Friday, April 29, 2011

The royals

I have the royal wedding on DVR. My husband said, "Why do you care?" I said, "It's history, and having it on DVR means I can watch the actual wedding stuff and skip all the crap where reporters are watching the parade and making irritatingly stupid comments." Because that's pretty much all the reporters do. It would have been more fun to watch c-span-like coverage where you see everything but no one comments on anything.

Anyway, by the time we woke up this morning, they were parading around in a carriage and all there was to hear on any channel was reporters making stupid comments. So, this is on while I'm getting dressed, and I hear a reporter say something like, "As future heir to the throne, it is William's duty to marry and produce an heir." And my first thought was, "Gee, I hope they aren't infertile." Actually, that was my second thought. My first thought was, "Duh. Way to make the whole wedding sound completely unromantic by stating an obvious, yet unnecessary, fact."

(And yes, I know there are rumors that she's already pregnant, but I won't actually believe that until the Crown releases a statement to that effect. They have enough people speculating about their lives as it is.)

I wondered how that infertility scenario would play out. I know Angelina Jolie can adopt a dozen kids from wherever she wants because, you know, she's got the resources to do that. And yes, those kids become heirs to her estate, etc. But can you adopt an heir to a THRONE? I'm thinking, probably not.

It must suck to be royal. Like being an animal in a very large, very extravagant zoo. Lots of wealth and resources, but still caged in with the whole world watching your every move.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I wasn't aware

Apparently, this week is Infertility Awareness Week. Somehow, this escaped my radar until Jen Fulwiler pointed it out here. Of course, it's not as if we are ever UNaware of our infertility here, so I guess it wasn't something that required special attention on our part.

Still, I had a conversation with a friend this week that plays into this theme. My friend has two small children, and for awhile thought she was "done". But we were talking about kids and adoption and foster care, and she said, "You know, I thought it would be nice to become a foster parent, but I really don't think I'm done having kids yet."

I was thinking, 'If I had normal fertility, I'm pretty sure I'd have a very difficult time ever deciding that I was "done" having kids.' How do you get to that point, exactly? I know there are couples with abundant fertility who get a little overburdened and weary worrying about whether they can navigate the NFP waters to successfully avoid further pregnancy. I just don't know what that looks like. It's not our experience and I can't adequately envision it. I'm sure it's just as big a cross as infertility is...just in a different way.

As it is, we are actively working the diet angle at improving fertility while also researching a new adoption agency and looking into the possibility of becoming foster parents. We are working very, very hard just to find a way to grow our family by one. This is what we know. It is our experience. And, since we are not made of money (and adoption is expensive), we realize that our family might be complete with two children. That foster care idea keeps popping up, so that might very likely be a way to grow our family someday, if we discern that we are truly called to it. No matter what happens, our family will look like nothing we ever envisioned. But God knows what our family picture looks like. And if we put our trust in Him, that's really all that matters.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Happy Easter!

We'll get back to that choosing happiness topic soon. For now, I want to wish you all a very happy Easter season!

Why yes, that is chocolate under my lip. Thank you for asking.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Shamelessly plugging a friend's book

So, I have this friend from high school who has four kids, and her second child had all kinds of anxiety about shots (his annual flu shot in particular). She looked around for a book to try to help him with his problem, and when she found none, she wrote her own. Here is the link to her book on Amazon. It is very creative and includes Chance's real life imaginary friends. (Ok that sounds like an oxymoron, but he actually had created imaginary friends to help him get through stuff, and she included them in her book.) Buy them for your kids! Buy them for your friends!

Today is Holy Thursday and the beginning of a three-day no-work weekend for us. I'm looking forward to Triduum services and no extra kids in the house for awhile. See you next week!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Choose happiness

Happy Holy Week! It looks like it will be a stormy week in these parts, but we'll be decorating eggs and attending services and making preparations to celebrate the resurrection nonetheless.

I've had this topic churning around in my head for awhile and decided to make it a post (or series of posts) because it seems to define my personal philosophy at this point in life.

I remember talking to a friend a few years ago about our storage woes in this house. This was before Olivia came along, so we had more space than we do now and were already starting to feel crowded in this house. We'd accumulated stuff and created weird and disproportionate attachments to things that we did not need/use/even know we had. I kept thinking, if we just had a basement, or a bonus room, or a storage room...something. THEN we'd be happy with our house.

A friend of mine had a huge, sprawling house that was necessary for her large family, but it was a uniquely designed house and the set-up made certain aspects of life inconvenient. Bedrooms were in weird places, the laundry was downstairs, there was no physical way to corral kids into one room in the house because of the just made life a little difficult. They spent several years renovating where they could. And then she made a statement that stuck with me. "I finally decided to choose happiness with this house. It's large enough for my family, has a nice sized yard, is conveniently we made changes to make things easier inside and then decided to be happy with it."

Choose happiness. That stuck with me. So often people are dissatisfied with their job or house or car or whatever. People spend so much time and money and effort moving and changing and buying, and so often they are still unsatisfied with their circumstances. We spend altogether too much time being unhappy and not enough time enjoying the blessings of what we have.

I had intentions of adding more to this post, but the kids are whining to go outside and today is probably the only day this week that we can. More on this topic later.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I'm crampy. Just another reminder that my body won't cooperate with its biological purpose for propogating the species. Good thing I'm not in charge of keeping the human race from extinction. I would suck at that job.

Back in February, when our homestudy expired, we decided to let it. We are taking a few months to return to the research phase on adoption and focus on diet and fertility, and then we can make a decision about what to do in the Fall. The idea was to be homestudy ready again by Olivia's birthday in November. I've had it in my mind that we'll probably sign up with a particular agency that is fast (and pricey). But over the last several weeks, I've seen and read many things about foster-to-adopt, and my thoughts are repeatedly pointed back in that direction. We've been hesitant to go that direction because of Olivia's age and the uncertainty of whether kids will stay or leave, plus the adjustment and attachment issues that often come with foster placements and older kids. But...I don't know. It's just there in my brain all the time. We'd probably only be interested in fostering little ones (younger than Olivia), but maybe there's a need for that. I guess I'll just have to suck it up and call someone to find out.

In the meantime, I'm still rockin' the diet, but sometimes I find myself wishing and hoping for pregnancy JUST so I have an excuse to eat whatever I want. My brain knows that it would be better for me and baby to keep eating this way if we ever achieve that ellusive pregnancy goal, but there's another part of me that is tired of forgoing cookies. If only I could find a really good dessert recipe that's easy, eats like a muffin or cake or cookie, and doesn't have any sugar or flour. Ha! There's an assignment for you! Have fun with that one.

Monday, April 11, 2011

On Easter baskets and Santa Claus

To date, I have collected the following items for Olivia's Easter basket: A hula hoop (her request), a jump rope, three paint books, a box of peeps and a Cadbury egg. The last two items are simply because she loves marshmallows and no kid should live their whole life without experiencing the joy of Cadbury (otherwise I'd probably have skipped the sugar altogether). I will probably also pick up some Play-Doh accessories. Olivia really enjoys Play-Doh, and it's so colorful! And fun! And since we got rid of the carpet, I don't even have to worry about brightly colored bits of dried-up doh getting permanently stuck to the floor. Just sweep it up! Love it!

While Olivia WILL have an Easter basket, she will NOT be told that the Easter bunny brought it. The Easter bunny will not be visiting our house. Mommy and Daddy are giving gifts to our little girl to celebrate the Resurrection. It's as good an excuse as any (maybe better) to give gifts, right? But let's leave the Bunny out of it, shall we?

I am not one of those people who has a problem with Santa Claus. We live in a Christmas-themed town with statues of the jolly old elf everywhere, so avoiding him would be pretty pointless. Besides, he's based on St. Nicholas. St. Nick is OK with me. Some argue that belief in a made-up being can shatter a child's ability to believe in God, who is also unseen, once they grow old enough to realize and understand the myth that is Santa. But we "did" Santa as a kid, and we knew Jesus, and somehow, I never once doubted Jesus or my faith in Him. Perhaps this was because my entire family (immediate and extended) was steeped in our faith. Church was part of our life. The manger scene beneath the tree was always emphasized more than Santa. Santa was the guy who brought the party gifts for the big birthday celebration we threw every year for Jesus. We got it.

Easter is another story. It is the pinnacle of the Christian calendar. The big kahuna. If you are Christian and you observe nothing else all year, you should at least observe Easter. You can "bah-humbug" all over Christmas (not that I recommend that!), and you should still be moved by the celebration of the Resurrection. This is where it's at, people. This is what it's all about.

(Strange aside...I have a friend who works for a non-profit organization that receives free office space in a non-denominational church of some sort. Anyway, she overheard the church board voting on whether or not to have an Easter service. That information left me speechless. I'm still not sure what to say.)

So, the Easter bunny. I'm sorry...I just can't make that connection. As best I can tell, the Easter bunny has pre-Christian origins, is a symbol of Spring and fertility, and has nothing to do with the resurrection (except for a vague connection you might make with fertility and new life in Christ, but that seems like a stretch). And a bunny that lays (or delivers) eggs? It just seems a little ridiculous to me.

We won't have much difficulty, I'd imagine, in denying the existence (or avoiding the mention) of an Easter bunny. Even though you can find plenty of stuffed and chocolate bunnies in stores at the moment, popular culture doesn't talk a lot about the Easter bunny anymore. I think the word "Easter" is verboten. Something about openly advertising this undeniably Christian event is no longer acceptable. Not a problem that popular culture has with Christmas, but it seems we celebrate a "season" there and not actually an event that changed the course of human history. I guess "Tis the Season" doesn't have the same ring when you are celebrating Spring as it does when you are celebrating Winter...

Yes, on Easter we'll have a basket full of toys, with a little sugar added for good measure. We'll probably hunt eggs (real ones) because they are just so darned fun to decorate and make for a good seasonal craft project. Plus, they look awfully pretty in a centerpiece. But the heart of our celebration will be the Easter Vigil Mass (now that Olivia's old enough to survive a late evening Mass). It is beautiful, deeply moving and full of symbols that even young children can understand. This Mass tells the story of Christianity. I love that. And it kicks off a SEASON of Easter, which we continue to celebrate for weeks until Pentecost. I love that too.

And we'll leave the Bunny out of it. He's so unnecessary and confusing. So thanks, mythological gift-giving figures, but we'll handle this holiday on our own.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


This week has been insane. I have a new one-year-old babysitting charge who started on Tuesday, my 2-day-a-week little girl is here for 4 days a week for the rest of the year, I have talks and presentations to prepare/revise for a weekend program I'm helping to present, and I have obligations every night this week. Add to that the fact that Olivia is boycotting naps, and, well, I have no time to get this stuff finished. So I'll see you next week.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Drawing the line

We managed a very short visit with Olivia's birthmother last week. She's been through some stuff lately. And that was followed by more stuff, which I didn't mention here. Medically, physically, emotionally...she's had a lot of hard knocks in recent months. We like to drop in when we can since Olivia is a bright spot in her life.

She's healing and starting to make some positive changes in her life. Or at least talking about positive changes. Unfortunately, given recent history, I can't trust yet that all of that talk will lead to something real and lasting.

After our short visit (as in, later that day), I got a text from her saying something to this effect: "I am planning to get an apartment of my own soon and would love to keep Olivia by myself once in awhile. Maybe overnight. We can start slowly for Olivia's comfort."

I know her motivation. She doesn't see her other girls much. She just wants to spend time with Olivia and feel like a Mom once in awhile. I get that.

But my first thought was, "Holy crap. You can't be serious."

Quick history. We reconnected with Olivia's birthmother by phone last Spring. Olivia met her for the first time (since birth) on Mother's Day weekend last year. Since that time, birthmom's contact information has changed three times and her address has changed four times. We can't keep up with the drama happening in her life. But I know that while she is trying to change her own behavior, she hasn't been able to control the behavior of those with whom she lives/associates. And that has put her in harm's way more than a few times.

The text came while I was driving, and I didn't really feel the need or desire to answer it anytime soon. Apparently she got impatient, because she called that night and wanted to talk about it.

I told her we needed boundaries. She told me that she respected the fact that Joe and I are her parents, now and forever, and she would never want to change that. I told her we needed to think of Olivia's safety first and foremost. She said she would never do anything to put her in harm's way. I said I wasn't sure she could promise that when she had found herself in harm's way more often than I cared to remember in the last several months. She said, "But he's not really like that. I can't blame him for those times he got angry because I set him off by going a little crazy then. I'm better now."

As I'm writing this out, I'm recognizing it for what it is. She's a battered woman. And she allows it to go on.

She wants us (me and Joe) to go to dinner with them...her and time we are in town. She wants us to spend some time with him and see what he's really like so we'll be comfortable leaving Olivia with her in the presence of him. Because he's in her life. But here's the problem. We've met him before. We've talked to him and he was always cordial and polite. He would be cordial and polite again. But that's not how is really is. We can't trust that he'd be that way in Olivia's presence. We can't even trust how SHE would act in Olivia's presence, away from us. And we can't trust that our daughter would be safe.

I know what we will/must do. I know that Olivia can have NO visits with her birthmother that aren't supervised by us. I am happy to pick birthmom up for visits, invite her to events, maybe even have her spend a night at our house someday. But she can't babysit. She can't have slumber parties or take her to the park by herself. I know she loves Olivia, but I just don't think I can trust her or her judgment. Not yet. Not by a long shot.

Now, how do I explain that to her?