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 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 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.