Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Evie was a bumblebee for Halloween this year. The costume does have a face on the hood, but she hates the hood so it stayed down 99% of the time.

She wore her costume for the first time on Thursday since the kids were invited to dress up for baby storytime at the library this week. Here's gangster bee: and thoughtful bee:
This evening we were invited to a bonfire and party at a friend's house. Evie had a ball tromping around their huge yard and she was in awe of the bonfire when it got going (it was about 8 feet tall before it was lit).

They also have a sand volleyball pit on their land and it was Evie's first experience with sand. Tasty:
Happy Halloween everyone!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Forever Family Day

Dear Evie,

One year ago today we all sat in a court room (well, you slept) and a judge signed a paper that says you are officially, finally and forever adopted into our family. This didn't change anything about how we felt about you or how you felt about us; it only changed our family's status in the eyes of the legal system and enabled us to put our last name on your birth certificate and get you a Social Security number. But even though the day was just a formality, we want to celebrate Forever Family Day as more than a legal anniversary.

On this day, we want to talk to you about "Forever." It means there is...

...nothing in the world so big...
...nowhere in the universe so far away...
...no amount of time so long...
...nobody on earth so powerful...
...no event so horrible, or so wonderful...
...no change in our lives...
...nothing you could do, not even the worst thing you can think of...
...nothing you can say, really nothing...

...that will ever, ever make us stop loving you. We will love you FOREVER.

Kisses,
Mommy and Daddy

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Big Sis Evie is 13 Months Old

Thank you so much for all of the encouragement and congratulations, and prayers. We are blessed to have so many people who love and support us. I do have a few tidbits to write about the new baby, but I'll save those for another post and devote this one to Evie Bea.

First up, the month in pictures and captions (Where did this month go? Seriously, where?):

Blueberries! They match her eyes (notice the bandaid from her blood draw at the 12 month doctor visit):
She is becoming the queen of funny faces, at least whenever I try to take a picture of her. It's either this, a picture of her back, or just a blur of color. Toddlers are difficult to photograph:

A recent trip to the zoo was exciting because of the animals, the train ride, the other kids, and the puddles:


She really, really likes to slide these days. Can't you tell? No, seriously, she loves to slide. I have no idea what was going on here. I think it had to do with the camera:


At the zoo we saw a mama kangaroo with a joey in her pouch! Evie was too young to get it, of course, but I was so excited I had to get a picture:


Cold weather, pshaw. Evie's favorite activity these days is being OUTSIDE tromping around the back yard. You'll see more pictures like this below:

TROMP:



We didn't even get a good picture of playing in the leaves because the camera ran out of batteries. And picking leaf bits out of her longies? Not too fun:


Anyone remember Evie's first Halloween?


Things haven't changed that much:

This is not her costume this year (I'll save that for later) but because it is a toddler sized costume and was huge on her last year, I decided to try it on her again. She still hates it.

What is it with babies being fascinated with blinds and blind cords?

Evie also likes to feed other people these days. I was wearing her in a front carrier at the doctor's office recently and trying to feed her a snack, but she kept taking the food back out of her mouth and jamming it into mine. It made both of us descend into a giggle fit and the whole waiting room thought I was insane. Anyhow, here are Evie and J feeding each other peas:


Don't you love a baby in overalls? (And the red C*rocs are her favorite shoes these days):

She is definitely getting taller, judging by her reaching up onto the kitchen island, kitchen table, bathroom counter, etc. and being able to easily get on and off of her zebra by herself:


Let's add clambering to the tromping in the back yard:


She is fascinated by animals these days, as are most babies, but especially by DOGGIES!


She also has a new habit of lying down in odd places, like the middle of the kitchen floor or in the grass (she laid down, she didn't fall):


The best thing about the back yard? Free range doggies:

Giving presents to the beagle: Another pic of her lying down in random places. Actually, not random; this is where Phoebe likes to hang out during the day (she was crate trained early on and still loves to nap in nooks and crannies):


I want to take Apollo on a walk (see Phoebe's leash in her hands?):


Thanks to Courtney's post about making your own mei tai, I made one a couple of months ago (Courtney, sorry I took so long to take a darn pic of it!) and I've been really, really enjoying being able to carry Evie on my back. Our routine is usually that I wear her like this twice a day, after breakfast and after afternoon snack, and use the freedom to get things done like switching loads of laundry, sorting recycling, getting the car ready for an outing, taking the dogs out, etc. Evie seems to enjoy it as long as I keep moving and don't keep her in for more than 20 minutes or so. But this Mama can get a lot done in 20 minutes! Now I'm kicking myself for not making the version with the hood because it would be great for the new baby. Maybe I can alter it in the next few months.

Evie's "13 Months: The Movie" trailer (her interview, you'll notice, is a bit different this month):





Stats and tidbits from this month:
  • Evie went from picky mouse eater to picky ravenous eater and weighs 1.5 pounds more now than she did at her 12 month appointment 3 weeks ago!

  • A favorite food these days is cream of wheat, which we encourage because of the iron in it. She also loves fruit, yogurt, cheese, milk, peas, peanut butter, cinnamon, guacamole, hummus, bread and anything with too much sugar in it.

  • The talking is coming slowly. She says "Mama" the most but has said the following words at least once: "Dada," "doggies," "tree," "ba-oon," "nose" and "no." She also moos and baas. ETA: today she said "key!"

  • The signing is going pretty well. I don't work with her on it as much as some moms do, so my results are about what I'd expect. She knows "more" and "all done" but refuses to do the second because it means a face wiping will follow. I also taught her the signs for light and fan and now that she knows them she is even more obsessed with them than she was before and will frequently, throughout the day, point at lights and fans and make the sign. With J the sign now means "make the fan spin, please, Daddy!" I need to work on the sign for diaper change next, because that will be extremely useful.

  • As far as non-ASL nonverbal communication, she started waving "hi" and "bye bye" awhile back but seems bored with it now and rarely does it anymore?! I taught her to shake her head no and nod yes and she is getting the hang of that. My favorite non-verbal communication is her snuggly hugs.
  • Evie's receptive vocabulary is pretty large, and sometimes surprisingly so. I won't try to list the words here, but simply say that she seems to understand the words for most of the important people, places and events in her life (e.g. Pearl, outside, eat lunch).
  • What we are learning right now is the parts of the body. She can easily identify my nose, hair, eyes and tongue and is working on ears, mouth, teeth and identifying the same on her own face. When she has it down I'll start trying the bigger body parts, but Evie likes to focus her learning and right now is all about face parts.

  • Evie is already showing signs of the terrible twos: tantrums and independence. Her latest thing is wanting to choose which shoes she wears. Surprise, surprise, she usually chooses the most sparkly and impractical pair, or her C*rocs.
  • Evie has some new favorite books these days, including Sandra Boynton books, books with photographs of babies (including a few with photographs of her) and song books, like "The Wheels on the Bus." She loves that if she pulls out a book based on a song and gets my attention, I'll sing the song to her.
  • She is still not sleeping through the night, but wakes up once or twice for a drink of whole milk and goes right back to sleep. We have been coping just fine with her schedule and haven't been motivated to try night weaning, but a new baby on the horizon is making us talk about this more. Night weaning might be in the near future for Evie Bea. We'll probably do it by watering down her milk gradually and then putting a sippy of water in her crib at night.
  • We are down to one nap a day now, which is generally immediately after lunch and lasts an hour to 2.5 hours, depending on when she woke up, how late lunch is and how active she was in the morning. I dreaded the transition to one nap, but now that it's here it's not bothering me as much as I thought it would. It's nice to be able to get out and about during the morning and not schedule playdates around an early first nap.

  • Evie is still clingy and attention-seeking when we are home, but independent and social when we are out. My little extrovert. :) She does great in the church nursery now, and we don't keep her in the service for the worship music anymore because she'd rather race up and down the aisles than be held and enjoy the music.

  • I've heard in a few different places that the first 2 years of a child's life are the most important in terms of shaping who they will be for the rest of their life. During these first 2 years they are forming their personalities and attitudes toward the world and toward other people. I have felt for the past 13 months an immense amount of pressure to give Evie everything and anything she needs to develop into the best version of herself. I am feeling a little panicky that I only have 11 more months until this formative period is over! Deep breathing...

  • Evie is going to be a fabulous big sister. She's affectionate, social, energetic and enthusiastic. The new baby will be in awe of her. We had a playdate this morning with another mom and her 3-month-old and Evie was gentle with and interested in the baby. She even willingly shared a couple of her toys, which amazed me to no end because it is uncharacteristic of this age.

Happy 13 months, Evie Bea!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Two Under Two

Completely out of the blue, we are expecting to adopt again! Baby #2 (sex as yet unknown) is due in late April and we are SO EXCITED. And cautious, because there are 2 whole trimesters between now and then. Trimesters full of flutterings and kicks and bonding between mom and baby. So we are cautiously optimistic, moving forward with plans but still trying to hold back our emotions a little. We did the same with Evie and had no trouble bonding with her in the hospital, so I'm sure it will be the same this time.

We are thrilled, but writing this post makes me feel guilty because some of you reading this are still waiting to adopt your first, and J and I are being blessed by a second adoption. I can justify this logically. This is happening to us because x + y = z --- x is our adoption of Evie, y is our relationship with the expectant mom of the second baby and z is parenting 2 kids under age 2. But I can't justify this emotionally and spiritually. When there are so many women out there longing for their first baby, and here I am perfectly content with Evie. Why do I get to be doubly happy? Why did God put us through the desert of infertility for years and then pour out a second helping of grace when we weren't out searching for it? I have no answers to these questions. I'm here feeling overwhelmingly blessed, and guilty.

Just as with Evie's adoption, most of the details are going to stay private, but I will say that we haven't been running around doing a homestudy and profile and jumping into a pool of waiting families without writing about it here. We had talked in the past about adopting again quickly, but our most recent plan was to wait until Evie was 3. But the expectant mom (we'll call her A here) chose us independently because she has known us for years, knows about our infertility and adoption of Evie, and is relieved that she can make an adoption plan with people who are familiar to her, people she trusts to keep in contact with her, people she knows will love and cherish her baby. We are honored that she thinks us capable of parenting 2 under 2, and we have faith that if God orchestrates this adoption, He will also give us the wisdom to do it well!

Anybody else watching "Glee" on Wednesdays? Of course you are. So, I'm thinking that "Drizzle" would be a great nickname for the baby until we know the sex and can assign an appropriate Greek nickname for the blog. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you need to start watching the show. I would butcher the joke by explaining it here.

More details:
  • we'll be traveling to sunny Florida for the birth and adoption
  • we'll do our homestudy update in January
  • the expectant father and his family are supportive of the adoption--YAY!
Time to start asking myself some important questions:

1. Buy a second crib for Drizzle or try to put Evie in a toddler bed? (Her crib is not convertible.)

2. Buy a double stroller even though Evie pretty much hates strollers and only tolerates them if they are moving forward quickly at all times or have really interesting people walking by them in a steady stream?

3. Leave Evie in her room with the mural she loves, or move her and put Drizzle in the nursery to enjoy the mural?

I'm glad I have 6 months to figure these things out.

Monday, October 12, 2009

One Year Old, Part Four

This post was going to be about "A day in the life of Evie Bea, age 1," but after I'd written about 2/3 of the post, I realized that it was reeeeally boring, because the joie de vivre of Evie's life is in the spontaneous moments and not in the everyday routine. So, instead I'm going to make something that I love. A bulleted list.

Evie's joie de vivre at one year old:

  • stealing our eyeglasses (and smudging the lenses)

  • toddling around naked before and after her bath, and pausing to pee on the floor (just like a puppy)

  • biting our fingers when we brush her teeth (again, just like a puppy)

  • putting her hands and feet in the dogs' water bowl (ahem)

  • crawling through the dog door (ummmm...)

  • stumbling around in the back yard (this is getting ridiculous)

  • begging for food from our plates (seriously)

  • going on walks with Daddy (although she gets to ride on his back...)

  • chewing on and/or eating our things when we aren't looking (paper, cell phones, keys, books, tissues, price tags, etc.)

This is what happens when you let a couple of people raise 2 dogs for 9 years and then give them a baby.

Back to my list:

  • being held up to look out of windows

  • seeing and touching animals, but especially dogs (she gives her dogs hugs these days, which they think is very odd)

  • BALLOONS!

  • TREES!!! "tee!"

  • touching, picking and destroying flowers

  • pushing things with wheels

  • kissing and hugging stuffed animals

  • reading books by herself (We are so annoying because we want to read every word and read the book front to back without skipping pages. What-evah.)

  • typing on computer keyboards
  • slides
  • being tickled

  • calling Mama's friends, and Grandma, on her cell phone

  • calling Dada's co-workers on his cell phone

  • being in a new place to explore

  • climbing on an adult-sized chair

  • walking up and down steps like a big girl (with help)

  • helping Mama get the mail

  • DADDY'S HOME!

  • reorganizing (Washcloths go in Daddy's closet. Socks go in the guest room. Shoes go in the bathroom sink. Lovey blankets and dolls go in the bathtub. Toys go in the snack drawer. Toothpaste goes in the toy bin.)

  • playing the piano

  • anything that makes a sound when you shake, shake, shake it

  • Snacks!

  • Milk!

  • Cheese!

  • Frozen Yogurt!

  • watching older kids play

  • climbing over Mama and Dada on the floor

  • climbing over Mama and Dada in a chair

  • being carried in arms, a sling or a backpack

  • shoes

  • trashcans

  • emptying and filling containers (laundry basket, bucket of blocks, cup of water, etc.)

  • being able to SCREAM REALLY REALLY LOUDLY

  • communicating effectively with her parents, whether through words, sounds, signs, pointing, body language or facial expressions

  • dancing to music

  • getting a smile from Mama or Dada

  • being outside

  • getting her hands on a book with paper pages

  • getting her hands on the remote control

  • learning something new

  • new toys

  • making noise

These are Evie's one-year-old joys.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Adorable Short Videos

Instead of the fourth (and final) post about Evie's 1st birthday, I need to interrupt and immediately post the following short videos that I've shot over the last 2 days. For myself, for Evie's Nana, Papa, Grandma and Grandpa and anyone else who needs a quick dose of adorable:

Video #1 is from yesterday, when Evie found out just how much fun it is to feed her afternoon snack to the dog. She was giggling so hard she almost sounds like she is crying!



Video #2 is also from yesterday. We have a very strict schedule around here, and Evie has silent reading time every day after lunch for half an hour. Just kidding. Really, really kidding. But look:



Video #3 is also from yesterday. Here is Evie thoroughly enjoying her birthday gift from her Uncle D, Aunt A and Cousin C (a L*eapF*rog Fridge Farm). Please notice the following things as you watch:

1. Yes, she says "moooo." Hee hee.
2. The reason she falls down is that she's wearing sequined sandals with no traction. This was not my idea. They are hand-me-downs from a friend and she pulled them out of her shoe bin and sat in my lap, basically saying "these are the shoes I want." She thoroughly enjoyed clomping around in sequined butterfly shoes instead of her normal practical soft shoes.
3. When she looks like she's waving at the end, she's actually doing the duck quacking motion that I do with my hand when I sing "Six Little Ducks" to her.

OK, now you can watch it:



Video #4 is from today. Evie's latest babbling/jabbering sounds something like yodeling and I am thrilled to have captured it on video!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

One Year Old, Part Three

I'm *finally* getting around to writing about Evie's first birthday party.

So. It was a fabulous day, thanks to my parents and in-laws, who all pitched in to help us get ready. Because we were in Minnesota for a few days right before, I lost some of the time I would have used to get some shopping and cleaning chores done.

Special awards go to my parents, who both were stung by bees in our back yard while helping me clean up out there. Yes, we found bees right outside our porch on the day before Evie's party and sprayed their hive the night before. Thankfully, nobody was stung at the party, although we've continued to see live bees here and there since then and have had to spray 3 times. They have a crack to crawl through into our screened porch, so when we go out to play with Evie these days we have to first clean the carpet of dead and dying bees, since they could still sting even after death. Anyhow...

...the party was small and intimate. The attendees were Evie, us, all 4 grandparents, both godparents, G (Evie's birth father) and G's parents, sister, niece, aunt and friend. Unfortunately, R (Evie's birth mother) and her family weren't able to be there.

There is so much I could say about what it was like to have almost half of the guests be birth family. The condensed version is that it wasn't nearly as strange as many people think it would be, and it was lots of fun to see them enjoying Evie. I've said it before, and it held true on Evie's birthday: it's so awesome to have a bunch of extra people around to dote on your daughter and show interest in all of her little habits and milestones! Honestly, it was like having extended family over to visit. Yes, a bit awkward at first, but by the end of the party we were chatting freely and enjoying each other. I'm glad I can say that we've never gotten together with R and G and regretted it afterward. They are all lovely, gracious people who go out of their way to make us feel comfortable, just as we go out of our way to make them feel comfortable. It's great to be in an open adoption with genuinely nice people. I can't imagine how hard it would be if I disliked any of them.

My mom made one comment after the party, though, that gave me pause. She said (after having met G at both Evie's baptism and at this party) that it was hard to see the look in G's eyes when he looks at Evie, that it made her hurt for him. I totally agree. The look on his face is a mixture of pride, wonder, sorrow and regret. I can imagine that he looks at her and sees all of the decisions in his life that led to making an adoption plan for Evie.

So, my verdict on our open adoption, one year out, is that it is at once simpler and much more complicated than I could have imagined. I have absolutely no regrets about our level of openness and hope that we can maintain it into the future. I still want R and G there at Evie's graduations and wedding, and many small celebrations between now and then.

Back to the party...

The day of Evie's party was perfect weather and we spent a lot of it outdoors, eating and socializing, but we did presents and cake inside. Here is a shot of Evie's table of presents:
Some highlights of her gifts were building blocks from J and I: A wooden train from her godparents:

More highlights...

  • a refrigerator toy from my brother and SIL

  • a doll and noisemaker from J's brother and SIL

  • Little People Noah's Ark from Grandma and Grandpa

  • an adorable froggy dish set from Nana and Papa

  • of course, the princess cell phone from G and R

  • a teapot set from G's parents

  • a children's Bible from G's grandmother

Evie opened gifts in an adorable fluffy pink birthday dress, but we changed her into a romper for the rest of the party so that she could play outside and not get her dessert on the dress:


I tried to keep a bow in her hair (partly for looks and partly because her bangs are getting long and unruly) but this is what happens to bows these days:

Finally, the story behind Evie's birthday dessert. (For more pictures see this post.) I had debated back and forth for weeks about what to do for Evie's birthday cake. On the one hand I wanted to bake some healthy (low or no sugar) cake for her and on the other hand I wanted to spoil her with a delicious frozen custard cake from our local custard stand. Close to her birthday, I actually bought a butterfly-shaped cake pan and decor icing, planning to make a healthy-ish cake myself. I ran out of time, and that pan and icing went back to the store.
Anyhow, the day before Evie's birthday we found out that our local custard place can't write on top of its frozen custard pies, and all of a sudden we were bereft of ideas and officially winging the dessert.
Finally, I decided to trust the task to my mom and dad and they headed out on a birthday dessert mission on the morning of the party. After communicating with them via cell phone (I was at home cleaning and decorating), what we ended up with was a frozen custard pie for the adults (flavor = turtle = YUM) and a clown cone from B*askin R*obbins for Evie. The clown cone didn't have a candle or writing, but what it lacked in birthday tradition it made up for in DELICIOUS. Evie polished off the entire thing, except for the sugar cone. At one point she was actually crying between bites, in an effort to encourage her Papa to shovel the ice cream in faster Faster FASTER! This picture was taken before she realized it was food:

Sorry this post was so scattered, I'm just glad I finally got it written! One Year Old, Part Four (last post in this series) is in the works and will hopefully be posted soon.

Friday, October 2, 2009

One Year Old, Part Two

Dear Evie Bea (a.k.a. Pookie),

One year ago on September 19, 2008, Daddy and I were sleeping (tossing and turning, me in a hospital bed and Daddy on the couch) in a labor & delivery room at the hospital. Suddenly, a knock on the door! Your birth father said to us, though the door, "She's here!" and then he ran back down the hall to the room where your birth mother was holding you and admiring your beautiful new face.

We jumped out of bed, our hearts pounding with excitement and...we didn't know what to do! We didn't want to call anyone right away because it was so early (5 AM) and because we didn't want to be on our cell phones when the nurses brought you to us for the first time. But we also didn't know how long it would be until we got to see you. We paced around the room anxiously, wondering whether you and your birth mother were both okay, wondering what you looked like and wondering what to do.

Every footstep we heard in the hallway sent us hurrying to the door to see if it was you; every newborn cry we heard put us on alert that you could be on your way. This was it! Our lives were about to be forever changed. We were about to become something that we had been dreaming of and wishing for for years: parents.

After a long, tense half hour, finally we heard you coming! The nurses wheeled you in a hospital bassinet, with your birth father at your side. You cried all the way, and we could hear you coming closer and closer to our room at the end of the hallway. We eagerly waited at the door of our room, and then there you were! The nurses wheeled you into our room and your birth father lifted your little 8 pound body, wrapped in a blanket, out of the bassinet and handed you to me. "Congratulations, Mom and Dad," he said, with tears in his eyes. Both Daddy and I also teared up as we caressed your little hands, kissed your soft head and memorized your tiny face. Then we started giggling about your crying because you sounded like a baby goat: "Mehhhhhh, Mehhhhh!"


We hugged your birth father and thanked him and asked about your birth mother. He reassured us that she was healthy and told us that she had held you, kissed you and cried over you right after you were born. Then he told us that he loved us, kissed you on the head and returned to your birth mother's room. Daddy and I stood gazing at you in wonder, and then we fell in love with you.

Every day since then has revolved around you. Even when we aren't with you for a few hours, or when you are asleep, you are the first and most important thought on our minds. You are a bright, soft thread now woven tightly into the fabric of our lives.

As your parents, we've had a huge impact on you this past year and know that our love for you and time with you is shaping the person you will become. But you've had just as much of an impact on us, and you have done an excellent job of turning us into a Mommy and a Daddy. Keep up the good work, because we have a lot more to learn and you're our favorite teacher.

Evie, thanks for being our Bea Girl. We love you with the biggest love we can muster, and we thank God for you every day.

Hugs and Kisses,

Mama and Dada









Thursday, October 1, 2009

One Year Old, Part One

I've been paralyzed for the past week plus, trying to decide how to write about Evie at one year. I have too many ways to approach it. So, I'm going to write a few short posts and hopefully they will add up to an adequate treatment of the topic. Here is my first jab.

A couple of days ago, Evie had her 12 month doctor appointment. I was surprised to learn that she is now in the 50th percentile for weight (20.5 lbs.) and the 70th percentile for height (30.5 inches). That is a reversal from her normal 75th for weight and 50th for height. I'm not sure what to make of it, but I'll be keeping an eye on her growth and making sure to offer her healthy foods throughout the day to make sure she gets enough. Here are few more tidbits from the appointment:

*our pediatrician recommended we switch to whole milk instead of "N*ext S*tep" formula because she finds that babies have more of an appetite for solids when on milk, because their bodies crave the vitamins and minerals from food that they aren't getting from liquid. Makes sense to me, intuitively.

*Evie had blood drawn to test for iron and lead. Talk about one of the worst experiences of my life. The bruise on her arm from the first (failed) attempt to hit a vein is nothing compared to the bruise on my psyche from watching her suffer at the hands of the nurses. Please tell me this is the only time I'll ever have to watch my daughter give blood?

*Evie got the MMR. Yep. We bit the bullet and just did it, because the separate vaccines (recommended by Dr. Sears) aren't available until 2011. So far, so good. I haven't noticed Evie acting sick or different from her normal self.

*She is still spitting up. The ped isn't worried because it's normally right after she eats and puts some pressure on her stomach (e.g. we pick her up, she bends over or leans her stomach against something). The pediatrician assures me that she will outgrow this someday. Yeah.

Anyhow (that's the best segue I can think of at 1:04 AM), I have been planning to post a montage video of Evie's first year but it's an unwieldy project. My attempts resulted in a 42 minute video that only grandparents and birth parents (and J and I) will ever watch all the way through. So, instead, I put together this mini version for the blog. Enjoy!


video

(Watching this made me realize how often I have told her "Good Job!" in the last several months. I need to come up with a new way to praise her?)

My Shelfari Bookshelf

Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog