Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The great drop-nap experiment

Remember last week when I said we were trying to drop the nap? It was so glorious for the first few days. Olivia trudged through the last half of every day, sort of kind of somewhat compliant and mostly just too tired to fight me, and then she'd immediately drop off to sleep at an unheard-of 7:30 p.m. bedtime and sleep a solid twelve hours. Awesome, right?

Well, yes and no. On Sunday, she was so exhausted that she fell asleep on the way home from Church, and there was no waking the kid. She was OUT. So we let her nap for 90 minutes and woke her up. She was more mischievous toward the end of the day than she had been in her previous few nap-deprived days. And it took about 25 minutes for her to fall asleep that night. But she didn't fight bedtime as hard and she was asleep by 8:30 (as opposed to the more normal nap-day bedtime of 10:00). Then yesterday she melted down about a billion times and kept injuring herself, so she bought herself another nap. Yesterday afternoon was better, and bedtime was pretty much like Sunday.

Today we are back to no nap. The kids are all here, so that means no nap for the three older ones. It's been a long afternoon. A lot of defiance from Olivia. But manageable. So I don't know. All I know is I can count on an easy bedtime. And that's what gets me through, friends.

I'm thinking this is just another of those really awful transitions that you just have to live through with little kids. We haven't had one in so long that it seems more painful. I mean, the transition from two naps to one was hard. And that was more than half her life ago. So, we're a little out of practice with transitions here.

Next up...drop the pacifier. Yes. She still uses it for sleep. Get off my back. If YOU lived with this kid, you would be holding onto anything and everything that might possibly get her to calm down too. I decided a long time ago that surrendering the beloved paci would be darned near impossible until we dropped the nap and got her so exhausted that she'd fall asleep without the dang thing. So, yeah. It's on the agenda. I'm thinking after the Christmas craziness is over.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The home stretch

The kids are all napping today. ALL. The no-nap experiment has been going amazingly well, but it seems that Olivia does still occasionally need a nap. Today, she injured herself four times in an hour...running into a doorknob, sliding off of her chair, bumping her toe on a wall, and hitting her shoulder on a doorframe. All injuries led to tears and wailing. Such clumsiness and overreaction to mild injury can only mean exhaustion. So, she sleeps.

She needs to get her rest now, because this week is going to be brimming FULL of activity. I babysit today and tomorrow. Then Wednesday we are delivering cookies to Daddy's coworkers, and that evening she plays "sheep" in our parish's Christmas pageant. Thursday we go "to town" for a lovely lunch with friends and a few errands. And Friday starts the ten-days-of-holiday-fun-and-excitement. Family, food, gifts, a wedding, more food, more gifts, cousins, playing, eating...

It will be a nice, if exhausting, week.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

In which I establish my first resolution

Today is our second "snow" day of the week. I'm already sick of winter. No kids on Monday because of snow. Today it is ice. And my husband has been gone on business since Sunday. We are rattling around in this house, the kid and I. Thank God Joe finally gets home today.

We went out to "shovel" the ice off of the driveway, and both Olivia and I ended up on our backsides. Our driveway is not level...it is a gradual downward slope. The thin sheet of ice was just enough to require us to crawl back up the driveway on our knees. We could get no traction with our shoes.

So, we trekked out to the backyard (the grass was not slippery at all) with a bucket and chipped the ice off of the sandbox lid. We returned to the driveway with a full bucket of sand and two sand shovels. Olivia shoveled sand onto the driveway while I chipped away at the ice with an edging shovel (which worked infinitely better than the snow shovel). I think we may now have enough traction to make it out to go to the post office, but I haven't been back out to test it yet. We shall see...

Since last week, I have decided that the nap is, perhaps, to blame for many of our troubles. Too much energy = too much mischief. I have tested this theory only once, with today being the second try. On Tuesday, we went all day without a nap. By the end of the day, she was exhausted from her first day EVER without a nap. I was exhausted from entertaining the grumpy, whiny three-year-old all afternoon. But then came bedtime, which involved minimal fighting and a sleeping child in under ten minutes! Before 7:30 p.m.! And the angels did sing...

(Have I mentioned our recent sleep troubles? The fights at bedtime? The constant power struggle? Sitting with a not-so-tired child until she finally gives in to sleep at around 10:00 p.m.? No? Well, it has NOT been fun.)

Anyway, all this is to say that we've been avoiding nap today. And we are ice-bound. And alone. So we've been trying to find something crafty to do. We ended up with the scary angel,

and these wreaths. There was a lot of Mommy prep work to do on both, but Olivia enjoyed pressing bows and balls into the hot glue. And it killed an hour or so.
Oh, did I not mention the shiner? A product of Monday's snow day, I'm afraid. And it didn't even happen outside, on a slick surface. She was bouncing on her bed (a forbidden activity, as if it matters) and kneed herself in the eye. Yeah.

So, while I was searching my crafty boxes for something to do, I came across these almost-finished projects that have been collecting for years. YEARS. And I came up with a resolution. In 2011, I will finish or frame all of these. They include, in no particular order:

Irish blessing cross stitch. The pattern was a gift from my husband when he led a tour to Ireland a few weeks before we got married. We're not even Irish, so I'm not sure what to do with it. Frame it? Give it as a gift? Hang it somewhere?

I made this turtle cross stitch in high school. I am not even kidding. It has been languishing in my craft box for that long. Pillow? Frame?

Another gift from Joe, this time after a conference at this institution. I REALLY don't know what to do with this one. I'm not a fan. I love the campus, but kind of can't stand the school. And I'm not really a college sports fan. So...?

This is a sampler I did a couple of years back just because I was looking for something to do. It's too small to frame, really, except as a child's room accessory. It does have nice colors for a kid's room. Maybe I will frame it.

This one has been due for framing for about 13 years. I bought it while I was at Harlaxton College for a semester in college. It is in Lincolnshire county. So this is sort of a souvenir that I stitched myself. Never mind that I barely made it to any of these places outside of Grantham. We spent most of our weekends in London and points North. But still. The finished product is wrinkled and sized funny so will require professional framing, I'm afraid. But I spent so much time on it...I feel like it needs to hang somewhere in my house.

This is a pillow I made as a gift that I never ended up giving away because I didn't like the way the ruffle turned out. But Olivia and I stuffed it anyway (today) and I will stitch it together and let her throw it around in her room. At least it will get used.
I also have a box full of matching quilt blocks that do not amount to an actual quilt. Gotta do something about that this year too.

And I also resolve not to have any more snow days. Can I do that?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Seven winter shorts

1. The behavior...it's getting better. Or more manageable. The key is constant parental persistence in insisting on obedience, behavior, etc. And calm tones. It has been a challenge, friends. But then there are shining moments where Olivia voluntarily does (and explains that she has done) something she is supposed to do without being asked twice. Those are nice moments. Maybe she's just an overly active three-year-old. Maybe.

2. So, St. Nick brought us snow on Monday. A dusting, really, but it was enough to make Olivia want to go out and play. It lasted all of twenty minutes, until I was so cold I couldn't stand it anymore. But she did get to make this...
3. Olivia perfected her head stand in gymnastics this week, so she's been practicing it all week. This morning, she shouted from her room, "Come and see, Mommy." This is what I came and saw. Olivia and her barbies, all doing head stands. Silly girls.

4. Christmas shopping is 95% finished, and now I'm waiting on all of my deliveries. I have decided that I am in love with online shopping. So easy! Trying to shop with a three-year-old in tow is treacherous, at best, and trying to find time to shop FOR her, without her, is darn near impossible. This is a great alternative.

5. My husband has a job that requires a bit of travel at various times of the year. These two weeks of December are one of those times. Next week, he'll be gone for most of the week. This is hard. On the bright side, however...he just accepted a new job, starting in January. Same employer, different department, very little travel, working for a guy he really likes. And...AND he is asked to attend/facilitate an annual retreat which takes place on a cruise!! AND he gets to bring me along. FREE CRUISE. Salary-wise, it's a lateral move, but the fringe benefits are kind of awesome.

6. We've been sort of lax on the Advent crafts. I've been busy with a bunch of other things this week. I'm hoping to pick up some supplies, though, and ramp up the crafty activity next week. It will be our last full week with the babysitting kids, then two days the next week before Christmas break. Let's see what creative ideas we can find...

7. This is the time of year when soup sounds really, really good. Here's a recipe I came up with for Lentil soup that is pretty darn good.

Crockpot Lentil Soup

1 1/2 c lentils
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 c. onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1 lb ground beef
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp thyme
4 c. beef broth

Boil 6 cups water, add lentils and simmer 1 hour. Drain. Add lentils to beef broth in crock pot.

In skillet, brown ground beef. Add to crock pot. Saute veggies and garlic in skillet. Add to crockpot. Add spices. Cook on high 5-6 hours.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I think we are the problem and the solution

I'm coming to terms with the fact that my child may suffer from ADHD. Yes, this is something I've diagnosed myself, and I could be totally wrong. Most doctors warn against trying to diagnose a child until age six or so because so many of the hallmark behaviors (restlessness, inattention, easily distracted, impulsive) apply to most preschoolers. But in a group, Olivia is always, without exception, the most active, least attentive, most distracting child. True, her groups have thus far been limited to Bible school, gymnastics and family gatherings. But still.

I don't know...maybe I'm jumping the gun on this. But recently? Life has just been hard. Part of it, I think, is the fact that it is winter and therefore too cold to work out those energies in some active sort of way. So it comes out in more destructive, aggressive ways. As a result, we are all yelling. A lot.

One place we don't yell is in Church, and that seems to be where Olivia's worst behavior manifests itself. I hate that we leave Mass every week frustrated and not at all spiritually nourished because we just spent the last 50 minutes wrestling with/negotiating with/ threatening our child who won't stop talking and using the back of the pew in front of us as a stand-in for the uneven bars. (She says she is practicing holding her arms stiff and pointing her toes, which she did learn to do in gymnastics, and nothing I say can convince her that this is not the right place or time to be practicing her gymnastic skills.) When she disobeys in Church, she KNOWS that we can't do anything about it right there, and she flashes that devious grin when she gets away with the misbehavior. She's impulsive and defiant, and some of her worst behavior shows up in Church.

At home, she bounces around. I don't know how else to describe it. She doesn't stay in one place much. She jumps on the couch and the bed even though she KNOWS that is not allowed. When I ask her to do something, she comes up with indecipherable excuses, and when I insist that she do it anyway, she wanders off and does everything she possibly can to avoid doing this one thing. If (when) things get so frustrating that the yelling begins, it just causes her misbehavior to escalate. IT. IS. MADDENING.

So. Most of what I've read recommends behavioral adjustments for small children and their parents. Rigid schedules. Constant parental attention. Positive reinforcement. Calm tones. I know this stuff works to an extent, because I've seen her behavior change when we are off schedule or when Olivia is fighting to get our attention or the difference in yelling versus calm and persistent requests. I get it. It's us. We need to step up and be the parents that Olivia needs us to be. And coming to that realization is hard because it means that we are going to have to change a lot of things around here and break a lot of bad parental habits. I'm sure it will be worth it. I just hope it will be enough to break the cycle of bad behavior.

But I still have my doubts about her ability to sit still in Church. Help!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Advent projects

The weather has finally decided to act it's season, which means we are cold and stuck inside. Time for activities! We've been doing a lot of coloring, cutting and pasting this week. You know, the standard preschool activities. But since we have a seasonal excuse, I've decided that we are going to start doing crafts. Our tree is going to be full of child creations by Christmas break. And aren't the parents of my babysitting charges going to LOVE me! (Or not. I've discovered that a house can fill up with child creations pretty fast.)

Today we made bead trees. It's pretty easy. You get some of those tiny fuzzy sticks (we used to call them pipe cleaners). You'll need three for each tree. And pony beads. That's all.

Fold one stick in half and twist a loop at the top. Twist the halves together the rest of the way down. This is the trunk. Then cut one stick in thirds and one in half. Wind the smaller ones at top of the trunk, near the loop, and then the larger ones at the bottom. Hand them over to the children with a cup of pony beads. The kids string the beads on in their own preferred order. Add a tree hook and hang. The end.

I'd say it turned out pretty well. It might look more "tree-like" if you use brown or green fuzzy sticks, but all I had was white. Fun, easy, cheap. Go forth and make your own bead trees.

New floor

So. We did manage to get the majority of the new floor laid over Thanksgiving. It took most of three days to do it, but it's in enough to have kids running around here again, and that's all I can ask from a volunteer (my Dad) in his spare time.
Above: Laminate, new vinyl (left), old vinyl (right)

A few transitions have been added since then. Some transitions are still simply a covering of painter's tape to keep the kids from tripping on the carpet (and to keep polly pocket accessories from ending up forever trapped in the gap). The trim is bought, but won't be added for awhile. Maybe at Christmas. Watch how I'm not stressing about it at all.
Olivia shows off the new laminate. And her new favorite toy..."I want the swiffer."

The new vinyl is that stick-together stuff from Home Depot called "Allure." It floats, like vinyl (doesn't stick to the floor) and has sticky strips to bind each piece to the next piece. It was incredibly easy to install and we put it right over our old, ugly vinyl. It has the illusion of tile with a fraction of the effort. I'm all about simplicity.

Look at me and my new floor!

And it looks so much nicer. The picture doesn't do it justice, especially with the funky, angled transition (necessary for the way the walls lined up). But trust me, it's better.

During the last few days, I've experienced the joy of seeing EVERYTHING that falls on the floor. It has been enlightening. All of that crap was previously ground into my carpet, because I promise that I didn't get the vacuum out every day. Now I can just sweep it up. I like that a lot.

It's a little echo-y in here, which is the one big downside...especially with loud kids chasing each other in my house five days a week. But we've added a few rugs and books...and it's getting better. I've also noticed that I can hear footsteps, which were silent with carpet-on-concrete. But that's something of a benefit...I can hear Olivia coming when she wakes up in the middle of the night instead of startling awake to find a little face right in front of me.

Overall assessment...New floors = YAY! Also, early Merry Christmas to us because our Christmas budget just took a swift kick to the gut.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Projects, internal and external

We are plunging headlong into a project for our Thanksgiving holiday. We are replacing our carpet with laminate flooring. Judging by the coffee stains in the living room (from Olivia's "let's see what happens when we pick up Daddy's coffee mug and pour it out right here" days) and the multiple areas of cracker-like substance ground into the dining room carpet, it's time.

So. We've been ripping up carpet edges for the past several days and Joe has been removing the tack strips. As it turns out, removing carpet from concrete is not all that challenging. Tonight, my Dad is coming over and he and Joe will fold up the living room carpet and pad and start laying boards for our new floor.

In the meantime, I'm cleaning. We're putting in new vinyl over our old vinyl in the kitchen, so I'm getting the dirt out everywhere. It's a rainy day, which may lull the nappers into a longer slumber, making it a perfect time to finish floor preparations.

Except that the quiet...it allows for too much thinking. And I've been doing a lot of that lately. My mind swirls around various somewhat-related topics, all of them a little fuzzy and confusing and circling around the difficulties we've experienced trying to build our little family. I try not to think about it too much. But I'll hash it out a bit here, because that's what this space is for. And then maybe it will make more sense in my head.

Today, one of my nieces celebrates her first birthday. And her parents announced this weekend that she will be a big sister this Summer.

This news did not come as a shock to me...not at all. I didn't know they wanted to have another baby so soon, although apparently they did plan it that way, and I'm happy for them. It's not as if I thought they'd have trouble. Fertility abounds in this family, present company excluded. This baby will be the second 2011 addition to the family, bringing my parents' grandchild total to eleven. Our one child and my three brothers' combined ten children. Olivia, the youngest for nearly 17 months of her life, will now have four younger cousins.

The agency who did our homestudy and holds our profile encouraged us to submit our application (and fee) to another agency with whom they cooperate. We did...in September of LAST year. I have not heard one peep from that other agency since then. Except, of course, that the check cleared. Otherwise, I would have assumed that it had been lost in the mail.

I emailed our caseworker about it recently, and she wrote back to say that I should talk to their coordinator (a.k.a. The Woman Who Had Never, Ever Returned Even One Of My Many Calls, circa Jan-Sept 2009), and if that doesn't work, to talk to HER supervisor. I am saving that project for after Thanksgiving. I have no need to spoil a perfectly good holiday weekend being sour over idiots who can't do their jobs. And I fully intend to get my application fee back. I don't care how non-refundable it is. I'm pretty sure that 15 months with no communication counts as gross negligence of job duties, and I'm pretty sure I can make that case to the powers-that-be.

All that is to say that with the rather slow trickle of placements at our current agency and not getting any communication from the other agency, I'm not optimistic about getting any use out of our current homestudy, which expires in March.

Meanwhile, we have good friends who are fostering small children (age 2 and under), and I'm wondering more and more if that is where we should move next. Foster-to-adopt, that is. It has it's own set of problems...more than I care to name here. But there is such a need. And Olivia is old enough to understand the foster thing better, and she really, really wants a sibling. And we really, really want that too.

On another topic, my husband asked me last month if I thought the recent surgery was helpful at all in removing the monthly cycle pains that had been getting worse. Last month, I didn't think so. Now I'm starting to think that my innards were still healing and therefore more painful during my last period because this month has been completely different. I have not needed any pain medication AT ALL. I wonder if this is an indication of good things to come. Have I healed? Will fertility awaken, at last? I have also completed my first monthly hormone review and will be supplemented this cycle for the first time since surgery. Will it do any good?

I'm praying for patience. I feel strongly that our family isn't complete yet. I just wish I had some indication as to where we will go from here. This swirling brain activity is causing me to lose focus. I need to be cleaning the floor.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Tonight, we endured the annual parental torture ritual known as formal portraits. All this was in honor of the fact that the household shortie just turned...
I thought this session would be easy...a breeze compared to all previous sessions. She's old enough to take direction, after all. She's also old enough to decide that SHE should get to take the pictures. This one has some attitude. And yes, she did click a few shots of blank wall. The photographer let her take a shot after just about each pose. A motivational carrot, if you will.

It worked passably well.

We (I) agonized over how to do her hair...up or down or what? I went for a combo...a bit up, the rest down. I wanted to feature the curls. They still ended up looking a bit unkempt. No matter. The kid's eye make the shot. Every time.

She's photogenic, this one. Kid can't take a bad picture.
Unless you agree to let her hold the football and then try to get her to do the Heisman pose.

More photos here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Some random thoughts

1. I do not know how people functioned before Google. If I don't know the words to a song... If I need to know the hours of a store in a town two hours away because we'll be passing through and I want something from there... If I need to throw together a dinner party and need a recipe using just the items I have... Google. It's all right there. Seriously. How did we ever find anything out before?

2. Our area has a leaf vacuum that picks up all the leaves that you drag to the edge of your property. They've been in vacuum mode since November 1, and every day Olivia looks out at our huge line of leaves (covering and hiding from light the only grass that grows WELL on our whole property) and says, "Mommy, are they going to vacuum up our leaves today?" She was looking forward to watching.

It is naptime. All the kids are asleep. And the leaf vacuum just took our leaves. *Sigh* Oh, the timing.

3. Every night, we say prayers with Olivia before bed. After our formal prayers, we hand her the crucifix to kiss, and she holds it out and talks to Jesus...usually in a run-on sentence and about whatever happens to come to mind. Last night, after coming home from practicing for our parish's Christmas pageant, in which she is a sheep, this was her prayer. "Jesus, please help the sheep to come in slowly and stay on their spot so everyone is in their own spot and sitting still while we sing songs away in a manger." There was some other nonsensical stuff after that. Another example of an Olivia bedtime prayer: "Jesus, can you send me a brother or sister and make us all a family so we can have fun and live together and maybe go camping with Grandma and help me behave so I can not be bad and goof off so we can go to sleep but only after Mommy reads books and make us better so we don't be sick so we can sleep and not cough. Amen."

Some prayers are a little more succinct than others.

I feel stupid.

We made the decision to go ahead and purchase laminate flooring for our living spaces. This is a decision that is about a year in the works, and this weekend we decided to take advantage of a sale and go ahead and get the flooring. AND Joe told me to go by myself as soon as naptime began and he would stay home and keep an eye on Olivia (and the other eye on football). It was a win-win for both of us...he got some quiet time at home alone, and I got some quiet time out of the house alone...exactly the opposite of what usually happens.

In addition to getting the flooring, I ran a few errands hither and yon. By myself. On no schedule. It was heavenly. And while I got enough of a glimpse of pre-holiday traffic and crowds and consumerism to strengthen my resolve to shop exclusively online this holiday season, it was surprisingly relaxing.

I think all at-home parents need this once in awhile. We get so used to planning our activities around the schedules and demands and patience level of our children that we sometimes forget how to handle our brains when we can focus our attention on other things.

That said, my brain utterly failed me on the exact same day. We were invited to a celebration dinner that took place yesterday (and agreed to bring a dessert). I had been looking forward to going. And I completely forgot. Completely. It didn't even occur to me until I got a Facebook comment this morning from a friend who WAS there and wondered where we were. I feel like a complete idiot. I have no excuse except that Saturday was so BUSY and then it was over and we just woke up on Sunday morning and got back to routine. So, so stupid.

Now my lovely Sunday outing is tainted by the knowledge that I screwed up other rather important plans. Stupid, stupid brain.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A good time was had by all

Today, we had a birthday party for Olivia. It was one of those things where we thought, "Hey, wouldn't it be fun to have a bowling party for Olivia and some other little kids?" And then we invited a bunch of people we knew expecting that about a third or more would not be able to come. And then just about everyone was able to come. So it was a little chaotic. And expensive.

But Olivia had a blast. I mean, the kid was in heaven. She loves to bowl. She loves cake. She loves presents. She loves other kids. It was pure perfection.

And, as a bonus, everyone else seemed to have a good time too. There were no fights, no tears, no arguments over turns (everyone just sort of bowled at random, which worked well for the age group). We had it early so there were no exhaustion meldowns. It just worked.

I don't think we'll do anything quite so big again anytime soon. But we had fun with this party. Oh yes, we did.

Friday, November 12, 2010


It was cold, and a Monday to boot. We'd had about three hours of quality sleep the night before. Not a very notable start to a day that will live in my memory as one of the best days of our life. The day Olivia was born. Three years ago today, 8:59 a.m. Central time.

Happy Birthday, my sweet girl. We love you more than we can say.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Procrastination in weird form

So, this week I have been very busy with many things to procrastinate on the one thing I've been needing to finish for weeks. I have this report for our Fertility Care Center that I'm supposed to complete for the Diocese, and it means compiling all kinds of client numbers and financial data into some sort of readable format. I have all the information. It's just getting that information into report form that is tripping me up. And sending me searching for other projects.

I've not had problems FINDING other projects, mind you. There is a lot that has needed to be done around here for awhile. The hand-me-down influx last week motivated me to organize my clothing storage boxes. I found a home for one whole size of clothes that Olivia has grown out of but her cousins won't grow into for another year. So they are boxed and ready to be passed on to MY cousin's daughter, who will then pass them on to my niece in a year. I went through Olivia's toys and removed those that she has outgrown. Those were sorted into piles for storage or donation. Some were selected to be given to our adopt-a-family at Christmas. Those were wrapped and stacked. I went through the PILE OF CRAP, a.k.a. mostly junk mail and sorted out real mail and recycled the rest. I went online to check the status of the insurance claims from my recent hospital stays (a bit of an obsession...I just want that chapter of our financial life closed already). I called the bowling alley where we'll have Olivia's birthday party on Saturday and nailed down some details.

I guess it's time to finish that report. *Sigh* Let's hope that naptime lasts long enough for me to complete it. I'm not sure I can muster the motivation to even pull it out two days in a row.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Evaluation time

I took Olivia to gymnastics last night and decided that it's time. It is time to ask her doctor about having her evaluated.

I don't even know if that is the right term...evaluated. I don't know who would do that sort of thing. But I expect that her doctor would know, and she's seeing him at the end of the month for her 3 year check-up. And I just need to know. Does my child have an attention or hyperactivity problem?

So, gymnastics. It has not been terribly productive, but it gives her an outlet to do something active in a group. Except that I think the group is a bit too big. In fact, anything over 4 or 5 kids at this point is too big for Olivia. The kids stand in line for their turn to practice this skill or that, and every other kid gets to go at least 1.5 times for every once that Olivia goes. This is because she's constantly distracted while in line. She'll watch the older girls or another class. She'll hop out of line to check out something that has caught her attention. She always returns to the end of the line and sometimes I wonder if she's ever going to make it to the front.

And also, yesterday, she came upstairs to the parents' observation loft FOUR different times. Once she said she was just checking on me. Another time she came up to tell me she tooted. And I have no idea why she ran off the floor the other two times. I have NO IDEA.

Yes, she's three (almost), and young kids are like that. But there are other kids in her class who are younger than she is and they have dramatically better attention skills than Olivia has.

The funny thing is that she's so strong and so skilled, and she can DO this gymnastics thing. If she had a personal trainer for 45 minutes every week, she'd be a tumbling whiz by this time next year. And it's like that with everything. She needs hands-on, one-on-one attention. But how do you accomplish that in real life? I'm just afraid that she'll end up in a kindergarten class of 15 or 20 kids in a few years and end up being the class troublemaker. I'd like to avoid that.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Oh, so many things...

I've been sick for over a week. Upper respiratory infection. I'm on my final day of antibiotics, and I feel much better, overall, than I did this time last Thursday. But there's still the wheezing, which leads to the coughing. I have a permanent pain on both sides of my abs from all of the coughing. IT. IS. EXHAUSTING.

Last week, Samantha called and asked me to come pick up some things she wanted to give Olivia. She had a bunch of stuff that her girls owned...clothes and toys and such. Her parental rights were terminated a couple of months ago, and she's in the process of moving somewhere new and starting over, and she desperately wanted Olivia to have all of this stuff since her girls can't. "Bring your van."

Wow. I wish she would have warned me to remove all of the seats in the van first. There was A LOT. OF STUFF. I told her we'd use what we could and consign the rest and put the cash in Olivia's college fund. She was fine with that plan. So I spent three days washing loads of little girl clothes, size 4T to 8. I sorted and piled and made boxes for summer clothes for next year and winter size 6 and 7 to lend to my older nieces. We're talking NICE stuff. Piles and piles of jeans. Pretty blouses and sweaters and jackets. I stuffed Olivia's closet as full as I could (she already had a pretty large hand-me-down wardrobe in 4T before this influx). I sorted out stuff I knew we couldn't use and put it in four kitchen trash bags for donation. I have a pack-n-play full of stuff to consign for the Spring sales. I packed four sets of toddler bed sheets into a box and wrapped it for our Christmas adopt-a-family. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of clothing and bedding.

And the toys. There were several things...each was given individual attention with a toothbrush and a container of Clorox wipes (the toys have been sitting, unused, for about a year). Olivia received them as soon as they were clean. And she seriously thinks it has been her birthday for several days already. I should have saved some of this stuff for Christmas. It's bound to be a letdown after last week's toy infusion and this weekend's birthday party.

So. Olivia's excited. I'm a little befuddled. I can't imagine spending that kind of cash on clothes. Was it all new when they got it? I don't know. But, wow. I feel a little unworthy as the recipient (on Olivia's behalf) of such a wealth of stuff. But I know it made Samantha happy, and I'm hoping that we can spread the wealth a little, sharing clothes around so that everyone we know gets lots of use out of this stuff (and I get some storage space back).

Olivia's birthday is Friday. We're having a bowling party for her on Saturday. I feel like there is some sort of planning I need to be doing, but beyond calling the alley with numbers for lanes and food, I can't think of anything. I think the sick has fried my brain. I haven't been able to do anything cognitively challenging for a few days. Just sorting clothes and sorting clothes and sorting clothes...

Only about 15 coughing fits while completing this post. An improvement...maybe?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My night off

We've been fighting some sort of fierce sickness at our house. Joe had what we assume was bronchitis, and it knocked him down for most of Thursday, Friday and Saturday. By Sunday I was developing a wicked cough. And although I have not had the fever, chills and aches he has had, the cough has only been getting worse. It is disrupting my sleep. And my chest hurts. I'm tired and grumpy.

Thankfully, Olivia seems to have little more than a head-congestion cold. That, at least, has made our life a little less hard this past week.

So, I just sent Olivia off to religion class with my husband. I just wasn't up for it. I told him he could skip it, but he wanted to take her because she LOVES being with the other kids.

And now I have a couple of blessed hours at home by myself. This never happens. I'm going to take a shower and watch TV. I have a feeling that the evening will end with me falling asleep before they get back home.

Right now, that sounds wonderful to me.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

We voted.

Did you?

All bundled up and watching election returns.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Running into winter

Halloween is over, and we survived...barely. Our troubles had surprisingly less to do with Olivia's sugar/chocolate sensitivity than with the nasty cold that we all have. Olivia has it in a very small degree, but Joe and I both have a cough that rattles the chest and leaves us exhausted. So, we're dealing with that.

Meanwhile, I've decided to start running. Slowly. With summer being so incredibly hot this year, and capping off summer with surgery and 6 weeks recovery...well, I got a little lax in my physical activity. Time to remedy that. Now that the temperature is tolerable for running/walking without sweating overly much, I have started this program. Yesterday was my second workout in the first week. The chest congestion doesn't help, but it is not much of a hindrance at this beginning stage of training.

I'm sore. But I actually feel pretty good about this, overall. I've never tried to run before. But this program provides interval training suggestions that are manageable. Yes, my legs and lungs were burning the first day, but the second day was easier. And I feel better doing something physical, so I'm hoping that will be enough motivation to keep going.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Please don't give my kid candy. Just don't.

Halloween is just a couple of days away, and Olivia is excited. I mean, she's been talking about trick-or-treating since the Halloween merchandise started showing up in stores around, oh, the end of August. Right after they put away the back-to-school stuff. Because we need two whole months to prepare for a holiday that lasts just one day, right?

Grrr! As if it's not bad enough having to dodge candy displays for nine or ten weeks, now we have to either avoid all the Halloween party fun or figure out a way to hide and ration candy WHILE collecting it. That's hard stuff, y'all.

So. Wednesday night is religion class. And, yes, it is a little pointless to take an almost-3-year-old to religion class. Especially when she knows more rote prayers and can better articulate who Jesus is than 90 percent of the first communion class at our parish. (And no, I'm not even kidding. If they don't hear them at home, second graders are not going to know their prayers. And they are NOT hearing them at home. Or at church. Because their parents don't bring them to church very often. But that's an entirely different post.) We agreed long ago that our child would receive her religious education at home, from two people who individually know more about the Catholic Church than the entire group of catechists at our parish combined. Yeah, I know that makes me sound arrogant and know-it-all-ie. But it's true, and if I can't talk about it here on my blog than where can I talk about it? My husband has a Masters degree in Catholic Life and Thought. I spent my entire professional life planning programming for Catholic families in our diocese, which required more than a little bit of research and study in All Things Catholic, including a heavy emphasis on Theology of the Body. The average qualifying traits of most of the catechists at our parish is that they were raised Catholic, have had their kids baptized, and they show up to Sunday Mass about 80 percent of the time. And it scares me to imagine putting my child's religious education in their hands.

And yet, here we are with our preschooler in religion class. She's there mostly because she is at an age where she LOVES being around other kids, and we hoped being in some sort of organized setting where she has to pay attention to a teacher might actually help her attention span a bit. Although I think she may be getting more out of her weekly gymnastics class (which she also recently started).

Aaaand...I'm rambling.

So, on Wednesday night, there was a Halloween party for the last half of religion class. (Don't even get me started on what a waste THAT is. Not the point.) Everyone was supposed to bring a treat to share with the whole group...grades preschool up to 7th, I think. Twenty five or thirty kids.

Now, I knew about the party coming into this. And I had a feeling that it would be a nightmare. I knew we should have stayed home. Sugar and my child do not mix well. Even though she LIVES for sugar. It screws with her ability to behave like a civilized being. And chocolate is like taking the sugar crazed kid and gluing her eyes open for hours on end. Yeah.

I told Olivia she could pick TWO sweet treats. And out of the whole table full of stuff, she did just that. I was very proud of her. Except that they were both chocolate.

And we didn't get her to fall asleep until almost 11:00 p.m.

I think I hate Halloween.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Going on behind the scenes

I haven't mentioned this here before, for various reasons. But way back in May, when we first started visiting with Olivia's birthmother, face-to-face, we also met her sister, who was pregnant and thinking about the possibility of placing the baby for adoption. It was a huge long shot, given her state of mind, but we made ourselves available just in case.

Well, that baby was born this week, on Monday, and his mother is keeping him. We think. Given her life circumstances, it's entirely possible that he will end up in foster care and be lost to her and to us. (I'm not judging, I'm just stating the odds. Her track record with babies and legal troubles and foster care is not good. This is not her first baby.) But she is determined to get her life together and to raise this baby. And it's her decision to make. I just pray she can get it together and be the Mommy that her son needs.

We've been communicating our support to her through her sister for months, and last week Samantha called us to invite us to come to the hospital on Monday to visit with her sister and meet the baby. Samantha explained that her sister asked us to visit...not because she wanted to place the baby for adoption, but just because she wanted us to meet him and she wanted to see Olivia.

At first, I didn't know what to think about this. In some weird way, we are a part of this family and they a part of ours, but it still didn't seem to make sense. And then I realized...our little family of three is quite likely the closest thing to a stable family that this new mother has ever experienced. Her own growing-up years were tainted with the kind of examples that inclined her to make the kind of choices she has made as an adult. She has screwed up, repeatedly. And now, as she starts over with a new baby, maybe she just wanted a glimpse of something different and stable as a model for her new life.

And she wanted to see Olivia, her flesh-and-blood niece. Because who wouldn't? She's a fabulous kid!

So, we visited, we held the baby, we encouraged the mother and visited with Samantha. It was strange, knowing that this baby wouldn't be ours but feeling a connection and concern for him nonetheless. He is our daughter's flesh-and-blood relative, and we will be praying for him and his mother and the many challenges they will need to overcome in the days ahead.

Monday, October 25, 2010

As our weekend obligations fell through, we suddenly found ourselves with a *gasp* FREE WEEKEND. We weren't sure what to do with ourselves. It has been so warm here that we decided to jump headfirst into an all-consuming landscaping project that we've been talking about for quite awhile. As if we NEED a project. Gah!

If the weather trend (dry and unseasonably warm) continues, we might actually complete a good portion of this project this season. That is amazing to me.

We took some time yesterday to decorate/carve our pumpkins, figuring that with just a week to go until Halloween, it was high time we actually did something about them. Here's the result.

The bloody-looking one on the right is Olivia's. She got a little red-happy with the paint.

Things are delightfully boring here. Not a lot going on. I don't know how long that will last, but I'm enjoying it right now.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Seven takes about the shorties running around my house

1. For the past two + months, Olivia has been rockin' the super-potty-trained world by staying dry all night. So, for the past three weeks or so, she's been sleeping in undies instead of training pants. On Wednesday night, she had her very first bedwetting accident. She was devastated. We are blaming the root beer she had after dinner. I'm not too concerned about it happening again. She has a pretty good handle on this potty business now.

2. I've noticed with the return of my babysitting days that I have a definite leader and follower in this house. My child is the leader, always, even if she's not trying. Her three-year-old male peer is the follower. He mimics her every move. Today, they were playing a game and he was trying to do whatever she was doing. She got bored and wandered off to her room in search of something else to do. He began to follow. I watched her walk away, pulling up her pants as the waistband slipped down a bit. And then I watched as he ALSO started tugging at his waistline. I'm not his mom, but I'm a little concerned that this could spell trouble for him as he gets older. He'd better be sure to hang out with the right crowd...

3. Everyone has a cold. Everyone is snotty. Everyone is congested. And everyone is grumpy.

4. Still, this year is easier, for so many reasons. Not the least of which is that I have gone from diapering five children to diapering just one. I love the post-potty-training world of three-year-olds.

5. Speaking of three-year-olds, mine isn't yet. Her birthday is next month, and we are having a bowling party. Olivia is super excited. Luckily, Halloween falls between now and her birthday, so I'm able to distract her from birthday talk by looking forward to Halloween. Not sure what I'm going to do for the couple of weeks following Halloween, though...

6. Olivia started gymnastics on Monday. Aside from having a couple of meltdowns (after being reprimanded for jumping in the foam pit while she was supposed to be standing in line for something else), she had a blast. The director, whose mother lives next door to us, was surprised at Olivia's strength. If we could just get her to focus her attention a bit, she could be a local gymnastics star. Or join the cheer team, which is where the director thinks she could really shine. I'm just hoping that her involvement helps her with patience, listening, paying attention, etc.

7. We are going to a wedding this weekend! It's been quite a while since we have had a wedding to attend, and I think Olivia is going to have a blast. Pictures to come next week...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sharing the joy

I'm finally back to babysitting, which has been great. But yesterday, we unexpectedly had the day "off", so Olivia and I went "to town" for the annual street festival that I affectionately call "Deep Fried Heaven".

Since it was just going to be me and Olivia and a couple of thousand people on a crowded street, I thought it wouldn't hurt to bring reinforcements. So I called Olivia's birthmother. Samantha was more than happy to join us for lunch at the festival, and I knew Olivia would be thrilled as well.

We had a great time. And in the midst of it, we ran into about a dozen people that I know (not uncommon at this particular event), all of whom were introduced to Samantha, and all of whom were probably a bit surprised to see me casually relaxing with my deep-fried delicacies while Samantha pushed Olivia's stroller or held her hand or corrected her when she tried to steal another little girl's pretzel.

Truthfully, I'm not sure I would have ever imagined this level of openness when we started out in this adoption world. I always wanted to have SOME contact for Olivia's sake. But I don't think I would have envisioned the openness that has developed over the last six months. A lot of people ask questions, say they couldn't imagine doing things this way, wonder about Samantha's motivations.

But I don't. I look at her and simply see a young woman who has made a lot of bad decisions in her short life. But when she is with our family, I see a young woman who knows that one decision led to something good...something beautiful. And I have no problem sharing as much of that beauty with her as I can. And someday, when Olivia is a champion soccer player, or gifted musician, or famous politician, or happily celebrating the birth of her own children, I hope Samantha can stand beside us and express joy and pride over the accomplishments of the daughter that we share.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


1. We were driving "to town" today and stopped on the way to pick up a few items at a store. It had to be a quick stop because I had an appointment and had to drop Olivia off with the grandparents, so we only had about ten minutes. I was explaining this to Olivia.

Me: I'm stopping at the store, but we have to be quick so we can get to Grammy's in time. So you have to stay in the cart.

Olivia: (with whiny voice) But can I go in with you Mommy?

Me: Of course, but you have to stay in the cart because we have to be really quick.

**Silent Pause**

Olivia: Mommy, did you say the wrong word?

Me: What are you talking about, sweetie?

Olivia: Mommy, you said I had to stay in the car.

Me: (Laughing) No, honey. Not stay in the car. Stay in the CART.

Olivia: Oh! That was funny, Mommy!

2. We went to the playground this evening for about an hour. For some reason, Olivia decided that she wanted to play with this one girl, who was probably about eight or nine. The girl was playing tag with her younger brother and sister, and she suddenly realized she had a shadow. She seemed kind of annoyed that Olivia was following her around, but Olivia was adamant about playing with her. When we left, Olivia said, "Can we go back soon, Mommy, and play with the green girl again?" The girl was wearing a green shirt. I told her yes, as long as she asks the girl what her name is (if we ever see her there again) so she can stop calling her the "green girl".

3. Last night, Olivia attended her first preschool religion class. We decided to take her mostly because she is just so excited about the idea of school and I figured this is sort of school-like, in a small dose. They colored and cut out some little cards that said stuff about love, and the teacher said they could give the two cards to two people that they loved. Olivia cut her whole paper into three strips (which were not the instructions, but she's not yet three, so it's excusable). I asked her who she wanted to give them to. "This one is for Miss Samantha. Then there's this one for you and that one for Daddy." Very sweet.

We haven't really explained her adoption to her, except in vague terms, but she seems to get it, sort of. Somehow I don't think it will be difficult for her to grasp the concept.

4. Speaking of school, we took a wrong turn on the way to the playground and ended up driving by a high school as we turned around. Olivia said, "Can I go to that school, Mommy?" No, honey, it's a high school and it's in the wrong county. "I'm not older for it yet. I'm not three yet. When I'm three, I can go to high school too."

Oh, kid. Don't be in too much of a rush to grow up!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Just because

We haven't had one in awhile, so here's a picture post.
We actually found this balloon in our yard on a windy day. It had a light weight, but probably got picked up from some neighbor's house and settled in our yard. Olivia LOVED it.

Enjoying a sunny day at the playground.

Another sunny playground day.

Her "schoolgirl" outfit. So cute!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The scary angel

There has been a lot of talk of Halloween around this house lately. Olivia is OBSESSED. Ever since she started seeing pumpkins displayed outside of the grocery store... "Look, Mommy! It's pumpkin time. That means trick-or-treating!" Oh, October is going to be a long month for her, waiting for Halloween.

We were looking through pictures the other night, including pics of Olivia in last year's costumes and pics from my childhood costumes. Olivia saw this picture, and said, "Mommy, why are you a scary angel?"

I told her angels aren't scary. But back in the day, you just didn't GO trick-or-treating without a mask. It just wasn't done. No matter how stupid they looked. "Mommy, we don't say stupid."

My husband begged to differ...about scary angels, not stupid masks. "Don't you think Michael looks pretty scary when he's chasing all of those evil spirits? St. Michael the Archangel is one scary angel." Ok, I stand corrected.

Olivia asked about Halloween again today. I asked her what kind of costume she wanted. "I want to be a scary angel, Mommy." OK then. Michael, it is.

Monday, September 20, 2010

It is great to be home. Great, great, GREAT! I'm still limited on activity, but every day I feel more like myself, and just being home with Olivia has been wonderful for my recovery.

It's been a flurry of activity here of late. This weekend was our community-wide yard sale. We went out the night before and scoped out a few sales. I came home with a little scooter for Olivia, which she LOVED, and we drove around to a neighbor's house (where it is flat) so she could ride around in their cul-de-sac. Except that they were also having a yard sale. SCORE!

We came home from that sale with a wallet that was $20 lighter and a truck FULL of stuff for Olivia...a playschool picnic table, ball mitt, car seat booster, a pair of jeans, a bag of plastic play food and about 30 books. Olivia was in yard sale heaven. In addition, the guy who is Santa at Local Theme Park was also at the same sale, shopping. Olivia recognized him, even in his shorts and t-shirt, and said, "Hey! What are YOU doing here?" Poor guy is like a local celebrity.

Spent Saturday at Local Theme Park. Not doctor approved, so we rented a wheelchair, which Olivia and I shared (my poor husband!). HAD A BLAST. Feels like we are getting back to normal.

I've just been enjoying Olivia. SO MUCH. She is hilarious. Want proof? Check out my most recent post here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Home, healing, happy

Wow, what a blog hiatus! I have an excuse, of course. I've been healing. And then having more surgery. Which went kind of haywire and required hospital stay. Yeah.

So surgery #2 on Friday, the "easy" scope to remove the protective film from my organs? Hmmm. Well, it took longer than expected because something got knicked and started bleeding and then they took forever getting it to stop. The rest went well. But then in recovery I got all swollen and couldn't, uh, void (a prerequisite to discharge from hospital). And then the CO2 gas they pump into you during surgery (to keep the organs floating or something) didn't get all sucked back out...probably because surgery was longer than expected and it escaped and hid all over my chest cavity. And then the gas attacked my right shoulder. I hear this is common. Not so common, however, is that it then attacked my whole chest cavity and gave my lungs just a very tiny bit of room to move. I was panting. And panicking. It was not fun. The powers-that-be decided really quickly that I would not be leaving the hospital that day, and they started to run all kinds of tests to find out how to help me.

When the tests came back, they found out that my kidneys were going haywire. Whoa. Good thing my lungs started freaking out so we could find this out. Because this kidney thing was pretty important (not related to the breathing thing, but important for overall wellness, you know). The trigger? Several causes were debated, but almost certainly the problem was exacerbated by the nurse who gave me a mega-dose of Ibuprofen in post-op for pain control. I asked for Tylenol. Non-narcotic. She said they only had regular strength. I said my doctor told me not to use Ibuprofen. She talked me into it. (I was just out of surgery, post-anesthesia, and a little bit in pain, people.) Yeah. Turns out there's a reason that ibuprofen is not recommended for patients with kidney disease (me).

So I ended up staying ANOTHER night waiting for my kidneys to adjust and begin behaving normally. They did. Meanwhile I had a whole new team of doctors checking on me (nephrology). I barely slept the whole time (have you TRIED to get a good night of sleep in a hospital? While a bunch of people keep poking you for one reason or another?). Someone is going to end up paying for another two nights of hospital stay and a billion blood tests and another team of doctors because of all of this mess.

And this was supposed to be outpatient.


We saw my doctor on Monday (I was finally discharged on Sunday), who showed us the video of my second surgery, which ended in pictures of textbook-like anatomy, which I have NEVER EVER SEEN...with my name on it, anyway. So, overall, the surgeries did exactly what they were intended to do. Success. Just with some HUGE stumbling blocks along the way.

We drove forever and finally met Olivia and her grandparents on Tuesday at a restaurant, where we were going to have lunch and then make the transfer of kid and kid's stuff so we could go HOME. As they pulled up to the restaurant, we walked outside to greet them. Olivia had the car door open almost before they stopped the car. She screamed and ran to me with arms outstretched. I broke down into a sobbing pile of goo.

Did I mention the sleep deprivation? Combine that with missing your child for more than two weeks and I'm not sure I had any chance to react any other way.

Olivia was happy to give us lots of hugs and kisses all day. I noticed in certain instances that she seemed to be dealing with her own set of confusing emotions about Mommy and Daddy being gone so long. I hope we can work through those in the next few weeks, when we aren't going to be doing much but staying home and playing together (doctor's orders...take it VERY easy for a few weeks).

I'm just happy we're all home, and all together again.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

What could be better?

Our little Omaha trip happened to coincide with the 25th anniversary celebration of the Pope Paul VI Insititute. This included a conference at the end of this week and then a family day celebration today. I slept amazingly well last night and was feeling so much better, so we decided to go down to celebrate for awhile.

A bunch of the nurses recognized me and asked how I was feeling, which was nice. We browsed around some of the booths and bought some books. But mostly we just sat and watched people. I am on the mend, after all.

The first door prize was drawn after about an hour. $25.00 gift card to our favorite local eatery (not chain) and $100 florist gift card. I thought...that would be perfect! We could have lunch there and also send flowers to our hosts (the couple who is generously hosting us at their home for a week between the two surgeries) for free! And...WE WON!

So, yeah, it was a pretty awesome morning. Not as awesome as being at home, but good anyway.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Finally feeling well enough to do an actual post.

Yes, I survived the laparotomy. I've been wanting to update. Honestly, I have. But I've just felt so crummy for so many days. This is the first time I've felt totally like myself since the wee hours of Monday morning.

So...surgery itself went very well. Doc said my left tube was seriously screwed up. But he cut off all the adhesions and untwisted it and wrapped it in goretex and thinks it should look OK once it heals. Right tube was fine. All other extractions of bad adhesions and endometriosis went fine. We'll be back there on Sept 10th for laparoscopy to remove the goretex. In the meantime, we convalesce.

Spent two days in the hospital. I. HATED. THAT. I could not sleep in the hospital for more than 45 minutes at a time, and usually less than that. I was on morphine first, which made me sleepy and numb, but also itchy and wired. So I'd doze off mid-sentence and then startle awake moments later, only to find that my universe was altered in the moments of unconsciousness. Here's what I mean. I'd be totally alone in my room, but in the moments while I was sleeping I'd dream a conversation with my husband or nurse, and then I'd open my eyes and find that I was alone in my room. And talking to myself. Because I'd be answering the question that the imaginary person had just posed and wake up to find that I was answering no one. Also, I couldn't focus on anything, especially up close. I had a book and some other papers to read and I COULD NOT READ THEM. I finally figured out that if I took off my glasses, I could almost make out most of the words. And then I'd doze off.

It was not fun.

So then they decided I'd had enough morphine torture, and they switched me to percocet. This did almost the exact same thing to me, except in more measured doses because it was a pill every 4 hours instead of a drip whenever I had pain and pushed the button. Except that I AM MOST DEFINITELY ALLERGIC TO PERCOCET! I would be begging for pain relief by the time the nurse came for my dose, and ten minutes after my dose I'd be scratching myself from head to toe and looking for a rash or hives (which I wouldn't have been able to see even if I'd had the abdominal strength to lean up and look because of the dang screwed up vision!). After probably 4 doses of this, we finally figured out that it was the medication. (Hey, my thinking was narcotically altered. I am not to blame for taking so long to figure this out.)

Finally, they switched me to Darvocet. This was mildly better. At least I stopped hallucinating. And by then I could get myself out of bed and walk all the way down the hall without passing out or falling asleep spontaneously, so we were pretty close to check-out.

I checked out of the hospital on Wednesday afternoon, and since then it's been pretty crappy. I learned that I was very anemic after surgery when I filled the prescription for iron supplements and got a call from the doctor's office with instructions to come by for a CBC. Anemia and narcotics do not a hungry patient make. I was pretty nauseated for a couple of days. I abandoned the darvocet on my own and decided it was super-strength tylenol or nothing. And things have been gradually looking up ever since. After two very long days and not a lot of quality sleep, I think I finally have my blood sugar and hemoglobin levels in an acceptable range. I added a little walk around W*lM*rt today, and now I feel like myself again. Well, myself with a numb little pouch of swelling in my gut. Minus a whole lot of my normal energy. But still. Close to normal.

And I'm optimistic about a somewhat normal night of sleep. Tomorrow must be better, people. It MUST!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Well we're here. Surgery #1 ( the major one) is over. Doctor was pleased with the surgery. I am in the hospital until tomorrow, at least. I am sore, sore, SORE! But this afternoon has been much better than this morning.

I am eating my third liquid meal of the day. Not all that exciting, but at least I graduated from ice chips, which is all they'd let me have yesterday.

Updating by iPod is HARD, so I will have to update more when I have access to a PC and an actual keyboard. Or when I get a chance to see and quiz the doctor.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Chez Grammy

So, Olivia and I went to Joe's parents' house last night to drop off some of the larger "supplies" for Olivia's stay with them while we are gone. Grammy and Grampy get the bouncy house and Liv's bike for the week, and I also went ahead and packed her clothes and shoes. (Surprisingly, or not so, packing so many clothes up did not at all affect my ability to clothe the child for the rest of the week. She has more changes of clothes than Vanna. I kid you not. All hand-me-down. Yay, cousins!)

On the hour-long drive to their house, Olivia kept asking me why her bike and bouncy house were in the back of the van. I decided it was time to explain her impending visit with Grammy and Grampy so she could prepare herself for the extended stay.

Me: "You are going to go stay with Grammy & Grampy for awhile, starting next week."

Liv: "Why?"

Me: "Because Mommy has a pain in her tummy, and she has to go to the hospital so the doctor can fix it."

Liv: "Why?"

Me: "Well, honey, there's something inside Mommy's tummy that hurts her and the doctor is going to make it all better. Isn't that nice?"

Liv: "Is Daddy going to the doctor too?"

Me: "Yes, Daddy has to drive Mommy."

Liv: "Why?"

Me: "Because Mommy will be taking medicine and won't be able to drive."

Liv: "Oh. Why?"

It was a bit circular from there. A lot of "Why". Welcome to the "Why" stage of childhood.

But, ultimately, she got it. I think. Because when we were at Grammy and Grampy's last night, after Olivia showed off her mad bike-riding skills (declaring, "Look, Mommy! I'm super awesome!"), Grammy was asking her if she was excited to come visit them next week. And Olivia said, "Yeah, I'm going to stay here with you and Grampy! Mommy has to go to the doctor because she has a pain in her tummy. The doctor's going to take the pain out at the hospital. Grammy, can I run in the sprinkler?"

Hmmm...doesn't appear that she is dwelling on Mommy's surgery too much, does it?

So, I think it will all be OK. I think she'll be fine. The separation will probably be harder on me than it is on her. They have all these plans for outings and fun stuff to do. She probably won't want to come home with us when we get back.

Maybe that's what worries me.

Monday, August 23, 2010

By this time next week...

...I will just be coming out of surgery. I think. That makes my head hurt.

None of the unknown aspects of surgery are freaking me out at all. Just the known one. I hate the I-V catheter in my hand. Hate it. And I have a sneaky suspicion that I will have to live with that thing in my hand for the duration of my stay in the hospital. Which is 2-3 days. And let me just say...last time? When the I-V was removed around 3 p.m. on the SAME DAY AS SURGERY? I HATED THAT. So I'm fretting over whether they'll leave the stupid thing in for days, until I'm released. Which, I imagine, they probably will. And my hand already hurts just thinking about it!

We haven't yet explained to Olivia that she'll be staying for a long, long time with Grammy & Grampy. She knows that she has a camping trip coming up with Grandma and Grandpa (over Labor Day weekend). And she's excited about that. She's done it before. It's a few days, and there will be lots of cousins around to distract her sufficiently. But she doesn't know that she'll be coming from Grammy & Grampy's and returning to them after the camping is over. She LOVES Grammy & Grampy. But she's never spent the night at their house. Not to mention two weeks worth of nights. Gah!

She also doesn't know that Mommy will be in the hospital...a place reserved, in her mind, for car accident victims. (Nothing like scaring your child into keeping her seat belt buckled.) Not really sure how she's going to react to THAT news.

Just how much do you tell a not-yet-three-year-old?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I haven't written much lately, because writing gets my brain moving and thinking about things going on and things coming up. And right now I'd just rather not think about anything. Because when I do, there's all this anxiety.

We have about ten days left until we leave for Omaha.

In ten days, we'll be driving hundreds of miles to a hospital where I'll undergo two procedures to clean up endometriosis and adhesions. The first surgery requires a hospital stay. I try not to think about it because hospital stay = pain. The outpatient laparoscopy is bad enough, but laparotomy? I have no experience with how this is going to go, and that makes me very uncomfortable.

I've been in contact with the doctor's billing office. They can't give me an estimate of costs yet because our insurance hasn't processed the claims from the last surgery. Though insurance is supposed to cover these things at a certain rate, I have all this anxiety about them denying this for one reason or another. And then what? I can't even think about that.

My husband has to be away from his office and with me this whole time. And that's just hard.

We don't have a hotel arranged yet. That's a pretty minor thing and easily solved...but it's one more thing to deal with.

Worst...Olivia is staying home with grandparents. For two and a half weeks. While I'll be biding my time waiting and healing between the two surgeries, the best I can do is talk to her on the phone.

I can't even put it into words. Just anxiety.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Two weeks and other things

Gah! Two weeks from today, my husband and I will deposit our daughter at the grandparents and leave for more than two weeks for surgery and more surgery. I'm trying not to think about it. I have a few anxieties about this surgery. I have A LOT of anxieties about leaving Olivia for so long.

I am sad because I read a bunch of you bloggers who are going to The Blathering, which is within driving distance for me this year, and I can't go. I mean, I guess I technically could. But it's my anniversary weekend, and it comes on the heels of surgery recovery and just a month back into "normal" and, I don't know...it's just overwhelming to think about adding something ELSE into the schedule. But I am still sad.

Go here and support my friends, Troy and Amber, as they prepare to adopt their second child from Ethiopia. And make sure to look at some of the photos of their little Silas. He's a cutie!

Happy Birthday to my husband, Joe, tomorrow. I am ever grateful for his presence in my life.

That's all for today.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A break

My brother's family is in town today to visit our beloved Local Theme Park with their kids, so Olivia and I are joining them. Olivia, of course, works best with a nap. Since we are only five minutes away we left after lunch in pursuit of a nice, long rest. We brought my niece, Macey, youngest of their kids, to take a nap too. Both girls are sleeping peacefully. I'm wasting time.

I have some CUTE pics from the morning, but since I don't share pics of other people's kids without their consent, you don't get to see them. So here's one of Olivia at a birthday party yesterday.

Just squeezing in as much summer fun as possible before I start babysitting again...Thursday! I can't believe school is already starting.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Birthmother's blues

I went to birthmother's latest court hearing (regarding her three other kids, all in foster care) yesterday, as moral support for her. And I learned a lot...stuff I won't say here out of respect for her privacy. Let's just say that this whole thing will likely end in a month, and not in her favor. And that's probably best for the kids. There are two sides to every story, and I learned just enough yesterday to come to that conclusion.

Even so, my heart aches for her. She screwed up royally, and often. And she didn't get her act together in time to impress the court. She didn't take it seriously until it was too late. To lose your kids...that's a harsh way to learn a life lesson.

Now, at least, she is getting her life on a better track. I just hope she keeps moving in the right direction no matter what the outcome of this case.

And her birthday is tomorrow. She'll be 23. So young. So troubled.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Training pants are a worthless crutch.

Although I haven't talked about it here, we've been off and on with the potty training for five months. FIVE. MONTHS. Geez.

It started in March, when I noticed that Olivia was dry for long periods of time, so we started the "potty chart" to encourage her to use the potty. We were successful in cutting down on the number of diapers we used per day, but that was about it. Olivia got lazy and stopped using the potty on any regular basis. I got lazy and discontinued the chart.

She would potty off and on through the rest of the school year, but training was hard with other kids in the house, and then there was surgery, and then vacation...I just decided to put it off until we had a few weeks at home that we could dedicate to this. All the while, we'd been sinking money into training pants for ease of pulling off and on when she deigned to use the potty.

And then...we went to Branson for a week with the family. And I changed her training pants exactly once a day...when she pooped. Olivia seemed pretty scared to poop in the potty, but since we were vacationing all week and both of us were there to remind her (not to mention, the rest of the family), she peed in the potty all week. Stayed dry...all week. Even overnight. It was evident that she was ready.

But when we got home, she adamantly refused to use the potty. Wet her training pants regularly. Didn't see the need to stop playing to go to the bathroom. She'd even change her own training pants if I wasn't watching. She KNEW she had to use the potty...she just didn't care. I got so frustrated and angry. I asked her why she didn't use the potty. And she said, "No, Mommy, it's OK. I just pee in my diaper."

And there it was. Training pants = diaper. Why on earth would she bother herself with using the potty when she'd been using her "diaper" for her whole life. Duh, Mommy.

So we switched to undies and didn't look back. It's been nearly three weeks, and I think I can safely declare that she is fully potty trained. We're still using the training pants at night, but most nights it is an unnecessary precaution.

It appears that the only motivation Olivia needed to start pooping in the potty was having undies instead of a diaper. It was rough at first, and I had to watch her like a hawk for the signs of needing to poop. But now? She just goes into the bathroom by herself, does her business, wipes, washes her hands.

We are successful at home and away from home. All it took was undies (and a lot of explanation, repetition, etc, but that's true with teaching most things). I don't know why it took us so long to figure this out. But this diaperless existence...feels like a huge success for both of us.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Here and there

This has been a weird week. My husband has a big event and has to work late a lot this week and next. And although Olivia and I don't have much of anything on the calendar, we've been running around a lot.

My panic gene has kicked in and reminded me that we have two weeks left of summer vacation. In that amount of time, I need to get all three vehicles serviced, prepare the spare room for nap occupants again (as it is nothing but a storage space for junk at the moment) and try to get Olivia back on some sort of schedule. As if.

In the meantime, there are some other things eating up my brain power...most of them dealing with Olivia's birthmother. She is going through some stuff right now that I can't even begin to imagine going through and...well, I guess I worry about her. So I've been praying for her a lot.

Hope your Thursday is less scattered than mine...

Monday, July 26, 2010

What a week!

I've been absent, and it's because we've been busy. Very busy. Since I last wrote, we visited Olivia's birthmother (and had her hair done, again...this time with beads).

We spent a whole day at Local Theme Park with Olivia's church friend (who must remain anonymous, so all you get are her curls).

I hosted our class reunion. Here's Olivia holding the door open for me as I hauled food in and out in the 95 degree heat with a thousand percent humidity. Yep.

Oh, and did I mention? Our driveway has been broken for awhile...

and the concrete guy picked this week to fix it. They came and poured on Friday. It looks fabulous. But it meant (and means) that we have to stay off the driveway until Wednesday.
For the duration, we've been parking cars on both of our neighbors' driveways. We are grateful for their hospitality, but since we live on a hill, one neighbor's driveway is uphill and the other is downhill. So I spent all day Friday shopping in the heat, hauling all of my purchases into the house so they wouldn't bake in the car, and then hauling them back out to the car once I got the key to the building for the reunion. Uphill, downhill, repeat. With a nap-deprived two-year-old in tow. And then hauling the leftovers back into the house on Saturday, at the end of a very long day. Uphill, downhill, repeat.

I'm tired. Let's spend this week lounging on the couch enjoying the air conditioning and eating ice cream, shall we?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A funny thing happened on the way to the campsite

My parents went camping this weekend and invited us to their campsite (5 miles from our house) for a cookout dinner on Friday. Olivia's cousin, Trey, was also invited. Olivia and Trey have so much fun together and were enjoying running in and out of the camper over and over (and over and over). So Mom and I decided to take them for a walk to focus their energies a bit more constructively.

We walked down to the lake where there is a beach and told the kids that they could only put their feet in. We all walked down the boardwalk to the edge of the water, and the kids walked in a bit. Olivia leaned down to look at something (a fish, I think). And, just as I was reminding her about only putting her feet in...Whoosh! Down she goes. Boardwalk in the water...wet...slimy...slippery! Trey bent down to help her, and all of a sudden he had slipped too.

They two of them were quite a sight. They knew that being wet was against our recently-discussed rules. And neither of them could quite figure out how they had managed to get so wet. They stared at us apologetically, and all I could do was laugh!

After that, we let both kids walk in the water (on the sand where they had traction!) for about ten minutes, getting as wet as they wanted. They were quite a sight by the time we returned to the campsite...all wet and gritty and sandy. But they both had a blast!

Check out that nasty shiner from Thursday. Goes perfectly with her soaking-wet tank top, don't you think?

We returned to the campsite for some marshmallow roasting...

And, of course, s'mores.
A perfect camping experience, indeed. Especially perfect since I got to go home and sleep in my own bed.