Monday, June 22, 2009

A giveaway

Erin is giving away two copies of Glenn Beck's "Common Sense." Head over there to put your name in the hat!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Lunch today went like this:

I feed my daughter chicken noodle soup, green beans, mixed fruit, and milk. I put away groceries while she eats.

By the time that is finished, she is done eating. I clean her up and get her down from the high chair.

She goes off to play, while I mix up some chicken salad for my lunch. She knocks down a tote full of blocks, falls down, and comes running into the kitchen, crying.

I pick her up. She wants a bite of chicken salad. The dog is whining to go outside.

I put her down. She cries. I let the dog go out.

I pick her back up and make my sandwich one-handed. I put a handful of chips on my plate, and she wants one of those, too. I give her a bite of bread instead.

The dog is now barking to come back inside. I put her down so I can let him back in. She cries.

I hold her hand and carry my lunch into the living room. She's distracted for 2.8 seconds with a toy or a commercial with a dog in it or something. Long enough for me to take a bite.

She wants up in my lap. She sits still, but then squirms to try to grab at my plate. I give her another bite of bread, and that satisfies her momentarily.

She wanders off to play with a lamp cord. I get up and pull her away. She wanders back, and I pull her away again, telling her that is a "no touch." She goes back a third time, and this now lands her in time out.

She screams. I sit and attempt to eat a bit more of my lunch. She hits her head against the wall. The dog thinks someone is knocking at the door, so now he's going nuts.

I get up to get her out of time out. I talk to her and tell her that she cannot play with the lamp cord.

I stand up to find that the dog has jumped into my chair and is now eating the rest of my sandwich, dropping bits of chicken on the floor. I yell for him to stop, but it's too late. I send him to his kennel.

I come back to clean up the mess, and my sassy little girl is back at the lamp cord again within thirty seconds.

We repeat time out, but this time it is louder.

Next, it is time for nap, so we go upstairs to read books. She lays down for her nap and goes to sleep.

It may not have been a relaxing lunchtime, but with the child asleep and the dog in his kennel, it's at least shaping up to be a quiet afternoon.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Open Adoption Roundtable: The Beginning of Openness

Heather (on whose blog you can find the list of Open Adoption Bloggers) has organized a great idea to start a discussion on various open adoption-related topics periodically. The first discussion prompt: recall the beginning of your experience with open adoption.

2006 was a difficult year. Having received an infertility diagnosis and trying to come to grips with life not at all turning out the way we "planned" it, we were now additionally trying to muddle through the initial thought process of adoption.

Adoption was honestly never on our radar screen until a fertility doctor suggested it, knowing our severely low chance at conceiving a biological child. At the time, I thought "What? Us? Adopt? That's what people who are rich or famous (or both) do! Not ordinary people like us!" It just seemed so against the grain of everything I'd ever imagined. Would I be able to love a child who wasn't biologically mine? Wasn't adoption horridly expensive? Would we be able to afford it? Would I regret not experiencing pregnancy? Would others view us as less of a family, or our child less valuable in some way? And worst of all -- what if the real parents came back for the child?

It's a tough place to be in, for sure. But within a few weeks, I was throwing myself into researching adoption. I read books, browsed message boards, listened to others' experiences, attended seminars -- anything to just try and gain some knowledge about this topic of which I truly had NO clue or experience!

As I started to gain head knowledge, I came to the realization that I already had "heart knowledge." Years prior to beginning the adoption journey ourselves, I had completely fallen in love with a three-year-old boy in my class at a daycare/preschool where I had been working at the time. He started in my class and brought with him a fair share of baggage. This sweet little hearing-impaired boy had an unstable home situation. He acted out quite a bit, but I began to see that he had no sense of stability or consistency. I loved that little boy with all my heart, and he developed a trust in me. He responded uniquely to me in a way that even co-workers noticed. The end of the day would come, and he'd go home. It broke my heart, and I would literally think in my mind of how I could provide for him, if opportunity arose. I imagined tucking him into the bed in our spare room, watching him sleep and knowing he was safe and sound. I knew I couldn't love him any more if he'd been born to me.

All these years later, I saw how that experience had already shown me that it didn't matter if your children were biologically yours or had no genetic ties to you. What mattered was the love that is unique to a parent and child.

So... I could love a child that wasn't "mine." And it could be 100% natural, in a way that you truly almost "forget" that your child has someone else's nose and funny little quirks.

So, I could adopt, as long as we did so in a closed or semi-open fashion. Because, my 2006 self thought, open adoption means you are co-parenting. And we won't have any of that.

Do you ever look back on things you always said you'd NEVER do, only to realize some time later that not only are you doing them, but that it's also just a normalcy in your life?

More research, more reading, more studying, more exploring... but possibly most importantly, keeping an open mind. I honestly DIDN'T think we'd pursue an open adoption in the beginning days of our adoption experience, but we also didn't shut the door completely. We left ourselves open to how God was leading us, and that is what makes the difference.

I began to listen to stories of women who'd relinquished their child. I listened to adoptive parents who were in open relationships with their child's first parents. I saw how many adoptees truly desired some level of openness, knowledge from their past and heritage.

And I started to realize... it's not about me. It's not about what I want or what I am comfortable with. It's about what is in the best interest for the child, ironically the triad member who has the least say in their being adopted.

So as we started to move out of our comfort zone, we realized that most women who place children are doing so for various reasons, but similarly because in some way, they feel that this is the best choice for their child.

We began to see these parents in a new light. Thinking back to the questions we'd had at the beginning of the process, I could turn around all of those questions to the fears that someone else might be having in a very different situation. "What? Me? Relinquish my child? That's what drug addicts or teenagers (or both) do! Not an ordinary person like me! Could anyone else ever possibly love my child the way I do? Isn't adoption horridly complicated? Will I ever get over losing my child? Would I regret not experience parenthood? Would others view me as less of a woman, or my child less valuable in some way? And worst of all -- what if the real parents shut me out of their lives?

Certainly, it's against the grain of everything anyone's ever imagined.

Eighteen months into this open adoption journey, and I honestly don't know where it will lead. We've had varied levels of contact and openness, at the choosing of our daughter's mother. We have gone through times of daily contact, and we've been through periods of communication drought that can last months at a time. So in that way, I am still learning, still feeling my way through it all.

I assumed when we checked the "open" box on our paperwork that doing so would equal a consistent, ongoing relationship. I had lofty dreams of frequent visits, weekly telephone chats to catch up as we would with a family member, and being guests in each others' homes. I envied adoptive parents who spent holidays with their child's first parents or even went on vacation together. I expected to be braiding each others' hair and having pillow fights by this point (well, maybe not quite that extreme!), but it just isn't like that for us right now.

And that's okay. It's just different from what I imagined. I wish I had known then how I feel now, and know that sometimes relationships can wax and wain, and that it's all a normal part of life.

The one thing I would tell my 2006 self, if I could, would probably be that life DOES become normal again. Life will be good again. You will not forever live in this barren land of childlessness, and although it will be through a manner you'd never expected, it is wholly worthwhile and satisfying. Don't feel as though you have to force your way through the challenges of adoption (of any kind), but take life as it comes. Be on guard that your relationship with your husband and with God doesn't deteriorate, but remember that (as much as you hate to hear this cliche) everything truly does happen for a reason.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Why I never get anything done during the day

Most days go like this:
  • Wake up
  • Change a diaper
  • Breakfast
  • Clean up
  • Get my daughter dressed
  • Get her settled for some "reading time" in her crib while I shower
  • Get myself ready
  • Make the bed
  • Change a diaper
  • Start a load of laundry
  • Set something out for dinner
  • Notice something stinks... change a diaper again
  • Playtime/run errands/go on a walk
  • Lunch
  • Clean up
  • Change her clothes, if necessary
  • Realize it's 1:15 and I haven't done any real "housework" yet...
  • Try to fold laundry, only to have clothing scattered across the living room by my child
  • Try to get her distracted with some toys while I clean the bathroom, but end up only getting to the sink because she's decided to flip out over not being attached to my hip
  • Change a diaper
  • Read some books together
  • NAPTIME!!!
  • Happily breathe a sigh of relief and do one of two things:
    1.) Run like a mad woman through the house for two hours trying to accomplish a day's worth of chores, or
    2.) Collapse at the computer and let too much of naptime go by
  • Back upstairs to change a diaper
  • Afternoon playtime
  • Start getting dinner ready
  • Husband comes home and says "What did you do today?"
Seriously, how can you get everything done in a day that needs to be done? I feel ridiculous "whining" about this because I have ONE child, not two or three or four. How do moms of multiple children possibly get anything done?

If I'm not pulling her away from the trashcan, I'm stopping her from tearing pages out of my Bible. If I'm not unwrapping her little hand from yanking the dog's tail, I'm walking behind her closing all the drawers and cabinets she opens up.

I sure would love to be able to get SOMETHING done beyond naptime hours, but I honestly don't know how! And then I think, "Well, what would I expect from someone WATCHING my child during the day?" I certainly would expect them to be interacting with her, playing, taking her outside, reading books to her, doing activities with her... so of course, I expect that from myself, too.

I've been trying really hard in the past few months to use my time wisely and to the best of my ability. I know I can't expect miracles, and I know I'm only one person. I try to be as organized as I can be with things like having dinners for the week planned out, doing a load of laundry a day instead of doing it all at once, etc. But I'm starting to understand why so many moms say "There's just not enough hours in the day!"

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Time out

My sweet little girl is a stubborn little thing. She's going to give us a run for our money during the teenage years, I fear!

The word "NO" has very little meaning some days. She slaps her hand and says "no, no" but doesn't obey. Redirection works sometimes, but not as much as I wish it did! When she throws a fit over something trivial, it normally works to ignore her until she stops -- which is usually quickly if she's not getting any attention!

Basically, I've been realizing over the past six months or so, that it's VERY hard to discipline a one-year-old, because you aren't truly sure how much is getting through to them. Now at eighteen months, I feel like we are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel on this one. Not that I expect discipline to ever be "easy," but it's just so darn confusing and frustrating (for her AND me!) when they're at this young age, have a limited vocabulary to express what they want, and you're not sure how much of what you say that they understand.

I have sporadically tried doing "time outs" with her in the past few months, but they never worked because she didn't understand the concept of sitting until Mommy comes to get you. It was just a lot of tears and screaming and looks of utter confusion, while I sat with her, putting her back in her spot over and over and over again. Not effective!

I'm not the type of parent that gets on my child for every little thing. I fully believe in the importance of showing lenience where you can. BUT, I'm also not going to be a pushover. She has got to learn that Mom and Dad are in control, and that she HAS to obey!

Disobedience is our main issue currently. (Isn't it the main issue for all parents?) She might say "no" to herself, but keep right on doing the exact activity we tell her not to do.

So the trick becomes... what is an effective discipline for my child? What can help her best learn to obey?

Out of desperation yesterday, I tried the time out again. By all means, I have no plans of replacing spanking with time outs, but spanking should not be the "first stop" on the road of discipline (unless it were a truly dangerous situation, like running into the street, which I could understand might require an immediate spanking). But what about all the little infractions that happen throughout the day? I'm certainly not going to spank her for each one of those things, but she isn't responding to other things I've tried.

So, when my darling daughter was playing with the trash can for the third time in ninety seconds, after having been told "NO," taking away from that "activity," and redirected twice before, we tried the time out again.

And it WORKED!!

I calmly walked her over to "the spot," sat her hiney down, and went back to finish what I was doing. I didn't have to say a word to her. She knew! She cried the whole time (which, I'm never happy about, but at least I know she understands this isn't supposed to be fun), and after one minute had passed, I went back to get her. I helped her stand up, gave her a hug, and explained to her (as best you can explain to a one-year-old) that Mommy said "no" to playing with the trash can and that she needs to obey.

She stopped crying as soon as I helped her up, and what's more, she obeyed! She stopped playing with the trash can. Hooray for small victories!

She wasn't up for half an hour this morning before we got another "opportunity" to try this trick out again. She threw her milk cup from her tray when she was done eating breakfast. I have been trying to teach her to hand it to me when she's done, but she looks right at me and throws it instead! She's got quite the attitude already!

After throwing the cup the first time, I handed it back to her and asked her to give her cup to Mommy instead. NOPE! She smiled and tossed it over the side away from me. STINKER!!

I gave her a repeat performance of yesterday... calmly took off her high chair tray, picked her up, and sat her down in "the spot." Tears immediately. I went back into the kitchen to clean up (around the corner from where she was) and watched the clock. Why does one minute seem SO LONG?!

Same deal as before. I went back to get her, gave her a hug and told her I loved her, and told her that she needs to obey and not throw her cup. Then I walked her over to where her cup was still on the floor and asked her to pick it up and hand it to me. She giggled a bit (maybe this part seemed like a game?), but complied.

It's just nice to finally have something that works... for now, anyway!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Mommy journals

This morning, I have gotten up, showered and dressed, ate breakfast, checked my email, made the bed, started a load of laundry, sorted the rest, hung up clothes, did some cleaning, got my daughter up and dressed, fed her breakfast, dropped off lunch for my husband, went to the grocery, came home with a crying toddler, put groceries away, got her started on lunch... and am now sitting down to check my email once more before finishing lunchtime (hers, not mine).

It's only 12:15 in the afternoon. And it's Monday. And my head hurts.

This afternoon, I hope to eat lunch myself, take my daughter on a walk, read her some books, put her down for a nap (glorious!), finish the cleaning the bathrooms (which I started this morning), finish the load of laundry I started already, wash the kitchen curtains that my daughter grabbed with her chili-covered hands, spend a few minutes exercising (maybe), plant some flowers outside, and start preparing dinner.

Any other moms' days look like this?

It sounds like a lot, and some days it feels like a lot. But other days, things just fall into place and I go to bed feeling like I accomplished everything I wanted to do that day. Those days are nice, but when that doesn't happen, I try to remember that I get another chance to do it all over again tomorrow. Right?

So that's pretty much it. I'm a wife of six years, I used to be a teacher in my previous life, and now I'm a stay-at-home mom who enjoys spending time with my eighteen-month-old daughter, cooking, taking care of our home, reading, photography (but I pretty much only have one subject!), doing crafty projects when the budget and time allows for it, and I'm currently loving selecting, planting, and transferring plants and flowers in our yard.

Oh, and our daughter came into our family through domestic open adoption.