Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A very tired girl

Wow! What a week. It seems like we've been running non-stop for days.

This weekend, we traveled six hours for an anniversary party for my husband's aunt and uncle. We took the van and brought Grammy and Grampy with us. Olivia's not very good at sitting still, but she did take an acceptable nap both days in the car, and she slept amazingly well in the hotel. This is the first time that a hotel stay with her wasn't a complete nightmare, so that was good.

Of course, all the traveling around is a little exhausting, and her 90 minute car naps are not equal to her regular naps in length or quality of sleep. And then, on Monday, we spent the day with my parents and family. Olivia played and played with all her little cousins, and she napped when they did. But again, it was only a 90 minute nap. And then we stayed late because of the gift opening and the chaos that ensued afterward, so she was late getting to bed that day.

Yesterday, for obvious reasons, I put her down early for her nap. Then I thought I'd get a head start on laundry and on putting away Christmas decorations (something I usually don't do until after epiphany, but kids change things, you know). I finished ALL of the Christmas clean-up and three loads of laundry while my husband sorted recycling and took it away with the trash, and then made lunch. It was an amazingly productive day.

Why, you ask? Because Olivia slept for FOUR SOLID HOURS. Oh yes.

I guess three straight days of being off schedule with shorter-than-normal naps and greater-than-normal activity is pretty exhausting for a little kid.

I'm looking forward to getting back on a regular schedule. I've enjoyed having my husband at home and visiting family and friends, but all of my regular everyday stuff has been neglected. Important things, like blogging, you know!

I hope everyone had a blessed and happy Christmas. The partying is not over yet! Happy New Year to you and yours, and stay safe as you continue to celebrate the season.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The meaning of it all

Christmas morning was a little hectic. We opened Santa's gifts (you can see those pictures here) and then rushed to get ready for Church. Olivia was decked out in her Christmas best.

She wasn't, however, on her best behavior. Since we were going to Church with Grammy and Grampy, in a church where there was actually a cry room, we took advantage of the opportunity to keep her from disturbing everyone else.

We thought we'd have the cry room to ourselves, but just before Mass, another family came in. They had a little boy about 3 or 4 years old, and he seemed to have some sort of cerebral palsy (forgive me if that's wrong...I am not good at identifying disabilities by sight). He kept wandering up to us in the front pew of the cry room, and he would stand there and watch us, or sit on the floor or look out the window. I didn't mind. I know how hard it is to keep Olivia in one place, so I can imagine what it must be like for this family.

Well, Olivia loves other little kids, so as soon as I let her get down, she started following him around. She would walk behind him and even *gasp* SIT STILL on the floor when he did. I dare say he would be a calming influence on her at Mass if we sat by him every week.

As usual, Olivia (being the affectionate child she is) tried to give this little boy a hug. When he didn't reciprocate, she patted him on the back. And every time he came up to our pew, she tried again to hug him.

Mental disability is uncomfortable for many people. But what I saw here was a little girl expressing love and acceptance for another human being just because he happened to be there. She had none of the prejudices and hesitations that most of us have in handling disability. She just saw another child and wanted to be loving and affectionate.

I'd like to believe that we can see the face of Christ expressed in every human being, but it's not always easy for us to do. For Olivia, it's not hard at all. I pray that she keeps that childlike innocence and lovingness for as long as possible.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Our Christmas Eve day trip

Five years ago (almost), my husband and I got engaged on New Year's Eve, kneeling in front of the tabernacle after the vigil Mass for the Solemnity of Mary.

The next day, we took a day trip to visit this historic old hotel that was (barely) in the process of restoration. It was an enjoyable day, and we loved imagining what this old grand hotel would have looked like in its heyday. In the early 1900s, it was called the "playground of the rich and famous", boasting Presidents and mobsters and the very wealthy among its clientele. The draw then was the sulfur springs, thought to have healing properties. It was once the place to be. Then, for a variety of reasons, it ceased being a hotel, was used for various other purposes, and eventually abandoned. It had physically started to fall apart before someone finally came along and started basic restoration.

Somewhere around 2005 or so, some people with a lot of money and influence finally got the ball rolling for a MAJOR restoration/renovation project for this hotel, and now it is a sight to see! Even though it is a bit of a drive for us, we enjoy visiting just to sit in the grand atrium and marvel at the beauty of the structure and the lavish furnishings. Indeed, no expense was spared in returning this marvel to its former glory.

Today, we had nothing planned at all (as is typical for us on Christmas Eve), so we decided to take a day trip to introduce Olivia to the historic hotel. For the season, they had erected a tree that (with the 12-foot stand) must have been about 50 feet tall. It had plenty of room to stand inside the dome of the atrium.

Olivia had a great time. She just ran and ran all around the place. There is a lot of space there.

We may just have to make this trip an annual tradition.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The weather outside... frightful. Not, of course, anything like Seattle is getting, but icky, nonetheless.

It is icing now. Freezing rain. One of my LEAST FAVORITE kinds of weather. According to the weather man, it will warm up to regular rain and be in the 50s by tomorrow, but I'll believe it when I see it.

So, we are stuck inside today. We have some Christmas cards that should have been mailed yesterday and will now be late, but what can you do, really?

Tomorrow starts my vacation. For my entire life, the week between Christmas and New Year's Day has felt like vacation. Even when I was working, our office was closed during that week, so there was nothing to do but enjoy the holidays and family. My husband will be off this year for the whole week, and I'm really looking forward to it. We are blessed to have family very close, so we never have to travel far and rarely have to miss any holiday gatherings. I can't imagine what it would be like if we were geographically separated from family and had Christmas by ourselves. I'm sure my husband wouldn't mind as much, but I am energized by a week spent with my family. The kids, the noise, the chaos...that's what the holidays have always been for me. This year will be WAY less stressful than last year with a fussy and overstimulated baby. I'm ready. Bring it on!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Living with the chaos

It occurred to me today that nothing about my house appears organized, at least to the untrained eye. Yet my husband can ask me where he left the remote, and I can remember the exact location I last saw it. So yes, there is some sense of order here.

I can remember a time when I used to round up all the toys at the end of the day and put them in the toybox. Now, the toys that are in the general vicinity of the toybox get put away. The rest get gathered up into little toy piles all over the house and shoved against the wall or in a corner. The key now is that we keep the walking path clear so no one steps on anything in the dark and breaks an ankle.

I now have a very high tolerance for clothes randomly lying around the house. Olivia has access to her sock drawer, and she loves to drag socks and shoes all over the house. I have been known to leave a stray sock lying on the floor for days on end. This is not something that I would have tolerated pre-Olivia.

I have also developed an incredible knack for cleaning up the house in mere minutes when I hear that someone is coming over. Most of the "clutter" ends up stored in a random drawer somewhere, but at least the house appears to be in order when the guest arrives!

Olivia has entered the snotty-and-miserable stage of her cold. There was a lot of whining and sniffing today. I'm exhausted. So is she. I think I'll go to bed now.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Busy season for all of us.

Well, it seems I've been neglecting my blog recently, but by the lack of comments, I can see that you've been neglecting my blog too. I understand...the week before Christmas is always very busy. You are forgiven. And to prove that there are no hard feelings, I'm going to give you some cute updates.

On Thursday night, Olivia went to the bowling alley for the very first time. Don't laugh...this is a big thing for us. For six or more years before Olivia came along, my husband and I were involved in league bowling together. We were pretty good. We have trophies and high scores to prove it. Once Olivia came along, though, I decided I was taking a break from regular bowling. My husband, however, REALLY loves to bowl (he has a 200 average) and found a men's league to join on Thursday nights. For one reason or another, we had never taken Olivia to a bowling alley, so we decided to go watch on Thursday night.

SHE LOVED IT! She stood on the counter behind the lanes for a solid half-hour watching and pointing and clapping for all of the bowlers on Daddy's lanes. I was amazed at how it held her attention for so long. She's definitely Daddy's girl.

We all came down with a cold by Friday, so there has been quite a bit of hacking and wheezing going on here. It seems that Olivia has learned that tissues are not the devil, and that it actually feels better to have your nose wiped than to let all that icky stuff run down your face. And...get this...she has learned to blow her nose. I know! The blowing is not really all that productive at this point, but the fact that she has made the observation that blowing through her nose helps the wiping process is progress indeed.

On Friday, we visited Grammy for awhile in the afternoon, and she and Olivia took a walk outside to see the neighbor's dogs, Ollie and Louie. Now, every time she hears a dog bark, she shouts "Ollie!"

Olivia has recently shown an affinity for popcorn. She likes to snuggle in next to Daddy on the couch and eat out of his bowl.

Enjoy your last minute shopping and office holiday parties this weekend!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Things I love about 13 months

Olivia is a wee bit over 13 months old now, and aside from the fact that she can now open any door in the house and enjoys climbing very high and giving her mother a heart attack, I am really enjoying 13 months.

First of all, Olivia is very good at sleeping. While it took us awhile to get to this point, I am truly enjoying my girl who enjoys her sleep.

It's not always easy to get Olivia to GO to sleep. She fusses. Sometimes she lays in bed and stares at the ceiling until she's sufficiently sleepy. Occasionally she'll pitch a fit.

But once she's She typically goes to bed between 7 and 8 pm, and then she wakes up around 12 hours later. On weekends, if we aren't up and moving around early, she often sleeps a little late. Once she's up, she usually lays in bed and talks to herself until she gets impatient and then she yells to let us know she's up. Naps are the same. She is usually content to lay in bed for awhile until she decides that she's not falling back asleep. She's a lot like me in that way.

I love the way she runs around the house in the morning. Runs. Everywhere. In her footie pajamas. SO CUTE!

I love that she's taken a sudden interest in books. And not just the destruction of them. Instead of carrying them around and standing on them, she likes to pick one out and then sit down next to me on the floor or couch and "read" it to me. Sometimes she'll even let me read it to her.

She sings a lot now and dances anytime she hears music...on the radio, on the TV or from one of her toys. We have this annoying Rudolf clock that plays "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer" every hour. Every time she hears it, she runs to the kitchen to watch. It's like the cuckoo clocks at both Grandma's houses. She likes to watch them or just point to them and say "cuh-cuh."

Although TV = Not The Most Productive Thing a Toddler Could Be Doing, it is on a lot, especially in the evenings. Olivia doesn't pay much attention to it except when it is showing either kids or music. She stops whatever she's doing to watch those Target commercials with the kids doing a school Christmas pageant all about how awesome Target is (I hate advertising). And she loves the Subway $5 footlong commercials. She watches them shoving their hands forward, making a "5" with them, and she turns to look at us and does THE EXACT SAME THING. She saw a picture of gloves in a book this morning, and that prompted a $5 footlong motion too.

She's a riot! Now if we could just figure out a way to keep her from destroying anything that is not set up REALLY HIGH, we'd be perfect.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Santa, etc.

I'm lacking any inspiration for a blog post, so you get pictures. Our town had Christmas parades and celebrations this weekend, so we had an opportunity to introduce Olivia to Santa. She decided he was one scary dude.
She wouldn't get close enough to sit on his lap, so we had to hold her. She's got the candy cane that he gave her in her hand, and yet tears were streaming down her face until we backed away from him. Then she took time to inspect (and crush) the piece of candy she had.

See Mom...this is what that scary man gave me.

We decided not to attempt to see Santa again this year. That made Olivia very happy.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Enough talk...time to jump in!

We've been researching adoption agencies for awhile now in preparation for adding baby #2 to our family. Since adoption and timelines are generally unpredictable, we wanted to start the process soon after Olivia's first birthday.

After much time spent calling, emailing and perusing various fee sheets and websites, we have decided on an agency. Actually, it's two agencies, both associated with Catholic Charities offices in the same Diocese, so one will do the homestudy, both will take our applications, and then we wait.

The decision is official today. We have an appointment in early January to meet with the caseworker and start our homestudy paperwork. Fasten your seatbelts!

This, of course, prompts me to look around this room currently acting as an office and wonder (again) how we are ever going to whip it into shape to become a bedroom. I have a few ideas, but I'm afraid they are going to require some new organizational furniture and a lot of throwing stuff out. And since Olivia took a one-hour nap (ONLY!) yesterday, which left me exactly 20 minutes to accomplish things after picking up the living room and taking a shower, I'm not exactly sure when I'm going to find time to get all organizational.

How do you eat an elephant again?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I surrender

If our tree looks bare at the bottom, it's because I'm tired of fighting Olivia over not touching the ornaments. So everything we want to keep nice for next year has been moved to the top of the tree. The ornaments at the bottom are plastic ornaments of characters from the Rudolf movie, and they are there to keep Olivia occupied so she doesn't pull off strings of lights. Sheesh.

We're not sure she understands the meaning of the word "No". She says it a lot...usually when she's doing something she's not supposed to do. I think she may just be repeating the word because she hears it a lot and associates it with the activity she's doing when she hears it. So she pulls ornaments off the tree while saying "No", as if that's just what you say when you are doing that activity. Like how you say "yum" when you are eating a cookie.

I guess we have some work to do.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Today I spent most of Olivia's nap time ordering photo gifts online, so I didn't have time for a substantial post here. I did, however, post a few videos at our photo blog, so please stop by there to see some short clips of Olivia's activity. I wanted to get a clip of her running (which is really the way she gets from point A to point B, 90 percent of the time). I also posted a clip of her playing with her Santa doll and one of her climbing on the coffee table. If you watch the coffee table one closely, you can hear her saying "get down" a couple of times. That's what I say when she's up there.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Olivia and the tree

The tree is up, and Olivia is doing pretty well. Our tree is huge (and wide) and there is really only one place to put it in our small living room, so we are forced to deal with the reality of teaching Olivia to stay away from the pretty tree.

We spent the first several hours with the tree saying, "No, Olivia...pretties...just look, no touching!" So now, she walks up to the tree and points and says "Nooooo!" She says that, too, when she's doing anything she thinks she's not supposed to do. (She knows, and she waits until we are paying attention to actually do such things. She stands there saying "No" to get our attention.")

I've been letting her touch or point to the tree today because I'm trying to get a good Christmas card photo. And then she started pulling off the ball ornaments, so I think we are going to have to go back to "No".

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Feast of St. Nicholas

Today is the Feast of St. Nicholas in our Catholic calendar of Things To Celebrate. St. Nick day is something we have observed since I was a child. You can read about St. Nicholas here. In our family's tradition (and that of many other families around here), we have always put out our stockings on December 5th, and on December 6th we would wake to find them full of goodies.

Growing up, we always put out our actual socks (the biggest one we could find, of course). "St. Nick" would fill them with chocolate candies and usually one little gift or trinket that we could play with while we were "patiently" waiting for Christmas to come.

We've decided to carry on the tradition with Olivia. She is, of course, too little for chocolate candies, so her stocking was filled with little wrapped toys. Mommy and Daddy each got one thing in their stockings, but Olivia got four gifts. That's how St. Nick works, you know. Kids get all the loot!

One of the joys of parenting a toddler is that they NOTICE things and are so interactive. From the moment she entered the living room this morning, Olivia noticed the little stocking sitting in front of the TV. She was entranced. She walked ever-so-slowly toward the stocking until we assured her that yes, it was for her and she could play with it.

She took great joy in ripping off small pieces of wrapping paper.

Ooh...letters. Fun!

She got two little dolls, a colorful soccer ball, and the package of foam letters. She was in heaven. It's very easy to please a one-year-old.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The disaster area

My office should qualify me for federal aid. It is a complete disaster area. I don't know how I'm ever going to get it into shape to become a bedroom again. I'd post a picture, but I'm just so embarrassed. It is a MESS.

Aside from the fact that you can't move for all the piles of need-to-be-filed paper on the floor, I'm just not sure where to put all of this furniture. Desk, printer table, two bookcases, entertainment center/TV, DVD tower, filing cabinet, rocking chair, floor lamps. Plus, all of my long-neglected scrapbooking boxes.

I would like to request the assistance of those professional organizers from Clean Sweep on TLC. I am a little overwhelmed here. It's like eating an bite at a time, right? I should just get started already.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The futility of shopping with a one-year-old

My husband has a two-night business trip, starting today, so I thought Olivia and I would entertain ourselves with a totally unnecessary trip "to town" to run a few errands. We'll be back on Friday for playdate and more errands, but I figured there was enough to do to warrant another leisurely trip to shop.

Leisurely, HA! As I was plotting my errands last night, the list kept getting longer and longer. And it turned out that there was no way I would have accomplished this all on Friday.

We did the necessary (oil change, pick up 1-year pictures, drop off dry cleaning) and the not-so-necessary (knock things off your Christmas list by stopping at ten million stores for exactly one item each, making yourself and the active toddler crazy).

I discovered that Olivia has entered the land of impossible when it comes to shopping. She refuses to sit in the cart seat. She will stand in the cargo area of the cart happily, but only for twenty minutes at a time, then she attempts to climb out. And she has developed a tantrum cry that is mind-numbingly grating. It sounds like she's seriously TRYING to damage her vocal cords. It's a cross between a growl and a cry. Ugh. I HATE it. She used it a lot today, interspersed by many moments of flashing her award-winning smile at total strangers and being totally sweet. It's like she can turn emotions on and off like a light switch.

Miraculously, we accomplished everything on my list. I have St. Nick Day gifts for stockings (Saturday, in case you were wondering), and almost everyone on my gift list is accounted for. Thank heavens, because I don't really do crowds and shopping and grumpy babies very well.

For your daily dose of happy, go visit Jen and congratulate her on the arrival of her baby girl, born just this morning.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Yesterday evening, my husband and I dropped Olivia off with my parents while we ran "to town" for an errand. She was there less than three hours, but it was a little past her bedtime when we arrived to pick her up. Mom said she'd been playing happily all evening. She'd had dinner and a bath and was playing in the toy pile with Grandma when we arrived. And as soon as she saw us come through the door, she squealed, dropped her toy, and ran as fast as she could over to hug my legs. I have never seen her so ecstatically happy.

It occurred to me that although she loves and feels comfortable with all of her grandparents and most of her aunts and uncles, she doesn't feel the kind of truly-at-ease comfort that she feels with us. This is a reasonable thought. I imagine that most kids feel the same way. And with Olivia, this feeling seems to be heightened after her Daddy's recent two-week absence. She's just happier when she knows where we are.

It got me thinking about all those kids out there (her birth-siblings included) who don't experience that kind of stability. Even with the anxiety of wondering where Mommy and Daddy were all evening, Olivia must have anticipated our return because we always come back for her. She feel asleep almost as soon as she was strapped into the carseat, as if she knew she could relax now because she was with Mommy and Daddy and on the way home to her own bed. She felt secure.

Not all kids are that lucky. I can't imagine how hard it would be not to know where you are sleeping tonight, or who will be taking care of you tomorrow. And it's obvious that kids understand stability (or lack thereof) at a very young age.

I will say a prayer today for Olivia's birth-siblings and all other kids out there who need a stable home. May God give them the peace and stability they so desperately need.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Holy Climbing, Batman!

The holiday weekend was fun, but Olivia is teaching her 7-months-older cousins some bad habits. Like how to climb on chairs. Not just the little baby folding chairs (which she mastered easily), but also the big-people folding chairs. She was unstoppable. It was all she wanted to do. For awhile, she kept dragging the baby folding chair around, then she would climb up and stand on it and clap until someone told her to get down. My sister kept telling her sternly "Olivia, sit down", jabbing her pointer finger down. So, after awhile, Olivia would climb and stand up in the chair, then look her aunt in the eye and jab her pointer finger down saying "Sit dun!" It was too funny. Yes, Olivia, sit down. She thought it was a game.

Olivia has proven that she is freakishly tall. Here she is with her second cousin, who celebrated her birthday on Saturday. They are 17 days apart. And they were both born within two weeks of their due dates. So, developmentally, they are at the same stage. But obviously, their genetics destine them to be very different heights.

It's even more striking when Olivia hugs her. We are going to have one tall girl on our hands.

We all had a good weekend and ate way more than our fair share. Best of all, Olivia's cold is gone and my almost-cold disappeared before it developed into anything. I had a nasty sore throat for two days, but that is as bad as it got. And now we are having a leisurely day at home. Finally.