Sunday, January 31, 2010

Weekend updates

Things are looking brighter around here. And not just because the sun has been glaring off the snow all day.

Olivia's stomach bug turned out to be just a 24-hour thing...less than that, in fact. By the time she woke up on Friday morning, her stomach was not bothering her anymore. By evening, she was pretty much back to normal (except for her lack of appetite, which she still doesn't have back). I think part of her quick recovery was the 4.5 hour nap she had in the afternoon. AND she went to bed at a reasonable hour, even after the marathon nap. Which leads me to...

Bedtime. So much better than I could have imagined. Last night was day four in the saga of teaching the toddler to fall asleep by herself. Day one was a ninety minute exercise in frustration during which Olivia jumped out of bed at least a hundred and thirty-seven times. But eventually she did fall asleep. On day two, she fell asleep in a half-hour, with only a couple dozen reprimands for getting out of bed. Day three was about the same amount of time, and we diagnosed a fear of monsters, which was remedied by turning on the hall light. Day four (last night), she did not get out of bed and did not make a peep. She just stayed quietly in her bed and fingered her blankie until she fell asleep. It took about 40 minutes, but the point is that she did it, without argument, while I sat on the couch in view of her open bedroom door and read a book.

I think she's starting to accept this process as the "new normal". And the angels sang for joy!

I'm sure we'll have setbacks, but I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. And I'm kicking myself for not trying this sooner.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Is it Spring yet?

Apparently not.

She's already bored with the white stuff.

Friday, January 29, 2010

A bad bug

It all started out so well.

The bedtime routine last night went so smoothly. It took only about 30 minutes for Olivia to fall asleep by herself in bed and after only about a half-dozen attempts to get out of bed.

Two hours later, she appeared in our bedroom covered in the former contents of her stomach.

The poor thing. She didn't cry much. She just looked at me with that look of confusion and trust that says, "I don't know why I feel so yucky, but Mommy will make it better." I had to strip her down and put her in the tub, where she shivered through the whole bathing process. She was such a mess. Even more so after we tried to get her shirt up over her head, leaving a lot of the mess behind in her hair. There is nothing more difficult and disgusting than trying to comb bits of partially-digested food out of tight curls.

I spent the rest of the night in Olivia's bed with her. We had to put new sheets on the bed and then (smartly) lined them with bath towels. Olivia was up about once an hour until 4:30, gagging and retching unproductively since there was nothing left in her stomach. She was finally able to keep some Tylenol and water down at that point and slept until 7:15, when she woke up as her bouncy little self.

I was not so bouncy. For every hour she slept, I slept about 20 minutes. Joe was able to take the morning off so I could catch up on a little sleep, but I still feel wiped out.

I think Olivia will recover quickly. It seems to have been a bug that just attacks the digestive system because she never had a fever. It also sounds suspiciously like the bug that kept Addie home on Monday and Jake home a couple of weeks ago. I blame the dang plastic play food that the kids keep putting in their mouths and then passing around. They don't get the concept of "pretend eating".

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bedtime strategy

Well, last night we tried the whole idea of sitting outside of Olivia's room and just putting her back in bed every time she got out. After an hour of this, I got so frustrated that I started yelling, and Joe had to step in. He managed to get her to stay in bed, and a half-hour later she fell asleep by herself in her bed. And she slept through the night, which she's only done twice since Christmas (don't ask why, we don't know). And away we go.

We decided on this strategy of explaining to her that she'd need to be a big girl and sleep by herself and stay in bed, and then we'd keep our vigil right outside her room until she actually did fall asleep. Every time she gets up, we're supposed to put her back in bed without talking to her. She does the usual things..."Mommy, I need a kiss. I need socks. I need a blanket." We don't respond unless she gets out of bed.

Ultimately, I think this will eventually work. But we are going to have to be very, very patient for weeks until we have great success.

I'm still open to any suggestions. We've tried shutting her in her room, but she will get up and turn on the light and play, peeking out the door to get our attention so we'll come in the room and put her back in bed. It's a game for her. I think the key is to ignore her as much as possible and she'll (eventually) get the idea that bedtime is not playtime and we aren't playing her games any more.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


For the better part of a year now, we've been sitting with Olivia until she falls nap and at bedtime. And instead of getting easier, it's getting harder. A lot harder.

Naptime isn't usually too bad. She tends to settle down quicker and fall asleep easier at nap. But nighttime... is awful. Last night, I tried the go-to-sleep routine with a light on to simulate the same conditions as naptime, and it still took her 90 minutes to give up the fight and fall asleep.

And a fight it is. It's not that she's not tired. She is. And letting her stay up and play longer isn't the solution because after 8:00 she becomes a meltdown monster. She runs around grabbing everything she's not supposed to have, climbs on anything she can find, does all the things she knows she's not allowed to do...and when she gets reprimanded she goes into full meltdown mode. So yeah. She's tired.

The problem is that she will do anything and everything she can to keep herself awake. Feeling warm and comfy? I don't want the blankets on me! Now that I'm blanket-free, I'm going to kick my legs around as fast as possible. Now that mom has me tied down with blankets, I'm going to see if I can pick stray threads out of my blankie and floss my teeth with them. Mom took blankie away? Now I'm going to take my pacifier out and toss it at the wall.

It is maddening. It's like she's in a desperate fight to stay if she feels compelled to avoid sleep. I don't know what else to do. Short of creating a sensory-deprivation box that contains nothing but a mattress (no sheets or pillows...they are playthings) and keeping it at 75 degrees so she doesn't have to wear clothes (also playthings) and locking her in there, I don't really know how to tackle this problem.

Any suggestions?

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Yesterday, we were planning to meet Olivia's birthmother for the first time since Olivia left the hospital. I was really looking forward to this reunion. We had it all planned out...we were going to meet her at a nearby children's museum so that Olivia could be a kid and enjoy herself, thus showing her best side. We were going to take her out to lunch afterward. I gave Olivia a bath and did her hair all pretty and put her in some nice clothes. I know her birthmother would have been excited to see her in anything, but I felt like I needed the affirmation of knowing that she approved of how Olivia looked.

And then, as we were driving "to town", we got a call from cancel. She said she was running a fever, and she did sound really sick, but it was just so disappointing for me. This is the third or fourth time that we've tried a reunion since bringing Olivia home (the first time since reconnecting with birthmother in December), and every time it has fallen through on birthmother's end. We will try again, but I am not sure I will be quite as enthusiastic.

So, instead of a visit with birthmother, we went shopping for new shoes for Olivia. They look pretty good with her dress for church today, don't you think?

Friday, January 22, 2010

On my mind today...

Today, I'm remembering...

...all the mothers who lost their babies because the "easy way out" seemed like the only way out.

...all the women whose abortion decision was made because they felt only pressure, and not support from those closest to them.

...all the fathers who never got to be fathers because they had no say in the matter.

...all the babies sacrificed for convenience on the altar of "choice."

...pregnant women everywhere, praying that they may find the medical, emotional and spiritual support they need to give their babies a chance at life.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ahead to June

So, yesterday I got the all-important (in my head) call from Dr. Hilgers' nurse to schedule my visit to Omaha and surgery. We have appointments scheduled for a whole week (ultrasound series), concluding (I hope) just six days after surgery when I'm supposed to have my follow-up, reveal-all-the-results-of-this-exhaustive-testing appointment. And then I come home, hoping to be healed or very much on the way to healing.

I've been thinking about this a bit today, mostly because I haven't told my family yet about this and we need to discuss it since we will absolutely need their help in watching Olivia. (We were going to take her with us, but then it occurred to me that on Day 2 of our stay I'll have surgery that will give me weepy incisions and make my abdominal muscles sore for at least a week, and, well, it would just be easier to avoid the inevitable meltdown about how Mommy won't hold me!)

So it occurred to me that a lot of people are probably going to wonder why we are doing this again. I had this same surgery in 2006, and we are perfectly happy with adoption as our path to baby #2, so why go through all of this medical stuff again when/if pregnancy is just not that important.

It's a complicated question. Two years ago, I was sure that I was abandoning a medical infertility cure forever. We felt God's call to adoption, and we thought that was that.

Funny thing about God...he doesn't reveal his whole plan all at once.

Over the past year, I have become more and more concerned about the unusual (for most people) patterns that continued to be evident in my cycle. Pre and post-surgery, my cycles remained the same. I got the gnawing feeling that something was causing all of this, and it might possibly be in the best interest of my health to nip it in the bud. But to do that with a doctor I trusted was going to involve a lengthy process and quite a bit of expense. And so I dragged my feet. More and more, I felt like I was being nudged closer and closer to the decision to just do this thing. And here we are.

So, it seems God is leading us to surgery (in June). To what end, I don't know, but we are doing it nonetheless. In the meantime, we continue to wait for adoption #2, trusting fully that by opening all of the doors again, God will lead us to our next child.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The witching hour

When Olivia was a baby and fussed for an hour or two in the evening for no apparent reason, we learned about what some have called "the witching hour"...that period of time where nothing you do helps the situation and the kid just has to cry.

I have a new definition. The witching hour, in this house, Monday through Friday, begins around 10:30 a.m. and ends when all the kids have fallen asleep for their nap.

Today it started with Luke (the baby) getting fussy. He was doing so well...playing nicely and then taking a 90 minute morning nap. But about an hour after eating, he decided that he would not be happy in the exersaucer, on the floor or in the bouncer. So he cried. Because 10:30 is about the time I start getting lunch ready for the kids, and I only have two hands.

I finally had to rescue the crying child from the exersaucer because Olivia had pulled one of the toys off of it and was whacking Luke across the head with it. Jake started crying too, but I'm not sure if it was because he was also assaulted or just because it was, well, after 10:30. Seems there are always boys crying and girls getting meaner after 10:30.

The kids were getting crazy by lunchtime, so I was glad to have them all bound in their chairs. Luke was still crying. I sliced pizza, peeled bananas, filled sippies, wiped faces. Luke still cried. I let the kids out of their chairs and scooped him up. And in the next ten minutes, I received an important phone call, had to save Jake from the girls (twice) and had to put one of them in time-out. Toys were strewn everywhere, the toddler noise was just making Luke MORE upset, the whole situation was making ME upset, and finally, mercifully, it was bedtime.

Yes, we are back to "normal" around here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


With two girls sleeping and two boys absent (again, for illness), I have a couple of hours to myself. But today, I'm going to start that time (as soon as I finish this post) with a workout. I'm not one to participate in New Year's weight loss resolutions or diets or whatnot. But I do enjoy being active and getting regular exercise, which is something I haven't had an opportunity to much in these cold months. With the hours involved in this babysitting gig and my free time (nap) often eaten up by a five-month-old who hasn't mastered the nap-while-everyone-else-naps schedule, it's hard to find time to get on the elliptical machine.

So. To motivate myself, I signed up for this thing at my husband's workplace. It's a 10-week weight loss/maintenance, healthy lifestyle challenge. It's not the kind of thing I normally do, but it's worth points in our health insurance's ridiculous required point system to reduce our premiums, so I thought I'd give it a try. If nothing else, it will serve to keep me on track, constantly looking for a way to squeeze a few minutes of exercise out of an otherwise hectic day of watching kids. The program starts tomorrow. I'm going to take advantage of my lack-of-a-baby-to-watch day and get a jump on my exercise program today. I don't know how I will keep it up on regular, four-kids-to-watch kind of days, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it...

Monday, January 18, 2010

I feel like I should be doing something...

The girls are asleep. The boys are not here today on account of illness. I am wired from too much morning caffeine. And I know I should be doing something during this nap window, but I can't for the life of me figure out exactly what it is.

This weekend, I finished up most of our homestudy paperwork. Yep, we have to update our's been a year, so we have to repeat most of the paperwork, have a visit from our social worker, and have the whole thing rewritten. Oh, and pay for an update, which is much cheaper than a first-time homestudy, but still. This week, we both have to get TB tests, send off a medical report form to each of our doctors for their signatures, get a county criminal history limited check and send off for the state criminal history checks. Oh, and get our fingerprints done electronically. You'd think, since fingerprints never change, that we wouldn't have to do this every freakin' year. But you'd be wrong. *Sigh*

The good news is that all of the homestudy paperwork (on our end) should be finished by the end of the week. Then we can check THAT off of our to-do list.

It's getting warmer here. Not warm, by any means, but above freezing, which feels pretty warm after the cold spell we'd been having. We decided to get a little fresh air this weekend by taking a couple of short walks. Olivia enjoyed exploring, finding wonder and amazement in the smallest things. "Look...a rock! See the bird? There's some water down there!" It reminded me how much we miss during the cold months when we are stuck inside. She is so observant and is learning so much about the world when we are outside.

"Look, Mommy. The corn is gone! The birds ate it all. That's so sad..."

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

Friday, January 15, 2010

I live in a bubble

Ugh. Olivia woke up at 3:45 last night and couldn't fall back asleep. It took her two hours to drift back into dreamland, and by that time my night was shot. So here I sit, all tired and wired because I've been drinking the iced tea all morning to remain upright. I think I will demand sleep-in rights tomorrow since it's a weekend.

On Wednesday, Joe called from the road on his way home from his trip. We got to talking and he mentioned something stupid that someone had said about the tragedy in Haiti, and I said, "What happened in Haiti?" To which he replied, "Geez, would you turn on a TV once in awhile?" To which I replied, "The TV is on. It's a non-stop marathon of children's programming around here!" Single parenting, when it happens in this house, means waking with the child at the crack of dawn, accomplishing as many tasks as humanly possible in the narrow nap window, and crashing into bed as soon as the toddler goes to sleep. So, no, I didn't see the news.

But now I have. And I think it's time we mobilize. I hear that governments worldwide are pledging hundreds of millions in aid. Great. But there are hundreds of millions of people in this country alone who live in relative comfort who can afford to help out. Yeah, it seems like a drop in a bucket to send $35 to relief efforts, but if I do it and you do it and he does it and she does it...well, it adds up. Fast. And fast is when they need it.

(I recommend donating at Food for the Poor. Their overhead is low and most of your donation goes directly to aid. They are an organization that originated in Haiti and was started by Haitians, so I think it's a good place to go. That's where I'm donating.)

And also, pray. There's a lot that can be said about Haiti and the problems they'll face and how to fix them. But from where I sit, it seems our power is in prayer. I can't do much else, but at least I can do that.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

It's a good thing my husband will be home tonight

It's been a long week already. Not that it's been any different from a normal week, except for the fact that Joe's been out of town on business since Friday and Olivia is getting sick of me and it is wearing on both of us. Oh yes. Last night we visited my parents for dinner and Olivia clung tightly to Grandma when it was time to go, crying and screaming, "No! I want to stay with Grandma! It's not time to go home! It's time to stay here!" I don't know what heinous thing I did to deserve that. Maybe denying her any extra sugary treats and making her, you know, sleep on a regular schedule. The horror!

Many things have been rattling around in my head this week...I just haven't had time to sit down and write anything. The kids are restless, the baby won't nap. It's maddening. So today I made sure he was totally and utterly exhausted before putting him down in hopes of at least an extra 20 minutes to myself. His teething process is pure evil.

Things my head...well, first there was that moment in this week's episode of "Desperate Housewives." Yeah, I know, it sounds trashy...and sometimes it is...but I love that show. The writers are brilliant. They do a fabulous job of character development, and they make you feel the raw emotion of the character. So, anyway, in this week's episode, Lynnette is mourning the recent loss of one of her unborn twins, but she doesn't want to deal with it. Her husband assumes that she will want to stay home when the other baby is born (and not go back to work) because the loss of one child will make the other one all the more precious. He draws her feelings out, and she says, "We lost a kid. We'll never meet him. We'll spend our lives always looking at one and wondering why there aren't two." And that, to me, was a pretty poignant statement, coming from a show on network television, in this world where unborn children are often treated with less respect than unwanted pets.

Other things...I was chatting on Facebook with a high school friend of mine yesterday, and she made some sort of comment about Olivia's active nature..."You guys are doing great with her. Most parents would have had her on medication by now." And it occurred to me that I never before considered that Olivia might be ADHD. So I spent all of my free time yesterday googling ADHD symptoms. And I'm not convinced. I think too many kids are unnecessarily medicated just because they are high energy. And she's two. It's too soon to call, I think. I guess we'll see someday.

And other things...will have to wait. Because two of my toddlers are now awake and they've been too loud and just woke up the baby. Sheesh.

Monday, January 11, 2010

First movie

Joe is out of town on business until Wednesday, and unfortunately he left on Friday, so that left me and Olivia with a whole weekend to fill all by ourselves. After spending two snow days at home all by ourselves. *Sigh*

All of this led me to make the decision I've been waffling on for three weeks. Do I risk taking a 2-year-old to see her first movie? This weekend, I decided that I'd try it. We needed to do SOMETHING.

The movie involved a princess and a frog (of course). I had been looking forward to this movie because, you know, the princess in question is not a carbon copy of all of the other princesses. (Except Jasmine. Yes, I know. But, come on. I think a black princess was way overdue.)

I liked the movie. The animation was a bit more classical in nature. No Pixar-like stuff. Which, I thought, suited the story just fine. And it seemed to me like a story that could actually happen, instead of all fantasy. It was more real. Voodoo magic aside, of course, but what's a Disney Princess movie without a little magic?

Olivia liked it too, I guess. She sat quietly and ate her popcorn (about which she was SO EXCITED) for the first half. Then she got bored and began to climb on the seats and spout very loud commentary about every scene she actually bothered to watch. Thankfully, the theater was practically empty. There were only nine other people there. I would have felt sorry for the five people sitting right in front of and in back of us, but they sat down after we did. They could have sat ANYWHERE in this almost-deserted theater. But they chose to sit right in front of and behind a toddler. I mean, come on. They set that table for themselves.

Olivia discovered the projector window about halfway through, and she was more fascinated with the projector's reflection on the projector room window than the movie on the actual big screen.

We survived, but I don't think we'll be back in a movie theater together for another couple of years.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snowed in

We are having our first significant snowfall of the season today, so Olivia and I are snowed in. Or, rather, the kids I babysit are snowed out...staying home with their teacher-parents, for whom snow does not mean a day off but just a day deferred. Oh well.

Olivia and I have made the most of the morning so far, enjoying some snuggle time on the couch and breaking out the brand-new play doh for a creative session. It's hard to handle play doh with three toddlers, but it's fun to do with just one.

I'm thinking that we'll go out in the snow after naptime. I should really try to shovel the driveway before Joe gets home from work, and Olivia can use the time to re-acquaint herself with the frozen white stuff. We don't see much snow in a year, and I mostly hate it when it does show up. But there's something about taking a toddler out in the snow that makes it almost fun. Almost.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

January...a relief and a let-down all at once

Well, we wrapped up our family Christmas gatherings with even MORE partying this weekend. Olivia had a grand time. It was almost worth the horrible time we had wrestling an overtired, grumpy toddler all through Mass today. Almost. I'll be glad when she's caught up on her sleep and is acting more like her fairly-agreeable self.

Many of my cousins started having kids around the time Olivia was born, so she has several second-cousins of the same age to play with at these gatherings. I took this picture's a picture of Olivia with one of her second cousins. I've been trying to get a postable picture of the two of them for awhile (in keeping with my policy not to post faces of kids who aren't mine unless their parents tell me to do so). They are just 17 days apart in age. I'm not kidding. And although Ashleigh is on the short end of the child-growth spectrum, I think this picture is proof positive that we are raising an Amazon.
Um, yes, Olivia is tall for a 2-year-old. Do you think we'll have any trouble convincing Local Theme Park that she still falls under the "kids age 2 and under are free" rule this summer? We may have to carry a copy of her birth certificate.

So, January. I love the holidays, but I've actually been looking forward to getting back into the day-to-day routine around here. We've barely been home, except to sleep, for two weeks. It's exhausting. January brings the relief of the ordinary.

But, also, January is a HUGE let-down. We spend MONTHS gearing up for December and holiday fun. Then it's over and you hit...January. Thirty-one straight days of cold and dreary, uninterrupted by anything. No major holidays, no planned events. In most years, January is just plain DULL.

So, on we go to January. Dull as it is, I'm sure it will fly by.

Merry Christmas (I can still say that for one more week!)