Thursday, March 31, 2011

Gettin' all Earth-y up in here :)

Yesterday I did something nuts:

I ordered chickens.

Four female sex-link day old chicks, to be hatched tomorrow night and picked up Saturday morning an hour away from here.

I also built a brooder with my wonderful husband.

And put a deposit on a chicken ark, to be started this weekend and delivered in a few weeks.

This is on top of the above-ground potato planter, the four new fruit trees, the multiple berry bushes, the 94 seed pods working away, the three indoor plant containers, the topsy turvy tomato project sprouting in the window, the raised bed carrot garden on the side of my house, and the now planned 12 x 4 foot cinder block raised bed to be built in our backyard in the coming weeks (to hold on those plants coming from the seed pods).

And we're still signed up to 2 CSA's.

Can you say "someone's been bit by the sustainability bug"?

The fact is, we LOVE fresh food, and even more so now that our bodies are used to it. Oh, sure, I love a good junky pizza every now and then, but I feel like crap if I eat too much of it, and eating food like that daily? I can't even stomach the thought anymore.

Nope, now I start my day with a big bowl of steel cut oats (locally ground), smothered in (local) honey, flax seed and raw almond slices. I have two cups of (fair trade, organic, Ethiopian) coffee with that same local honey and some organic creamer.

My lunches and dinners are varied, as I believe in eating a variety (except for breakfast), but I try to incorporate fruits, veggies, whole grains, and organic, fresh or local items as much as possible.

And, wow, I feel good. So does my husband. So do my kids.

I *LOVE!!!* that my toddler chows down on fresh curry-cumin rice&lentil stew, I *LOVE* that my big guy enjoys tough breads and not-as-sugary foods, I *LOVE* that they eat fruits and veggies and salads, and that even their snacks are varied and often healthier than mainstream alternatives. Oh, sure, we have meals of Cheese-its sometimes, and yeah when we go out I have no qualms about ordering a large side of fries to split. I'm not a total tight a$$, and honestly I don't mind if they eat crap every now and then so long as the majority of what they eat is pretty healthy. Complex foods of varying tastes and textures that provide the nutrition they actually need.

So I'm excited about growing our own food, excited that the kids will be able to help raise baby chicks into laying hens, to cuddle and care for them and then collect their eggs and eat them fresh. And my word are fresh eggs incredible! Our chickies will have a diet of fresh bugs and weeds and food all day, moving their ark to a new spot daily as they clean and fertilize our yard, and their happiness and good nutrition becomes our own. Egg whites that are actually white, thick orange yolks, low cholesterol, high protein... yuuuuuummm :)

And the veggies! As a child I snacked on fresh green beans and carrots, stolen from our garden. I love fresh veggies! Here's hoping my own little guys enjoy grabbing and gobbling a ripe tomato, or picking their own salads. If all else fails at least they can smell and see the fresh food and learn the important life lesson of how to create food for yourself!

And on top of all of this, there's the sustainability thing, the carbon footprint thing.

I want to drive less. I want to buy less. I want to create less waste.

And so here we sit on 0.33 acres of fertile land, hardly using any of it other than to mow it and run around with the kids every few days on, oh, half of it maybe? Some part of me just *aches* to work our land, the land we own, OUR LAND, and create OUR FOOD in our own backyard. We can work this soil, we can build and tend our gardens, we can care for our flock, and perhaps by the end of the summer we'll be eating, I don't know, 30% of our meals from our own yard? 50%? Dare I go higher? The fact is, our lawn is just sitting there being grass and we loose absolutely nothing by turning our hardly-noticed lawn into a small, sustainable working farm.

Sure, we have to put money and time and effort into it, but we have those in spades right now (got the tax refund!) so that's not really an issue. The way I see it, we gain from this. Health and confidence, knowledge and fresh food.

And our kids?

Our kids get the calming presence of docile animals, the health benefits of fresh, organic farming. They get to see where food comes from and tend life itself, from a tiny chick or seed up to a laying hen or producing tomato plant.

As someone who openly practices therapeutic parenting with one of my children I can't even count the benefits to him. The wonderful way he behaves when he eats whole, fresh foods, how calm and gentle he gets when he's caring for an animal, the excitement in his eyes as he checks on his little tomato sprouts in the window....

And for us it's pretty cool too. I mean, dude, we're growing *food*. You know, like, the stuff you buy at the store. Only it's in our own back yard! Or windows too, I guess. I mean, we have blossoming plum and peach trees! And a small green strawberry forming! And chickies! We're getting chickies!

So, yeah, I guess this is me saying:

"Hello, my name is Megan, and I'm an Urban Homesteader-aholic!"

(Also I totally need to order my mushroom spikes already so I can inoculate some of the rotting logs over our back fence!)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How you know they're growing up...

Big kid:

He's not listening, I'm frustrated about something else and begin to raise my voice.

"Mommy," he says authoritatively. "Calm down. Just calm down. Take a deep breath in *breathes in* and then out *breathes out*. There, do you feel better now? Let's talk about it."

Talk about making me feel like a total jerk...


Little kid:

*Grabs his butt*
"Ew! Yucky poopoo! Yuck yuck!"
*Gasps and flails then keeps pointing me in the right direction as I take him upstairs to change him.


Big kid:

"Do you promise you won't go through the back gate? I know it looks fun back there, but it's not safe and if you fall in the creek we won't be able to help you."

"I promise!"

*I walk inside to take over care of the hungry baby from Nik, who has gotten him ready for bed. I peer over my shoulder or out the window the whole time. He doesn't go anywhere near the gate. I don't even catch him looking at it.*


Little kid:

*I'm driving to the gym and lazily handing back animal crackers every here and there. I pause for a few minutes.*

"Caaaackaaaaa, caaaackaaaaa."

*I realize he's asking for a cracker and I look in my rearview mirror to see that he's tilted himself to look in the mirror perfectly, so that he can lock eyes with me. He smiles as I hand him a fistful of animal crackers.*


Big kid:

"He's had a great day today!" "We had so much fun with him!" "He always takes a minute to warm up, but he's never any trouble after that!"

Little kid:

"We had so much fun!" "He's very adventurous!" "Oh, there's my little friend! I was waiting for him to show up."


In short, I have two fun, wonderful, damn awesome kids. And after years of attachment work and high needs infancy and sleepless nights and rages and food issues and therapy, etc, I'm totally going to brag about our totally wonderful mundane world because, dammit, we've earned this!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Decisions, decisions...

So Nik and I spent most of last night just talking. And talking and talking and talking.

We're worried about the adoption world. We're worried about countries shutting down for US adoptions due to corruption. We're worried about the skyrocketing costs to adopt. We're worried about the flood of people "competing" for any child available.

We basically sat there and both just gushed out our individual thoughts and worries and found that, not too surprisingly, we're on the same page. We don't like the fact that any child we could afford to adopt is also going to be pursued by a dozen other families. Not because it means we're less likely to be chosen, but because we worry about the competition factor, and the ickiness factor of almost fighting it out for a baby instead of giving a home to one in need.

I don't know... I'm not against adoptions, but I'm wary of where they're going right now. I was looking at the average costs of adoption, as kept by Adoptive Families Magazine. In 2005 the average cost of a US domestic adoption was around $22K. Last year that average went up to $33K! In 5 years it jumped by over ten THOUSAND dollars! Not because of new regulations or procedures, no, but because the agencies simply COULD charge that much. Even the really "cheap" agencies have raised their prices significantly, and the odds of us adopting for less than $20K is looking slimmer and slimmer.

And on top of it, we've been hearing that NO ONE is getting their adoption tax refund. No one. We haven't heard anything about us yet but we're calling. That's $17K that we were counting on to help cover the extra expenses as well as general day to day care of three children.

So the choice now seems to be:
-Do we want to remain a family of 4 living a comfy life with money in the bank?
-Do we want to become a family of 5 living paycheck to paycheck and desperately trying to stay out of debt?

Thing is, I don't think I'd be so worried about the cost if the fees were actually needed and not just what was being charged solely because an agency knows it's what they can get. And I don't think I'd have a huge issue with it if we were actually giving a child a home who really needed it. And really, it's hard anyway to scoff at fees when it comes to *your kid!*!!!

So yeah. Nik and I are getting really, really disenchanted with the adoption world. Again, not giving up on it just yet, but at the same time not as enamored.

Still keeping an eye out for (reasonable!) adoption situations though...


On the other end of the spectrum, there are fertility treatments. IUI, ICSI, Clomid, Embryo Adoption, etc.

Reason #1 why were aren't pursuing this right now is easy: We already are actively trying to adopt AND I'm breastfeeding with no desire to wean right now.

Reason #2 is more complicated...

What if the boys don't feel like they're good enough? What if they think we went to fertility treatments because we decided that having a child through adoption just didn't cut it anymore? I know I would speak with them about this, many times, but still... once an idea is in there it could be hard to get out.

Even worse, what about the people around us? What about the family that would treat a child by birth as if they are better than a child by adoption? What about the all the "oh, finally having your own!" comments? What about the people who feel that we ourselves decided that adoption wasn't good enough and we finally wanted to spread out genes and have "real" children? Can I really say that these people don't matter at all when I know we'll encounter them throughout life?

And then there's us. Guilt feeling, attention loving us. I mean, c'mon, let's admit it: We're coooool. We're the young, geeky, counter culture couple that *adopted* our kids. And I'm even nursing one! And we're willing to talk about it! After so much positive attention for adopting, so much "wow, that's so awesome!" and especially so much "you're better than those people who do fertility treatments when they could just adopt", it kinda changes your perceptions.

See, as much as we try to not let people influence us, well, we're human. People do influence us, just as we influence others. And we openly admit it, which is probably the only way to really dispel it all and get down to your own gut feelings.

And I think that's what last night was all about.

What do WE want? What do WE feel is right for our family? Why have we chosen the paths that we have and do we always want to continue down them? How do we want to live our life? How do other people want us to live our life and how is that influencing us?

There's been a LOT of anti-fertility treatments talk in our past, a lot of "just adopt," a lot of "crazy infertiles."

And yet, when it all comes down to it, no, we aren't against it. Sure we'd have to set limits and expectations, and sure it could definitely fail, but even so it could still be the route that brings us our next child.


And therein lies the problem...

We KNOW, or at least feel that we know, that there will be a next child. And we want to find that next child when or where or whoever he/she is. Will it be a baby born in FL in May? Or one I give birth to next December?

The biggest problem is that both options are so cost prohibitive that we really need to pick:
-Fertility Treatments

And of course the easiest thing to say is just "if the adoption doesn't happen by the time the HS runs out in like Sept then we'll pursue another route." But, well.... I'm impatient! And also... if we have a failed adoption, we're out even more $$. And if we got our tests done now we could spend several months on supplements and such improving our bodies before IUI or any other treatment. But if we even go in for a few lab tests not covered by insurance, we won't meet a required "minimum" to adopt moneywise.

So our next baby could be either this way or that way and we kinda, sorta have to choose.

We're not ready to give up on adoption. It's worked twice and we're already active and waiting and it really, truly could work for us, like, tomorrow.

But we're also not totally sure we should completely table the fertility option. I mean, seriously, it could work and it could be the path we're meant to walk at this point.

I don't know.

I just don't know.

And I so wish I did...

But that's the beauty and fun of a crazy life like ours, right? Never knowing what's going to happen next on our adventure as a family :)

(And for the record, if this seemed jumbled that's because I had a very *helpful* toddler on my lap for most of it, shoving food down my shirt and screaming at the screen.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Aaaand, that makes #1...

This adoption situation didn't work out. Baby is in state foster care, mother has given up on placement and is trying to regain custody of him. On the one hand, I feel for her. I would fight for my kids, too. On the other hand, that poor little guy probably has a tough few months (years?) ahead of him, and it's really easy to just say "well, she should just let him be adopted and he could be in a loving, stable home right now." But again, I'd fight for my kids too. So yeah. Can't judge, can only pray that it all works out for the best.

So that makes situation #1. Like I mentioned before, Ambrose was situation #7, so we're kinda used to this. Even so, any potential adoption situation COULD BE the one, and you do manage to fall in love, if only a little bit, each time. How could you not? That could be your child! We have no idea if it'll be another several situations or if it'll happen next week or if it won't happen at all. So yeah. We'll see :)


In the meantime, Nik and I are finally talking infertility stuff again. Thing is, our original plan when we got married was something like "have a couple of kids by birth in our twenties, then adopt a few in our thirties." Well, we're almost up to that "adopt a few" thing. And we were thinking that if we did give birth it would be through embryo adoption. But now we're revisiting the possibility of just trying straight up fertility treatments, like IUI. I dunno. It would be years from now probably. But we're starting to research, and I think that's a good thing. A few years of planning and preparing our bodies may actually be exactly what we need. Also, it gives us time to see if 3 really is enough for us :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


No word yet.

As it stands with the current potential adoption situation:
-We don't know yet if she'll even make an adoption plan as she's been back and forth on it.
-We don't know how many families have submitted.
-We don't know what her criteria in a family would be.
-We don't know when/if we'll get to know any of this stuff.

So that's that.

On the one hand, the odds of us coming home with this baby is slim. First she'd have to choose adoption, then she'd have to pick us out of all the other couples. So, like... 10% chance maybe? Max.?

On the other hand... there isn't NO chance, meaning we COULD get a call this afternoon letting us know that little one is to be ours, and I COULD be on a plane with Ambrose this evening or tomorrow morning, scrambling for childcare for P and transportation in FL and we COULD be coming home with a new baby boy in about a week or so.

Chances are slim, but they aren't completely gone.

And that's the hard part.

EVERY email, EVERY phone call, EVERY chat request from my husband, these could all be IT. These could all be someone contacting me to let me know that he's ours... or isn't ours.

And it's so, so, SO hard not to wonder and hope and pray and wish and dream. It's SO hard not to jump every time the phone vibrates in my pocket, and so hard to stop my heart from racing when I realize it's just a friend calling (not to say I don't love having friends call, but you cannot believe the adrenaline rush!).

I went through this with P. We got his referral call about 6 weeks AFTER we expected it. We were sitting at the top of the waitlist for a toddler boy, one of the hardest kids to place in Ethiopia, for 6 weeks and knew that as soon as he came in we'd get the call. Six weeks of freaking out over everything until we got the call.

With Ambrose we were presented 7 times. Seven times I waited and waited, staring at my iPhone and willing it to ring or alert me to a new email. Six times I was let down but I still kept on hoping and praying and wishing and dreaming and one day that call really did come in and, oh man, it's hard not to cry tears of joy just thinking about it!

So I know, logically, that this may not be our child. That there's a very large chance that this child will not be ours. That the odds of me being called anytime soon is slim and the odds of us finding out any new information within the next day or two is also pretty slim.

Even so... we COULD get a call in 5 minutes. It honest to God COULD happen. And so my phone is charge and near me at all times and I'm just staring and staring and staring....

I wonder if I can get a Xanax prescription, just to make it through the adoption wait.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Wait, What?

So about a month ago one of the referral services we're signed with posted a situation that kinda stuck with me. Not in the "OMG this is our kid!" kinda way, but more the gnaw at the back of your head kinda way. This is the same referral service that's finding a home for the baby girl born prematurely last year. The situation in question was for a full African American baby due next month.

I sent in an info request Friday, for both situations. For the baby girl I just asked which state she was in. For the other situation I asked if she had any further info since it had been posted a month ago.

I heard nothing over the weekend.

I was anxiously awaiting her response, to either or both situation, when I finally got an email back Monday morning: The baby due next month had been born Saturday and because we'd expressed interest she'd gone ahead and sent our information along.


Say what now?

After being in shock all day yesterday, I did manage to get a bit more information: The mother is still deciding if she'll parent or place and if she does sign then she'll choose a family after signing. The baby was early and had trace amounts of what we consider an "acceptable" drug, and is doing well enough that he was able to leave the hospital and is now with a fosterhome. Oh, and he's a he.

Nik and I decided that, just given the information we have now, we're both fine with being presented for this situation. It's in FL so that would involve a bit of travel but we'd been expecting that anyway. And it is a 3rd boy when we were really, heavily starting to lean toward girl, but again, it's okay. In fact, I even got what I said I wanted: to be presented for a baby-born situation AND to be presented when we didn't know the gender so it could be a surprise.

It'll probably be a day or two before we know if she's going to place, and maybe longer before we know if we were chosen. If we are picked... wow, what a mad scramble that will be, right? And if we aren't... well, it'll happen someday.

Right now... I keep thinking about the mother. What an awful place she's in. She's going to court today, just a few days after giving birth (and prematurely at that). I know very little about the situation but I can extrapolate that she isn't really getting much, or any, support. If she chooses to parent, life will be hard for both her and the baby. If she chooses to place, she loses her son and may end up being stigmatized. It's a lose-lose situation for her.

I guess what I'm saying is that I can't be too upset about how hard it could be for me to, idunno, drive down to FL to stay with supportive family while I adjust to a new child we'd be able to keep and support for the rest of his life. No matter what, we're blessed. If we're chosen, we're blessed with a new child to love on and adore (and a teensy 5.5 pounder at that!). If we're not chosen, we're blessed with the opportunity to let our younger son grow a bit more and for us to be presented to other situation. So no complaints here. Just thoughts and prayers for the mother and child whose lives are in turmoil right now...

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Heart Pulls...

So being registered with a couple of referral services we get emails about random adoption situations. Since it's not a set agency, it's all very sporadic. There's no real rhyme or reason as to when we receive notice of a situation, how many we receive at once, how much information we'll receive, which state or agency is involved, fees, race, regulations, etc. It's all over the board. So far nothing has seemed perfectly right for our family, nothing has set off clear bells in our head of "this is your child, pay attention!"

And yet...

Some do "speak" to me.

Oddly enough, while we're open to race and gender, and while we know we could easily love any child we're placed with, some part of me feels we're going to end up with a baby girl. In fact, strongly feels that. Not strongly enough to limit our search to only identified female situations, but strongly enough that I can admit when I see a situation for a boy I'm... well, I'm not pulled to it. But I'm pulled to just about every situation when it comes to girls.

Which of course is like just about every other adoptive parent out there...

But I've gotten a bit off track.

My problem right now is, I'm somewhat, kinda, sorta pulled towards a situation that I really, objectively, don't want to be involved in.

Right now information is scarce and we know literally nothing about the first parents and their situation. We don't know the state this baby is in, we don't know the exact care she's received, we don't know what exact requirements are going to be needed contact wise after placement, etc.

But we do know she's special needs. Twenty five week premie, hydrocephalus, on a g-tube and nebulizer, daily therapy, will need lots of follow up care. Female. 8 months old, 5 adjusted. Biracial.

And, oh, my heart is pulling...

The adoption fees are painfully low, meaning that she's likely to be scooped right up by another family, one that has the time and energy to give her all their focus. One without two high needs children, one of whom still considered an infant. One who wouldn't have to worry about little fingers pulling out tubes or big brothers playing too rough or working in daily therapy into an already packed schedule.

But even so... this is the first situation that actually feels REAL. The first time I could actually see us with this child.

And I worry about myself for this. Is it because of the low fees? Because it's a baby girl who might be easier to adopt than a healthy, full term baby girl? Because I'd be "saving" a "hard to place" child? Certainly I'm feeling some (okay, a lot of) guilt due to really wanting a girl, perhaps when it comes down to it I really don't want to ask for the most sought after sort of child but the one who really needs someone to step up.

I don't know.

What I do know is... I want to at least know what state this baby is in. If it's our state, NC, or a state we have family in... then I think we can consider it. If this baby is someplace we really couldn't drive to or where we'd need to wait a long time in state, well, I suppose that's it then. I just need to know... Because right now, there's always the possibility that this baby girl is two miles down the road from us. Or on the other side of the country. And that DOES make a difference, especially when you're talking about traveling with other children.

So I guess I'm leaving the next step up to that. Odds are high that she'd be in a state we wouldn't travel to. But if she is in, say, Florida... would it really hurt to at least request a bit more information?

Ugh, it's all so hard! So hard, so hard, so HARD!

You read this situations, these brief snippets of life, with the full knowledge that, more than likely, ONE of these situations is your child. You don't know when it will happen, oh no, because that would be too easy. You just know that you're reading a few lines in an email and you have to make the decision, based on that, whether or not you think this could be IT, think this could be your baby. And you also at the same time know full well that you're highly likely to feel that way with several of these situations before you find the right one and locate your child. It's frustrating and heartrending and just plain painful sometimes.

But it also leaves me hopeful. Because each new situation could be our new little one. And we don't really know, he or she, black or white or biracial or hispanic or asian, special needs, neurotypical, close, far, closed, semi-open, open, etc. We don't really know any of it, even if we continue to guess on it based on current preferences. It's frustrating and yet beautifully poetic at the same time. One day I'll see the words written about my child, just as I've seen them before. And I'll fall in love with those words. And we'll be matched. And we'll be placed. And we'll be in love. And perhaps we've already seen the words, and perhaps not.

We won't really know until this journey is all done and the next one starts.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Loving My Children, Differently, Equally, Completely

This blog is a semi response to a post over at Babble:

So, yeah, if you have enough time to kill I'd recommend reading it first.


It definitely gave me food for thought. With all our issues with our older son, how could I NOT relate to this woman?

She has the traumatic birth, the separation, the illness, the trouble bonding.

I have the long road to parenthood, his attachment disorder and PTSD, the language barrier, him coming in as a toddler to unprepared parents.

She has the second child with the easier bonding experience who is cuddly and sweet.

I do too.

She notices that she is rougher with her older child, less willing to give in, less preferential.

Yup, same here.

And she acknowledges and works on it, trying to quell the unfairness of it all.

Again, same here.

So yeah, this story REALLY struck me, especially when you factor in that my own family showcases a much more extreme case of bonding troubles with the oldest.

And yet... I do, honestly, love them the same.

Oh, sure, I also love them differently. With my older son I love talking to him and joking with him and laughing with him and I adore our fun moments together. With our younger son it's all about nursing and cuddling and holding and watching him learn and grow. They are different children in different stages of life and so, yeah, in a sense I do love them differently just because I have different experiences with them.

When you get down to it, to that bonding thing, yeah we bonded differently too. With Paxton it was a fight, a constant struggle to attach. I love him and I fought long and hard to earn his love in return, just as I fought long and hard with myself to fall in love with him and accept him for all that he is. If anything, our rocky start only made me love him more.

With Ambrose the total love wasn't instant. I'd worked long and hard to be able to nurse him and to prepare for him, but in his case I didn't have to fight for his love once he was home and perhaps that's where I was thrown off. Even so, I certainly loved him long before he was placed in my arms and I was in love with him within a month, which this time around I knew was totally normal.

Neither of my sons are easy children, both were definitely considered high or even special needs, and maybe that put them on equal footing in some sense. And yet adding Ambrose in was certainly much easier than adding Paxton. A high needs baby is "normal," manageable, mainstream, and much easier when you already feel comfortable and confident as a parent.

Alright, so to sum that all up, my kids are both difficult and wonderful in their own ways and I utterly adore them both.

So now the tough question:
Who would I miss less if they died?

Yeah, that one got me. Like, REALLY got me.

I do have to admit there was a time when Ambrose was a really little bean, nursing and snuggled in a sling nearly 24/7, when I might have felt the same way. In fact, I can somewhat recall thinking one day, in my sleep induced haze, that the whole world could end and everyone could be dead and if it was just Ambrose and me, well, that would be hard but I would find peace so long as I had my baby. Sleep and time remedied such thoughts, though admittedly I do still worry. And I worry more for my little guy because, well, he's little. He can eat bad things and fall off high places because he's small and impulsive and doesn't know any better. It only makes evolutionary sense that a mother would be more concerned about the welfare of her youngest and most vulnerable, especially since I logically know that Paxton will only eat food (and candy) and he understands the concepts of both gravity and fatal mistakes.

I have to say that there are times when I think that if something awful happened to one of my boys and I still had the other one, I could find some way to make peace with it so long as I still had one. I'm utterly petrified of my husband being in charge of both children in public, let alone driving them anywhere, because that's my whole *LIFE* just sitting there waiting for a drunk driver to take it all away. So long as I have one of my boys with me it's almost like a lifeline, a reassurance that everything will be okay. Crazy? Yes, totally. Unnecessary? Uh huh. Overthinking? Yup. And yet I'll admit to it. She admitted to her darkest thoughts, and I'll admit to mine.

And for the record, anything happening to either children would utterly kill me, though I would keep going for the sake of my remaining child.

So, to sum up my totally not-well-written response:

I understand her emotions. I understand depression, I understand holding bitter feelings against your child, and I understand feeling preferential to a youngest child. But I worry about someone admitting to all of this and then thinking "well, there I said it, so we're all good now right? I don't have to work on changing this, right?"

Thing is, I work my butt off to try not being preferential. I have to work hard to make sure I have equal time with my kids. And all we went through to bond with P when we could have just given up on him and let our own anger at his issues overtake us... It's hard. It's damn hard. And it's soooo easy to just love on and adore the cute, cuddly, sweet little baby sitting on your hip and soooo easy to lose your temper with the irate preschooler throwing a fit over something stupid. But even if it's easy and even if it's normal, that doesn't make it right.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Just Life...

"Dog?" I ask, pointing out the window.

Little feet scamper over, chest puffed out like he's being pulled from his naval. He half stops himself on/half bashes into the window sill as he strains to peer outside.

"Dog dog?" He whispers out in hushed anticipation. "Oof oof?"

I feel bad for a moment. I'm tricking him, just getting him away from his older brother (ie, the punching bag) for a moment to give P a small reprieve.

I start to point out the things that really are outside: Trees, car, blue sky, birds.

I hear "voom" and "boooo!" and "toot toot!" and watch as he smiles and claps. His world is so big, full of so much wonder and promise!

A second later he's turned off the tv, smacked P in the chest, and climbed onto the dining room table.


That boy is amazing.


"Mommy, look at my tooth! Look how loose it is!"

I call him over and reach in to wiggle his tooth, the same one the dentist told me would be out by Christmas.

"Wow, it's so loose it's like you could almost pull it out!"

He reaches in. He yanks it out.


He grins as I calm myself, quickly backtracking back to mommy land.

"Oh, uh, what a big boy you are! Look, you lost a tooth! Uh, great!"

He's so proud. He asks me to take a picture, and I do but I refuse to post or even look at it as his gum is bleeding profusely.

I probably should learn to watch what I say.


I rock and rock and rock. I had tried, unsuccessfully, to get him to fall asleep without me. He's not ready yet, but someday he will be. He will be.

And for now we rock together, him cuddling up into my chest, softly babbling, and me hugging him and reading off my Droid from behind his head.

Sometimes I laugh, which causes him to jolt up laughing himself. He doesn't know why I'm happy but he doesn't care. Mommy is laughing so the world is a fun place!

Sometimes he plays too much and after a few warnings I place him in his crib and leave for a minute. I take a much needed breather, often using the restroom or taking a couple bites off an apple, and I go back in. He is upset but he calms instantly in my arms, and he's asleep a moment later.

I place him in his crib and he snuggles in to the flannel sheets. I leave quietly. It may be a 20 minute nap, or it may be 2.5 hours. Either way, as silly as it is, I miss him when he's not in my arms.


He's so big now, writing his name, changing his sheets, putting away his laundry, setting the table, vacuuming, getting dressed, etc.

And yet he's still so little!

P is in a question phase, a "who what where when why why why why WHY" phase. And while it can drive me absolutely nuts, and while I find myself putting restrictions on his questions, I still love it. He's growing, but he's still so innocent!

Sometimes I think back to "baby Paxton" and everything we've dealt with and the difference is astounding!

He used to be obsessed with my upper arm and armpits. He'd sniff and kiss and lick and pinch and scratch and poke, and squeeze sooooo tight! It was... odd. But it was a comfort thing for him. And it was constant. And he hasn't done it in over a year now.

We used to not be able to leave him alone even for a minute. He would break something, somehow. Intentionally. It was nervewracking and frightening and we were so worried for his safety and our future. And now? He has about an hour to himself every morning. A couple weeks ago he wrote on his wall with Sharpie, and sometimes he makes a small mess, but in general he's a total angel and he's perfectly happy to let me and Ambrose sleep while daddy goes for his morning run. I didn't think we'd ever be able to leave him alone, at least not until puberty or beyond!

And singing! This boy didn't sing until around age 4. We were so worried there was a cognitive delay! But oh does he sing now, which is wonderful because Ambrose is quite a little singer himself and they keep each other entertained in the back seat.

He's growing. And more and more he's our friend and our buddy and somehow just about your ideal child, sweet and polite and witty and funny and intelligent and very, very loving. Everything we'd hoped for.

Oh... and a couple days ago I came downstairs to find a gift from him. He'd wanted to write me something, so he messed with the computer until he got to Google, where he knew he could write. Then he spent Lord knows how long typing up "hpemtrzda". Get it? Happy Mother's Day. He spelled it out and found all the letters on the keyboard, no prompting and no help.

So proud. So, so proud :)


Still eagerly anticipating our third, and in the meantime utterly enjoying P and A, my sweet little charmers.

(A couple hours ago as I was settling P down for nap in his bed. Totally unprompted and not posed, just a normal scene from our daily life. They love each other so much!)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Ugh! Dang twitchy uterus!!!!

So I'm having that same ole problem again, the "OMG I want to be pregnant!" problem. Maybe it's all the pregnant bellies on my friends, iunno, but it's there.

Thing is, I sort of have an internal debate going on:
Continue with adoption #3, or stop and go right to embryo adoption?

Right now the deal is that we're giving it until Ambrose's 2nd birthday in October to see if we end up adopting again. We're not signed with any particular agency and we're just sort of looking around, contacting people about situations, checking websites and forums, signed with a couple of referral services, etc. We know we don't feel done yet, but at the same time we'd rather just take it how it comes. And if it comes in the form of a baby born in Florida next week that's cool. Or if it comes in the form of a baby born next year via embryo adoption that's cool too.

It's all cool.

Except... I suck at waiting!

Just knowing that an expired homestudy means a shot at pregnancy for me almost wants to make it so already. Bring on the big tummy and birthing tubs!

And yet...

Oh, this is jumbled, so let me just break it down.

The reason we ended up with a domestic homestudy is this: When Ambrose was about 6 months old we decided that we didn't feel done and wanted to start the process for #3, BUT we were cool with it taking awhile. So we started up a third homestudy, went through the visits, did all the paperwork and references and crim checks and such, and then... the country we were going to adopt from changed it's regulations. So we took a small break then resumed the home study while working toward adopting from another country. Got things all figured out for that and then... agency informs us it looks like the country might be shutting down for adoptions. SO, we had a choice... scrap the homestudy completely, lose the money and start all over again a year later, find a third country that matched our criteria, or just change it to a domestic homestudy and try to adopt again from the US. After finding no other country that seemed like a good fit for us, we chose the third option, figuring we may as well be HS ready, "just in case" something came along.

So that's kind of where we are now.

But then the idea of embryo adoption came up. I mean, I do still hope to experience a pregnancy someday and I'm seriously doubting (as you saw in my last post) whether or not we want a really big family anymore. So if I am going to get pregnant, it should probably be with this baby or the next.

The reason we haven't switched directly over to embryo adoption is this: I'm nursing Ambrose.

He's 17 months and I hope to go until he's 2. Other than spotting, PMS symptoms, cramps and twitches, I haven't had a period in 2 years, so a natural cycle is right out. That would leave me with a drug controlled cycle, meaning I'd be taking Lupron and estrogen and progesterone and all that jazz while nursing my little guy AND being on a non-FDA approved drug to do so.

So, um...... That's really why we're putting off the possibility of embryo adoption until he's at least 2.

But, see, now there's another factor. I'm pumping for #3. And I HATE IT! WITH A PASSION!

I've always hated pumping! Hate, hate, hate it! Inconvenient, messy, painful, nerve wracking, time consuming, and just plain evil!

But it's because of pumping for nearly 7 months of my life that I'm now enjoying such a beautiful and wonderful nursing relationship with my sweet baby boy. And if I'm even half as lucky in the nursing department with the next one then, wow, that's pretty dang lucky y'know?

So, see, here's my big dilemma lately: I hate pumping. And I could just stop it, just quit pumping, and go ahead and try an embryo adoption. But that could fail and then I'll have wasted our time/money on it AND would have probably weaned Ambrose when neither of us wanted to AND I'd be giving up the opportunity to nurse another baby through adoption, or outright give up the possibility of adopting.

Or I could keep pumping with dwindling, dismal results that hurt my self confidence, waiting seemingly endlessly never knowing if I'll have a baby by the end of the week or if it might not happen at all, and not able to ignore the possibility because I do have to actively look for adoption situations. And again, this could waste time and money.

I guess it all comes down to what *feels* right, but then... either of these scenarios (domestic adoption or embryo adoption) could lead to our next child. We could get a call in a few months and have a baby home soon thereafter, and the thoughts of embryo adoption could completely wash away from my mind. Or we could try embryo adoption and it could be a success and we could end up with everything I originally wanted, the midwife and doula and waterbirth and pregnancy yoga and all that. And we really don't know, and this isn't really the sort of thing where you get to just sit back and see what happens because both of these scenarios are the sorts of things you have to *make* happen.

So on the one hand I do have to sit back and wait...

On the other hand, I have to watch my body for signs and study up on FET and all the possible drugs, and I have to check out adoption situations and stay in contact with referral services and research various situations that pop up at random times.

And I guess it's just... frustrating. Because it really felt like we had this wonderful, clear path and now I'm seeing (thanks to my twitchy, twitchy uterus) that maybe we should just go another route, one with a whole host of new possible complications and tragedies.

And I am so, so, so lost and confused and I have no idea who to ask about this or who to talk to about this, not because people don't have an opinion but because EVERYONE has an opinion and even though they all differ I somehow still don't like any of them.

So I guess that leaves just me and Nik, and Nik's cool with whatever (no, seriously, he really is). So then I guess it's just me, sitting here by myself, trying to sort through my thoughts and look for a sign as to what to do now.

And in the meantime... I'll just stick with our plan. Because the possibility of a baby coming to us by adoption is very, very real. And if it doesn't happen then, well, we'll be sad... and then we move on to trying embryo adoption at a point when I don't mind weaning the little bean.

(Also in the meantime I'll continue to doubt whether or not I should continue renting this hospital grade pump when I'm not actually increasing in supply and in fact seem to be making less....)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

That Big Family Thing...

Growing up I always wanted a big family. Like, always. I could never solidify what I wanted to do career wise when I was all grown up, and I never cared for romance. Sure, I wanted a significant other, but that wasn't essential to my future.

But the big family thing... that was a certainty.

I would have kids out the wazoo, 4-5 being a strict minimum, probably more like 8-12. I'd start young and birth them all close together, having like 12 in a 15 year range, some twins mixed in there. I filled notebooks with names and ages, imagining myself at 35 with at least 10 kids, all smiling and happy.

As I grew older and started to actually take care of others children, I pared it down some. 3-5 sounded nice. Definitely more than 2, and there was no way I was having an only child (and absolutely no way I was having 0 children!). Really, though, I still dreamed of having at least 8.

But with time and growing comes knowledge.

Kids are hard. Absolutely, completely, and totally worth it but still hard.

And outside of the work aspect there's the money-and-material-goods aspect. Kids need enough space, enough of the right kind of food, good shoes, activities, etc. Yeah we manage that pretty well. We believe in kids sharing rooms, buy most of our stuff from consignment sales (of which there are dozens in our area), and find a ton of free things to do in our wonderful city. Even so... we *want* to be able to provide things for our kids that they might not necessarily need, like good quality organic snacks and trips to the farm or zoo. Oh, and preschool.

The thing is.... part of me still wants the big family. I see big families and I honestly become jealous of the mama. So many sweet kids, helping each other out, playing together, etc. But then I think about *me* with a big family.... and I can still see it, yeah, but I can't see it in the same way...

Gone are the days that I glorified homeschooling. Still may happen, sure, but not anytime soon.

And gone are the days where I thought people lived a more peaceful life in a large family. Honestly you can feel isolated no matter the size of your family, just as you can receive tons of attention in either a large or small family.

I just... I don't idolize large families anymore.

Yeah, I see pros of course, especially when it comes to adopting to create a large family. I mean, if we want 10 kids then we may adopt a sibling group of 5 from foster care and wouldn't that just be flippin' awesome of us?

But I personally don't adopt to "save lives." I adopt to build my family, with the hopes that we are in fact adopting a child who does truly need a family... not so save his/her life but because I feel that any ethical adoption would only include a child actually in true need of a family.

So, yeah, on the one hand I'm kinda over that whole "giant family" thing.

But on the other hand I still kind of want it. I dream of adding on our third, then a fourth, then a fifth. In my daydreams I see no real end. So many possible scenarios, so many children needing homes.

And yet there will be an end. I don't feel we're at it now, but there will be someday. And I would really like to be "done" by my mid 30's, such that our 40's and 50's, and on and on, could be spent traveling and being able to just do more stuff.

I don't know. Sometimes I feel like I need to make a call *right this second!*, stop now, stop at 3, keep going, create a time limit, etc.... And I know that in the end we'll just keep going until we feel it's time to stop, and even then we could end up with another one, or not, and we really don't know what life has in store for us.

I guess lately I've just been looking back over my childhood fantasies and thinking about why I wanted a big family so badly. I have a ton of totally selfish reasons, of course:
-I was lonely as a child. Very lonely. How could a child in a big family be lonely with so many to play with?
-I like the personalities of the children I know who are growing up large families.
-I love names! Think of all the wonderful names I could give my children!
-I could have more children than anyone in my high school graduating class. That'll show 'em!
-Just like I envy other large families, there'll be people out there who envy me!
-I will be noteworthy in some sense, even if my family size is all I'm known for.
-I will never be alone. I will always be loved. Even if one or two children reject me, I'll have several more who love me.

Okay, so those.... yeah, those are the "digging deep to find the selfish reasons I wanted a big family" things. Icky, right? Hard to write, even harder to publish. But it feels somewhat cathartic to bring them out to the light.

And now for the reasons I'm still open to having a large family:
-I love children. I really do. And I can easily see myself with 6 kids, playing in the backyard, reading stories, cheering at games, helping with homework, etc.
-We don't feel done yet and we may, like most people, keep adding to our family until we reach our "limit" when it comes to resources, our until we just feel that we are done.
-I watch my boys playing with each other and loving each other and having so much fun with each other, and I can easily see another two or three kids joining the mix and also loving it.
-I don't know, even if my reasons were originally quite selfish it's still hard to get rid of the image of celebrating my 50th birthday surrounded by several teen and adult children, and possibly even very small grand children and in-laws.

I think, like with just about all things, it's a "see how it goes" sort of thing. But I'm no longer longing for the large or mega family living, no longer imagining myself as pioneer woman with a dozen kids running around. Now I'm actually enjoying just being a normal mom and a normal young woman. And if I can still be normal with 3 or 4 kids then, hey, how sweet would that be? :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Somedays I dream of stopping...

... I look at the life we have now, two happy sons, a cozy home, long restful naps, deep sleep at night, small cars, one parent per child...

And I think, "Why don't we just stop here? Just scrap the adoption? Just settle down and be happy where we are?"

And for a moment a feeling of peace comes over me.

More attention for each son, more money, trips abroad, knowing we could put them both through college, having kids out of the house in our mid-40s.

And then....

I remember.

A tiny, limp body laying trusting in my arms.

Teensy toes protruding from a sleep sack.

Careful cleaning of the cord site.

Teensy diapers, small socks, a warm small body snuggled up tight in a sling.

And love. And love. And more love.

Watching Paxton hold a baby, watching the love completely take him over as he focuses his whole being on the new little person in his arms.

Watching Ambrose show me how to properly love on a baby with one of his dog toys, squishing it into his neck and crying out "baby baby!" as he patted its back.

And realizing that as convenient as it would be to just stop at two, to just enjoy a life with two wild and crazy boys... there's someone missing.

Someone we haven't met yet.

Someone we anticipate.

Someone we love.

And it could be days or weeks or months or years, or it honestly could never happen as much as we feel it will.

I don't know...

Some part of me still screams "too soon, too soon, your toddler is still just a baby himself!" But the other part says "just wait, the next one is coming and when it happens you won't regret it."

Breath in. Breath out.

Just have to be patient and trust that everything really will work out as it should, even if it doesn't always seem like it.

(now the big question is... if/when we have our 3rd, will we really be "done" then? I mean, we can fit 3 in a sedan, and a boy in one big room and a girl in the small nursery would be just flippin' perfect, so maybe....)

Monday, March 7, 2011


Wow, this is apparently my 200th post... at this blog anyway. There was that LiveJournal I kept for, oh, about seven years... and that other blog I started... and FaceBook can be a little bloggish...

But, yeah, wow, 200? Wow. When the heck do I find the time?


I've been reading up a bit on desperation when it comes to wanting a child. Some blogs mentioned it and it got me thinking...

For the first time since we started trying to build our family, I'm NOT desperate for a child.

Oh, I WANT another child. We're waiting and ready for another child. I'm pumping for this next child, picking up clothes for him or her, discussing names, scouring adoption situations online, praying and hoping, etc. In short, I crave this child.

But I'm not desperate.

If this never happens, if it was all a big failure, then guess what? We'll still be a happy little family with two wonderful little boys living a cozy life. Not bad. American dream kinda stuff.

I'm happy not to be desperate, happy that my every waking thought isn't about our next child (just, you know, many of my waking thoughts).

Because I've been there. OH, have I been there...

So young and hopeful and ready for the double lines, ready for the bulging belly, ready for heartbeats and ultrasounds and prenatal pills....

And then suddenly desperate, clinging to any hope, any twinge. Could this be it? This twinge? This wave of nausea? Could it finally be happening?

After that didn't pan out, we entered the crazy world of AdoptionLand.

Turned down here, rejected there, scoffed at, belittled, lied to...

Desperate. Desperate and waiting and hoping and praying that maybe someday, maybe someday, it would work and we could bring our child home. And the world around us moves and grows and through it all we stand still, just waiting to finally begin the story of the rest of our lives.

Desperate. Sad. Angry. Depressed. Pleading.

And it finally happens and, wow, it was rough. Very rough. Not really what we expected at all.

Then the next adoption comes and the wait goes on and on, and I'm pumping and storing and donating all for a baby who might never be, a tiny body I met never hold. This time we're being judged, our pictures and story are out there and we ourselves are being rejected. Over and over again, we fall in love with a story of a baby needing a home and over and over again someone else is chosen.

And we become desperate again. Why won't they just choose us? We'd be so great! Really we would! Why can't it be us? Why? Why?

And then it happens, one gorgeous fall morning, I get a phone call I'll remember for the rest of my life. I get chills even thinking about it.

Less than a month later and he is placed in my eager arms.

It felt like the world was at peace that day.

Our healing as a family really started with our second child. He brought peace, calmness, trust, love, and he bonded us all together in a way we worried would never happen.

And now?

Now we wait, for a third blessing.

But now... we're coming from a place of healing. A place of peace.

Our sons, sons!, laugh and play together, wrestling and drawing and doing silly little things. They sing songs to make us laugh and tell each other nonsensical jokes. Our home is no longer quiet, and it's no longer chaotic. It's fun. It's wild and crazy fun. It's restful nights and fun filled days.

And while a part of me would LOVE to be desperate, would love to "give" that desperation to a child, most of me isn't worried. Because no matter what, if and when it should happen I will desperately love this child in the same way. And I will parent with confidence knowing full well that I am, in fact, a pretty good mother who really can offer a child all she promises.

And besides... it's very, very hard to become THAT desperate when you're living with two precious dreams made reality :)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Is it luck?

Or do we make our own fate?

Why do some get what they want and need, while others spend their lives trying to attain the same things? Why do people starve while others throw away food? Why are there the fortunate and the unfortunate, in all things, when an objective mind sees that we could try to even most things out?

I've been thinking about this a lot in a broad sense -- why are people in Ethiopia starving even as I send a huge batch of compost to the heap every few nights? -- as well as a more focused sense. I've been pondering this in terms of family building. Who is lucky, or unlucky, in fertility and adoption, and why?

I'd like to believe that the reason we are happily raising two wonderful sons is because of us, and because of the choices we made. We could have pursued fertility treatments and we might still be TTC five years in. Wouldn't that be horrible? And yet... we could have pursued fertility treatments and we might have 3 much loved children right now thanks to that. Or we might have had both our adoptions fall through. Or perhaps our older child could have come to us with such immense special needs that we didn't feel comfortable bringing in a second child.

And how much of this could we really have controlled? Sure we "made our own fate" when we chose adoption, and chose the country and agency and program and criteria.... but even then, fate is fate and if this was fated to be our story then we were just doing our parts to get there, not changing the course of an otherwise unhappy life.

I follow blogs. Lots and lots and lots of blogs. Oh, sure, I have my faves that I actually have bookmarked and check daily (at least!), and if you're reading this and have a blog then yeah you're probably on that list :) But I also check out those blogs links and blogs referenced in articles, and sometimes I outright Google the type of blog I'm looking for.

And I *love* family building blogs! Babies! Kids! Adoption! Fertility! Someone, somewhere, getting double lines! Oooo, so fun!

But, sometimes not fun too...

Right now there are two blogs on my bookmark list that I added around the same time, probably an ICLW from Stirrup Queen. They're right beside each other on my list so as I go down my list, or up if I'm feeling wild, I always see one right after the other.

Both feature an infertile married couple. One adopted a child and is attempting a second through donor embryos. Another is still childless and was just accepted into an experimental IVF program, paying for her IVF cycle. They're procedures were within weeks of each other, and for both I was hoping and praying and clicking and reloading just to see of there was any news.

And there is.

The first is now pregnant. The second is not.

And I can't help but wonder... why?

What makes the first couple (the one with the child already) lucky enough to become pregnant, and yet the childless couple remains childless? And how easily could it have been the other way around? How easily could Blog A be upset about a missed possibility, while Blog B was celebrating a new phase in life?

And how easily could either of these scenarios been me?

I see this in adoption blogs too. Similar circumstances, people waiting at the same time for similar children, and then a country outright closes adoptions halting one family's adoption dream while the other brings their child home a month later. One family still mourns, another celebrates their beloved child. And how easily could the tables have turned? How easily could the one celebrating be the one mourning?

I suppose what I could take away from all this is that everyone, ever person and every family, has an individual story. It's not that there's a big overarching story that encompasses them all, not totally, but that each family has their own story, their own journey, their own timeline. We're loving ours but there was a time we were hating it, just as others are currently hating the hand they've been dealt.

As I ponder this more, I still also hope. I hope for the family with a child trapped overseas, and for the child promised a family. I hope for the married couple waiting and waiting and waiting for that next part of their life to come, waiting for the beginning. I hope that no matter what may come that they too find peace and happiness in their journey and embrace their story.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

... One Step Back...

Two steps forward, one step back, two steps forward, one step back. Frustrating, but it gets you there eventually right?

First, a quick Ambrose update. Ooooh, is he a toddler! Running, starting to jump climbing everything in sight! I find him on the dinning room table frequently, reaching for the chandelier. He puts his shoes in the closet and his clothes in the hamper, tells us exactly what he wants to eat, kisses and hugs, and he just learned how to blow so now he's pointing to food, going "hot hot!" and blowing before opening his mouth for a bite :) Still no real progress in getting him to fall asleep on his own. Tomorrow a babysitter is putting him to sleep so we can go out. Fingers crossed for her :)


And onto the point of this post.

Two steps forward, one step back.

For a long while we've been in the "two steps forward" phase. A good, lovely, delightful long while.

And now we're back into "one step back".

Admittedly, P is actually holding himself together pretty well. He has a little brother who is suddenly a raging, running, hitting, talking, adorable toddler. He has another baby sibling on the way sometime, no clue when. He has his carseat moved around and is now in easy striking distance of a bored little brother. He is entering kindergarten in the Fall and knows it. We've been cleaning the house and moving things around. And to top it off I've been trying new techniques with him to make things work.

A lot of change for a little boy who has already been through too much change in his life.

So now we're back to a "bad place." A place where he tries and tries and tries his best to get only negative attention. He writes on walls in Sharpie, he wakes us up in the morning, he pinches his brother, he hits, kicks and head butts me, he screams, he pours sand down the back of his friend's shirts, he does everything he can to ignore you and/or push your buttons when you're trying to speak with him, etc.

The thing is... this isn't 24/7. The "bad place" USED to be 24/7. And the fact that it's not is a huge step forward. In fact, it comprises far less than half of his wake time, and when he's not in a bad place he's willing to talk about it and help us brainstorm how to get him out of it.

The biggest issue right now is leaving the gym nursery. He's only there for an hour or so once or twice a week. And he always, ALWAYS, throws a tantrum. Down on the floor, refusing to move, trying to break their Wii remote, screaming at me, hitting, pulling my clothes, etc. Other kids actually come over to him to tell him how poorly he's behaving. To say it's embarrassing is an understatement....

Last night my husband pointed out that this isn't new behavior, that this is exactly the way he acts whenever we let him play computer games at He can handle Yahoo Games, but you log him into and you're just asking for a fight. Same thing can happen with having the tv suddenly turned off without warning. And at the Y he's usually playing Mario Kart on the Wii and even though I'll let him play for an extra 5 minutes he still freaks out like I'm killing him. I typically have to just grab his arm and yank him to the car with Ambrose on my hip and 2-3 bags perched precariously on my shoulder. Then he kicks my seat and screams at me the whole way home, then he screams at me for another half hour, often from his room where he's in time out, until Nik comes home.

So yeah, this is a pretty bad habit, and the sad thing is this whole thing -- the kicking and hitting, the tantrum, the mean words, etc. -- is a habit. A rut. He started doing it one day and now he literally has no idea how to leave the gym nursery without doing it. And honestly I'm unwilling to stop going to my afternoon classes based entirely on the behavior of a child who should know better.

So we're trying something new today: No Mario Kart. At all. And he knows it, and he's not pleased with me about it.

But he also understands.

One of the hard things about having a five year old is that he should know better. He's five. He's about to start real school. He's not a toddler. He's big and strong and he knows that he should not behave like this.

One of the most awesome things about having a five year old is that you can take a cool-down walk around the block together and talk about his behavior, about how you feel and how he feels, ask what he would do in your situation, and forgive each other.

And as frustrating as this is, and as irritating and embarrassing as it is, it's also a learning experience for both of us. He's old enough to explore his actions and in some ways it's actually fun (if not enlightening) to help him do so.

Some days are hard. Some days I'm just so tired and just want him to be like every other kid (you know, the perfect dream child that doesn't exist?). But on those days I look back to where we were a year ago, or two years ago, and wow, the difference.

You know he hasn't had a rage in a year? None of this "holding him down while he freaks out and shrieks and flails for an hour or two" business.

And when he hits it's so light. He honestly does not want to hurt me, he just wants me to react.

And even though he can be a butt to his brother... he doesn't actually hurt him. A light pinch here, a floppy little slap on the chest there (with only fingertips making contact), a push that sends the baby onto his bottom, etc. He knows, even in his darkest hour, that he cannot hurt his little brother and even when he's lost control he still reigns himself in for him.

He's growing. He's maturing. He's learning to control himself when he's totally out of control.

And when it's done, when the rage is over, he is so, so sorry. He writes his apologies accompanied by pictures of us smiling and happy together. He picks me flowers. He hugs endlessly. And he kisses and cuddles and loves.

So yeah, one step back sucks. It really sucks.

But we're still moving foward, and if we've come this far since last year where will we be next year?


That being said, please wish us luck at the gym today. I'm going to try a new tactic that he and I have agreed on together and we'll see if it works to make the transition from gym nursery to car to home smooth enough that we're still friends by dinnertime.


We talked about our gym itinerary and restrictions yesterday, hammering out terms and agreeing to them. We spoke about it this morning, and again this afternoon on the way to the gym. We even role played a bit before the nursery opened. He told me he was nervous that he'd mess up, that he'd break his promise and play Mario Kart and be angry and kick and hit. He was very, very worried about this.

But he still did an awesome job :)

They told me he was very grumpy and unhappy with them, but he wasn't mean and they didn't have to come get me. And we didn't experience any violence or anger, just a general grumpiness. I can totally handle grumps!

I loaded on the praise in the car, possibly overdoing it but I honestly feel that he should receive just as much, if not more, attention for doing the right thing as doing the wrong thing. And to see his face light up as I told him again and again how proud I was... :)

Technically this means that he has "earned back" Mario Kart for the next time we go. We'll have to discuss and role play a bit for that too, but fingers crossed it's a success. As is, I'm just so happy right now that we tried something and it worked, and he's ecstatic that he gets to watch TV instead of being sent right to his room like normal.

Ooo, Nik's home! Early! Happy day!