. Like when it's naptime and you just took her toy away. Oh boy.

She's a little nap-deprived from the holiday weekend already, but since we have no obligations today until dinner, we are making every effort to get both of her naps in. Morning was no problem, but she was SO FUSSY for her afternoon nap. I think she finally fell asleep. I tried to calm her down, but eventually I just had to leave her in her crib to work it out on her own. She's so strong that she tries to fling herself out of my arms while I'm trying to bounce and shush her, and she gets pretty darn close to succeeding in that.

To bring this holiday post to a close, I leave you with this, in which Olivia walks a minute in my shoes.

Gee, Mom, I don't know how you do it all!