Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Today is Olivia's 7th birthday.
I put her in two ponytails because yes, she is still a little girl!
She is a bright and engaging little girl, one of the top students in her class. She loves to read and is especially excited when given a chance to read in front of others. She is a leader and a performer and has developed a helpful spirit (at school, at least). She is doing SO WELL at school and I am so proud of her.

Recent accomplishments: Mastering the back hand-spring, (almost) finishing her first full chapter book and getting two jewels in the same week at school. (I don't really know what this means except that it is a behavioral incentive for being helpful and attentive in class.)
She scored a pair of roller skates for her birthday and is SUPER excited about it.
It's hard to believe she is seven years old already, but it's also sometimes hard to believe that she is ONLY seven. She learns so fast. She is tall and fast and strong. She makes friends with older kids easily and tries to keep up with them in sports and some academics. She loves to be challenged and sometimes seems so much older to me.

It was just seven years ago when she was this tiny. Unbelievable.
Happy birthday, my sweet little girl! I love you so much!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A whole decade in

Ten years ago on this date, this happened:

A whole decade. So much has happened in those ten years. So much has changed. We have changed. But we changed together.

We had no idea what kind of challenges and unexpected joys would await. We were not really equipped for a lot of it. But we leaned on each other and, especially, on God and we faced each day and each problem as a united force. Wherever we journeyed, we always journeyed together. There is no one I'd rather have by my side.

Happy Anniversary to us! Here's to many decades more!

Honeymoon, Grand Canyon

Christmas 2004 (and the last time it snowed THIS MUCH)

Joe and Olivia watching TV together. She was about a week old.
Random off-center photo from 2010
Alaska, 2012

Baby Martin
2013 Family photo shoot
October 2014

Monday, November 3, 2014

Happy Feast of St. Martin de Porres!

Our little man is named for St. Martin de Porres, and today is his saint's feast day.
Mommy and Martin with a statue of his patron.
Happy Feast Day, Martin! Saint Martin de Porres, pray for us.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Adoption Awareness Month

November is Adoption Awareness Month. This means something to us, because of these two:
The biggest focus, though, of Adoption Awareness Month (that I can tell) is the needs of foster children who are waiting for adoptive families. I've been doing a lot of research on that lately and have found some incredible websites that raise awareness about this particular need. Some of those are listed below.

We are doing some awareness-raising at Olivia's school this year with fliers and information about Adoption Awareness Month. We are also doing a backpack/bag drive. I've learned that, many times, when children are removed from their homes and placed in foster care, they are given little more than a trash bag to carry their possessions. There just aren't enough resources to do more at many foster care agencies. So we are collecting bags to give to agencies so they can distribute them to foster kids in need. This project was inspired by the Journey Bags project. If you have a journey bag project going on near you, go donate some stuff! It is such a worthy cause. Let's help give kids a little hope for their futures in whatever way we can.

Here are some websites if you want to know more:

The Forgotten Initiative
The Dave Thomas Foundation
The Villages

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


My baby is two years old today. TWO!

Martin came to us through an agency with whom we were impressed from the start. They were very good with birthparent counseling (and treated the birthmothers with respect, which was important to us) and managed to get honest answers from both birth and adoptive parents in order to make the best possible matches. One thing that I thought was kind of quirky, though, was the phrase they kept using in their workshops for adoptive parents: "You will get the child you were meant to raise." I thought that was a rather bold statement. If you think really hard about it, every child is "meant" to be raised in his/her biological family of origin. I mean, biologically speaking, that is how it is sort of the idea. Adoption only exists because the world isn't perfect and we are all fallen.

From a faith perspective, though, I understand that God works out some of these messy situations in our lives for the good of all involved. I knew from experience that adoption could be like that. I just thought it was a corny statement for an agency to say. How can you assure that this child from one family will "fit" into the personality and lifestyle of this other family?

My kid...he proved their adage to be true.

I cannot imagine a child better suited for us, and particularly for Olivia. The two of them get along SO WELL. He adores her and she never tires of entertaining him. They play and they fight and they hug and they share. They are siblings, through and through.

Martin is definitely a Momma's boy, unless Grandma is around. Then he's all hers! He also delights in Daddy's arrival home every day. He could brighten anyone's day with his exuberant reception. He races to the door..."Daddy! Daddy!" and then jumps up and down and hugs on his leg.

Martin loves well. He is a snuggler and a sharer. He always remembers meal prayer even when the rest of us might forget. And he insists that we stop and say it first! "Mommy! Daddy! Father-Son." He says this while touching his forehead over and over...his two-year-old rendition of the sign of the cross.

He loves waving to Jesus when we go to Church. And then he blows him kisses. Loudly.

Martin is a fan of anything with wheels. Cars, trucks, tractors, and especially buses. He points them all out when we drive down the road, and he never tires of playing with his toy versions.

Today, we celebrate this kid who looks so different from the rest of us but fits so well in our little family. Happy Birthday, Martin! Watching you grow up is one of life's greatest pleasures!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

"Discouraging" doesn't begin to describe it.

I interrupt this blog hiatus to bring you a rant on a very poorly designed and executed foster care introductory class that we attended last night. You have been warned.

I think I have mentioned here before that the idea of foster care has floated in and out of our consciousness for awhile now. It's an idea I/we have been toying with, but never really got serious about.

Lately, though, I've been seeing lots of yard signs and PSAs and articles about foster care. The Forgotten Initiative has put out some really excellent, thought-provoking articles (like this one). It just kept coming back up. So I started doing some browsing through online photo listings of waiting children. I saw a couple of older children who captured my imagination. I started to think maybe this is worth looking into.

So I mentioned this to Joe, and he agreed to go to the first class and see what this was all about.

A little background. For foster care (in our state, at least), you need to go through the three RAPT classes (Resource and Adoptive Parent Training), amounting in ten hours of training before getting licensed. Couples interested in adopting also go through a fourth, six-hour class. All classes are free, and there is no obligation to follow through with fostering. You can go to one or all and decide it is not for you and you are not out anything but your time.

We decided to invest three hours of our time to find out more.

We found out least nothing that we didn't know before.

You guys. This "class" was so, so disappointing. As an introduction to DCS and the foster care system, it served to do nothing other than cast foster kids in a negative light. And yes, I understand that some foster kids...maybe even most foster kids...carry a lot of baggage. But I'm not really sure that highlighting that baggage is exactly the right thing to do in your introduction class.

We were supposed to learn all of the pertinent acronyms and social worker titles associated with the process, but I don't remember any of that explained very clearly.

Here's what I do remember: They talked a lot about kids hating foster parents for that which they don't understand. They talked about teens and abuse. They talked about lack of control and damaged kids.

Now let me explain to you who was in this room. This tight, cramped, freezing room was crammed full of couples. Three of them (including us) were couples who had domestically adopted young children and were interested in adoption or foster-to-adopt. One couple was childless and also interested in foster-to-adopt, likely of infants or small children. The three remaining couples were currently caring for children related to them and were simply there to get licensed as foster parents to continue caring for their relatives under the financial support and protection of DCS and the state.

In my research and discussions with the adoption specialist with DCS, it is my understanding that DCS does NOT place foster kids who have been sexually or physically abused in homes with small children because of the danger that the abused kids might pose to the small children.

So, based on the demographics of the room, who, exactly, needed to hear multiple references to older, emotionally damaged and/or abused children and how they might react to placement in a foster home? At the INTRODUCTORY meeting?

I would argue, not a single person.

I'm not saying we don't need to be informed about some of the situations and behaviors that might arise with foster kids. I'm not saying that at all. But, come on, DCS. Do we really need all that doom-and-gloom during our first introduction to the foster care process? It was distracting and unnecessary.

There were other things. Like when we were going through the orientation packet (and holy wow, someone needs to hire a graphic artist because those pages had NO WHITE SPACE AT ALL). And we got to the "definitions" page. And the social worker leading the session said, "Why don't we go around the room and read these definitions out loud." And I flashed back to fifth grade and my brain exploded just a little.

The facilitator kept referring to page numbers that didn't exist. She had a different copy than the rest of us, and her page numbers didn't match up. And then we read several pages word-for-word. And then we skipped a bunch of pages for no reason at all.

They kept referring to certain things within the system that only insiders would know and then having a side laugh about that while the rest of us just stared in bewilderment. They kept saying stuff that just occurred to them, like "Just remember to tell us if..." and "You'll see when you work with so-and-so."

At one point, it occurred to them to say something about confidentiality (which didn't appear in the packet at all OMG). They mentioned social media and explained that it is absolutely inappropriate to post photos of foster children unless and until they are legally adopted by you. Which, yes, of course. Then one couple who is fostering their grandchildren asked whether it was OK for them to post, since they have a relationship with these kids outside of fostering and like to post grandkid pics so other relatives can see them. The social worker sort of hemmed and hawed and said, well, you know, that might be a different situation and technically we aren't supposed to do it but as long as the parents are OK with it... But then another grandparent-foster candidate piped in with a perfectly logical reason why you should follow the letter of the law in this case, and the social worker quickly agreed with him and said, yes, that makes sense, and that's why we should stick to the rules.

I am not even kidding.

There were just so many things, but I think you get the idea. I have no experience as a social worker and have been changing diapers professionally for the last six years, but I'm relatively certain that two hours looking over the DCS website and I could have led a more professional and informative session than this was.

And you know what? It makes me angry. It makes me very, very angry because there are so many kids in need of homes. There are so many organizations who promote and support foster care, and do it well. There is such a great NEED for families willing to dig a little deeper and investigate this process. And if THIS is the best we can do as an introduction, then I think the system is failing these kids. 

Luckily, RAPT 2 class is online, so we can dig a little deeper without hiring a sitter and wasting three more hours of our time in a freezing box of a room. I only hope the online materials are presented a bit more professionally.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

We got creative with Olivia's hair for St. Patrick's Day. I was, of course, inspired by this. (I don't come up with these ideas on my own.)

This morning, Olivia asked me if the leprechaun came. I did not know of this tradition, but apparently he comes and makes little messes all over the house. (Thank you, school, for introducing yet another mythical creature for me to keep up with. And one who makes messes! Lovely.)

No, darling child, the leprechaun did not come. Probably because we are not Irish. Much like St. Patrick himself. Now go to school and learn something about the Trinity.

Happy St. Patrick's Day! May the leprechaun forget to visit your home too!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

7 of 7: The flashback picture post

This week, with the illness and the husband away, has sapped my energy. It is Sunday. I want to rest. So today's post is a flashback of random photos. And that is all. Hope you all had a great week!

This is me, around age 4 or 5.
Olivia, age 4 1/2. See the resemblance? (Of course you don't!)

Olivia at Easter some years ago. Wasn't she the cutest?
Martin, one year ago.
One year ago. They still cuddle like this sometimes.
Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, June 2012. It was warmer there that day than it is here right now.
One month after the Alaska picture was taken. 2012 was a pretty great year.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

6 of 7: On family size and openness

There was an article making the rounds on facebook this week about the bittersweet emotions of watching your last child go through firsts and milestones, knowing you'll never be in that place again. There was something that just rubbed me the wrong way about that article.

It was the first sentence.

"On the day that your last child is born, you'll find yourself filled with a jumble of emotions."

Whoa, wait a minute. Wait. A. Minute. How do you know it is the last child?

Our culture assumes that we need to make these decisions. We say, "Oh, we are going to have X number of children. Period." That makes me sad. Where do we leave room for being open to God's plan for our family?

My husband and I got married later than some. I was in my late 20s and he was in his mid 30s. We figured we'd shoot for maybe 4 kids and see what happened. I always assumed that our family would be larger than the standard "one boy, one girl" American ideal.

It is not. Here we are. One boy. One girl. No prospects for family growth on the horizon.

But here's the thing. We are open to more children. Our adoption resources are spent. Fertility, at this point, would probably require some sort of miraculous divine intervention. Our kids are currently requiring every ounce of energy we have to give. But we are open. If God placed an opportunity in front of us, we would take it. Not necessarily because we were looking for it or even thought we could handle it. But because He does. And He knows what we can handle and what is best for our family, even more than we do.

I'm participating in Jen's 7 posts in 7 days at Conversion Diary. 

On the day that your last child is born, you’ll find yourself filled with a jumble of emotions. - See more at:
On the day that your last child is born, you’ll find yourself filled with a jumble of emotions. - See more at:
On the day that your last child is born, you’ll find yourself filled with a jumble of emotions. - See more at:

Friday, February 28, 2014

5 of 7: Why we love our school

I had a short "work" day Tuesday, so I had time to pick Olivia up from school. As I was making the half-hour drive there, I thought about the many reasons we love our school and why we will gladly sacrifice to pay for her to go clear across the county to the only Catholic school in our area.

We always wanted to send our kids to Catholic school. It was a lovely idea, but I could never really articulate why Catholic school was "better" than public school for our family. All of the schools in our area get excellent "grading" by the state. Most of them get an "A" grade. There are no bad schools around here. But now, as we approach mid-second-semester of our kindergarten year, there are a few things that stand out in my mind that make this particular Catholic school the right choice for us.
Undoubtedly, in a local public school Olivia would have newer and more spacious facilities. My Dad, attending Olivia's Christmas program in our school gymnasium, recalled fond memories of himself playing basketball in the same gym (as the away team). "It hasn't changed much." (My Dad would have played there in the mid 1960s.) This is absolutely true. Our school is small and the building is old.

Public schools likely have newer and better access to technology. Our school has computers in the rooms, but we don't have a computer room. We don't have much of a library to speak of. (We make up for that by taking classes to the public library on a regular basis.)

What we DO have, I think, outweighs what we don't and makes Catholic education worth every penny we pay. Here is what our school offers us:

First and foremost: We get to talk about Jesus! This is huge. Aside from the daily trips to church for Mass or other forms of group prayer, the students pray in class. They have a prayer, over the loud speaker, each morning with announcements and each afternoon at dismissal. (I experienced this firsthand when I picked Olivia up a few minutes early and she insisted we stop in the middle of the hall and pray with the principal when he came over the loud speaker.) Each classroom has selected a patron saint. They have religion class...and it is a good one! They are learning actual stuff about the liturgy and why we believe what we believe. She comes home and explains things to me that she learned in religion class. I love this!

Oh, and my very favorite is when she starts singing a song they sing in church. They are in church about 15-30 minutes a day. Some days it is Mass, but when a priest is not available they go for some other form of prayer. The first time I heard her singing the Divine Mercy Chaplet around the house, I just about exploded with joy.

The point is that Christ is truly at the center of their educational experience. That, alone, would make her Catholic schooling worthwhile.

But there are other things that set this school apart.

There are 113 kids in the whole school, grades K-8. That translates to smaller class sizes and more personal attention from the teachers. But it also means that everyone knows everyone else. Olivia is friends with kids from her class, but she also has friends from all other grades. The kids are expected to treat each other with respect and watch out for each other...and they do! I'm sure there is some level of bullying and "mean girl syndrome", but if there is, it is not evident to me and kept pretty well under control. It appears that the overarching attitude is respect and that the peer pressure leans heavily toward keeping the bullies in check. Bullies don't tend to like to be bullies if it makes them overwhelmingly unpopular.

In other words, it is a positive school culture.

That positive culture bleeds over into her long bus ride too. The bus, in my childhood experience, was an awful place where big kids bullied little kids and taught them horrible words and songs and phrases. But her bus is full of kids from her school, so the "respect culture" bleeds over into their (long) bus ride. It is excellent.

There is a collaborative spirit in the school. For example, the kindergarteners have "reading buddies" from the 4th grade who read with them once a week and help them sound out words. This helps the kindergarteners, but it also give the 4th graders some leadership and service experience.

I just love it so much. Yes, these kids learn the basics of the standard curriculum. But they learn so much more. They learn that they are a part of a bigger family of church and community. They learn to care about each other and reach out to one another. I feel very comfortable allowing this school to help us raise our children to be responsible citizens and good Christian examples in the world.

I'm participating in Jen's 7 posts in 7 days at Conversion Diary.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

4 of 7: Kid personalities, part two: Martin

Yesterday, I talked about Olivia's unique personality. Martin is very different from his sister, and, I think, complementary. It makes for a great sibling relationship.

Martin is a lover by nature. From the time he was born, he has always loved to cuddle and snuggle and kiss and hug. He will stop in the middle of playing to come over and give me a hug or snuggle on my lap for a few minutes, and then he'll run off to play again. It soothes my soul.

Martin is also a helper. If you ask him to help pick up, he does, with gusto. He pays attention to specifically what you are asking too. Toys don't go in random boxes...they go in the right box. He is careful to make sure that the job is done right! And then he comes to seek a high-five for his efforts (a request which is always granted, of course).

All toddlers are at least a little self-involved. Anyone who has taken a child development course would know that. But Martin...he is also so very concerned about other people. If anyone sneezes or coughs or gasps in shock or surprise, he is right there saying, "OK, Mommy? OK Daddy? OK Sissy?"

He pats your back when he hugs you. He is liberal about blowing kisses. He waves at passing cars in the parking lot at the grocery and says, "Bye, bye!" As if the people in the passing cars are old friends.

This kid is so social, but in a different way from his sister. Olivia, at this age, wanted to get attention. Martin seems genuinely to want to just relate to people. I can't even explain why I know this to be true. It is something about his demeanor. He exudes empathy and concern and interest. Of course, his attention span for any one thing or person is short-lived because, well, he's 19 months old. There is so much to learn about the world and only so many hours in the day, yo.

Martin loves the sign of peace at church. He demands to be put down and walks around to everyone in a 2-pew radius to extend his hand and offer "peace! peace!" It is his favorite.

My boy is a comedian too. He loves to be funny and seems to know when he is being funny. He loves making people laugh.

He is a musician! This was unexpected. We knew early on that Olivia was a performer. But in the last six months or so Martin has started singing (and dancing) along. The other day, Olivia was trying to pick out, on the piano, a melody to a popular song. When she missed a note, Martin chimed in with the correct note in pitch-perfect voice. It is going to be so fun to watch him develop that talent!

Martin is definitely a mama's boy and not nearly as extroverted as his sister, but he has his own unique and delightful traits that are showing just a bit of what he will become as he grows. I can't wait to learn more about that!

I am delighted that these two kids seem to complement one another. Olivia loves showing off, and Martin loves laughing at her when she does. He waits for her at the door when the bus comes at the end of the day, and he offers her a hug and then runs off to invite her to play. There is a little more rough housing than I care for on most days, but they just love being together. It is such a blessing.

I'm participating in Jen's 7 posts in 7 days at Conversion Diary.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

3 of 7: Kid personalities, part one - Olivia

My kids are so different. SO different, you guys. I am learning to be thankful for their differences and their unique and delightful personalities.

Let's start with Olivia, the beautiful, strong, independent one. From the time she could crawl, she earned the nickname "Dynamite" from her grandpa because she was always on the move. If she could reach it, climb it, jump over it, hang from it...she would. Fearless. Independent. Has a mind of her own.

When she was a baby, we had serious doubts whether she (or we) would survive her toddlerhood. She was the toddler who ended up standing on the counter and you had no idea how she even got there. She got her first concussion at 16 months, hanging from our newly-installed play structure tower, which led to our first ER visit. She just didn't seem to understand her limits or the meanings of the words "danger" and "no".  

I'm pleased to report that as she matures, she is getting better and better at understanding and following established rules and respecting boundaries. She still likes to test the limits. I think it is in her nature to do so. She is an adventurer, a leader and a hands-on learner.

When she gets home from school now, we always talk about her day. She tells me, in detail, about certain lessons or projects they did at school and then she usually has follow-up questions. She also talks about her friends and the made-up games they play at recess. I love this. It shows me how bright and inquisitive and social she is. She is really in her element at school.

We do rote bedtime prayers, and then we always add personal intentions at the end. Olivia, when she is focused and not goofing off, always has great prayers. She prays for her 97-year-old great-grampa. She regularly prays for people who don't have houses "that they don't be too cold and they find places to live so they don't have to be homeless." She prays for priests. She prays for birthparents. She prays for kids at school who are out sick. Her prayers are most often for others and very rarely for herself.

Sometimes it is hard to see through Olivia's frequent attention-seeking behavior. But underneath all of that is a little heart that cares deeply about other people. I pray that we can cultivate her caring and empathetic tendencies as she grows so she can use her leadership gifts to make a difference in her corner of the world.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Two: Martin.

I'm participating in Jen's 7 posts in 7 days at Conversion Diary.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

2 of 7: Of house and home

Yesterday's cold, which was contained with occasional tylenol, has morphed into a sinus-pressure, head-two-sizes-too-big kind of ordeal. I feel awful. Everyone slept all night and still I feel exhaustion in my bones. And Joe is in Baltimore until Friday. I could cry.

Instead, I'm going to put on my big girl pants and do this blog thing. Today's topic: Choosing happiness with your house.

Yesterday, my SIL sent a link to a realty listing of a house they are buying. It is beautiful. It is a sprawling ranch with approximately a billion square feet (mostly unfinished basement) and four acres of land. Absolutely perfect for my brother and his family of seven who have been crammed into about 1400 square feet up to now. This house is appropriate for their family size, and it is long overdue.

Posts like this, though, always leave me with just a little tinge of jealousy. Our house is nice, but wouldn't it be nicer to have a basement and storage and an extra space for an office (instead of having the computer in the dining room).

Every time I get frustrated with lack of storage or clutter pile-ups and wish for a different, larger house, I think about the things I love about THIS house.
  • There are just enough bedrooms.
  • Our screened porch is a very pleasant and enjoyable family space.
  • We have a great back yard.
  • We live 5 minutes from Local Theme Park, where we spend our entire summer. I'm really not sure what we would do if we moved within the same county but  further away from Local Theme Park. We kind of live there in the summer.
  • There is not too much space to clean (although sometimes it FEELS like too much). 
  • Everything is on one level, so it is easy to keep track of the kids and not be afraid that someone is pushing someone else down dangerous stairs (ahem).
  • The size of our space forces us to be intentional about simplicity.
I think that last one is the one I think about the most. We try to make the most of our resources and not live outside of our means. Living in a smaller space forces us to be more judicious about what we buy and what we hoard keep. It helps us to be less attached to our belongings and more willing to give away things we don't need or use. And (I hope) it helps our kids learn to be less focused on the things in their lives and more focused on the people in their lives.

So, when I get frustrated with our house size, I think about all of the things above and I choose to be happy about our house. And then I clean and throw things out to make it feel bigger. :)

I'm participating in the seven posts in seven days link-up at Conversion Diary.

Monday, February 24, 2014

First of seven: Spring cleaning

I'm jumping on the bandwagon over at Conversion Diary and posting every day for seven days. At least, I think I am. Joe is out of town this week, so we shall see.

I know the weather has turned when everyone in the house gets a horrible cold. Olivia had it. Martin has it. Joe is getting over it. And now it has hit me. And Joe left today for a week-long business trip. Perfect.

I am coping with this turn of events by taking lots of cold meds and cleaning everything.

Cleaning projects make my week go faster. While I would much rather be curled up on a couch with a good book, that, somehow, ramps up my anxiety by the end of the day. Perhaps it has something to do with wanting to finish the story and not being able to do that in the face of, you know, being present to my kids at the end of the day.

Anyway, cleaning, if done in manageable portions, makes the day go quickly and makes me feel like I accomplished something important. Never mind the fact that I have two reports for volunteer organizations that remain undone. We will not speak of that.

Today's project: Under the master bed. I discovered two things. First, this is where all of the dust in the entire universe collects. Second, our mattress is the heaviest thing ever.

I managed it, and now my back hurts. I will console myself with some peppermint tea and a nice little reading break.

Also, I promise to be more interesting at least once or twice this week.

Friday, February 21, 2014

On sleep and sunshine

1. Olivia has been sleeping better this week. Not so well last night, but better overall. It is a good thing, too, because she was not so well behaved at school on Monday and Tuesday. Her teacher and I discussed it. And then Tuesday night she slept some eleven hours and BAM. New, happy, cooperative kid. Sleep, man. It is a beautiful thing.

2. We still don't know why she is not sleeping. The source of her random fearful wake-ups continues to elude us. And somehow, it is easier to deal with this week because...

3. The sun is out! We have had four consecutive days of temperatures that allowed for outdoor activity! We even went to gymnastics last night with Olivia in shorts and a light jacket! Wonder of wonders!

4. I got to take a walk and/or ride a bike on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. My mood is much improved. I am looking forward to more of this. Lots more of this.

5. Martin, champion of sleeping all night, has been napping horribly this week. He has a cold and is all congested, so that is probably adding to his troubles. It has cut into my getting-things-done time, but I will take bad naps over bad nighttime sleep any day.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentines Day: The exhausted edition

Happy Valentine's Day!
Heart 'do
I love my family and I love my life. I am more blessed than I have a right to be.

At this moment, though, I am not feeling the "love" of the holiday. I'm mostly feeling beaten down and tired.

Joe and I have never been big celebrators of this holiday-of-love with somewhat questionable origins. We exchange cards and say nice things to each other. Aside from that, circumstances of our lives seem to conspire against much romance in the middle of February.

Exhibit A: The winter that wouldn't stop.

It is cold. We are all wearing layers. It is very attractive.

Exhibit B: The unsleeping 6-year-old.

I have been roused from sleep by Olivia in the wee hours of the night for four consecutive nights. (Prior to the last four nights she averages one night wake up per three nights since December, so it's not as if this is rare.) She does not get out of bed. She shouts from her room, louder and more insistently with every passing second that I don't appear. I have never before been a particularly "light" sleeper, but she has conditioned me to leap from the bed at the earliest provocation and sprint across the house in order to stop her pleas from waking her brother in the next room.

You can imagine how such a thing would make it difficult to go back to sleep. Not to mention the constant fear that she will just wake up AGAIN the moment I drift off (which happens A LOT).

Now, occasionally, she will ask for a drink and ask me to put her earplugs back in and then she goes right back off to sleep. I'd say that happens about once in ten wake-ups.

The other nine instances are just hard. HARD. She has always been sensitive to stimuli, and she has an overactive imagination. She sleeps with a string of Christmas lights hanging on her wall and the bathroom light on. And it is (for her) not enough light. Some nights, I can tell she just wants company. She wakes up, like most of us do, at some point in the night and she simply doesn't want to put herself back to sleep. Instead, she wants Mommy to lay by her so she can toss and turn and keep ME awake, pelting me with questions every three minutes. "Is it almost morning time? Can I lay on the couch and watch TV? Can I have a glass of water?" And then whining if the answer doesn't make her happy.

Other nights, I can tell she is genuinely scared. Sometimes it is a scary dream or a startling noise from outside. If it is windy or rainy or (heaven help us) thundering, I can pretty much just write off the rest of my night as over.

I don't mind consoling her when she needs consoling or is really scared. What I have a problem with is letting her develop a habit of calling for Mommy because she happens to be awake and bored. When this is happening with great regularity, at almost exactly the same time each night (corresponding to that blip in her sleep cycles), I can't help but assume that most of her wake-ups fall into the latter category. And I'm not all that patient at 2 a.m.

So I am tired. So tired.

Exhibit C: My body has impeccable timing.

You know, when I got married, one of the things I was looking forward to about getting pregnant was that between pregnancy and breastfeeding and having a few kids close together, I could quit cycling for awhile (I was stupid. Naive and stupid.)

Yeah, that didn't happen. My body likes to remind me of this at inopportune times.

So Happy Valentine's Day, friends. Hope yours is warm and non-crampy and not riddled with exhaustion.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A poignant anniversary

Many people in our culture would say my kids were never meant to exist.

Each of my kids was conceived in less-than-ideal circumstances. Strike one. Each was a fourth child. Strike two.

Each birthmother was advised by at least one person in her life to take the "easy" way out. Strike three.

And yet, they are both here. Praise God!

There are two women out there who made a very difficult decision to give life to these kids and then let them go. Each woman loves the child who shares her DNA and, in an ideal world, would have chosen to parent that child. The absence of that child from her daily life causes her to suffer.

Both women have said, unprompted and in her own words, that her suffering would be immeasurably greater if her child did not exist.

One day, we will take our kids to the March for Life. In the meantime, we will pray for all of those women who face the same tough decision that my kids' birthmothers faced. It cannot be easy to give birth in spite of all of the forces fighting against that decision in our culture.

We are praying today for all women in crisis, for post-abortive women, and for those children who never saw the light of day.


Jan 22, 1973-Jan 22, 2014

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Some things about me

 I'm participating in the CDP exchange. As a participant, I am supposed to answer some questions to help my CDP match get to know me better. I already answered the standard questions in an email to the organizer of these lovely exchanges, but I wanted to add a few. These are random, and probably not all that helpful in retrospect. Alas.

1. What is your middle name?: Elizabeth, which is funny because my first name is a derivation of my middle name. So I got the same name twice. Funny story. I was a first child, and my Mom's doctor kept telling her I was a boy. (No ultrasound evidence or anything, just a hunch.) So my parents had only chosen boy names. When I was born (and obviously NOT a boy), they had to think fast and came up with their favorite popular (at the time) name and added Mom's middle name to it. No one thought of the connection until later.
2. What is your favorite drink?: I drink mostly water, but coffee or tea rank a close second because when I am drinking a hot beverage, I always feel like I am pampering myself. Especially when I can drink the whole thing before it gets cold. (This never happens.)
3. What is your favorite food?: I like things flavored lightly with garlic. So, Italian ranks up there. But I don't like pasta. Mostly Italian-flavored veggie dishes and pizza with a garlic-sauce base (no marinara).
4. Favorite Holiday?: I am not sure I can pick a favorite. I like to have things to anticipate, so all holidays rank up there. I also like liturgical seasons, like Advent and Lent, because of the anticipation. I probably like Lent best, though, because the anticipation ends in a joyous holiday but also leads progressively to nicer weather. I am not a fan of winter. Lent gets me through.
5. Have you ever been out of the country?: In college, I spent a semester at Harlaxton. During that time I visited various places in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. I also got to go to Italy. Rome, Florence, Venice. Florence was my favorite. I have been to Canada a couple of times and Mexico once, but only to Cozumel, so I don't know if that counts.
6. How many siblings do you have?: Three brothers, one sister, all younger.
7. When was the last time you cried?: Ugh. Last weekend when I dropped Joe off at the airport for a week-long business trip to far-far-away. I had to immediately find gasoline (8 miles left on the tank) and got off at a sketchy intersection and couldn't figure out my maps app on my phone. The kids were in the car. I was facing a week of single parenting, alone with kids in an unfamiliar part of a city without any gasoline. It was just too overwhelming. (As it turned out, I was less than a quarter mile from a station.)
8. Favorite Movie?: Currently, Frozen. I am not usually a fan of Disney animated films. This one had a great message about sacrificial love and left enough details to the imagination to make it fun and interesting for adults. Great music too.
9. Favorite TV show?: The Big Bang Theory. Also falls under "guilty pleasure". Themes are not really family-friendly, but the writers are comedic geniuses.
10. What are you currently reading?: The Secret Garden. It was a free Kindle download and I had never read it. I'm all about free. And classics. And also free.
11. If you could spend a day with any living person, who would it be?: Pope Francis, hands down. Actually, I would ask him if I could bring my kids over to play with him awhile because I think he would totally do that! And how awesome would that be?
12. About which topics can you speak passionately? Natural Family Planning, adoption, God's providence, unexpected blessings, infertility, marriage

Friday, January 10, 2014

Excruciatingly late birthday party photos

I was scrolling down through the last few posts and realized that *GASP* I didn't follow-up on Olivia's pre-birthday post way back in NOVEMBER to post photos from her birthday party. The party was pretty low-key this year, so maybe that was why. Or maybe it's general neglect of this blog. Probably that. Anyway, here they are.
Birthday cake, gap-toothed 6-year-old

Playing in her birthday tent from Grammy and Grampy.
All of the rest of the photos have other kids in them who do not belong to me and in keeping with my policy not to post pictures of kids who are not mine, that's all you get.

Oh, and this one, taken a couple of weekends later on a family day out.
Silly kids

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Well, hello there, 2014! You kind of snuck up on us.

  • Whoa. December was busy. And there were snow days and sick days (the whole week of Christmas, ack) and it was just a blur. Is anyone else ready to fast-forward to spring?
  • Aside from the many days playing nursemaid to Olivia during/after her stomach bug, Christmas was good. We visited with people and wore out the kids. We have a bunch of tiny rubber bands all over the house (thank you rainbow loom). The tree is stashed back in the attic and the nativity set is still out. Pretty run-of-the-mill, as Christmas holidays go.
  • Snow. I am over it. I am really REALLY over the cold. Snow days are not my forte. However, we did accomplish this on our second snow day in 2014 (yesterday).
    That is Olivia's 100th day project for school, creatively displaying 100 pennies as shingles on this church roof. We are pretty proud of it and hope to someday actually reach the 100th day so we can display it at school. (Dang snow days.)
  • Olivia is back in school today. After four consecutive days at home and four consecutive great nights of sleep, she had an absolutely horrendous night last night, leaving us with a tired kid and two tired parents. I hope she is behaving well at school today despite her lack of proper sleep, but honestly I'm just glad that she is there and not here for a few hours. So many days at home together when we are housebound are hard, hard, hard. 
  • Martin just had pineapple and milk for lunch. It is getting harder and harder to get him to eat anything but fruit and cookies. He is very opinionated about what makes good food (must be sweet). 
  • Random cute kid photos, just to remind me/you of how much I/we love these little trouble makers...even when we are housebound.
    Feverish and hair straightened over Christmas break

    Just as happy as can be, also over Christmas break