Sunday, December 11, 2011

Three is a Magic Number

This blog is (over) three years old, Evie is three, we're a family of three. It's a number that traditionally represents unity and completion. I've been feeling for months that my blogging is complete and finished, but I've left things open to the possibility of another adoption and my potential desire to write about that process.

But a couple of things have happened to change that. First, J and I have both experienced a growing feeling of peace about being done with the adoption process. As the last year and a half has progressed we haven't felt more and more anxious about being chosen by a birth family, but instead more and more peaceful about not being chosen at all. This is not to say that our family is finished, but that we are ready to leave infant adoption behind and wait a few years before considering foster adoption of a child younger than Evie. My thought is to perhaps wait until Evie is in middle school and then adopt an elementary-aged child. We'll look at that more closely in a few years.

The other thing that happened recently is that I switched e-mail accounts and didn't realize that by deleting my old e-mail, Blogger would delete all of the photos on this blog that were attached to that old account. Even though I authorized my new e-mail as an administrator of the blog, the photos were lost. I still have them on my computer, but I don't have time to go back and re-upload them all back into the posts where they belong. Grrrr. Technology strikes again.

So, blogging is done for now. I haven't been good about posting or keeping up with other blogs recently anyhow, so it's a no-brainer decision. I'm Facebook friends with some of the women I've met in the infertility/adoption blogging community, so I still keep up with people that way. E-mail me if you'd like to friend me there.

Evie is doing great, but I really don't have anything to write about parenting that isn't being said on a million other mommy blogs right now. It's challenging, it's fun, it's a daily blessing and I could brag about my daughter for many, many paragraphs. :) As far as blogging about our open adoption, I'm not feeling as comfortable with that right now. We definitely have adoption-related issues, conversations, etc., but as Evie gets closer to the age where she'll "get it" I am less and less comfortable writing about R & G online at all, and I am careful what I say to people about them, especially around Evie. She's the classic little pitcher with big ears.

Anyhow, unless God intervenes between now and February (when our home study expires), this is it for Clio. I've been immeasurably blessed by the relationships I've formed by participating in the online ALI and mommy blogging world, so thank you to everyone who has read the blog, cared about my family and offered prayers for us over the years!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

Evie's first sparkler was a big hit:
Hope everyone has a fun and safe holiday!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

California Vacation

We just got back from a week's vacation in California with Evie's Nana and Papa, and it was a great time:

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gone Fishin'

Evie and I went to a local children's farm yesterday, where she had a blast feeding baby goats, gobbling at a male turkey, seeing her first bald eagle and catching her first fish! I have to admit that a nearby dad who was there fishing with his son taught me how to put a worm on the hook, and then helped me get our fish off of the hook and back in the lake. Next time I'll know how to do it myself, which makes me feel like supermommy. Let me assure the rest of you who might have the same hesitations that I did...worms don't feel nearly as gross as they look, and they don't bleed when you put them on the hook. It's not nearly as disgusting as you might think. Anyhow. Unfortunately, we were too excited about our little fish (it was silver...small trout?) and forgot to get a picture of it for posterity. But we did get a few other pictures from the day.

(My friend is helping Evie hold her rod while I take the picture, and Evie's little friend is a second away from petting the worms.)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Two and a Half

Evie is two and a half today! Growing up, my family celebrated half birthdays with a special outing and called it "Karen Day" or, now, "Evie Day." We aren't going anywhere today, but we took Evie's special trip on Tuesday to the Mall of America, with her Nana and Papa. She got to ride in the Wonderpets' flyboat and also the carousel, Ferris wheel and a Diego ride (all in the Nickelodeon Universe amusement park there). It was "Toddler Tuesday" and Evie got a ride wristband for about 1/2 price. She loved it! Today we had a little chocolate cake after lunch and if you ask her, Evie will tell you "I am two and a half now!"

Here's a picture of our sweetie from yesterday, enjoying spring weather outside. The socks make the outfit, don't you think?

One more recent picture, here is Evie getting her first haircut last month. Her verdict: "I don't like haircuts." But she cooperated and now her hair is a tiny bit shorter with the baby wispies trimmed off. Since her hair is curly, you can't really tell any difference before and after the cut; she didn't really need the haircut, but I thought she might have a few split ends so it would be good to trim them once in awhile:

Here's the rundown on Evelyn at 2.5:

*29.5 pounds (59th%)
*36 inches tall (53rd%)
*size 7 shoe
*teeth: all 20! (and no more drooling!)

*favorite toy: umbrella/parasol
*favorite book: whatever is new and different (e.g. library books)
*favorite character: Kipper
*favorite color: blue
*favorite activity: going on a walk
*favorite song: Brahms Lullaby (words by Daddy)
*favorite food: "mush and raisins" (cream of wheat)
*favorite clothes: naked, or pajamas
*favorite shoes: running shoes

*fears: drains (!), strangers, small appliances (sometimes they are loud)
*dislikes: getting out of the bathtub, new foods, brushing teeth, bedtime
*challenges: she's recently started playing favorites; yesterday she only wanted Daddy and told me to "go away!" but then today she called out "I want Mommy!" when J was trying to get her upstairs for a nap. She's also started asking both of us for something she wants, if the first parent she asks says "no." So we're working on the united front. And if we both say no she starts up with the whining "pleeeeease?" We're staying strong and hope to extinguish the whining by not giving in.

*potty learning: so far, so good...only a handful of accidents in the last 6 weeks
*sleeping: doesn't nap unless she's sick or had a short night of sleep. Generally she's sleeping 12 hours total from about 7 pm to 7 am.
*drinking: about 16 oz. of 2% milk and/or soy milk each day and about the same amount of water
*eating: picky, picky, picky...a typical day is toast with jam for breakfast, PB&J sandwich and fruit for lunch, trail mix for a snack and peas, black beans and something else for dinner.

*gross motor: can gallop, run faster than my jogging pace (!) and do most playground equipment by herself (except big kid stuff like monkey bars)
*fine motor: much less messy with a spoon these days
*verbal: "no" at 2 years is now "I don't want to" at 2.5 and this morning she said "Mommy, you need to put on some socks; your feet look kinda cold." Her grammar grows every. single. day. She's also full of questions. Reading a book produces a lot of "what's that?" questions and when we are driving somewhere I have to answer "where are we going?" about every 5 minutes. A few times she's gone on "why?" binges as well.
*cognitive: she can count past 20 by rote if she wants to (if she's focused on it) and if you put 5 or fewer objects in front of her and ask her to count them she'll get the right number by pointing to each item as she counts. If you give her more than 5 items she tends to skip some or count some twice and arrive at the wrong number.
*social: understands gender and mostly knows whether people are "boys" or "girls" and is very interested in feelings. When a character in a book is not smiling, she often asks "what is his mouth doing?" which is her way of asking "what is his emotion?" If I am feeling frustrated or tired, Evie will quiz me with "Are you happy, Mommy?" over and over. Sometimes the question improves my mood and sometimes it doesn't. :) She's also learning to share, if we're there to remind her to do it.
*play: the pretend play stage is here! J and I are encouraged to nibble on a piece of mulch that is a "cupcake" or coo at the invisible baby she's rocking in her arms. My absolute favorite is when she reads books to her stuffed animals.

We're looking forward to the return of warm weather and the fun we'll have in the back yard this year with Evie's new water table, and in the park with her bike. Her third birthday will be here before we know it, and Evie already knows what she wants: balloons and chocolate cake.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Last fall we visited the "Butterfly Palace" in Branson (fun and cheesy vacay with Nana and Papa!) and learned that some caterpillars actually liquefy themselves within the cocoon in order to undergo metamorphosis into a butterfly. J and I kind of feel as though the past few days have been our chrysalis stage as a family and we truly entered this week parenting a baby and left it parenting a butterfly. No, wait, a kid.

The book we used for potty learning emphasized the importance of parents sending a clear, confident message to the kid that "You are a big girl/boy and we believe in you! You can do this!" J and I definitely got this message through to Evie and she will adamantly tell you now that "I am NOT a baby." This week we went from diapers to panties. We went from afternoon nap to reading time. We also put her high chair downstairs and went permanently to her booster seat. It's not a big deal since she had already been in her booster 80% of the time, but it sent a clear message. Finally, we rearranged her room and put her crib totally out of commission. She'd already been mostly sleeping in her toddler bed, but again, it added to our "big girl" message.

What worked:

*sticker charts: she got to put one tiny Dr. Seuss sticker on a sticker chart every time she peed and the charts were numbered 1 to 26, so she got a special reward on #26 (a favorite movie or game). By the end of the weekend, less than a week into training, she'd already weaned herself from the sticker charts by getting bored of them and not asking for stickers every time she peed. Yay!

*naked bottom time: at our house this is "nakey jakey time." We didn't start this until a few days in, but it has worked really well. If I need to get something done and let Evie take more responsibility for her own bladder control, stripping her bottomless with access to a potty has worked really well. She hasn't had any accidents so far when she's going "nakey jakey." This approach has its limits when it's time to go to school or on an errand, but if I need to do the dishes it's very handy.

*the timer: as J said this week "Pavlov's dog!" If we told her to go potty she might obey or she might resist, but when the timer went off she quickly ran to the potty without argument. The timer removes the human relationship from the equation; it's an inanimate object telling her it's time to go instead of her mother saying it...her mother who also tells her to stop walking on her books and to eat her macaroni with a spoon...the bossy mom who must be defied because Evie is 2 and is her own woman now! Anyhow, the timer was great for about 4-5 days, until we all got used to the new routine and weaned ourselves from it. Now we use a combination of parental prompting and Evie responding to signals from her bladder. Yay!

What didn't work:

*hand washing: Evie is prone to eczema and in those first few days of training while she was going every 20 minutes, she started having bad rashes on her hands from washing them so much. We've backed off from the hand washing and are only enforcing it for after poop. Urine is sterile anyhow. We'll re-introduce it when she has more bladder control so that it won't affect her skin so much. And we are enforcing it when we're out and about in public restrooms and guest bathrooms.

*panties at night: the book we used suggested that Evie could learn to hold her bladder at night, so we gave it a (very) brief try. The first night I woke her up at about midnight when I went to bed and took her to potty (and she was dry!), but she cried and asked to sleep in our bed. Ack! The last thing I need is a toddler in big girl panties coming into bed with us...we don't have a waterproof mattress pad! I did get her back asleep in her own bed and I set my alarm for 7 am to wake up before her. I planned to wake her up and whisk her right to the potty, since many kids pee as they wake in the morning. But when I went in to wake her she was already soaking wet and VERY sad to be woken up from sweet dreams to find a stinking wet bed and pajamas. FAIL. So now we are using "special nighttime panties" (pull-ups) for bedtime and will wean her from them when we think she's ready (i.e. when daytime dryness is easy).

*3 day potty training: the book is called "Potty Train in Three Days" and it took much longer than that for Evie. Day 1 and 2 were very stressful as she could only hold her bladder for 15-20 minutes at a time. Day 3 was better, but Evie still hadn't made the brain-bladder connection. Day 4 was hopeful...only 2 accidents! Day 5 was bliss, no accidents! (But we were still prompting her to pee each time and she was taking no responsibility for it all.) Day 6 was only one accident. Day 7 was horrible; we went to storytime at the library and she was terrified by the big, public toilet there. She refused to go on the potty and had an accident at the library, then repeated the pattern 2 more times that day...putting a tiny bit of urine into the potty and saving the majority of her bladder contents for her clothing. By the afternoon I was despairing and in tears, wondering if I needed to put her back in diapers. But we survived, and the next day was her first day back at "school" (parent's day out). She stayed dry through school!!! Since then it's been a breeze; each day she can hold her bladder longer and is more apt to tell us "I need to go potty!" instead of letting us remind her to go.

I can't believe it...I am a mother to a little girl with curly pigtails, skinny legs and big girl panties. There is very little baby left in my Evie Bea. But if I close my eyes, kiss her cheek and breathe in her sweet scent I can still grasp those memories of the chubby infant she was, not so long ago. My baby is only 2 and I'm already sentimental about her babyhood!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

BIG Girl

Today Evie officially became a big girl. We are having a blizzard, like much of the country right now, and Evie's school (Parent's Day Out) was canceled, so I took the opportunity to start 3-day potty training (this is the book).

This morning I put Evie on the potty in the morning, threw away her diaper and put her into panties, then had her help me load up all diapering gear into trash bags and take them to the garage. (Changing pad, wipes, diaper cream, swim diapers, EVERYTHING.) We talked about how she was a big girl now and not a baby and it was time to say goodbye to diapers and use the potty from now on.

(I have to add, here, that we have been slowly potty learning since she was about 14 months old and so by this time she knows exactly what to do on the potty, how to pull her own pants up and down, how to flush and wash her hands independently, and how to push in her bottom to make herself go. She still needs some help with wiping and with knowing when she needs to go. She has been putting about 60% of her poop into the potty for the past few weeks, as well. She was very prepared to start today. At least *I* knew she was prepared even if she didn't.)

I won't go into the specifics of this particular PL (potty learning) system but just say that it involves positive reinforcement and the parent keeping a close watch over the child to prevent accidents. We had several accidents this morning because Evie has been the type of child who pees tiny amounts into her diaper all day instead of having learned to hold her bladder. It is frustrating to have her pee a tiny amount on the potty and then wet her panties 10 minutes later, but it's all a part of the learning process and I have faith that it will get better tomorrow and the days after that, as she learns bladder control. This afternoon she did much better and kept the same pair of panties dry from about 3 pm until bedtime!

Unfortunately, she did wet her bedtime panties about 10 minutes after lights out, so we'll need to leave more time tomorrow night between dinner and bed so that she can leave her dinnertime milk in the toilet. The book we're using suggests "fortifying" the bed with extra mattress pads and sheets and limiting liquids before bed--giving the child a chance to learn night dryness instead of automatically using pull-ups at bedtime and sending the child the message that "you can't stay dry at night." We're going to give it a few days and see how Evie does, but we won't bat an eye at going back to diapers for nighttime if she needs it. But right now our plan is to wake her up to urinate before we go to bed and hope she is sleepy enough to go right back to sleep. My parents used that method for my brother and I for years and my mom swears that it works.

I might be crazy, but along with this major milestone I'm combining a second one by letting Evie drop her nap. She's been showing signs for weeks now: fighting her nap for over an hour and then sleeping too late in the afternoon and then fighting bedtime, or taking a good nap and then refusing to fall asleep until 10 at night, or skipping her nap altogether and then going to bed like an angel. So today I sat her down after lunch and told her "You're a big girl now, wearing panties, etc... and big girls are allowed to say 'no thank you' to nap time. Would you like to say 'no thank you' to a nap today?" Of course she said yes as soon as she understood what I was saying. So I told her that instead she and I would have a reading hour in her room. I put a "magic reading carpet" (beach towel) on her bed and I sat in her rocking chair. She read picture books and I read my novel. I only got about 5 pages read between talking to her, reading to her and taking her potty 2 times (plus one accident), but it's a start. I hope that our reading hour becomes a huge success as we continue; I love the idea that I still get a little break of silence to have some time for myself, besides that I'm modeling a love of books for Evie.

She did very well this afternoon after reading hour and fell asleep at about 8 pm after lights out at around 7:15 (much of the 45 minutes in between was spent singing "Peas Porridge Hot," going potty and having her panties changed). Forty five minutes to settle down and fall asleep is pretty normal for Evie, but it's a long time considering the lack of nap! Hopefully she'll settle quickly into the new routine.

In conclusion, she is getting rewards for using the potty. Every time she urinates with a dry pair of panties she gets a sticker on a reward chart and when the chart is full she gets a special treat (like playing a favorite game with us) and when she poops in the potty she gets a piece of gummy candy. The gummy thing is not a great tradition, but I started it a couple of months ago and, what can I say? Gummy is very motivating for my daughter.

Wish me luck with day 2!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Evie the Artist

I've been reading a new (to me) blog in the last few months, called The Artful Parent. A friend sent me the link and it's been an inspiration for doing art with Evie. One book recommended on the blog is First Art and I've enjoyed having that at home as a resource as well. On a rainy/snowy/too hot/sick day at home with a toddler, it has a wonderful array for ideas for art projects with a little 'un. Not to say that art is only for boring afternoons, but it's nice to have the book on the shelf when I need some new ideas. I remember feeling frustrated a year ago because Evie was a young toddler and when I tried to do art with her on those long winter afternoons, she tended to eat the crayons, or suck the water out of the aquadoodle pen, or put the stickers on herself instead of the paper. Yes, I got over myself. But anyhow, this year is much better and it's exciting to see her interest and skills develop. Here are some recent pictures.

Decorating our windows with window crayons:

Evie learned to cut with scissors today! She has safe scissors that won't cut clothes or hair:
Look! She's getting the idea of coloring! Before this week we've never seen her color in the focused way you can see with the blue hat:
And finally, some early attempts at representational painting. I don't know why Blogger rotated this picture because it should be rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise. Anyhow, the green is grass and the blue is sky, and the yellow smudge is a sun. The orange and purple are flowers and birds, according to Evie. I think all kids draw these types of things at first; it must be because they see the green grass, blue sky, etc. so much in picture books, right? I remember reading that even kids who live in smoggy cities draw blue skies:
Our fridge is covered with masterpieces. Fun!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Talking about Adoption with a Toddler

I read somewhere that kids can't truly understand the concept of adoption until they are about 5 or 6 years old, and that every conversation you have with a child before that age is really just practice for the real thing. I think the hardest thing for me about talking to Evie about adoption is finding words that are at her comprehension level to express such big, important and somewhat abstract ideas. She's still a little fuzzy about the terms "boy" and "girl," so the concept of "first parents" and "adopted" are way beyond her ken.

Tonight we read the book I Wished For You at Evie's bedtime, and afterward had a conversation:

Me: "Evie, you know you were adopted just like Barley!"
Evie: "Adopted."
Me: "Yes, we adopted you. You know that R and G are coming to visit us tomorrow; they are your first parents."
Evie: "First parents."
Me: "Yes, when you were born you came out of R's tummy and then Mommy and Daddy adopted you."
Evie: "And we eat cake!"

Well, at least she has positive associations with adoption at this point? :)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

We spent Christmas with my parents, Evie's Grandma and Grandpa, and my brother and his family--including new twin nephews! It was a wonderful trip despite the long travel time to Washington D.C. I had fun holding 3-month-olds again and enjoyed changing poopy diapers and getting spit up least for a few days.

Here is one of my new favorite pictures, of Evie with one of her twin cousins:
Here are Evie and her cousin C before Christmas Eve church:
Christmas morning, playing with her Uncle D's squishy rat (a stocking stuffer) which looks like a rubber rat until you throw it on the floor and it turns into a puddle of goo before it pops back into its original shape. Of course, Evie was more fascinated with this than with her own stocking stuffers:
Evie and her cousins in front of the tree before gift opening on Christmas morning:
Evie received a new cowboy hat and boots from her Grandma and Grandpa, but since her rocking horse and stick pony were left at home, she had to make do with a decorative rocking horse as her steed:
Evie also received some dress-up masks; a mouse, duck, bunny and an elephant:
On the 23rd, Evie tripped outside and face planted, scraping up her nose (she was our Rudolph for the holiday). On Christmas she scratched her scab and started it bleeding again, which makes for a fun family portrait...Evie with her Dora bandage, squinting at the camera flash! Here she is with my parents and her 3 cousins:
Rudolph (she LOVED having that bandage on her nose):
I love how the good light in this playroom (at my friend Jen's house) brings out the blue in Evie's eyes:
Ready for bed, the night before we left to drive home, wearing her new "princess" nightgown and holding Grandpa's stuffed armadillo, which she slept with that night:
It is humbling to learn about the real meaning of Christmas from your toddler. On Christmas Eve the church we attended had a living nativity and Evie spent a full five minutes staring at the youth group dressed up in pageant costumes, Mary holding a very fake-looking baby doll (and no live animals). She didn't want to go home because she was so fascinated by the pubescent wise men and the shepherds carrying stuffed animal sheep. I tried to lure her away with the promise of one gift from under the tree before bedtime, but she responded "no, I don't want a present. I just wanna look at the nativity." From the mouths of babes.

Our family has been richly blessed this year and we look forward to what 2011 will bring. We hope that our family will include a second baby by next Christmas, but after the joy of adopting Evie we feel content to wait patiently for God's will. It is SO different this time; we both feel peace and hope instead of anxiety and pessimism.

My resolution for 2011 is to put myself first more often, knowing that a mom who gets enough sleep, exercises regularly, has a strong marriage, spends time with friends and studies the Bible daily is a better mom than one who is sleep-deprived, weak, stressed, lonely and ultimately depressed because she has put everyone else's needs in front of her own. I remember getting that same advice from magazines and friends before I was a mom, but some lessons we need to learn from experience before they really stick.

Happy 2011 everyone!

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