Friday, March 23, 2012

Pre-Spring-Break takes

1. If it seems like I can only find time to post on Fridays, that is because my life has become rather routine and dull, but on Fridays it is one big round of crazy and I escape to the computer to distract me from the crazy.

2. I was struck down on Tuesday, for the second time this month, with a nasty feverish type of nauseating illness. And then I was well again on Wednesday. But it screwed with my whole week and also my income (because I don't get paid to babysit when I'm not, actually, babysitting), and we are on Spring Break next week with some travel-related expenses and other things, and I am frustrated by how this has affected the bottom line. I guess this is some sort of patience/control lesson God wants me to learn, and it is painful.

3. The weather continues to be freakishly warm. In fact, check this out. Everything is in bloom. Including the kid, who is wearing a shirt that is a juniors small. She's four.

4. I just broke up a fight in which the kids were arguing about who was older. Even though the birth order is an objective fact and I have explained to them who turns five first, they still insisted on arguing. This was followed by something like this:
Kid #1: I have a bike without training wheels.
Kid #2: Yeah, I do too!
Kid #1: No you don't! But I do. But you don't!
Kid #2: Yeah, I do. I do! You can come to my house and see it!
Ad nauseum, until someone is in tears or I have to put a stop to it. Why must we go on with the irrational arguing and the one-upsmanship? Why?

5. I am very ready for Spring Break.

6. It is warm outside, but rained this morning. I am debating what this means for our outdoor plans. I'm thinking we go out anyway and deal with the mud issue when it's time to come in because staying in means more of what happened in #4, and I don't have the patience for that today.

7. In other news, the baby I watch has reached an adorableness high point. I think eleven months is now my favorite. She is toddling and cuddly and likes to shout unintelligible commands at inanimate objects and then dissolve into smiles and baby clapping. She makes Fridays a little brighter!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Seven thoughts, just because it worked out that way

1. It's Friday again, and super warm outside but, unfortunately, also raining. ON FRIDAY!! So, as you can imagine, it is very loud and crazy in my house. I am coping by ignoring the loud children and blogging. Don't judge.

2. This week I did my taxes, paid some taxes, and paid a whopping bill from Olivia's tonsillectomy. And even though we are still financially tight, I feel like we are caught up. Like I can pay bills when they come in instead of waiting for pay day. Which is a good feeling.

3. We got our March newsletter from the Agency today, which basically indicated that the tables have completely turned there. When we signed on late last Summer, they were requiring adoptive families to be open to a whole lot of things that some families aren't necessarily open adoption, more racial diversity, drug exposure, etc. This was because they were trying to limit their adoptive families because they were heavy on families and light on birthparents. Now it is opposite. They are easing up on requirements of adoptive parent openness and allowing them to be more specific about their preferences just to get more families to sign on. They are now heavy on birthparents and light on adoptive parents. We would be pretty open about birthparent situations and racial mixes regardless of the rules. And yet, we still don't have a single match. I am baffled by this. I'm wondering if we are secretly ugly and no one is bothering to tell us.

4. Olivia fell on the playground on Monday and busted her chin open. She is sporting a chin full of surgical glue and a waterproof band-aid. She says it itches (and I'm sure it does) but so far she has been healing well and hasn't messed with it much. She had to miss swimming lessons this week because of it. Luckily, the warm weather and DST have made evenings more fun even without lessons to occupy our time.

5. We inherited a basketball goal from some neighbors who moved and didn't want to take it along. It's one of those rolling things that we move out onto the center of the driveway in the evening so Joe and Olivia can play. I took a walk the other night while they played on the driveway and caught a glimpse of them enjoying themselves as I was walking back home. It seemed a perfect tableau of suburban America...father and child shooting some hoops on the driveway. Or maybe that's just Indiana. Anyway, it made for a sweet portrait of our life right now.

6. March has been super busy. We are involved in some ministries that are...intense right now. Meetings and recruitments and motivating people and such. It's a lot of work, but we keep plugging on. When we are NOT busy with ministries, we are busy with the house. Spring projects kind of snuck up on us, what with the weather turning warm a full six weeks early. Need to think about painting our outside doors soon...before it gets hot.

7. This weekend, my family is gathering for a local niece's first birthday. I am very excited to hang out with my far-away family...especially the young cousins Olivia loves so much. I have birthday gifts to give to the twins, who had their far-away party last week, and an advance first-communion gift to give to our goddaughter. The boys' gifts were hand-made by me...tool belts with their initials. Molly is getting some hand-made (but not by me) first-communion jewelry. I love giving gifts!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Barefoot weather

There is a sort of onion-y smell permeating my kitchen as the pork chops bake. Dinner is nearly ready. My husband is on his way home. It's insanely warm outside and sunny and the windows are open. And we have an additional hour of evening daylight (thank you, DST). We will eat outside and then spend the evening engaging in all manner of outdoor recreation and thinking of Spring. Even though we aren't, technically, into Spring yet, we are quite enjoying this very premature barefoot weather.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday is my Monday

Oh, Fridays. We have a love-hate relationship. The end of the week signals is also my hardest single day of the week.

I have three kids, siblings, whom I watch every day of the work week. I have two other kids, siblings, whom I watch on Tuesdays and Fridays. Olivia is gone to school on Tuesdays, but on Fridays she is here. Which means I have six kids under age 5 in my house on Fridays. And, for some reason, their behavior has an added dose of crazy on Friday as well. Maybe it is because it is the end of the week and they are tired or fried or something. Whatever it is, it plays out like this:

6:30 a.m. - Two kids arrive. Olivia is still asleep. Two kids lay on the couch and watch TV quietly until the others arrive. This is my hour of peace.

7:30 a.m. - Three other kids arrive. Olivia hears the commotion and wakes up, usually in a good mood and ready to play.

8:00 a.m. - I force Olivia to sit down and eat breakfast. I make everyone else be still so she will actually DO this. I cajole and threaten for roughly ten minutes while she randomly bounces off her chair and races off to do...something.

8:30 a.m. - I yell, for the tenth time this morning, "For the love of Pete, STOP RUNNING AND SCREAMING. I get the stink eye from one kid. Another sneaks off to the bedroom to start pulling books off the shelf and making a pile. Olivia melts down for the first time.

9:00 a.m. - After cleaning up the book pile and banning the kids from the bedroom, I break up a fight over who gets to sit on the middle cushion of the sunroom couch. Olivia melts down because someone keeps walking into her line of vision for whatever show is on the TV.

9:30 a.m. - Decided to ignore the sunroom toys and turn the TV off. Kids wander aimlessly through the rooms for awhile, shouting at me every three minutes that the baby is in Olivia's room (where there are tiny toys...she's not supposed to play there). Yelled at Olivia for carrying the baby out of the room because she's not allowed to carry the baby.

10:00 a.m. - All of the kids are sitting in one room while Olivia sheepishly hides in the corner of another room. Upon questioning, I discover that no one wants to play with Olivia because she has been poking them incessantly with her feet because she's in the mood to irritate. Olivia melts down. We have a stern discussion about her behavior. I have a stern discussion with the others about trying to get along. They all hug and go play nicely for awhile.

10:15 a.m. - The kids take turns asking me when lunch will be, or is it lunch time, or how long until lunch time until I threaten anyone with time-out for even mentioning lunch.

10:45 a.m. - I begin preparing lunch. The lunchtime questioning begins again.

11:00 a.m. - I call everyone to the table for lunch. Olivia takes it upon herself to "help" with the plates I so carefully prepared. She makes a mess. I forcefully sit her on the floor and deal with the mess. And then I yell. I give everyone else lunch and then have a stern talk with her. Then she gets lunch. Everyone eats quietly for two blessed minutes. Then the lunch issues start. Olivia and one kid are playing with their food. Two other kids are peeking at each other under the table. One of the kids starts asking for dessert after taking two bites. Another starts in on that too. I refuse to give dessert to anyone who doesn't eat their entire lunch. One kid finishes his lunch and gets dessert. The two-bite kid claims to not be that hungry and still wants dessert. No way, kid. So kid gets excused from the table after having eaten two bites (even though this is one of the kids who asks for a full 30 minutes when lunch will be because "I'm SO hungry!!"). Eventually everyone finishes whatever they are going to finish. Some get dessert. Some don't. The baby gets fed.

11:30 a.m. - I make my lunch. Everyone starts asking when/if we get to go outside. Over and over. I tell them all to go away and let me eat my lunch.

11:35 a.m. - Everyone starts running around the house like lunatics. Someone gets pushed into a wall. Crying ensues. I make everyone sit down and stare at the TV while I eat something. They fidget around and poke each other and generally invade each other's space until I let them get off the couch and do something else. They play more or less peacefully for awhile.

12:00 noon - We go outside, if it's nice. If not, God help us.

12:45 p.m. - Someone kicks/hits/pushes someone and therefore pushes me over the edge, and we all trek back inside for nap.

1:00 p.m. - You kids lay still and be quiet RIGHT NOW!

1:10 p.m. - Everyone is asleep except Olivia, who needs to nap but won't. I let her go to the porch and quietly watch TV and draw while everyone sleeps, so long as she agrees to be quiet and still.

1:15 p.m. - Olivia starts asking for snack. I say no. She melts down.

1:30 p.m. - I give in and give her a snack.

2:00 p.m. - Olivia melts down over not getting ANOTHER snack. I make her lay down.

2:10 p.m. - Olivia falls asleep.

3:00 p.m. - Three kids leave. Two kids wake up and wander aimlessly while Olivia snoozes away.

3:30 p.m. - Olivia wakes up grumpy. I give everyone a snack. They perk up and start running around the house like lunatics.

4:30 p.m. - Two kids leave. Olivia melts down. I pray for bedtime.

Thank God Fridays are followed by a weekend. The end.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

House thoughts...

Joe has this annoying habit of scouring the local listings of houses for sale. We are not in the market for a new house, but he likes to look.

In the past few weeks, he has uncovered a couple of houses that I could envision living the point of daydreaming about how nice it would be to have wood-paneled walls or built-in bookcases (I am a sucker for built-in bookcases). But then I think of all the ramifications. Aside from selling OUR house, we'd be taking on more debt, needing to rethink schools and my babysitting income because we'd no longer be convenient to the families I work for now. And then there would be the additional gas for Joe's commute, because the other houses are significantly further away from his job. Etc.

Yesterday, he came upon a listing for a house I've always admired when driving by it. From the road, it is HUGE. Apparently, inside it is even larger. It has wood or laminate floors and MASSIVE living spaces and all these bedrooms and an entire extra living space (in-law suite? I don't know) above the detached garage (in addition to the attached garage space). It's just big. And, as it is apparently on a short-sale, EXTREMELY underpriced. Like, five times the space of our house, plus a couple of acres, for roughly $15K more than our house is worth. Yeah.

And the first thought I had on earth would I ever find time to clean all of that? I can't find time to clean all of THIS!

Now that we have this new sunroom, our house seems...well, just right. I know the storage still sucks and we have things constantly collecting on the counter and the garage is always cluttered. But the reality is that, unless there is some great revelation from God in our future to guide us in a different direction, this next adoption will likely be our last, and our house can accommodate us and two kids quite nicely. Comfortably, even. When I think about my parents raising five kids in roughly the same space, I is totally do-able with two. TOTALLY.

It's not that I don't WANT more space. I'd absolutely love a basement. I don't want to give up my sunroom, and I do like our backyard. I just don't necessarily feel like we are hurting for space.

Yes, if we had a bigger house it would be easier to consider things like foster care and, you know, having guests once in awhile. I just don't feel like it is anything urgent. I'm comfortable in our little space. Maybe it's partly because we are definitely heading into Spring and I'm not feeling so confined by our tight quarters. It's probably largely due to the fact that I just found out that we should have our mortgage paid off in 10 years. TEN YEARS. And then it will be OURS. That's kind of a big motivator, you know.

I should probably go dust something. I'm way behind, you know.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Last night on the way to swim lessons, Olivia asked AGAIN about how the radio works. She has been obsessed with the topic of radio waves...those magical invisible sound waves that bounce around and feed magically into our car's radio. And WHY can't we rewind the radio like we can rewind the TV? (DVR has spoiled us forever.) So many questions about so many things.

Note to self: Must research radio waves and give her some accurate information.

It is times like these that I think it would be so great to homeschool. I could impart SO. MUCH. INFORMATION. And then I spend 20 minutes arguing with Olivia about putting her toys away or, you know, changing out of her PAJAMAS for heaven's sake, and I wonder about the wisdom of keeping her home. I can't get her to sit still for two minutes in time out, and I watch her sit quietly on the side of the pool, where her favorite thing in the world is (water) and WAIT patiently for her turn with the teacher...and LISTEN to the teachers' instructions.

Clearly, this child thrives on external authority in a learning environment, away from home.

Yes, she can and does learn a lot at home, but for the most part it comes from her own curiosity. "Mommy, how does the radio work?" "What makes a tornado able to blow down those houses?" "How does a plane fly in the air?" And then we go to the internet and research stuff and watch videos that explain or demonstrate the concept. And that's all good, but if I sat her down and said, "Hey, do you want to know why lightning and thunder always go together?" She'd say, "No, Mommy, I'm drawing right now! I want to play Barbies!"

It has to be her idea.

I have seen how they run the preschool class. Clearly, I am not cut out to be a preschool teacher. There is all this hands-on learning that involves tiny hands in shaving cream and water tables and all manner of messy, gooey substances. They learn about gravity and things that float and size and mass and how to write lower case letters in the shaving cream. It's all very good. It is all stuff that would drive me freaking batty at home.

In a group, Olivia likes to be a leader. Which is why I think it's good for her to stay in a group. I have some concerns that she'll still be in pre-K next year even though she has mastered many concepts and skills that kindergarteners are working on at this time of year. I'm afraid that, eventually (like 2nd or 3rd grade) she'll be bored out of her mind because the school work will not be challenging for her. The kid is bright, but I guess we'll deal with that when it comes.

I'm not at all concerned about her spending more time in the creative play level of learning because she never tires of it. I just wish there was a good way to do schooling in a group and stay in the "creative play" mindset as the years pass. I know there are charter schools and homeschool groups out there that do stuff like that, but we are rather isolated from such groups by where we live and actually feel pretty fortunate that there is a Catholic school available to us.

In the meantime, I will lean heavily on the internet to answer her many questions. How did parents EVER attempt to educate their own children before the invention of the internet?