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.