Thursday, December 31, 2009

Resolving to make no resolutions

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

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

Highlights of 2009:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 21, 2009

I understand why there are so few blog posts in December

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

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

A few quick updates:

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

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

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

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

For now: The Christmas wear:

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

She had the cutest little coat to wear over it!

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

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Movie review for your Thursday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Grinch and the tree

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

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


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

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

More tree and Christmas cookie baking pictures are here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Olivia's antics

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

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

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


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


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


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

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


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

Monday, December 7, 2009

St. Nick showed up here

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

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

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

Friday, December 4, 2009


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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Holiday shopping tip of the day

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

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

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

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

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

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