Saturday, August 30, 2008
I have felt like I've been living a special kind of life for the last 8 months. True, it hasn't all been wonderful... having a baby in the NICU and being a SAHM of 2 for 4 months (which was not the original plan) has been trying some days. But it was like a vacation from real life. I didn't have outside responsibilities except raising my kids and cooking dinner, and cleaning the house every once in awhile. I could come & go as I pleased, any time of day. There was no paperwork except for doctors' offices. There were no deadlines, no planning of anything. I just... was.
I feel like I'm being forced to emerge from the little time-cocoon & join the world again. In some ways I'm happy - I do enjoy work, I like the mind stimulation, I like the subject I teach, I like interacting with the kids. I love spending time with a lot of my colleagues. But boy, am I going to miss my kids. I haven't spent this much uninterrupted time with Roman since the first summer he came home. Even summers after that, he went to daycare 1-2x a week so I could have a break. I have grown to really enjoy his thoughts & conversations. And Charlie... the joy I get from him energizes me like nothing else.
So a huge step on Wednesday. I will not ever be taking another maternity leave; unless I quit work, I will never have this much time off again until I retire. Charlie's life as he knows it will be forever changed - he will be in daycare at least a third of his day from here on out (during the school year). And Roman! He begins his own life-changing journey when he steps through those school doors on Wednesday morning. Life will appear to continue much as it does now, but it will be one of those days that I can point to & say, "everything was different after that."
Friday, August 29, 2008
I also discovered I don't have a real adorable photo of the 2 boys together that I would frame for school, so I played a bit with cropping & pasting my own 3.5 x 5 photo together. And then I printed it out on my HP Photosmart printer. No big deal, but I think the pictures are the epitomy of cuteness. So now I'm officially ready for school.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I am very apathetic this year, yet at the same time excited to participate in such an election. For the first time in my life, I am truly torn about who to vote for (yes, Dad, I admit it! Don't shun me!). I have noticed that having kids has changed my views on a lot of issues, and not all in one way. For example, we here in MI will be voting about stem cell research on human embryos. I used to support it, until I had Charlie. Now I am against it. For education, I lean left. For foreign policy, I lean right. For "family values" I used to lean right, now I'm kind of in the middle depending on the specifics. Regarding the environment, I go left. Regarding health care, I go right. When it comes to the economy, I again am right in the middle.
Why does there have to be two major political parties? Why can't people see past the donkey or the elephant and just look at the people? George Washington, in his farewell address, warned against political parties: ..."It serves to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration....agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one....against another....it opens the door to foreign influence and corruption...thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another."
I think the entire problem with this country, why we can't get anything done, why we continue to be divided, is because we allow ourselves to be divided. We identify as a DEMOCRAT or REPUBLICAN and almost blindly support everything they stand for. If it's not Hillary, it's Obama! Because the 2 very different people are from the same party? And the way they are trying to link McCain to Bush is crazy. Didn't anyone pay attention to McCain when he ran in 2000? He couldn't get the full support of the Republicans because he stepped outside their box too many times and voted against something the "party" supported. And all the sudden he's going to continue Bush's policies?
I want to hope, like Obama tells me to. But I don't want to become a socialist state. I want security, which McCain will provide; but I think some flat out honesty with the American people would help (hey, we screwed up, but we can't get out now!). Michigan especially needs economic help, & from what I can research Obama will help immediately, but I think McCain will help in the long-term. So I just don't know. But I know they've devolved into strictly attack ads already, of which I am already sick.
Anyway. Three things bring me peace - Doug, & the two adorable boys below. Charlie can sit up unsupported now! And I bet you can't tell it's Roman, seeing as he's in disguise.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Three jobs I have had in my life:
1. waitress at an elderly-care retirement home
2. medical transcriptionist
Three places I have lived:
1. My hometown
3. Metro Detroit
Three TV shows that I watch:
2. Heroes (although I dropped out last season)
3. Extreme Makeover, Home Edition
Three places I have been:
Three people that e-mail me regularly:
Three of my favorite foods:
3. Almost anything other people cook for me
Three things I am looking forward to:
1. Sept. 13th (afternoon with my grandma & mom, friend's bachelorette party)
2. Sept. 20th (My grandma's 90th bday party, also a friend's wedding)
3. The school year starting
Monday, August 25, 2008
Doug and I are tired. These darn kids of ours have us up almost constantly throughout the night. It's to the point that I felt physically ill myself today, lightheaded and just not firing on all cylinders. I grabbed a 15-minute catnap and felt a little better. Charlie is getting better about his wakings; last night was 1:30am but I soothed him right back to sleep; 5am was much more demanding and he got a bottle, then slept until 8am. We don't mind 5am bottles; if he would just sleep straight through until then!
In the great food experiment, we've moved up to Stage 2 food which is a little creamier & has "mixes" of food. Charlie is a huge fan of Banana mixes. And he flat out doesn't like green vegetables. He gags on them, both peas and "mixed veggies." Loves everything else. We had slight trouble on an apple-blueberry mix but it was a new taste for him, so we'll try again. He will be in daycare for 3 days straight while I return to work-meetings this week, so we'll see how his feedings at daycare go.
The only other newsworthy thing is that Doug is going to lead Adult Sunday School at our church. As he put it, the Holy Spirit moved me to volunteer him at a Bd. of Christian Ed. meeting last week. He's intrigued by the possibilities but a little time-cramped... they want to start in 3 weeks. That's not much planning time, but he's got some books already and I've encouraged him to pop over to the "religion store" (Family Christian) to check out their resources. We do attend the most awesomest church on this side of the state, in my opinion.
I have deep thoughts rattling in my brain about church, religion, daycare, and embarking on one of those "turning point" paths tomorrow, but I am awfully tired. So it will just have to wait.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Tomorrow is our Gen-X meeting of church people, and everyone is bringing a dish of their favorite childhood food. Again, who wants to worry about points when I expect mac & cheese, PB&J, and we're doing s'mores for dessert?
Saturday brings a family picnic on my Dad's side: pool party & cookout. I am bringing something very low in points, but if I want a hot dog and a piece of butterscotch pie, darnit, I'm having it. And then I will return to my regularly scheduled weight loss on Sunday.
Speaking of, I made my 10% weight loss goal today. I will probably re-make it in a couple weeks as I expect to gain a little this weekend. However, I am thrilled! I bought a pair of pants for work last week that is 4 sizes... FOUR... less than what I was wearing at my heaviest. Awesome.
Charlie's food obsession is growing too. He plows right through two 2.5-oz containers of food per meal, and then takes 4-6oz of formula on top of it. We are definitely going to step up the food (lumpier, stage 2) as things seem to have finally "clicked" in his brain. I thickened his sweet potatoes this morning with rice cereal and he was not a big fan; but I think his mouth/tongue got tired with the extra gathering-swallowing he had to do.
I leave you with an adorable recent photo - during a family game of Go Fish, Roman and Charlie started playing with each other; Roman would tease Charlie with his fingers, and then Charlie would reach out and grab them when Ro wasn't paying attention and try to put them in his mouth. I captured great expressions on their faces in this one!
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Plus, ol' Charlie spent his first afternoon in daycare. It was absolutely one of the hardest days of my life. It was harder than with Roman, for a couple reasons. Ro was older - 15 months - and plus Ro was used to spending time with many kids in the baby home... it made my guilt a little easier to think he was returning to an environment he was comfortable with. I kept seeing Charlie's big grinning face in my mind all afternoon, and I did have a good quick cry after I walked out the door. He did fine, of course, taking 2 big bottles & 2 one-hour naps. He was quite tired tonight, too. Maybe daycare will finally convince him to sleep through the night!
In an attempt to pack in a whole lot of exciting things in our last few days together, we have Chuck E. Cheese & a swim at Nelson's tomorrow; Thursday is just Ro & I in the afternoon and we're going (surprise) swimming at the Rec Center; but Friday is prep for a church group we're hosting at our house that evening. Yes, that does sound odd, me hosting a church group. Turns out, church people are my kind of people. We have a great group of couples in our "Gen-X" range and when we get together we all end up laughing for hours. We haven't had a gathering since May, so I'm looking forward to it.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
A. Attached or single? Attached, but not in the clingy sense.
B. Best friend? Doug.
C. Cake or pie? Cake, actually. But I prefer homemade cake.
D. Day of choice? Saturday.
E. Essential item? Camera. What used to be a laptop but is now a desktop.
F. Favorite color? Orange.
G. Gummy bears or worms? Bears, Haribo brand please.
H. Hometown? SJ, Michigan.
I. Indulgence? Cherry Garcia ice cream from Ben & Jerry.
J. January or July? July, although January is just fine with me too.
K. Kids? Two boys.
L. Life isn’t complete without? Allergy medication.
M. Marriage date? 5-6-00.
N. Number of brothers & sisters? 1 older brother.
O. Oranges or apples? Apples - oranges are too messy.
P. Phobias? Probably being in the ocean. Like deep-water ocean.
Q. Quotes? I wish I could be pithy, but the one used most around here is "too bad, so sad, call
your mom." That's a Miss Katie quote.
R. Reasons to smile? My boys when they're happy. My boys when they're sad. Chocolate pudding. Cherry Garcia ice cream. Doug.
S. Season of choice? Fall, for the colors & temperature.
T. Tag seven peeps! Nope. Don't know 7 peeps who blog!
U. Unknown fact about me? This is hard. Um... I own 3 CDs of bagpipe music. And 2 of marching bands.
V. Vegetable? Spinach the way my mommy makes it. (lots of butter, hard boiled egg nestled in the green stuff... MMMM!)
W. Worst habits? Wasting time on the Internet, a fondness for curse words, & Doug would say leaving my cereal bowl in the sink instead of putting it in the dishwasher.
X. X-ray or ultrasound? X-ray. An ultrasound has always led to surgery for me!
Y. Your favorite food? Oh, probably steak.
Z. Zodiac sign? Taurus, stubborn as a bull.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
I have been taking time in the evenings to do little school related things; I now have a plan book (with first week planned!), my Moodle classroom set up (an "Internet classroom"), & links to the 8th grade online textbook set up as well. Next up will be letters; the parent letter, the Open House letter, and pulling out the sheets for the first few days of activities.
In grad class news, I met with the professor who will be overseeing my Independent Study class of "Best Practices." She laid out what work I need to do and then said I was allowed to make my own timeline, as long as it's all done by the end of the semester. I only need to check in with her once more in person to do an oral presentation, just 10 min. or so. Not bad! Of course, I have reading, reflections, observations, writeups, and a more substantial paper to write; but at least I can do them at my own pace.
My monthly calendar of meals is all set; I just need to write up the grocery lists now. And figure out what day is grocery-getting day. I love that Doug is willing to do the grocery shopping. Don't I have the best husband ever?! Speaking of, he has lost more poundage for a total of about 30 pounds. Wowee! I lost 2 more this week, for a grand total of 19.5 lbs. We think it's quite noticeable in each other now, which is cool. I was looking in the mirror the other day & remarked to Doug, "this is me." My hairstyle is back to what I'm most comfortable with, & my face is finally, well, me again.
Roman wrapped up swim class today. He can do a pretty darn good front crawl for a few strokes, puts his head down in the water, arm circles, the whole bit. Seeing as how in June he refused to put his head underwater, this is a great improvement. Charlie has a new nickname; not just Mr. SquishyPants, but Mr. Grabby-Grabber. He has to put his hands on everything, especially Roman's stuff. He loves to drool on Ro's stuffed animals, but putting the newspaper in his mouth is a close second. Who wouldn't want to smear Kwame Kilpatrick's picture, anyway?
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
We have confirmed bananas as good, sweet potatoes as pretty good, & next up will be peas. His spoon-feedings are still pretty hit & miss; he will take half a container sometimes with barely any on his chin; and then the next try he'll razz it all out and try to gum the spoon. He consistently will only take about 4oz of formula with feeding. We have found the best approach is to give about 3-4oz of a bottle, then do the spoon, then let him take a little more formula if he wants.
I had to put the bumper in the crib last week. I had put Charlie in for an attempt at nap (more on that in a minute), and his screaming really began to ramp up. I went in to find he had wiggled all the way into the corner of the crib and was bashing his head into the slats every time he kicked his legs. Poor baby! I also went in one early-morning scream to discover he had rolled from back to tummy, but his arms were stuck under his torso. Silly boy.
Sleeping is still pretty interesting. He will fall asleep practically anywhere -swing, bouncy chair, Bumbo, on Doug's shoulder; but the minute we attempt to lay him *gasp* flat in his crib, his eyes pop open and he cannot be tempted back to sleep. He still takes about 3 naps a day; one early morning (about an hour), one midday (sometimes an hour, sometimes 3), and usually a catnap in the evening. He falls unquestionably asleep at 8:30pm.
He also is still waking at 3am, but we've cut him down to 2oz with formula & he falls right back to sleep. Tonight we're attempting an oz or 2 of water. After that, I think it's just the pacifier and we'll help soothe; then, hopefully, only a night or two of figuring out how to soothe himself. We give him a bottle around 10 or 10:30 at night (in his sleep, honestly he never even opens his eyes) and it appears to be helping him get through.
I had the worst moment today. I stopped in to daycare to drop off the registration paperwork. I told them his first day wouldn't be for a couple weeks yet, Tuesday the 18th. The woman laughed. "That's next week, you know." S***!!! is what my brain thought. I had no idea I only had a week before my little cocoon is torn open. Tears immediately welled up and when I told Doug, his response was "Oh, great. You'll be emotional for the next month now." Yup.
Monday, August 11, 2008
We talk about Russia often, and we talk about Roman’s adoption & homecoming often. We try to normalize Charlie’s arrival vs. Roman’s adoption by simple comparisons, made easier because Charlie had a stay in a hospital where we had to visit a lot before he could come home, just like Roman. And we stay in loose contact with the couples we made our first trip with; Christmas cards, maybe a phone call or email once or twice a year. But we haven’t stayed connected past that, and I feel rather guilty.
Russia makes it difficult to remain friends. There are many challenges in sending notes or financial support to Roman’s baby home. And it’s been so long now, I wonder if it would even be worth making the effort. Do they have the same director? Would they remember him, a 7-month-old baby adopted from them 4 years ago? But it keeps haunting me, especially as Roman reaches milestones… we told the director we would send pictures. And we haven’t. We said to ourselves we’d keep in touch. And we haven’t. I even joined a Yahoo! group for people who adopted through our agency, and I haven’t checked it in months.
Maybe it’s easier for our family, and Roman, to blend into the landscape. We don’t need the type of support that a biracial family might. And we talk about doing some cultural things with Roman when he gets a little older, but what is a little older? I fear over-Russian-izing him. At the same time, we are very aware of Russia’s actions in the world, and how most people still perceive the country, and also that he will be hearing all kinds of negative things about his motherland as he goes through school. I want him to be proud of his heritage & roots. Should we have kept in touch with certain people? Is it too late? There is a sizeable Russian population in our area. How do you explain that you’re experiencing something or wanting to meet people simply because they may help connect your child to his ancestry later? And how can that be done while avoiding a big neon “he’s adopted!” finger flashing at Roman?
Sunday, August 10, 2008
We took time today to list all our favorite "quick & easy" or "slow-cooker" meals. We came up with 28 of them! Throw in a couple leftover or frozen dinner meals, and we have our month. I'm going to match each main dish up with veggies & carbs, Point it all out for Weight Watchers, and my life will have gotten 20x easier. I spend, in my opinion, an inordinate amount of time planning meals, checking our pantry, & making grocery lists. It'll be a lot of work up front, but it should save oodles of time during the week. I'm pretty excited.
In other news, we were able to catch up with our Atlanta siblings as they were in GR this weekend. They finally got to meet Charlie & catch up with Roman. Awesome.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
I was showing Doug the short clips I had shot the past few days. To this one he said, "You want to post something funny - post that!" So here it is. A glimpse into my day. Crowded living room, mismatched jammies, loud noises, & oh yeah... a whole lot of entertainment.
Inspired by my friend Cat & baby tobo, I reapplied my energy to feeding Charlie by spoon. He was taking formula/rice cereal pretty well, so I thought I'd try bananas today. And something clicked, like he knew what to do! The first bite shocked him - his mouth froze up, he just looked at me - but I carried on with a big smile, lots of "oh, isn't that yummy!" in a high pitched voice... and soon he had eaten half the little container, and I believe he'd have eaten the whole thing. He was smiling, enjoying every spoonful. Now, in the video he spits it out, but most the time he sucked it right in. Life has just gotten a lot more interesting for Charlie, I think... but feeding will be a lot more time consuming for us!
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
I also had a tooth prepped for a crown yesterday. I've had 2 others, but they both had had root canals. This one has been a bit more painful! Dentist is not sure whether I will need a root canal in this one too, so we're going to cross fingers my tooth doesn't act up over the next couple weeks. So I'm dutifully taking Tylenol every 4 hours and hoping.
Weight loss has stalled again too. I did great last week, but whenever we're "out" for a weekend I have trouble. However, I'm still down about 17 pounds. I took my favorite pair of dress pants to a seamstress to have them taken in. I had bought them on clearance so I don't mind spending the extra bucks to make them fit again! I also took Sunday afternoon to go through all my clothes in the closet, plus the box of pre-pregnancy stuff from last Fall. I tried every shred of clothing on, and am able to get rid of a moving-box full of clothes that are too big. Hooray! Pregnancy taught me something about outfits - one can certainly get by with about 4 pairs of pants and 7 shirts. So that's the situation now -since I'm not at my "maintaining" weight yet, I don't want to buy lots of clothes. I only have 2 pairs of work pants, though (one being the aforementioned black pants) so I'm going to have to buy 2 more. Heading to the outlets one of these days to see what I can find.
The boys are fine. Charlie is close to rolling from back to tummy... in fact, he did it last night (3am) but got his arm caught under him, so we awoke to his whimper-squeal. Roman had a nightmare last night about meteor showers hurting our whole family. So it wasn't a restful night, so to speak.
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Me threatening to toss Roman
Charlie (with Baba), happy to be back at a pool (for the 3rd time that day).
Roman. Swimming. By himself. Doggy paddle.
A visit to Michigan's Own Military & Space Museum before we go!
Saturday, August 02, 2008
There is nothing, absolutely nothing, better than the mixed feeling of joy, pride, & amazement as you watch your child accomplish something they've been struggling with. I have been on Cloud 10 (true love is Cloud 9, right?) since about 7:15 this evening. Roman. The boy who will be the cause of the rest of my gray hair, can now be called a swimmer.
He doggy paddles.
He jumps in, about 3.5 feet of water. By himself.
He pushes off from the wall, face in the water.
He goes underwater. On purpose. And comes up grinning.
As I finally pulled him out of the pool at 8:00pm, he was playing with a new friend. They were diving from the shallow-steps to see who could go the farthest in the water. And then Roman would yell "timber!" and collapse sideways into the water, going under with a big splash. Come up with his yellow goggles fogged up and the BIGGEST smile. And Doug and I were bursting, just BURSTING with pride.
There is no greater feeling than watching Roman succeed.