Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat!

I spent the day hauling Olivia all over the place in her hot, hot costume (it was over 70 degrees today). First, we stopped at Daddy's office, where several of his coworkers were prepared with toys and baby-approved snacks. Then we hit an assortment of places associated with people Mommy used to work with. Olivia had a lot of fun, but we are both exhausted now.

NaBloPoMo, here I come!

Happy Halloween! Our little monkey and I are going to be trick-or-treating at Daddy's office, a nursing home, Mommy's old office and Grammy & Grampy's house today. Talk about busy! And the weather has warmed up, so I'm sure I'll have a sweaty, unhappy child on my hands by the end of the day. *Sigh*

Tomorrow is the first day of November, which is apparently National Blog Posting Month. I heard about this last year and thought I'd give it a try this year. The idea is to post at least once a day, all month long. A challenge, yes, but I'm going to try. And I did sign up, which makes me eligible for prizes if I meet the daily blog challenge, or so I hear.

So I hear there's a monthly theme, although it hasn't yet been posted. I'm not very good at themes...I pretty much write whatever comes to mind that day. So stay tuned and we'll all see where this goes.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

If you really want to know

*Warning: Political talk. If you don't care, you can visit my photo blog and see a couple videos of Olivia. I can see how that would be more fun.*

I am sick of political ads. I am under no illusion that either party's candidate (in any political race) is going to achieve or attempt to achieve half of what he is promising. Many of these promises are made in an effort to buy our votes.

What I care about are the candidates' ideologies. What are their world views? How do they compare to mine? Will they help us become the country we were founded to be?

For the most part, I try to stay away from politics. However, as a lifelong pro-life advocate, I've had to get involved now and then. I'm a firm believer that you can't eradicate abortion by simply legislating. The more effective approach is to change hearts and minds of those directly affected by the decision. That is done by taking people by the hand and helping them find the resources they need to choose life. And, occasionally, legislation does help (by requiring ultrasounds, counseling, etc. to help women recognize that there is another individual involved). But it is the people in the pregnancy centers, maternity homes, and adoption agencies who are making the real difference.

I realize, though, that there are other forces at work...forces that have a financial interest in destroying embryos and promoting abortion. That is why, no matter how much I dislike the political process, I must stay involved. Too many lives are at stake.

That said, my overall view of government is that it has become too big. There are too many taxes, too many failed programs, and too many hands in the cookie jar. I'm a firm believer that a free market provides the best opportunity for improved products and services because of the forces of competition.

What about the lower class? Christ said that the poor will always be with us. And I don't think government handouts have improved that situation. I believe it is up to us to help those in need. We've become a country of people looking for government to save them. It's time we start saving ourselves and helping our neighbors. Government can't solve all of our problems.

If you really care about what I think, this article sums it up nicely.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The outfit in question

This is the outfit mentioned in the previous post. I think she looks like a girl, don't you?

Mom, would you PLEASE stick a bow in my hair?

This morning, we visited Daddy at work. I had dressed Olivia in a blue outfit (and no, dang it, I didn't think to bring the camera) that has flowers and butterflies on it. It was matching pants, onesie and sweater. And several people (those who don't already know her) mistook her for a boy. *Sigh*

I guess I'm just going to have to start carrying a white bow everywhere I go. The problem with that is that she will pull it out immediately if she realizes it's in her hair. It's not that she doesn't like bows, it's just that she's very into doing things herself, so she'll pull it out and then try to put it back in her own hair, or in my hair or Daddy's hair. She's into equal opportunity for bows.

We are going back to Daddy's office on Friday to "trick-or-treat" around his office. I've heard that his department is really looking forward to it. I was too until today, when I realized how totally uncomfortable it's going to be for my warm-natured girl. See, Daddy works in an old building that is heated with a boiler or something, and it is like a sauna in there during the winter. Olivia is going to burn up in her monkey costume. I think I may let her be n@ked under the costume just to make up for it, instead of putting her in a onesie. The less clothing under there, the better.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


After a very warm September and an unseasonably warm beginning of October, it has finally turned cold around here. We decided to turn the heat on Sunday night and set the thermostat to 65 so it wouldn't kick on unless absolutely necessary. It was necessary.

Olivia seems to be unaffected by the change in temperature and the fact that her room is the coldest in the house. She still kicks off all of her blankets. Granted, she is dressed in a sweatsuit and house slippers at the moment. But so am I. She's napping now as I sit here and type with numb fingers and frozen toes. I just went into her room to cover her back up. I don't know how she manages to sleep comfortably sprawled ON TOP of her blankets, limbs far away from her body, with her belly peeking out from under her shirt. If I were napping, you can bet that I'd be doing it with hands tucked under my pillow and at least two blankets piled on top of me. She MUST be very warm-natured.

Cold weather? Bring it on!

In other news, I think I'm going to try to blog every day in November. I couldn't participate in NaBloPoMo last year because we were living in a hospital and hotels for a couple of weeks and picking up a baby and all that jazz. This November is going to be quite low-key. I'm not sure if I'm going to participate in an "official" way, but for the three or so of you who keep up with me, you'll at least have something to read daily. That is my promise to you.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A funny thing happened on the way to the zoo...

On Saturday night, my husband and I took Olivia to Boo at the Zoo.

Where Grandma gave me my first sucker...yay!

Grandma and Aunt Lori came with us. We were prepared for a fun night of seeing animals and collecting candy. We didn't realize that we'd spend our first hour watching our own little monkey take delight in all the other children's costumes while we stood in line to get through the gate. Thankfully, Olivia LOVES other little kids and was pretty well entertained watching them as they danced around in their pirate and dinosaur costumes, impatiently waiting for their turn to get through the gates too.

We'd been standing there awhile, and I remember that I was looking at some little girls in line ahead of us and thinking, "I wonder why they didn't come in costume". That's when my husband turned to me with a look of surprise and said, "Those are her sisters."

"What?" It didn't register right away what he meant. And then I looked closer.

We were standing behind Olivia's birthmother's three little girls (OH YES we were).


Let me back up a little. A few months ago, I blogged about talking to Sarah* about parenthood and milestones and such. At the time, she was still living in the city where Olivia was born and she sounded relatively content. She talked about coming to visit our Nearest Large City, her hometown, in August to celebrate her birthday and spend time with family. We made plans to try to meet while she was in town so she could see Olivia.

She did come to her hometown, but she never returned to Olivia's birth city as planned. We had tried repeatedly to meet up with her, but some crisis always came up to keep her from meeting with us. I think she really wanted to meet with us and see Olivia. Unfortunately for her and her kids, her life seemed to be spiraling out of control. We never got the details on what, exactly, was going on with her, but it was evident that she was living crisis to crisis. A few weeks ago, I tried to call and found that her cell phone was disconnected. So I figured that was that.


So here we are, standing in line behind these three little girls. We recognized them from the photos Sarah had given us for Olivia's lifebook. We had met the oldest child before Olivia was born, and my husband saw her again when we tried to meet with Sarah back in August (the girls and their father were at the apartment where she told us she'd been staying, but Sarah was, well, detained elsewhere). It wasn't until one of the adults with them called her name that he realized who they were and recognized the oldest girl. But Sarah was not with them.

We were sitting there discussing whether or not we should approach them to find out how to contact Sarah, and every minute I could feel my Mom getting more and more uncomfortable. She has been VERY protective of her granddaughter from the moment we brought her home, and she has never liked the fact that we kept in contact with Sarah. She always felt that it somehow put us in some sort of jeopardy of losing Olivia (it doesn't, but try telling my Mom that). But we couldn't help ourselves...we needed to know. After a few minutes, we got up the courage to go up and talk to the adult who seemed to be in charge of these kids. She looked at us warily until we explained who we were. We told her we'd been trying to contact Sarah and didn't know where she was.

Well, as it turns out, the woman is a foster mom who has had these girls for the past three weeks. She has never met Sarah and doesn't know the situation that caused her to lose custody of the girls. She said that, to her knowledge, Sarah is still living in town.

It was very strange and surreal. My husband thought it was Providence. "There are no coincidences." Maybe these girls will meet again someday. At any rate, I am glad that the girls are safe. And I hope that Sarah is safe too. I have no idea what is going on with her, but it makes me very sad to think that this girl who was trying so hard to turn her life around (placing Olivia with us, trying to reunite with her girls' father to put a family together, trying to provide some stability for her girls) has had her life spiral so far out of control that she's lost custody of her girls less than a year after giving birth to Olivia.

*Name changed.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

One-year preparations

I've been thinking for a long time about what to prepare for Olivia's birthday. My sister-in-law had a scrapbook all made up for her son's first year for party-goers to peruse. But let's face it...since I haven't even STARTED her scrapbook yet, chances of completing it in three weeks are pretty slim.

So I decided to go with the much easier-to-create and more visually stimulating DVD photo montage. I can add my own music, text and effects and load up photos from her first year. Since many of her best photos have been posted here or on my photo blog, I already have them loaded on my computer which makes this pretty easy.

Unfortunately, I haven't yet been able to find downloadable software for anything other than trial versions of programs that can create this kind of DVD. I am willing to spend money on it if I HAVE to, but first I thought I'd throw the question out there and see if any of you know of any kind of free programs online that create a nice, quality photo montage. Something that can be loaded on DVD.

Bring on the suggestions. And if you've used a program that you paid for, what was it, how much was it, and how did you like it?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Abandoning my stylish yoga pants and matching hoodie

Today I was asked to give a presentation to seminarians about Natural Family Planning (NFP), which is one of my areas of expertise. I've been teaching the FertilityCare System for something like eight years now, and I've spoken to many groups about the Catholic Church teaching on sexuality and human life.

So, I got to get all dressed up and professional-like while Olivia spent some QT with her cousin and aunt. It is actually pretty energizing for me to give a presentation now and then. Adult conversation and all that. Don't get me wrong...I love being home with Olivia. But sometimes it's also nice to be reminded that I still have something to contribute to adult society and that my brain has not turned to mush.

Anyway, my standard presentation on this topic has an added dimension now. I can talk about our experience with infertility and our journey to Olivia.

You may not think that my experience can contribute anything to the discussion of NFP. But, amazingly, it adds a whole new dimension. The central point of Catholic teaching is that couples should be open to the possibility of new life. They can use NFP to avoid pregnancy (and successfully) by using naturally-occurring infertility patterns in the cycle. But by avoiding hormonal or physical barriers to conception, they are always open to the possibility that life could be created.

Our adoption story adds a new dimension by reminding us that fertility is a precious gift, not a given. We were open to life, ready for conception to happen at any time. It didn't, but our openness to life led us to pray about adoption and gradually discern that we should open the door to the possibility. Once we did, we were parents within three months. Coincidence? I think not. God has a plan.

I think my favorite thing about NFP is that it requires us to communicate OFTEN about our family planning intentions. For most couples, this is a monthly discussion about when to add to their family and what obstacles or frustrations are happening in their lives to make avoiding pregnancy more attractive at this time. For us, our constant battle with infertility keeps turning us more and more toward trusting God with our finances (because adoption isn't cheap) and praying about when and how to start our next adoption process.

And now, here's a token pic of the princess, because I know that's why you keep showing up here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Shots, shots and more shots, updated

**New pics up at our photo blog. Also, Daddy figured out how to post video and he put one up at his, um, blog. In this video, she's doing what she does EVERY SINGLE TIME she hears the Gilmore Girls theme song. It is the ONLY thing on TV that draws her attention immediately.**

Today we all got our flu shots together. Daddy's work has an on-site health center, so we went there and he went with us. It was his very first experience of watching Olivia get shots, and I think he was a little surprised at her reaction.

Olivia is a pretty happy baby. Even when she's really tired, she does not often get overly grumpy or inconsolable. But she does cry on occasion. She has many cries, but the cry over shots is different from any other. She has the tired whiny cry, the "I smacked my head into a wall" scream that is followed by many seconds of breathless silence and more screaming, and the "you took my toy away" indignant cry. But the cry over shots is the only one that leaves her shaking with sobs of betrayal.

I get it. I do. I mean, here you are, laying in Mommy's lap with a bottle, all comfortable and all. And then this nurse pokes you with a stingy thing and your mind cannot fathom what would possess her to do something so mean. And you REALLY can't wrap your mind around why your Mommy would LET her do such a thing to you. It makes sense that she would sob.

But the sobs are really almost unbearable. And she used to get over it really quickly (short memory and all). But now, she remembers for quite a good long while and it is just hard.

So today was Daddy's first experience witnessing Olivia get a shot. I don't think he liked it. I think he's glad he isn't able to come to all her well baby appointments for that very reason.

Also, we found out today that Olivia has to repeat this shot in a month for it to be fully effective. No one ever mentioned this before. So this is going to be a rough month for Olivia. First, a flu shot. Then, in three weeks she'll have her one-year immunization shots, and then a week after that she has to have ANOTHER flu shot. I'm thinking that she may develop a real fear of medical offices as a result of all this torture.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Priceless blessings

I've been having a rather introspective kind of day, and although I felt like I should blog, I've been sitting here trying to figure out where to start. My mind is everywhere.

I've been doing some research during the last few weeks in preparation for our next adoption. We are planning to go with an agency this time around to make the process a little more predictable (ha!), and I think I've found one that we would be happy using. That said, I ran the numbers last night on our probable expense versus available funds. Let's just say it was shocking.

For comparison's sake, I added up all of our receipts from Olivia's adoption. When we started the process with her, we were expecting a rather smooth, in-state independent adoption and figured the total expense would come out well under the federal tax credit for adoption. And then her birthmom moved out of state, our costs shot up, and we ended up spending almost as much as we would have spent using an agency. Not that we would change was worth all the stress and confusion and every cent and then some to bring our angel home. It's just that it has left us in a tighter spot for funding a second adoption.

We have both been feeling the call to adopt again, and sooner rather than later. I like the idea of our kids being close-ish in age. And though I don't want to admit this out loud (because I always had the idea that I'd like to have four or five kids), there is a possibility that our next baby could be our last. We could always be surprised with a pregnancy or a huge influx of cash to make it possible for us to adopt again. But the reality of the moment is that pregnancy does not seem likely and adoption is JUST! SO! EXPENSIVE! God could surprise us with an independent referral and in-state placement (read: way less expensive), and we'd certainly be open to that possibility. I'm just not planning on it.

I don't think the money will keep us from moving forward soon-ish. We can make it's just going to be a sacrifice. But if there is anything that the volatile state of the worldwide market has taught us recently, it is that there are no guarantees. The market could go way up this quarter, or it could bottom out. But money spent on adding a child to our family will never be missed. Not when you get to experience the priceless joy of watching that child's sweet personality express itself every day. Olivia has taught us that parenthood is well worth the price.

Recently, I've been experiencing many moments of pure joy and thankfulness for the gift of Olivia. She has reached a very fun age. As she runs around the house chanting, "busy, busy, busy", sits to closely examine a piece of carpet lint, or runs over and pats me on the back, I can't help but think how blessed I am to experience every moment of her young life. She is so full of energy and curiosity. She helps me recognize the little blessings that we take for granted each day...the sounds of dogs and birds outside when the windows are open, the fun of running around in the leaves, the pure enjoyment that comes with giving and receiving hugs and kisses. It is a true blessing, and these days, I find myself thinking that I could do this forever and enjoy it.

Of course, this is just a season of life. Someday, we'll have another baby, then we'll be back to the season of sleepless nights and zombie days. Later, the kids will grow, and we'll be in the season of schoolwork and softball practice and soccer mom. Everything changes.

Which is why I'm determined to make an effort to enjoy every moment of babyhood the second time around. I think I spent a lot of Olivia's infant days just praying that she would learn to sleep.

Still, I recall a few moments in her earliest days when I was overcome by the precious gift we were given. Like the last day we were enduring the ICPC wait. We were already deep into sleep deprivation, having spent several days in a hotel with a baby who didn't want to sleep. But on the day before Thanksgiving, my birthday, only hours before receiving the call that we were cleared to go home, we were sitting in a little restaurant pub having lunch. It was raining cats and dogs, and we were pretty wet after running with a carseat and diaper bag through the parking lot. We were still stressed that our ICPC clearance wouldn't be granted by the end of the day and then we'd be stuck through the entire holiday weekend in a city where we knew no one and a state where we knew few.

But I looked at that sweet little face, still asleep in her carseat, being a perfect angel while we had a nice lunch. And I realized that this precious little child was worth all the stress and hardship because she was ours. Our little gift from God. A gift that seemed so far beyond our grasp after struggling with infertility, and a gift made even sweeter after that struggle.

We have been blessed.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

One nap is a good thing, really!

Olivia seems to be changing fast. I mentioned a few weeks ago that she seemed to be transitioning to a one-nap schedule. I'm fairly confident that she is now firmly settled into that schedule.

Now I wasn't really sure I was ready for the idea of my baby being awake most of the day because she's not exactly the type to let me get anything substantial done while she's up. There are things to do! Birds to watch and dancing to do and things to point at! Busy, busy, busy. And don't you even try to stand there and do the dishes, Mommy, or I'll wrap my arms around your leg and hold on tight until you come and play with me!

But I have to admit, it has been really nice. I am getting better at being Olivia's playmate, and the morning really does fly by most days. She typically takes a good 3-hour nap, and then we only have a couple of hours to fill before Daddy gets home. The difficulty is dealing with that last 30 minutes before lunch. That's when she really starts to get grumpy.

Lunch for Olivia is usually at 11:00, and even that is sometimes a bit of a stretch. Like today, for example. My husband called at 10:30, and you would think the world was coming to an end because for five minutes MOMMY IS NOT GIVING ME HER UNDIVIDED ATTENTION and I MUST CLIMB ON HER AND GRAB AT THE PHONE UNTIL SHE GIVES IT TO ME SO I CAN TALK TO DADDY and OH NO YOU DIDN'T JUST HANG UP WITHOUT LETTING ME TALK TO HIM! WHAAAAAAAH!

So we had lunch at 10:45 today.

Our usual schedule is lunch, followed immediately by bottle and nap. She decided to skip the bottle today.

She has only done this once before and she was very sick that day. So this caught me a bit by surprise. But it has given me an idea about how to start weaning her from formula. I suppose it's about time to start that process. She takes four bottles a day, but she's becoming less and less interested in her daytime bottles. Her morning bottle is really the only one she's super excited about, and she doesn't always finish that one either. So it looks like the lunchtime bottle is the first to go. We'll wait a couple weeks, I think, to eliminate another, though. I'm not quite ready to surrender by baby to this new toddler-like figure that is taking her place.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Such a sweet little girl

I am constantly amazed at how my tiny baby has morphed into a little girl all of a sudden. And with such a loving little personality.

Olivia was never one for cuddling. She was always too busy looking around to lay her head on your shoulder or wrap her arms around your neck.

Not any more. She still doesn't stay in one place for long, but even in the midst of her busy little mad dash around the living room, she frequently stops to smile her biggest smile and come over to Mommy for a hug. She can give kisses now, too, and when she's in the mood to give them, she'll give them to just about anyone.

Olivia has also learned how to blow kisses. It is SO CUTE! She does them alternately with one hand and with two hands, and she often adds a sound effect...Mmmmwaah!

It is especially adorable to watch how she sends Daddy off to work or greets him when he gets home. Especially the getting home...she'll reach out and wrap her arms around his neck until he scoops her up and carries her around for a bit. He's also the most successful at getting her to give kisses.

Her mischievous side is starting to come out more and more. She enjoys doing exactly what she's not supposed to do. The most recent annoyance is biting. She has never actually sunk teeth into flesh, but she teases as if she's going to. She will walk up and put her mouth on your knee, watching you out of the corner of her eye all the while. When you react and say "No biting!", she throws her head back and laughs. Which is a little unsettling, because if she associates biting with laughing, we may be in trouble.

Two more teeth have made their appearance in the last few days. Now she has four on bottom and top...eight perfect little teeth. I'm just thankful that they are arriving in an orderly fashion and without much drama. I can't imagine how she'd look if she had a rogue snaggletooth hanging around on the side of her mouth or something.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Eleven Months and busy, busy, busy.

Olivia is eleven months old today. This afternoon, we finally got her to cooperate and actually smile WHILE sitting still enough to get a good picture.

On Friday, Olivia started making this sound when she was running all over the living room. It sounded like she was saying, "Beezubeezubeezubeezu". But in the context of her running all over the living room, it started to sound like "Busybusybusybusy". So we kept asking her, "Are you busy, busy, busy?" And now she's actually saying it that way. It is hilarious to watch her toddle frantically all over the place saying "Busybusybusybusy".

Yesterday she was indeed busy. We had a full day before we arrived at an evening wedding we were attending. It was the first wedding we've attended where Olivia has been fully mobile. And she LOVED IT! As soon as I let her down, she ran straight for the dance floor and started following all the other little kids around. I followed right behind her. I was deathly afraid that one of the boys who was running and sliding all over the floor was going to knock her down. They came very close a few times, but she barely noticed.

Most of our evening was spent following her as she ran back and forth, stopping for a few seconds here and there to dance and wave her arms around, and then she was off again. Yelling in excitement most of the time too. People who didn't know her were completely charmed by her cuteness.

Before long, she was worn out. This is Daddy trying to dance with her. She's definitely zoned out.

We realized it was time to head home, but not before changing her into her PJs so she could go straight to bed. Of course, even then she wanted to make one last round to make sure she wasn't missing any of the excitement.

Very busy, busy, busy.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fall Festival

Our nearest large metropolitan area has this annual fall festival. It's something like six blocks long and is rumored to be the second-largest street festival in the country (second to Mardi Gras in New Orleans). It's mostly made up of individual food booths run by and benefiting charitable organizations (churches, high school band boosters, football boosters, fire department, etc). There are also rides and games, but the food is the draw. And 80 percent of the food you'll find there is either deep fried or dessert (or both). Actually, make that 90 percent. I'm having a hard time coming up with items that don't fall into one of those categories, so it may be higher yet.

Anyway, it's pretty much the place to be this week. So Olivia and I planned our Fall Festival outing for yesterday.

We had fun! We met some friends there and ate a bunch of junk. Actually, I ate junk and Olivia ate the cut up pieces of meat and fruit that I had prepared for her, but still. She loved watching all the people. Plus, she got a balloon. So, all in all, it was definitely one of the highlights of her week.

We capped off the day with some shopping, and Olivia entertained herself by running up and down aisles and trying to hide from me. We also played a bit at the Mall's play area. She was in heaven. I think she gets a little bored when we stay home for days on end and don't get out to see people. She's definitely a people watcher. With a tight budget and gas prices and everything else going on in the world, we try not to make too many unnecessary trips to "town". And since we live in Tinyville where the most exciting thing to do is either go to the park (where we are typically the only two people there) or the grocery store, Olivia doesn't have much opportunity to enjoy people watching. But boy do we have fun when we can get out!

We'll have to plan more trips to the Mall. Under usual circumstances, I hate the Mall. But seeing it through Olivia's's like a wonderland. A carousel in the food court, people walking all different directions, all kinds of interesting things to explore, and a play area to boot. And as long as we don't venture into any stores, the most I'll usually spend is a couple of bucks for coffee. And that's just to keep me from falling asleep on the drive home, because as fun as these outings are, they wear us both out!

Monday, October 6, 2008

What we did with our weekend.

On Saturday, Olivia and I participated in our local area's Buddy Walk, which is a walk to support services to people with Downs Syndrome. We were recruited to walk by the parents of Mary, who is the sweetest 3-month-old baby you will ever meet.

Mary has something in common with Olivia...she's also adopted. Which probably won't make much difference to either of them, but it means something to me. Because without the support and example of Mary's parents, our adoption journey would have been much different. See, J & E (Mary's parents) adopted their first child, Cecilia, a little more than six months before Olivia was born. Their story was SO similar to ours...unexpected referral, whirlwind homestudy, becoming parents in a matter of months. Their first daughter is also biracial, like Olivia, and they never questioned whether they were the "right" parents for their daughter. They just had faith that God had handed them this wonderful gift, and He would give them the tools to raise her if they accepted the challenge of becoming her parents.

I assume that same faith motivated them to accept the gift of their second child. And what a gift she is! Sarah Palin was right when she said that special needs children inspire a special kind of love. And Mary already inspires that love in her family and all those who know her family.

I've been thinking a lot about our second adoption lately. As with our first homestudy, we'll have to specify what "kind" of child we would accept. I hate that question because it makes me feel like we are picking out a puppy. I understand what motivates social workers to caution adoptive parents to consider whether they are prepared to become an interracial family through adoption, but it looks so awful on paper. With our first homestudy, we indicated that we would accept a child of any race, but we already knew with some certainty (because of our referral-before-homestudy situation) exactly what type of child we would have. I don't know how we will answer that question on our next homestudy, but I have a feeling that our best bet is to open all doors and let God send us the child He wants us to have. After all, it worked out pretty well for all of us the first time around.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

How to entertain a toddler

This morning, after I had freed Olivia from her high chair and was finishing the breakfast dishes, Olivia wandered off into the living room. Two seconds later I heard the variety of scream that means "Mommy, come quick! I have been attacked by living room furniture!"

By the time I reached her, she was beside herself and bleeding. At least, there was some blood on her lip. But it wasn't coming from her lip or from her face. She kept putting her hand to her mouth and moving her tongue around inside her teeth, but she WOULD NOT LET ME LOOK. So my guess is that she bit her tongue or hit her gums and made them bleed. I was able to confirm that all six of her teeth are still intact, so apparently it was more painful than it was permanently damaging. I wasn't able to identify the offending piece of furniture as she was sitting in the middle of the floor, but something obviously got the best of her.

Anyway, after cleaning her up with a cool washcloth and calming her down a bit, I let her suck on an ice cube. This is one of her favorite things to do, and in this case had the added benefit of soothing what I assume was the injured area. I sat her on the floor and watched her as she kept dropping the cube and chasing it around the kitchen floor.

It occurred to me that this is great entertainment for her, and why don't I do this more often? We typically only resort to ice cubes when she's crying because the cold cube distracts her and makes her happy. But it is a good way to keep her in the kitchen when I'm trying to finish clean-up. I would only recommend it, though, if you aren't squeamish about your baby sucking ice cubes that have been all over the kitchen floor.

Another popular form of entertainment for our toddler is pulling clothes out of her drawers. Socks are her favorite, so we have lots of socks randomly scattered around the house. This doesn't bother me much since there wasn't much organization in the sock drawer to begin with. More difficult for me is dealing with her newfound skill of opening her dresser drawers. This morning I found her throwing her long-sleeved onesies onto the floor. This wouldn't be such a bad thing if she wasn't also in the habit of throwing things into and taking things out of her laundry basket. Now we have clean clothes and dirty clothes mingling all over the floor of her room. I've had to start checking her laundry basket periodically for things that don't belong. Last week I inadvertently washed two small stuffed animals and a cow magnet that made it into her basket.

Olivia has recently decided that it's fun to go into her room and close the door. Since I've finally removed anything that I don't want her to destroy, I let her have her fun. She will usually wander around for a few minutes and then decide that she's tired of being in there alone. To let me know that she wants company (or to be let out) she knocks on the door. It's very cute.

Life is never dull around here, my friends. Sometimes it's a little slow, but it's never dull.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Definitely in transition

We've been intermittently busy here, which means that there have been several days in the last week that Olivia's naps have been short, interrupted or off schedule.

Even when we are home, though, Olivia's nap schedule is unpredictable. A couple of days last week, she only took one long nap. Yesterday she took two regular naps. Today she didn't act tired until almost two hours after she usually goes down for her morning nap.

I'm pretty sure she's in transition and will be moving to the one-nap schedule soon. She's not quite ready yet, but she's getting there.

I was really dreading this transition, but I think I'm OK with it now. It may have something to do with the fact that Olivia is walking with great confidence now and is a bit easier to entertain for longer periods of time. It also helps with her nighttime schedule. Shorter naps or just one nap means a very sleepy baby by bedtime, so there is rarely any fussing or resistance when it is time to go to bed. We brush teeth, read a bedtime book, and then she goes in her crib. By the lack of shuffling and noise coming from the baby monitor, I am judging that she falls asleep pretty fast.

Oh, and the books...she is getting MUCH better at sitting still for books now. She has recently developed a preference for books among all of her toys. She will drag one book around the house for an hour, sitting to look at it and point at pictures, bringing it to me to read some, walking off again and carrying it to another location where she can sit and look at it some more. I'm so glad she's finally caught on to the fun in books.

The walking is getting a lot less wobbly. She walks so fast that she's practically running now. She rarely crawls at all now and is confident enough with the walking that I let her do it, unassisted, in public places now.

I've been spending much of my time trying, bit by bit, to clean up old files and mess in our "office". We are preparing to start a new homestudy in a few months, and I'm anticipating needing at least part of this room for a crib. If our next child is also a girl, she'll probably share a room with Olivia before she turns a year old. But I'm confident that we'll need a separate room for at least a few months. It is going to take a lot of work to get this room in shape, and I'm going to NEED the next several months to make it work.