Saturday, January 31, 2009

Where is that swimsuit?

The homestudy visit went off without a hitch, and now we wait for the final paperwork to come in and for the local agency to write and approve our homestudy report.  The counselor thought she could have it finished by late February, so with any luck, we will be diving back into the waiting "pool" soon.

I like to take the opportunity, with each adoption update, to share a deep thought about adoption.  When I was little, it seemed very simple - I had a birthmom who couldn't take care of me but was willing to give me life and wonderful loving parents who raised me.  But as I grew (and still am), the billions of pieces that make up adoption become so much more complex, painful yet beautiful, and awe-inspiring.  So my deep thought for today (and some of you have heard me say this before) an adoptive parent, I feel a little bit like the recipient of an organ donation, and as a waiting parent, I feel like I'll be getting back on that list.  Like a patient waits for a new heart but doesn't wish anyone to die, I will wait to receive the most precious gift - a chance to be a Mommy to another child, but I do not wish anyone to have to plan an adoption for her child.  Yet, in our imperfect world, people die, and adoption plans must be made.  It's been a long road for me to come to terms with my gain being another's loss.  I've let go of the guilt because I know it would dim the joy I have about being the Nugget's Mommy.  He needs me to have that joy, and the best way I can think of to honor his birthfamily is to proudly, gratefully, and joyfully parent.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The simple life

One thing that Hubby and I discussed before we had kids is the way we hoped we could live simply together.  Neither of us grew up with a lot of money but we never felt deprived either (well, I belly-ached a lot about not getting a certain Breyer horse stable, but that's another story).  We were the kids who never got to buy a bouncy ball from the dispenser at the grocery store, my mom gave us 2 choices at Taco Bell (hard or soft taco), and when she let us choose candy bars from the vending machine after swim class, we considered it the height of luxury.  I want our kids to have the same kind of experience.  We appreciated that stale Snickers bar so much because it was a treat, not an expected daily snack.

So here are a couple photos of the Nugget appreciating, LOVING his special early Valentine's Day balloon.  We pass the balloons each week at the grocery store, his little arms outstretched towards them, grunting with hope.  The fact that I've never bought him one before now (Grammy and Grandpa bought him one when we moved in so he hasn't been completely balloon-less) makes this one all the more special.  He's been walking it around the house like a dog on a leash.  Priceless.

Top 10 - Books

We have done our best to make the Nugget an avid reader.  While I don't want to spoil the Nugget, he and Lil Sib will always have as many books as they want, and we try to make it to the library each week.  Some of my favorite memories are going to the local library with my dad on the weekends.  I remember going when I was very young and the biggest thrill was getting a stamp inked on my hand by the children's librarian.  And then when I was older, and my dad would roll his eyes because I'd be checking out about a dozen Babysitters Club books (Caldecott award-worthy, they are not, but I stand by my assertion that they did expand my vocabulary and so helped with the SAT).  Anyway, it was special "Daddy and me" time, something very precious for a child of a busy physician, and I always looked forward to those trips.  Thanks, Dad.

So without further, ado, here is the Nugget's list of favorite books.  HIS favorites, not necessarily mine.

10.  Goodnight, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
9.  Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw
8.  Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb by Al Perkins (The monkeys are actually apes, and I find the second to the last page with the millions of drumming primates a little disturbing...are they going to war?  Daddy claims they are having a happy party, but I find the scene ominous.)
7.  Happy Baby Words by Roger Priddy
6.  Birthday Monsters by Sandra Boynton
5.  I'm a Manatee by John Lithgow (has an accompanying cd with a catchy song)
4.  But Not the Hippopotomus by Sandra Boynton
3.  Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss
2.  Biscuit's Snowy Day by Alyssa Satin Capucilli (I admit to sitting on this book so he wouldn't be able to request it)
1.  The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood...I love that he loves this one most of all, because it was also my "baby" sister's favorite, and I still remember reading it to her over and over.  When the Nugget requests it, I always think of her.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

In God We Trust

Our homestudy is finally scheduled for Thursday!  Only 2 days away!  

Even though the homestudy for the Nugget's adoption was fine and dandy, I am more than a little nervous about it this go 'round.  We are using a different agency for it, I feel very unsure about the social worker's feelings about us, and our "new" home isn't perfect by any means.  We love it, but we have a lot of work still to do on it.  It's definitely livable, comfortable, and we are constantly childproofing, but as our homestudy approaches, doubts are creeping into my mind:  Should I have had the gutters repaired?  Can I figure out how to anchor that sink to the wall by tomorrow?  Will the social worker want us to have a crib already set up for the new baby?  I have a ton of water spots on my clean glasses, because I haven't figured out the water softener yet.  What if she's looking for the fancy twisty outlet covers and I only have the basic plugs?  There's an IKEA chest in our office with a broken drawer.

The scariest part of adoption for me is the loss of control.  Letting social workers decide the fate and future of your family.  Opening up every aspect of your life so that others may pass judgment on it and on you.  I should say though, that it's only truly losing the illusion of control, because I don't think anyone really has control over their lives.  So like many other aspects of adoption, it is a such a blessing in disguise.  When the social worker takes the wheel out of my hands on Thursday, I have to tell myself that I'm not turning our lives over to her, but that I'm letting God choose our next adventure, and really, shouldn't I be doing that all the time? 

Larger than life

As the Nugget just went into 4T tops and size 9 shoes, I am forced once again, to realize that he is the average size of a kid more than twice his age. The above picture features the Nugget at 6 months old, when he was wearing the 18 month clothes he "should" be wearing NOW, one year after this photo was taken. I have actually never seen a child his age and size, which I suppose is what happens when your child is in the 99th percentile. The chance of meeting that 1% is pretty slim.

Pros of having a bigger boy:
1. I never have to worry about him gaining weight. I know this is a constant struggle for parents of premies, and I am very thankful that we've never had to count calories or literally cry over spilt milk.
2. I don't worry about him holding his own when he's playing with older children. Sure, he takes tumbles now and then, and I don't mean I let him play with tween skateboarders, just that if we're in the crowded mall play space and there are some 5 year olds running and jumping, I don't have to protectively hover over the Nugget.
3. I don't like making generalizations, but I think there might be some truth to the "Napoleon complex" and the "gentle giant". The Nugget could easily throw his weight around with his peers when he doesn't get his way, but (so far, knock on wood), he is surprisingly gentle with others.

Challenges of having a bigger boy:
1. Wow, I have spent a lot of money on clothes. He has whizzed through the sizes like wildfire, and every time I think we have a good 6 months before his closet needs replenishing, he has another growth spurt. We have gotten a few hand-me downs (thanks J!) but most of his older friends are in smaller sizes, so more commonly, we are handing-UP to them. I do the consignment thing whenever I have Daddy-backup, but my will to shop around has been extinguished by the Nugget's will to scream bloody murder when I browse.
2. The hardest thing for me is that most adults and older kids assume that the Nugget is about 3 years old. This is totally understandable. But as he is becoming more sentient of conversations around him, I hate that he is constantly hearing from adults, "Oh, he's still in diapers? He isn't talking much yet, huh?" And from the kids, "Why won't he answer me? What's wrong with him?" I perkily and constantly explain to the confused that even though he is tall, he is still a baby, only 1.5 years old. I need the Nugget to know that I'm not ashamed of him, that he's big and beautiful, and there's nothing "wrong with him". But I worry that when he goes off to preschool, when I'm not there to protect him, that his peers and teachers will consciously and subconsciously hold expectations for him that are meant for a child of his size, not his age. I suppose it will be his karmic payback for being chosen first for teams in gym class.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mr. Funny Business

When the Nugget was 4 months old, Grandpa appropriately nicknamed him, "Mr. Funny Business".  The Nugget is quick to smile and will do anything to make others smile too.  Here are a few of his latest smile-inducing tricks:

-Daddy taught the Nugget to march and spin like the Irish Guard, with high steps, right arm held up at a right angle, hand made into a fist.  The Nugget now cannot spin without his right hand in said position.  Yesterday, when Daddy was spinning with him, he had his hands to the sides, and the Nugget fussed and grunted, pushing his arm up into the proper spinning position, then smiled!

-The Nugget likes to plop.  From a standing position, he will plop down on his bottom as hard as he can, repeatedly.  This is always a big crowd pleaser, and he is willing to do at least a dozen plops in rapid succession for an appreciative audience.  It seems like it would hurt, but perhaps his cloth diapers offer some extra padding.

-If you are holding the Nugget while doing something other than gazing at him adoringly, he will cock his head to one side, open his eyes wide, and give you a million dollar grin.  If that still doesn't grab your attention, he will gently take your face in his hands and turn your head until you make eye contact.

-The Nugget has perfected the art of flirting, toddler-style.  He first locates an attractive female.  (He seems to appreciate a great diversity of women - age, race, height, shape, hair color...none of it seems to matter to him as long as they return his affection.)  He gets her attention with his trademark smile, then dashes back to me and buries his face in my shirt or ducks behind my leg.  He'll alternate smiling peeks at her and hiding.  If he feels bold, he will then approach her and plant a big drooly kiss.  I have yet to meet anyone hard-hearted enough to shun his advances.  I wish I had kept a tally of his kisses - countless waitresses, flight attendants, and cashiers have succumbed to the Nugget's charms.  This weekend, it was a student at the bookstore.  I have no idea where he learned this; it seems to be an inborn ability.  He does also kiss boys and men he knows, but doesn't do the whole hiding/flirting thing. 

-The Nugget has decided that Doggie is worthy of emulation.  He is constantly attempting to sneak food out of her dish and carry toys in his mouth the way she does.  Lately, he's been fascinated with the way she laps up water.  Given the opportunity, he will dump a small puddle of milk or water on the floor for her, and I'll catch them both lapping up the puddle.  It is definitely not a sanitary activity, it's a total chore to clean up the mess and worse if Doggie drinks enough milk to make her vomit, but I can't help laughing when I catch him in the act.

-My current favorite is that the Nugget is learning to jump.  He only gets maybe a centimeter of air on his best efforts, so it looks a lot like exuberant stomping.  He also pants like a dog when he jumps.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Top 10 - Unnecessary Baby Gear

As a companion to the "best of" baby gear.  I'm sure as soon as I publish this, folks will tell me how much they loved x and couldn't live without y.  So this is just my opinion.  I'm not telling you NEVER to buy the following, just that we lived without them just fine or we never used'em.

10.  Bottle warmers.  We got a great tip from friends to do just room temperature or cold formula from the get-go.  Warm is nice, but there's no research that proves baby needs it warm.  Plus, on those occasions when you're stuck away from the house and can't warm a bottle, it won't be the end of the world if your baby expects the cold stuff.  Plus, several brands of bottle warmers were recalled as fire hazards!

9.  On a similar note, we also managed without a wipes warmer.

8.  We thought we would love a dishwasher basket for bottles and accessories, but we were constantly fixing bottles, so we always just hand-washed with the help of a bottle brush.

7.  Name-brand formula.  For some babies with special dietary needs, you have to buy the spendy stuff, but I compared Similac Advance with the Costco version...identical ingredients but Costco is 1/3 of the price.

6.  Baby powder.  Most docs recommend diaper ointment instead, due to inhalation risks.  It's easier to carry and use too.

5.  Dreft.  We just used unscented detergent for a fraction of the price. 

4.  Crib bumpers and comforters.  We had bought a cute comforter, but they're considered to elevate SIDS risk.  We used it as a play quilt for the floor, but in retrospect, I should have saved the money.

3.  Baby Robes.  They are SO adorable, but I can probably count on one hand the times we used them.  By all means, keep one if you are lucky enough to score one at a baby shower, if only for the photo opp...but if you don't have one, you won't miss it.  The Nugget goes straight from his towel-down into his jammas.

2.  Hard soled baby shoes.  These are impossible to wrangle onto baby's feet and tend to fall off.  Newborns kick and flail a lot too, so you risk getting a nasty bruise while diaper changing or cuddling.  Since baby shoes are either strictly decorative or only to hold the socks on, ask for soft-soled "crib" shoes.  Crib shoes are typically less expensive, more comfy for baby, and easy to find second-hand in excellent condition (baby's not walking in them yet).

1.  Special "winky-blocking" equipment for boys!  We used a 99 cent cloth diaper to block way-ward sprinkles.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Top 10 - Baby Gear

As we were among the first of our friends to trade in our wine glasses for sippy cups, we have been asked what baby gear has been helpful to us as new parents.  (Note - I am not getting paid for these recommendations nor receiving freebies.  If you know anyone who would pay me for heartily endorsing their great kid-products, send'em over!)

My Top 10 Picks - Baby Gear

10.  Baby Legs - also sold at Target as Not Sox, and a zillion handmade knock-offs through Etsy.  They are cute leg warmers that also fit on the arms.  They're an extra layer that is so easy to pack, make diaper changes easy for novice parents, and protect little crawling knees on hardwood floors.  I also love to use them under the Nugget's snow pants.

9.  Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Moisture Cream - wipes out any dry patches and eczema almost on contact.

8.  Diaper Wallets - many brands offer them, but I love mine by SkipHop.  They combine a changing pad, with a zippered compartment for wipes, a diaper, and ointment.  If you're not a germ-phobe, you can also do the Diapees and Wipees clutch (or again, may I recommend an Etsy knock-off), which is the same principle minus the changing pad.  Easy to grab out of the diaper bag and take to the public restroom or (gasp) just change the kid in the car trunk.  Why not suck it up and carry the whole diaper bag into the restroom?  Well, if you're a "prepare for any scenario" mom like me, your bag will be quickly stuffed with changes of clothes, blankets, loveys, breath mints, snacks, tissues, and other items you don't want to fall on the icky restroom floor while you're rummaging through said diaper bag for the diaper.

7.  Kiddopotomus Tiny Diner Placemat - this is the most amazing invention and probably has the poorest marketing.  Although it's carried at Babies-R-Us, it's packaged in an uninspired cardboard box that doesn't show off the features.  A placemat made of colored rubber, it has suction cups to stick to a restaurant table and a little trough that hangs off the side of the table to catch spills and side-swiped food items, all while protecting the table from your child's mess and protecting your child from the table germs.  After working at a family restaurant...I would NEVER eat anything off a restaurant table.  Especially great for kids who can't reliably eat out of dishes; you can just pile food straight on the mat.  At the end of the meal, you wipe it off, roll it up, and wash it at home.

6.  Bumkins - makes the best bibs, hands-down.  The Nugget was a major drooler (still is when teething), and their organic cotton bibs were by far the softest, most absorbent, and hardiest in the laundry.  The Super bibs are lightweight, waterproof, and generally awesome for babies starting solids.  When those are too small, graduate to the Junior bib.

5.  By far the most boring and practical on the list is the 2nd car seat base if you have two cars.  Save your back and sanity.  If you are too cheap to buy another, put it on your registry. 

4.  Sassy Me in the Mirror has been Brady's favorite toy forever.  It ties onto a crib or gate and can also be propped up on the floor.  It is soft, unbreakable, lightweight, and travels well.  It has some fun toys on the side but the main attraction is that mysterious baby inside!

3.  Putumayo Kids makes music for adults who hate kids' music.  We were sharing our own playlists with the Nugget until I counted up the profanities and innuendos.  Chances are he would let a choice phrase fly when he hit preschool, thereby inspiring his teacher to call DHS on us.  So we started to invest in a kids' music collection devoid of Barney.  But I digress...Their cds are multilingual, and the songs are catchy.  Best of all, Putumayo gives back to charities around the world.  They make a Dreamland series (lullabies) and a Playground series (upbeat and dance-able).

2.  Yes, we do cloth diapers and love them.  I don't like to pressure new parents to do them, because they're not for everyone.  I'm a SAHM and I don't mind laundry.  Plus it saves about $3,000 per kid.  I never would have figured out what to buy if it hadn't been for Soft Cloth Bunz.  They sell diapers and accessories at competitive prices, but they also educate about the many cloth diapering options available today.  Shipping is super fast, which is fantastic when you realize you need the next size up yesterday.  

1.  Thermos Foogo Leak-Proof Straw Bottle - is my favorite thing of all.  It keeps milk, juice, or water cold for up to 12 hours, perfect since we're always on the go, and really, my MommyBrain doesn't have the capacity to remember how long ago I poured that cup of milk.  It has a lid that snaps tight to protect the straw from the dog hair that abounds in our house.  

Do you have a favorite baby gear item?  Leave it in the comments section!


Dear Nugget,

I don't know what I'm doing!  There, I've said it.  I have all these thoughts and theories on parenting, but they are just that - ideas, and not facts.  In fact, I don't think that any of us Mommies really know what we're doing.  Well, maybe that lady on TLC who has umpteen kids (but you don't want to live with her, because her sons are building their own house from 2x4s and their bare hands and they have to walk uphill to school both ways in the snow year round), but I have a sneaking suspicion that the rest of us are bluffing and feeling our way through parenthood, learning from one messy mistake at a time.  If I'm lucky, you will need only minimal psycho-therapy as an adult. 

I get the feeling that Mommies aren't supposed to admit they are fallible, because what kid in his right mind will obey and listen if he KNOWS his mommy is just a human?  And the pressure is triple for adoptive Mommies, because we were entrusted with a child instead of just making one, which implies that we HAVE TO be better at this gig than the average mama.  But I think it's important for you to know that I'm not perfect and don't claim to be, and I will do my best to apologize to you when I'm wrong.  Like yesterday, when I was the world's worst crab.  I'm sorry.

So there, neener-neener, I hopped off my pedestal before you could knock me off it!  I win.  The view's nicer from the floor anyhow, except for all this dog hair.  Let's go build a block tower.  Are the blocks age-appropriate/germ-free/made from recycled shoes?  I have no idea.  Will I perfect the correct ratio of helping you vs. letting you do things independently?  Hmmm...probably not.  But I'll let you knock the tower down when we're done.

Love, Mommy

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

DIY Baby Toys

I consider myself about a 6 out of 10 on the craftiness scale.  I am willing to try most types of crafts at least once, and I often pause before buying a handmade item, mentally considering if I could fashion one myself.  I would definitely be embarrassed to know how much money I have spent at JoAnn's.  The funny thing is that it seems like you should be able to save money by making things yourself; in reality, the cost of the supplies and the fact that I usually have to repeat a project several times to get it 'just right' means that the handmade object usually ends up costing triple the cost of the ready-made alternative.

These days, we are trying to live more simply, so I am cutting back on my craft projects and trying to use what I have.  I have a couple great DIY projects that won't send your craft store owner to Hawaii via your wallet.  None of them are my own - they have all been shared with me by wiser mamas - both the Nugget and I give them 2 thumbs up!  Do you have another easy, cheap project for toddlers?  Please leave it in the comments section!

Shaker Bottles - by friend K
1.  Wash out a disposable plastic water or pop bottle, and let air dry completely.  
2.  Fill the bottle about 1/3 full with odds and ends - buttons, sand, rice, glitter, confetti, pebbles, beads, colored water, whatever.  You can make a theme - like all one color, ducks in blue water, or just a crazy collection.
3.  Hot glue the cap back on.  

The Nugget has been using his shakers for a year, and older kids love them too.  Challenge big kids by filling a 2L bottle with sand and tiny items, then giving them a list of the items hidden in the sand.  Bring a timer and have sibs see who can find the most objects in 60 seconds for a great road trip game or restaurant distraction!

Sensory Tub - by friend C
1.  Find a plastic storage bin with tight-fitting lid.
2.  Fill the tub with a blend of any of the following:  dried peas, beans, lentils, sand, rice, oatmeal, pastas.  Save money by buying these out of bulk bins in the grocery store.
3.  Provide old bowls, cups, scoops, shovels, measuring spoons.
4.  Put down an old blanket or towel and let your kid sift and dig to heart's delight, like an indoor sandbox.  Keep the lid on when not in use, and change out the materials every few months to keep it interesting.

The Nugget only needs occasional reminders that it's "not for your mouth" and "keep it in the box", but it's a very calming activity for a stuck-inside-day.  I sit next to him and hold the tub steady, and I can never keep my fingers out of it either - it's very relaxing to run my fingers through it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Top Ten - 18 months

This weekend, we'll be celebrating 1.5 years with the Nugget!  Sadly, I broke my camera, so photos will be coming in 2-4 weeks, according to the Best Buy Geek Squad.  May I add that I had to stand in 2 different lines and make a call to BB HQ to get them to ship the camera off for repairs, but thank goodness for the extended warranty!  Thanks, Grammy and Grandpa!  And thanks to Hubby and that guy playing Guitar Hero, who entertained the Nugget during the hour long debacle at Best Buy.

The Nugget's Top 10 Favorite Activities:
10.  Playing in the snow
9.  Throwing the squeaky toy for Doggie. 
8.  Climbing on and off furniture.
7.  Chasing his Bedtime Giraffe up the stairs (we toss it).
6.  Marching to The Uninvited Loud Precision Band.
5.  Reading books:  Where is Baby's Mommy? and Happy Baby Words are this week's top-runners.
4.  Dancing, dancing, dancing.
3.  Playing chase with Daddy.
2.  Turning light switches on and off.
1. Pushing his doll stroller around and around the house.

Top 10 Challenges - 18 months:
10.  Wow, it's hard to just keep up with you.  I feel like I'm in some sort of bootcamp, as you put me through my cardio (chasing you as you dash for something dangerous), strength training (lifting you onto your changing table), and resistance training (pulling on your coat and boots) each hour of the day.  By the time Daddy comes home, I am sweaty and exhausted!
9.  You love Doggie a little too well, a little too much.  You display your affection for her in many ways, including attempting to mount her for a piggyback ride and giving her big hugs while clutching and twisting fistfuls of fur.  She is such a patient Doggie with you, but we are constantly releasing her from your grip.  We console ourselves and Doggie with the knowledge that you love her, so that when you finally do understand that grabbing fur hurts her, you probably never will again.  Her question - is this day coming soon?!
8.  Toddler eating habits.  You are so unpredictable - you are hungry often and eat well, but a food you love one day, you shun the next.  Sneaking veggies into you is a constant battle.  You have an inborn rejection reflex to anything green.  You also intensely desire whatever snack item I did NOT bring with me when we're out of the house.
7.  I want it NOW!  Part of your passionate personality includes impatience.  As in, "I want my crackers 5 minutes ago, woman!"
6.  Your strength is surprising and "He-Man" like.  Whoever minted the phrase, "As easy as taking candy from a baby" had obviously not tried to pry a choking hazard out of your tight little fist.
5.  Communication issues are par for the course with any toddler, presumably.  Your previous needs - food, milk, attention, sleep...were so obvious and simple.  Now when you desperately want something complex, like your bunny facing a certain direction in the stroller, but don't have the words or signs to describe it to us nor the ability to handle it yourself, meltdowns are inevitable.  And loud.
4.   Speaking of loud, your ability to hit 115 decibels without warning may give me permanent hearing loss.  The OSHA daily permissible noise level exposure for 115 decibels is 15 minutes or less, kid.  I'm thinking of filing a complaint to HR.
3.  I refuse to post how much you sleep, because it will come back to bite me.  However, I will say that you are somehow sleeping less than you did, both during the night and during naptime.  I don't see how this is possible since you seem to be in perpetual motion when awake.  I guess you just don't need as much sleep as you used to.  But I do, so can you please just chill in your crib for awhile?
2.  Balancing the challenge of letting you do things independently vs. getting anything done at all is tricky at times.  While I love that you stop to appreciate a tiny crack in the floor and want to zip your own coat, letting you do everything on your own time schedule means we would never eat or leave the house.
1.  Your incessant need to fling things, just to see what happens when a.) they hit the ground and b.) Mommy's head implodes when she has corrected you for throwing stuff for the millionth time.  We're getting close.

Top 10 Memories - 18 months 
10.  Your smile when you discover a bonus cracker hiding in the pocket of your bib or on your lap.
9.  Your peals of laughter when you play with Doggie.
8.  When Daddy lets me sleep in on Saturdays, and I can hear the stomp-stomp of your little feet running across the floor.
7.  When you spontaneously sprint across the room just to give me a big slobbery kiss.
6.  Seeing you proudly pull a book off the shelf for me to read, sit or stand through the whole story, and return the book to the shelf before choosing another one.
5.  Your delight at wiping your own highchair tray or putting your dishes in the sink, just like a "big person".
4.  Catching you in moments of quiet concentration (see picture above).
3.  Listening to you try out new sounds and syllables in your high-pitched little boy voice.  I imagine you having a deep Barry White-sounding bass as an adult, so I'm trying to treasure every little squeal.
2.  Learning how much you actually understand - lately we've been asking you to find us something, like a butterfly on the wallpaper or your blue ball, and I'm always amazed when you can point or bring it to us without coaching.
1.  On short car trips, you talk happily and non-stop.  Your monologue includes, "Ohhhhhhhh, dededededede, ohhhhhh", followed by giggles which turn into maniacal laughter.  I can't help but join you.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

You spin me right round, baby, right round

Before I become a Mommy, I oddly had the subconcious notion that babies had vague interchangeable personalities, and real opinions and preferences didn't kick in until the 2nd birthday.  Like they got a personality chip along with their birthday cake or something, I don't know.

Clearly, the privilege of parenting the Nugget and having the joy of getting to know many of his peers very well has stripped me of this insane idea.  Yes, babies are similar in many ways - they share a propensity to get messy when they're dressed nicely and you're heading out the door.  If you hand them a veggie in one hand and a cookie in the other, it's safe to say the cookie will be consumed first 98% of the time.  If you brag that your baby is finally sleeping through the night, he will hear you and decide to wake up 12 times the very next night!  BUT, they each have their own little quirks, right there from the very beginning.  And while that makes it impossible to write the Ultimate Baby Handbook that every parent wishes they had, it's also what makes life with a "small size human" (as my friend L puts it!) so interesting and fun!

Some of the Nugget's quirks:
- While most newborns are fascinated with ceiling fans, the Nugget's obsession with them continues.  Our new home has 4 of them - instant entertainment!  Pictured above is the Nugget grinning at Grammy's ceiling fan (the fan is not pictured but will give you an idea of the bliss).  The downside to this particular quirk is that there are often ceiling fans at restaurants, and as it is now winter, they are usually OFF.  That just won't do...we actually considered leaving a restaurant once because he was freaking out about the motionless ceiling fan.  We stayed.  He lived (but pouted).
- The Nugget loves the letter X and star shapes.  We think it's the symmetry, because he will turn the letter around and around.  
- While the Nugget enjoys playdates, his primary concern is not to collect the most toys or chase other children, but to flirt with the other moms.  His attention used to be focused on the baby girls, but now he has moved on to older women.
- The Nugget's favorite thing to do while shopping is to test fragrances.  Even during the worst temper tantrum at the mall, if I can find him a scented candle to sniff, he'll perk right up and enjoy his aromatherapy.
- The Nugget does a little happy dance when he tastes something he likes.  It's a happy side-to-side of the head and shoulders, and I don't think he knows that he does it.  I hope this quirk lasts, because it would be hilarious to see a teenage Nugget bopping around over a plate of nachos.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Save Handmade Toys

Save Handmade Toys
Please check out this link.  In the government's frenzy to keep lead and toxin-filled toys off the shelves (good thing), the CPSIA initiative was so quickly and poorly written that it will effectively make handmade toys illegal (bad thing).  Why?  Because small businesses and artisans can't pay the $4,000 per toy to have it tested by the government.  

The ironic part is that these small toymakers have been offering safe, beautiful, unique toys for children all along, and they are being punished for the big box toymakers' greed for profit.  And once the little guys are out of business, the big box folks will be raking in their share of the money.  

AND, the toymakers put out of business won't even be allowed to donate their products to charity, they will be forced to put the in the garbage.  As a side note, that goes for clothes, books, and accessories (like hairbows, blankets, burp cloths) too, so thrift stores will be trashing children's clothes produced before Feb 10, 2009 (when the CPSIA goes into effect).  

So this law adversely affects:  buyers and sellers of handmade children's items, small toy companies, thrift and consignment shops, parents who buy children's clothes secondhand, poor families and non-profits who rely on donated clothing, books, and toys for their children.  That's a lot of people who will be hurting in an already struggling economy.

The CPSIA has already been passed, but we can still do something about it.  The link will show you some easy ways to make your opinion heard, and President Obama will be considering it if it makes it into his top 10 issues on

Please help.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Lil Sib Update

As many of you know, we are working on the adoption process for our second (and likely final) child.  I have gotten a lot of questions about our progress and thought the blog would be the obvious place to post a quick update.  

What's going on?
We're using the same adoption agency for Lil Sib, but because we no longer live in WA, we also have to use a local agency for the homestudy.  We are going to all this trouble because we absolutely loved our agency AND it's less work to reinvent the wheel when adopting a second time.

What does the homestudy entail?
The homestudy includes a 2 inch packet of paperwork (done), doctor's reports (Hubby's is done, mine is scheduled), 2 office interviews (1 done, 1 to go), and 1 in-home interview (waiting for agency to schedule this).

What happens next?
When the local agency approves (knock on wood) us, they will let our primary agency know.  Primary agency is ready to put us in the waiting pool.  As you might remember, we will then wait anywhere from 24 hours to 3+ years for an expecting family to select us.  We may have as much as 3 months to get to know them and prepare for Lil Sib OR Lil Sib may already be born by the time we get the call and we'll go directly to pick them up.  Lil Sib will most likely be born in WA or OR, although there's a slim chance he or she could be born elsewhere since primary agency gets occasional referrals from other agencies and attorneys.

Did we specify a boy or girl?
Nope!  Originally my thoughts were that we'd love to have a boy and a girl, but now that the Nugget is here, I feel like he was meant to be our son.  I trust God/the universe/karma to choose for us again this time around.

Some thoughts on the process:
- While I don't love the uncertainty of not knowing the when and where our baby will be born, I do love that open adoption allows our children's birthfamilies to choose us, and to me, that's worth the uncertainty.  
- It's very frustrating and upsetting that while I have to jump through a zillion hoops and expose every part of my life to the scrutiny of others who will judge whether I am worthy to be a mommy, there are many bio parents who are neglectful or abusive and they didn't have to prove anything to anyone to have their kids.
- On the flip side of that coin, I realize that these hoops are also a blessing, because they forced us to consider all aspects of parenting before the Nugget arrived.  The hoops have made me a better mommy, a more thankful mommy.  
- I consider our time in the waiting pool to be a pregnancy of sorts.  I'm not sure it's a fair comparison, because it's morning sickness and edema-free.  However, imagine a pregnancy where you don't know when that baby's going to pop out!  Pretty exciting, huh?!  But the adoption wait is just as full of mood swings, weight gain, worry, excitement, and joy.  My pet peeve is when people (sometimes loved ones, sometimes strangers) rain on the adoption wait parade.  I've lived through a disruption, I know all about the unexpected and broken hearts.  But in my book, warning a waiting parent not to get excited and buy baby clothes because the adoption may fall through feels an awful lot like telling a pregnant woman not to paint the nursery in case the baby dies during labor.  Are both scenarios possible?  Yup.  But in the words of Thumper, "If you can't say somethin' nice, don't say nuthin' at all!"  (I realize there's a double negative in there but you get the gist.)  Remember, we expecting mamas are moody - compliment us on our glow, fetch us some chocolate, and tell us our babies will be healthy and perfect!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

He's an educator

I think it's natural to see a little of yourself reflected in your child.  I suppose I expected less of it since the Nugget was adopted, but then again, we were chosen for him by his loving Tummy Mummy and approved by his caring Poppy, so maybe they were seeking out parents who were a little like themselves...a little like the mix of genes they were passing onto the Nugget.  As a Bio major, I believe that individuality is not only about genes and not only about environment, but a complicated dance between the two.  His birthfamily gave him these gifts - inborn talents, abilities, and personality traits, and we get to foster his gifts and watch them grow.

Ways the Nugget is like me:
-Loves being around people.  I remember my mom always telling me to please go do my homework upstairs at my desk, because isn't it a nice desk and you'd be in your quiet room and out of the way.  But I could never concentrate at my desk, because I needed to be in the midst of the chaos, right at the kitchen table, and completely in my mother's way.  Sorry, Mom!
-Loves animals.  I will get my comeuppance, because I was always running up to strange dogs and surely each time, it gave my animal-cautious mom a mini heart attack.  It is unbelievable how much the Nugget loves dogs.  And cats.  And squirrels.  Make that quadruped mammals in general.  All elicit the same loud cackle of what can only be described as glee.  Quadrupeds need not return his affection to elicit said glee...during our Christmas visit, the Nugget learned a new animal sound, courtesy of Grandpa's semi-feral kitty.  If you ask him, "What does the kitty say?", he will respond, "Ssss!"  He chased and laughed after her constantly anyway, as if she were handing out kisses and free candy canes.  (Pictured above is Gammi's friendlier kitty - could not photograph the Nugget and Grandpa's kitty together - needed both hands to restrain Nugget from hugging her.)
-Loves to teach.  Daddy and Doggie are the main students, and his lesson plan is currently clapping, because apparently neither Daddy nor Doggie have mastered the technique.  He will watch Daddy clap with furrowed brow, then patiently reach for his hands and show him, once again, the CORRECT way to applaud.  Why is Daddy's clapping wrong?  We don't know.  Doggie is a more reluctant student who shows no initiative, but the Nugget will grab her paws and slap them together, while she looks at us plaintively.  Doggie is usually rewarded with a biscuit for suffering this indignity.  We suspect that she is somehow communicating with the Nugget to get bonus treats.  "Psst, kid...kick me in the jimmy!"  (Doggie is a girl, but "Beavis and Butthead" fans will catch this reference.)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy 2009!

Dear Nugget,

Like probably every parent before me, I worry about the kind of world we are leaving to you.  I can't watch the news because it scares me to think about all the anger, hate, apathy, and violence in the world.  On the bright side, when I look at the world from your eyes, it is still an amazing place where caterpillars change into butterflies, where snowflakes stick to your eyelashes, where the rustle of a tree's leaves can bring you both peace and awe.  And when I look INTO your eyes, I see hope for the future - that maybe your generation CAN succeed where we've failed.  And that inspires me to pull those plastic windows out of the envelopes so I can recycle just a little bit more and take some time to find old coats we can donate to the homeless shelter.  So thanks for being my big bright spot of hope - you are making me a better person.  With that, here are my wishes for you in 2009:

-That you can welcome your baby brother or sister into the world.  I know you're going to be a wonderful big brother.
-Although Daddy is starting grad school soon, that you can still make quality time together.
-That we get good use out of our zoo membership and that maybe you can appreciate something there besides the giant windmill.   Now I'm happy to sit on a bench, sip my coffee, and watch you gaze at that windmill.  But I'm just sayin', there are other cool things you might notice if you could only tear yourself away from the glorious spinning.
-That you enjoy your music classes which start later this month.  I know I'm excited!
-That crayons can become tools of your artistry, as opposed to appetizers.
-That we slow down together, and enjoy living in the moment.
-That you continue to find adventure and amazement in every experience.
-That you continue to have patience with your rookie parents and remember, although you probably feel like our student, in reality, you are our teacher.

Happy New Year, kiddo!