Thursday, February 24, 2011

Go see some pictures of happier times

Olivia has been spending her week intermittently writhing in stomach pain and taking naps.
I did not mean to take nearly a whole week off, and this is certainly not how we would have chosen to spend a week off, but here we are. So go here for pictures of last weekend...a happier time.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Stomach bug

Gah! We got home from gymnastics last night and immediately Olivia started complaining of stomach pain. She's been intermittently throwing up since. So far, this illness very closely resembles the last stomach bug she had, which lasted two days and for which there was NOTHING to do but try to keep her hydrated and try to keep her from eating. Hard to do when all she does is beg for food and then throw it back up. I have tried convincing her that food is not a good thing for her to have right now, but she's just SO hungry and feeling weak and limp and HATES it.

I'm hoping for a better day tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sunshiny day

Oh, friends, it is sunny today and upper 60s, and it feels SO GOOD. Never mind that I have one of those nasty allergy headaches from being outside yesterday. I wasn't going to let a little thing like pain ruin the first real Spring-like day of the year.

I only have one additional child in my charge today, which meant a greater chance for peaceful play and a smaller chance of needing to intervene or help in any way. I got out my wheelbarrow and spade and started digging mulch out of the flower beds on the corners of the play yard. The girls helped for about ten minutes, then they got bored and went back to their play. That was fine with me. Playing in the dirt (a.k.a. landscaping project work) is my catharsis. I'm constantly reassessing the area while I work and thinking of new ideas and ways to change or improve it. I'm not sure I decided on anything, but just the process has me excited about jumping into outdoor Spring projects.

It looks like I'm going to be investing in copious amounts of sinus/allergy headache medicine. I refuse to sit Spring out this year like I had to last year. I want to get out and enjoy it!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Big girl

Olivia spent Friday night at Grandma and Grandpa's house, without paci and without incident. She accidentally left blankie behind and didn't even all. She was so exhausted after all her Saturday fun with Grandma and Grandpa and FINALLY getting to play outside on the first warmish day we've seen in a long time, and she fell asleep while reading books with Daddy on the couch at 7:15!!

Our girl has been "night trained" for five months, which just means that she wears undies to bed because she has an iron bladder and doesn't need a pull-up. In five months we've had three bedtime accidents, but NO mid-night potty usage. What this means, of course, is that typically she sleeps through the whole night without needing to use the potty. On those rare occasions where she does, she has peed in her bed.

On Saturday night, she woke herself up shortly after midnight, used the potty, and then came to tell me she had used the potty and would I put her back in bed please? I did, left the room for two minutes, and came back to find her fast asleep. I'm amazed on so many levels...waking herself up to potty without having been "taught" that, going by herself in the middle of the night, not freaking out about the monsters she typically sees in the middle of the night, falling asleep peacefully and quickly after being wide awake and without paci...

I think we can officially call her a big girl now.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The paci fairy

Here we are, ten days into the "no-paci zone", and I feel it is safe to say it has been a success. It has also been a challenge.

It was Groundhog day, a cold and gray day when famous Phil did NOT see his shadow (yay!), and when it was time for nap, paci was nowhere to be found. Olivia and I looked and looked, and then I got a brilliant flash of an idea and started telling her that the paci fairy must have decided it was "time". Enter incredibly creative and impromptu explanation of the paci fairy (into which very little forethought was invested). We decided to skip nap that day and worth through the first phase of her grieving process (I also spent a good deal of time actually locating the missing paci while Olivia wasn't paying attention...had to follow through, and a "found" paci would have blown the whole mission). We did some painting and coloring and such, and every once in awhile Olivia would moan about wanting paci, and we'd go through the story again and it passed.

That night, bedtime was much harder than most no-nap days. She fought sleep for something like 90 minutes, which is not unheard-of on a nap day when she is feeling particularly defiant. But on a no-nap day, she is usually out in ten minutes. That night, she fought sleep and mourned the missing paci for a LONG time before she finally just passed out.

I say mourned because that is truly what it looked like. She cried and held me and needed comfort as if she'd lost her very best friend in the world. She wanted to bargain with paci fairy. I told her that paci fairy sometimes watches to see how well big girls do without their pacis and then will leave little treats of encouragement. That seemed to cheer her a little. But then she decided that she didn't WANT treats...she wanted paci. So that first night was just hard.

My biggest fear was that she'd sleep half of the night and then wake up and not be able to go back to sleep without paci. But that didn't happen. In fact, she has slept through the night every night since then. I'm sure the sheer exhaustion of totally giving up nap has assisted in our success, but so far I don't have too many complaints.

Olivia woke up on Feb 3rd to a note from the paci and a chocolate treat. There was more mourning at tired times and at bedtime on the second and third days, but both nights she was asleep within 15 minutes of going to bed. By the fourth night, she was compliant with our requests (mostly) to settle down and go to sleep without begging for paci. Now she simply doesn't ask about paci anymore except to inquire if the fairy would leave her another treat. (We've found that chocolate and notes are great motivators for her!)

Paci fairy will be making her exit this weekend with a big-ticket "prize" for officially growing up and being a big girl. I assembled a new hot wheels vehicle of some sort, and the weather will finally cooperate with her using it outside on Saturday.

One thing I did NOT expect through this whole thing...the lack of dependence on blankie. I was expecting blankie to stay around awhile and comfort her through the whole paci thing. For the first few days, though, Olivia didn't want anything to do with blankie until AFTER she was asleep (when I would sneak it into her hands for tactile comfort). Now she will hold and finger it a bit for the less-than-two minutes it takes her to fall asleep. But it stays in bed when she gets up. She no longer NEEDS it. This is huge.

Despite the fact that I miss my nap "break", this has undoubtedly been a good change. To illustrate this point, here's a before and after:

Before: Paci/Blankie were demanded every time Olivia felt wronged or hurt or upset, and these demands were happening several times a day. She'd take paci/blankie and retreat to a corner to sulk.

After: She has learned to cope better. I have to break up fewer fights, negotiate fewer toy sharings and in general interfere in their play less. Olivia GETS ALONG BETTER with others.

Before: Olivia would get up from bed and lay on the couch with paci/blankie for at least a half hour before agreeing to eat/play/talk. She was usually grumpy.

After: She gets up, leaves blankie behind in bed and typically comes straight to the kitchen to request breakfast. She sometimes lays on the couch, but she is generally in a pleasant mood.

Before: Long car rides would induce screaming fits if paci/blankie were inadvertently left behind. Such fits would continue until we reached our destination or she passed out. This was NOT pleasant.

After: During long car rides, if she gets tired she just stares out the window quietly, trying to stay awake. Sometimes she falls asleep, but it has thus far been peaceful.

These are just a few examples of the positive changes I've seen. In addition...she's fairly pleasant ALL DAY, despite not having a nap. I don't know if it's exhaustion or if she is just a grumpy napper, but many days she'd behave horribly AFTER nap...worse than she ever did in the mornings. Now she seems more even-tempered and calm and easier to get to do...anything. She pays attention better. It's like my incredibly difficult child has just become...a normal three-year-old.

If I had known how nice life would be without paci, I would have pushed this change a LONG time ago.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The diet

Today I tried mustard greens for the first time. Since I had to give up milk and don't want to lose my super-human bone density, I need alternate sources of calcium. Mustard greens are a good source of calcium and vitamins A and C, so I thought they were worth a try. They were...uninspiring. At least the way I prepared them. Palatable, but uninspiring.

Such is life. I'm actually adjusting fairly well to the new diet. Avoiding actual sugar isn't that hard when I can substitute with sweet fruits, stevia and agave nectar. And I don't actually NEED as much by way of sweets if I fill up on bean or lentil soups (yum!) and salads, which have become staples. Luckily, Olivia actually really likes both lentil soup and any kind of bean soup, so I can feed my family some of the same things. And I don't feel guilty eating whenever I want because what I'm eating between meals...fruits, veggies, nut not going to make me gain weight. It's all about the glycemic index, baby. I'm learning to keep my insulin level so my body works better.

I still have a wee bit of dairy now and then, in the form of butter or those cheeses that get snuck into super-yummy things (pesto), but I figure that the overall effect is what we are going for.

The hardest part is figuring out exactly which diet to use. I've read lots of things from lots of different sources, and while some of the info is the same (eat fruits and veggies, duh), there is a lot of contradiction over various protein sources and, of all weirdness, grains. The book I'm following closest says whole grains are great. But I found a site this week that said avoid ALL grains. Both sources claim to have helped women overcome infertility using their diet recommendations. It's so confusing.

I think maybe I need to stop reading.

I have decided to commit to this until Summer's end, at least. We shall see what several months of diet overhall can do...

Friday, February 4, 2011

FOUR posts in one week! Can you believe it?

I managed to post nearly every day this week. Wow. Must be coming out of the winter funk. Maybe it's the fact that we've gone a whole week without a snow day and I'm finally feeling like we are on something of a regular routine again. At any rate, here are four random thoughts to celebrate my four posts this week...

1. I have this friend who has a son who was deathly afraid of getting a flu shot. She searched high and low for a book to help him through his fears. Not finding one, she decided to write one herself. It was just published! Go here to buy it. Go! Now!

2. When our cell phone contract was up with our old provider, we switched to a pay-as-you-go option. We got free phones online and pay $30/month for 1000 minutes and 1000 texts (if you research plans, you'll know what we got). I COULD NOT BE HAPPIER WITH THIS PLAN. There are no hidden fees! No accidentally-incurred charges (if you don't subscribe to it, you can't access it...awesome)! And we get MORE talk time AND text (which wasn't on our old plan). I can't figure out why more people aren't doing this.

3. We are giving a presentation on the Sacrament of Marriage at an RCIA program this weekend. I wrote the talk and my husband put together the awesome powerpoint presentation. I hope it goes well. It was rather difficult to motivate my brain to think in terms of writing a presentation...and I used to do this with some frequency. I think that part of my brain has started to atrophy.

4. Today is day 3 of no paci. I'll dedicate a post to that sometime. (I know the suspense is killing you...ha!) But for now, exhaustion is the key. And chocolate treats from the paci fairy, who is acting as a daily cheerleader with her notes and little bits of chocolately goodness. Let's just say that after two days with no nap, Olivia fell asleep last night in under a half-hour (good on any day) and slept ELEVEN HOURS, uninterrupted, without paci. There was minimal sadness and whining. I'm not sure how we will reintroduce nap (which she does sometimes need), but we'll deal with that when we must.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Crayola craft distraction

Today, we skipped nap for the second day in a row. It may have had something to do with the recent visit of the paci fairy, which I will discuss in a later post, when it's not so traumatic and just a distant memory (and a successful outcome). At any rate, I've found it necessary to wear the child out so she will go to bed tonight, so we stayed up and did crafts instead of napping.

While I enjoy crafts, I'm not terribly creative, so I stole these ideas from my cousin. Go check out her post on this Valentine garland. She is very creative.

First, take old crayons...preferably pinks, purples and reds. Shave little pieces off. I think this would have worked better with a pencil sharpener, but I used a pocket knife. The end result is a little, um, chunky as a result. But still pretty.

Sprinkle the shavings onto a piece of wax paper. Give a cheesy smile to the camera.

Cover with another piece of wax paper, then cover with a towel. Iron on medium heat.

Using cookie cutters, trace hearts. Cut out hearts. Tape/staple/string hearts together however you want.

Voila! Valentine hearts for your window. They look pretty when the light shines on them. This was a craft for Grammy's birthday (shhh...don't tell her!), but it works, of course, for Valentine's Day too.

While I was ironing/tracing/cutting/assembling, Olivia was charged with sorting the rest of the broken crayons by color into a muffin pan (another of my cousin's projects). She took this task very seriously and did an excellent job. Make sure you line your muffin pan with at least two and probably three muffin cups per space. This will keep wax from seeping into your pan.
Get ready for meltdown to make unique new crayons.

Bake at 275 for about 15 minutes or until melted.

Let cool, then pop those new crayons out. We made color families and also a few multicolored ones. The only problem was mixing different crayon brands...the wax seemed to have a different consistency. So these seem to break apart pretty easily. We can still save them for shaving and make Spring flower garlands similar to the hearts above. That might be fun.
Now it is time to go outside and get some Vitamin D. It may be 20 degrees, but I need some sunshine if I'm going to live through Olivia's paci withdrawal.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My cold-weather daydream

The nice thing about watching school teachers' kids is that we have a built-in week off in March. The unfortunate thing is that this week is commonly mis-named "Spring" break. I don't know about the rest of you, but whatever week in March is chosen as break is, inevitably, the coldest week in the whole month of March. Last year we "vacationed" locally. It was, well, uninspiring.

So my thoughts are traveling South...specifically, to Phoenix. My husband searched the web a couple of weeks ago to price ideas for a beach getaway to NC or FL. We would opt to drive to either of those locations, and I don't relish the idea of a dozen hours in the car with Olivia. She starts whining after 45 minutes...90 if we are REALLY lucky. Spending more than four hours in the car with her at a time is physically painful. For all of us.

Phoenix is FAR. It's a bit of a plane ride, but google maps measures the driving time in terms of days, not hours (as in, one day and some hours in the car...continuously). So we'd have no choice but to fly. Which, honestly, is fine with me. I'd rather spend half a day in travel than a whole day on the road. That's the kind of thing that requires an extra day of recovery, and who wants to spend their vacation recovering from their travel?

Plus, the environment of Phoenix doesn't seem to make my head want to explode. I love Spring, but honestly it's so hard on my head when things start to bloom. I hate allergies.

We vacationed in Phoenix in early March not long after we were married...maybe a year. It was sunny and warm and everything that home was NOT. Of course, we were childless at the time, but I kept thinking, "This would be a good place to bring kids."

So I did a quick google search today and found that I was right. First of all, there's Spring Training baseball. We took in a game last time we were there. Major league teams in tiny local ballparks. Inexpensive! Fun! Warm! What more could you want?

Then there are these places. Some educational. Some beautiful. Some things just meant for kids. Plenty to fill a week, right? And then, of course, there is the pool. Wherever we stay, there is bound to be a pool.

So, anyone have a couple thousand extra dollars for plane and rental car? We've spent a good deal of dough on medical travel in the last year, and while a week-long getaway in a warm and sunny locale sounds DIVINE, I figure out how to justify the expense. Especially when Summer is just around the corner. The very long, interminable corner.

I'm suffering some serious Spring fever. And cabin fever. Does it show?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Just some things

I've been a bad blogger lately. I keep thinking of little snippets of things that I'd like to say, but nothing of any substance.

We've been rocking the new diet lately. I found a new book that is SO helpful in narrowing down the best types of food to eat and supplements to take for my particular condition. The book is here. It is authored by a reproductive endocrinologist and a specialist in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It sounds SO not like the kind of book I'd like, but it is really helpful. The doctor was once involved in IVF and didn't like it because he felt like he was "playing God" so he started looking for ways to improve a woman's fertility so that pregnancy could occur in the usual way. Although he argues pretty strongly for IVF as an absolute LAST resort after trying to fix fertility surgically, hormonally and with improved nutrition, he does also refer for and help couples prepare their bodies for IVF. Unfortunately, given my beliefs about life and how IVF factors into that, I would have a very hard time recommending this book to just anyone. But for the nutrition help, it is definitely worth a read. I have even found the Chinese medicine stuff (herbs and supplements) to be helpful! And best of all, it takes the view that "80% is perfection"...meaning that I'm ALLOWED to cheat on my diet once in awhile. We are looking for overall change and effect, not absolute adherence to the "rules". I can't tell you how freeing that was!!

We've been researching adoption agencies lately. Our current agency isn't getting us anywhere, and at the end of this month our homestudy expires and we will have been with them for two years with no talk of a match. We've decided to let it lie for several the new diet and see how it affects hormones and fertility. If we get to the Fall and things still aren't looking up in the fertility area, we have a new agency in mind that is FAST. Expensive, but fast. They have a good reputation and are very good about counseling and support of birth parents, so I think it will be worth the extra money to work with them.

In the meantime...anyone have any ideas about how to get a very-security-item-dependent three-year-old to kick the paci habit? It's well past time, but she cannot settle down without it (and blankie, but blankie can stay awhile). At this point, one without the other just won't cut it. If we get in the car and forget paci and blankie, and she gets tired or upset, she WILL NOT STOP SCREAMING until she passes out from sheer exhaustion. She's old enough (and verbal enough) to deliver very involved monologues about why she NEEDS these things and how they make her feel better. She will use all of her powers of persuasion to make them appear out of thin air. She refuses to accept that they are not (even temporarily) available to her at her need.

But a kid at her age should be able to soothe herself without something sticking in her mouth, right?