Thursday, December 15, 2011


This has been a weird week. Olivia has been croupy and randomly asking for the barf bucket (but not using it) because her tummy muscles hurt from coughing. Other than that, she's fine. But the kids I watch came down with something and stayed home, so my house was pretty empty here for a couple of days. This morning, Olivia woke up with sore tummy muscles but bounced back from it in time to go to school and then insisted she stay home because the kids were going to be back today and she missed them. Not a good reason to skip school, kid. "But I'm sick! I want to stay home!" But if you are sick, the kids can't come. It was a real catch-22 for her.

So, we had to deal with that little tantrum. It was irritating, and more than irritating for my husband who felt like she was manipulating him. And perhaps she was. But after she left for school, I checked facebook and saw a friend post this:

"The pathologist that read Isaac's spinal tap results found cancer cells in the fluid, meaning that his lymphoma has returned.

And, well, that put things into perspective.

Isaac and his parents are friends of ours. He is a couple of weeks older than Olivia. Just days before his third birthday (about 13 months ago), he was diagnosed with a rare type of lymphoma and their family was thrown into a scary world of doctors and needles and tests and treatments. His tests have indicated no cancer cells for the last few months, and I think they were just finishing out the 12-month treatment protocol before declaring him in remission. I'm not sure how that works, but I got the sense from their updates that they were getting ready to put a very scary and challenging year behind them and look forward to a healthy future. And then cancer rears its ugly head once again.

Isaac is four years old. He is their only child. I cannot even imagine how devastating and terrifying this news must be for them.

Olivia has had a lot of colds recently, and when she doesn't have a cold, she sounds like she does. She doesn't sleep well and is often grumpy and unreasonably demanding by the afternoon. We had her evaluated by an ENT and discovered that she needs her tonsils and adenoids removed. Surgery is in a few weeks. I don't think I've mentioned it here yet, but I'm both relieved and freaked out. Relieved because we deal daily with the fallout of her obstructive apnea and inability to sleep all night and we are hoping this will be the cure (as it often is for kids with this problem). Freaked out because my BABY is having SURGERY. Ack! And I have to take care of her sorry sick self during her days of recovery. Which makes me feel a little sorry for myself.

And then I remember Isaac, a sweet little trooper who is handling things WAY above his comprehension level with a grace I can't even imagine. And I remember his Mommy, who has spent more time this year inside of hospitals holding her child's hand than most people spend in their entire lives. Isaac has had to miss out on a lot of the experiences that Olivia has enjoyed this year. You can't send an immuno-compromised kid to preschool. You have to miss birthday parties and trips to the zoo and playdates and any number of kid (and Mom) socializing opportunities. And I complain of cabin fever! I cannot even imagine...

So, when Olivia throws her tantrums and melts down, I will try to be patient and offer up my frustration for Isaac and his family. When she gets her annual post-holiday illness (which she will inevitably pick up from one of her cousins), I will remember Isaac's parents, who will probably have to miss a good number of family gatherings this holiday season because Isaac's immune system won't allow for exposure to lots of people. I will say a prayer for strength and healing for them, and I will thank God for the blessings of health in our own family.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The new room

My husband had this aunt who had a party room behind her garage. It was a big rec room with a lot of windows and space. Perfect for card parties with all of her friends. She furnished it with this vintage 1970s whiskey barrel furniture. Yeah. Come to think of it, it was probably brand new when she put it in. And my husband made a point of commenting on the sheer awesomeness of the furniture every time he visited her.

Now, this aunt of his didn't have any kids, so when she died she left things to her nieces and nephews. She specifically designated certain items for certain people. My husband...he got the rec-room furniture.

For five years since inheriting these treasures, they've been in storage in my uncle's basement. And then my uncle decided to sell his house. It was time to do something.

In the meantime, we've been feeling a little cramped in this house...particularly in the winter when we can't escape outside. There are lots of kids here every day, and we needed more space. So we made a decision. It was time to convert our beloved screened-in-porch to an all-seasons sunroom. We loved our porch, but it was impossible to use it for anything during the cold or REALLY hot months of the year.

So we took this:

and turned it into this:

We have an infrared heater to keep the space warm, and the windows slide open to re-create our screened-room feel whenever the weather is nice. And the furniture all fits in there.

That would be a couch, bar and table, all with chairs and whatnot.

Great table for dining, card playing, game night, etc.

Olivia is obsessed with bunny ears right now. Can you tell? That's the main house through the door behind her.

Yes, that WOULD be dogs playing poker. And yes, my husband did receive this with the rest of the furniture. It's been in storage all these years, too, because there is no other setting in our house where this would fit. Truly.

We also have a "bar" sign made of the top of a whiskey barrel that is meant to hang on the wall. I'll have to put that picture in a post once we get it up. It is truly one of those things you have to see to believe.

The space looks better than I would have imagined, and it is quite useful. It is the one place where I can escape now when all the kids are napping and have a phone conversation. I can go out there to read and leave the door open and see the kids playing in the living room. And it's the one place in the whole house where we can actually see the school bus coming before it is at our door.

I think we are gonna get a lot of use out of this room.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A holiday visit

Thanksgiving this year was...interesting. Thursday was a normal Thanksgiving gathering with my side of the family. Then things got frustrating.

We had made plans with Olivia's birthmother, and she was supposed to spend the night on Thursday. Then the plan changed...on her end. She ended up spending the night on Friday instead, which turned out OK, although the last minute changes did throw off our weekend a bit. We had a lovely time, made a traditional Thanksgiving meal, enjoyed some time together. And I found myself with conflicting emotions, as always happens when she is with us.

My first instinct is to think of more ways to invite her into our celebrations. Her life has never been "traditional". Thanksgiving was barely noticed in her family, as it is. It seems she and those around her have struggled just to "get through" whatever the day presents them. So when she spends time with us, she relaxes. She sees Olivia in her regular environment and rejoices in her happiness and stability. She seems to wish such a life for herself. And some of the recent choices she has made seem to indicate that she's on her way to achieving more stability in her life. But, seeing her joy at being a part of our little family celebrations makes me want to involve her more often.

And then...she allows Olivia to see parts of her life that are foreign to Olivia. The smoking, the language, the mannerisms...things we don't want Olivia to pick up on. And so far, Olivia hasn't...much. In fact, she corrects Samantha (and others) on certain things. "We don't say that word." "Ain't is NOT a word!"

But, as much as she tried to conceal it from Olivia during our visit, Olivia picked up on the fact that Miss Samantha would sneak outside for a cigarette. There's this dissonance in her mind...she prays nightly for Miss Samantha to stop smoking. She knows that it is bad for your lungs. Her little 4-year-old mind can't comprehend why someone would do something that is bad for them.

And, she ADORES Miss Samantha. She doesn't see her often, but when she does, she wants to hold her hand and walk by her and have her watch EVERYTHING she does. So after we got home from dropping Miss Samantha off on Saturday, it didn't surprise me much to find Olivia playing "smoking" in the backyard. Which, of course, prompted a Mommy-Daughter heart-to-heart about people we love and how some of their choices aren't the best and we don't want to encourage such choices or be like them in that way because it can be harmful to ourselves, etc.

Now that Olivia's old enough to observe these things, watching the "play smoking" makes me want to place some distance between us and her birthmother. I know that is not helpful either, as I'm sure it will just make Olivia focus MORE on her when we do get together. But I feel the need to protect my child from certain things while she is still very, very impressionable.

I feel there are great benefits to open adoption, especially for Olivia and her future self-identity. I just hope she can separate who she is from who her birthmother has been based on her birthmother's individual choices. Samantha is a product of her environment and her own upbringing, which was turbulent, to say the least. But she and Olivia exhibit similar personality characteristics, and I pray every day that Olivia's upbringing can help her channel those traits and tendencies in good, productive ways.

Monday, November 21, 2011


When you are in your twenties, 30 sounds old. And then you hit 30 and realize that all of those twenty-somethings are just kids. You, however, are still considered to be among the young crowd, except now you are young with life experience.

Thirty-five is a little least for women. It seems to be the magical line where your biological clock starts ticking a little louder and your body starts falling apart. You slide from a category of regular women of childbearing age to a category that is high risk if pregnancy should occur (not that it's likely either way for me). Something about hormones and chromosomes and whatnot. Women over 35 are supposed to be at risk for this and that and the other thing. I think I'm supposed to be gaining weight...and aren't your bones supposed to start falling apart at this point? It just seems like the arbitrary point where everything is supposed to start going downhill.

I'm not worried. I feel better than I have in years. Because of my reproductive health issues, I disciplined myself to eat better than I ever hav and weigh less than I have at any point in my life post-high-school. I sleep well, I enjoy my life, and I don't have a lot of extra stress. While my family size is smaller than I would have imagined it to be at this point, I love my family and the time we spend together. It just seems...right. I am content.

So, although it is raining AND a Monday, I'm going to say that on my thirty-fifth birthday, I am pretty happy. Life is good.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Interview Project: Introducing Kristin

Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2011

One of my favorite bloggers on adoption and related issues, Heather, is hosting an interview project in the adoption-related blogging world. I was randomly paired with Kristin from Parenthood Path. I really enjoyed reading through her blog and getting to know her a bit better through her online story and her interview questions.

Her interview is below. My questions are in italics. Her answers are not. As a point of reference, her husband is M., her son is D., and her son's birth mother is V. Hope you enjoy getting to know Kristin as much as I have!

You and I both have very young adopted children, so we haven’t yet had to deal with school family tree projects or questions from our kids about why their family is different from other families. It does make us think through, about how the birthmother/birth family fits into OUR family as a whole. In your ideal scenario, what would be your birthmother’s role/involvement in your family?

Hmmm…First and foremost, I want D. to have a comfortable and natural relationship with V. (one that makes any scrutiny that his atypical family might receive easy for him to handle). Next, I want V. to have a comfortable and natural relationship with her son. Third, I want V. to have a comfortable and natural relationship with me and M. And last, you guessed it, I want M. and I to have a comfortable and natural relationship with V. I’m not sure how we will achieve these things as our lives progress, but I imagine it will continue to require openness, honesty, respect, and love.

You allude to some problems with maintaining your “ideal “open adoption relationship because the ball gets dropped by V. I can really relate to this. Has this difficulty caused you to re-evaluate your “ideal “relationship, or has it strengthened your resolve to find ways to keep the lines of communication open?

Both. I’d really like to have regular and predictable contact with D’s birth mom, but I’ve had to adjust my expectations a bit and work to “meet her where she’s at.” Shifting my focus has taken some pressure off of me, and I think it’s also helped me personally connect with her better when she is in touch.

Of course, I worry a lot about how contact that isn’t regular and predictable might impact D. It’s been tremendously helpful to learn from other parents (like Heather!) about how they see their role not as protecting their kids from disappointment and hurt, but helping them to navigate difficult (and inevitable) emotions in healthy and productive ways.

Do you have plans to try to adopt again? Why or why not?

I suppose you’ll just have to stay tuned to learn the answer to this question! I will say that our lives are VERY full and happy with the one beautiful child we have.

You’ve talked about positive adoption language on your blog before. What is the most annoying term/phrase you’ve heard used by family or friends in reference to your son and/or his birth family?

Yah, we’ve been asked if we’ve heard from his “real mom,” and other awkward and annoying things. Mostly, though, the slips have just come from people who mean well but just haven’t thought about the implications of their words and found better ways to express themselves. I guess we’re fortunate in that no particularly awful incident comes to mind.

It does bother me that despite all the educating and explaining we’ve tried to do, some people in our lives still seem not to appreciate why we want a close relationship with D’s birth family, regardless of any challenges that might bring.

How do you deal with family or friends who are “repeat offenders” in using language that is not helpful?

At this point, depending on the offender and the offense, I either shrug it off and move on, gently mention a preferred term or perspective, or (more often than I probably should) correct with a scolding tone and rolling eyes.

I’ve read adoption bloggers who fall in one of two separate ideologies: “He WAS adopted.” Or “He IS adopted.” Apparently, for many, there is a big difference in identifying this as a once-and-done event or as an ongoing part of who you (and your family) are. Into which camp do you fall? Why?

I actually wrote about this particular issue and how my views on it have changed in my last post about Positive Adoption Language. Basically, I think it needs to be up to the person who was/is adopted to decide what term to use, and when.

Personally, I am trying to train myself to say, “we adopted him,” rather than “he is/was adopted,” because I think that more accurately reflects an action the adults took, instead of some characteristic of our son.

Your infertility journey was similar to ours in that you didn’t try many of the more invasive, expensive procedures before pursuing adoption. I’ve found that a lot of people question that and wonder why we chose adoption instead of pursuing these technologies. What is the most compelling reason you can give for why adoption was your choice.

Quite simply, we were more confident adoption would make us parents than IVF. We also felt that adoption was more consistent with our values.

Yes, I will always miss never having been pregnant, given birth, or nursed my child. But now, when I go into my boy’s room in the morning and he’s jiggling with joy to see me, I am so, so glad we didn’t spend lots more time, money, and heartache on medical intervention. There is no way M. and I could have created a child so “perfect.”

My thought exactly. :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Parent-Teacher conferences

I have a lot of stuff to catch up on. We'll start here.

Olivia goes to preschool at a Catholic grade school, and they do some things for the preschool just like they would for the rest of the school, including parent-teacher conferences. So last Wednesday, we met with Olivia's teacher.

I didn't really know what to expect. I know my kid is a little, well, bossy and overbearing. At least at home. Her preschool director has had nothing but good things to say about her, though, and the daily sheets she brings home from school are all pretty good. No notes for bad behavior. And I know she's learning stuff. But what is actually happening behind the scenes?

Well, Miss Bobbie, her teacher, started by pulling out a portfolio with her name on it. She showed us a triangle and a circle. "On the first day of school, we asked the kids to cut out some shapes. These are Olivia's. She has no trouble using scissors. These are very well done." So far, so good.

"This is her name as she wrote it on the first day." Perfect. Good. We saw some more samples of her work in cutting, coloring, arranging pieces, gluing, etc. Check, check and check. She is fine on all the motor skills and such.

Then we went to letter and number recognition. She tested "within the range where we want kids to be when they start kindergarten". Same with following directions. It is apparent that she's a bright and teachable child.

"Now, about Olivia's problems with M..." M is a kid in her class. Olivia has been talking about her since she started school. "M hit me today. I don't think she likes me. She's not very nice to me." This went on for a couple of weeks before I called the preschool director to see what was up. I was under no illusions that the problem was entirely M's...I was sure Olivia was causing her fair share of the trouble between the two of them. Which was why the teacher wanted to address it with us.

As it turns out, M and Olivia are two VERY strong personalities, more alike than different, and that is why they clash. Instead of separating them, though, the teacher intentionally puts them together for projects and assigns them tasks to complete together. I found that interesting, especially in light of the fact that Olivia has recently been coming home identifying M as her friend and has fewer and fewer complaints about her. The teacher is trying to help the girls learn ways to get along. So, I was pretty happy with the way they were handling that.

Also, the teacher explained that she tends to redirect Olivia's bossy nature, explaining that she doesn't ever punish a kid for being bossy. "I have seen those bossy preschoolers turn into student council presidents and leaders in their high school classes. We want to use that energy well and teach them how to be constructive with it."

So, overall, a good session!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Happy 4th birthday!

Today, Olivia turned 4 years old. We celebrated by taking her and her birthmother to the zoo. While there is a lot more I want to say about the day and our time together, for now, let's just say that it was a beautiful day and a successful outing and a good time was had by all.

And for now, I'm going to bed. More about this next week.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Home improvement, because we are on a roll in that particular arena

So, we have this screened porch. It has always been one of my favorite least for handful of weeks when the weather is seasonable enough to sit out there. But then it became storage for everything in the yard...rakes, sand toys, bikes, the grill.
Pictured in its recently-cleaned-out state. Usually it looks more like a storage barn without walls to hide all the crap.

Several years ago, we acquired this, um, interesting barrel furniture. Joe inherited it when his aunt died because she knew that he always admired it. But our house=not so big. So the furniture had been living in my uncle's basement. Except my uncle is selling his house. And we figured that five years is long enough to impose on someone's good nature to store all of our excess furniture.

So we moved it into the house, thinking we'd store it wherever we could find a place until we figured out what to do next. Except there is nowhere to store anything in our house, so it lives in the living room. The table has become the kids' favorite coloring place.

The couch, yes indeed, sits right in front of our other couch. Yes, it looks as weird as it sounds.

Oh yeah. There's a bar. Right now, it does duty as a changing table and/or a sewing table.

Here's the thing...there's nowhere to put my Christmas tree. And the third bedroom/a.k.a. storage room has become even more cluttered since I had to move furniture into there to make room for this furniture out in the living area.

Long story, short point. We have a contractor starting work on Monday to remove the screens on our porch and replace them with walls/windows to create an all-seasons sun porch. And then the barrel furniture will live out there, permanently. And that's what is going on here, now. The end.

Happy 11/11/11. Also, this little girl turns 4 years old tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

In which I overdose on paint fumes and birthday cake

It's been a little heavy on photos and a little light on dialogue here lately. There are reasons for that. It's not that I don't have anything to say. It's just that I've been to busy to say any of it.

And here's why (more pictures).

We found ourselves with a completely free Saturday the weekend of Halloween (Oct 29th) and decided upon waking that this would be the day to paint the living room. Now, this wasn't a rash and hasty decision. We had decided to repaint last Thanksgiving after putting in the new floor. It took us until April to choose colors and then August to buy paint. So we had all the supplies and colors and whatnot. Now it was just time to do it.

We took this color:

and changed it to this color.
Now it goes nicely with the oriental rug in the living room. But we weren't finished yet. There was still the dining room/kitchen to repaint. I got super ambitious and decided that it must be finished by the following weekend (Nov 6th) when we were planning to have Olivia's birthday party. So I took this:
And turned it into this (all while the kids were playing in the other room or napping...I know, I got skillz).

It's a little shiny in that picture because it's still wet. And it looks exactly like the living room, except that it isn't. It is a darker shade, but photography doesn't do it justice.

So, overall, we took this:

and turned it into this:

Again, very hard to see how the two colors play together. So you'll just have to trust me when I say that they do. And here's the living room color with the floor and a touch of the rug.

And that's all. Because no one cares about my house colors except me. The end.

Moving on. Finished the paint on Thursday. Took the next two days to clean house and prepare for Sunday's birthday bash. It was a beautiful day, and the pint-sized guests played outside for most of it. We walked down to the local stables (about a quarter-mile away) for pony rides. The kids had fun. The birthday girl was pleased.

And a good time was had by all. She still has a few days until she's officially four (Nov 12th), but she still thinks she's big stuff.

Also, we have a dozen leftover cupcakes in the fridge. With homemade cream cheese icing. Who wants to help me eat them?

Sunday, November 6, 2011


The weather today is very nearly identical to what it was seven years ago...sunny, mid-60s and perfect for a wedding. It's hard to believe that it has already been seven years.
We've fit a lot of life experience into those seven years, though. And I love you more today than I ever have. Happy Anniversary, my love.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Early birthday party

We're going to have your birthday party in two days, Olivia. What do you think of that?

I think she's pleased.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Things on a rainy day

This is what Olivia is wearing to her preschool Halloween party today. Her hair kind of disappears in this get-up.
She couldn't decide if she was going to be a wizard or a witch or "spiderella," which was the name on the costume, minus the hat, which we already had. There's a weblike collar thingie that goes on this that she didn't wear in the picture but did take to school. So, whatever. I don't know what to call it. But she's in costume and happy about it.

Today is my "easy" day when I only have three kids, and those three are pretty docile without my kid here to stir up the action. They are happy to play quietly on the floor or stare at PBS programming while I clean the house. I'm happy to let them. There, I said it. PBS is the babysitter's babysitter.

A contractor-guy is coming by with an estimate on our porch project today. We've been trying to get SOMEONE to give us some sort of idea about how much it would cost to turn our screened porch into a weather-proof, all-season room. I've been calling every contractor I can find for the past six weeks, and this guy is the first one to actually come out, do some measurements, take them home and then get back with us with numbers. I'm hoping they look good, because I really don't want to wait months more for additional estimates. I'm tired of tripping over the furniture that is meant to live in our new room as soon as it is finished.

I must call today and get Olivia's birthday party plans underway. We are thinking pony rides and a cowgirl theme. But that's as far as the planning goes thus far. We live within walking distance of a place that offers pony rides, so that should be easily accomplished. I just have to pick up the phone and do it. Now. Go. Gah!

Hope the sun is shining wherever you are, dear readers. Lack of sun is killing my motivation today.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The gymnast

So, I took Olivia to her gymnastics class on Monday night in a new leotard (provided by the beloved hand-me-down box of awesomeness). This leo fits quite nicely and she looks like, well, a gymnast. Not a tiny kid bouncing around in gymnastics gear, but a gymnast.

My kid, she has definition. She's muscular, and I realized that she doesn't have baby fat anymore. She doesn't LOOK like an almost-4-year-old. And her skills are advancing at lightning speed.

She's just so confident. I see her out there doing backbend flip-overs and assisted back handsprings and pulling herself, unassisted, onto the uneven bars...much to the astonishment of her coaches. (The uneven-bars coach watched her do it and then said, to the main coach, "Hey, watch this! Olivia, do that again. Can you believe she's doing it by herself?") She pays attention. She stands in line and listens to instruction and then DOES what they ask her to do.

This month marks the one-year anniversary of starting gymnastics, and there is SUCH a difference in her behavior and her skill. She's not a baby anymore. She's this amazing little kid with interests and skills that I never had. It's really amazing how fast they change at this age.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cruise recap

Here we are, back from our cruise. It was four parts fabulous, one part distressing. Fabulous because, despite the constant threat of rain in the first two days, we only got rained-on once and enjoyed some warm-but-not-hot days in the Bahamas and Key West. Fabulous because we enjoyed uninterrupted, relaxed time together. Fabulous because we did not need to worry about Olivia, who was enjoying some exclusive grandparent time. Fabulous because I was REALLY looking forward to a vacation.

Distressing because being there meant I was missing my grandmother's funeral.

We got the call about Grandma while eating breakfast at our connecting airport on the way to Florida on Monday. Grandma had been in decline for years, and recently had an infection that led to an inability to swallow food. The week before the cruise, hospice said it could be days or weeks, depending on the strength of her heart. It turned out to be days. It was not unexpected at all, but still always shocking and hard when someone you love dies. I knew it was coming, but found myself fighting tears at unexpected moments those first couple of days of the cruise.

The funeral was planned for Friday, which was the day we'd be flying back. If we were doing a 5-day beach vacation, we would have cut it short by a day and flown back on Thursday. But you can't exactly do that with a cruise. So while my whole family was gathered for her funeral, I was sitting in a Miami airport listening to Herman Cain explain his 9-9-9 plan on CNN.

When my grandpa died three years ago, the whole family came. To my recollection, of the 12 children, 29 grandchildren and all of the great-grandchildren (there are 24 now, I don't know how many we had 3 years ago) we were missing two cousin who was deployed to Afghanistan and another cousin who is a priest who is studying in Rome. So, I felt bad missing the funeral for vacation. Kind of a peer-pressure thing. Even more (and selfishly so) I missed visiting with all of my family. We are tight, but it is rare that we ALL get together at the same time.

So, yeah, there was this thought in the back of my mind during the whole cruise that I should not be enjoying myself so much while everyone at home was planning a funeral. Why do we do that to ourselves? Grieving makes sense. But guilt is so useless.

Anyway, that aside, we had a lovely time. Really. We were there with a bunch of priests on retreat (Joe's role was to introduce the retreat master and to lead a focus group). We ate dinner with the group every night and had Mass together every morning. The rest of the day was our own. We bought a bunch of crap for Olivia and ate and ate and ate and walked and enjoyed each other's company. It was a great week.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Is there any way we can move that sail date up to, say, this afternoon?

Fridays are my most difficult days because I have Olivia plus five babysitting kids. It's the only day every week that it happens. Olivia is at school the other day that I have five, and the rest of the days I only have three or four.

Usually, it is manageable, knowing that the weekend is coming. Today, it should be extra manageable knowing that the weekend will be followed by a week of vacation away with just me and my husband.

But, somehow, the kids got the memo that I was THISCLOSE to vacation, and they decided to ramp up the crazy. You know, just so I'd REALLY appreciate this time away.

The baby is a nightmare today. She was apparently awake more than normal last night, according to her Mommy, so her usual screamy self was extra tired and screamy. Like the "I'm so tired I can't possibly be bothered to eat and so hungry I can't sleep more than ten minutes at a time" kind of screamy. The only time she has been happy today was when we were outside, and even then she was sort of jumpy-grabby-screamy. The squeal-like screamy. The slap-happy tired and crazy-happy screamy.

Olivia woke up with a double dose of her "Friday-so-tired-from-the-whole-week" crazies. So there's that. The rest of the kids have ramped up the whine, the tattling, and the mischieviousness.

Around lunchtime, I was just ready to throw something. Little did I know, this was just before they really dialed up the crazy times ten...dozen. I got plates ready, then put the grabby baby on the floor so I could free up my hands (and remove her grabby ones) from my own lunch preparation. She was happy for two minutes. Then she started to scream. The kids took that as their cue to start bouncing around and playing with each other's food. Finally, I removed the baby to my bedroom floor so I wouldn't have the screaming in the same room. What kind of trouble can she get into there, right? She is only able to scoot herself a few feet and mostly turns in a circle.

Uh-huh. She finally stopped screaming, so I went in to check on her. She had scooted herself into the bathroom and had toppled the bathroom trash and was chewing on the corner of an almond bag. There were about a billion other worse things in the trash that she could have been chewing on, so let's just say I was relieved. I removed the trash and closed the bathroom door, which led to more screaming. I knew the kid was hungry, but I had to get the others through lunch first.

Meanwhile, the kids are shouting at each other in the dining room. Not because they were mad...just because shouting appeared to be the preferred volume for lunch conversation. I went in to put a stop to it by asking if they needed to eat in separate rooms. They all said no. Except Olivia. So she spent the rest of lunch sitting with her plate on the laundry room floor. The rest of the kids (who are terrified of me when Olivia is not a part of the mix) ate the rest of their meal in silence. I may have to try this more often.

Got the baby fed. She screamed between bites of jar food and screamed when her bottle was not yet finished. I finally pronounced her too tired to eat and put her to bed. Right after she fell asleep in the master bedroom, which is how I separate her from the other nappers, Olivia insisted that she had to pee RIGHT NOW and someone was in the other bathroom. I told her she had to wait and couldn't use the master bath because she'd wake the baby. I went to tell the other one in the bathroom to hurry. Crying commenced..."I can't. I had an accident."

Oh for heaven's sake, people! So I snuck Olivia into the master bath and left her there while I went to deal with the accident child (who, by the way, is the oldest and has been potty trained longer than anyone here). Then I went back to sneak Olivia back OUT of the bathroom.

Then they started throwing things at the wall in Olivia's room. You know. Just because.

Now I have to go wash someone's clothes along with the bathroom floor mat. Also, I must work on getting these kids down for a nap. Because if we don't get one good, long nap out of everyone today, heads are gonna roll.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Giddy with anticipation

This time next week, I will be on a plane headed for a ship in a tropical destination with my husband, while our daughter spends the week wearing out her grandparents.

Which means, this week will be interminably long.

I plan to keep myself very busy in order to make the time pass quickly. Today is laundry and raking. Our tree has lost 75% of it's leaves in the last week. Sad, but the kids LOVE a pile of leaves to jump in, so today I will entertain them with that.

We have an Engaged Encounter meeting on Saturday, which will require a bit of preparation, so I have to squeeze that in this week. I also plan to pack early, since most of what I am taking is Summer weather stuff that won't be needed HERE this week. I'm hoping that the early packing will make the weekend a little less hectic.

Overall, I am trying to focus on the task at hand and not let my mind wander to the relaxation of a week on a cruise ship. I am not meeting with much success, though.

Friday, October 7, 2011


When you were a teeny baby, I remember watching you smile in your sleep and wondering what filled your dreams to make you smile.

Last night, you woke up, like you occasionally do, and asked Mommy to come lay in bed with you awhile. You fell back asleep quickly, so I knew there was nothing serious weighing on your mind. You just wanted the security of feeling Mommy there beside you as you drifted off into dream land.

As I quietly prepared to steal away and return to my own room, I heard you giggle, and then you started singing in your sleep. Once again, I wondered what your dreams were like. What fills the mind of a not-quite-four-year-old when she's asleep?

You are so untroubled by the world and it's problems. The very complex issues surrounding your birth and adoption do not worry you at all. You know you are loved. You know you are secure. You trust Mommy and Daddy and your grandparents and Jesus. You are sweet and loving and carefree and a little wild.

I'm thankful...

that most of your dreams are sweet...

that your worst dreams are of monsters and dragons that only exist in your imagination...

that you do not live in anxiety about your next meal or the permanency of your family situation...

No child should have to worry about such things, but many do. I'm thankful that you are not one of them. I'm thankful that you are our daughter, forever. I'm thankful for your imagination and your creativity and your talents and the freedom you have to explore them.

I'm thankful that you can laugh and sing in your sleep.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Stuff and things

"Glory to God, Glory to God, I want to see your face. I WANT YOU TO SEE MY FAAAACCE!" Olivia is playing "Church" today, and it is interesting. Especially since she's playing with the two boys I'm babysitting, and they obviously don't have the same experience of liturgy that she does. She keeps telling them to hold the book and leading them in processions and singing various versions of the "Gloria" and they just stand there with confused faces.

Ah, imagination.

"Project organization" is coming along. It helped that Joe took Monday off work and decided to spend his whole day cleaning up this and that. We made some progress. Turns out, all we needed to get weekend stuff done was to hire a playmate for Olivia. She and her babysitting pals went about their merry business while Joe and I cleaned and organized various long-neglected spaces. I feel like we have some momentum now.

We have acquired even MORE furniture...a bed, dresser and end table. All of these things will be great for the third bedroom, but the key is to rid ourselves of all the clutter that is now in "storage" there. So I'm working on that. And I'm getting a little desperate to have that screened porch finished so we can get OTHER furniture out of the house and start living with a little more space. But we can't seem to get any contractors to call us back. Must be a busy time in homebuilding. At this point, I'm seriously thinking about knocking stuff out and starting the project on my own. With help from my Dad, but still. Must fight the urge. Too many other things to do.

It has been super lovely here, which bodes well for my sanity as I can get all the kids outside and enjoy the sunshine for at least an hour a day. We all need that Vitamin D while we can get it easily.

Also, I have exactly one week and a half until cruise time. And I am counting the days. Oh yes. I am. I need a break from these small people.

So, I'm off to start on some more cleaning/organizing. Because too soon, the baby will wake up and the kids will want lunch and then the tired meltdowns start. The window for productivity is only so big here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I think I need more shelving

I feel like I'm living under stacks of stuff. Olivia and the kids scatter stuff all over the house all day, so I don't even bother to try to keep her room and the living room from looking like a disaster area. But other areas are starting to bug me.

We suffer from a severe lack of storage here, and as a result, things get piled. Since there's not a "place" for everything, stuff just gets piled wherever there is space, and then there is NO organization. And then there's the daily mail, magazines, ads...stuff that is stupid clutter and just gets piled instead of filed or tossed.

Recently, this whole "new baby" thing became very real in my mind and I started to think about all the organization we NEED to do to make our third bedroom a livable space. And I'm more than a little overwhelmed. I feel the urge to buy large quantities of shelving and little plastic storage boxes.

We ARE thinking of having our screen porch enclosed to create a real room, and this will help, but mostly with getting bulky furniture out of the way. I may also have plans to make the children spend lots of time out there coloring, or whatever. I can shut the door and watch them through the glass. Ahhh...silence. 'Tis golden, my friends. If I can accomplish this, it will be well worth whatever we have to spend to put those walls in. Oh yes, it will.

In the meantime, I'm envisioning shelving everywhere. Mostly up high, away from the kids. I already have second, high shelves planned for the garage and the laundry room. They will be too high to access without a step ladder, but that's OK with me. I just need places to put stuff, ya know? I don't need to actually ACCESS the stuff all that often.

Must go deal with the very tired, non-napping child-of-mine.

Friday, September 23, 2011

This one is about my cycle. You have been warned.

A year ago, when we finished surgeries and such, I started having hormones tested monthly to see if we could get them in the proper balance for (ha!) pregnancy. And, you know, for normalcy. Then I started changing my diet and feeling better and unintentionally losing weight and YAY! Right?

Enter Summer, A.K.A. the season when I got lazy. I started eating bread occasionally. Maybe once a day. You know, when I was busy or out and needed a quick meal (bread on a sandwich or something). And then people started bringing cookies and treats at my very-part-time summer job. And I'd indulge in one. ONE.

The scale...well it continued to show me that my weight loss was unaffected by these new dietary slip-ups. So I got sloppy. Lazy. Ate more grains when I wanted and didn't worry much about it. The scale continues to stay the same.

But my cycles aren't.

Granted, my cycles are screwed up. I have this weird spotting at the end that just NEVER. GOES. AWAY. Except that it used to be 4-5 days long. Now it's more like 8-10.

And where my cycles used to be 28-30 days in average, they are getting shorter. Disturbingly shorter. Last month was 26 days. This month was 21. TWENTY-ONE DAYS. That's three weeks, people. That is too short. Especially factoring in the first week as menstruation and the last week as spotting. I'm bleeding for 2/3 of my cycle?! That is NOT ok with me.

Here's the thing...I don't know terribly much about reading the medical cues in cycles, but from my experience, short cycles mean one of two things: Pre-menopause or endometriosis. I can't imagine being pre-menopause in my mid 30s. And we've proven my body's tendency toward endometriosis, the evil inflammatory condition that seems destined to take my reproductive organs from me. But I spent a lot of time (not to mention money) and endured a lot of pain to fix that problem last year, and I'm not giving them up without a fight.

All this is to say that I think, maybe, the problem is inflammation and my inability to control it without sticking to the diet. So *sigh* I guess that means that I'm going militant on my diet again. Goodbye, homemade cookies. Goodbye, bread. You taste great, but you are not worth all of this.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Blog? What blog?

I've been busy. That seems to be a running theme here.

This past weekend, Joe and I and another couple led another Engaged Encounter weekend here, and it was fabulous. There's this whole new outline, and while it was a pain in the arse to re-write EVERYTHING and re-work the schedule, props, visual aids, etc, it did seem to flow better and relate better to the couples. Plus, a whole weekend away with my sweetie, who really steps up to the challenge and shows his brilliance on these weekends. I am blessed beyond measure.

So. That's finally over. Great weekend, lots of prep work. Good to be finished with that. Time to move on...

My house is a wreck. I may have ignored certain (all) housekeeping duties for the past, oh, four weeks or more. Time to start a list of projects. Having a list not only keeps me focused, but it helps the time move more quickly as we anticipate...

THE CRUISE! Joe and I are taking a cruise - sort of a work thing for him - in October. Olivia is staying home with grandparents. I am a little bit excited about this. We haven't been on a vacation alone for a good long while. It is time. I am looking forward to a week of relaxing, sleeping, eating, sunning, and generally not worrying about small, loud, messy, needy people. Oh yes. I am looking forward to this.

Friday, September 2, 2011

An anniversary, of sorts

On Tuesday, Joe asked me if I remembered where I was a year ago. I answered, "Omaha, surgery" without even needing to think about it. Last year, the Summer bookend holidays of Memorial and Labor Day were both spent in Omaha or en route to that place where I went under the knife in an effort to erradicate the disease that threatened my reproductive organs and caused all kinds of life-altering symptoms. The surgery on August 30th was the biggie...the one that left me with a c-section-like scar and permanent numbness in my midsection. It was the long surgery in which the doctor basically cleaned up my whole reproductive system and did a little reconstruction. Endometriosis, in my case, had tied up my insides in a bad way.

August 30th also marked the beginning of the longest two weeks of my life, waiting out the healing between surgeries in Omaha while my little girl spent her time with grandparents, ten hours away. The first few days after surgery were painful, and the lack of energy after that was frustrating. But what was most difficult was being away from Olivia for such a long time.

Even though it was a hard wait and the second surgery turned out to cause me more recovery problems than the first (though it was supposed to be outpatient), and I wouldn't want to revisit that time or do it over, I am glad we did it. I feel better, all the time. There are things we discovered through this whole process that have led to treatments and diets and lifestyle changes that make me a happier, healthier person. I think this next two weeks, though, I will be most thankful just to be spending this time at home!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Learning, here and there

I had a bit of a freak-out yesterday. Olivia has a hard time getting up for school. I can't blame her. It is at least an hour earlier than she normally wakes up. And she starts out the day with a freaking long bus ride, which is kind of boring.

But after dealing with her morning ritual of whining about the bus and how she'd rather stay home and play with the kids than go to school...well, something just snapped in me. I started researching preschool curricula for home, which led me to a bunch of research about starting organized learning too soon versus keeping kids in exploratory learning, which led me to wondering if she needed to go to school at all and are we ruining her love for learning by torturing her at an early age with a bus ride and will she end up hating school and therefore hating learning and GAH! It was too much for me.

So I messaged my husband, who talked me down from my freak-out. I was feeling better about it through the afternoon, but still a little concerned. I know this whole first semester is a bit of an experiment. Although she looks much older, she's still just three. But she's so social and loves being around other just seemed like the right step to start her in school a couple days a week. But was it?

Of course, the jury is still out, and probably will be until November-ish. But Olivia stepped off the bus talking about the fun day she had, and most of the rest of my anxieties disappeared. I know she hates being on the bus so long, but I can meet the bus in the afternoon in town (2 miles away) and cut a half-hour off her ride home. That might make a big difference in her least-favorite part of the day (she's almost the last kid off the bus). So. Give it some time, right?

I'm thinking about blogging about some of the things we are doing/learning at home too. She's so bright and inquisitive right now. I'm thinking we can learn at school AND at home. I like the school's approach to preschool...very hands-on, experiential learning. Very few worksheets/organized learning, which is good for that age. And we can certainly build on that at home.

For example, last night we were working on yet another landscape area that we are filling in with rock. Olivia climbed into the truck to fill up the rock bucket and found a "broken" rock that she asked about. It turned out to be a rock with a bunch of fossils in it. So after her bath, we looked up fossils and some youtube videos, which she watched closely. Then we looked at the fossils we had and thought about what they might have been...a fish, a lizard spine and a plant were our conclusions. It doesn't matter if we are right. The point is that we are thinking and imagining and understanding the world around us.

I just love how her brain works at this stage. She's such a bright kid. And she's so excited to go to school on Thursday because it's cowboy/cowgirl day and she gets to wear her boots and cowboy hat. So, freak-out over. For this week, anyway.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Look at that...two weeks gone and I haven't posted a thing! Summer is busy. School/summer is busier.

In the past two weeks Olivia has had a love/hate relationship with the bus. First, she was SO EXCITED to ride the big yellow bus to school. That got old after a couple of long rides home on the hot bus (she's on for nearly 90 minutes in the afternoon). She even had a meltdown one morning because she did NOT want to ride the bus. She liked school, just not the bus. But the school is 20-some miles away and I have kids in my house, so if she was going to go to school, she'd HAVE to ride the bus.

So I called the school, and they agreed to give her a seat buddy. She's been sitting with a little girl in kindergarten (who, by the way, is smaller than she is and yes we are raising an Amazon). Now she gets excited about the bus again. Hooray!

In the meantime, I've been writing, writing, writing (just not here). We are presenting an Engaged Encounter weekend in a couple of weeks, and there's a new outline, which means new talks, and it's a lot of work. But it's nearly finished. YAY!

We cleaned up one of our landscaping beds this week and have it planted and ready for rock. Did that while the kids played in the backyard. We are squeezing productivity out of every minute here.

Also, I have new paint for my living spaces, but I haven't figured out when I'm going to have the time to get it on the walls. That requires kids (including mine) being somewhere else, and I haven't made arrangements for that just yet. We need a free weekend. Ha! And a babysitter.

Oh, and we are "active" with our adoption agency now. Which doesn't mean anything in everyday life, unless the phone rings and we get a match. Then things will get REALLY interesting.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

School days

This morning, at 7:05 a.m., I put my baby on the bus for her first day of school. Preschool, yes, but there's something about putting your kid on the BUS that makes it seem like such a milestone. She'll only be going two days a week, but she'll be going all day since the school (the only Catholic school in the county) is about 20 miles away and if she goes all day she can ride the bus with the big kids.

We stood on the driveway for about ten minutes and watched for the bus...her in her favorite purple polka-dotted shirt and backpack slung over her shoulders. She had no anxieties at all. She was READY. I've known this for months. She's so social, so ready to spend time with other kids in a structured environment. I have been theory. She's so independent and I wanted to encourage her to keep moving forward and learning and growing. But then the bus came by. And suddenly I wasn't just sending my child off to preschool. I was watching her become independent of me.

Maybe it's because of the full-time Mom thing, but this is just weird for me. I mean, I spend every day, all day with this kid. Except for occasions when we have a sitter (or when she spends the night with grandparents), she's been my fairly constant companion. Tagging along on shopping trips, doing what I do, her agenda set by mine. Now, she'll have a whole different set of experiences, and soon enough, an agenda of her own. She'll have her activities and sports and fundraisers and friends. It's all about growing more fully into the independent individual she already is.

I know she's excited. I am excited too. But also a little sad. My little girl is growing up.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Routine and active waiting.

Today is my first day back to babysitting for the school year. Olivia is really enjoying having playmates again. REALLY ENJOYING. They are making up pretend games and having a grand old time. I managed to get five pints of tomatoes canned and read through our homestudy draft while they played the morning away.

Speaking of...our homestudy is complete! The report was emailed to us today for our review, and once we make the few edits that are necessary, it will be COMPLETE. Our profile (the picture-laden document that introduces us to birthparents) was finished last week. So we should be active by Monday.


So. Now we wait. But actively, with our cell phones on and charged at all times. It's sort of a weird state of limbo.

Meanwhile, Olivia starts school tomorrow. Preschool, two days a week, all day. Since we've opted to send her to preschool at the Catholic school where we intend her to go for elementary school, and it's on the other side of the county, she'll ride the bus to and from preschool. And she is SO EXCITED. I am a little nervous. I hope she does well on the bus. I don't have many anxieties about the actual school day, but her behavior on the bus does concern me. Especially since she will be getting on the bus about an hour and a half earlier than she usually WAKES UP. We have not done very well in shifting her schedule to be ready for this change, but I guess she'll adjust...

I don't suppose I was really ready for the school year, but away we go...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Our homestudy should be finished in just a couple of weeks. We have done everything we need to we just wait on the agency to finish the paperwork. And with their track record, we could have a match or even a placement within three months.

That is fast.

It seems like we've been waiting and waiting for years to add a baby to our family. We are ready. But we've also become so comfortable with life as it is that I'm sure it will be a shocking adjustment when it happens anyway.

I am excited with the anticipation of it all. And trying to enjoy every day we have left as a family of three while we still have this.

It's funny how change is so eagerly anticipated and yet bittersweet because it means forever changing what we are now. And what we are now is good, but not complete, I think.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Busy and writing

This is the sixth post I've written this entire month. All I can say is that Summer is busy. Also, I've been spending most of my writing time knocking out new talks for Engaged Encounter, which has overhauled it's entire outline, forcing allowing all Engaged Encounter presenting teams to rewrite all of their talks. Goody.

No, really, it's a good thing. The outline was horribly outdated. It was originally written in the 1970s, and parts of it gave that away. Badly. So this is a good change. But a little inconvenient.

Anyway, we are presenting a weekend in September, and we had nine talks to write/rewrite. I have written drafts of seven talks. Joe still has to go through them to edit and add his own examples. But we are making progress.

I've had a lot of other writing projects this Summer. I had to do a very important report for our NFP center. And then there was the homestudy paperwork. All while Olivia is dying of Summer boredom and asking me to listen to her iPod, practice writing letters with her, watch her do a handstand, play Dora kitchen with her. The kid is sorely missing her friends. Luckily, she has been sleeping late (allowing me some computer time to get all of this writing done). And her friends will start coming back to babysitting in 12 days. She's so ready.

Guess what Summer project didn't get finished (or even started)? Painting. We still have n@ked baseboards from the Thanksgiving flooring project and walls that need a new color. I'm not sure when that will happen's not that important really. It just feels weird sometimes to realize that it's sort of unfinished.

Olivia is calling. I'm supposed to be practicing letters with her. Gotta get on with my Summer duties.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Alfredo sausage stuffed peppers

This recipe was inspired by my husband, who loves the alfredo sausage lasagne I make for him (tomato allergy). The alfredo sausage came from my grain-free no-tomato lasagne recipe. The instructions for the peppers came from my Grandma's meatloaf-stuffed peppers. The peppers came from my plot in Dad's garden. And they were YUMMY!

Start with as many peppers as you want to stuff. Six large would be good. I had nine small-ish ones. Cut out the tops and seeds, rinse, put in boiling water for five minutes, then arrange in baking dish.

Meanwhile, brown 2lbs of sausage (breakfast, italian, whatever you like. It really doesn't matter). Drain. Add alfredo sauce (from jar, or you can make your own, which is what I did). Heat through.

Stuff meat into peppers.

Cover dish (I used foil) and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 15 minutes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Why travel sucks even though it is awesome

I have what I think is a respiratory infection, which came on the heels of a nasty cold, which started in the midst of our long weekend of travel in mid-July during which we slept in hotels and spent hours in the car. This awful monster illness is eerily similar to what I got immediately following Spring Break week, when we took a short vacation trip. I think I am sensing a pattern...

When I have a cold, I feel like I am just waiting out life until things get back to normal. My energy is sapped. I have very little to offer Olivia, who is bored stiff and watching her upteenth episode of Disn#y Jr crap just to pass the time. I am so sorry, kid. I would love to take you to the pool or the park or, heck, the backyard. But the steamy, hot weather sends me into fits of coughing, and I'm just trying to keep breathing as it is. (Ok, let's face it...I would avoid the steamy hot weather even if I was well. But I might be more inclined to drive to the library or something.)

The thing is, I really look forward to trips. It is fun to plan and think about doing something out of the ordinary. It's good to have a diversion from the routine. But the price I just sucks.

Here's what I don't get...I am the only one getting sick. How is that possible? What makes me more susceptible to whatever germs we are encountering when the three of us travel together? And how can I fix that?

Ugh. There are no answers. I hate that I'm spending precious Summer time wasting away the days being sick. Babysitting resumes on August 10th. That's just two weeks away! Must get out of the house while we can!

So. We are going "to town" to buy canning jars and spices to make some dill pickles this afternoon. High excitement going on here.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Whoa, baby. Summer is busy.

Geez. It's been almost three weeks since I posted. Whoever called it Summer "break" was seriously disturbed.

We have been busy. That is the understatement of the year. Our homestudy has taken off. In the last three weeks we have completed all of the paperwork, attended our homestudy interview and class, had our home visit, and now we sit on our hands and wait until the agency finishes our report. Probably about four weeks to activation. And away we go!

Olivia has been talking a lot about baby brother or sister. She often says she wants a baby brother AND sister. I tell her it's a tall order. She's been repeating that to everyone. "I'm going to have a baby brother and sister, but Mommy says it's a tall order, but that's OK." So. Possible, but not likely. But she can keep praying.

Meanwhile, Olivia seems to get the whole adoption thing. She knows that she grew in Miss Samantha's tummy and knows without a doubt that we are Mommy and Daddy. I guess that's good enough. I'm sure more questions will come with baby, but she seems to drink stuff in and process it pretty well, so I'm not really worried.

We spent last weekend in the car, mostly. We visited Joe's Grampa (10 hour drive), who just turned 95 and was having a big party. He is 95 but with the energy of most people in their 70s, and it's always fun to see him. We came home by way of my brother's house (5 hour drive), where we saw my niece in their local amateur circus. It was fabulous. It's really amazing what those kids do. Then we came home. Five days, four nights, four different hotels, more than 25 hours in the car. Olivia napped less than 90 minutes (total) in the car in ALL that time. But she slept well at night. And she was pretty well behaved in the car. The trip went so much better than expected, except for the "trip cold" I contracted that is now beating me down. *Sigh* The joys of traveling.

Today I'm processing garden produce and trying to rest and stay inside. IT IS HOT. We've had temps in the 90s and dew points in the 80s for, well, what seems like forever. Swimming doesn't even feel good now because most pools are now bath temperature, and the air is so damp that it just feels like pouring hot water over you in a steam bath. Yuck.

Olivia has picked this horribly humid time of year to decide that she wants to experiment with straight hair. So we bought a straight iron and tried. It started out straight-ish. Then after an hour outside it looked like this.
I won't even bother showing you what it looked like by the end of the day. Yikes! But it did give me an opportunity to trim the ends, making it infinitely easier to style. I didn't realize the ends were so damaged and tangled. I blame the hours in the pool.

Oh, speaking of the pool, while we were swimming in one of the hotel pools, Olivia decided to get brave and swim the entire length by herself! I was just a few steps in front of her the whole time, but still...she never needed me. Just jumped in at one end, swam underwater a few feet, then doggie-paddled to the end. The kid is a fish (no lessons, just inborn talent). Too bad the chlorine ruins her hair.