Thursday, March 26, 2009

Follow-up point and This Weekend's Sleep Adventure

Stephanie made an interesting point in the comments yesterday. And I wholeheartedly agree. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that the point doesn't stop there.

Those of you who have kids know that kids come with issues. Racially different or not, adopted or not, kids will bring challenges into your life. It is the nature of raising kids. Life as you know it has changed forever. It's not just about you anymore.

Truthfully, I think the adoption and transracial issues might be the easiest for us to tackle with our kids as they grow. We know NOW that we will face these issues, and we can be proactive about creating a plan for handling them.

According to the seminar we attended (and I have no idea where they got this statistic, so I'm taking them at their word), adopted kids are statistically happier, better adjusted type people (as a group) than their non-adopted peers. They attributed this to "intentional parenting". I like that term! It means that we are taking measures from the beginning to help our children handle issues that we know they will face simply because of who they are and who we are as a family. Most issues are ones that we (parents) have never had to face, so we have to educate ourselves and be proactive. And that, alone, already sets us apart from many American families today.

Moving on. We are leading another one of these this weekend. We don't normally volunteer for two weekends a year, but we scheduled things funny this year, leaving this weekend to fall at the end of Spring break, so those volunteer couples with school-age kids are all out of town doing other fun things. So there you go.

Olivia will be staying with her Aunt, Uncle and cousin Trey. She would be totally excited if I told her about this. But I don't want to spend the next 24 hours listening to her constantly ask "Where Trey Go?" and "Go see Trey?" And she will remember to me!

I'm a little concerned about how she's going to sleep. I've been rocking her to sleep or laying next to her in her big girl bed until she falls asleep every single night and naptime since last weekend. And it's not like I haven't tried laying her down in her crib awake like I've done EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR THE PAST SIX MONTHS. She just won't stay. Even if she's groggy or half-asleep, she'll immediately pop up and start trying to climb out of the crib. I've considered the crib tent, but seriously people, I think she'd tear it up in a minute. She's very strong and very determined. Mesh and velcro? No match for this child!

Of course, her Aunt is a childcare genius. If anyone can get Olivia to go to sleep, she can. I hope.

Now I'm off to get some things done while the child still sleeps.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Openness to Life: Part Four: Fear Not!

At the request of the social worker who completed our homestudy, my husband and I went to a seminar on Saturday that addressed transracial and transcultural issues in adoption.

It was actually very interesting. We'd heard and read about such issues in preparation for Olivia's adoption, but this workshop really brought it home. There was a panel of adult adoptees talking about the challenges of living as a minority in a white household/neighborhood. Their lives have been positively affected by their parents, but they didn't gloss over the challenges they faced either.

At lunch, our social worker introduced us to another couple from our agency who are "on the fence" about whether or not to be open to a transracial/transcultural placement. I understand...even with the positive tone of the workshop, it is intimidating to face the unknown knowing that there are many unavoidable pitfalls in your way. Our social worker was hoping that we could make them feel more comfortable with the idea because of our experience with adopting transracially.

I don't know if we helped them make the decision at all, but the whole workshop did get me thinking. There are a lot of issues I hadn't considered. Our children will grow up in a family and likely in a community where no one else looks like them. They will face racism. It exists. No matter how welcoming and wonderful our home life is, at some point they will have to leave this house and face other people who may judge them unfairly simply because of their race. We, as parents, have to teach our children how to deal with situations that we've never had to face.

I think I will be forever grateful that God sent Olivia to us the way He did. Assuming that we were chosen for this child, we didn't pause to consider the consequences. I'm glad we didn't. Now that we are parents, there isn't anything we wouldn't do to help our child have the best possible life. But if we had spent too much time dwelling on the "what ifs", we might not be her parents today. We might never have had the opportunity to be stretched and challenged the way we have been and will continue to be, and we wouldn't be the people that we are today.

Fear Not! It was a theme of Pope John Paul II's papacy, and I think it is fitting for this whole discussion of Openness to Life and adoption. If adoption is part of God's plan for your family, He will lead you to it and give you the resources to be the parents you need to be for your children. Fear only gets in our way. We all fear the unknown, but if we let that fear paralyze us, we can miss out on the most precious gifts and moments of our lives.

Happy Feast of the Annunciation!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The new reality

Sleep troubles continue. It took two hours to get Olivia to fall asleep last night. I'm taking new strategies, including:

1. Wake her up if she's not already awake by 7:00 a.m.
2. Only let her nap for two hours.
3. Do everything humanly possible to wear her out between her nap and bedtime.

The first won't be hard. The second might kill me. I use every second of naptime, people. But if it helps her get to sleep before 8 p.m., then I suppose it's worth it. I also need my evening free time. I forget how I ever got things done with an infant who didn't go down for the night until 11 p.m. Oh, that's right...she was immobile. There was the swing, the bouncer, the floor, even the sling. Of course, those were the days of two or three nighttime feedings too, so I guess it's all a trade-off.

As long as the weather holds out, the wearing-her-out part should be easy enough. We have enjoyed lots of outdoor time with the landscaping projects recently. Olivia enjoys digging in the mulch with whatever garden tool I allow her to play with at the moment. Note to self: Buy some plastic garden tools. I'm seriously worried that she's going to take an eye out while running across the yard with a garden spade.

Speaking of, I thought I would explain what I did with my 3-hour nap window yesterday.

This is our front landscaping, as it looked last Spring. The landscaping around our house is a multi-year project that we've done on our own, with the help of some family. Our driveway bends out like this on both sides, so we have another "arm" of irises on the other side (my husband calls these our "Arms of Bernini").

The inside row pictured here are all irises. The outside (near the grass) row are daylilies. The daylilies are beautiful and bloom through June and some of July. Since they are different varieties, they bloom at different times.

See? Pretty! This picture was taken the year we planted them.

We haven't seen them bloom since. The deer eat off the blooms before we get a chance to see them at all.

Since the deer hate the irises and they make such pretty flowers, we decided to take out all the daylilies and split the irises up to fill in the spaces where the daylilies were. So that was what I did yesterday.

The daylilies are planted in temporary pots for now, and we are planning to make a fenced-in raised garden for them in the backyard. In the meantime, the deer continue to munch on the leaves. It's maddening.

Today's outdoor project is a little more Olivia-friendly. When she gets up, we will go to the backyard and pick up sticks and other yard waste. She likes to carry the bucket around and fill it with things and then dump them out. Not very productive, but it keeps her entertained.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Polite and sleepy

I have a final Openness to Life post brewing for Wednesday, but in the meantime...

I think I have mentioned that Olivia is a very verbal kid. My Dad was saying the other day that he can't remember ever meeting a 16-month-old who could string four words together to make a sentence with as much ease as Olivia does. He asked if we quiz her at home. We don't. We do pretty much what every other parent does. We talk to her constantly, explaining the world around us as we go. And she just picks up on stuff. What can I say? She's very sharp, and I can say that without bragging because she doesn't get it from us. The flip side of that coin is that we have to be VERY careful about what we say around her.

Anyway, Olivia has picked up on the "polite words". "Please" is a word that she uses with great frequency, and she's starting to use it for almost every request. "Cackers, pease." "Shoes, pease." And when she is finished eating and wants out of her chair..."Finis, pease." (We're very particular about the difference between "done" and "finished".) Occasionally, this word is used to beg, as if saying the word over and over and over will get a preferred response out of us. But most of the time, it's delightful to hear her ask for something politely.

We're working on "Thank You" and "You're Welcome". She gets them a little confused. For example, when I give her something she has asked for, I ask her, "Can you say Thank You to Mommy?" She often responds with "Welcome!" On the other hand, I let her carry the bucket-o-flowers this morning (we have been working in the yard), and she said "Mommy, thank-you, welcome!" She's sorting it out.

The sleep weirdness, it is back! Olivia spent Friday night at Grandpa & Grandma's house, and we picked her up late Saturday afternoon. Mom said she slept very well and napped a little. So we were expecting a tired, easy-to-put-to-bed toddler. Instead, I spent two and a half hours trying to get our obviously-exhausted child to settle down and go to sleep.

The crawling-out-of-the-crib problem has become worse. When awake, she has NO PROBLEM crawling out and running into the living room. She did it no less than a dozen times on Saturday night. I finally ended up laying with her on her big mattress for twenty minutes until she fell asleep (SOUND asleep...we had tried this trick before). I don't know if she was just too overtired or if she had some sort of anxiety about going to sleep and waking up in a different place since we'd left her at Grandma's the night before. But it was TOUGH.

Naps have become a difficulty as well. She WILL NOT stay in her crib if put down awake. I have to rock her and restrain her until she falls asleep and then put her in her crib. This actually works, and most of the time she ends up laying her head on my shoulder and singing herself to sleep. It's a little weird since she has NEVER been one to easily be rocked to sleep...not even when she was an infant. But it works for her now, and it's kind of sweet to hold my sleepy little girl while she settles in for a nap.

On the other hand, this could become a problem if she still requires rocking for naps when baby #2 comes.

We are back to seriously considering the switch to her big bed. I am 100% serious when I say that no crib contains her. They are barely even an obstacle. She stays in her crib if she feels like it, and only then (a change even from last week's status...she's over the whole bars-provide-boundaries issue). So how is that different from a big bed? We're going to have to deal with it sooner, rather than later, I'm afraid.

I'm going to use the rest of naptime to finish splitting and moving my Irises. It is going to rain tomorrow, and Spring always rushes on me faster than I'm ready. I love our landscaping projects (and they are getting easier to accomplish now that Olivia can be occupied by "helping"), but there are always tiny windows of time when I can get things done before the weather has turned too warm or the plants have already started to bloom. Must keep moving.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Openness to Life, Saying "Yes" to the Unexpected (Part Three)

Part One Part Two

"Pray for the courage to do something difficult with your life, for Jesus."

When we met Olivia's birthmother, I was SUPER nervous. This woman had the ability to give us a child (or not), and I seriously felt like our lives were in her hands.

As it turns out, I didn't need to worry. She met us, judged us to be good people, and it seemed that she was immediately hit with a wave of relief. Her problem was solved. Ours, as it turned out, was just beginning.

If you have read our adoption story (sidebar), you'll know that our meeting with Olivia's birthmom was our very first introduction into the whole world of adoption. In the next two months, we had to start and complete a homestudy, deal with interstate issues and doubled expenses when birthmom unexpectedly moved to another state, and ride the roller coaster of emotions whenever a week passed that birthmom missed a counseling appointment or didn't contact us. It was a whole new world of uncertainty.

But we were also dealing with another area of uncertainty. Because we were planning to adopt a biracial infant, the social worker doing our homestudy was obligated to do "family education" sessions with us that dealt specifically with the challenges involved in raising a child of another race. These sessions, it seemed, were designed to discourage us in every way possible.

Now, the social worker assured us that this was not the intent. She had asked us to watch a video and explained that it was simply supposed to help raise certain issues so we would talk about them and deal with them in order to empower us be able to raise a healthy, emotionally stable child.

I get that. I really do. But I think it might have been just a little bit helpful if they had found just ONE adult adoptee raised in an interracial family who had judged his/her childhood to be less than a completely crippling experience.

Terrified. That's what we were. We couldn't really even talk through a concrete plan about how to deal with this as our child grew because we were so fixed on how we were obviously going to royally screw up her life just by being who we were.

It helped that we had friends who had already adopted transracially. They gave us some perspective. "Look, she's going to deal with these issues whether she is raised by you, her birthmom or some other couple. She is who she is. No one can change that. All you can do is raise her to be the person God created her to be, to the best of your ability."

Remember Mary? That betrothed teenage girl was just going along her merry way, being a good Jewish young woman. Then, suddenly this angel appears and tells her she's going to become pregnant with God's son. She's gotta be thinking, oh, yeah, like anyone's going to believe THAT! And this was in the day when you could get exiled or stoned if you found yourself in such an unexplained condition.

But she said "yes". She knew the dangers, but she trusted that God knew what he was doing when he chose her to bear His Son.

We trust that God placed Olivia in this family, and we will do the best we can to help her become who she was born to be. We pray for the wisdom to be the best parents we can be. God will provide.

When you sign up to adopt domestically, you have all sorts of options to limit your field of "acceptable" children. You can choose to be open only to a specific race and health condition, or you can open yourself to other situations. We don't know what God has in store for us with our second child, but we've decided to be open and let Him take the lead. God knows what we can handle and what gifts and talents we have to offer our children. I'm confident that He's preparing us to be uniquely suited to handle whatever challenges our next child throws our way.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Openness to Life, Stewardship (Part Two)

Read Part One Here.

Responsible parenthood requires that couples prayerfully discern when to have more children and how many children they can care for given the physical, spiritual and financial resources available to them. Discernment is a key part of planning a family, and God also calls us to be generous with the gifts that have been given to us. Part of the reason why so many NFP-using couples have such large families is that their journey with NFP has led them to be generously open with their fertility, sacrificing some material pleasures to bring more children into the world and trusting that God will provide.

It's slightly more complicated (at least from my point of view) to figure out how this generosity and openness plays into the adoptive family.

When we adopted Olivia, we had to decide how far we were willing to take this fertility journey. As I mentioned before, the pursuit of a fertility "cure" was expensive, and that expense was even more pronounced when we started living on one income while paying for diapers and formula.

The question came down to this: Were we being good stewards of our gifts (financial and emotional resources) by continuing down this fertility path? Was God calling us to welcome more children into our family through adoption? If so, we certainly needed to take a good hard look at how we were spending money (not just on fertility, but in various areas of our life) and where we could cut back in order to be ready to adopt again.

We had decided early on that we definitely wanted Olivia to have a sibling (or more), and we wanted to make every effort to have that happen sooner rather than later. We had our reasons for that, but the important point is that we discerned that this was the right decision for us. Because of that decision, we had to have a reasonable ending point to our fertility pursuit in order to focus on adoption.

Our ending point came sooner than expected because somewhere along the way, we discerned that pursuing fertility wasn't, for us, the best stewardship of our resources. We were definitely being called to adopt again, and we decided that it was our responsibility to focus solely on that so that we'd be financially ready to welcome a new child into our home.

Stewardship is an important issue for every family. In the end, we decided that for us to be "Open to Life" in the way God was calling us to be, we had to abandon our fertility pursuits and focus our energies solely on adoption. That is what we've discerned to be the best stewardship of our resources at this time.

Next installment: Saying "Yes" to the unexpected.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Openness to Life, Introduction (Part One)

OK, enough procrastinating. I'm going to write this thing in installments. Forgive me if it's not as organized as it should be. I'm fitting this into the nap schedule, you know. I don't have time for extensive editing. It's more like a free-flow of thought.

My plan (ha!) is to complete the "Openness to Life" series on March 25th, A.K.A. The Feast of the Annunciation. It seems appropriate since Mary's openness was kind of important in the whole story of Christianity, so why not devote this little writing project of mine in honor of our Blessed Mother.

So, Openness to Life. In the popular understanding of that term, it means allowing every act of marital intercourse to remain open to the possibility of conception. This DOES mean avoiding any physical or hormonal barriers to conception. It does NOT mean that you are obligated to constant childbearing. There's this thing called Natural Family Planning (NFP), and when used correctly it is pretty darn effective at avoiding or achieving pregnancy (at least for all the couples I've taught...I can't really speak from experience...infertility, you know). But the idea is that even if you are trying to avoid intercourse on fertile days to avoid pregnancy, you are still not putting up any barriers. Husband and wife give themselves completely to one another, holding nothing back. The couple remains open to the possibility of pregnancy, even if pregnancy is not their intent at that time.

I have known many, many couples who have fully lived God's call to be open to life in their marriage. Some of these couples have a house full of children. Some of them have struggled with infertility and have remained faithful to the Church's teaching on life when dealing with infertility.

We used NFP from the very beginning of our marriage. When we decided to start TTC, I remember going out that very first month to buy some pregnancy tests. Oh, I was so naive. I also stocked up on soda crackers and ginger ale in preparation for the morning sickness I knew I'd have. I researched natural childbirth and those nursing tank top-thingies. I laugh to think of all the time I wasted researching early pregnancy symptoms.

Over the next two years, we rode the infertility roller coaster and researched adoption. At first, we dismissed adoption as too expensive. But as infertility treatments and surgeries started to empty our savings, we realized that expense was going to be a part of our journey. Was it worth it? We decided that it was, and we made the commitment to pursue BOTH fertility and adoption.

That was something of a radical decision on our part. We weren't ready to give up on fertility just yet, but we knew that if we signed up with an adoption agency and spent money on applications and a homestudy and THEN got pregnant, that money would just be GONE. We could continue to sink money into fixing fertility with no guarantee that it would ever be fixed. Either way, we were looking at dishing out a lot of cash.

But suddenly it just seemed like the right decision to make. Open all the doors and let God pick one to walk through to bring you a child. Basically, we decided we must be open to life, however God decided to bring it to us. He must have been working very hard on both of us to bring us to that realization at the same time because...

The week after making this decision, we got a call from a counselor friend. A new pregnancy client of hers wanted to make an adoption plan for her baby. Would we be interested in being presented to her as potential adoptive parents for her child?

Let's talk for a minute about what it means to be open.

When we were first researching agencies, we decided that we weren't "ready" to be open to having an African-American or biracial child. We had conciously made that decision. It felt uncomfortable to disqualify an entire group of children in need of families, but my husband argued that we weren't prepared to parent a child so dramatically different from us, and his arguments made sense, so I agreed.

The counselor friend had called ME to explain this opportunity, and the FIRST thing she said was, "Now, I just want you to know that this baby is biracial. We don't have any families on file who are willing to accept a biracial child, so I thought I'd talk to you before looking to other agencies." My heart sort of jumped and sank all at the same time. A child in need of a family! But we've already disqualified such a child from becoming a part of our family. I told the counselor I'd need to talk to my husband and get back to her.

So I called him and explained the whole thing. Counselor has birthmom who wants to place baby for adoption. Birthmom due in November. Birthmom wants to meet us in person to decide if we are right for her baby. Baby is biracial.

Without hesitation, my husband said, "Ok, call the counselor and set up a meeting." I had to confirm that he had heard me about the biracial thing. He had.

We were both thinking the same thing. God handed this to us. How can we say no?

Like Mary at the Annunciation, we had a choice. God gave us free will. We could have continued to follow our pre-planned path to our perfect little family. But He was handing us another opportunity. Could we trust that it would be even better than the plan we had made for ourselves?

You know the story...we said yes, and here we are. But we would not be a family of three today if we had not been the idea of adoption, to the movement of the Spirit in our hearts, to the idea of becoming a transracial family.

But that's not all. We also had to be open to abandoning fertility. That's not to say that we are no longer "open to life" in that respect. We still don't use physical or hormonal contraceptives and we never will. Pregnancy is always possible, even if not probable. But after Olivia, we had to make a decision. Her adoption was expensive. Subsequent adoptions would be expensive. Pursuing fertility continued to be expensive. Where was God calling us to focus our financial energies? How does He want us to build our family?

I'll go deeper into that in the next installment. And for those of you who stuck with me through this whole post, here's a picture for your enjoyment (because we all know that's why you keep coming back here).

Mary rocks! And for more pictures, go here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Naptime resolved

So last week's nap weirdness seems to be gone now. After last Monday, Olivia did not nap all week except in the car. Luckily, we were busy and had a lot of places to go. We did have a lot of sleep-deprived meltdowns and were introduced to the ear-piercing meltdown wail, but her nighttime sleep returned to normal, so we were just thankful for that. One night of a return-to-infanthood sleep pattern was enough for me, thank you very much.

Saturday and Sunday, Olivia went down for her nap with no problem and slept for 3-4 hours. This is a wee bit longer than the daily routine, but I expected her to be making up for a week without a nap.

Today, it was a little harder to get her to go down for nap. She crawled out of her crib once, filled her diaper with a stinky surprise, and then opened the door to come out and present it to me. New diaper, back in bed. Standing child, crying and hiking her leg over the rail. Stern Mommy saying "quiet time, Olivia, take a nap". Close door, walk away. Come back in 10 minutes. Sleeping toddler still in crib.

Thanks, Stephanie, for the advice. Clearly, she didn't WANT to take a nap, but she eventually laid down and fell asleep anyway.

And, we are going to keep the crib awhile longer. She can obviously escape the crib, but she knows that she is not supposed to get out. She knows that if she wants to obey, she should stay in the crib and try to fall asleep (or sit in the crib until we get her out when she wakes up). And, surprisingly, she does seem to want to obey, mostly.

I think, for Olivia, the crib represents structure and boundaries. It's comforting to have those gates around her. It's funny...we have a few baby gates around here, and she has come to respect the gates. She doesn't bother them much when they are up, and when they are not up, she tries to put them up. I think she just appreciates her boundaries. They make life feel predictable and safe.

It sure makes our life easier, too. We can give her more freedom to roam around without constant fear that she'll destroy something she's not supposed to touch. Not that she is immune to that, but she's getting better at respecting things she's forbidden to have.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sweet toddler piety

We usually go to a 10:30 a.m. Mass because it's the only one that our tiny rural parish offers. Today, however, we were invited to a 50th anniversary-of-ordination celebration for a dear friend of ours, so we went to 8:30 a.m. Mass at the parish where he grew up. He was the main celebrant for their Mass this morning, and we always enjoy hearing him teach (he doesn't preach, he teaches...he's a scripture scholar).

We had to wake Olivia up to get her fed and dressed in time for Mass, and when we got there it was PACKED. Luckily, we found a couple of spots right next to my parents who had opted for this Mass because their own parish only offers one at 6:30 a.m. (!) and they were up late last night.

I think I may have mentioned this before, but Olivia? Not always very well behaved at Mass. She's getting better, but we typically have to wrestle her or bribe her with goldfish crackers to keep her quiet and in the pew.

Today? PERFECT ANGEL. And Mass even lasted about 25 minutes longer than normal.

I don't know if it was the presence of Grandma and Grandpa or the earlier time or the fact that she might have still been a wee bit sleepy, but she was SO GOOD. She sat still in Grandpa or Grandma's lap for most of Mass or she stood quietly on the kneeler. She sang when we sang and kept pointing to the stations and telling Grandma and Grandpa, "Jesus!" Because she knows Him, y'all. She points him out whenever we see a crucifix or a stained-glass window.

I'm recounting these things because I need to remember how sweet she is right now. These are some of the things she did today at Mass:

*Sang "Jesuh Lah Bee" (Jesus Loves Me) quietly enough that she was entertaining the people sitting in her immediate vicinity, but not disturbing the rest of the church.

*Sang jibberish during the communal singing times, and not any other time.

*Held her hands out in the prayer position during the "Our Father", to imitate Grandpa, who was holding her and doing the same thing with his hands.

*Folded her hands prayerfully during the Eucharistic Prayer.

*Turned and pointed to the altar when the bells were rung at the elevation.

*Enthusiastically gave the sign of peace to everyone around her.

I am a little overwhelmed at this well behaved little child. I hope that our efforts in teaching her to behave in church week after week are finally bearing fruit.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Sink Window

Back when I was in college and during the years immediately after, I lived in a variety of apartments. Only one of those had a window above the kitchen sink, which was a kitchen trait that I greatly desired.

When I was a kid, we had a window above the kitchen sink. I remember that when washing dishes, I passed the time watching what was going on outside. It helped occupy my mind.

We have a window above the sink in this house. Up to this point, I haven't had a lot of interesting things to view. The house in back of us is currently vacant. We might see the occasional cat running around or deer chomping on our landscaping.

Tonight, though, I passed my dish-washing time watching my husband and daughter chase a kickball around the backyard.

I love my sink window.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

This post brought to you by the toddler-who-will-not-nap

So, yesterday Olivia decided that a nap was utterly unnecessary. Which is why I have the freedom to post at 7:30 in the morning...she's so tired from yesterday that she's not up yet. Aside from a few overly-dramatic meltdowns in the afternoon, she really did OK. She played, she wasn't excessively grumpy or listless, and she really didn't show many signs of needing a nap (not that I didn't try).

I'm wondering what this new trend toward sleep weirdness means. I'm not ready for her to give up naps! But it's very difficult to convince her to take a nap when she can readily climb right out of her crib and realizes that during the daylight hours. So far, the crib is still secure at night.

*BIG HEAVY SIGH* I suppose it's time to work on transitioning her to a bed. I have been dreading this, but now that she knows how to climb out of the crib I'm afraid we'll be quickly dealing with an overly tired child if I let her stay up all day simply because she won't stay in her crib.

So, any thoughts or suggestions on how to do this? I just don't know how to go about getting her to stay in bed when she's not caged in. I know she NEEDS naps, but HOW do I get her to take them?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Olivia's sleep was back to normal last night...12 hours without a peep. I don't know WHAT was up with her the night before. She just woke up and couldn't fall back asleep. After unsuccessfully attempting to get her to lay back down in her crib, we laid down on her big bed together. I held her tight (so she wouldn't squirm), and then I sang to her. She would lay completely still and calm and listen to me singing until I fell asleep, and then she'd start climbing on me. When my husband got up at 5:30 a.m. (thankfully, it was the one day this week that he had to be up really early), I turned on the lights and took Olivia to the living room, where she ran around playing as if she just woke up after a full night's sleep. An hour later, after breakfast, she was rubbing her eyes and melting down from overtiredness. *SIGH*

So, yeah, I don't have any answers for that. Maybe her nap was too long that day or something. It was just weird.

We both went back to bed around 7:00 a.m. and got up at 9:00 a.m. This was a shorter nap than usual, but the timing was way off too. Instead of figuring out how to entertain her at home for a whole day without a break, we decided to run our errands. It was the nicest day of the week, so the timing was good. And my sleep-deprived toddler? WAS AN ANGEL! She was so well behaved all day. She sat still in shopping carts and patiently let me hold her at other times. This was a welcome change from her usual struggle to be free to run. After we got home and had dinner, we (literally) chased her around the backyard until dark. She went to bed without a fuss and slept like a dream, even through the stormy weather that blew in with our cold front.

I woke up feeling like a new person. I had forgotten how sleep deprivation affects my mood. That was the most difficult part of having a newborn (and one of the biggest blessings of having a sleep-loving toddler).

Well, I have to cut this short. The aforementioned toddler insists that she doesn't need a nap today and just climbed out of her crib to tell me that.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Not since she was a newborn

It's 7:00 a.m., the sun isn't quite up yet, and I just put Olivia down for her nap. She's already asleep.

She's been up for the past four hours. Therefore, so have I. I spent most of the wee morning hours wrestling a charged-up toddler to try to get her to settle down and go back to sleep. Unsuccessfully, I might add. It was only after giving up and getting her some breakfast that she finally decided that she was exhausted.

I am going to go back to bed now.

Monday, March 9, 2009

DST and the perfect evening

This weekend's shift to Daylight Savings Time was perfectly timed to coincide with the loveliest weather we've had all season. Despite a few midday rain showers, Sunday evening turned out to be incredible. The three of us took a walk around the neighborhood and then decided to grill out in the backyard. Olivia ran around happily in the backyard, taking off more than once to the (vacant) backyard neighbor's carport, glancing around to see if we were chasing her. Exhausted and muddy, we fed her one of the first pork chops to come off of the grill, then gave her a warm bath and put her to bed. This left the two of us free to enjoy the last few minutes of daylight, eating our dinner together on the screened-in porch. The air was warm, the sunset was peaceful, the crickets were chirping. A perfect evening.

I can't wait for more of the same.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Maggie, known far and wide in the land of blog, has decided to interview me. Below are her questions and my answers. I know a good number of you found me through Maggie's blog (because she is so awesome that everyone wants to be her friend), but if you didn't or if you don't already read her, you absolutely should. Go there now. My interview questions will still be here when you get back.

The Interview:
1. Before Olivia was born I remember you writing about finishing up at work, handing things off, hoping the Transfer Of Power went well. And you liked your job, didn't you? Do you think you'll go back to work when Olivia and #2 are school age? Will you do the same job?

I did like my job. It is one of those kinds of jobs where you really feel like you are doing things that Make A Difference in people's lives. And the Transfer of Power did go successor is awesome and has energy and is passionate about all the kinds of issues I'm passionate about, so I know "my" precious programs are in good hands.

It is likely that I will go back to some kind of work when "the kids" are in school, but it's too soon to tell. We have toyed with the idea of homeschooling through early grades, and I guess it will all come down to an analysis of in-school/two-income versus home-school/one-income. We HOPE to send the kids to Catholic grade schools, but Catholic high school is a priority (esp. for my husband), so saving for tuition is key. And in these Dire Economic Times...well, who knows?

As for the job...I'd enjoy the same job, but it's unlikely to be waiting for me when I'm ready to go back. It may not even be in existence, at least in its current form (see: Dire Economic Times and also Downsizing). But I'd definitely be interested in something similar. Ideally, I'd like to create educational/enrichment programming for some parish or school. And have school-type hours so I can be home when the kids are home. Those kind of paying jobs exist, right?

2. How did you meet your husband?
The short answer is that I met him in college. But that's not the whole story. I was a freshman in college. He was the Catholic Campus Minister.

It was his first year on the job, and he was eight years older than me. I went to the campus ministry ice cream social and saw that they had some sort of discussion group or something (I don't remember) later in the week and decided to go. I remember sitting next to this blonde guy, and he was really friendly and said Hi and asked me how I liked school so far, etc. I thought he was a senior or something. I remember thinking, hmmm...I'd like to get to know this guy. Then we went around the room and he introduced himself as the campus minister and you could have knocked me over with a feather.

Anyway, we became good friends over my years at college and continued to hang out after I graduated. Sometime after that we started dating. I guess we realized that we liked spending time with each other more than with anyone else, so it made sense. We had known each other nine years when we got married, and we had dated for about two years.

3. I never went to an Engaged Encounter, but I'd love to go to one of the marriage encounters one day. As a leader, what do you see as the most helpful part of these weekends? (When I think about going, the biggest benefit, for me, is NO CHILDREN!)

I've never been on a Marriage Encounter, but I hear that the general idea is the same...just a different audience (which makes a HUGE difference). Engaged couples are there (generally) because the HAVE to be. Married couples are there because they WANT to be.

For Engaged Encounter, the most helpful part of the weekend (for the engaged couples) is that it makes them realize that they don't know everything. They come in thinking they do and that they aren't going to learn anything new on this dang retreat that their priest (or parents) made them attend. They leave realizing that their relationship has the ability to be so much deeper and richer, and they now have some of the tools to get them to that point. Plus, they get a stronger sense of marriage as a union of three: Man+Woman+God.

The best part for us (as leaders) is the time we get to spend together, sharing our gifts as a couple. It is an apostolate that we can do together (plus there's the time away from the toddler aspect that's appealing). And it's a way to exercise my brain that's different from the day-to-day herding of a toddler. I always come away from it with a whole new respect and appreciation for the deep spirituality of my husband.

4. I know the right answer is, "As long as its healthy!" but REALLY now: are you hoping for a boy or a girl!

That's easy...we both hope for a girl. We have all the gear, after all! And we have a name picked out. Although, we were recently presented with a possibility of a boy placement which fell through almost as quickly as it was made known to us, but that got us thinking about a boy in the family, which felt nice too. We'd be good either way. We have hand-me-down sources for both! My only concern is that if we have a boy we might not get to pass down my middle name, which is a family name (my mom and grandma also have it). It didn't go with "Olivia", and we might not be able to afford to adopt a third time, so if we have a boy, he might have to live with "Elizabeth" as a middle name. (Just kidding...but Olivia will probably be forced to choose it as her confirmation name.)

5. How was the church supportive in your adoption journey? You recently talked about "openness to life" as it pertains to adoption, and I'm SUPER INTERESTED IN THIS. WRITE MORE. Maybe not in this post, but SOON PLEASE. Thx!

We didn't actually tell anyone that we were adopting until about two weeks prior to Olivia's birth. The only exception to this was close family and a couple of friends who also adopted. We had already dealt with a couple of years of "when are you going to have kids?" and dodging the infertility questions, and we didn't really want to open ourselves up to "Oh, I'm so sorry. There will be other kids to adopt..." kind of comments in case it fell through. Looking back, it was actually REALLY scary...mostly because we were adopting independently, with no support system, a child of mixed racial background and we knew NOTHING that made us feel qualified to do this. It was blind faith, I tell you. The wait for #2 is WAY less stressful. We realize now that God is in control, and we trust that we'll instantly fall in love with whatever child is entrusted to us, just like with Olivia.

When we brought Olivia home, though, we were OVERWHELMED by the supportiveness. We were given gifts everywhere we went. People came out of the woodwork with their stories of adoption...theirs or someone they knew. We had no idea that people in our little hick town could be so friendly and accepting of us as an adoptive family.

As for Openness to Life as it pertains to adoption...well that's another post (which I WILL write soon, I promise). I will say that there is precious little written about this (that I've found), so it's a topic that is ready to be explored.

There are kids who need good homes. There are couples out there with love to give. I think part of our Openness to Life is to realize that if we are open to life and conception is not happening, perhaps that is God's invitation to consider something different...that pregnancy is not the only way to parenthood.

We attended a Catholic Marian conference once where one of the presenters challenged us to "Pray for the courage to do something difficult with your life, for God." This challenge came back to us more than once on our journey to adoption. It continues to inspire us as we wait for #2 (and ignore the financial factors that should send us running in the other direction...dang economy).

If nothing else, parenthood has freed us from some of our own selfish attitudes.

And that is all I have to say about that (today).

Now, if you'd like me to interview YOU for your blog, leave a comment.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Ah, Spring! (by Olivia)

Hi! Mom told me I could blog for her today. I guess she is getting tired of pulling me off the computer and is finally going to let me have a turn. I've been sneaking over to the computer every chance I get because it's the most interesting thing in the house. It has so many buttons! Buttons are cool.

Yesterday, Mommy and I went outside. Mommy said it's been too cold to go out until now. Boy am I glad that "cold" went away. I like outside!

We went walking down the street for awhile. Mommy kept telling me to keep walking, but I like to stop and observe things. Yesterday, I saw a lot of sticks on the ground. Mommy said that's because it has been windy and branches are falling out of trees sometimes. That's OK with me. Sticks are fun. We also saw some rocks and leaves. I like picking those things up, but Mommy always makes me put them back. I'm not sure how she expects me to start my stick/rock/leaf collection if she doesn't let me keep some of them.

We saw a lot of cars drive by on another highway. I like cars. I like to tell Mommy when I see a car or truck or bus. I think it's important that she knows I know the difference.
Some of the cars drove right by us, and I liked to look close to see if the people inside were waving at me. It's important to me to know if people are friendly.
Mommy let me play in the backyard for awhile too, but we don't really have anything fun back there except the big rocks by the tree. They make a nice little place for me to sit, but that's about it. Mommy says that we can go to the park more often if it stays warm. Please, stay warm! I love the park!
I'm taking Mommy to playdate tomorrow. She misses her friends, and it's important for her to see them sometimes. I like playing with the other kids too, but I mostly go just so Mommy can be happy.

Gotta go. I'm supposed to rest up so we can go watch Daddy bowl tonight. I LOVE to watch Daddy bowl.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I had grand and glorious plans for getting out of the house and getting things done this afternoon, after Olivia's nap. I went out to put some things in the van and noticed that the lights were weak. So I tried the key. Nothing.

My van battery is dead. For the second time. In a month.

It is a new battery (bought in October). I can't find any reason why it should be running down.

I'm frustrated, not just because of the battery but because there seems to be something mysteriously wrong with this vehicle and we can't figure it out. For two months now, it has been showing signs of some sort of electrical problem, but our mechanic couldn't find anything. The radio and clock work only intermittently (about 15 minutes a week or less). Sometimes the clock shows 12:00, sometimes nothing. When it is working, it shows 12:00 and then starts counting minutes, but most of the time it just sticks on 12:00.

And Sunday, the power windows decided to intermittently stop working.

Thankfully, we have a third vehicle...a truck which is stored in my parents' shed in the winter when we are not using it. It's small and we can't use it with Olivia, but my husband can certainly drive it to work while the van is in the shop.

But for today, I am housebound until my husband gets home. So much for my plans...

Olivia is finally up from her marathon nap, so I should go get her out of bed.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Toddler-inspired innovations

Several months ago, a local clothing store was going out of business. At their liquidation sale, they had these huge bins of t-shirts that advertised the 2001 Japan tour of a now-defunct band. They were something like 15 for a dollar, so I picked up a bunch of child-sized small and medium shirts.

The shirts are big for a toddler, but I bought them thinking that they would make good smocks for mess-inducing activities. I was inspired by my sister-in-law's efforts during my niece's birthday party. They had an outdoor messy party, complete with paint, glitter, glue, and decorate-your-own-cupcakes. They also had a pile of old t-shirts that the kids could wear if their parents wanted to protect their clothes.

I never thought I'd use them like this, though.

Olivia pulls off most bibs now, but she's still a messy eater. So covering her up with a bigger t-shirt is perfect! Today, she protected her red shirt from the beans and sausage she was eating. That is, until she reached the end of her food and tried lift the plate and pour the remaining handful of beans into her mouth. She ended up with a face-full of beans and two messy shirts!

Detest, despise, etc.

Cold, windy weather. I hate it. It looks all sunny outside, and then you step out just to be smacked in the face by some stinging cold wind.

I've got some fierce cabin fever here. Olivia and I sit inside day after day, playing with the same toys, struggling over not climbing the same things I told her not to climb two minutes ago, looking outside at the "PUPPIES!" and "CARS" and not actually able to go out to play.

Even out outings have lost their appeal. Sure, it's preferable to NOT going out for shopping/playdate/errands. But we are still cooped up inside a building. Enough, already, cold weather!

The sun is out, and I'm feeling gloomy. Warmer weather is coming on Wednesday, they say. Let's hope it stays!