Thursday, December 31, 2009

Resolving to make no resolutions

I hate New Year's resolutions. There is way too much pressure. I mean, you are resolving to try to do (or not do) something for a WHOLE YEAR. That's a lot. For me, Lenten resolutions are so much easier. It is a short-ish period of time and it's easier for me to make resolutions or sacrifices that I can stick with for that long, knowing that there is an end in sight. But if I resolve to do something for the New Year, then I'm setting myself up for disappointment. So I'm making no resolutions this year. The end.

I do like to take time on New Year's Eve/Day to think about the year that has passed. For us, this year was an eventful one. Olivia started the year as a toddler wearing footie pajamas and sleeping in a crib. She ended the year as a conversational little girl who dresses herself and sleeps in a big girl bed. What a year!

Highlights of 2009:

1. In January, our fourteen-month-old learned to take off all her clothes. She'd do this in her crib, while we were asleep. Just in time for the really cold weather. Not so smart, kid.

2. Sometime around March, Olivia started climbing out of her crib. Then she started climbing into her crib. Our lives began to center around getting the child to sleep and keeping her asleep, which reminded us too much of newborn days. So, we gradually resigned ourselves to putting Olivia in a big bed full time. By mid-April, the crib was history.

3. By late Spring, Olivia was stringing several words together. By the end of the summer, she was conversing like a 4-year-old. She talks, sings, recites prayers. The kid is a verbal whiz.

4. But she's still just two years old. My Dad had to remind me of this a few days ago. She's pretty active and when she's tired or just feeling contrary, she can drive everyone pretty nuts. My Dad picked her up and said, "That's OK, Olivia. You're so tall and you speak like a 4-year-old, but sometimes we forget that you're only two. We keep expecting you to behave like a 4-year-old. We need to remember that you're not." Thanks, Dad.

5. Olivia's understanding of Jesus has grown over the past year. She does so well in Mass and says prayers at meals and bedtime. Recently, we began adding intention prayers at the end of her bedtime prayers, and we always ask her if she wants to pray for something. Lately, she's been asking Jesus for a "baby brother or sister, please". Yesterday, while playing, we were talking about a little brother or sister and she went to her room, climbed up on her bed and started talking to the Holy Family icon on the wall by her bed. "Jesus, can I have a baby brother? Can I have a baby brother, Jesus?" It was the sweetest thing I think I have ever heard.

We do have a few things coming up in 2010, including:

1. A homestudy update. I can't believe it's been almost a year and we have to renew the thing. I really thought we'd have a new baby by now, but it's not upsetting at all. I have a great sense of peace that God will send us a child in His good time, and we are enjoying our life as a family of three in the meantime.

2. More surgery for me. We will be scheduling the whole diagnostic series of stuff with the Pope Paul VI Institute soon, as I mentioned previously. We probably won't do the on-site work and surgery until the Summer, but it's definitely on our minds as we plan for 2010.

3. In June, we are doing a family vacation with Joe's whole family. We are getting two really big cabins with four bedrooms each. Olivia will get to meet some family members that she's never ever met. Should be an interesting week.

Have a safe and Happy New Year's Eve, and best wishes for a terrific 2010!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A whole week of partying and we're still not finished

It all started with Christmas Eve, which was very close to being the perfect day as far as Olivia was concerned. She had fun, she behaved, she didn't melt down. It was great.

On Christmas Eve, we took our annual trip to this nearby-ish town where they have two very historic and recently-renovated hotels. We went with Grampy, Aunt Paula and Cousins Alex and Chris, and we saw the grand decorations at both hotels, had some lunch, and even did a little bowling. The surprising thing, though, was how well-behaved Olivia was. She usually naps at noon, and we didn't have lunch until 12:30. We ate at a nice, sit-down style restaurant, and she sat nicely and colored and then ate A LOT of her entree (chicken fingers and fries) and never once complained or whined or made a scene. After that, we spent another couple of hours touring around before heading back to Grammy & Grampy's house (1.5 hour drive) for dinner and gifts, and she did so well! She cashed out pretty quickly once we hit the road, which provided just enough nap to be well behaved for the rest of the evening. When we got in the car to go home that night, Olivia looked at me and said, "Mommy, I had a really nice day!" Yes, she really did.

Christmas Day we went to Mass and then back to Grammy & Grampy's for more food and visiting. And again on the day after Christmas. Then, also on the 26th was Cousin Carter's baptism at the evening Mass, so we trekked BACK home again for Mass and more food/partying, only this time with small cousins.

The 27th was Christmas at my parents house. Lots of little cousins, noise, presents, food. More visiting and food and cousins at my parents' house again on Monday and Tuesday before five of the little cousins and their parents left for home. Then we had the remaining family over for dinner last night at our house.

This morning, Olivia and I took down our Christmas decorations. At 10:45, I caught her sitting on the couch with blankie and paci and staring into space, and I think she might have fallen asleep sitting there if I hadn't snatched her up for lunch. She was asleep by 11:30.

Six days of partying, playing with cousins, eating lots, and being WAY off the nap schedule has been exhausting for all of us. And we still have two more extended-family parties on Saturday and Sunday of this week.

I agree with Olivia. "I had a really nice day." Several times over. And although we're all pretty wiped out here, it's something we look forward to and enjoy every year. I have a feeling, though, that come next week, we are all going to be suffering from a severe sugar withdrawal.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I understand why there are so few blog posts in December

A handful of you are still blogging this month. Even fewer of you STILL COMMENT. (Ahem. Yes, I'm talking to you.)

But I do not hold it against you. I'm finding it difficult to find time for this space myself. It's not that I don't have things to say. I'm just a little too busy basking in the holiday bustle to really take time to say them.

A few quick updates:

1. The boys are on Christmas break with their schoolteacher parents. Addie is still here today and tomorrow (different school systems), and then she's on break. No more babysitting until January 4th. I love that I have built-in vacations.

2. We have plans, plans and more plans, starting Thursday and going into Tuesday of next week. Each day we are doing SOMETHING with our families. Then on Jan 2 and 3, we have extended family parties. I'm already starting to try to figure out a tactical plan for how to deal with Olivia. It will be easier this year, but she's still very much in need of a schedule, so naps and regular-ish bedtimes are important.

3. Also, I'm trying to decide when Santa will arrive. Olivia is two, so she doesn't know the difference between Christmas Day and any other day. We'll have a short amount of time on Christmas morning because we'll need to get ready to head to Church, and I want Olivia to have more time to get bored with her toys before we whisk her away from them. So we're still working on those plans.

I probably won't be here much over the break. Too much activity going on to stop and blog. I'll try to stop and post some pictures when we get a minute.

For now: The Christmas wear:

Christmas dress #1
She wore this to Church this past Sunday. It's a bit too small...a 24 month! She hasn't worn a 24 month...well, ever! I think she skipped a whole size. Anyway, it was a bit short, but she wore it to Church on Sunday anyway.

She had the cutest little coat to wear over it!

Christmas dress #2
I think she'll wear this one to Mass on Christmas Day. I hate Christmas dresses with short sleeves, but this is our best option of the hand-me-downs in her current size, and she moves around so much that she is never cold for very long anyway. Now I just have to find a cute ribbon in that color of green. Or red!
Happy Feast of the Incarnation!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Movie review for your Thursday

It's been a difficult week. Luke, the baby I watch, is teething and refuses to sleep more than 40 minutes at a time. So he's tired and cranky and miserable as his mouth hurts, and that makes the day LONG. Just a couple more days, though, until the Christmas break for the schools, and then it will just be the three of us for about two weeks.

The rest of the kids are doing OK, but my husband has been out of town all week, so it just makes the days SO LONG. Luckily, Olivia and I have been able to keep ourselves occupied in the evenings. Joe will be home tonight, and we will be so happy to have him back.

Since Luke refuses to sleep unless he is held, I took the opportunity yesterday to sit and watch a movie I had DVR'ed. And then I deleted it. And here is why.

*The movie was "Baby Mama" and the following review contains major spoilers. You've been warned.*

So, I'd seen previews for "Baby Mama" when it was in the theaters, and it looked like it might be funny. A good way to kill some time while holding a baby, if nothing else.

The main story: A thirty-something single business woman (Tina Fey) wants to have a baby and finds out that she has a really screwed-up uterus, so she decides to hire a surrogate. I'm not an advocate for artificial reproductive technology (ART) in any form, but I could relate to the very basic human desires that motivated the character to end up in this arena. I don't judge the movie based on the centrality of ART.

The main character hires a surrogate who lives, shall we say, QUITE a different lifestyle than she does. The surrogate ends up living with the main character because she leaves her husband and needs a place to stay, which the main character is happy to provide for the woman who is gestating her child. Around this time, the main character meets the perfect guy and they start dating while she debates when to tell him about her surrogate and baby.

The surrogate does not end up getting pregnant through embryo transfer, but she lies and says that she is anyway. As she's trying to keep up this scam, she finds out that she is pregnant after all. It turns out that she got pregnant by her husband shortly after the transfer. But during the first 18 weeks of pregnancy, the main character and the surrogate end up forging a strange friendship, and the main character finds herself in the delivery room with the surrogate. Main character passes out at the sight of what is going on and ends up in her own hospital bed and a diagnosis of anemia because...SURPRISE! She is pregnant!

This movie struck me as slightly to mildly offensive to anyone who has ever struggled with infertility. ART aside (because that was SO not my issue with THIS movie), there were a lot of problems. Such as:

At one point in the movie, the main character was explaining to her family that she was pursuing surrogacy. Her sister asked if she'd considered adoption. Then her mother jumps in and says, 'You aren't going to adopt a black baby are you? I am so sick of watching these celebrities parade around with their black babies.' At which point I wanted to scream at the screen. That was SO UNNECESSARY and so offensive to all those families who have opened their hearts to children who don't look like them.

There were several instances where the cost and amount spent was mentioned. I know this is an issue, but too much of this talk (and the ART talk) reminds us how much babies have become a commodity in this society.

Finally, most offensive to me was the ending. Yes, I know that it happens in real life...people struggle and struggle and then stop trying and *BAM* they get pregnant. But please, that is the exception and not the rule and to throw this sugarplum ending in there just got me riled. Why can't we ponder the suffering a bit, or open up the character to other possibilities that lead to a happy ending. The adoption idea was dismissed by the character because of the amount of time it took to adopt as a single. And she wants a baby RIGHT NOW (commodity again). Or perhaps she and Perfect Guy will get married and THEN adopt. Or SOMETHING. Instead, she gets pregnant, shows up at surrogate's baby's first birthday party with a little baby and her boyfriend, who apparently proposes sometime during the final credits. It was all just too neatly arranged (and too out-of-order) for me.

That's just my opinion. I'm sure it would not be nearly as irritating to those who have not struggled with infertility.

Now I have to rescue a teething baby who is screaming hysterically in the bedroom and will quiet down magically as soon as I pick him up. I need more arms.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Grinch and the tree

Our housing development has this big light tour every year, where people decorate their houses and others come from all over to drive around and look at all the lights. Each participating neighborhood has a theme. One neighborhood's theme is "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas". They have a bunch of painted wood cutouts of the Grinch and a storyline throughout, and at the entrance to their neighborhood is a huge sign with the Grinch on it.

Every single time we drive past that sign, Olivia says, "Look Mommy, it's Snoofy!" I say, "No, honey, it's not Snoopy, it's the Grinch." And after we argue back and forth for awhile, she finally says, "Stop saying it's the Grinch, Mommy. It's not the Grinch. It's Snoofy!"


I finally broke down this weekend and put up the tree. We traded trees with my parents this year, and this one is MUCH more conducive to our space. It's just as tall, but not nearly as big around and fits so nicely into the corner of our room. And the kids haven't bothered it at all today. I'm still being extra attentive about it, but I think the toddlers are old enough to know better and have dealt with their own trees for probably two weeks now. I'm sure they've been warned at home, so it's an easier transition than I thought it would be.

See where Olivia is sitting. She wouldn't be there if we had the other tree...because there would be tree covering that space. It's that big.

More tree and Christmas cookie baking pictures are here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Olivia's antics

Olivia and I were Christmas shopping last night for a few final items for her (something I'm sure I won't be able to do any longer after this year...I'm afraid she'll remember most of the items THIS year). I picked up a kids movie for $5.00 and let her hold it so she'd stop trying to snatch other things out of the cart. We had the following conversation:

Olivia: I wanna go to Grandma's house!
Mommy: Well, maybe this weekend.
O: (Undeterred) I wanna watch this movie at Grandma's house.
M: You do? (I say absentmindedly as I peruse the options in the sweeteners aisle.)
O: That would be PERFECT!
M: (A little surprised.) That would be perfect?
O: Yes, Mommy. That would be perfect. She has a really big TV!

First of all, I didn't know that she really knew how to use the word "perfect". But her logic was exactly right. Grandma has a very large TV, so it would maximize her viewing pleasure if she could watch her movie on Grandma's TV. Except that the movie is one of her Christmas gifts and it's a half-hour till bedtime and we are still in the store. Otherwise, the logic behind her request is rock-solid.


Olivia picks up on EVERYTHING. And if she knows she shouldn't be saying it, she says it all the more. Right now, her favorites are "Oh my gosh!" and "Oh my Lord!" Not exactly x-rated stuff, but we really don't want the other kids picking this up and taking it home. We REALLY have to watch what we say.


Last weekend, we visited Grammy and Grampy after a quick shopping trip. My mother-in-law has an amazing skill for throwing together a gourmet meal at the drop of a hat, so the food was wonderful and plentiful. Olivia, unprompted, stopped in the middle of the meal and said, "Thank you, Grammy. Thank you for the dinner!" She's so sweet.


Speaking of thank-yous, Olivia has picked up on my habit of saying it regularly, which I think I started to encourage her to be polite. So now, we hear a lot of this:

"I don't want these crackers, thank you."
"I'm done with my plate, thank you."
"I want to color a little bit, thank you."


One morning this week, Joe left Olivia standing on the stool in the bathroom with the toothbrush since it was her fervent request that she be allowed to brush her teeth. She came out five minutes later and announced that "I changed my diaper!" And indeed she did. She pulled off her pants and overnight diaper and slipped on a pull-up diaper that she grabbed from the stack I keep on the sink. And then she proceeded to dress herself. Man, that kid is growing up fast! Now if we could just get her to take an interest in using the potty on a regular basis and without needed to be prompted by us, then we'd be set.

Monday, December 7, 2009

St. Nick showed up here

When I was a little kid, the Feast of St. Nicholas (December 6th) was a big deal at our house. We would each put out our stocking the night before, and in the morning we would find it filled with candy and little toys. There was probably never anything in there worth more than a dollar, but it was SO fun to get these little treats delivered to us WEEKS before Christmas.

We've kept the tradition going for our family. Olivia really enjoys it. But she's convinced that the presents are for her birthday (I guess we've had a lot of birthdays around here lately). St. Nick managed to keep the candy to a minimum and fill most of her stocking with books, a Christmas sing-a-long DVD and a puzzle.

I often wonder if many other people observe St. Nick day this way. It's a great excuse to treat yourself, too. In our bedsheets. 700 thread count! Very soft.

Friday, December 4, 2009


I got an email yesterday from a secretary at the agency that connected us with Olivia's birthmom. Olivia's biological grandmother had called requesting that we contact her. It was sort of out-of-the-blue, but I had been hoping for some sort of contact, so I called.

She was very excited to hear from me. We chatted for about five minutes about Olivia, her kids, her grandkids, Olivia's tall genes, etc. Then she gave me Olivia's birthmom's contact info.

I called her. She was VERY surprised to hear from me...but pleased. Seems that she thought she had given me her new address before her phone was cut off some 14 months ago. She didn't, and I explained when we lost contact and she realized that she hadn't passed that info on. She didn't have much time to talk, but she asked me to call back this afternoon.

So I will. I am interested to see where this will go, but most of all I'm just relieved to be able to send pictures and updates and let birthmom know that Olivia is beautiful, smart and happy. Maybe this will lead to a reunion of sorts or more sort of depends on how things go with her since we tried this once before and she kept dropping the ball. We'll be careful to do whatever we think is in Olivia's best interest.

I feel different about this now than I did last year. At that time, I still felt like she somehow had the upper hand on I had to do everything I could to please her because of what she had given me. Now, with all that has transpired, I realize that we're in control here and that WE make decisions about what is best for Olivia. I REALLY hope that some contact with birthmom is possible and becomes a positive experience in Olivia's life, but I know now that there are reasons why that may not be the case, based on birthmom's personal life and decisions that have affected her own three children. We will absolutely proceed with phone calls and letters for now, and we'll see as we go along if we can trust her enough to let her have some face-to-face contact with Olivia.

I like the idea of open adoption. Whether or not it's a good idea in this case...well, we'll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Holiday shopping tip of the day

In a weird episode of role reversal, I am working at home today (sitting on babies), and my husband is "in town" shopping, something Olivia and I would do once a week or more before the school year started. He took the day off for a dentist appointment and is killing time by running errands and spending the whole day "in town". This is, for him, preferable to spending his morning off at home watching small children trash the living room. And I think he's having fun.

Anyhoo...he was sent in search of some cords and things for our new DVD recorder, a Christmas present we bought for ourselves on Black Friday. We can't get it to work and figured we didn't have the right equipment.

Strange you have difficulty buying gifts for yourself and then saving them until Christmas? We have, so far, bought ourselves three techno-gadget things. Two of them are already out of the box and hooked up to other things. The other one (which Joe picked up today) is bound to be in use by the end of the evening. We're not into buying each other gifts for Christmas...instead we just decide what we want to spend our budgeted Christmas family money on and then we buy it (and use it immediately). Olivia will be the only one opening gifts at our house on Christmas morning, but I think that's OK.

So, while Joe was at the big electronics store looking for info on our DVD recorder, he saw the ipod docking station that we were looking at on Friday. It's just a little thing, but it has OK sound and was on sale for $30, so we were going to buy it then. But they had sold out. Bummer.

He saw today that they had more in stock. List price was $50 or something. A salesman asked if he could help, and he mentioned that we saw these for $30 on Friday. "But I guess that was just an after-Thanksgiving sale, huh?" The salesguy said he would check to see if he could sell it for the sale price. And sure enough! He bought the docking station for $ (which we will, of course, set up and use as soon as he gets home).

So, the tip of the day is...ALWAYS ASK! The worst they can say is "No", but if you ask you just might get to keep that extra $20 in your pocket.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas tree and finish line

I love long weekends, and the babysitting job makes me appreciate them all the more. We had a wonderful time, enjoying visits with family and getting a little extra sleep. It was refreshing and actually FELT like four days, and not shorter. Perfect.

We topped off the weekend by helping my Mom put up our Christmas tree at her house. I love our tree. It's big and full and beautiful, but if you remember, it takes up a fourth of our living room. Well, not actually a fourth, but it definitely dominates one quadrant and crowds our patio door. So this year, I asked Mom if she'd like to trade trees.

Mom and Dad also have a 7-foot tree, but theirs is different. While ours is about as wide as it is tall and has a frillion branches to assemble, theirs is a lot more narrow and is SO easy to assemble. In fact, it's built a little like an umbrella that's only opened a little bit. The branches hook on at the top and lean against a hoop near the bottom to make the tree shape. It's hard to describe...I don't even think they make them like this anymore. Let's just say it suits our living space much better than our massive tree. And simplicity of assembly is key since it's not going up this year until about the 21st (after the kiddos go on Christmas break, because I'm not fighting the "keep away from the tree" battle with THREE toddlers) and will come back down the weekend after New Year's Day. Since it will only be up about two weeks, I didn't want to spend a LOT of time putting it up.

All this is a long way to say that we spent our evening helping Grandma put up her "new" tree. And it looks FABULOUS in their great-room, which is huge and spacious and has a picture window. Perfect for such a tree as ours.
Grandma's tree looks just like ours, Mom!

I made it through National Blog Posting Month. I think I'll take a few days off...I'll spend my time putting up all of my garlands and wreaths and up-high lights where the toddlers can't get them. Nothing like a little Christmas decorating to take my mind off of the cold and dreary weather.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Lazy after-holiday photo post

Olivia "helps" in the serving of Thanksgiving dessert. Note the apron.

Olivia in her church dress today. She was too cute and wanted to pose for pictures.

Mommy and her little girl at a bonfire in our town where they were roasting chestnuts. They are actually quite tasty when roasted.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Of course...

On Wednesday morning, I woke up with a teeny bit of soreness in my throat. Then Olivia hacked and coughed all the way through breakfast. And I knew. We've been doing so well...almost two full months without any of us getting a cold. Almost three full months since I have had a cold. We couldn't very well get through the cold and flu season unscathed. And so the cold has hit us again...right at Thanksgiving.

Actually, I prefer it this way. I woke up with such a miserable headache on Thursday that it was nice to know that I had four days of extra help and rest before needing to face babysitting duties alone. I can handle taking it easy around family...especially when the extra family members entertain Olivia and I don't have to do much. It's a lot harder to trudge through the day with a miserable headache and stuffy head while also being the sole person in charge of mediating toddler fights and dealing with the general state of loud that comes with active toddlers and a baby who is only happy if he is held.

So far, this cold is a mild one. Let's hope it stays that way.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Because I AM shopping today...

...A picture is all you are going to get.

Besides, you are all too busy eating and shopping to read my blog anyway. I know I'm too busy to read yours. Sorry, but visiting real, live family members take precedence over visiting your blogs this weekend. And also finishing off my Christmas shopping. Who thought to put this NaBloPoMo thing in November anyway?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I am thankful for:

1. My two new nieces and my new nephew who were all born this year.

2. The ability to stay home with my kiddo, even with the extra chaos that babysitting others has brought into the fray. I am thankful that Olivia enjoys having regular playmates and is learning to share and cooperate and behave well in that environment.

3. The fact that Olivia is NOT dropping her nap so early. Whew. That would have been tough. Apparently she was just having a bad week when she refused to nap awhile back. She's back to a more predictable sleep pattern now.

4. Olivia's grandparents...all four adore her and shower affection upon her. She never has any reason to doubt that she is loved and cherished by them.

5. Long weekends and visits with family and cousins. Olivia's going to have a blast this weekend.

6. The fact that I don't have to cook Thanksgiving dinner...I just have to show up.

7. Of course, there's always this:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Observations and News

1. I got a check this week that had my last name spelled wrong. It's a pretty common occurrence to see my name spelled wrong, but it blows me away every time. Why? Because our name is so common. But there are several families in our area (most of them prominent families) whose name sounds like ours but is spelled differently, so people always default to the other spelling. To illustrate, imagine that our name is "Beaker" (it's not...this is for illustration purposes only). The other families in our area with that name would spell it "Buecher" and pronounce it the same way. That is how it is. Except that our name is WAY more common and way easier to spell. And people often get it wrong. Which, I guess, is why the bank cashed the check without any questions. I'm sure they understand the mistake, given that most of the "Beakers" in our area are spelled "Buecher".

2. Does it seem like everyone is jumping on the Christmas bandwagon a little early this year? I remember once thinking that putting up decorations the weekend after Thanksgiving was early. Now, everyone in our neighborhood has already had their homes decorated for TWO WEEKS. Thanksgiving, it seems, is now just a reason for a long weekend. *Sigh*

3. My husband has been home a couple of days this week, using up vacation days before the end of the year. He has helped ease my babysitting chores a great deal by holding the baby. It's amazing how much easier this job seems when someone else is holding the baby. Especially so since the baby has decided that he will scream if no one is holding him. Sheesh. Also, I think Luke is transitioning to two long naps instead of several short naps a day. This should make life easier around here.

4. I have a new niece! She was born last night. On her due date. There was a lot of uncertainty about that, since she didn't seem to have any plans to move toward making her appearance as of last weekend. As it turns out, she DID get the memo about her due date and decided to arrive promptly. There was enough stress on Mom and baby that at some point the doctor decided to do a c-section, which means that they'll be stuck in the hospital over Thanksgiving. But this is their first child, so I'm sure they will be so enamored with her that they won't even notice.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

In which I admit to being a sobbing mess

Last Thursday I spoke to a mother's group on the topic of adoption, and I titled my presentation, "Openness to Life and Adoption". Now, if you've been reading this blog for awhile, you'll know that I wrote a whole series of posts on that topic several months ago (and you can read them again in the "Openness to Life" tab). The presentation was pretty much a compilation of those posts, with a little extra information to appeal to the audience. I scripted it so I would remember what I was saying and then I read it through a dozen times or so. So far so good, right?

Yeah. Let's just say that writing and reading are not NEARLY as emotional as actually SPEAKING the words. I wavered here and there and was doing fine until I got about 2/3 of the way in, and then I started sobbing. Uncontrollably. I had to leave the room and compose myself before I could finish.

The group was so nice about it. I don't probably enhanced it or made the point for some people. The talk was about Olivia's adoption, but the point of the talk was that being open to God's call can lead us to unexpected and amazing joy. It was at exactly the point where I was making this point that I broke down.

I think it may always difficult for me to speak plainly about this. I have spoken about Olivia's adoption in one form or another dozens of times. Usually it is a paragraph in a larger talk about something else, so I can contain my emotions. But this talk...well, I think it will always be difficult to keep my emotions in check thinking back and speaking about this very special time when we could tangibly feel God's hand working in our lives.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Oh yes, it's Monday

Everyone is out-of-sorts today. Jake got up too early because his baby brother got up to early...early enough that Luke napped before showing up here today, throwing the whole morning into a tailspin. Addie must have also been tired, because she spent a good portion of the day laying on the floor as if she were trying to catch a little snooze. The only one who should be fine because she slept well last night was Olivia, and she was acting grumpy just because the others were.

I spent the whole morning trying to manipulate Luke's schedule so that he'd nap when the other kids were napping. This resulted in a morning-long scream fest. He couldn't decide if he was more hungry than he was tired or more tired than he was hungry. So the screaming was interrupted only by eating and napping. He was utterly unsatisfied with the five ounces he received at each feeding, which led to more screaming, and he was unable to stay asleep for long. I finally resolved to do anything I could to keep him awake until after lunch so that I could feed him AGAIN (totally off schedule, but guaranteed to calm him down enough for a long nap) and put him to bed. It worked, but the price was a constant background noise of baby screams until after lunch.

Thank heavens this is a short week. Which, of course, is bound to make NEXT Monday even more challenging. But a holiday worth it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Highlights usually come from the toddler

Yesterday was fun. We deposited the toddler at her Grandma's house, where she was happy as a lark all day. She got to "help" Grandma and Aunt Lori as they washed the car and hung out the laundry. She took a nap with Grandpa. She had an overall good day at one of her favorite places.

Meanwhile, we took a scenic train tour, did some Christmas shopping and had a nice dinner out. Very low-stress (sans toddler) and very enjoyable.

When we were picking up Olivia and getting ready to leave for home, Aunt Lori pulled her long hair up into a twist with hair sticking up at the top. Olivia watched this and said, "No, Aunt Lori, don't do that. Your hair is upside down. Don't put your hair upside down." And we ALL had a good laugh.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Today is my birthday, and I had to think about my year of birth and do some calculation earlier this month to remember what birthday I'd be celebrating. Some might say that's what happens after you turn 30, but I think it's more likely the fact that I'm too busy following someone else's aging and growth to think about my own. That's what happens, I guess, when you have a toddler.

We are headed out to do some fun things today, including some Christmas shopping at a craft fair. Should be a fun day!

Friday, November 20, 2009

National Adoption Day is tomorrow

Did you know that tomorrow is National Adoption Day? It also happens to be my birthday. We have plans to celebrate the birthday, but I think we will take some time also to recognize the importance of adoption in our lives.

Go now and read this post by one of my favorite bloggers. She discusses a topic that has been on my mind as Olivia grows. We haven't had to deal with much of the brokenness yet (Olivia's only two and has been with us since birth, so we haven't had to deal with her confusion over adoption yet). But occasionally I sit and think about her birthmom and the situation that she was in the last time we had contact with her. And I'm saddened that it's not a perfect world and we lost touch and I can't get to know her better. It would have provided me with some insight into my daughter's little quirks. It would have provided Olivia with an opportunity to know more about herself as she grows.

It hurts me to know that my daughter will likely have fears and insecurities and feelings of abandonment someday, and I can't protect her from that. All I can do is give her all the love I can and be as honest as possible and pray that God heals the brokenness in her little heart.

On another note, I promised stats from yesterday's 2-year appointment. They are as follows:

Weight: 34.4 lbs - 98.5 percentile

Height: 38 inches - 99.95 percentile

Still within the range of the charts, but just barely. She is tall and all muscle. Also, a breakthrough...instead of screaming through the whole appointment (she had serious white-coat syndrome), she only screamed for a few minutes until the doctor and I were able to convince her that there would be no shots and then she was cooperative for the rest of the appointment. She even hugged the doctor at the end. Major improvement.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Our day out...stats to come soon

Today, I'm "off" from babysitting because of Olivia's 2-year well "baby" appointment. I'm also giving a presentation in the morning to a group of moms. And I have a lunch date. And Olivia will need to nap somewhere in there. Because I have a need to cram everything into one day.

Anyway, Olivia will be weighed and measured today, and I'm dying to know where she falls on that percentage scale of other kids her age. Because she is so much taller than every single two-year-old I know. And some three-year-olds. And she's so heavy that it feels like she is wearing shoes made of lead. Though she's never been fat or even chunky. She is just full of muscle. That kid is destined to be a scholarship player for some sport or other in college.

So we're off "to town". Stats to come tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Eating habits

Working with three toddlers every day, I notice a lot of differences in personality and preferences. The one that struck me today was their eating habits.

Addie is a meat eater. She will smash and destroy other items (usually fruit) that appear on her plate, but she will devour any meat and always ask for more.

Jake is a carb kid. He would live on bread and fruit if we let him. I always make sure he eats SOME meat, but he rarely takes more than 2 or 3 bites and then asks for more fruit. Or bread.

Olivia will eat almost anything, especially if she can dip it in ketchup (or other "dippers", like syrup or sour cream).

So, with three very different eating personalities, what do you feed these kids to keep them all happy?

No, really, I'm asking. I need more ideas. Because the best option I've come up with so far is cheese pizza, which they will all eat (and, I think, is defined by any good dictionary as the "universally accepted kid food"). And as much as we all like cheese pizza, I tend to think that they need more variety than that.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thoughts on baby #2

I'm giving a talk on adoption this week, and it has me thinking a lot about the elusive baby #2. It's been on my mind a lot lately, partly because we are thinking about revisiting the FertilityCare world, and partly because Olivia just turned two and we kind of thought we'd have another baby by now. I know, I know. But we didn't have to wait with Olivia, and I guess I'm just impatient.

I've resigned myself to waiting, which isn't so bad except for the fact that we'll have to update our homestudy (and repeat all of the paperwork) in three months if we don't have a placement yet. I figure that God will send us another child on His time and that His timing is perfect.

What I've been thinking about more often now is how comparatively easy babyhood will (likely) be with #2.

If nothing else, this babysitting experience has changed my outlook on crying. When Olivia was a baby, I couldn't stand to hear her cry for long. It took MONTHS to get to the point where I realized that sometimes she just needed to cry and that nothing that I could do would make the crying stop right away. Crying used to raise my blood pressure faster than anything else.

Now, with three loud toddlers running around daily and a baby in my arms, I have a different approach to crying. Sometimes, the baby just has to cry. It's a practical fact of life, especially when it's lunchtime and I need two free hands to get the toddlers fed and cleaned up. Or when I need to change diapers. At these times, if Luke is awake, he is strapped into his bouncy chair and just has to either play alone or cry. Usually, his option is to cry. He's in a stage where he has decided that he will not be happy when he is awake unless he is being held, and that is incompatible with my job demands. I just can't hold him all the time.

So, crying no longer raises my blood pressure. I am amazingly calm through these crying fits. I can confidently mediate toddler conflict and keep everyone fed and clean and safe, despite the crying in the background.

The experience of juggling all the demands of these four children at once has been great training for baby #2. So, when he/she shows up, I'll be least for the crying and unpredictable demands of an infant. Now, as for the immersion once again into the land of sleep deprivation...well, nothing can really prepare me for that.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Teeth, again

Olivia was one of those kids for whom teeth came early and quickly. Or so it seems now, since it has been FOREVER since we've dealt with the teething issue. I must have recorded it somewhere, but I cannot tell you off the top of my head when was the last time she had a new tooth. It's been that long.

I have heard through the grapevine that there are these two-year molars. I haven't done any research on them at all. I just know that most kids get new molars around age two. But Olivia has had the same number of teeth forever, you guys. I just wasn't expecting this.

So yesterday, at Mass, Olivia was poking her fingers around in her mouth and I looked in to see what was irritating her. And there they were. Two brand-new teeth just pushing through her bottom on each side. Apparently they got the memo that Olivia just passed her second birthday. And here they are, right on time.

Luckily, these teeth have shown up with none of the drama associated with the earlier teeth. I can tell that they bother her a little bit, but she's so busy playing and, well, being an active two-year-old to really notice them much.

My precious baby girl is growing up so fast!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A final word on the subject of Olivia's birthday

It's Sunday, so I'm going to cheat a little and put up a few pictures of Olivia's birthday celebrations. First, there was Wednesday night at our house.
The cake

The gifts

Then there was Thursday (her actual birthday) at Chuck-E-Cheese.
With cousin Trey on the rocking horse.

Climbing around in the play structure.

She really loved Chuck-E-Cheese, but the night wasn't over yet...

Her first build-a-bear experience. Kissing her puppy.

"Washing" her puppy in the special air bathtub. She would have done this all night if we'd let her. She was having fun giving puppy a bath.

She had a lot of fun this week. I'm sure she'll be talking about it for awhile.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Decisions, decisions...

I guess I should give an update on what we've done about the letter.

I let it sit for a couple of weeks. I guess this was because I just didn't really feel like dealing with it, but also because I tend to jump without thinking and wanted to take this process slowly. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I called the Pope Paul VI Institute and spoke with a nurse and an account person to get an idea of what the schedule of procedures would be and how much they would cost if we had to pay the full amount ourselves (not that that is a possibility, but I wanted to know the numbers anyway).

Things aren't every as scary as they seem at first, and talking helped a lot. Now we have the "new patient" forms all filled out and ready to go. But I haven't sent them back yet.

I'm pretty sure I want to go through this process again. I didn't think I'd ever get there, but now it seems right somehow. I still want to talk and pray about it with my husband, but I'm pretty sure I'll be spending some time in Omaha in 2010.

But for now, I'm taking my time. It just seems right to do this slowly.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Seven Olivia-isms

1. "No, Daddy! Stop talking to Mommy! Just talk to Livia." She says this when we are talking about adult topics, like politics or work or current events. I guess she doesn't like the tone we use when we are talking about things that don't involve her. So she insists that we talk to her instead. It's funny, but also annoying.

2. Last week, I was driving and Olivia was pitching a fit about something from her car seat. I wanted to say "Chill out and quiet down," but it came out as, "Chill down, Olivia." She immediately fired back, "No, YOU chill down Mommy." I laughed. I know this is technically talking back, but it was just so funny.

3. "I want my happy birthday time." She has been saying this since Wednesday. She thinks the word "happy" automatically goes with "birthday," and she's been doing this for awhile. Most recently it was "Grandpa's happy birthday today" and "Uncle Jared's happy birthday today."

4. Also in the birthday-related field, Olivia has been singing the happy birthday song all week. We've encouraged it because it was her birthday week, but she got tired of singing to herself, so some of her song versions included, "Happy Birthday to Chicken Nuggets" and "Happy Birthday to WalM*rt."

5. "Just one more, OK Mommy?" Olivia has mastered bargaining. She finishes her snack or dessert and says, "I want some more raisins (or pretzels or cheese or whatever she's eating)." And I tell her that we've had enough for now, and she says, "Just one more, OK Mommy? That's all."

6. "I want my special treat." We've started using "special treat" to refer to candy that we bribe her with when we need her to do something. You think kids will forget these things, but they don't. At least she doesn't. She keeps asking for the special treat until she gets it. But it is very effective in getting her to sit still long enough to use the potty (usually she's too distracted). So I have a feeling that when we get serious about potty training, we're going to have a kid on a constant sugar-high.

7. "PLEASE, Mommy. Have some milk, Mommy?" She bends her knees and crouches down as she says "please", as in the perfect pleading position. She uses the same formula for anything that she's asking for when I ask her to ask nicely.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Dear Olivia,

Today is your birthday, and you are finally two years old. This is a little anti-climactic for me, though. To me, you've been two for AT LEAST six months and are now very close to three. You are so clever and articulate and, well, tall. EVERYONE thinks you are three (or older). So Mommy would appreciate it very much if we could skip all things that make two "terrible" and just pretend that you are past all of that nonsense. Please?

You are our sweet, active, smart little girl, and we can't imagine life without you. Even at your most frustrating, you are the greatest blessing we've ever received.

Happy Birthday, sweetheart! We love you so much!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What to say...?

I've been asked to address a Catholic Mom's group next week on the topic of adoption. That's pretty general, I know, but I think they just want to hear about our experience with it and how God fits into it all, etc.

That should be a pretty easy thing to do, but I'm having a hard time figuring out where to start or where to go with it. Suddenly, it seems like such a BROAD topic. How will I ever fit everything into a short morning talk?

In thinking about this, I have become more and more grateful for the type of waiting experience that we had with Olivia. We knew about Olivia a couple of months early, talked to her birthmom weekly, and had a due date to shoot for. Now, waiting for #2, I realize that it would have been MUCH harder to be in this position waiting for our first child. Waiting with no real idea of when you might expect a child to come into your family or not even knowing if you'll have any preparation time...that would be hard. As in, Hello, this baby was just born, congratulations, you're parents! Which would have been hard with a first child. Not so hard now, since our home is full of toys and cribs and pack-n-plays and a full-time at-home parent. Adding a baby would be a pretty smooth transition at this point.

Just my random can see that I'm having a little trouble organizing them.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Every day is a chance to do better

The babysitting thing has been a challenge lately. Heck, parenting one child has been a challenge this week. Every day is different, but they do know how to press my buttons. I'm afraid I don't always deal with it so well.

Some days are better than others, and I know that they are hearing what I say to them. I know this because they keep repeating it back to me. I was changing all of the toddler diapers the other day in preparation for nap, and Luke just had to scream it out in his bouncer. He had decided that he would not be happy unless he was held, but I needed both hands (and some other limbs...sheesh, toddlers) to manage the diaper changes, so he was out of luck. Addie, my screamer (Olivia and Addie are almost always neck-and-neck in this competition, but Addie manages to claim the title EVERY TIME), kept saying, "No screaming, Luke! No screaming, Luke!"

So, yeah, they hear me.

At the end of every day I'm always disappointed with myself to some degree or another. The baby ends up crying by himself more often than he'd like. I always lose my cool with the toddlers at least once a day and start yelling or yanking (one kid off of another, usually) or generally upsetting someone. But there's only so much time-out that kids can get before it loses all of it's effectiveness. So what else can I do? What else will work? (This is an actual question. I'll take any suggestions you have. Seriously.)

One thing about this gig, really makes me reflect on sin and repentance. Sometimes in our daily lives it's easy to ignore those "everyday sins" that just happen over and over. But dealing with my daily failures in keeping a calm environment with the kids...well, kids just sort of magnify your mistakes by reflecting them back to you. "No screaming, Mommy." And I have to realize that the screaming is wrong. Even when I do it. Especially when I do it. Because how are the kids going to learn that it's not OK to scream if all they hear from me is frustrated screaming?

Luckily, I get to do it over again tomorrow. Yippee. I think maybe God is trying to teach me something about patience and control. I'm not sure what, yet, but I'm relatively certain that these kids will drive the lesson home by the end of the school year.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Lovely weekend

The anniversary weekend was fabulous. We had perfect weather nearing the 70s and spent lots of time outside. We visited the Parthenon on Saturday and the Opryland Hotel on Sunday, and both provided gorgeous settings for walking and enjoying the beautiful weather. We visited the Opry Mills Mall, which reminded me how much I hate retail shopping. I think it may be an all-internet-Christmas this year.

A couple of interesting things happened that weren't on the agenda. We were killing some time on Saturday afternoon and went to see the capitol building, and we stumbled upon a rally for this organization. I was delighted. It was actually pretty funny, because Joe had made a comment earlier in the day (while we were talking politics) about how I shouldn't be surprised to run into a bunch of people who wouldn't share our views because we were in a bigger city. I thought that was a weird comment, because I'm not in the habit of starting political discussions with random strangers, so I didn't know why it would be an issue at all. But then we stumble upon a whole rally full of like-minded people, and the irony of that just made me laugh.

On Sunday, we went to an early Mass at a large parish in a Nashville suburb, and after Mass we were invited by an older (80s) couple to join them in the parish school for coffee and donuts. We spent an hour and a half listening to them tell stories. At one point, the woman told us that she had written a Christian rap song in the 70s or 80s when she was working with some youth, and then she RAPPED IT FOR US. Yeah, it was both funny and really weird. But, strangely, the lyrics were actually pretty good.

Now back to reality.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Oh, what a busy week ahead...

We are on our way home from our anniversary weekend get-away, undoubtedly missing Olivia and eager to see her. Also, planning for a busy week, which includes:

A business meeting for my NFP center
An NFP presentation at the local seminary
Olivia's birthday dinner with family on Wednesday
Olivia's actual birthday on Thursday
More birthday fun with other family on Saturday

I'm already exhausted. Can I have some more weekend, please?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Fun, fun day ahead

We are enjoying our Anniversary weekend away. On the agenda for today: Breakfast at a famous pancake house, an art exhibit, lunch, an afternoon at the Beer, Bourbon, BBQ festival, and then dinner theater! And my sweet husband planned the whole day. Isn't he great!

Gotta go start having fun!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Happy Anniversary

Dearest Joe,

Five years ago this morning, you picked me up from the hairdresser and took me out to breakfast before we headed to the church for pre-wedding pictures. We drew some looks from other all tiara-ed up and such. Another couple at the restaurant asked, "Are you going to a wedding today?" And we replied, "Yes...ours!"

Over the past five years, you have become very good at anticipating my needs. You are an attentive father to a daughter who adores you. You work hard and take such great care of us and make family time a priority. I don't know if I tell you often enough how much I appreciate you, but I do. I am blessed to be married to such a thoughtful and prayerful man.

Five years. Wow. They have flown by. And you've made them the five happiest years of my life.

Happy Anniversary, my Love!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Have I mentioned lately how awesome he is?

The babysitting has been hard on me lately. Some days I struggle to get through the morning to naptime. A couple of toddlers I know have spent a good deal of time in time-out for screaming, hitting, pushing, etc. Earlier this week, Olivia woke up in the middle of the night and took two hours to fall back asleep, and then she took only a 45 minute nap the next day. I was exhausted and emotionally fried by the end of the day. So my husband? He took Olivia out after dinner and kept her busy for more than two hours while I caught up on stuff, took a shower, and had some time to relax. (They went to the bowling alley and watched people bowl, an activity they both enjoy more than one would reasonably expect.)

My sweet husband has also been extra helpful with her on regular nights, keeping Olivia occupied while I have some time for myself and occasionally helping me put her to sleep. It seems like a little thing, but it really helps calm my nerves.

We'll celebrate five years of marriage this weekend. We are leaving Olivia with the grandparents and going out of town for a couple of days. Joe has planned a whole bunch of things that he knew I would enjoy (like dinner!). I can't wait!

I think I hit the jackpot on the husband lottery. He's definitely a keeper!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Delurking Wednesday

I'm taking my NaBloPoMo opportunity to smoke out all you readers. I know you are out there...I've seen you comment from time to time. But I can't help but notice that there have been no comments for DAYS. And if I'm going to get through this month of daily blogging, I need some feedback. I need to know that someone is out there reading. So give it up, people. I've got a WHOLE MONTH of daily posting coming up here, and I need to feel the love.

(Unless you are, you know, RELATED to me. Then you can feel free to remain silent and I can continue to ignore the fact that you're there and pretend to be blogging all annonymous-like for complete strangers. Thank you.)

Olivia says:

"Come on, peoples. Type on the 'puters for Mommy."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I just want to give her a hug

The girl who took Olivia's photos is a relative of a relative, and we know several members of her family. When we came in for our photo session, she asked us for prayers for her sister, who has been told that she can't have children. Her sister is, apparently, taking it pretty hard. She's angry with the world, with her body, with God. According to our photographer, her sister is in a "really bad place about the whole thing."

It's hard to remember that place. Dealing on a daily basis with a very energetic and happy toddler makes the darkness of infertility seem so far away. And we were never in a "really bad place". Adoption was always on the table. Even when it seemed to be overwhelmingly expensive and complicated, we always trusted that God would clear the way if He led us down that path.

Still, I understand a bit of her pain. It's so easy for me to dismiss it now, knowing the joy of motherhood by a different route. But I know that coming to terms with infertility and coming to be comfortable with the idea of adoption isn't as easy for everyone. I've been thinking a lot about her lately and am praying that she will be open to the possibilities that God might have in store for her and her husband.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Because she's just so darned cute

We had Olivia's 2-year portraits done this weekend. She's not quite two yet, but she's as big as a 3-year-old, so we figured it was OK.

More photos here.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

NaBloPoMo Here We Go

November is National Blog Posting Month. I didn't register to do this. I'm just using this as an excuse to make myself blog daily this month. Why? Because sometimes we need a goal.

Also because it will force me to post when I have really nothing to say. And on those days, I've decided that I will try to delve into deeper questions related to adoption and/or infertility. Please feel free to ask anything you want in the comments. It may provide me blog fodder (or I may ignore's my blog...totally my call!).

Happy November! Happy All Saints Day!

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Why have one costume, when you can have two? (One was for Daddy's office and Grandma's house Friday, and one was for Saturday neighborhood trick-or-treating...Olivia's choice both times.)
Pretty Princess

Cutest little witch

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Olivia has spent the past several weeks expressing her fear over all things Halloween. "The pumpkin scare you, Mommy!" And when asked if she wanted to go trick-or-treating, she would say, "No, it scare you!

Over the past several days, we've seen commercials of kids going trick-or-treating, and we watched "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." Now, she wants to "go to Halloween! Go to trick-or-treating!"

Last night, Daddy and Olivia went shopping (to give Mommy some sanity quiet time) and picked out a costume. She was so excited to model it for me when they got home. I think she's really going to enjoy the process of getting candy...almost as much as the candy itself.

And, to celebrate my new camera, I'm posting a new video on our photo site. Go there to see the cutest almost-2-year-old singing about the monkeys jumping on the bed.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Randomness, plus celebratory musings

I'm "in town" today for various appointments and such, so I'm writing this yesterday as practice for NaBloPoMo, because I intend to participate and this is pretty much the only way I get a post in write a bunch at once and then schedule them to post throughout the week. I don't know if that's cheating, but since I don't have one of those internet-phone gadgets, it's pretty much my only option.

I'm "off" from babysitting today because of these appointments, which is nice except I feel like I have to cram everything into this one free day since I won't have another one for awhile. *Sigh*

I'm thinking about Olivia's birthday. We are going WAY low key this year, just inviting local family to an evening meal with cake because, you know, she's TWO. She doesn't know she's being shafted on the big party thing yet. Plus, her birthday falls a week after our anniversary and less than two weeks before my birthday, which is followed quickly by Thanksgiving, and, well, there's only so much celebrating we can tolerate in the gloomy month of November.

Also, who picked November to be NaBloPoMo? Did you not realize that it's my BUSIEST month of the year? Sheesh.

So, anniversary. It's the first Friday in November, and it's our FIFTH Anniversary. I know that way back when we got married, I must have been thinking something like, "well, maybe we can do a big vacation for our fifth anniversary or something." (Which means a cruise, something I've been dying to do with my husband since we got married. Because cruises...ROCK. All you do is lay around and eat and sightsee. ROCK!)

But, yeah. Enter kid, exit second income. No cruise. BUT, we're spending two nights in a hotel in Nashville, TN, while the kid entertains the grandparents for the weekend. And I'm disproportionately excited about this little weekend getaway. We haven't done a weekend away alone (except for leading Engaged Encounter, which is entirely different) since Olivia was born. So, yeah, it is kind of exciting.

Also, speaking of Engaged Encounter, I found out recently that the EE national convention is going to be in Seattle next year (Oct). And even though I've never really had any desire to attend this convention before (um, expensive, plus touchy-feely couples who like to share their feelings with complete strangers = not really our thing), I kind of want to go to this one. Why? To meet my internet friends, of course. Except that I'd spend all of my time visiting with all of you and would miss the whole convention. My husband would probably not be OK with that. Except that he hates the touchy-feely more than I do, so maybe he'd be relieved. Hmm. Well, if someone drops a load of cash on us unexpectedly, maybe we'll consider it.

Monday, October 26, 2009


We were outside this morning. I'm down one kid today (her parents are on Fall break), so I thought it would be easier. It was, until Olivia came to me with a handful of "dirties" (dog poop). We don't even own a dog. But there are two in the neighborhood that run around unsupervised and assume that our playground is their bathroom. So we all came in because I can't handle one kid with dog poop on her hands while trying to keep the other kid out of it AND keep everyone's dirty hands away from the baby. Sheesh. Addie was the one with dog poop on her clothes last week, so I have a feeling that we are going to have to think long and hard about whether it's worth the trouble to try to get outside during the day knowing that it might end with everyone's clothes in the wash and frustrated kids locked back inside.

In other news, the trees are beautiful. Last year was so dry that they all turned from green to brown, but this colorful. Olivia likes to point out the colors when we are driving or walking outside. It's a joy to see them, but mixed with a little melancholy because I know they'll all fall soon, leading to the most depressing few months of stark brown everywhere. It's a time of the year when I NEED to get outside whenever possible, but with the kids...well, we'll see.

Happy Monday!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Toddler piety

We have been saying prayers with Olivia on a regular basis for some time. She's the master of rote, able to sing back large parts of songs after hearing them once and always repeating things she hears. So, at almost two, she has memorized large portions of our meal prayers and bedtime prayers.

At meals, she's usually too hungry to comply with our request to "wait to eat until we pray". So she usually doesn't follow along before meals. But then, somewhere around the middle of her meal, she'll fold her hands and say, "Can we pray now?" So, of course, we pray AGAIN, and this time she follows along with 80% of the words.

For bedtime prayers, even though she knows most of the words, she'll usually just sit and listen. When I conclude the prayers, she'll pipe up and say, "Night-night, Jesus" or "I love You Jesus!"

At Mass, she's getting...better. But she has, on occasion, done some really cute things that tell us she's paying attention. When the priest carries the gospel book to the lectern, she'll pick up her hymnal with both hands and hold it above her head. When we kneel and pray, she'll kneel (even though she can't see over the pew) and fold her hands above her head. Not always, but when she's feeling particularly good.

It's sweet to watch.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


We all went outside today. It is sunny and around 70 degrees today...a nice change from the crappy weather we've been having, and I just couldn't bear to keep the kids in. And you know what? They did GREAT! They played nicely and came in when I told them to, taking off their shoes and leaving them by the door as they went into the house. Wow.

I think Jake is a balancing force with the girls. He almost makes it easier... easier than just Olivia and Addie alone. Olivia is an instigator, always trying to cause trouble and explaining it away when she gets caught. "Mommy, I just trying to (insert seemingly reasonable motive here)." Addie is an aggressor and retaliator. If someone has something she wants, she grabs or pushes to get to it. If someone takes something away from her, she bites or hits in response. So, the two girls together just play into each other's games and irritate me all day.

Jake is a helper and a peacemaker. He likes to play with the girls, but he just wants everyone to be happy. So he will share and ask if he can help and look to me to correct wrongs when someone takes something away from him. If one of the girls steals his puppy (like his security blanket), he comes to find me and tells me what happened. He doesn't hit or push.

I'm SO not used to this type of kid, but he's so refreshing.

The girls seem to be following Jake's example, a little at a time. I think that playing together daily is teaching them all a little more about healthy conflict resolution, and I'm hoping that their behavior patterns will all be improved by the end of the year. (Jake's fault, in case you were wondering, is his timidness. If he's not over that after several months of dealing with these girls, I don't know what it will take.)

Also, Luke has been here three days, and he has not spit up on me...not even once! He eats, he burps the moment I put him into burp position, and he never spits up. I didn't even know that was possible.

Let's just say that it's not easy, but this is definitely easier than I thought it would be.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Today is going better than yesterday, so far. The kids played nicely together for 80% of the morning. I was able to put Luke down on the floor without him being trampled or smothered. Luke did not throw his "I'm so tired but I can't fall asleep" crying fit until after the kids had fallen asleep and I was able to move him to another area of the house. They are ALL asleep now. So far, so good.

There was that moment when the baby was screaming because he couldn't get the bottle to work (I had to switch bottles) and while I was calming him, Addie took a nose dive off the recliner because she was rocking recklessly (even though she's not supposed to be doing that). I was dealing with screaming toddler and screaming baby and Olivia insisted that she have more lemonade RIGHT NOW and Addie wanted ice and I was just waiting for the phone to start ringing because wouldn't it be PERFECT timing for THAT to happen. I was dealing with one issue at a time and willing myself to sprout a few more arms and thinking that my house was just, well, loud.

I'm struck today by how incredibly unreasonable little children are. No, I can't get up to get the remote to rewind the show to watch that song again while I'm feeding the baby. Olivia, put your shirt back on. Addie, give Jake's puppy back to him. And release your death grip from the baby's leg. He doesn't like that. No, I can't get you a snack while I'm changing diapers. Would everyone please just sit down and shut up for two minutes? PLEASE!

Somehow, they all think that their individual needs at this very moment are the most important ones.

Also, I've discovered that I have another sling-hater. Luke tolerated it yesterday. Today, he will scream at the SIGHT of that thing. I'm beginning to wonder if those things have any use at all. I've certainly never met a child who was particularly fond of them.

It's not bad, it's just...busy. I can't do a load of laundry or wash some dishes or even pick up a few toys in the morning. I just have to sit and keep my eyes on everyone. And that's OK. The kids are adjusting. It will get easier. I will have to resign myself to the fact that the whole house is just going to look like a tornado blew through every day. I have to pick my battles and just let some things go.

As long as I can get my quiet time, like right now, I'll be OK.

Monday, October 19, 2009

My hands are FULL

Three toddlers=totally do-able. One infant=no problem! Three toddlers + one infant = Pass the valium, please.

Today is day one in the great childcare experiment, in which I am not just babysitting a neighbor's kid, but caring for a whole houseful of children five days a week. Lunchtime was a screamfest for the baby, while the toddlers demanded this and that in turn. Naptime was precarious and I was seriously doubting whether it could be accomplished at all.

But it was, and all three toddlers are now sound asleep while the baby kicks happily from his bouncer on the floor next to the computer.


I think I forgot how much work babies are. I mean, they sleep a lot and lay around a lot, but they need something every 20 minutes (or so it seems). It's easy when that's all you have to do. But when you have to balance a baby's needs with a toddler's needs (or three toddlers, in this case), you are CONSTANTLY on the go. And what, I ask, do you do with the baby when you need both hands to tend to a toddler? Put him in his bouncer? Not unless you want him to be smothered by another toddler. It is like placing the poor kid in a war zone.

So, I got reacquainted with the sling today. I never used it much with Olivia because she wouldn't tolerate it awake and always slept on the floor/in her crib/in the bouncer...rarely while held. Now I see the need for helps you hold sleeping babies while there are other kids in the house. I have a feeling that Luke will sleep in it almost exclusively for awhile.

The other kids...Jake (the other toddler) is adjusting well, and is such a delight. Sweet kid. Addie is being downright mean. She has been pushing and tackling all morning, bringing Jake to tears at least once. She's extra defiant too. Olivia is overly curious about the baby and doesn't understand the meaning of "gentle". She's a little more needy than usual, but she's responding to discipline a lot better than Addie. All this activity made it hard for her to fall asleep at naptime. I'm hoping it will get progressively better on all fronts.

Luke is babbling adorably and filling his pants, so my "break" is over. After I say a quick prayer that the kids sleep for AT LEAST two hours. Please, God!

Friday, October 16, 2009

The perfect "day off"

Addie had a doctor appointment yesterday, so Olivia and I had a free day. I was determined to find something active for her to do since we've been cooped up all week due to weather. So we ended up meeting some friends at the local Children's Museum.

It was perfect. We spent two hours chasing the kids from room to room where we knew they could play to their heart's content without causing destruction (at least unexpected destruction). Olivia's favorite area, I think, was the rice a sandbox with rice. She had so much fun and was in a great mood by lunchtime.

We had lunch with a couple of friends who were former co-workers of mine. Olivia behaved very well and I had a great conversation that was long overdue. Luckily, these are the kind of friends who are easy to talk to no matter how long it has been between visits. While we caught up on each other's lives, Olivia played the trial version of Ms. Pac-Man on my friend's phone and also took a couple dozen pictures of her hand and the table with my camera.

The poor kid cashed out as soon as I put her in the car after lunch, so the next stop was Grammy's house for nap while I got my shopping done. We finished up the day by meeting my parents for dinner and then heading to Grandma's house for a couple of hours of play.

I know part of the reason that the day was so much fun for me was that such outings are rare now. But I was also struck by how effortless (relatively speaking) the whole day was. Many, many of my day trips "to town" have been an exercise in frustration for me and Olivia as we fight a constant battle of wanting to accomplish a set number of things and her wanting to get down and explore on her own as much as possible. Those two ideas are not compatible, so we always end up frustrated and exhausted.

Somehow, yesterday, we were both in sync. It was nice.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dreary fall day, with moods to match

This week has been rough. The girls were tired and whiny and mean to each other all day Monday, a behavior trait that has re-emerged today. I know Olivia is tired. She went to bed too late and got up too early. I don't know what Addie's excuse is, except that her nap was too short yesterday, so maybe she's still affected. I try and try to keep Olivia on a good sleep schedule, but if a bad dream or a noise or something wakes her too early, there's nothing to do but go on with the day. She will rarely go back to sleep after 6 a.m.

So this morning was one long whine fest for Olivia, which was exacerbated by Addie's need to aggravate. Addie kept tackling Olivia to the ground and would just lay on her. Though Olivia is taller and stronger than Addie and could easily take her down, she opted to just lay there and whine louder. No matter how many times I separated them, the cycle would repeat itself.

All I can say is that the nap had better be a long one.

My husband will be home late tonight and tomorrow. I have plans to keep us occupied tomorrow. Addie is not coming tomorrow, so Olivia and I are going to do some fun stuff "in town". I don't feel like I can justify going anywhere tonight, since we'll be out all day tomorrow. But it's raining. And Olivia is full of whine. How will we get through the evening alone?


I have finally started sorting through Olivia's birth records and mementos, placing them in plastic sleeves and putting them in a binder. I am creating a photo baby book (electronically, of course...I'm not patient enough to scrapbook this), complete with pics of Olivia's birthmother before and after birth in the hospital and the story of how we came to be her family. I still need to add text, but the photos are all there. I figure that the actual records plus the baby book equals a life book. I don't really know. I've never done this before. But I do feel better knowing that when Olivia is old enough to ask specific questions, the information will all be in one place instead of scattered between various boxes and drawers. And it's been really fun (if time-consuming) to scroll through the photo files from Olivia's first few months.

I'm off to work on my project-of-the-week. Happy Wednesday.

Monday, October 12, 2009

End of season and Almost Two

Local Theme Park is closed for the season. Yesterday was their last day of operation for the year. We spent as much time there as possible yesterday, taking in Olivia's favorite show twice and riding all of her favorite rides.

And giving High Fives to the ride conductor.

Olivia's obsession with the kids' show is bound to lead to severe withdrawal in a couple of weeks. She sings the songs EVERY DAY...and does the dance moves. After the final show yesterday, her fave character let her come up on stage and practice her moves and her bow. Olivia was in heaven. I'm wondering if there's some way I can hire this character for her birthday party...

In other news, Olivia is 23 months old today. So I took her picture to remember her final month before she turns two. She's wearing the tie-dye shirt I made for her at the craft booth in the children's tent at my husband's college homecoming. Yes, I'm so talented.

I'm not sure what to call her anymore. "Toddler" just doesn't fit. She's so tall and so smart and so full of personality. She's growing up so fast...I feel like I can't keep up with all of the changes and the new things she's learning.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The letter

On Wednesday night, we went to visit our newborn baby nephew, Carter. He was still in his newborn sleep coma, with eyes glued shut and making occasionally whimpery newborn noises. The nurse came in and unwrapped him from his cocoon-like swaddle, and he started making little sucking motions with his mouth, but he stopped as soon as she wrapped him up again.

I'd forgotten all about this newborn coma stage, which God must have ingrained in babies to give parents an appropriate amount of time to stare in awe at the tiny creation that has just emerged...before the screaming-of-unknown-cause sets in. As far as I can tell, that stage lasts 2-24 months. The jury's still out on that.

I had the amazing privilege of being able to be in the delivery room when Olivia was born. Her birthmother had a c-section, so I was sitting behind the curtain near her head and didn't actually SEE her emerge (um, surgery, blood, no thank you), but it was still an awesome experience. She was so new and wiggly with scrunchy-up hands and eyes squeezed shut...angry and thrashing around at whoever was responsible for making her leave her warm haven and end up in this cold, bright room.

I have often regretted that my husband couldn't experience this as well. And while adoption has been a blessing, I still harbor a deep desire to give him a child whose growth we can chart and observe from the beginning, and whose birth we can witness together.

I don't think I realized how much I still wanted this.

Yesterday, I received a letter I'd been anticipating since August. After discussion with some FertilityCare Educators, I was encouraged to submit my medical history and charts to Dr. Thomas Hilgers for review. I thought, at the very least, I was interested in finally getting some answers about what is wrong with my screwed-up fertility.

I don't know what I was expecting. I KNEW he couldn't diagnose me based on all that information. I know his reputation for finding and fixing such problems, and it is stellar. But I also know that, in most cases, it requires a trip to the Pope Paul VI Institute and extensive testing before you get to the bottom of the problem.

In retrospect, I suppose my medical history is spotty, at best. We did a lot of tests in our fertility fixing phase a few years ago, but not in the methodical, thorough manner that Dr. Hilgers requires. Most of those tests will have to be repeated under Dr. Hilger's, whose technique is more specific and directed at the causes of fertility.

I don't fault my amazing doctor at the hit-and-miss approach. In most cases, such an approach would have found the right cause and removed the problem. I have seen dozens of couples achieve and carry a successful pregnancy after just a hormone supplement, or a laparoscopy, or a round of Clomid. Or even a hysterosalpingogram (HSG)...a fancy name for shooting dye through the uterus and tubes and taking x-rays to see if there is any blockage. The radiologist who performed my HSG made small talk, asking about infertility since many women have this test for that reason. I remember, very clearly, that he said something like, "Well, I've seen a lot of women get pregnant after this test...the pressure sometimes removes a blockage from the tubes...with any luck, that'll happen for you." Yes, thank you, Dr. Insensitive, for the false hopes.

Dr. Hilger's evaluation phase is overkill for some couples because he likes to do testing for everything that could possibly be wrong, based on the charting and clues we already have. It's very, very effective, but more than some people NEED to fix the problem.

It turns out that I am probably one who needs the super thorough approach to get a diagnosis.

I read Dr. Hilgers' letter several times, even though nothing in it was a surprise. There are signs pointing to a half-dozen different possible causes of infertility. To pinpoint the exact cause, I need to repeat much of what has been done in the past and add another several tests, including hormone panels and an ultrasound series covering several days. Translation: Spend 7-10 days in Omaha to endure a lot of poking, prodding and evaluation, and we'll have a shot at a successful treatment plan.

My first reaction to the letter was to try to figure out how quickly I could come up with two weeks of free time to devote to this. Seriously. I didn't even think about the money that we will undoubtedly have to budget for such an out-of-network endeavor. All I could think about was fix the problem.

And then I took a breath. There are several factors to consider. There is no hurry. We can accomplish this in the summer, when I'm not babysitting. It will give us time to research the costs and save some money. Do I even really want this? It could fix my weird cycles, but there are no guarantees of pregnancy.

And there it is. All this time I thought that what was bothering me was this mystery of why my body does weird things and wanting to fix that. But what I really want, down deep in the core of my being, is to be able to conceive. And I think that really scares me.

This has nothing to do with being unhappy with adoption. I am thankful for my screwed up fertility to the extent that it has led us to Olivia. I have a great desire to adopt again. It is such an amazing experience, and I don't feel like any less of a Mom because my daughter did not spring forth from me. She is ours and we are hers and God knew exactly what we all needed when he led her birthmother to us.

But I teach FertilityCare. It has been a part of who I am for a quarter of my life. Appreciation for fertility and the possibility that it can lead to a whole new's ingrained in me. I want to pursue this evaluation not just because I want to fix a broken system, but because I want to be a part of what I have taught for so many years. I want to be on the inside of this fertility club...not just a spectator, talking about the blessings of fertility and the challenges of periodic abstinence when I really don't have any context for either of these things.

I don't know where this will go yet. I will research the costs, talk to the nurses, discuss with my husband, pray. We don't need to decide anything right away, and that is a blessing. But it will be in the back of my mind for quite a while.