Monday, November 30, 2009

The Miracle of Sleep

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It gives me great pleasure to report that for 11 straight days Baby Bear has slept from about midnight to 7:00. I find this sort of behavior unexpected and wonderful, given the fact that Little Mister didn't sleep that long until he was nearly two. Hubby and I are beginning to feel human again.

I'll enjoy it until teething begins.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Two Months

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Today, I remembered to take his picture on the correct day!

Just to compare, here is the one-month:

Taming the Wild Tree

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This year we went with some friends out to the Forest Service land to get a real, wild Christmas tree. Not only was the adventure appealing to me, but the $5 price tag couldn't be better!

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The kids decorated it almost entirely by themselves. Their work doesn't look... symmetrical, but it certainly has personality. Curly Miss claims the red balls as her special property since red is her favorite color.

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I spent some time putting up some of the traditional lights, wreaths, stockings and such. I love decorating for Christmas because the house feels so cozy and pretty!

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Little Mister left his mark on the tree as well. This was the branch he could reach. Part of me wants to spread the balls out evenly all over the tree. But another part of me wants to leave the one branch full of gold balls because every time I see it, I smile.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Independent

Today for fun, the older kids got to fix their own lunch with minimal input or assistance from me. When Hubby heard the plan, he predicted that that they would fix "fruit snacks on a bed of fruit snacks garnished with fruit snacks."

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They got out a chair to stand on and, towing it around the kitchen, they got to work.

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I, too, was curious what they would choose. Initially Curly wanted to fix macaroni and cheese, her absolute favorite, but when she found out it took fifteen minutes along with reaching pans and boxes and milk, she opted for something easier. (I can totally relate. It's how I cook too.)

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Lately I have had an awful time with her bossing her little brother unmercifully (what big sister wouldn't?) so for this venture I put her in charge. For once she was able to use her leadership skills in a position of character strength rather than weakness. To my amazement, rather than ordering him around, she served him first, fixing his plate and helping him get settled before she even gave thought to what she would fix for herself.

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Eventually she decided on freezer waffles, an apple and a cheese stick.

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Mister added chicken nuggets to his lunch and they happily set to it.

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During the whole process I stayed as far in the background as I could, mostly being available for consultation and picture-taking. Curly felt her responsibility keenly and bustled around like only a five-year-old can. I'm proud of my big girl!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Friends

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Saturday night we hosted a birthday party for a good friend of Hubby's...the first time we entertained since Baby Bear came. One of the guests had a baby boy who was 2 days younger than Baby Bear. We had a lot of jokes about the two, how they are destined to grow up as best buds or mortal enemies. Baby Bear was a bit shorter than Baby E, but quite a bit heavier.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Confessions...

My friend Ann tagged me with her Theta Mom meme. While I don't usually participate in memes unless it's 4:00 AM and Facebook is open, I also don't want to let her down. The trouble is that I am still trying to figure out what exactly a Theta Mom (True Authentic Mom) actually IS. It seems to be a sort of tell-all insane Mommy-moment meme as if confessing to carrying poopy diapers in your purse is actually unusual. As far as I can see I am supposed to name five things I do as a mom that I never thought I would do in my innocent pre-parental days of uber-sophisticatedness that was me back when I did Marching Band. The trouble with that was that I helped raise my little sister. Yes, folks, I got a load of baby poop in the face at age eleven. I was broken in young.

So I guess I'll think of five random embarrassing things and pretend they are as shocking as finding the toddler anointing the business end of my cat with lipstick. Here goes...

1. I bribe my children. Repeatedly and gleefully. It's how I get them to eat, to pick up toys and to use the toilet. Chocolate is God's gift to mothers in so many ways.

2. I used to store my breastmilk in ziplock baggies. The Glad brand. Unsterilized. I suppose Little Mister is doomed to have some sort of toxin-induced glandular disease later in life. I hope not.

3. When my daughter belches, I laugh rather than correcting her.

4. Since I hate to cook, I get take-out as often as I absolutely can. If I had my way, I would never, ever cook a meal. That being said, though, when I do cook, it usually turns out really good.

5. I am terrified of strangers. Well, all people in general, actually. For this reason, I encourage my children to talk to people so they won't grow up as paranoid as I am. So far they are all really outgoing and I have never had to force the issue. I have yet to solve the problem of stranger-danger; I just keep them close.

There you have it: a glimpse into my inner sanctum. A tiny peek into those self-defining actions that will shape my children's entire futures. These are what Mommy-ing is REALLY all about.

To spread the love, I tag:
wholarmor
shellie
zachaboard
kelley

Saturday, November 21, 2009

National Adoption Day

Before this year I was unaware there even existed a National Adoption Day. To me, I guess it sort of smacks of "Let's make a special day for every single special interest group so we can have a holiday every day." BUT the idea is a good one: raising awareness for kids in foster care who need permanent homes. On that sentiment, let me wish everyone a happy Adoption Day. May every kid who needs a loving family find one soon.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Baby Stats

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Age: 7 weeks, 3 days
Weight: 12 pounds
Slept for 6 straight hours last night and 7 straight hours the night before!
Smiles, laughs and lots of cooing.
Likes tummy time, holds head up well.
Loves to snuggle.
Will not sleep without green blanket.
Insists bottles be VERY warm.
Generally very happy except for a fussy period in late evening.
Enjoys walks with Daddy in the Snugli


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Quiet Time

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Curly Miss, now much too ancient and mature for napping, takes a quiet time in her room for a couple of hours every afternoon. Usually she can be found thus, dressed in her Fire Dog costume, sitting at her computer playing games on PBSKids.org or Reading Eggs and taking a hit on her Nap (blanket).

I think we both benefit from her taking a break: me because she is such an intense kid she wears me out, and her because although she is the most extroverted person I have ever met, she still needs a little time to unwind in the middle of the day. Plus she gets educational computer time without the distraction of little brothers.

New Bedroom

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Little Mister has been helping me this week as we get his new room all set up. Unfortunately I don't have the time or energy to paint, so he has pink walls, but being the kind of guy he is, I don't think it bothers him at all.

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Of course, the toys are the most important things. Already he and Curly love the big play space with all their favorite toys: the wooden blocks, the Playmobil castle, farm and desert, the Lincoln Logs and the various cars they have each collected.

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Setting up their books where they can reach them won me major brownie points, since in his old room they were on a high shelf.

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Mister, all ready for bed, poses for the camera, quite pleased with himself and with life in general. Aaahh, to be three again.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

His Quiet Place

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Getting a fresh diaper ranks extremely low on Baby Bear's list of favorite things. Usually he shrieks his protest at the top of his little newborn lungs. The other two kids make comments like, "He's gonna cry when you change him, Mommy."

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The other day Little Mister had a new solution to the problem. Covering his ears he looked up at me, explaining, "When Baby Bear cries, I do this and then I'm in my quiet place."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Little Cowboy

The naming of Baby Bear turned out to be one of those fortuitous events that make me think that there really is no such thing as coincidence.

When we decided to adopt, I felt that I should leave the possibility open that our baby's birth mom might want to choose his name. Since she would lose so many decisions and milestones, we could at least give her that one important gift.

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It turned out that not only did she choose a name, she picked a name that had significance in our own family. A name we might have picked had we decided to choose. Coincidence? The first name Cody belongs to two of my cousins and the middle name William is my hubby's middle name as well as his dad's name. Cody William. Bill Cody.

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I had never read the story of Buffalo Bill Cody, although the name pops up as a character in many Wild West stories. Then, coincidentally (again), while browsing at the library, I found his autobiography.

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The real guy, the Wild West Cowboy, had written his life story. I laughed when I saw it, because it had never occurred to me that Cowboys could write.

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The name came from his occupation while young of supplying the railroad workers with buffalo meat to eat while they built the Transcontinental Railroad. He also fought as a Colonel in the Civil War and started his "Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show" in Chicago, bringing the world of cowboys, Indians and buffalo to the cities in the East.

His father had died of complications from a stabbing for his anti-slavery beliefs. Bill, himself, was reported to be a staunch advocate of Native Americans' rights and women's rights. For my son to be named after a historical figure, I think he is a fairly good one, a good mix of adventurer, scoundrel and advocate, a hard worker, a poor businessman and a creative, clever individual. I found him fascinating.

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The outfit Baby Bear is wearing came from Miss A too. He wore it proudly to Small Group the other night, although the bandanna got slimy rather quickly. If you ask me, this is about as cute as it gets. Not that I'm biased.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My Big Boy

It occurred to me this morning that the reason I have been sleeping on the living room floor rather than in my bed is because my room is approximately 438 miles from the kitchen where the warm water and formula live. We did try briefly to take a carafe of water up to our third floor master bedroom but that ended up being a bust.

As I sat envying my three-year-old's room on the main floor, just off the living room the thought suddenly entered my head that if we switched rooms, he'd have an enormous space to play, with the added bonus of leaving out the log houses and castles and bridges and roads that he builds. Then for the next eighteen months I could sleep within easy reach of bottles and clean burp rags.

I broached the subject to Hubby via IM. Apparently he doesn't care much where he sleeps because he was pretty ambivalent about the whole scheme. As we were chatting, though, we did come up with one more aspect of the plan.

The Big Boy Bed.

We'd use the move to relocate Little Mister into a twin bed and out of his converted toddler crib. We'd set up the other bunk bed, which, incidentally, I have longed to see used since I was seven years old. For the first time, both bunks will be used, albeit in separate rooms.

Hesitantly I asked Mister what he thought about changing rooms. Sometimes a change is exciting to him, but sometimes if he feels like things aren't lined up quite the way he wants, he'll freak out. Generally he likes a routine, he likes predictability; he even lines his toys up in a row. So changing his bed, I thought, could bring huge amounts of tearful anxiety.

Instead he thought that being upstairs like his older sister was about the coolest thing since, well, she moved up there. Adding to that the honor of a big-boy bed and you'd have thought I offered him the moon.

Whew.

Right away, we got cracking. When Hubby got home from work, we both began moving and vacuuming and organizing. Curly proved to be really helpful, moving load after load of little things up and down the stairs. We took a break in the middle to buy a new comforter of his choice (Lightning McQueen, what else) as well as waterproof mattress covers. Hubby patiently moved our huge bed downstairs and assembled the stored twin bed. Baby Bear showed his entire disapproval of the whole proceeding by screaming his head off that we weren't holding him. The living room filled with odds and ends gleaned from under beds and in corners. We'll get it all sorted out eventually.

Now, as the house quiets for the night, an exhausted Curly slumbers in her sleeping porch while next door a thrilled Mister sleeps in his new big-boy bed. He is growing up, slowly but surely and I'm thankful for each precious day.

The amount of work it takes to switch two bedrooms is quite staggering, actually, and the amount left to do still seems daunting to me. I'll have to take it a bit at a time, leaving the walls up there rose pink, for instance. I know he won't care for a while and once Baby Bear becomes Big-Boy-Bear and joins him up there I'll have painted the walls the light blue I imagine for that room. But the change has begun.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hermit

This is how I spend most of the day every day right now:



Yes, those are my pajamas. I have no shame. Well, actually I do.... hence the disguise. You're crazy if you think I am splashing my frightening, just-out-of bed-even-though-it's-noon self all over the internet. I'd lose all my blog readers.

Curly was kind enough to take this picture of me. I tell her not to take pictures of me when she's wandering around the house snapping away but once in a while she slips one in. Thanks, Curly.

I know there exist human beings out there somewhere. In fact I saw some yesterday when I ventured off my couch for the kids' birthday party. Usually, though, I am here, in my cave and the extrovert part of my personality is quivering and crying and begging for relief.

Someday, I tell myself, the weather will be better. The baby will be older; the kids will be able to put on their own coats. It will be light enough to drive in the evenings; my friends won't be busy, my Hubby won't be tired and sick and cranky and Mister won't be napping. I will see human beings again. I will.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friends Party

Three weeks ago, near Little Mister's birthday, we partied with family, inviting aunts, uncles and grandparents to celebrate both kids' birthdays at my parents' house down in L-town. Now, close to Curly Miss's actual birthday we did a combined "friends party" at the local arcade here in town.

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Initially I was nervous since the last time I tried to do a friend/kid party it was a fiasco. Out of the twenty kids I invited, only three showed up. This time I tried to strike preemptively, sending an email around to find out when people had free time in their schedules. This is a busy time of year.

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We also chose the arcade at the local mall, my reasoning being that if nobody showed up at least our kids would have a good time. I sent out invitations and hoped for the best.

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To my great delight, several families in our circle of friends replied positively that they were coming. Some of the kids' closest friends would join them and I was thrilled. I bought plates and napkins and a balloon, as well as four rolls of quarters, to the amusement of the girl at the bank who asked if I was planning a trip to the laundromat.

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At last the big day came. Mom and Sis made two cakes, shaped like Lightning McQueen and Mater, to my kids' happy surprise. Curly picked out apple juice for the drink du jour and we got things set up.

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Twelve happy kids played games, jumped in the ball pit, played air hockey, ate cake and exclaimed over the presents. The greatest gift to Curly was just the time with her friends. Her extrovert cup overfloweth.

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Parents stood around and chatted; babies smiled. My brother-in-law shot zombies. I think my husband did too, although he held Baby Bear a lot of the time, so his zombie-shooting was a bit limited.

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This afternoon, two happy, tired kids came home from the mall, loaded with new toys and stories of times with friends and games they had conquered. I'd have to say, this was the best birthday party yet.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Explorations in Composition

Without any direction from me, Curly has been experimenting in depth of field, in foreground and background and composition in her photography. The thoughtful deliberateness in her work continues to amaze me, given her young, carefree age.

I call this her "Floor Series"













As we look at these, she analyzes what worked well, and which ones did not turn out. With no prompting from me at all, she shows an innate artistic taste and an ability to observe the details of what makes up a good shot. I'm really excited to watch her continue to develop her skill.

Of course, she's still just a kid with Mom's camera and I'm a bit biased! But I really think she shows surprising skill for her age.

Mis-diagnosis

All week, Little Mister has been about as pleasant as a porcupine. He whines about everything, refuses to eat his food but begs for snacks, mopes around... He also had a bit of a runny nose and some diarrhea.

In my sleep-deprived semi-incoherent state, I didn't worry too much about it other than to scold him when his whining became unbearable. I figured he had a slight cold and was acting out because of the new baby or cabin fever.

Then Wednesday night it was my turn to brush his teeth. (Usually Hubby does it.) Mister took his turn first as usual then opened his little mouth for me to do my more thorough brushing. As I swept the toothbrush around, I suddenly noticed TWO molars on each side when he previously had only one. The second one, just showing from beneath red, sore skin was joining its mate in his growing mouth.

Suddenly, I felt such remorse as only a Mommy can feel who has missed the fact that her darling son has been teething for an entire week. Cutting two-year molars is an excruciating process and instead of cuddles and sympathy and soft food, he got scolded for whining and impatient complaining from me that he wouldn't eat.

If only I had a rewind button to go back and pay more attention. I would fix him oatmeal; I would go buy some yogurt. He would get hugs and sympathy and Tylenol. He would not have to be hungry because his mouth was too sore to eat the crunchy food I had fixed for him.



The first thing I did when I finally figured out what was wrong was to give him some Tylenol and check the status of the other three molars. Then I fixed him a big bowl of warm oatmeal. My poor, hungry son downed it like he hadn't eaten for a week.

I made a mental note to remember that my sweet son rarely acts out and when he does, he generally has a very good reason. Now that he's a middle child, I need to work extra hard to not let him slip through the cracks in my attention-giving because he is so pleasant and quiet, it's easy to completely overlook him. But I love him so much the thought of ignoring him makes me sick to my stomach. God, give me the strength to give each one of my children exactly what they need!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Her Favorite Number



Five years ago today, Curly Miss made her grand entrance into the world at 3:30 in the morning, weighing nearly ten pounds and we embarked on the adventure that is parenthood.



First birthday



Second birthday



Third birthday



Fourth birthday



Fifth birthday today! Happy Birthday to my sweet, crazy, smart, wild, loving, intense, beautiful daughter. We love you, Curly!