Friday, March 31, 2006

Emma and Allison

Out of boredom, curiosity and because I’m counting down the minutes before my vacation begins, I googled “Emma and Allison.” I was somewhat shocked to find seven pages worth of links. Many, many couples have two daughters named Emma and Allison – with Emma being the older daughter. How crazy is that? I enjoyed looking at the pictures of the “other” Emmas and Allisons. They were very different from mine, but just as happy.

It makes me wonder what processes the other parents went through to pick just those precise names. Have they always loved the name Emma since they were dating? Did their hearts pick the name Allison after their sister mentioned that she liked the name but couldn't use it because of her soon-to-be husband's ex-girlfriend? I'm sure that each story would be different. Still, unique sets of parents with unique life experiences have named their children the same names in the same birth order. It makes me wonder what else I might have in common with them.

I don’t dare googling “Danny, Jennifer, Emma and Allison.” That would be too spooky! If you're curious too, google the names of your children and let me know what you find.

Until then, have a great first week in April. I'll write a post about our "bacation" when we get back. Only 15 more minutes until I'm out of here!

The Murphy’s Law of Family Vacations

We’re getting ready to take our first family vacation outside of Michigan, Ohio, Virginia or Pennsylvania since our honeymoon. On Sunday, our family will be joining my parents and my Aunt Donna and Uncle Dave on a trip to Charleston, South Carolina and possibly Savannah, Georgia. Other than meeting up with a family friend and a hotel room, we have no specific plans. I’m pretty excited about seeing family members outside of familiar territory. What could possibly go wrong?

The girls have been pretty darn healthy since Allison’s seizure at the end of January. Since our trip is in April, I didn’t worry about them getting sick. The winter is over and beautiful spring has sprung. Well… I should have known better. Last night, I picked Allison up from day care with a temperature. It was a low grade fever so I was hoping that it was due to teething. Worse case scenario, I was hoping she had an ear infection – something quickly remedied and non-contagious.

I gave her some ibuprofen before bed hoping that it would ease her pain and fend off more fever. She did fine until 12:30. She woke up hot as a poker and felt like she was having tremors. I gave her some Tylenol, got her some water, took off her pajamas and tried to get her to back to sleep. She slept fitfully on and off the rest of the night. As soon as she had eaten some breakfast and her morning dose of ibuprofen kicked in, she was running around after Emma as if the night before ever happened. That seemed suspiciously like an ear infection to me. Sure enough, after cleaning a lot of wax out of her ears (she’s a waxy girl), the doctor said her right ear was getting hot. After asking the doctor to join us for our vacation (no such luck), I filled her antibiotic and took her to daycare thankful that this came up before we left.

Now we just have to hope that Emma keeps healthy… That’s not too much to ask, right?

Monday, March 27, 2006

A Bright Light for a Long Journey

Hopefully everyone who is on a weight loss journey with me will appreciate this "factoid" I read on a redneck's truck on my lunch break today:

Fat People Are Harder to Kidnap

I laughed off a good many calories on that one. Enjoy!

Climbing Back Up My Slippery Slope

It all started out innocently enough. I ordered broccoli with garlic sauce from a new Chinese place. I have been trying to be VERY good about not eating meat on Fridays. For the past few years I’ve not been so diligent. When I got back to work to eat my lunch, what I actually got was beef with garlic sauce. I was starving and ate it anyway. I’m hoping that I’ll be forgiven. After that, I didn’t drink any extra water at all. In fact, I didn’t even get in my minimum requirement that day. I had no idea that this would lead to a big fall. On Saturday I did okay. I only drank my minimum requirement of water though. I have been drinking a gallon a day. On Sunday I learned that little slips often lead to big slides.

Our weekend was stressful. We were cooped up in the house because of the weather and we were all feeling it. Saturday I had gone back to work to get the rest of that Chinese meal (I tend to forget to bring things home) because I needed to get out of the house and I didn’t want the food to go to waste. Danny would eat it for supper Saturday night. Well, it was too spicy for him and there was quite a bit still left. It was calling to me all Sunday morning. At 11 I could wait no longer. I ate the rest of what was left. It had to have been 12 or more points. That wouldn’t have been bad, but we were meeting Danny’s parents for dinner that night. I wasn’t too concerned because I still have 18 flex points left. Still, I didn’t plan and that was my big mistake. I ate my 11 ounce steak, a baked potato with butter and sour cream and plenty of the fried fish and French fries that Danny’s parents offered me. I didn’t enjoy a bite. Still, with Allison acting up, I was on edge. When I got back home, I ate two three point granola bars and two pudding cups. Again, I didn’t enjoy a bite. I haven’t eaten due to stress in a long time. In fact, that was the first time in almost six weeks that I have. I’ve decided to still be proud of that. Just because I’ve had one bad eating day doesn’t mean that I have to continue on that way. I vowed to not worry about it and start over.

My subconscious must have picked up on my weekend. I had a dream that put me in an Amazing Race type of situation. I had to climb this muddy, slippery 60 foot incline. I never thought I would be able to do it. I worked at it and made it to the top. I was so happy with myself for doing something that I didn’t think that I could do. Later on in that dream I had to help another person up that same incline (incidentally, this person was the father from the show on TLC about little people – I’ve seen that show once – what’s up with that?). I showed him where I slipped up the first time. He and I got to the top faster than I did the first time. I can climb those slippery slopes after I fall down them. I’ll be stronger for it in the end. I’ll also be able to help someone else along the way.

When Toddlers Turn - Part 2

Allison was quite the mischief maker over the weekend. It could have been spring fever, too. I thought you’d enjoy going along for the ride:

1) Saturday morning Danny called his parents. Allison was sitting on the couch with him at the time. As soon as he hung up, Allison started chanting “Phone! Phone! Phone!” She’s very familiar with phones and calls them by name. Danny handed her the phone and she started playing with it. She pushes number buttons and sometimes hits the call button as well. She calls numbers twice and then Danny took the phone from her and put it up. Not a minute later, the phone rings. It’s a call from the county. I pick up and the man on the other end asked if anyone had called 911. I was mortified. I explained that my 17 month old had been playing with the phone. He clarified that no one needed the fire department or police to stop by. I told him no, unless they can do something about an unruly toddler. He laughed. I was still mortified.

2) Next I gave Allison a bath. She was playing nicely in the tub with her squirt gun. I noticed something behind her that at first looked like a washcloth. I thought I had hung the washcloth up. I turned around and, sure enough, I had. I stood up to get a closer look at what was in the tub. Without giving me the normal indication that she was pooping, Allison had pooped in the tub. Perhaps there is something to that water birth theory. Normally pooping is a minor to major production to her.

3) Yesterday we had to get out of the house. Spring fever was upon all of us. We were planning on eating out with Granny and PawPaw. First we went to Sam’s Club. They have the type of carts that allow two children to sit strapped in to seats. That’s where Emma and Allison were. Toward the end of our shopping excursion, Allison reached over and pulled a chunk of Emma’s hair out. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw how much she actually got! Poor Emma! She didn’t scream or cry. I think she was in shock or was more interested to see what happened to Ally. Usually Allison laughs when I try to discipline her. This time she wouldn’t even look me in the eye. She could tell that she had crossed a line with me. This did not bode well for our dinner out.

4) Allison is not ready for sit down restaurants. We hadn’t been there for more than 15 minutes when she was tired of the Teddy Grams and was tired of the crayons. She started in on chanting, “Up! Up! Up!” We tried walking her around and letting her play in the entrance to work out her energy. We didn’t have a sippy for her and we knew that she was not going to sit and eat any food when it arrived. Danny ended up taking her Toys R Us to get a sippy. He didn’t get back until after we’d finished eating. She wasn’t very cooperative at the store, either. She is a typical toddler who would rather do anything than sit still.

I love toddlers. They are a lot of fun and a challenge. If you feel that you could use a challenge some weekend, give us a call. It would be very difficult for us to part with her. Still... I wouldn’t want to hog her all to myself… ;)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

100 Things About Me - Part 2

51. The night we found out that E selected us to be Emma’s parents, I had two wishes/worries: 1) I cried and wished that my Grandma Dodde could have been alive to see my children and 2) Were there adequate “fat” pictures of me in the adoption book. I didn’t want E to change her mind because I was too fat.
52. E’s mom hugged me tight after our first meeting and whispered in my ear, “This feels so right.” I could have stayed in her hug forever.
53. Although our total official “wait” for Emma was only 9 months, there was a time the summer before she was born that I had a really bad day and didn’t even know it. I was driving to church to work on the bulletin so it must have been a Saturday. I was playing the latest U2 CD (All That You Can’t Leave Behind). “Beautiful Day” came on and it was indeed a beautiful day outside. I was resentful that I had to spend it working on the bulletin. My mini break down happened at the end of the song. The lyrics “What you don't have you don't need it now / What you don't know you can feel it somehow / What you don't have you don't need it now / Don't need it now / Was a beautiful day” felt like a slap across the face. I beat my hands on the steering wheel and cried. I pulled over because I couldn’t drive. I yelled “But I want to be a mom!” out my window to the entire world. After I composed myself I felt better. In the end, that message was true and was something that I needed to hear. If I had been a mom that very minute I wouldn’t have my Emma today. She was busy growing and getting strong in E’s tummy at that very minute.
54. Although I probably should have, I never once worried that Emma’s birthparents would change their minds.
55. I hate pregnancy tests. Even though there was reason to believe that I might be pregnant, I still got the same sick feeling in my stomach when I took Allison’s test.
56. When I saw the pregnant line appear before the test line I had a Murphy’s Law moment. Ever since Emma joined our family I joked around about how I slept through my labor. I pretty much figured that I wouldn’t be sleeping through this one.
57. The first time I felt Allison move inside it felt like little bubbles popping in my tummy.
58. Danny made an “Allison B Born” CD for me for her birthday. I asked him to put The Joshua Tree and Automatic for the People on there since those albums have a calming effect on me. He had the CD on random during my labor. Around the time my contractions got hard enough that I couldn’t move during them, “Everybody Hurts” came on. I didn’t recognize it until a contraction hit. It took all of my strength at the time to say to Danny “I can’t listen to this song right now!” He quickly ran over and changed the song. I’ve always liked that song, but at the time I didn’t need a suddenly condescending Michael Stipe tell me to “hold on”. Who does he think he is, anyway?
59. After I got into the delivery room the anesthesiologist strapped my left hand down and joked that they did that so that we “wouldn’t goose the doctor during surgery.” I can’t remember if I said this or just thought this, but my reaction was, “It’s that kind of thing that got me here in the first place.”
60. I will never forget how handsome Danny looked in his scrubs when he walked in the OR.
61. Contrary to my Murphy’s Law moment (see #57), I almost did sleep through Allison’s birth. Since one hand was strapped down and I was too exhausted to move the other, I couldn’t slap myself to keep from falling asleep. When Danny got there I asked him to make sure that I didn’t fall asleep.
62. A few days before my wedding they started calling for rain on my wedding day. When I started to complain about it my dad said, “What the hell did you plan an October wedding for?” His kind words aside, it was then that I decided to let go. Whatever happened, I had little control over it. In the end, it was a perfect day all around.
63. Going to Wendy’s with the wedding party before the reception was the most fun part of the entire day.
64. My honeymoon was the best vacation I’ve ever taken.
65. I loved the sleep-overs at my house with Sarah. We would swim in the pool until we got cold. Then we’d watch the movies we rented while eating our double stuffed Oreos with mint chocolate chip ice cream.
66. The first time I realized that I wasn’t a kid anymore was when I was sitting with a friend on the hood of her car on a warm summer evening. It felt like the feeling you get in your stomach when it occurs to you – as if for the first time – that you are going to die. The sun was going down when she told me that she had had an abortion.
67. The morning after my dad came back from Ludington after telling Grandma and Grandpa that Uncle Randy had killed himself, I drove my dad into Cutlerville so that he could order flowers for the funeral. The florist asked him what he wanted. Dad said, “I don’t know. I’ve never had a brother die before.” For a while I hated Uncle Randy for making Dad feel that way. Now I’m just thankful that I was mature enough to offer to drive him there after such a long night. I’m glad that he didn’t have to do that by himself.
68. I am planning on taking each of my girls on a Mother/Daughter vacation after they graduate from high school. I plan on letting them pick the destination (within reason). I wonder where we’ll be going. I’m looking forward to meeting those traveling companions.
69. The night Ally had her seizure I found out that when my children are in trouble that I can keep my head straight as long as I need to – but not a moment longer.
70. I think of Mark and Trista every single time I hear or see an ambulance – with the lone exception of when I was riding in one after Allison’s seizure.
71. I often wonder if Trista, Mark and I would have gotten some extra spending cash if we’d only continued videotaping me on the swing set when I got the brilliant idea to jump off my swing.
72. I love finding the perfect gift for people.
73. I love Allison’s “I’m going to pee my pants” laugh. I think that she gets that from me.
74. I could tickle my kids all day and not get tired of their laughter.
75. Laughter is my favorite thing. The picture of the laughing Christ is my favorite picture of Him. I hope to see Him laugh someday.
76. I love how my mom sort of cackles when she gets good news. She cackled when I told her about Allison’s pregnancy test.
77. I enjoy listening to people talk about their passions. Even if I have no personal interest in what they are saying, such enthusiasm is always contagious.
78. Gone With the Wind is my favorite book and movie. I hope that Emma and Allison grow up with all the spunk and charisma of Scarlett O’Hara and all the patience and tenderness of Melanie Wilkes.
79. Once, while driving around the Studio 28 area, Andy Fleser caught me singing on key to an R.E.M. song. I stopped singing on key the second he pointed it out. To my knowledge, I’ve never sung on key again.
80. Emma doesn’t like to hear me sing.
81. I will never forget Grandma Dodde saying, “If there is reincarnation, I hope that I come back with a singing voice.”
82. I won an award from my Dale Carnegie class for my “singing.” I’m sure that Grandma Dodde is proud.
83. I am a sad drunk. You can tell I’ve had too much when the tears start to flow.
84. The only person I’ve ever slapped across the face is Amy, one of my college roommates. We were playing cards and drinking. I was upset about the whole Keith situation. After I started bawling like a baby (see #83), Amy and Mary took me into the bathroom to calm me down. At one point Amy said, “I love you.” I slapped her across the face as hard as I could. I spent that night in Mary’s dorm room. Thankfully Amy did forgive me.
85. Saying something emotional always makes me cry. I get that from my dad.
86. I have never been successful giving up Diet Coke for Lent.
87. My first memory of my Great Grandpa Vollmer was at a party for him where everyone was calling him “The Big Cheese.”
88. My first memory of my Grandma Currie is of playing the game Don’t Spill the Beans on my birthday.
89. My first memory of my Grandpa Currie was sitting in his chair after eating with a toothpick in his mouth.
90. My first memory of my Grandma and Grandpa Dodde is going to their trailer on Christmas Eve.
91. My first memory of my mother is actually of her hands (see #22).
92. My first memory of my father is the smell of his aftershave while we were driving in the mustang.
93. My first memory of Rob is cutting his hair with scissors.
94. My first memory of Donielle is of her stumbling along the beach wearing Aunt Mary’s flip flops.
95. My first memory of Meridith was her screaming at the top of her lungs in the hospital the first time I touched her. I still thought she was the most beautiful baby I’d ever seen.
96. My first memory of LeeAnn was actually about me. I was embarrassed that my mom was pregnant because my friends knew that my parents had sex (no one else’s parents were having babies, so they must not have been having sex). The day that LeeAnn was born the school secretary made a nice banner on construction paper saying that I was a big sister. When she brought it to me, I wanted to crawl under my desk. My friends were so excited (and jealous) that they ran up and down Byron Center Middle School with that banner letting everyone know.
97. The first music video I ever saw was “Rapture” by Blondie.
98. Aunt Marcia took me to my first concert.
99. The last record album I bought was Pyromania by Def Leopard.
100. I wish I could play the banjo.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

100 Things About Me - Part 1

Trista started this last week and I'm finally able to follow suit. Here are the first 50 things about me:

1. Tuesday I considered applying for a job at my girls’ daycare. When that seems appealing, it’s a sure sign that I need to find a new job.
2. I don’t like parenting newborns. They smell wonderful and are the most miraculous things in all creation, but they strike terror and panic in my heart. If I could give birth to a six month old, I would consider having another child.
3. Emma can raise my spirits higher and faster than anyone else in this world. She can also find my last nerve quicker and with more stealth than anyone else in this world.
4. I love the fact that Allison has very little hair. Her head is so soft to snuggle my cheek up against. I’m so happy that she’s a cuddle bug.
5. I wish that I could look at everything as logically as Danny does. It would make my decision making process much less traumatic.
6. My favorite part of my body is my eyes. I’ve always loved their color.
7. Being a radio DJ was the first career I ever remember wanting to have. I found out about that job on the Bozo show. It had a segment on DJs one morning. I did get to play DJ on my 21st birthday. That was fun.
8. Archeologist was my next career choice. I still have some sort of artifact that I found on a dig during 8th Grad Camp. My teacher told me that I didn’t win an award for that class during camp because I kept moving around from area to area. I probably don’t have the patience and stamina for archeology. I can see myself leaving many great finds just an inch under ground because I got bored.
9. I started off college to be a special education teacher. I quit after the first class because it was “too political” with labeling issues, etc. I then moved on to a political science major. Go figure.
10. I care far too much what other people think. I wish that I trusted in myself more. My political science major was over the second a new advisor mentioned helping me apply for food stamps.
11. My biggest regret in life is switching schools during college to be closer to a man.
12. I often wonder where I’d be today if I had graduated from Central Michigan University instead of Grand Valley State University.
13. I have a very distinct memory of standing with my dad by the wall of pictures my mother put together of my life for my graduation party. He said, “See these pictures? They are the blink of an eye.” I thought that was kind of corny at the time. I’m fighting back tears in my eyes just writing about it.
14. Food has been my downfall from a very early age. In the fifth grade I broke my arm after stealing a cookie out of the cookie jar (with the intent of sneaking downstairs to eat it). On the way down, I tripped on my socks and fell down most of them. I kept waiting for my Mom to yell at me when she found the cookie parts afterwards.
15. I’m not really sure that I enjoy being a technical writer.
16. I picked the Book of Ezekiel to read for my confirmation process to impress Father Mike. I only read a little bit of it and, to my knowledge, he didn’t figure that out. The entire thing seemed like a formality.
17. I was disappointed to not feel the Holy Spirit on my Confirmation Day.
18. I am jealous of devout people. I’m too lazy.
19. I am an adoptive mother and a birthmother. Both experiences at motherhood are the greatest gifts of my life. I worry sometimes about messing my kids up because they each came into the family in different ways.
20. Sometimes I watch fictional things on television and they haunt me so much I can’t sleep for up to a week. In one show a drug gang killed its enemies by tying them up, putting a tire around their waist, filling the tire with gasoline and then tossing a match at them. I had flashes of people coming into my house and doing that to me for a long time. I couldn’t finish this most recent Cold Case Sunday night. A man told his victims that they were going to die that night to watch them go through the stages of accepting death. He then buried them alive. It makes my throat tighten to even think about it. I won’t even mention The Silence of the Lambs. This is why I don’t watch horror films. This is why I shouldn’t watch police dramas and procedurals.
21. The theme music to Unsolved Mysteries makes my skin crawl. If it’s dark outside I easily become convinced that someone’s in my house. I still watch that show.
22. I remember being fascinated by my mom’s engagement ring as a little girl. I liked to look at it in the light. I admired it every time I sat on her lap. I memorized her hands, too. I believe that I would recognize them anywhere.
23. If I could earn a living through needlework and cross stitch I would be in seventh heaven.
24. I wrote my first short story in the second grade. It was about a lazy dog that almost got left behind when his family moved. My mom typed it up for me – spelling errors and all – and my second grade teacher let me read it to the class. I was very proud.
25. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I don’t have enough discipline. I will regret that in the end.
26. With very few exceptions, my short stories are very dark. Someone is murdered or maliciously wounded. My favorite was the story where I chopped up John Kaznowski and sold his forearms as skinnned, whole catfish.
27. If my writing was ever made into a movie I would be unable to watch it (see number 20). Go figure.
28. I cannot figure out poetry most of the time. I read Danny’s lyrics and often think it’s about me. I’m never right.
29. The only time I have ever felt like I “got” poetry was the night I took Donielle to see Allen Ginsberg at Fountain Street Church. I thought that whole evening was incredible, if not perverse.
30. I still laugh every time I think about going to see Equus with Trista. Neither of us knew what we’d gotten ourselves in to.
31. When I was a kid I wondered a lot if my parents or grandparents would find out about or be able to see the bad things I did after they died. That thought freaked me out - but didn't stop me from doing those very same things.
32. My conception of death is standing near a cliff. Your grandparents are closest to the edge, then your parents and then you. Your parents and grandparents keep you from falling over the edge. Eventually you keep your own children from falling over the edge.
33. I once stole a Marathon bar from Family Fare. I ate it in the aisle while my dad was shopping elsewhere. I can’t remember what I did with the wrapper. That night, we had Deacon Chuck over for dinner. I was miserable the entire time. It was what I confessed during my first Reconciliation.
34. I hated drinking milk when we stayed at the Skinner’s house when mom and dad were on a Marriage Encounter weekends. It may have been made from powdered milk. I’m not sure. Anyway, they froze it and there would be tiny pieces of ice floating in my glass. I felt like gagging every time I tasted one of those pieces of ice.
35. One of my favorite memories with my dad was on the day that I hit my first and only home run. The ice cream cone I had afterwards was the best I’ve ever had. It was fun having him as a coach.
36. I can still remember the way that Danny smelled at the pot smoke filled R.E.M. concert in Greensboro. It is my favorite smell in the whole world. When I found a Yankee Candle that came close to that smell, I bought it.
37. I can only handle so many seasons of any one reality television show. Survivor does not appeal to me any more. I think that this is my last season of The Amazing Race.
38. I think that reality television is best watched with someone else – and that person has to have a sense of humor. I used to love going to Andy’s house and watch The Real World. We would laugh until we cried about the antics going on in those houses. Danny and I really had fun watching our second season of The Amazing Race. We taped it so that we could rewind parts and watch them over and over again. We still laugh anytime one of us says, “I’m packin’it!”
39. The Shield is the best television series I’ve ever watched.
40. Bob Barker was one of the first men I recognized other than my father.
41. Air Supply was my first favorite band. I think that Grandma Dodde got me their album for my birthday. I played it on the huge record player my parents had in their living room. While listening to it with my dad for the first time, I read the lyrics ahead of the song. One song had the lyric "All last night we laid in bed making love." I was so embarrassed when I read that and couldn't listen to it in front of my dad. When it got to that song, I turned the volume down really, really low and pressed my ears against the speakers. He asked me why I did that. I said, "To see what headphones sound like." I never listened to that record around my parents ever again.
42. Bono is the only rock star I’ve ever had a major – have pictures of him everywhere – crush on who is heterosexual. George Michael and Michael Stipe are homosexual. Brandon Flowers is bi-sexual. No one knows what Michael Jackson is…
43. On my 15th birthday I dressed up in a skirt for school. Mrs. Vesbit, my Spanish teacher, asked me to stand up and had the entire class sing “Feliz Cumpleanos”. As I sat down, Jason Seamon made loud creaking noises (as if my chair was breaking) and the people sitting behind me laughed. I wanted to crawl under my desk and die.
44. I never watched Star Trek until I moved to Roanoke.
45. Patrick Stewart is the only “older man” I’ve ever found sexually attractive.
46. I think that life would be much less fun without Trekkies in it.
47. I enjoy participating in Weight Watcher meetings – even when they are lame.
48. One of my most prized possessions is the journal my mom kept during my first year of life.
49. In junior high I checked a Jackie Collins book out of the library and said that it was for my mother. I was too scared of getting caught by my mother to read it.
50. I compulsively clean when I’m upset or worried.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Where'd My Baby Go?

This weekend Allison proved over and over again that she is no longer a baby:

Allison fed Fruit, our pet beta fish, for the first time this weekend. She begs to sit (“Shhhit! Shhhit! Shhhit! Shhhit!”) in the chair by his tank. She recently started to grab for the tank and/or the fish food. She got really upset when Danny took the fish food away from her on Saturday, so he took a pellet out of the container and put it in her hand. He wasn’t sure what she would do with it, but he was prepared to stop her from eating it herself. With her little pincher fingers, she picked up the pellet and dropped it into Fruit’s tank. Danny was amazed. We can’t really remember her watching any of us feed Fruit, but she must have seen us do it. I can’t believe that she is “big enough” to do that. Babies do not feed fish.

Allison started to refuse to let me put on her socks and shoes until she tries to do it herself. Babies don’t attempt to dress themselves.

Emma and Allison have frequently started to get into little tiffs over toys and other possessions. We’ve found that when push comes to shove, Allison can hold her own when things get physical. You can steal candy from a baby. You’ll get a fight out of Allison.

We watched Charlie yesterday. I bought some Easter themed crafts from the craft store to keep the kids busy. I gave Emma and Charlie their stuff first and Allison wasn’t happy about that one bit. She got especially mad when it came time to pass out the glue. I can’t prove it, but I think that she eyeballed Emma and Charlie’s glue to make sure that she didn’t get the shaft. Babies don’t worry about things being “fair.”

After the craft project lost its luster, I told the kids I would take them out to play after we cleaned up. I wasn’t intending on taking Allison outside. Not long after we put Emma down to play, she walks back into the kitchen with her jacket. She knew exactly what Emma and Charlie were about to do and she was not about to miss out on the fun. I taught Emma and Charlie how to play tag and Ally would run after them and squeal with delight at being part of the game. At one point Danny attempted to take her inside. He got no further than the garage when she screamed like fire alarm, “Side! Side!” She’s going to be an outdoors girl. Babies don’t care where they are as long as they are comfortable.

Shelia, a friend of ours, came over for a visit last night. We were all downstairs chatting and playing. Allison came up to me and said, “Eat.” I picked her up and asked her if she was hungry and she nodded her head. Shelia and I were talking and I stopped on the way upstairs to finish the conversation. Sporadically I would hear her say “Eat” but I was ignoring her. Finally, she had reached the end of her patience. She pointed toward the door leading upstairs and yelled, “GO! EAT!” That got our attention and we laughed our way upstairs. Babies cry in increasingly louder screams when they get hungry. Babies don’t point and make demands using the same tone that parents do when children won’t listen.

The cutest thing Ally did to prove that she’s not a baby any more happened in the kitchen. I was cleaning up after making Allison’s dinner and she was done and playing. She leaned back against the kitchen and crossed her arms across her chest (kind of like a rapper with a ‘tude). It was so cute and I imitated her. We all laughed and she kept doing it so that I would imitate her. Babies can play the imitation game, but they don’t run up to you laughing like a hyena and make another game out of stopping you from imitating them.

My Allison is growing in to a little girl and becoming quite the character. Oh, Baby! It’s going to be one wild ride.

Monday, March 13, 2006

“She’s My Girl”

When I dropped Emma off at daycare today, Ella, Lexie and Charlie were sitting at a table playing with play dough. They ran up to her right away. Even though these are all her friends, Emma started to get clingy to me. Ella is always excited to see Allison and played with Allison’s foot. Lexie tried to give Emma a hug, but Charlie got to her first. He grabbed Emma by the hand and said, “She’s my girl.” He then led her over to the table. Emma appeared sad that I was leaving, but she sat down next to Charlie and picked up some play dough. I let my thoughts wander to her wedding day off in the future. I would love to hear my son-in-law say those words the same way as he leads Emma off to their honeymoon. I want her life to be full of love and romance.

Now I’m going to go and cry. Emma’s wedding day isn’t so far off in the distance as I would like to think. I kind of like her being her Daddy’s girl right now.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

In the Blahs

The weather today is so gorgeous – 70’s and sunny. Who could ask for anything better than that in mid-March? Me. I want to fit back in to last summer’s clothes and there’s just no way that it happening now. I was so excited to put my crop jeans on today that I could barely wait to get out of the shower. It didn’t even occur to me that they wouldn’t fit. I’ve lost almost 11 pounds. I stepped into those jeans as happy as can be until they reached my hips and wouldn’t go much further. It wasn’t until then that I fully realized how much I’d let myself go over the last year. I’ve got at least 10 more pounds to lose just to get back into those jeans. I have another 15 to lose after that before I get back to my lowest post-pregnancy weight. I can’t believe I let myself get back to this place. I feel fat and upset. Instead of burying all that in food, I’m going to just let myself feel these feelings today. They don’t make me feel great, but they aren’t ending my world, either. I won't go to bed tonight beating myself up because I binged. I need to learn to handle those kinds of feelings just as healthfully as stress. After all, I had a similar reaction after Allison was born. I thought for certain that I could fit into my very first pair of Old Navy jeans. They were two sizes too big for me at the time that I got pregnant. They stopped in the same place on my hips. I didn’t let that get the best of me then. It drove me to get back into shape. Some of the sorrow I feel right now is because I let all the hard work I put into my body after Allison was born pretty much go to hell. Why did I use most of Allison’s napping moments to exercise and then just flush that down the toilet? I guess because I lost my sense of balance and direction. I forgot what my real priorities are. I want to be healthy to be a good example to my kids. I want to lose weight and feel good. I want to look good and I enjoy getting complimented. I don’t want to eat myself into oblivion. I want to live.

I will lose those extra 10 pounds and then I will then lose the last 15. I think that I’ve just established my next two goals! This hasn’t been all for nothing like I was telling myself this morning. I needed to learn that bad habits are never very far away. I needed to learn better ways to manage stress and uncomfortable feelings. I truly needed this time of backslide. Without it, I would have reached my goal weight and gotten all cocky. I know myself. This would have happened. For me, being skinny and cocky would lead back to being fat and miserable again. No thanks. I’m better off the way things are today – even 25 pounds in the hole.

Funny… I don’t feel so upset anymore.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Three Week Progress Report

Over the past few weeks I’ve returned to my Weight Watchers meeting for the 948,534 time since Allison was born. I have received a lot of support from friends and family. Without that I wouldn’t be able to say that as of today I have lost 10.8 pounds! I can’t tell you how proud I am of that accomplishment.

I am especially proud of has been my new ways of handling stress. There were major points of stress brewing in my life when I went back to Weight Watchers and I know that food has been my way of masking my feelings. A stressor would happen, I would eat and then, instead of dealing with the emotions involved with the initial stressor, I turn on myself with a vengeance. It’s not a pretty cycle. I knew that if I didn’t get a handle on my reactions to stress that I would just be setting myself up for failure. However many pounds down the road there would just be return number 948,535 to Weight Watchers. During that first meeting we discussed Weight Watcher’s storyboarding tool. My goal was weight loss, but the steps involved with getting there were finding other ways of handling and coping with stress. I have carried that through each week since. I have not once eaten because of stress in three weeks! Okay… a bag or two of popcorn I originally planned on eating at 3 might have been eaten sooner, but it was still a planned snack prior to the stress event. In my book, that doesn’t count. In place of eating, I’ve used music, talking with friends, walking, cross stitching and blogging to distract myself or to release steam. I feel much healthier and actually lighter because of it. It’s amazing how holding stress inside added to the heaviness I have felt about myself.

Since I am making this change and feel all the better for it, I know that I can continue this behavior down the road. My first impulse will always be to eat – and eat a lot – when major stress inducing incidences occur. But that’s all it is – an impulse. Impulses only have the power over you that you allow them. You can train yourself to turn in another direction over time with practice. I can’t promise that I’ll never again eat to alleviate stress. I can say that I will identify it for what it is, forgive myself and move on. For me, that’s coming a long way.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Power of a Name

Allison has a temper. When she doesn’t like something, she throws whatever is handy. Usually it’s her pacifier or whatever toy she’s holding on to. She doesn’t just throw those things when she’s mad. She throws things when she’s done, when she’s bored or for a game. This weekend was full of the perfect examples. We were driving to Blacksburg to meet our friends from the Adoption Group for bowling and dinner. She hadn’t napped at Granny and Papa’s like we had expected her to do. So, we expected her to fall asleep as soon as we took off. Nope. She was wide awake and she was wired. At some point she started throwing her pacifier around the van. If I didn’t act to retrieve it for her, she would say “Uh oh!” with increasing intensity. She was throwing it so hard that it hit the dashboard and my knee at one point. At dinner that night, she was throwing her sippy cup across the table. We had to take it away from her. This girl doesn’t throw like a girl, either. She throws overhand like a champ. On Sunday, during Emma’s rest period, she was playing with a ball and she would throw it right at Danny and me when we asked her to. Her aim is much better than I would anticipate a 16 month old having.

Before we knew that Allison was going to be a girl, we had the name Nolan picked out for a boy. Almost every time I would tell someone that we had selected that name for a boy, Nolan Ryan was brought up. He was the only Nolan most people had ever heard of. I know who Nolan Ryan is but I’m a little too young to remember Nolan Ryan playing baseball or to have idolized him growing up. Danny could have, but he’s never been into sports. I picked out that name after talking with one of my co-workers about her son. How interesting that the association with a name she’ll never have shed some light on Allison’s personality and may have shed some light on her talents long before she was ever born.

Hurray for Philip!

The highlight of last night's Oscars ceremony for me was watching Philip Seymour Hoffman win the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Truman Capote. I have enjoyed his acting ever since I first saw him in Happiness. I have not seen Capote yet, but I look forward to watching to that opportunity. If you haven't seen any of his films, be sure to check them out. Even if the movie itself is terrible (The Talented Mr. Ripley), you will be interested in his character.

Congratulations, Philip!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Virginia Dreaming on Such a Winter's Day

My 9th grade biology teacher always played “California Dreaming” by the Mamas and Papas at the end of class every Friday. He hated Michigan winters and was saving up to spend his retirement there. I can’t remember his name off hand, but I hope that he’s now retired and happy in California.

I have discovered that you don’t necessarily have to move all the way to California to have pleasant winter days. Virginia surprises you every so often. In January we had a series of days where the temperatures were in or near the 60s. Emma, Allison and I took a walk around the neighborhood in short sleeves. It was quite liberating to have beautiful weather in January.

If everyone else is like me, winter is getting pretty darn tiresome. So, to lighten the mood and prepare everyone for images of spring, I’m posting some pictures we took while we played outside without coats in January.

Enjoy! Spring is right around the corner!

My New Bathroom

Here are some pictures of my new bathroom.

I haven't decided if I am going to paint the chair rail purple or not. Currently it is primer white. What do you think?

Any ideas for what to do with this "box"? I guess that it covers switches or something.