Friday, December 2, 2011

It's Been a While!

It's been months since my last update so I actually doubt if anyone is even checking this blog much after my lengthy absence.  My last post just happened to coincide with some fairly sudden significant life changes, namely that I was offered a job as a 1st/2nd grade teacher.  This is my first year teaching and I also have another part time mentoring job on the side.  I'm still occasionally doing portraits for friends when I can as well.  All that is to say, I've been extremely busy these past months!  In fact, I still am extremely busy and it's unlikely that I'm going to be jumping back into blogging regularly any time soon.

Still - the holidays are upon us and that always brings out my sentimental side.  I just ordered our family Christmas cards and that made me think of last Christmas when Shutterfly did their big "free photo card" promotion for bloggers.   At that time, I was blogging like mad.  There are no free photo cards this year, but (how wonderful it is to say!) that's OK because greeting cards actually fit into our budget this year.   

Additionally, we are speaking at the adoption agency again tomorrow and that always makes me think of blogging and the many stories I've related to...families I've connected with through this outlet.  Blogging is so powerful and I do miss it.  I think that some part of me will always be a blogger, even if I end up dropping that ball for the time being.  I need to take some time to let things settle in my life and then figure out what parts of my personal life can fit where.  As thrilled as I am to have found a teaching job (they are frighteningly scarce in my state,) it's still been a whirlwind that has left me in survival mode for the past several months.

I am exhausted and overwhelmed but happy and productive too.  I guess that's about the gist of things!  I hope all my fellow bloggers out there are doing well and I wish you all a happy holiday season!  




5x7 Folded Card

Bold Bright Joy Christmas Card
Seasons greetings with personalized Christmas cards from Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Friday, August 26, 2011

To Blog or Not to Blog...

...that is the question! 

There was a time when I would've said blogging was in me - as in something I had to do, something about which I had no choice.  I'm no longer sure that's the case but I do still enjoy blogging, when I have the time.  I've been thinking about it a lot lately and I'm not sure exactly where to go with my blogging.  I love that I have so many followers, and I love (even more) the valuable connections I've made through this blog but...where should I go from here?

That's where you come in...

A fellow adoptive mom and good friend of mine, (see what I mean about the valuable connections I've made through blogging!) Wendy recently wrote a post and I've decided to follow her lead. 

If you read my blog...

Can you take a moment to leave me a comment and tell me a bit about yourself?  How did you find my blog and what has kept you interested in it?  Did you adopt or do you have plans to do so?  What other connections do you have to adoption?  Is there anything you would like me to write about or write more/less about?    

Thanks for the feedback!




Friday, August 5, 2011

When the Baby is Having a Baby...

That's right folks, the baby of our family, my little sister, is pregnant!!  I've known for quite some time but haven't really been prepared to share until now.  I am very happy for her as I know the journey to this place was less than easy.  While we definitely had a shared camaraderie in our experiences of infertility, I am so happy that her trip down that road has taken a different turn.  I love that our family is still growing, and I am so excited that my sister will get to experience the awesome ride of motherhood along with us now.

I had an incredibly special experience a couple of weeks ago.  I got to go to her prenatal doctor's appointment.  We heard the baby's heartbeat (nice and strong at 138-142) for a couple of minutes.  It was, quite simply, amazing.  I never got to experience that with my own son (and I am genuinely okay with that) but because of my sisters, I have been able to have small glimpses of what it's like to grow a baby inside your own body.  I'm so thankful to both of them for letting me experience, vicariously, some of the special moments that infertility tried to take away.  I felt very similarly when my older sister let me feel one of her contractions as she was beginning to go into labor with my now two-year-old niece.  All of the children in my life are extremely special to me and I love that our family is so close that I can be a part of their lives even before they are born. 

It's so odd for me, for the baby of our family to be pregnant.  She's always been the one we all looked out for.  Not that we don't/won't do that now but she's doing this thing - this amazing thing that's so much bigger than all of us, and that I've never done.  Pregnancy and preparation for motherhood requires her to be very much grown up and it's such a strange, yet beautiful thing for me to watch.  I love my family and my sisters more than words can possibly express.  This is an exciting time for all of us and I am so very thankful for the many blessings we have.




Friday, July 29, 2011

Reverse Terminology

I had an interesting experience at the lake a couple weeks back.  I was talking to a friend about his wife's adult-adoptee relationship with her birth family.  He was saying how she and her birth mother are extremely close and talk on the phone almost every day.  How they love to spend time together now that they've been reunited.  It was making me feel kind of melancholy--just thinking about our son and how he may likely never have that experience.  Plus, if I'm being honest, I was also thinking about the adoptive mom and what her feelings would be about her grown daughter having such a close relationship with her birth mom.  Then, in what was an interesting reversal of terms, my friend said, "Of course she's still really close to her real parents too--you know, the ones who raised her."  I thought it was kind of funny that he used the words, "real parents" to describe adoptive parents since there is such a stigma about that in the adoption world.  Oftentimes strangers will ask, unwittingly, about our son's "real parents."  I want to (and sometimes do) point out that we are right here--as real as can be, living life with our son day in and day out.  They don't really mean anything by incorrectly using the term "real parents," they just want to know our story and don't really know how to ask.  I do keep that in mind when such conversations arise, but I also think it's appropriate to do a little PAL (positive adoption language) education sometimes too.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Two Weeks Can Change a Child's Life

I received an email recently introducing me to the Fresh Air Fund.  If you've never heard of this, click on the link in this post or on my sidebar and find out more.  You'll be glad you did.  The Fresh Air Fund was created to help make a profound difference in the lives of inner city kids by giving them the gift of exactly that, fresh air.

The fund is still in need of host families for this summer but even if that's not something you can commit to right now, maybe you can help by donating funds or, like me, by simply spreading the word to others who may be able to help.  If you watch even one of the video clips posted on the fresh air site, I think you'll agree that two weeks really can make a difference!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Talking About Adoption

With a very verbal little man in our midst, it's become more important for me to get adoption on his radar screen. I've always used the word casually around him and tried to pepper our conversations with things like, "The day we adopted you was the best day of our whole lives." We look at his baby book together and he shouts, "doption day!" every time we come to that page but I've been thinking lately that we need more. It seems important to at least begin talking about this aspect of our lives and how we became a family more, now that he's beginning to ask questions and attempting to make some sense of the world. I do want him to lead the conversations and discussions we have as the years unfold; however, I also want him to know that adoption is a safe subject in our household and that he can always ask any questions that come to mind. According to an article I read last week, openly talking about adoption now, while he's young and still forming a framework with which to view the world is one key way to make that happen.

So we've been reading the book, "I Wished for You" by Marianne Richmond a lot, and I try to tell him our (similar though still unique) story in simple terms too.  My good friend and fellow adoptive mama, Debbie has made several books for her little girl including their special story.  I know they have been good conversation starters for Debbie and other members of her family, and I'm thinking I'd like to do the same sometime soon. The thing is, like all parenting, this is all a learning process and I'm figuring it out as we go along.  It's sort of like an added dimension to his normal growth and development.  An added thing I have to consider as he gets older and picks up more of what we say and do.  All I know for sure is that I want our son to just know that he was adopted and that he had a special (though not better or worse) way of joining our family.




Monday, June 27, 2011

We Need Your Vote!

Vote for us in the Parents Cover Contest! Our Beautiful Boy: Charlie is in the running to become a weekly Reader's Choice Winner! One winner will be chosen as a finalist at the Professional Cover Shoot! Vote now at!" Thanks!!

P.S. You can vote once ever day until the contest ends on July 3, 2011. You can also vote mote than once by using any additional email addresses you have.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Three "B" Words

We've been devoting a lot of time and energy to three little words in our house lately, all of which begin with the letter "b." 
Big Boy Bed!
I've posted about this before, here and here regarding the issues with our little man and sleep.  He is an amazing, wonderful, smart, funny, sweet little boy but sleep - or rather independent sleep - has always been somewhat problematic in our household.  He wants to be where we (and the action) are, period.  He sleeps beautifully, with us.  It's been a big challenge for me.  On one hand, I want him to sleep all night in his own room, but on the other hand, I have a lot of trouble with letting him CIO.  I used to be a believer in CIO but then I read (maybe too much?) about attachment issues in adoption and I decided, unequivocally, that I want to do everything I can to help, rather than hinder that process in our lives.  Some part of me still thinks we should just do CIO for two weeks and be done with it but, as I shared in my previous posts, that is excruciating for me.  Our son is a strong willed little person and I have a (very large) soft spot for him!   

In any case, this problem has ebbed and flowed in our lives since we became parents.  He has always slept better when being held and he needed to be swaddled well past the six month mark, in order to get good sleep.  During the latter part of my first semester of student teaching last fall, I basically gave up and started letting him sleep in our bed.  Until that point, I had been trying to get him to sleep in his own room but, inevitably, one of us (usually my dear, sweet husband) would cave in and the little one would end up in our bed at some point during the night, usually on the earlier end.  There came a point when I was simply too tired and I decided it was not an issue I was going to expend my energy on any longer.  I'm a little ashamed to admit that I literally just gave up but it's the truth.  Besides, some parts of the arrangement we had going were nice.  With being so busy, I wasn't spending as much time with the little boy as usual so it was nice to have that extra cuddle time with him.  

Buuuuut then it started affecting our marriage. We were irritable with each other & just not connecting the way we once had.  It came to mind that some of the issues were stemming from our little bedroom invader.  I'm not even talking about the private aspects of marriage here, although that was a factor too.  The hardest part was that our  simple cuddling/together time where we could reconnect with each other as mutual adults who share a partnership and love for an amazing little boy was nonexistent. For a time there, I felt that each of us had a great relationship with our son, but that our relationship with each other was taking a big back seat to our child.  Heck, not even a back seat...more like a dangling from the tail pipe by a thread position.  Not good.  
So, that left only one option, do something about it.  After some discussion, and yes, I'll admit it, even some arguing, we agreed that we had to tackle the bedtime issue.  Michael works two jobs so I found that I was often the one trying to fix it all.  Once I finally had the necessary conversation with Michael that we had to tackle the issue together as a team, things got much better. We still have our own unique nuances and ways of dealing with our son but we are a united front & Charlie is responding to that.  I made/am making a big deal about us getting and staying on the same page because that was definitely a factor in letting this issue get out of hand.  To tell the truth, we are just now coming out of that phase, and we're still learning how to get it right.  We are both working hard to make sure our son's bedtime is routine, routine, routine.   So seems to be working, mostly. 
About two weeks ago, we took the side rail off his crib, made a big production of getting him new sheets and a pillow, read stories about bed time (in which I overemphasized kids sleeping in their OWN beds.) Now we start the bedtime process by around 7:30 most nights.  We sit in his rocking chair while we read two stories, (sometimes with a perusal of his baby book thrown in too,) and sing three songs.  He gets in bed & I tuck him in and he...usually...goes to sleep.  Or I should say, he's starting to go to sleep.  We started this new routine two weeks ago and we are just now breaking through to where the rhythm is setting in and we are getting less resistance.  We had some rough nights there where it was taking him, literally, hours to fall asleep.  Then I got a little smarter and started leaving the room.  Sometimes he will try to get up and follow me, at which point I firmly tell him to get back into bed.  I say, "Mommy loves you very much but it's time to go to bed now."  He will ask us why he has to sleep in his own bed & I explicitly tell him, "Because Mommy & Daddy need Mommy & Daddy time; Charlie needs Charlie time."   Sometimes he shakes his head repeatedly as he says, "No not a want to seep in YaYa own bed want to seep in mommy/daddy own bed."  But, on some level, I think he's getting it.   The consistency and repetition is helping. 

I'll be honest and tell you that he still ends up making his way into our room by around 4:00 a.m. most mornings; however, I think the resolution of that will be phase two of this operation.  For now, we're getting some much-needed time for us, he's sleeping better (if not perfectly,) and we are all feeling much happier now that we've resumed our efforts at dealing with the issues head on, together.  It is taking, and will take time.  This will probably be something with which we will struggle for several years.  It is a learning process for all of us, and we are far from perfect.  I think the important thing, which is the thing on which we are actually making headway, is to be able to strike a balance between meeting our son's needs and letting those needs govern our entire lives, even our marriage.  I actually think he feels safer and more secure when there are some firm limits put into place, and when we have some expectations of him that are clearly identified, such as, "Charlie sleeps in his own bed because he's a big boy and big boys sleep in their own beds."  

For now...we are getting there, one day at a time.  I figured I should share some of what we've been doing/dealing with because I know there are others out there who struggle with some of these same issues.  Getting enough, high quality sleep is so important, it affects every aspect of our lives.  And yet, it's one of the things that is changed most profoundly when we become parents.  We all deal with it on some level but when you have a child for whom sleep is problematic, the issues are tenfold.  Here's to many peaceful nights ahead!   





Thursday, June 2, 2011

Spaghetti Arms & Meatball Hugs

And just like that...the two-year-old shows his sunny side again.  Last night while we were sitting at dinner, he literally had my face in his hands and was giving me kiss after kiss, right on the lips.  It was the sweetest thing ever.  Well, that is unless you count our recent game invention of "spaghetti arms & meatball hugs." 

He has such sweet, skinny little arms that I started saying, "Give me spaghetti arms" when I wanted a hug because I love the way his arms feel as they wrap around my neck.  Smart little chap that he is, he turned our new game from "spaghetti arms" into meatball hug.  Now he will run up with his arms stretched out wide, wrap his adorable spaghetti arms around my neck and smush his cheek up against mine as he is saying, "meeebaaaa huuuuuug" over and over.

Now that, friends, for sure, is the cutest. thing. ever.  Ahhh the joys of toddler-hood!   




Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Flying Toys & a Fat Lip

Well here we are again - and this time I feel even less like I know what I'm doing in this world of raising a very spirited, sweet, strong-willed little BOY.  In this post I talked about how I'm trying to figure it all out when it comes to disciplining our son.  That was almost exactly two months ago and let's just say...we are still learning.  

In fact, this past Saturday can be summed up as one big, fat learning curve when it comes to the behavior of our child.  He perplexes me because he is so quick to change between emotions.  He will literally be happy one minute, then frustrated to the point of anger the next.  What to do with that anger is the big challenge at the moment.  He's having difficulty learning how to share and take turns without throwing toys, pulling/pushing, or grabbing.  Some part of me gets it because, let's face it, sharing is not a natural human desire.  Even we adults want what is ours most of the time.  If it weren't for our parents and siblings enforcing these social niceties onto us as youngsters, we might not choose to share either.  Heck, I know some adults who still do refuse to share, even if they were taught that they should.       

None of that really matters though because we want our child to learn how to share, and to have manners and be a polite young man.  Those things are extremely important to us as his parents so we will keep on fighting the good fight until the lesson sinks in.  Helping him learn  how to effectively express his anger is much harder than they make it sound in the books or in articles I've read online.  I've tried showing him how to hit the couch pillows, or to give me a hug instead of throwing toys. Michael has tried teaching him how to give a high five when what he really wants to do is hit.  Sometimes it works but usually only after he has already reacted in the negative way that we are trying to avoid.  I realize he's young yet and maybe all this needs is more time and more consistency on our part but I will tell you what...this phase of him testing every limit and sometimes outright refusing to cooperate is exhausting.  Exhausting & physically painful, too.  

On Saturday night, he had already had two time-outs for throwing toys but we were at a house party and there wasn't a good place for me to put him that was away from everyone but not scary for him.  The third time he got mad resulted in a fat lip for yours truly.  You can see it if you look closely at the photo to to the right.  When the piece of wooden train track went zinging into my lip, it was pretty shocking.  I got rather mad at the little dude but hopefully I handled the situation at least reasonably well.  I made him sit down between my feet for a minute, then I took him to the mirror and showed him my lip. I said, "Look Charlie, you did that when you threw your toy, that really hurt Mommy." At that point he looked a little sheepish & said, "No not a do dat" & looked away. Then I took him to Michael & walked away.       

I've been reviewing the evening over and over in my head.  It's so, so hard to be that parent...the one whose kid is out of control.  There were a lot of kids there & they were all getting tired.  Charlie himself, was tired after an afternoon birthday party & this evening house party, but still...there are only so many justifications and excuses that can be made for the kind of behavior he was exhibiting.  One fellow mom did make me feel a lot better with the following statement:

"I've had several kids with this type of personality and our job as parents isn't to "squash" it, but to "mold" it. These stubborn, angry kids are the kids who will be our future leaders. It's okay to get angry...we have to teach them that how they react to that anger is what is important."

She at least made me feel like I'm somewhat on the right track with trying to help Charlie learn how to be mad, instead of just spanking or whatever.  I know spanking is a controversial topic & it's not one I intent to delve into here but I just don't see how hitting him could possibly convey the strong, positive message we want to send him.  For the time being, I guess we'll just keep on keeping on & keep on reminding our little boy of the things we feel are important& the values we want him to embrace.  




Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Adoption Institute

How did I get to this point in our adoption journey without knowing about this web site?  I was listening to a recent NPR Talk of the Nation story about transracial adoption and they had the author of this web site on the show as a resource person.  Very interesting.  I'm still perusing but wanted to share for those of you who might find it useful!



Negative Connotations

A couple times in the past week-and-a-half or so, I have literally cringed as I've heard the following statements:

"No, no don't eat the brown ones, those are yucky,"

"The green ones need water, if they don't get water they will shrivel up and turn brown like the other ones."

And from "My Many Colored Days"" a beloved children's book by Dr. Seuss:  "Some days, of course, feel sort of brown.  Then I feel slow and low, low down." 

As the mother of a beautiful, brown boy, these things have raised questions for me.  What am I supposed to do when our son starts making connections about the color of his skin and the negative connotations associated with that color?  Frankly, they are everywhere once you start noticing them.  Brown and black both have some very strongly negative associations.  In our daily dealings with our little one, we do (and have always) incorporated as many positive connotations surrounding these colors as we can.  For example, I will say, "Look at that beautiful, brown belly...I'm gonna' give it some kisses!" when I'm changing  his diaper, amongst other things.  But he is at a critical age right now.  He is listening and picking up on everything we (and others) say as he tries to make meaningful connections about our world. 

I don't think he has been harmed by any of these negative statements...yet.  It's a tough realization for me that there will come a time when I won't be able to protect him from the flaws of our society, and from the things other people say.  I've read "My Many Colored Days" hundreds of times over the years but only recently did I give any serious thought to the brown page.

I'm not even really sure where to go with this, it's just one my mind and something I need to think about more.  There are some obvious things we can do, like make sure positive associations are made and reinforced whenever possible, especially within his everyday environments.  Still though, this is one of those things that sort of caught me off guard.  It simply wasn't something I ever had any reason to think about before.  Now it is and I don't quite know what to think...        

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Our Birthday Boy

Charlie is two today, I'm in disbelief.  It's hard for me to grasp the fact that two whole years have gone by since the amazing little boy who is our son entered this world.

He changed our lives forever, in ways we never could've imagined.  He has brought us so much laughter and happiness in such a short time, there are no words. 

From those first days when I sat holding him and staring into his soulful, brown eyes to the sweet, funny, adorable little person he has become.  Well quite honestly, the transformation amazes me.    

His personality is endearing.  He says the most adorable things these days and he understands so much.  Yesterday I think I probably got 30 hugs, which is none too many.  For a long time now he's been referring to himself as "Ya Ya" but that has begun to change (intermittently) to "Awie" as in, "Awie do it or Awie did it."  I've been trying to write down as many of his little antics as I can...he certainly is good at cracking us up!  

Here are some of my favorites, jotted down randomly in spare moments as they occurred:

  • Dees da eward, dat da doo-dy! {This is Edward, that's Judy} He says this when we're reading Firehouse, one of his all-time favorite books.  It might not seem that funny, until you know that he's pointing to the opposite main characters in the book (Edward for Judy and Judy for Edward,) then looking back at me, grinning from ear-to-ear.    

  • One two free hugs fu yoo a ah tis too! {One, two, three hugs for you and a kiss too}  He will say this as he's running across the room to give me a hug.  Totally melts my heart every time!  

  • I wa cared or Mommy, I cared!  {I was scared or Mommy, I'm scared}  He says this often these days as he learns and experiences new things.  Loud noises often startle him and he will run over to me saying this. 

  • Up, up I waaa howd ju {Up, up - I want to hold you} This is one of my favorites and a part of me wishes he would never stop saying it!  He knows it works on me too because he will often use this when we're sitting at the dinner table and he wants out of his high chair.  Yeah...I'm a sucker!  :)

  • Peppa-owni an a pizza {Pepperoni on a pizza}  What can I's pretty much his favorite food.  Speaking of food...

  • Pees ockit or pees cany {Piece of chocolate/candy} He says this while pointing to the candy jar on our entertainment center.  Thankfully, he still eats lots of veggies, protein and fruit so I can give in on the occasional treat.

  • Doobell! {Doorbell}  He says this while running from person to person pulling up his shirt and showing off his belly button.  I made up a game with him one evening where I pressed his "doorbell" and said "bing bong!"  Apparently it was a hit...

  • Ohhhhhh ya!  Said with exuberance any time we show him something new or point out something in the car or when we're out and about. 

  • I cooood {I'm cold!}  Usually said amidst tears at diaper tine.  I think he really does get cold but I also think it's a ploy to not have to get his diaper changed.  This one doesn't work so well.   

  • Besh ooo, Mommy/Daddy {Bless you, Mommy or Daddy} Always said when we sneeze and often when we cough too.  We've all been pretty sick around here for the past couple of weeks so I've been able to hear it a lot.  Adorable!  

  • Hey mom... _____  And fill in the blank with anything.  He can be showing me something, saying hi to me, or asking me to read to him.  It's super cute when he says this, but I'm not 100% thrilled about his switch from "Mommy" to "Mom."  Luckily it's only occasionally for now.  

  • Buckle Daddy... _____ {Michael Daddy} and again, you can fill in the blank with anything.  We've tried all kinds of things to get him to stop calling Michael Michael but he is persistent.  Hopefully it's only a phase.  

  • Uh-Uh, no sir, Mommy!  He says this when he really doesn't want to cooperate and it's so hard to keep a straight face.  Through process of elimination, we figured out that his daycare provider tells him, "No sir" when she's really serious about disciplining him. 
A few things that are new this week:

  • DVTV  This is a combination of DVD and TV, I think.  He received a Curious George DVD from my sister, for Easter and he's been saying this a lot since then.  Speaking of Easter...

  • Eesah bunny come you kwuck steekers, ohhh ya!  {The Easter Bunny came to see you and gave you some truck stickers, oh yeah!}  He's been saying this repeatedly since Sunday.  I should send the Easter Bunny a note and tell him that next year, truck stickers would be more than enough to fill up the basket.  Made  his day!  

  • Ohh, I yuv et! {Oh I love it!}  Said with exuberance any time he sees/gets something new.  He said it a lot on Sunday as he opened his Easter baskets.  I'm not sure where he picked this one up but I do love it!  

  • Whuts inthayre or whut wa dat? {What's in there or what was that?}  Apparently he's starting the questioning phase a little early.  I thought this was more of a three-year-old thing but he says it in context.  We were weeding the garden yesterday and he kept peering into the holes left by my weeder saying, "Whuts inthayre, Mommy?"  I'm not sure I'm ready for this!  Speaking of things I'm not quite ready for... 

  • Uh-Uh, dat no yeyyo, dat owege!' {Uh-uh, that's not yellow, that's orange.}  He said this the other night in the bath when we were looking at his Sesame Street bath book.  I said, "Big Bird is yellow" and he shook his head, saying the above statement.  Now it's his new joke to say, "Oweeeege!" any time we ask him what color Big Bird is. 

So, as of today I am the proud mommy of one very amazing little two-year-old.  If he were a weather forecast, it would say, "Sunny overall with a chance of sudden clouds."  His mood changes fast these days and he's learning how to express his anger without throwing his toys or melting into a puddle of tears onto the floor.  He learns tons every single day and sometimes keeping up with him takes all the energy I have.  Still though, I wouldn't trade his hugs, kisses, and sweet giggle for anything in this world!  With that, I shall leave you with some of his cuteness on video as he, "got eet!" when I blew bubbles for him yesterday.  LOVE! 



Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Two Books I No Longer Need

I was looking through some old books in our shelves the other day and came across two that took me way back.  Thankfully, they are books I no longer need.    

The Infertility Survival Guide
The Infertility Survival Handbook

This made me realize that I absolutely do not miss those days, on any level.  Even during this time of wanting to get the wheels turning on our family additions, I have zero desire to walk down that path again.  My heart belongs to adoption now, and I am forever grateful for that.  Not only for our precious son, but for the miracle that adoption has been in our lives.

That's all.




Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I'm Supposed to Know

In a couple more weeks, I'll be graduating with my bachelor's in Elementary Education, along with an endorsement in Early Childhood Education.  That part is absolutely thrilling, can't come soon enough!  But that's not the point of this post.  The point of this post is for me to tell you that my (not-quite) two-year-old is giving me a run for my money!  I feel a bit like the auto-mechanic who can't fix her own car or the computer tech who can't fix his own hard drive lately.  Caring for and disciplining young children is what I do.  In some form or another, it's what I've always done.  I know children naturally give their parents more grief than they give others.  I know they test their limits at home more than any other place but wow...I never imagined being the parent of a toddler would be this challenging at times! 

Our son is still the most precious and adorable bundle of joy I've ever laid eyes on but he is going through a n.a.u.g.h.t.y phase right now.  When he was a baby, my younger sister said, "He's got a dimple.  You know toddlers with dimples are always making trouble, right?"  I wasn't expecting her to be correct quite so soon!  His behavior is especially challenging for me because, in his typical all-boy style, he seems to actually enjoy getting into trouble.  For example, he knows he's not supposed to eat crayons and yet every time we give him one, he puts it up to his mouth and grins mischievously.  When I take the crayons away, he laughs.  Given that, it's clear that the best plan of attack would be for me to ignore the unwanted behavior.  That does work some of the time, but then he will intentionally do things he knows I can't ignore, such as standing up in his chair at the dinner table.  The other night he was doing that and when I asked him to, "sit down or get down," he looked at me, grinned, and raised both of his little hands into the air.  OK seriously??  It was all I could do not to burst out laughing but of course I had to maintain my composure.

I've been reading about discipline lately and I have found some techniques (more rules of thumb really) that I'd like to try to implement.  The two that come to mind are, "The three C's - calm, caring and consistent" as well as the "90:10 ratio," which states that interactions with your child should be 90 parts positive and 10 parts negative or better.  The thing is...these articles do not say anything I don't already know.  My experience with theories is that they work wonderfully in a book, with the ideal child in mind.  In practice, however, things are a bit more complicated.  Interactions with real children are often more complex than the books can portray.  It's frustrating to read or know something, then try it out and end up with a different outcome than you expected.

Consistency between caregivers is the other huge factor.  For the most part, Michael and I do pretty well in this department; however, our little smarty has already figured out which parent to ask for which item.  He knows, for example, that Daddy is more likely to turn on the TV than Mommy, or that Mommy is more likely to let him practice flushing the potty than Daddy.  Did I mention he's not even two yet?  He is definitely socially motivated.  He picks up on our moods and our tones of voice quickly, probably even more so than we realize.  He also dislikes being separated or withdrawn from others.  These are things I'm trying to fit into the grand schema of our disciplinary plan for him.  We're still navigating the waters and figuring it all out one day at a time but I'm trying to get it together. 

In writing this post, I've just come up with the idea that I should try to think of myself as a parent in my classroom.  What advice would i give myself if I could be on the outside?  Hmmm...that's going to require more thought on my part but it's an interesting idea.  For now, I think it also bears mentioning that as naughty as he can be, our little one is also still quite sweet.  Every time I cough or sneeze he says, "besh ooo Mommy" and just about melts my heart.  It's all really about balancing between and navigating the (often abrupt) changes in his demeanor.  He's definitely a smart, strong-willed, funny, strong, sweet little boy.  The key is  helping him (which will inadvertently help us) to become the best he can be.  A tall order but I'm trying...




Monday, March 14, 2011

And the Winner is...

Hi Friends,

I just entered the numbers at and the winner of the CSN Stores Giveaway is...Katychick!  Congratulations to you and thanks to everyone who entered.  I'm so grateful for the connections I've made through blogging and for all of loyal readers and new followers alike!

{Katychick, I will be sending you an email shortly with your promo code and a few more details.} 

Happy Blogging,



Thursday, March 3, 2011

Two Minutes = Trouble!

Sometimes I think we've given our son the wrong middle name.  Sometimes I think his middle name should have been Trouble!  Seriously?  The scene you see to the left is what happened last night, in the two minutes it took me to realize I had forgotten to close the bathroom door on my way to make dinner.  It took some effort on my part to remember to take a deep breath and relax.  All I can say is, thank goodness for plungers! 

Of course, once I got over my initial shock at the boy's toilet paper experimentation, the only natural thing to do was to laugh...and grab the camera, of course!  You can tell by the change in his expression that  Mommy lightened up a bit.  Still, I think we've learned a valuable lesson at our house:  Toilet paper stays off the roll for the foreseeable future!  To his credit, at least he's not scared to flush the toilet.  That is one potty training hurdle we will not have to overcome!



Tuesday, March 1, 2011

CSN Stores Giveaway! {Contest Closed}

Drum-roll please...welcome to my first-ever blog giveaway!!

Spring fever is in the air and I've been daydreaming about some ways we might improve the functionality of our house.  Although I'm still swamped with school work right now, I will be graduating in less than two months!  Once I do, it's time for some TLC at our place.  One plan I have is to clean and organize our basement office.  I love the idea of an L shaped desk, which would allow us to use our (limited) space in a much more efficient manner!

The awesome people at CSN stores have decided to sponsor a blog giveaway and are providing me with a $20 promotion code that YOU can use on any of the (more than 200) stores on their site. 

As I said, I've been doing some daydreaming and here are a couple of ideas of how I would spend that $20:

Pyrex storage set x 2!  These are some of the best food containers I've ever used.  One of the moms for whom I used to nanny often sent lunch for her daughters in these.  Since C. started daycare, I've frequently wished I had some of my own to use for his lunch bag. 

Preschool hammer peg toy by Plan Toys.  C. is in love with anything he can use to make noise &/or bang on furniture.  With his 2nd birthday right around the corner, I'd love to get him this gift & I'm pretty sure he'd love to receive it!   

So here are the contest details, I will be doing a random drawing for the $20 promotional code.  The drawing will begin on Wednesday, March 2 and end on Sunday, March 13 at midnight. 

Entering the contest is simple and there are a couple of ways you can participate.

1. Become a follower on my blog or tell me you already are.  If I don't know you, introduce yourself!
2.Go to the CSN web siteand do a little daydreaming of your own, tell me what you would get with the $20.

1. Like CSN on facebook

For each one you do, leave me a comment that includes your email address! 

The giveaway will close March 13 at midnight.  The winner will be generated via and posted the next day.  Have fun and good luck!!



Monday, February 28, 2011

Beautiful Boy!

It's been a long time since I've written an update about our little man, which is exactly what he's become!  Our house is a joyful whirlwind most of the time these days.  He's 22 months old today.  That means he will turn two in exactly two months.  That is crazy to me, where has the time gone??

His is a smart little guy...and funny too!  The other day, we were sitting in the car waiting for M. to come out of work.  C. was about 1/2 way through the apple he was eating when he handed it to me, seeds exposed, and said, "Ewwww Mommy, poop! Yucky!"  Needless to say, he wouldn't eat any more of the apple after that.  lol

One day last week, I was standing at the kitchen sink doing dishes when it suddenly dawned on me that I was talking to C. at eye level.  Little stinker had emptied out one of his toy baskets and pulled it over to the counter when I wasn't looking.  He wants so badly to be like us and to do everything we do, it's quite endearing and also quite frightening.  He has such a mischievous, playful personality...sometimes it seems that he almost enjoys getting into trouble.  Speaking of, we've started (loosely) using time outs lately and they seem to be working.  We try only to put him in a time out when he is hurting someone or himself or for the worst infractions of him not listening to our requests.  He really hates being excluded from the action & doesn't enjoy being ignored so this method of redirection is effective for him.  One minute can seem like a long time when your little boy is crying as if heartbroken.  Ahem.  Yes, I daresay someone has his parents pretty much where he wants them.

He's very interested in how things work these days.  He loves opening/closing things any time he gets a chance.  Doors, jars, bottles, cabinets, name it.  Zippers and buttons fascinate him right now too but they sometimes also frustrate him when he isn't successful.  Speaking of frustration, that happens semi-often too these days, although it's getting better.  We've been working with him to get him to say, "Help Mommy" or, "Help Daddy" when he's frustrated, instead of throwing a fit.  We're getting there but sometimes he forgets, especially when  he's hungry or tired.  

Really, every day with him is something new.  I'm continually amazed at all he learns and all he can do...I absolutely love hearing his little voice as he learns new words and phrases.  I'm not sure where he even picked it up but today it was, "Oh dea!" repeated time and again, followed by peals of laughter.  For some reason, that really struck his funny bone.  We repeated it for him countless times just to hear that contagious laugh of his.  He's getting pretty good at communicating these days.  He regularly speaks in 3-5 word sentences & will usually tell us exactly what he wants.  Today I was playing "tick-tock" with him as I swung him back & forth.  When I stopped he said, "Mo, Mommy.  Mo ick ock!"  I obliged, of course!  He loves to count too and will often count when we go up and down steps or when I'm giving him goldfish.  He can count to ten & usually does so successfully but sometimes it's, "1...2...3...4... 5...6...7...4...5...6...7...8...9...10."  He also knows the names of all his characters in both Thomas the Train & Bob the Builder.  He is often heard running around the house talking about "Weasle Teeen, Pecy, Thomeees, Aewy, Buwt, Deisyy, Bob a Biwdew and so on..."

Earlier this week he learned the word okay but he pronounces it "hoakey."  He will excitedly say, "Mommy, I waaaa wach weasle teeen!" (which comes out sounding like one big run-on word) and before I can even answer it's, "Hoakey Mommy!" over and over.  Pretty much if he wants us to say, "Okay Charlie" to him he's excitedly chanting his version to us.  He also uses okay in the other correct context.  For example, last night as we were lying on the bed he pulled my hair.  Then, ever so gingerly, he leaned over and in the sweetest toddler voice you can imagine said, "Hoakey Mommy?"  Needless to say, I didn't get too mad at him for not being nice to mommy.  :)    

Obviously I could go on and on about this little person.  He is pure joy to me; wrapped up in a sweet, cute, mischievous, sometimes stinky, often sticky, but always lovable bundle of 100% boy!  Every time I have the thought that I couldn't possibly love him more, a new day dawns and I am once again amazed by the depths of my emotions for our precious little man.  



Sunday, January 23, 2011

(The Absence of) Sunshine & Roses

Well's been a long time since I've really written much here. Mostly that's because of how busy I've been but it's also because I tend to get stuck when I'm struggling. It's hard for me to push aside the old adage, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all." Struggling may be too strong of a word for my state of being lately anyway. I know I'm not really struggling in the sense that some people are. There are many things in my life for which I am extremely grateful.

Still, my bloggy friend, Rachel kind of hit the nail on the head for me in her post (written a while back) called, "Life is Messy." Boy isn't it! And Rachel's point is her post is that we all try to pretend that our lives aren't messy but that in so doing, we neglect to tell our true stories, to show the nitty gritty reality of who we really are. I think she's absolutely right but I also think it's hard to let that messiness show. At least it is for me.

In any case, here's my attempt at telling the sharing my messiness with others so that maybe {?} they will learn something from my journey here.

So what is the truth? One place so start is that it's not all glory - I love my child but being a mommy is not all sunshine and roses. There are times when I really question myself as a mom, especially now that our son is a walking, talking toddler. I used to think I knew what I was doing with children...until I had a child! Now I just think parenting is a much harder job than you can ever really prepare yourself for. There are good days and bad days and there are many beautiful moments along the way but being a good mom (what is a good mom, anyway?} is hard work!

And...while being a "good mom" is one of the very most important things I do, it is only one of the things I do. Some days the stress of keeping it all together (even when I'm not keeping it all together) is simply overwhelming. Our house is often a mess, our dogs need more attention than they get, there is a garage full of clutter attached to our house, there are so many red blinking lights on my never-ending to-do list that sometimes the best I can do is to allow myself to take a nap. Now there you go, that's messy...but it is my truth.

Then there's money and our stress surrounding the current lack of it in our lives. This past year, having no more loan money for the completion of my education and no consistent income on my part. Well, it's been hard. There have been several times when I wasn't sure if we would make it through. But we always do make it, largely because my parents have helped us tremendously when it comes to making ends meet. But that's messy! I'm a 35 year old woman who is still in college and still relying on her parents to help meet expenses. As thankful as I am for their unending support, borrowing from them the way we've had to doesn't make me feel good. It makes me feel like a heel.

Speaking of that education I mentioned is taking FOR.EVER! I know I only have a few more months to go until I graduate and I know that time will FLY by but I have been at my whits end with this chapter of my life for longer than I can even say. I don't regret making the decision to go back to school and become a teacher, I think that's a good fit for me. But I also didn't imagine it taking this long or being this expensive, this draining for us. We are tough and we are sticking it out but Michael and I have both been pretty extensively stressed this past year and it's largely due to the fact that I'm still in school and I don't contribute enough to our financial house. I am exhausted just thinking about all the hurdles we've had to overcome. It seems there's always something unexpected that crops up and throws a wrench in things. And messy? What about the job market out there? As much as I can't wait to graduate, I'm terrified to be a job hunter in this climate. There simply isn't much out there when it comes to the teaching field in my state, and we're not in a position to consider moving. It's really alarming to consider the what-ifs in case I can't find a job. I really can't even go there at this point.

Lastly (for this post anyway) there is my relentless and exhausting yearning for more. More what, you ask? Well...more children, of course. I know that with the current state of things in our household I really have no business even thinking about adding to our family at this point. I know that in my brain but try telling that to my heart. I've had several stern conversations with her and she just keeps right on with her unreasonable demands. And what is it with human desire? Why do we always want more than we have? A big part of me feels guilty for even longing for another child. For years I prayed and begged God that if he would only give me ONE child, I would be eternally happy. Plus, I know firsthand how hard it is to not have any children and be wanting them. From that position, it is almost unbearable to hear someone say they want another child, to hear someone complaining about that. And yet, here I am wanting more...talking about wanting more. The truth is though, that I can't deny that part of myself. I DO want more. I have always wanted kids (plural) and I want our son to be a brother. Honestly, right now, I'm just not sure where it all fits. My desires pitted against our reality. Unfortunately, reality wins hands down (for now) but that doesn't change how I really feel in my heart of hearts. It doesn't make all the announcements of "seconds" from the families of children who are exactly (or close to) our son's age any easier to read/hear. I'm not bitter in any way, I am very thankful for what we do have; however, there is a part of me that still does (and probably always will) resent the people out there who can just get a whim to have a baby one day and then they are pregnant the following weekend. Not that I'm even wanting pregnancy, don't misunderstand...but I do want to have a bigger family and it is not going to be an easy process by any stretch of the imagination.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Today is More...

...than a day off. Its a day we should stop and think about the problems MLK Jr. tried to solve & what WE are doing about them. He gave his life to try to find a better way. He made a profound difference to many but his time here was WAY too short. One of my favorite sayings is also some good food for thought:

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?' ~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Sometimes I don't do enough for others, which is something I'd like to change. It's not easy to step outside your own comfort zone but that's what we all need to do if we want to see real change in this country. We're all so busy these days that we often don't even take the time to afford each other common courtesy. Even that is not enough but it's a place to start.


Monday, January 3, 2011

2010 Creme de le Creme

Check out what I found! If you're looking for some new reading or just want to spark your old blog flame, this is the place to be!


The Best of the Adoption/Loss/Infertility Blogs of 2010