Friday, February 27, 2009

Observance of Lent

Olivia, sporting her Lenten ashes.
Lent is here, and I promised on Wednesday that I'd be writing something about Lenten observance. Not because I particularly think you care, but because writing it here gives me some sort of accountability in keeping my Lenten resolutions.

A lot of people talk about giving something up for Lent, and for most people it's something like chocolate or soft drinks or candy. I'm not big on chocolate or soft drinks or candy. So I decided to give up eating out during my weekday errands. This includes coffee or drink stops too. And it is HARD. Three days in, and I'm already working the discipline muscles to keep this resolution.

I know, it may sound like a cop-out because this leaves open the possibility of eating out on weekends or even week nights. But this is (a) something we rarely do and (b) something I typically only do with my husband, and I didn't want to give up something we can do together because we don't get that many opportunities to go out and the ones we do get are important.

For me, not eating out does require discipline because whenever I'm "in town" with Olivia, I am always, ALWAYS tempted to swing into a drive-through for a snack or drink or something. I'm very food centered. And it always feels like I need to treat myself to SOMETHING because errands with the toddler = NOT EASY.

So yesterday, we went into town for a meeting and a few errands, and I counted six times that I consciously had to remind myself not to stop. There are a lot of drive-throughs, let me tell you. I even found myself craving items at places that I almost NEVER stop.

I was thinking about Lenten discipline and the meaning of it the other day. It's important to try to have a greater focus on prayer and preparing yourself to celebrate Easter, which is the ultimate in high holy feast days...the pinnacle of the Church year. We do work hard to spend more time in prayer and find ways to pray together during Lent.

But the idea of giving something up is a little different. Why the sacrifice? Sacrifice requires denying yourself, dying to self-interests in order to be more open to God's will in your life. Every single time I'm tempted to get a coffee or a milkshake or an order of tator tots (mmm...), I have to consciously say "no" to myself, and this discipline makes it easier to say "no" to other things in my life...things that may be in the way of my relationship with God. If I embrace this sacrifice prayerfully, it can help me grow closer to God throughout Lent.

So there it is. I'm hungry. All this talk about, it's lunch time. And if you made it this far in this post, here's a little photographic reward to make you smile.

Hunka Hunka Baby Love

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New bloggy title, and also LENT!

Thanks, readers! I knew you were out there, and I'm feeling the love. Maybe there are more of you? I realize that not everyone had a four-hour nap window yesterday to check MY blog, but if you are still lurking out there and want to make your presence known (please), feel free to comment here.

Thanks for the title thoughts. While I agree with the reasoning expressed by Paul, OSB (who happens to be my cousin...Hey Cous! How's Rome?), I quickly threw out any ideas that dealt with being "picked" because I'm a little uncomfortable with how that image appears to adoptees. If I was an adoptee, I would wonder why I had to be "picked" in the first place and what was so wrong with me that my first mother placed me in a position to be selected by another couple. We were "picked" by Olivia's birthmom to be Olivia's parents, but more than that, I think God just placed us all in each other's path to bring this family together. God can bring amazing things out of a less-than-ideal situation, and I've never doubted His hand in Olivia's adoption. Still, the image is difficult.

In pursuit of a new title, I went searching for Catholic quotes. (What? Isn't that where YOU get inspiration?) This is the one that inspired me.

Love consumes us only in the measure of our self-surrender. -- St. Therese of Lisieux

I let that sink in. After some thought, I decided that it would fit. It fits our family in that it took a great deal of self-surrender for us to open up to the idea of adoption, and then the idea of adopting a child of mixed race.

When we first planned to pursue adoption, we had discussed interracial placements and decided that we were not prepared to parent a child with African-American heritage. We had read lots of stuff on both sides of the debate, but I guess we were just a little intimidated by the warnings against becoming an interracial family if you live in a lily-white world. I read about the "bead exercise" in which you place a white, brown, yellow or red bead in a jar for every white, black, Asian or Native American person you associate Church, at your job, in your family, in your network of friends. Our hypothetical jar was looking pretty darn white. Everything we read seemed to warn us against this.

Then we got the call about Olivia's birthmom. Her match just fell in our laps and we just looked at each other and said, "OK, we're open." We were excited and joyful and filled with anticipation...and fear. But we were absolutely certain that God had placed this in our hands and we needed to say yes.

It was, of course, the best thing we ever did. And we have never looked back.

So, with homestudy #2, we decided that we would be open to any race and would consider being open to other possibilities (physical/mental disability, etc).

How did we get from Point A to Point B? We realized that from the moment we saw Olivia for the first time, we were totally and completely consumed with love for her. The circumstances of her conception and birth were totally irrelevant. She was being entrusted to us...our precious child. That, alone, was enough to make us surrender our preconceived notions of our perfect little family and embrace the family that was being offered to us.

So, that's the reasoning behind the title. The url is the same, but if you have honored me with a mention in your blogroll, you might want to update the title.

Lent is here. I hope to write about our Lenten discipline tomorrow or Friday. I have decided to give something up and also add something to our routine that I think will be helpful in establishing family prayer habits (important now that Olivia is old enough to join in). Do you have any Lenten resolutions?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Out of the shadows

I'm becoming convinced that no one reads my blog anymore. I'm challenging YOU (yes, you, my there anyone out there?) to prove me wrong on this. I'm calling on all my readers to de-lurk and leave me a comment. Don't worry, I'll give you something to comment on.


What do you think about my new profile photo? And my new name? OK, so it's not a NEW's always been my name. I just didn't let you in on it until now. After much thinking, I decided to post my actual name instead of my alias because, well, I just felt like it. Finally. My former alias, Elizabeth, is actually my middle name. For those of you paying attention, yes, my first name is actually a derivation of my middle name. It's my mom's OB's fault. He told her that she was having a boy (no ultrasound...just based on Mom's pregnancy symptoms, how stupid is that?), so they only picked out a boy's name. When I turned out to be a girl, Mom and Dad were under a time crunch to pick a name they liked. Mom always liked Lisa, and she wanted her first daughter to have the same middle name as her, so voila! The girl whose first and middle name are essentially the same. Mom didn't know. Dad didn't know. I was their first child. They thought the doctor knew what he was talking about with the boy prediction. And that's the story of my name. The end.

I want to change the title of this blog, but I'm having trouble settling on a name. I need suggestions. I've been toying with a few thoughts, but nothing is coming together. I want it to reflect the purpose of this blog, which is to celebrate the daily joys and challenges of a growing adoptive family. So send your ideas! In fact, if you have the winning title idea and I end up using it, I will send you a little thank-you gift (I have no idea what, but I will come up with something fantastic). I will need to know some way of contacting you, but if your blog link is in your comment, I will try to reach you there.

If you are still not inspired with something to leave in the comment box, then you can answer one of the following questions:

How did you find this blog in the first place?
What makes you come back (what do you find interesting)?
What kinds of things do you wish I would write about and haven't yet?

See? If you answer one of those questions, I might have a better idea of what to write about here. Win-win situation all around.

Let the commenting begin.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


So last night, the weekend anchor on our local news station was reading this story about this guy who had entered a store waving a gun and threatening a bunch of people. She read off the list of charges against him, including (in her pronunciation) "Wonton Endangerment". I knew what she MEANT to say (or what the writers of the story meant her to say), but I imagined some guy making threats against Chinese noodles. And now I can't get that image out of my head.

Olivia was a real grump all day yesterday. I assume it was because of her shots on Friday, which left big red welts on her tender little thighs. That and the fact that she skipped a couple of hours of sleep on Friday evening because of the bare rear incident in which she stripped off her pants and diaper before falling asleep, resulting in us waking her to re-diaper her little hiney when we discovered that it was bare. And then she couldn't go back to sleep. She lay in the dark for two hours talking to herself and intermittently protesting in a loud whine, and she eventually did go back to sleep. But I imagine that such a sleep disturbance can cause one to be grumpy when one is used to eleven or twelve hours of uninterrupted snoozing.

We had a nice day of driving around for no apparent reason today. After Mass (during which Olivia was surprisingly well-behaved), we drove "to town" to see the greyhounds at the pet store, only to find that they didn't show up for their scheduled meet-and-greet (greyhound adoption people set this stuff up, and we thought Olivia would enjoy the big dogs). Olivia liked seeing the fishies and birds and rabbits and rodents, though. We also visited all four grandparents, but we didn't "accomplish" much of anything. I like days like that...days with no errands. They are few and far between.

I have gum surgery tomorrow (my second one, and now that I know what to expect, I'm dreading it). It's no biggie...just grafts for receding gums, but it means bland soft food for two weeks and limited eating ability (no tough steaks, eating with only one side of the mouth) for six weeks or so. Forced "fasting". I guess. Just in time for Lent.

So, I'm not looking forward to tomorrow, except that I'm going out to lunch with the gals just before surgery, so YAY for that. Must remember my toothbrush.

G'Night! Be sure to lock up your Chinese noodles. There are crazy people out there, you know.

Friday, February 20, 2009

15 month stats

When the nurse called us this morning, Olivia happily followed her back to the exam area and stepped right onto the adult scale as directed. No more baby scale for her! She stood still long enough to register her 27 lb weight (97th percentile).

We entered the room and got her height measurement at 34 inches. That was "off the charts" according to the nurse. She showed me the line graph on the computer, which was registering her at 99.98%, but I got the feeling that this was just the default percentile for anything above the line on the graph.

It is said that you can estimate a child's adult height by taking her 2-year-old measurement and doubling it. If you double her height now, she would measure 5'8"...which is how tall I am. But she still has nine months to go until she's 2 years old, so there's no telling how tall she'll be "expected" to be.

Her head circumference was also measuring at 97th percentile. So overall, she's growing at the rate of a 2-year-old.


Shots were traumatic. The trauma was short-lived when Olivia became fascinated with the "fishies" (dolphins) that the bookkeeper had hanging above her desk at check-out. The doctor said that these are her last shots until Pre-Kindergarten shots, and we were told that we would "skip" the next well baby check-up (18 months). In the words of our doctor: "Well baby check-ups help us ensure that babies are continuing along proper growth and development expectations. I don't think we have anything to worry about with Olivia. We'll see you at her birthday for her annual check-up."

Fine by me.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Let's just say it has been a weird week. Not particularly rough...just weird.

On Wednesday, Olivia woke up in a bed full of vomit. I don't know exactly when it happened, but by the time she called for us to get her up, she and all of her bedding were covered in it. It appeared that she didn't digest anything she ate on Tuesday. My husband and I are almost sure that it was not an indication of more illness. She had no fever, no irritability...nothing. She just threw up, woke up, had a bath and then proceeded to run around like her energetic little self. We think it was caused by all that mucus drainage that comes with this stage of a cold...she apparently had so much of that in her stomach that her tummy started hurting. Either that, or a mid-night coughing fit made her gag and throw up.

At any rate, a bath and clean bedding seemed to cure whatever was wrong, and we moved on with life. The whole thing brought me to realize two things: First, aside from spit-up related events, this is the first real vomit we've experienced with Olivia. We must be truly lucky. Second, it really sucks that there is NOTHING we can do to keep this yucky mucus stuff from waking her up in fits of coughing. Sure, we have the exact same cold. But we have these things called antihistamines and decongestants that work wonders in helping us sleep and get through the day. She has Vicks and a humidifier...neither of which has been terribly effective in curbing her 2:00 a.m. coughing fits.

Meanwhile, I've been floating through the mornings on a dream cloud all week. I actually fell asleep on Olivia's floor mattress this morning while she was playing. I've been getting up with her the past couple of nights when she starts her coughing fits. I pick her up, give her a drink of water, reposition her so her head is propped up a little and then put her back to bed. I'm only up for about ten minutes, but it is enough of an interruption to really screw with my sleep.

Oh yeah, I'm so ready to enter into the newborn sleep deprivation again. (Apparently not!)

At any rate, it appears that we are all on the mend from this latest cold. Just in time for Olivia's 15-month appointment with the doctor too. Tomorrow morning she gets to weigh in and show off her incredible growing ability by topping off the height charts. Oh, and she gets shots. Yippee. Updated stats will be forthcoming.

Tonight is Daddy's bowling night, so Olivia and I were on our own for bedtime. She had a bath, complete with shampoo and all. This is her second hair-washing in as many days (we usually only wash her hair once a week). It seems that the vomit smell didn't come out the first time around. So I gave her the works...shampoo, conditioning rinse, leave-in conditioning cream...all from the "women of color" line. It is so strange to own a whole array of products for "women of color" and to be using them on a toddler. But they work wonders! And boy do they smell nice!

I was sitting on the floor this evening with Olivia in my lap, laying against my chest while I read her a book. She was absolutely content to lay still and patiently listen to the WHOLE book, waiting until I told her to turn the pages. She was not always this accommodating. As I sat there and read the same book three times, smelling the sweet perfume of her conditioner and feeling the warm softness of her little hand on mine, I thought that there is nothing sweeter in this whole wide world than being Mommy to Olivia...vomit and all.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


1. We spent our weekend leading one of these. While we enjoy the time away together, we always miss Olivia, and she misses us. She's one of those kids who absolutely thrives on predictability and the stability of being at home. Though her weekend caregivers were familiar to her and she loves spending time with them, there's always an element of discomfort when it comes to being away from Mommy and Daddy. So on Sunday, when Grandpa brought her to the retreat house to join us for the closing Mass, we were greeted with the unmistakable smile of pure joy. The moment she saw each of us, her face just lit up like a Christmas tree and she wriggled with all of her might to break free from Grandpa to get to us. (Grandpa didn't take offense.) There is no way to describe the feeling of being so singularly important in the mind of a child. We were feeling the love.

2. Every single time I experience Olivia's need for stability (of caregivers, of location, of schedule), I think of her birth siblings. Every. Single. Time. I say a prayer that they might someday experience the safety and security that comes with a stable home life. And I pray for all the other little kids out there who aren't blessed with a consistent home or caregiver. I can't imagine what kind of damage is done to their developing little be so transient and never experience stability and peace. Parents and home...these are supposed to be a child's sanctuary...a place to feel safe when the world gets confusing. God bless all those children who are deprived of these things.

3. I buy cold medicine in the value size now. I used to throw away unused cold medicine once the expiration date has passed. I don't see that happening again for a long, long time.

4. Although I have no control over this, I've been thinking that it would be really nice if our next child comes to us in the Spring or Summer. It always seems easier to avoid colds and illness when we are not cooped up inside with all the germs recirculating around. Colds and newborns do not mix well. I'm also hoping to avoid the overstimulation that comes with the pre-holidays-infant. We didn't sleep much over Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2007 when Olivia was mere weeks old. She would use sleep as an escape mechanism during the holiday gatherings and then would scream for hours on end when we got home to our peaceful, quiet house. Not a fun time for any of us.

5. I've been thinking about openness to life and how it applies to adoption. In short, to be open to life is to be open to God's creative power within the marital embrace. There is, of course, a place for family planning that respects the natural order, but ultimately the couple is in cooperation with God through prayer and careful planning about when to add to their family.

There is little to be found, though, for those in our shoes...couples who are open to children but do not apparently have the ability to conceive. We believe our infertility was and is a part of our call to adoption, and I think there is something to explore there. Openness to life as it applies to interesting topic. I'm saving this for a day when I have lots of time and brain power to devote, but it is on my mind.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Knocked down by the cold once again.

Seriously, this one-cold-a-month thing is BRUTAL. We are all suffering with a full-blown cold now. And while it may have been exacerbated by our off-schedule/less-sleep weekend of retreat leading for us and staying with family members for Olivia, it was by no means caused by that. Symptoms started showing up on Thursday. Great timing.

I have been needing a nap all day, but instead of napping I am Getting Things Done. Grrr. And I'm sure Olivia's nap is nearing its end and now I won't get to nap. It will surely be a long afternoon.

Does this happen to everyone? Is it just a part of Life With A Toddler to expect the whole household to be sick every four or five weeks? WE STAY HOME! SHE'S NOT IN DAYCARE! We do have playdates about once a week, but even so. This once-a-month illness thing? NOT FUN.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Well, our visit with the social worker is over, and we are officially "active". Yes, she still has to type the homestudy report, but she has reviewed all of our information and intends to recommend us for placement in her report, so that means she will be adding our profile to those she hauls around to show to birthparents.

Like our social worker said, we could get a call from her any time or it could be months and months. All in God's time, I guess. That said, we would appreciate any prayers you would like to offer...for us, for potential birthparents, for scared pregnant women everywhere who are just trying to figure out what's the best decision for themselves and their babies. Pray for patience for us and wisdom and peace for them and health for everyone. Just lots of prayers.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009


We are making progress, people. My dining room looks like a dining room again instead of a place to pile everything that hasn't been put away. The "baby's room" is as organized as I can expect it to be until I round up all the items for donation and load them in the car. There is a place for the changing table and a place for a crib/pack-n-play, which will sit right next to the rocker. I'm happy with that.

I spent all of yesterday doing our taxes, and I have to say HOORAY for tax preparation software. It is SO MUCH EASIER. Even with our complicated tax situation (SEE: Adoption Tax Credit), I was able to breeze through it (well, as best you can breeze through any task with a toddler pulling on your arm). I was able to e-file (why this hasn't been free/included until this year is beyond me), and thanks to expensive adoption legal fees, the government owes us BIG TIME. The money is already spoken for (SEE: Second Adoption Expenses Forthcoming), but it is nice to have, and it is nice to also know that we won't be paying federal taxes again for a good long while (SEE: Adoption Tax Credit Carryover).

We are heading "to town" today for a billion errands, and the weather is not so stable, so we may or may not get anything done. Let's hope for the best!

Monday, February 9, 2009


It's getting pretty crazy around here. Between preparing the baby's room before our home visit on Thursday (self-imposed deadline) and making plans for our weekend, I'm pretty fried already. I didn't mention our weekend? We are volunteers with this apostolate, so we will be spending our Valentine's Day weekend leading a retreat for engaged couples. It's an enjoyable weekend for both of us (this is our third time leading such a retreat), but it involves several preparation details that I must attend to before Friday.

Despite all of this craziness, Olivia and I will be spending several of her waking hours outside today. It's sunny and...get this...almost seventy degrees! I know! Who would have thought?

No matter how many times it happens (and it happens often), I am always baffled by the dramatic changes we can get in weather around here. Anytime between October and April, the temperature here can fluctuate dramatically. Two weeks ago, my trees were sagging under the weight of inches of ice and the weather reporters warned of sub-zero wind chills. Our current seven-day forecast predicts temperatures in the high 50s and 60s all week.

I'm not going to question it. I'm just going to take advantage of the pretty weather while I can. After two weeks of cold and ice, we were starting to get a little stir crazy around here.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Deadline

You may recall that in early January we started a homestudy, which means we spent ten days gathering paperwork and sending away for things like references and fingerprints. The social worker said she'd call to schedule our home visit as soon as the paperwork was complete and the fingerprints were back.

The social worker called yesterday, and we are scheduled for our home visit next week. It will be a short visit since this is a homestudy update and she already has enough documentation on us to write a book about our lives. All she really needs to do is make sure we don't live in a rusty shack and that we have things like fire extinguishers and high shelves to store the cleaning supplies away from small hands. (As if that matters...Olivia is THIS CLOSE to figuring out how to literally climb the walls. I'm kidding, but not by much.)

The home visit will be followed quickly by a completed report, which is followed by "activation", which could theoretically be followed quickly by placement of a wee tiny infant in our home.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not under the illusion that everyone (or anyone for that matter) gets a placement immediately, and it is entirely possible that we could still be waiting many months from now. However, I know that it is POSSIBLE that placement could happen relatively quickly. And I also know that BABY = DISAPPEARANCE OF FREE TIME = NO TIME TO ORGANIZE MY HOUSE = MUST COMPLETE OFFICE-TO-NURSERY CONVERSION NOW.

I guess you could say I'm nesting.

Now that we have an appointment for a home visit, I have made that day my mental "deadline" for organizing THAT ROOM. Wish me luck. It's a big project to undertake.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Olivia has never been slow to do anything...she runs everywhere she goes. Language acquisition is no exception. For many months, she has had a few words that she has used regularly, and it has been obvious that she understands more than she can say. She has been quickly expanding her vocabulary and is even stringing a few words together to make sentences. It's really fun to watch her little mind work as she communicates with us.

I've been trying to get a list together of the words she uses regularly, without prompting. I consider these to be the words she "knows". She can repeat just about anything, but if she can pull the word out of her brain without our assistance, then I know that she really KNOWS that word. I've counted about fifty words so far.

Here are some examples of an almost-15-month-old trying to communicate.

Daaeee go? (Where did Daddy Go?)
Daaee phone? (Is Daddy on the phone?)
Fishies, pease? (Goldfish Crackers, please?)
Cackers (Crackers)
COO-Key ( of her favorite words)
Ca-Corn (Popcorn)
Muh (Milk)
Pay (Pray)
Bye, Bye
Nigh-Nigh (Night-Night -- Used when she wants to go to nap or to bed)
Foo (Food)
For (Fork)
Side (Outside)

That is just a short list of her more frequently-used words. And as I look at them, it becomes obvious that she's obsessed with two things...Daddy and Food. She talks about one or the other about 80% of the time.

Monday, February 2, 2009

In which I have nothing to say

I feel like I have been rather absent from this site for a week or so. Yeah, I've posted, but my posts have consisted mostly of pictures of a cute toddler in the snow. Why? BECAUSE THERE IS NOTHING GOING ON AROUND HERE. That's what a week of snow and ice will do to you.

We did venture out on Friday for a brief shopping trip that ended up taking most of the day. This was due to A) the utter lack of ice clearing in store parking lots, which made for slow maneuvering, and B) the bajillions of people out shopping or eating in restaurants, which also slowed us down considerably. It turns out that a good portion of our Former City (where we do most of our shopping) is still without power because of all the ice and the trees that fell on power lines all over the city. So EVERYONE was out eating or shopping because it was too cold to sit at home in their powerless houses and they couldn't cook anything anyway.

We are so, so lucky that we never lost power.

All this ice and snow did keep us home and stuck in the house for most of last week, so we are itching to get out and do SOMETHING. We have errands to run tomorrow, and I'm hoping that it cures us both of cabin fever. Olivia has been pretty fussy. We just need a break from seeing nothing but each other.

The highlight of our weekend was that the three of us ventured out and finally chose a TV to replace our broken one (It's been broken for a month). We had to get out the screwdriver box to attach the base to the TV, and Olivia thought she'd help by carrying the screwdriver box around.

Our little worker.