Thursday, April 29, 2010

In the meantime...

I've been thinking about how I'm not handling this cross of seasonal misery well, and everyone in my house is suffering for it. But I can't put into words how to deal with this right now, so I'll leave you with this picture from early April, when Olivia went to a swim-birthday party. Brighter days...they will return.

Olivia and Grandma, having a great time in the pool.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Still here, still miserable

I give up. I'm so tired and my neck aches from coughing and I'm just DONE. I'm talking to my doctor later today and hoping that it's a sinus infection so I can get some medicinal relief. Because the antihistamines ain't hackin' it. At all.

It's raining. The kids had a WAY less-than-stellar morning, behaviorally, which earned them a very early naptime. Olivia is grumpy because her cold has her sleeping poorly. I have a meeting tonight and THANK GOD that my husband has to also go "to town" so I don't have to drive all that way feeling like this.

I'm going to go away now and return when I feel better.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The end of a very long week in 7 takes

1. I ignored the kids all week. As much as possible anyway. It was gorgeous outside and we stayed inside all week. They were not happy, but I've been in survival mode. This is due to the Cold-From-Hell that turned into this deep chest cough thingy that sounded really scary and wore me out but was fairly harmless from a contagious standpoint. At least I assume so, since I am the only one who has been suffering. In order to contain the chaos (and avoid aggravating the exhausting symptoms with further pollen) we stayed in our confined little space and growled at each other all week. And it's Friday. And next week is a chance to start over and do better.

2. It's getting better. Slowly. But I'm still coughing a lot and feeling slow. And I still have to go out tonight to do my organizing and leading thing that I do with our volunteer ministry. Because it needs to be done. So I'll be jetting out the door as soon as the last kid takes off this afternoon and then I'll be running non-stop until about 9 p.m. But Olivia is spending the night with Grandma, so that eases a bit of stress.

3. I have finished all the organizing bits I can do from home, and I feel like there's a bunch of other stuff I'm supposed to be doing. Like maybe taking a shower. But that means risking waking the baby and I'm thinking maybe I can get by with a ponytail and some fresh clothing if it means I get another half hour of peace and quiet.

4. It really has been that kind of week here. I'm taking it one day at a time and living for naptime.

5. Someday, when the cold is gone and the allergies have cooled down, I want to go for a walk and enjoy this Spring weather we've been having. We rarely get more than a week of Spring between the extremes of hot and cold around here. But it has been oh-so-mild and beautiful outside for a month now, and I haven't had much time to enjoy it.

6. I have discovered this week why I never had a desire to become a teacher of small children. Lots of friends did, but I never even considered it. The schedule rocks...who wouldn't want summers off? But I just can't be that creative and inspire excitement with small children for long periods of time. It wears me out. It's easy with one or two children of the same skill level, but when you have several children with vastly different skill levels it is just hard to stay interested. I want to help my kid and another kid (same skill level) move from simple cutting with scissors (which they mastered almost immediately) to cutting and pasting shapes. Instead I had to spend almost our entire "creative" time helping another kid figure out how to hold the scissors. She lost interest pretty fast while my kid and the other similarly-skilled kid couldn't get enough of cutting their papers to shreds. How do you occupy four kids who all want to be doing something different but also want to do the same things the other kids are doing? Exhausting.

7. And yet, I've resolved to start Olivia and the other kids on some sort of preschool curriculum in the Fall. Olivia is ready. The rest will just have to pick up what they can. We can't just sit around and fight over toys forever here. We need some structure. Anyone have any curricula suggestions?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spring cleaning

I'm miserable today. I just feel awful. I think a cold has caught up with me and my allergies, and I'm tired and grumpy and the kids have been normal which is amplified by my misery into awful, and everyone had to go down for nap early. Except for me. I am paying bills. Blah. Let's change the subject.

I got a sudden burst of energy this weekend to jump headfirst into full-on Spring cleaning mode. First project: Olivia's new room.

When we first brought Olivia home, it occurred to me that the third bedroom, which we'll call the pink room (even though Joe would point out that the wall color is technically called "salmon") would be perfect for a little girl. First, it's pink (salmon). Second, it has this delicate little feather-duster paint finish that I put into it when we painted eons ago. Third, it is super bright and sunny, with a vaulted ceiling and a pretty domed window.

The problem at the time was that we already had the crib set up in the second bedroom, the green-painted room, because it fit nicely in there without having to move the guest bed. Also, we got the crib as a hand-me-down several months before we jumped into the adoption arena, so it made sense to put it in the gender-neutrally colored room. And the pink (salmon) room was our office, and at the time it felt like WAY too much trouble to try to move the office.

After a couple of years and some changes (the office moved to the dining room and the pink room became a storage room/place to stash all the babysitted kids' pack-n-plays), there was really no excuse for not making the switch. The green room is better suited for storage because it has the (much) bigger closet and the room itself is bigger. It is still gender-neutral for the someday-anticipated second child. And, when you break down all those pack-n-plays, it makes a GREAT baby's room.

So I spent Friday evening and Saturday switching rooms. It was a lot of work. But I am super excited about the results. Olivia loves her sunny new room and now she has bookshelves (already in that room, and we decided to leave them there) and a TV. Now I'm not thrilled about the TV-in-the-room idea as a general rule, but I keep it unplugged until I am ready for her to use it. She has been enjoying her room all weekend and was playing in her room a lot (which is not something she did much in her old room).

Today the kids and I spent most of the morning in Olivia's room. The floor is a disaster, but my living room is super clean and peaceful. I think this could be a positive change in terms of play space, but it's a little too early to tell.

I will now rest for several days and then decide on a new cleaning project. The end.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Yesterday evening, Olivia and I had dinner at Grandma and Grandpa's house. After dinner, we went for a walk, just the two of us, down the county road that runs in front of their farm.

We only walked about four tenths of a mile down the road and then back again, and we had a pretty slow pace, but it was a great time with my little girl. She chattered on about this and that as she picked "blowies" and scattered those little dandelion seeds in the breeze. Every different wildflower (a.k.a. weed) on the side of the road fascinated her. We learned that people shouldn't throw trash on the side of the road. "That's not very nice for them to do that." We watched tractors plowing some of the fields. We talked about everything and nothing and just enjoyed each other's company.

It's so much fun watching my little baby grow into a thoughtful, intelligent little girl. I just hope I remember to treasure these days, when she's happy to spend time walking with me and talking about everything that is on her mind. I hope she never grows out of that.

Monday, April 12, 2010

This is the view from my front door this morning. The sun is out. Everything is in bloom.
And I feel miserable.

It's been a hard week, in more ways than one. The pollen has me down. I'm taking two allergy meds and additional antihistamines before bed, and I still can't get over the feeling that tiny insects are crawling around inside my nasal passages. The kids are also much affected, so I imagine that there are tiny toddler germs on every surface of anything all over my house.

To add challenge to an already challenging week, one of my charges can't seem to control her temper. She's been acting out all week, and the misbehavior is escalating. When she remembers that she can't hit, she bites. And that hasn't been the worst of her behavior. Her parents and I are at our wits end trying to figure out how to handle her. I honestly don't know what is causing all of this aggression, but if it doesn't stop soon, I'm afraid she'll spend the majority of the next seven weeks sitting in time-out.

I need a long vacation to a warm, dry, pollen-free zone.

Last week I got a call from a nurse at Dr. Hilgers' office. My hormone series results are back, and Dr. Hilgers has reviewed them and wants to order one more test and send a questionnaire to evaluate me for something called adrenal fatigue. If I do have it, it could explain a lot of the stuff I've been dealing with. Allergies, headaches, irritability and the fact that by the end of the day, I feel like my nerves are shot. I'm tired a lot, but I just figured that was the job. Maybe it's something else too. If so, and if I get treated, I REALLY hope that next year this babysitting gig isn't so constantly exhausting.

I feel like I'm in very good hands with Dr. Hilgers. We're still two months away from surgery, and already he knows so much about my condition(s) and is evaluating further.

Now I'm off to spend the rest of naptime relaxing so maybe the afternoon won't be quite as challenging.

See how well my sweet baby is behaving here? If only all of the kids could be so accommodating all of the time.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Irrational arguments

I have a full crew of small people today for the first time in two and a half weeks. Everyone is finally well and also finished with Spring Breaks.

So today the kids treated me to a full performance of all the irritating and irrational arguments they tend to have on a daily basis. (It's interesting...when one or two of them are missing, these arguments rarely pop up. But when they are all here, it's all they do all day.)

1. "My grandpa. No MY papaw. No MINE. NO MINE!!!"
An irritating argument that begins because someone starts telling someone else a story about visiting Grandpa/papaw. And then someone else chimes in that she has a papaw. Then someone else chimes in that he has one too. Then the original story teller usually says, "No, it's MY Grandpa." To which the rest respond, "No, MY papaw." And so forth. Also works for Grandma/mamaw.

2. "I'm Olivia, you're Addie."
This usually only involves Olivia and Addie, but they don't play this game unless the others are there to witness the stupidity. This involves one of them, usually Addie, starting off by claiming she is the other person. So Addie starts by saying, "I'm Olivia." Which always gets Olivia upset and she starts saying, "No, I'M Olivia." Ad nauseum.

3. Screaming reprimands at each other.
I really, really hate this one. It involves me reprimanding someone (example, "Olivia, stop banging on the table.") And then the others start screaming at the person being reprimanded. "Stop banging on the table, Olivia. Stop it!" Which leads me to remind them that it is not their job to tell each other what to do or not to do. This, however, never stops them from continuing to shout at each other.

It feels like a Monday.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sounds and sufferings of Spring

You know how sounds and songs can evoke memories? I woke up this morning to sounds that always make me think of camping in the woods. Not that I've been camping all that many times, but once upon a time I used to go to 4-H camp every year and wake up in our stuffy, buggy cabins to the delightful sounds of nature outside. Birds chirping, wind rustling the many trees around... Now, when the weather is nice enough to leave the windows open, I can wake up to these delightful sounds. That's the benefit of living in a wooded area with minimal traffic noise. Except now I'm in my non-buggy house and my oh-so-comfy bed. And, oh, I would lay in that comfy bed and drift around in that half-conscious state listening to those nature sounds for a long, long time if given the chance.

Today is the essence of a perfect Spring day. The temps are warm with a cool breeze, the skies are clear blue and the sun is out. Our tree has sprouted just enough leaves to provide our play area with adequate shade. It's barefoot weather but not yet swimsuit weather. In my book...perfection.

And yet, while the children nap, I sit here and type. Instead of sitting in the shade with a good book, I am inclined to spend naptime listening to the birds through my open windows. Why? ALLERGIES.

It appears that pollen and I are not friends. Dust and I don't get along either (it gives me headaches), but that's a problem I deal with any time of the year. It is only at this time of the year, when the trees are blossoming and the flowering bushes bloom and everything is coming back to life after the long, depressing winter that I am plagued by itchy nose, throat and ears and the constant attack of the sneezes.

Oh, we get outside. It's too gorgeous NOT to go outside. I took the kids out twice this morning for short bursts. Olivia got a new bouncy house from her grandparents and the kids are breaking it in this week.

Bouncy house = Pure kid bliss

So we went out and had a wonderful time in our bare feet and short sleeves. And then we came in and I spent the next half hour sneezing and blowing my nose.

*Big Heavy Sigh*

It is supposed to rain tomorrow. Perhaps that will calm the pollen itchies for a few days. Regardless, I'm determined to enjoy this delightfully warm Spring weather, allergies or not.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The kind of joy that can't be contained

Happy Easter! As I've mentioned before, Holy Week is one of my fave times of the year to go to Church. There's just so much richness in the ritual and liturgies.

Participation is not, however, quite as rich or meditative or spiritual with a toddler in tow. For me. Or for anyone else who happens to be in attendance.

Holy Thursday's Mass begins at 7:30 p.m. Too close to bedtime. Also, not morning (which is really the only time she has much chance of behaving at Mass). Our Good Friday service begins at 3:00 p.m. Also afternoon, and a little too close to the end of nap. And also, LONG SERVICE.

Don't even get me started on Easter Vigil! Why on earth did I think THAT was a good idea?

She still takes a good picture at 9:30 p.m.
But don't expect her to fall asleep on the way home
just because it's a couple of hours past bedtime.
Or for two hours after THAT. Geez.

And yet, we attended all three. So, "A" for effort, but "C-" for actual experience.

I showed up every time armed with crayons and stickers and a big activity book. These worked fairly well in terms of keeping her occupied enough to stay in the pew. She was NOT quiet, though. She decided that whispering was beneath her and insisted on narrating everything she was doing or thinking for part of one of those services (I can't remember which, just like I can't remember anything that actually happened in the liturgies either).

Certain parts of each liturgy fascinated her. The washing of the feet. The incense. The candles. We had a few scary near-encounters with flame during the vigil service (and again, WHY DID I THINK THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA?). I let her hold her own candle. WHY?

But she had her moments. My favorite was her obsession with the "holy smoke". At the vigil, we were standing outside for the blessing of the Easter candle and Olivia saw Daddy (who was MC for the triduum) holding the incense and broke the reverent silence by practically shouting, "Holy Smoke! Daddy has the holy smoke!" She got a few chuckles for that one.

What struck me, though, was at the Good Friday service when everyone was supposed to be all solemn and reflecting and Olivia kept bouncing around and saying things like, "Look at Jesus! Can I kiss him?" Or waving at the (silent) procession and saying, "Hi Father! Hi Daddy!" It occurred to me that she's so full of life and joy and (at two years old) can't possibly understand the meaning and significance of Good Friday. All she really understands is the joy of Easter. And that's the joy she was expressing throughout all of the triduum.

Someday she'll get it. She'll understand the story and be able to sit and reflect on its profound significance. But for now, I am satisfied in knowing that she loves Jesus and knows that He loves her, and she's joyful about that. And she's relatively content to be in Church and participating with us every week.

But I think we might skip some of the triduum services next year. No matter how packed, it would have been easier for all of us if we would have just gone to the Easter Sunday Mass at our regularly scheduled time. It's all about the schedule. Why can't I remember that?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Happy Triduum!

I'm declaring Lent to be over because, well, it is. Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil, also known as the Triduum, are technically one big long end-of-Lent-Hello-Easter-Season liturgy that lasts three days and is really sort of after the Lenten season, so I'm my once-a-week Lenten posting fast is over. (It's true. Ask a monk. Also, visit a monastery during'll really see how the liturgy spans three days.) Plus, tomorrow is Good Friday, the ultimate day of fasting, so I'm getting my computer time in now.

This week has been spectacular, weather-wise. Sun, blue skies, temps in the 70s. And because of Spring Break issues, I've only had a partial crew of toddlers all week, making my workday a little easier. And we had an unexpected day off yesterday, which gave us time to do some of this:

Olivia has become a whiz on the bike. She's very good at pedaling and loves to be out and riding. She even likes her helmet.

We opened up the sand box this morning and I let the kids run around barefoot and scoop sand for awhile. As a result, I now have to wash Olivia's hair and comb bits of sand out of it before we go to Church tonight, but it was worth it. I think the sand box and, well, all of the outdoor stuff is going to be easier to deal with this year now that the kids are older and a little more likely to follow instructions (no throwing sand, no sand in the rocks, no rocks in the sand, etc).

Overall, I'm just really enjoying this change of seasons. Really, really enjoying.