Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Joy

I'm pretty sure it doesn't get a whole lot better than this! Festive decorations, amazing family, toddler wonderment, great food, awesome gifts, and Daddy's birthday celebration to top it off. Merry Christmas, Everyone!!



Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Letter from Christmas Past

Charlie's second Christmas is only a couple of days away.  Time has flown by so very fast lately, I'm left with the distinct sensation of a spinning frenzy of activity akin to a blizzard.  How is it possible, already, that this is my second Christmas as a mama?  I can still so acutely remember the sadness that came with the holidays for me, through the waiting years...through my time before Charlie.  But that is gone for me now.  Gone but not forgotten.  Never forgotten.  I've been thinking lately about what it all means.  Seeing the Christmas lights sparkle and reflect in our son's beautiful eyes really makes me think about the magic of Christmas.  For me it is and always has been about the children.  That's a big part of the reason why waiting, especially during the holidays, was so very difficult for me.  I wanted a child so badly so that I could see and relive that wonder and joy through his eyes.  Now that we have the child with whom to share the joy of this incredible time of year, I find myself reaching back into the past and remembering what it was like before he came along.  If I could have known then what I know now, what would I have said to myself?  What advice would I have given?  What would I have done differently?

I guess part of my reflective state is due to the face that my baby sister is currently in the beginning stages of her own journey through infertility.  I wish it wasn't the case.  I wish pregnancy would come easily for her and that I didn't have to see her struggle.  But I'm also glad we have each other the risk of sounding narcissistic...I'm glad she has me.  Those of us who have navigated the waters know that they can be very cold and lonely at times.  I hope I will be able to lessen her burden a bit, simply because I've been there and I remember.

So what would I have said to myself back then, if I could've had a glimpse into this future...if I could've known what I know now?


Dear Melba,

Smile!  Put on your coat of Christmas cheer for the world to see!  Your time will come, you will be a mom!

Right now, close your eyes, take a deep breath and experience this moment.  Relax.  Just breathe.  If you are sad, it's OK.  Feel will help you to pave the way for all the love that's going to pour forth from your heart the first time you hold your sweet son and kiss his tiny baby cheeks.  You will love him more than you can even possibly imagine right now.  He will color your world in ways you never thought possible.  He will bring joy back to you and multiply it by 1,000.  You have no idea what being a mom will be like.  It's not something you can know before it happens to you.  I will tell you that it's not as easy as you think it is right now.  It is rewarding and beautiful in many ways but it is also challenging and overwhelming in many ways.  You will be a good mom but you will also make a lot of mistakes and you will often wonder if you're doing things right.  You will question yourself more than you think you will and you will worry about that boy, despite your best efforts at putting that aside. sad and feel the pain as it is needed now, it must serve some purpose for you.  But also try to stay awake and alive to NOW.  Try to remember that for better or worse, every day does count.  Who you are today does matter tomorrow.  Give your husband a hug and tell him how much he means to you.  Tell him how much you cherish the time you have together.  Embrace that and hold it close.  Your baby will change your marriage.  In many ways he will strengthen it but he will also bring new challenges and new expenses that will require some adjustment for both you and Michael.  He will make you stretch and expand, in ways both pleasant and problematic. 

What I really want you to that you have to be alive NOW.  One day in the not-so-distant future, you will look back on these times and you will wonder why you spent so much of your time feeling sad.  You will never forget how hard infertility and the waiting part of the adoption process were but you will wonder why you let those things encompass so much of your being.  So again I say to you,!  Tuck the sadness away and use it when you need it but don't let it overpower you.  You have to struggle some now so that you will appreciate more later but you have my permission to feel hopeful, alive and happy right now, too!


Your not-so-distant future self...      


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Our 2010 Christmas Card

Oh What Fun Christmas 5x7 folded card
Make a statement with personalized Christmas cards at Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

1000 Words

You know that old saying about a picture being worth a thousand words?  Well I think it's true around this time of year more than any other.  Gone are the days of old fashioned Christmas cards that were the holders of carefully cut school pictures of the children.  While those were great in their own way, I would always end up keeping the pictures on my fridge for a few months and then covering them up with more current fridge-fluff.  These days, old fashioned holiday cards have been replaced by an even better treasure, a card that IS a picture!  Anyone who knows me, or who has followed this blog for any length of time knows that I love pictures.  I love taking pictures, looking at pictures, giving photo gifts and especially receiving photo cards from friends and family!  In December with the cards begin rolling in, I love the way my hutch looks, all decorated with the beautiful faces of friends and family, shining out from the cards they send. 

In my opinion, Shutterfly is the ultimate holiday greeting card provider.  Not only do they have promos and specials that run throughout the year, they also have great deals for the holidays.  Their user-friendly interface makes selecting and designing the perfect photo card a snap.  With Shutterfly at your fingertips, you can send cards that are worth a thousand words this holiday season!  Check out the one I love most, I can't wait to design this with my own photos and send it out to everyone on my list this year.  The whole process is exciting to me!  Now that we are a family of three, it is so thrilling to be able to send the kind of updates I always love to receive.  Having a beautiful baby boy makes meaningful gift giving that much easier.  I know his family in Scotland will LOVE to receive the photo calendars I plan to create for them this year.  Check out Shutterfly’s great selection along with this really cool promotion, especially for fellow bloggers.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Panda Go Panda

Hello, Dear Blogosphere! 

Sad to say but I've basically given up on updating the blog this semester.  There's just not enough time left over after my days end right now.  Still, I couldn't resist sharing a few of my favorite pictures from this past weekend.  Out little guy was a panda bear for Halloween this year and we had a great time taking him out trick-or-treating.  :)  Hope you had a happy and safe Halloween too. 


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Things That Go Bump in the Night...

...or "Why You Should Always Clean Up All Toys After the Toddler Goes to Bed!"

We had a bit of a scare in the middle of the night last night.  Michael tripped on a toy, while holding Charlie, and fell.  I had just fallen asleep and was at the beginning of a dream when I heard my husband screaming (and swearing, though I'll leave that part up to your imagination) along with a lot of loud bumps/bangs and some seriously intense baby crying.  I jumped out of bed and was in the hallway before my brain could even comprehend what was happening.  My heart was racing so fast I could feel it banging in my chest.  When I saw my husband lying there, Charlie standing, in tact, beside him, I wanted to scream too.  His legs were in Charlie's room and his head was in the corner of our hall closet, where the door meets the wall.  I picked Charlie up and checked that he was OK.  Thankfully he was, even though he was still crying a lot.  His little heart was pounding too.  At the same time, I was asking Michael if he was OK and what had happened.  He was responding to me, which I knew was good.  I offered him my hand and tried to pull him up but he said no.  I stood there for a minute or two watching him.  I didn't quite know what to do.  I was really scared that he might have seriously injured (as in broken) his back or neck.  I went and sat down on the toilet so I could try to think calmly and assess the situation.  We were talking the whole time but I'm not sure what exactly was being said.  I finally got Charlie to calm down enough to stop crying and we just sat there, a little shocked.  Michael managed to get up and limp back into our bedroom.  I followed him and asked, again, if he was OK.  He asked me if his foot was bleeding and I looked at it and saw that it was.  He cut the bottom of it pretty badly, though we're still not sure exactly how.  I cleaned and bandaged his foot, making sure that the bleeding had stopped.  He said his elbow, head, neck and back were also hurting.  I asked him a few questions to make sure he was thinking clearly.  His elbow was grazed pretty badly with a red friction burn on it.  There were no other visible injuries so my main concern at that point was whether or not he had a concussion.  We waited a few more minutes and I asked him if he thought we should go to the ER.  He said no, that he just needed some Tylenol and water.  I got those for him and also cleaned up the blood from the floor.  We all tried to lie back down but after that adrenaline rush, none of us could truly relax again for quite some time.  We finally did manage to fall back asleep, though I'm not sure how long it took.

Things seem to be almost back to normal today but Michael is definitely bruised and sore.  He said that when he fell, the only thing he could think of was not falling on top of Charlie.  He basically did a complete turn and landed flat on his back in order to protect the boy.  I can't even begin to tell you how relieved I am that this incident wasn't so much worse.  It certainly could have been, on many levels.  We usually do a reasonable job of picking up all the toys after Charlie goes to bed but once in a while there is a toy here or there.  Hard to imagine that one erstwhile plastic truck can create such distress.  I'm feeling pretty relieved and thankful for my little family today, I just hope Michael feels better soon.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

17-Month-Olds Are Sweet...

...or at least ours is.  These are the kind of encounters we have on a regular basis these days.  Now that our lives have changed, I miss my time with the little one more than words can express but the old adage, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" is certainly holding true for us.  He wants me as much as I want him after we've spent the whole day in separate places. 

It's been a while since I've posted an update about the little man.  He's growing like a weed and we have so much fun these days.  He seems to pick up new words and abilities daily.  His favorite things at the moment are to open and close all sorts of things; doors, bowls with lids, water bottles, bottles with flip caps, you name it.  He still hasn't figured out how to screw tops back onto bottles or open doors that are already closed but he's actively working on it.  I love his little face when he's concentrating.  He squats down, sticks just the tip of his tongue out and his breathing slows.  I've tried, unsuccessfully, to capture this expression on "film" but here's an almost shot:

He's so precious, there are absolutely no words for how much I love this little person.  Last night when Daddy got home from work, Charlie was sitting on his lap.  Daddy said, "Charlie, what color is Daddy's shirt?" to which Charlie replied, "ojamonge" We both got a good laugh at his unique pronunciation of the word "orange."  He also says "beeoooou" for blue and he will sometimes say "ed" for red but not always on cue.  Our days right now are absolutely flying by and that's hard.  One part of me can't wait for next April because it means I'll finally be graduating but the other part wants to slam on the brakes because April also means we'll have a little two-year-old in our midst.  Hard to imagine that but I know it will happen fast.  

He's also developing quite the little sense of humor lately.  He's always been a face-maker but now that he's learned he can make people laugh with his antics, they are a regular part of his repertoire.  LOVE!


Monday, September 13, 2010


Well, we're on to week two of me being out of the house five days a week now.  It's been eons since my last post but there are good reasons for that, even though tonight is not the night I plan on spending time going into them.  :)  Suffice it to say, we have been busy but (almost entirely) in a happy, productive sort of way.

We had a great family vacation week at the end of August that closed the books on summer for us.  I'm hoping I'll be able to find time to write and/or post pictures about that sometime soon but we'll have to see.

So far, things with the new schedule/routine are going well.  Charlie has cried every morning I've dropped him off at day care so far, which is excruciating for me.  Even though I know he's completely over the sadness before we even get out of the neighborhood, I hate walking out the door when he's upset.  He's also been thrilled to see us when we come to get him each afternoon, which is so very rewarding for the mama in me.  The hours in between seem to have gone very well, from what I can tell.  His caregiver sent some pictures home today and it was really nice to see him smiling and happy.  He's eating and sleeping with no issues while he's there so I'd give the whole arrangement a pretty high rating so far...even though it is still hard for me to be leaving my baby boy every day.

Speaking of me, I haven't figured out what, if anything I plan to write publicly about my student teaching experiences.  I've been writing feverishly in my paper journal but feel a little apprehensive about sharing information out here, where (literally) anyone can access it.  I may change my mind and do a weekly synopsis on my other blog though, I'm just not sure yet.  From the big picture perspective, things are going very well.  I'm really loving the children.  Five and six year-old kids are some of the sweetest there are.  I'm learning a lot and staying extremely busy, to the point that I'm literally collapsing into bed by about 10:00 every night.

Regarding the little one and the drama surrounding sleep that I left hanging from my last post, things have gotten better but the problems are not resolved.  All of your comments were very helpful and very much appreciated so thank you.  I think I've stopped beating myself up and feeling as though I should be able to do better, which has alleviated some of the stress.  I'm just trying to focus on our son and his needs and let those lead the way.  At some point, he will sleep through the night without needing reassurances from us and until then...well, it could certainly be worse!

For the time being, I'm soaking up every single moment I can get with him.  The little man seems to learn something new and get a little bit cuter every single day. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Three Minutes

How long is this going to take?  How old will our son be before he sleeps through the night comfortably?  I've hesitated in writing this post for a long time because, quite honestly, I don't want or need the judgment of any other moms about this topic.  I'm already stressed enough without hearing the opinions of everyone else on what I should be doing or how I should do things differently.

We've been struggling with sleep, off and on, pretty much from eight (or so) months forward.  As soon as we tried to start getting C. to go to sleep on his own, it became a problem.  It hasn't been a problem throughout every stage and we have had some successful periods with him sleeping through the night for enough nights that I think we've finally broken through.  Then something changes (illness, schedule change, etc.) and the struggle starts again.  I am fully aware that we have played into this problem in some ways.  The simple truth is that neither one of us is good at letting our baby cry.  There are many factors that go into this.  First is the fact that we waited so long for him.  We've already spent enough nights with empty arms and sad hearts.  Listening to our little one cry while we sit in another room, miserable at the sound of his angst, is not something either of us has ever dealt with well.  Couple that with the fact that our little boy, with very few exceptions, is always happy and you can see why it's been a challenge.  When he does get upset, he's dramatic.  He gets huge crocodile tears that melt your heart and make you want to do anything to make them stop.  He knows how to push our buttons well and push them he does.  None of that is to say though, that we haven't done some things "by the book," so to speak.  We've always had a simple bedtime routine and we've tried to stay consistent with things like how long we are willing to let him cry, what we say when we go in to comfort him and so on.  Some might think of us as coddlers but the bottom line for me has always been that I want to parent from an attachment standpoint.  From an adoption perspective, attachment is critical.  From the moment I laid eyes on our tiny baby, I knew that if there was one thing I didn't want to mess up, that was it.  To that end, we have been highly successful; however, C's sleeping habits have been another matter.

None of this is new to me.  I "helped" all of the parents of former children I cared for get their babies to sleep by telling them to let the babies CIO, within reason.  Now I'm wondering if I didn't make things harder for them.  Knowing what I know now about being a mom, I can't help but wonder if I should have just kept my mouth shut back then.  I don't think our efforts with C. have been an utter failure.  He does sleep, he just wants someone to be there with him.  Somewhere along the way, my emotional connection to him got the better of my rational reasoning about how to sleep train a baby.  One thing I've learned is that the very act of being the parent of another human being is rather irrational at times.        

All that said, and with all the ups and downs of this whole process, things have gotten much worse in the past week or so.  I think lots of things are going on.  I think C. is entering a new stage of cognitive development in which he is more aware of our interactions and he's testing his limits, testing us to see what happens when...  I also think he may be teething and/or growing, which can both cause disruptions in sleep patterns.  Add to all that the fact that he will be starting daycare in a couple of weeks, (and you all know how I feel about that) which has made me want to work that much harder to get him to sleep peacefully on his own.  Whew!  Well, it's not that hard to see why the whole thing has gone "tits up" to coin a lovely phrase my husband likes to use when things are really a mess.      

So that brings us to tonight.  I am on the verge of tears as I type this right now.  I just let our son cry himself to sleep for 57 minutes.  You read that right, three minutes short of AN HOUR.  Now I'm thinking, "What have I done?"  I'm a horrible mother...he's going to be scarred for life...on and on.  My rational mind knows he will be fine.  It knows that even if my decisions tonight were a big, fat mistake (which they quite possibly were) he will survive.  What was that thing about motherhood being irrational again? get the point.  He did cry himself to sleep.  He did eventually give up.  The interminable question though, is should I have let him?  I honestly just couldn't do it anymore tonight.  The past couple of weeks, particularly the past three days or so have been exhausting.  Last night I was up until 1:00 with him and then by 4:45 he was in our bed.  He hasn't been napping well either, sleeping in 20-40 minute spurts.  So on one hand, we have an exhausted baby who is clearly not his typical, happy self, coupled with a mama who just needs a break and on the other hand we have a baby who has to scream for nearly an hour before finally falling asleep.  Do you see why this is so hard for me?  Why it seems that either way I go is wrong?  I don't want to coddle him to the point that he thinks he can manipulate us and that he won't nap at daycare...but I'm also not at all happy with letting him cry for that long.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I won't be able to do that again, unless I go outside or something.

I guess the decision of where to go from here will have to be based on what happens next.  Will he make it through the night because he cried himself to sleep, or will it not really matter?  Will he wake up happy and refreshed, or will the screaming resume the second he opens his eyes?  After reading this article and post on Ashely's blog the other day, this has been on my mind a lot. In any case, it's neither here nor there.  I did what I thought was best tonight, and now I'm second guessing myself like crazy.  There en lies part of the problem.  I need to make up my mind on how we're gong to handle the current problems we're having, then we need to be firm and consistent until this phase passes.  I know that in my rational mind but well...what was that thing about motherhood being irrational?

My final thoughts on this are that every child is unique, and as such, they each have unique needs.  Child and parent relationships are unique too, which certainly factors into the equation.  I think I used to think, before becoming a mom, that this wasn't that difficult.  That if you did basically the same thing with any kid, sleeping would become a non-issue.  Only now can I see how wrong I was.  How hard this is from the parenting perspective.  Knowing C. as I do, I realize he is an exceptionally people-oriented child.  He is always in tune to people and what they are doing, saying, etc.  He is a social butterfly.  I honestly think, on a primal level, he doesn't want to be alone.  Therefore, I think that for him, sleeping through the night is harder than it might be for some other children.  Perhaps that's just me justifying the situation in which we now find ourselves, I don't know.  The bottom line though, is that I do know my son better than anyone else out there and I know what does and doesn't work for him...for us.  Now I just have to pair that with my knowledge of child development and my prior experiences and we should be able to solve this problem yet.  There...maybe a little positive energy will go a long way.  I certainly hope so because I am pooped!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Beating a Dead Horse

I talked recently in this post about how I'm struggling with the fact that I'm about to be a full-time (unpaid) working mama here in a few weeks.  Well the dread continues.  It's so strange because I feel so split in two different directions.  One part of me wants to run (not walk) toward the opportunities that await me and the other part wants to drag my heels hard so I can hold onto now a little bit longer. 

I know I'm beating a dead horse by constantly lamenting about the impending changes in our lives.  I know the only way for me to make peace with all this is for it to happen and for everything to be fine.  I know I just have to suck it up and get over the fact that someone else is going to have almost as much time with my son every week as I have with him.  That is much easier said than done though.  Even knowing I really like the woman who will be caring for him, it's so difficult for me to let go and trust the fact that he will be fine and he will adjust to our new circumstances.  I'm even dreaming about all this repeatedly, which is a sure sign of how much it's bothering me.   

To be honest, I don't even know why I'm writing this post.  I don't expect any comments because I know they won't really help anyway.  You guys have already said all there is to say--the only things that can be said.  I'm not going to feel better about this until after about a week of living through it.  Even then it will still be hard but it won't feel quite so all-encompassing.  *sigh*

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Another Blogging Buddy

This past Wednesday, I had a chance to meet up with Wendy and her daughter, Zoe.  Wendy's blog is one I've been following for quite a while now, throughout their adoption journey and into the beautiful family life they have now.  There's something so remarkable about getting to physically meet someone who, for all intents and purposes, you already know really well.  There is a transformation that happens throughout the adoption process, and when that 's shared through writing, there is a kinship that is unparalleled in other encounters.  Wendy and I talked about the fact that, even though our IRL friends do mean well and do try to understand, there is just something about the world of adoption that they can't break into without having experienced it first hand.  It's comforting to spend time around other people--other moms--who don't have the same questions and misconceptions that are all too prevalent in so many other situations.  We had a great day, hanging out at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum and then enjoying lunch at Zingerman's Delicatessen, followed by lots of great conversation while we waited out the afternoons' torrential downpours to subside.
We had a great day and considering we were accompanied by two little ones, we were able to talk quite a bit while the babies played or sat in our laps.  Great times!  


Friday, July 30, 2010

A Trip to #2 Hippo Way

When Charlie was born, one of the very best gifts we received was a season pass to the Toledo Zoo.  This zoo is's apparently one of the top ten zoos in the country.  It's an easy day trip for us since it's not very far from home. 

The pictures you see here are some of my favorite photos from each of the two times we've taken Charlie there so far.  The first time was on a fluke warm day back in November.  He was only about six months old at the time and I can't believe he was ever that small!

The second was just this past weekend.  He had such a blast, running around ALL over the place and exploring the new neighborhood play space they have just for kids.  Great times!


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Quality vs. Quantity

Today was one of those know the kind.  Running all over the place but not really accomplishing much at all.  I had a lot of school stuff to do and a standing social obligation that I didn't want to pass up.  Hence, I had very little time with the boy today.

Still, when we were together, we were cuddling and laughing and happy.  Certainly that counts for something, right?  I hope it counts for a lot because come the fall, when I start my full-time student teaching stint, that's the way things are going to be for us, most of the time.

I'm literally split right down the middle about the major changes that are headed our way in a little over a month.  One part of me is excited in a great anticipation sort of way and one part of me is terrified in an, "I don't know if I can do this" sort of way.  On top of my own anticipation/fear came the news that we will need to find new child care arrangements for C.  This development was not terribly surprising but still makes me feel sad.  We had a great arrangement going last year and I'm sad to see it go.  On the other hand, C. is getting to the age where it will be very beneficial for him to be around other kids and to have a little more structure to his days.  Yet again, I feel split right down the middle:  One part sad and one part excited to see what the next chapter holds.

I know it will all be fine.  I know plenty of people work full time (plus!) and still manage to maintain a great relationship/bond with their children.  I know many of you do it.  My sister does it.  I also know plenty of people who greatly enjoy their work away from home because they feel truly connected when they come back, rejuvenated rather than burned out.  Besides, it's not like I've been home full time forever.  I've had the blessing of two beautiful, languid summers with C. but I've also been pretty consistently busy with school since he was four months old.  I guess what I'm most worried about/scared of is the loss of my flexibility.  School allows for that...not only in terms of scheduling but in case anything unexpected comes up out of the blue.  While I do place attendance high on my list of priorities, I don't have to go to school if I don't want to.  With student teaching, I will put my very best professional foot forward and work...probably harder than I ever have before {not that I don't work hard now or haven't in the past} and it will all be for no pay.  That's an exhausting prospect no matter how you slice it.  At the same time, I can't wait to experience the whole picture of life in the classroom as someone other than the substitute teacher for the put all the pieces of the puzzle together, so to speak, and get my feet wet for what my future career will really be like.

Ahhhh...I'm just so mixed, so all over the place about how I really feel.  And the time is flying by, fast!  Today was a glimpse into how I'm going to feel every day come the fall and it was bittersweet for me, in a big way!