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.