Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Seriously, where's the brain dictaphone?

Geez, we had a busy weekend and I thought of about a bajillion blog topics, which fail to come to me now that I am sitting down at the computer. I'm sure some of the topics will come back to me eventually, but in the meantime, you get some rambling.

1. On Saturday, we spent around 9 hours in the car (round trip) to visit my husband's college for homecoming. It was exhausting, but probably went better than we expected. Olivia behaved passably well, and there was a kid's craft tent where Olivia played with beads and I made a tie-dye t-shirt for her with all the other parents (because, seriously, tie-dye is NOT for small children). I'll try to post some pictures of my awesome artwork later, but here's a pic of Olivia's face paint and hand paint. So cute!

2. We stopped on the way home at our favorite diner/dive. It was full of men and women who looked a little rough, and most of them were smoking. That's the big downside of stopping there. But all we needed was coffee and pie and a leg stretcher for Olivia, and for that it worked well. The pie was wonderful, the coffee was fantastic, and Olivia managed to charm a few of the rough-looking diner-goers into smiling at her.

3. Weekends are awful on the schedule. Sunday was BAD. Nearly non-existent nap, bouncing-off-the-wall crazy...sometimes it really just pays to stay at home.

4. The girls are full of "I want" today. Actually, every day. What do they want? Whatever the other has. Or whatever you have. It doesn't matter if they are eating their fave food in the world...if you open something else for yourself, they want it. It is maddening.

5. I've been productive in projects this week. Maybe I'll get around to posting pics of those later in the week.

Happy Tuesday!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Seven picture takes

1. Last weekend, while we were failing miserably at the yard sale venture, I sent my Mom out to other yard sales in search of a play kitchen for Olivia. This is what she found. Olivia likes it, but she's a little rough with it. I've already had to remove the stove door to keep her from breaking it. See how she's finally learning how to pose and smile appropriately when asked? Too bad my camera sucks.

2. This is how I usually find the Dora kitchen. I have threatened to take it away and give it to some other little girl if Olivia can't seem to take care of it, but she sees right through my empty threats and knocks it over anyway.

3. Speaking of our failure at yard sales...does anyone want to buy a home gym? You must come here to pick it up, 'cause there's no way I'm shipping this thing.

4. In a fit of frustration, I went shopping yesterday and devised my own fridge strap. We've tried one from the store, and it was a waste of money. This is a tote strap with some self-adhesive velcro sewed to the strap and adhered to the fridge. Olivia can open this, but it takes time and makes noise, so it is a deterrent that helps me intercept her attempts to get into the fridge by herself. Perhaps I won't wake up at 4:00 a.m. anymore to find her standing in front of a wide-open refrigerator.

5. The children...they are making me crazy. It has been raining all week, which means that we spend all of our time inside. The girls have decided to retaliate against me and my inability to control the weather by being as defiant as possible. They've been hitting and screaming and talking back, and I am losing my patience. And then, in a moment of sweetness, they do this:
Olivia said "Let's hold hands and dance, Addie." And they did.

6. It's not jacket weather yet...in fact it's been rather warm and muggy here. But Addie and Olivia have insisted on trying on several of Olivia's jackets this week (she has about a dozen...all hand-me-down). They look cute in these little hooded sweatshirts, but now there are jackets scattered all over the floor. Oh well...whatever keeps them from screaming and hitting and driving me insane is fine with me.

7. Evidence. Olivia is a month younger than Addie but two inches taller. Forgive my inadequate camera and my unimaginative attempts at concealing Addie's identity.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thoughts on a rainy day

It has been raining for most of the week, and the girls have been feeling the cabin fever. To pass the time on these dreary mornings, we've been watching whatever will pacify them. This morning, it was a rerun of Full House.

In this particular episode, the family is throwing a surprise birthday party for Danny, who is turning 30. (Random side note...did people really dress like that in the early 90s? Because it's not a good look...AT ALL.) Everyone, including Danny, seems to think that turning 30 is a big deal. And the only thing I could think was, Dude, you have three kids and a house that makes mine look like a closet. It's about TIME you turned 30!

It occurred to me that I'm almost 33, and I'm OK with that. My 20s were a rough decade. There's the uncertainty of singlehood, the bright spot that was our engagement and wedding, and then the ugliness of coming to terms with infertility. Yep, though I enjoyed much of my 20s, it's not a decade that I'd be willing to repeat.

I can honestly say I've never been more content with my life. I enjoy being a Mom. I love my husband. I can't remember a time when I've been happier just living in the moment instead of waiting for what comes next. (Another side note: It's too bad that so much stupidity is going on in America and politics right now...things that can always make me pause and worry about the future of our country. However, being a SAHM allows me to largely ignore the news or at least be distracted from it, a luxury I never had when I was working, so at least there's that.)

So, 30? Yeah, it's no big deal.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Yard sale, baby shower, etcetera

This weekend was BUSY. It started early on Saturday with us setting up for our property association's annual yard sale day. They only allow us to do a sale one day a year, and it is a BIG day with lots of people coming from all over to shop at the houses in our community. Unfortunately, we are at the back of the property, and people tend to get stuck at the sales near the front of the property. So we spent most of the morning cleaning out the garage with all of our free time while all of our sale items sat on the driveway and baked in the sun. We made a whopping $10 all day. What a colossal waste of time!

Saturday evening redeemed the day for me. The whole family was in town for my sister-in-law's baby shower. Olivia and the cousins had fun playing together, the parents-to-be got lots of pink sleepers and other baby essentials, and I enjoyed the din that is created by putting almost a dozen small children in a room together with a bunch of adults. Exhausting, but fun.

Sunday was family day. We all went to early Mass, and then we headed to Local Theme Park together. It was a dreary, drizzly day, but plenty warm. The clouds and rain drove the crowds away, so we didn't have any lines to contend with, and the kids had a great time. As a bonus, the lack of crowds made it easier to move around with eleven adults and seven kids without losing anyone.

Olivia and her cousins got to enjoy activities like this:

Boy, did they have fun!

It was a great weekend. We won't have another opportunity to all be together again until Christmas, and by then there will be two more little ones (for sure) to add to our number. There will be lots of big family fun to be had in the coming year, I'm sure!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

What you get on 4.5 hours of sleep.

I woke up at 11:30 last night (after having been asleep for only about 40 minutes) with the vague feeling that something wasn't right. Then I saw light coming from the kitchen and went in to find my toddler standing and staring into a brightly lit, open refrigerator. I don't know what she was looking for, but she settled for milk.

I spent the next two and a half hours waiting for her to fall back asleep.

These nights are few and far between, but they never fail to infuriate and exhaust me. I could not understand what would be running through her head to keep her from falling asleep. I dozed off at least a dozen times in the first hour, while she stared at the ceiling, wide awake. She did fall asleep a couple of times, but then she woke up shrieking in terror a few minutes later. It seemed that she was afraid to fall asleep.

Lest I excite her more, I could do nothing about this but lay there and fume. My mind kept repeating a mantra of "Please, please, please God, please, please, please help her fall asleep." I kept counting the hours I had left to sleep before I had to get up and greet Addie and face the day with two toddlers (one of whom would likely be throwing tantrums all morning because she didn't sleep well, ahem). As the clock ticked, I got more and more frustrated and upset about being trapped while my precious sleep hours slipped away.

And then something occurred to me. Two things, actually. It must have been a bit of Grace, a little glimpse from the Holy Spirit.

First, I realized that Olivia wasn't trying to be difficult. She was lying still and trying to get sleepy. She knew it was time to be asleep. But she was dealing with some sort of terror in her mind that I didn't understand, and my job as Mom was to be her calming presence until she could fall asleep and stay asleep.

Second, I realized that caring for a newborn was and will be a much greater disruption to my sleep than Olivia's occasional sleeping difficulties.

So, the next time I have to lay awake while Olivia tries to go back to sleep (and please, God, don't let it be soon), I will try to remember these things and be thankful for the fact that we usually all sleep very well, and also thankful that I have a toddler who finds me to be her greatest comfort in the night.

And now I'm going to go take a nap.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Five reasons

We took Olivia to a high school soccer game last night, and I'd like to list five reasons why it is NOT a good idea to take a toddler to this or ANY sporting event.

5. When a toddler sees people playing some sort of game with a BALL...especially a game played on GRASS, she is overcome with an overwhelming desire to run out onto the field and join in. No matter how many times you tell her, she does not understand that the white line that designates the boundaries of the field means "DO NOT CROSS" for anyone not wearing a uniform.

4. When people in the stands start shouting cheers, like "Go Defense!" or "Good shot!", your toddler is likely to start shouting too. Except that she doesn't really understand that the point is to cheer, so she starts shouting, "No Screaming!" over and over in response to the cheers.

3. When you stop to talk to people you know, your toddler is unlikely to stand or sit quietly while you make small talk. Instead, she will see it as an opportunity to make a break for it and try to run onto the field.

2. It is a waste of money to pay for two adults to see a game. What ends up happening is that one person has to chase the toddler to keep her from running onto the field (or into the parking lot), climbing off the side of the bleachers, or stealing other people's concessions. The other person might get to see some of the game...until the child-chasing person gets so tired of chasing the child that she demands a break. And, of course, you go home at half time in order to get the toddler in bed on time, so you miss half the game anyway.

1. It is nearly impossible to discipline your toddler at a ball game. If you try, she will scream bloody murder until people look at you like you must be a child abuser to have elicited such a response from that dear, sweet child.

And we've tried this with two soccer games AND two football games already this season. You'd think we'd learn.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I know that in a perfect world, we wouldn't compare our children to other children because everyone grows and develops at their own pace and, especially at this young age, there are bound to be variances. But Olivia is just so tall and verbal that people think she's at least three or older, so I can't help but wonder what other almost-two-year-olds are like and what is considered "normal".

Example: Addie and Olivia are just a month apart in age (Addie is older), but Olivia's two inches taller. That can be attributed, of course, to her genes. But what about their verbal skills? At lunch, Addie said, "I want Hot Dogs!" And Olivia repeated what she said (because one can't live without something the other has...sheesh!). And then I said, "I'm warming up the hot dogs, just a minute." Olivia said, "I want ketchup too, Mommy." Me: "Ok, ketchup too." Olivia: "It's in the refrigerator. The ketchup is in the refrigerator. OK Mommy?" She was strapped into her chair or she would probably have gone to get it herself. Olivia was not satisfied until I put the ketchup on the counter, at which point Addie shouted, "Ketchup! Want ketchup!"

And when we go outside, I always sit the girls down and remind them that they need to stay in the playset area or we are going to have to come back inside. I can't exactly run after one kid (Olivia) who's trying to sneak off to the front yard and leave the other one to fend for herself on the slide tower. So we must stay in the rock/playset area.

Now, every time I say we are going outside and sit them down for their lecture, I say, "Listen, girls..." and Olivia cuts in to say, "Stay in the area! Stay in the rocks!" I know they both understand what I'm saying, but Olivia remembers and can converse on a level I have never seen with most three-year-olds.

It makes communication with others in her age group rather frustrating. I have a hard time remembering when Olivia couldn't tell me exactly what she wanted or was thinking.

Now I'm going to get off of here before Olivia wakes up and catches me on the computer and starts demanding, "I want to play 'puters, Mommy!" until she wakes up Addie. It's best around here if the computer is OFF when the kids are up.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I'd call it dark coffee

When Olivia was born, I would have described her hair as black. Of course things change (it was also quite straight, which isn't the case anymore). Since my Goddaughter from Guatemala has shiny, straight and jet-black hair, I have something to compare it to. And I think Olivia's hair has developed into a rich coffee color...like the color of a cup of coffee untainted by cream and sugar. Or the color of French Roast whole coffee beans.

Her hair is now long enough that occasionally (if I manage to condition her hair and style it just right) a few long locks on top will dangle down onto her forehead. It gives me a glimpse of what her hair will be like when it really grows out. If only we can find the right haircare routine and keep it looking pretty, she should have a head full of beautiful, perfect corkscrew curls.

Someday, she'll probably hate her hair and wish for straight hair because that's what girls do...wish for the type of hair they don't have. I remember spending money on perms that never worked on my limp, fine locks. My curly-haired friends have, at times, spent money to have their hair chemically relaxed so it would lay straight. But I really do hope she'll enjoy her curls and take care of them. They are so beautiful.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fall Festival time

It's that time of year...when there are fall festivals and picnics just about every weekend. My hometown had theirs this weekend. Olivia enjoyed some bluegrass music while she worked at breaking her new plastic bracelet.

Olivia's first parade. She enjoyed it until the clowns came by...and then the firetrucks started honking their loud horns and she was inconsolable. She hates loud noises.
Where's the candy? I was told there would be candy!

Friday, September 11, 2009

I remember...

It was a beautiful morning, and I resented the fact that I had to be in at work early. I already had an evening meeting scheduled, and now I had to be in early to attend some focus group or committee thing that was made up of representatives from various community agencies. My boss had asked me to represent our office, which meant that I had to be at these early meetings once a week for a couple of months. And they were BORING. I do believe I slept through this one with my eyes open.

As I left the meeting and walked the three blocks back to my office, I looked up at the beautiful blue skies and tried to figure out if I would have time to take a long lunch and get outside to enjoy the weather.

When I walked into the office, people were all scurrying around and fumbling through cabinets...looking for a radio, I later learned. They wanted updates. On what? I did not believe the story they told me until I turned on my computer and confirmed the news reports, which were still confused and vague at that early hour of the day. Three planes had crashed...or was it four? The White House was hit. WHAT? No, it was the Pentagon. Could this really be happening?

I know I stood out in the sweltering noon heat at a prayer vigil that day, although no one really knew what was going on yet. I remember looking at the skies in our downtown area and realizing that for the entire hour, there were no planes anywhere. That was eerily unusual.

At some point that day, I went home for a couple of hours to see what the news was reporting. No one was getting any work done anyway. I sat and watched as the towers tumbled...again and again and again. (Was that really necessary? It was burned in my brain forever after seeing it the first time.) Stories of people who escaped...and those who didn't. The unimaginable bravery of those who ran into collapsing buildings to try to save others, and that of the United Flight 93 passengers who overtook the terrorists to save more lives...though not their own. Images of panicked faces fleeing the scene, and images of rescue crews searching the wreckage.

There have been a handful of movies made about the tragedy that occurred on that day. I haven't seen any of them, and I don't intend to. I don't need more images of the horrors that took place. I saw enough images in the days and weeks following that day, eight years ago. I know what happened. I remember those images vividly...

...and I will not forget.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Randomness for your Thursday

Thoughts from my head, in no particular order...

1. We have new neighbors. They will move in this weekend. They live a sunny warm climate for seven months of the year, so they will be moving away in about a month. I'm not sure how I feel about this. Perhaps it is good that they won't witness our daughter throwing tantrums at not being allowed to spray herself with the hose in November. But we went so long with no neighbors behind us (the house was vacant or rented for three years), and now that we have neighbors on all sides, I kind of like it.

2. I've decided that meal/snack time is my second favorite time of the "work" day (second to naptime, of course). It's just so nice to have both children securely strapped into their boosters. I can get things done! Even if only for ten minutes. I'm really, really going to have to drag my feet on graduating anyone to sitting independent of the boosters and their buckles.

3. My husband is in the middle of a project that I've been praying for for years. He has talked about it, but only now has he found the motivation to pursue it with full force. I can't say more now, but I'm excited with what may come of this.

4. Olivia and I are heading "to town" after Addie leaves today. I'm not planning to make a habit of a mid-week evening trip, but we are going to get our errands out of the way now so we can enjoy the weekend. My hometown (the next town over) has their annual fall festival and parade on Saturday, and our parish has its annual festival on Sunday. I want to attend and participate without having to do any running this weekend.

5. We had "family dinner" last night for the first time since July. That's our gathering of our local family...my sister, a brother and his wife and son, and my parents. It was fun, and Olivia and Trey had a good time. They are great buddies. It's too bad that we are all too busy to do this more regularly.

That's all for now.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Book reviews

A road trip-style vacation is, at least, good for catching up on reading. It's a good way to pass all of those miles (if you aren't sensitive to road-reading, which I'm not).

So, here's what I read on vacation:

The Lost Quilter by Jennifer Chiaverini

LOVED this book. I couldn't put it down. There is a whole series of these books, but this is the first one I have read. It is a new book, and I usually just pick something off of the new releases at the library and take what I get. I got a gem with this one.

This book is about a woman who was born into slavery on a Southern tobacco plantation. Abused and impregnanted by her master, she escaped and fled to the North, where she was taken in by a family who helped her through her pregnancy and delivery. When her son was just an infant, she was captured and returned to slavery, leaving her baby behind to be raised by the family who sheltered her. The story follows her life as she endures a harsh life as a slave and dreams of escaping to her son in the North. She becomes a sought-after seamstress for her masters and sews her own quilt out of scraps from her work, sewing clues into it that would help her remember her route to freedom.

Vividly told, this story captivated me from the beginning. It's a good read!

The second book I read was Elie Wiesel's, A Mad Desire to Dance. This one was more difficult to get into, only because he spends two chapters delving into the character's supposed madness before giving details of the back story that caused him to be this way. But if you can get through it, it is well worth the effort. Wiesel is a master at capturing the complex psychology of one who has lived through one of humanity's most devastating eras. And it ends well, which I always like.

Both books were thought provoking and good choices for a trip where we spent obscene amounts of time inside a moving vehicle.

Monday, September 7, 2009

In a word...Vacation was LONG

Hello from America's Dairyland!

Vacation was way too long. Vacation is supposed to feel too short. Welcome to traveling with a toddler.

Overall, vacation was successful. We spent four nights in hotels for a grand total of $200 (yay, Priceline!). We got to see the various family members we intended to visit. We had very few car meltdowns. We even got to do some kid-fun things.

But overall, it was exhausting.

There was the first day, when we drove and drove to the halfway point, and Olivia protested loudly and often at her confinement to the carseat. She refused to nap more than 40 minutes all day. Then, when we finally DID get to the hotel, she ran around and opened all the drawers and climbed into the window and tested all the buttons on the TV until we were exhausted. We worked for more than an hour at trying to get her to settle down and go to sleep, and as a last resort we finally put her in the car and drove around for 20 minutes. Not a good start.

The second day was better. We spent the morning at a local zoo before departing for the second half of the trip.

That gave Olivia some play time and allowed for a good nap window once we finally did get going. She behaved passably well at dinner with Aunt Julia, and then she was rewarded with a swim in the hotel pool. This hotel was better suited for us because it had a pullout couch. We put the mattress on the floor and Voila! Instant bedroom. Olivia went to sleep without much trouble and slept all night. Score!

The third day was when we finally reached Grampa's house (Olivia's Great-Grampa). Because of our schedule, this day offered almost no nap time, but Olivia behaved fairly well. When she is nap-deprived, she is off-the-charts active. I don't know how that works, exactly, but it's true. Luckily, Grampa has a big backyard so she had a place to work out her energies.

Yep, I'm a farmgirl on Grampa's tractor!

Olivia and Grampa having a heart-to-heart.

We drove around that night until she fell asleep because we weren't about to play the exhausted-but-not-sleepy game again.

The fourth day had us driving and driving. We met a cousin for lunch. We drove some more. Olivia napped intermittently, as if she were bored and there was nothing else to do. We stayed in the same hotel as we did the second night, and Olivia slept as well.

The fifth day was a long day of driving, back toward home, where we'd spend the night at my brother's house. Their housing development has a park, and Olivia was more than happy to finally be allowed to play. By this time, my husband and I were exhausted from all the different hotels and schedules, but Olivia had finally settled into a routine of sitting. I guess she just figured that this was the new normal. So the playset was a welcome surprise for her.

The final day had us driving a short distance to a cousin's soccer game, and then another short distance to another cousin's birthday party. Olivia enjoyed this day the most, because there was a large amount of time for her to just play and be a kid. She really enjoyed the birthday party, and participated in the games with all the other kids.

Olivia is the third kid with the orange balloon.

After the party, we made the five-hour drive home.

I have never been so happy to see my own bed.

It was a good and necessary trip. I mentioned before that Grampa is in his 90s, and we want to visit him and let Olivia get to know him while he's still with us and well. But it's just hard. It's such a long drive that it's hard to do in one day, which explains the several days of driving and different hotels. But even if we had stayed in one place for several days, I doubt that it would have been very relaxing for us. Taking toddlers out of their routine is just hard. It has consequences. Even so, I'm glad we took the trip. And I'm glad it's over.