Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lila's Birthday!

Whew.  These last few weeks have knocked us out!  I've got some catching up to do in the blog world. Here's what's coming in the next few days (hopefully):
1. Lila's birthday post (today!)
2. Lila's birthday party post
3. Christmas post
4. Adoption update post

And we're off!

Lila's birthday was the 16th.  The Husband took the day off so we could spend the day as a family.  We began the day by having a birthday donut for breakfast (I made her have some yogurt first so she had more than just sugar in her) at John's Space Age Donuts.  

a little snot to season the donut hole.  did I mention she had another ear infection?
Lila and Daddy
Lila and Mommy
Later that morning, we had her two-year-old pictures taken by the awesome Jenae Weinbrenner (click here for a preview).  After her nap we took her to see Santa.  If you'll remember, she was TERRIFIED of him last year.  This year she was a little more composed: 
She still looks a little nervous, clutching Lambie and Snuggle with a death grip.
But she was kind of wigged out by the three anamatronic elves that were holding gifts next to Santa, falling head-first into an upstairs window of Santa's house and wielding a hammer on the roof of the house respectively.  Now that I type that sentence, I completely understand her concern.  She kept saying, "Mommy, see those guys?" with this really nervous voice.  The funny thing is she said the same thing about my cousin Jenny's husband James at Thanksgiving: "Mommy, see that guy?"  In her defense, he does have a huge mane of curly hair and a bushy beard.  And also in her defense, those elves were creepy.

Nothing like a little childhood scarring to go with the Christmas memories.  I guess that's whatcha get for a free Santa picture at Bass Pro Shop. 

We ended the day by going out to dinner with Nanny and Pop and Grandma and Great-Pop.  We got her in bed early because her party was the next day.  But that's another post for another day!  

I'll leave you with this:

P.S. A few notes on the video:
1. I must have brainwashed her with all my excited talk of her butterfly birthday party because she started answering the question "How old are you?" with "Butterfly!"
2. Don't you love her little jammin' head bob?  It's very Night at the Roxbury.
3. At the end when she says, "Oh look at that, Mommy!" she's referring to the giant vintage Santa that Metcalf Bank puts up ever year.  Her last words on the video are, "Oh really scary!"  She's a sensitive soul.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

a letter to my daughter: year two

Dear Lila,

Can it really be true that you are two years old?  On the eve of your second birthday, I was heading out the door to run a few errands and I mentioned to Daddy that I wouldn't be back before you went to bed.  As the words came out of my mouth I realized what that meant.  It meant that on the last night of your second year, I wouldn't be the one rocking you and singing to you and praying for and with you.  I think Daddy saw that realization come to my mind because I made a little "oh" sound and he looked at me knowingly.

And then I cried.  The emotion came out of nowhere.  It hit me with such force and clarity and I suddenly found myself scrambling, grasping desperately for more time with your one-year-old self.  But even as I processed these thoughts another thought hit me: my one year old had faded away months ago without my even noticing.  As words became sentences and songs; as toddling became walking and running and galloping and skipping, one-year-old you slipped away.  And I didn't even notice.

These realizations came in the span of a few seconds and tears filled my eyes and dripped down onto your dinner tray as I bent to kiss you goodbye.  You looked up at me with concern and said, "Mommy sad!" and then you reached your little arm up and wrapped it around my neck, pulling me close to you so that our cheeks touched.  Your tender little gesture of comfort just about undid me.

I got in my car and cried all the way to the store, asking Jesus how to manage these strange emotions of loving someone so desperately and wanting to keep time from moving - to somehow absorb each moment more fully.  I thought of a line from Gilead (or maybe it's Home?), when Boughton is bemoaning his old age and complains, "Jesus never had to grow old."  A part of me wanted to make the same sort of accusation: Jesus never had to feel this strange emotional cocktail of longing, desperation, pride, love and gratitude as he watched his daughter age in a matter of seconds.  What must it be like to have eternity in your bones?

And in Heaven, what form will you take, my sweet girl?  Will you be my snuggly newborn all sweaty and folded up?  Will you be my sweet, wordless toddler - looking up at me with learning eyes?  Will you be my precocious two-year-old, caring for me with an arm around my neck?  Will you be some version of future you?  Or will you somehow, miraculously be all of these?  Will love of you even be on my radar in the presence of the Lord?  It seems impossible that the perfection of Heaven would be complete without you to love wholly and perfectly.  But then again, what do I know of Heaven yet?!

You see?! You see what you do to me! You make me into some sort of philosopher trying to solve the great questions of this world.  Lila, there is a part of my heart - a part of my spirit - that was asleep before you.  You have woken this part of me, the part that is reserved only for those who call me Mommy.  And when that part woke up, the rest of me broke.  I will never be put back together.  You've ruined me - in the best way possible.

When I got home from the store, I snuck into your room to look at you.  And soon, I found myself lifting you out of your bed and carrying you to the rocking chair.  You blinked sleepily at me and then snuggled into my chest and we rocked for a long time.  I held you and kissed your forehead and brushed your hair out of your face.  I prayed for you and whispered your Bible verse to you.

This is what I prayed:

Thank you.
For the time you have given us with this sweet girl.
I know that each year, each minute is a gift and that there are many moms (some dear friends of mine) who have already known the last minutes with their babies.
I do not take that for granted.
Please, please, please, give us many more birthdays with her.
Put in her heart a unique love for you.
May she recognize your voice when you call her by name.
Help us to train her well, to love her well, to know her well.
Thank you.  Thank you, Lord.

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl.  I love you so much - even if you disobey me and insist on growing up.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A conversation

Former student (now a third grader): Hi, Mrs. Kautzi.
Me: Hi, Chad. (not his real name)
Student: Mrs. Kautzi, my uncle would want to hit on you.
Me: sputtering, stammering, mumbling something in disbelief
Student: walks away oblivious to my befuddled reaction

I assume this is a compliment, but there is a small part of me that worries that this kid is just a couple years shy of a sexual harassment case.  There's also a small part of me that thinks he doesn't know what it means to hit on someone.  I hope?

Sunday, December 11, 2011


I had a few adventures last Tuesday.  The first of which was a visit to the American Girl Store with the families who won our raffle.  It was such a treat to get to be there when the girls picked out their dolls.  Most of our tickets were purchased by families who attend the school where I teach, so it didn't surprise me that both winners were former students of mine!  But what was a fun surprise was that the two families who won have daughters in the same class who are best buds!  Stella and Elena were in my class last year and they are just the sweetest girls.  Both girls were so excited, and both made the comment that they were even more excited that the other one won.  I'm telling you - these are sweet girls!

Lila and I had a blast helping them pick out their dolls at the store.

From left, Sophie, Stella, Lila, Elena, Natalie and Lydia.
Sophie and Stella picked Josefina and Natalie and Elena picked Rebecca.
 Then the girls and their moms invited us to join them for lunch to celebrate their dolls and Natalie's birthday!
Lila's looking a bit disheveled, no?
Right from lunch, I dropped Lila off at my parents' house for her nap so I could go to the airport to help Aaron and Heather welcome Arthur home!  Here's where the real adventure began.  

Initially their flight was supposed to get in at 4:30, but they changed flights and were now coming in around 2:00.  I called Eric around 1:30 to have him check their flight status because I didn't want to get there too early and have to pay for parking.  However, he soon informed me that I had the opposite problem.  Their flight was early - estimated to arrive at 1:37! Ack!  

I nearly didn't go.  I pulled into my parents' driveway at 1:40 and told my mom I thought I would miss them if I went.  She convinced me it was worth trying to get there so I got in my car and prayed I would make it in time.  

**Dad, don't read this next paragraph.  I usually don't speed or text while driving.  Extenuating circumstances.  No need to scold me, k?**

It took all my willpower to not speed recklessly.  Meaning, I did speed.  Just not excessively.  When I saw the sign that said 3 miles to KCI, I texted Heather, "I'm coming!  Hope I don't miss you!" A few minutes later, as I took the airport exit, she texted, "Oh no! We're just leaving!" I called her:

Me: What do you mean you're leaving?  You're leaving the airport or you're in your car already?
Heather: We're just pulling out of the parking garage.
Me: Ahhhhh! No! I'm here! I'm here!  I'm passing the terminal signs!
Heather: We could pull around...
Me: feeling very selfish and thinking to myself, "Yes! Please!" 
Heather: Okay, we're pulling back around to Terminal A - we'll pull over.
Me: Oh! I see you! I'm pulling up behind you!

The next few minutes were some of my more tearfully hyper moments.  I gushed over that perfect boy and resisted the urge to stroke his sweet chubby cheeks.  I blathered on about how thankful I was that they waited for me and how sweet their boy was.  Arthur just blinked up at me with those big brown eyes and with each bat of those eyelashes I saw bits of my future flutter through my imagination.  Then I got back in my car and drove back to my parents' house, giddy as a school girl.  

Mere seconds would have told a different story.  I might have missed them entirely and then I would have driven back to my parents' in a disappointed funk.  

All this has, of course, made me daydream about the day when we bring our baby home.  The chaos and delirium of an airport welcome after a 20 hour flight.  The excitement of introducing our son or daughter to all the people we love mixed with the sheer terror of transitioning an overwhelmed infant to a new life.  But the bottom line is, I can't WAIT until one of you is making poor driving decisions on your way to nearly miss us at the airport!  I! CAN'T! WAIT!!

P.S. We had our fingerprints taken on Friday!  We're now waiting for the final approval from the FBI before we can submit our dossier and be placed on the waiting list! We're so close!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmasing our House

Well, the Husband - aka, the "Tree Whisperer" - has done it again.  He found us the perfect tree.  It's so hilarious to see that silly smirk come over his bearded face when he's found "the One."  He's really nice and humors me when I suggest other options, but we always end up with the one that "spoke" to him.  I'm okay with that because the man has a gift.

We bundled Lila up again this year to cut down, er, pick out our tree at Home Depot.

She was just as baffled this year as last by Daddy's shenanigans in tying the tree to the roof of our car.  She kept saying, "Uh-oh, Mommy!  Tree!  Uh-oh!"

She's pointing to the top of the tree she could see through the sunroof.
And then she was equally as bemused when Eric brought the tree in the house.  I guess it would seem weird to a kid who is used to trees rooted firmly in the ground outside.  But once we brought the lights out she was transfixed.  

She "helped" Daddy put lights on the tree.

She "helped" us hang some ornaments - although not before we made the mistake of handing her one of her many "Baby's First Christmas" ornaments and saying, "Here, Lila you can hang your ornament," and then trying force her to relinquish it to it's spot on the tree.  The child was not thrilled about the prospect of handing over anything that had previously been described as "hers."

I snuck it on there when she soon got distracted and starting "cleaning" the lamp with her Snuggle.  She's weirdly into cleaning for being my daughter.  I call her Cinderella.

 Once she tired of her cleaning, she found something else to do.

 Meanwhile, the Husband and I plugged away on the tree (well, I stopped intermittently to document Lila's activities).  And when we were mostly done, we of course we gave her the honor of putting the star up on the top.

By the time we were done it was past her bedtime and she was pretty zoned out.
And now every day we have our very own lighting celebration when she runs out of her room in the morning and says, "Lights on!" and we count to three and then plug them in.  Every day it's the same ridiculously excited response: "YAY!!!" (at the top of her lungs) "Yights!"  Ahh, the simple joys of being two.

I'm pretty excited about Christmas this year because I think the magic will begin for Lila from now on.  She's really into playing with a little nativity scene which I strategically placed on the bottom shelf of our built-ins.  She calls it "Baby Jesus and those guys."  And she puts them to bed every night.  However, it often looks like some sort of twisted Nativity Massacre.  The bink is her signature.  They call her the Bink Bandit.  Okay...I've now taken this creepy digression too far.

Anyway, back to how we've been Christmasing our home.  In lieu of our usuals (I Will, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, You are My Sunshine, Goodnight My Someone, etc) we've been singing Christmas songs before bed - Lila's favorite is Sara Groves' version of Angels We Have Heard on High which she calls "Gloria Song," and Sufjan's version of Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella which she calls, "Hush, hush song."  The other day she was walking around the house saying, "Deo! Deo! Deo! Gloria! Gloria! Deo!"  I tried to get a video, but for being such a show off, that kid is hard to capture on film.  I think because she can't get through a line of a song without interjecting, "My do! Pictures!" Which means, "I'd rather look at the pictures on the camera than recreate that adorable scene for you to document, Mom."

I did manage to capture this though:

You're welcome, Mom and Little Sister.  I know you're the only ones who watch these videos in their entirety besides us.

More to come soon - including the stories of a few adventures I had on Tuesday. But for now I'm busy tending to my almost two-year-old Baby Girl who has yet another cold.  All orifices are streaming and her cheeks are rosy red.  She cries when I wipe her nose because it's already so raw and her hair was plastered to her cheeks with snot this morning.  It's so sad.  And gross.  *sigh*

Thursday, December 1, 2011

And the winner is...

Or as I should say, "And the winners are...!"

Our American Girl Doll giveaway is officially closed!  We had a total of 105 tickets purchased!  Thank you! Thank you!

And like I said on Tuesday, we decided to add a second doll if at least 100 tickets were purchased so I'm pleased to say that there will be TWO winners today!

I'm so nervous!




I'm ready.......

The winners are:
Ticket number 39 - Noel Heinbach!

Ticket number 101 - Heather Whalen!

Congratulations!  I will be contacting each of you soon to find out which doll you would like and where you would like her shipped!  Yahoo!

And to the rest of you - THANK YOU for supporting our adoption.  I know that for all of you, it was always more about helping us bring our baby home than winning a doll.  And for that, we are so very grateful.  Humbled and grateful.

Stay tuned for more info on our next steps now that we have our dossier fee funded in full!  Yahoo again!

P.S. We chose the winners using  We simply entered in our possible numbers and hit generate and got these numbers.  Try it out here.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Only 2 days left!

Today, we are celebrating!  We are celebrating with our friends Aaron and Heather who are, as I type, on a plane to Ethiopia to pick up their son, Arthur!  After months of hiccups and unknowns and delays and stress and anxiety, they received an email yesterday morning that told them they had received clearance from the Embassy and they could come get Arthur!  They booked a flight for today and will be picking him up on his first birthday! Can you believe it!?  (If you remember, Arthur's birthday has been a significant and meaningful part of their story.) I talked with Heather last night and she was surprisingly calm.  Keep them in your prayers these next few days as they travel and transition home with Arthur.  There's an awesome post here about how to care for families who have just brought their adoptive children home. (You better believe I'll be linking to that post again when we're getting ready to bring our babe home!)  Praise the Lord for his PERFECT timing.

We are also celebrating some movement in our own adoption process!  Our American Girl Doll raffle has been a success and we have sold 95 tickets as of this very minute.  We initially said that we would add a second doll to the giveaway if we sold 150 tickets, but we've decided that if we sell five more tickets to get us to an even hundred we will add a second doll!

We want to do this in celebration of God's faithfulness in providing for us to meet our most recent goal - and then some!  A majority of the $2000 we needed when we launched our raffle came from generous friends who chose to support our general adoption fund, rather than contribute to the raffle.  So even though we didn't sell the amount of tickets I was hoping for, the Lord provided in other ways.  I'll admit, adding a second doll is a little selfish on my part because I love giving gifts so the thought of making two little girls (and their mommies!) so happy was a big motivator here!  Plus as I saw each donation come in, I would think, "Oh I love them!  I hope they win!"  This way I'll get my wish for two of you, at least!

Here's what's so exciting to us about surpassing our $4100 goal: all donations now go to fund our REFERRAL FEE.  The fact that we're starting to fund our referral fee is huge to us for two reasons:

  1. The referral fee is the biggest fee yet - somewhere in the neighborhood of $8,000 to $9,000.  We'll have nearly a year (in theory) to raise/save this money, but it's still a daunting number!  Which is why it feels so good to already be adding drops in that bucket.
  2. The fact that we're now saving for our referral fee means that the next step of the process is our REFERRAL!  And our referral means that we will know who our son or daughter is!  I can't believe we are ready for that step!  It makes me positively giddy! (Thus, all the exclamation marks!!!)

I promise that another post is coming with details explaining our next steps and what a "referral" even means, but I didn't want to bog down this post with that stuff.

So, five more tickets to go!  The raffle closes at midnight (CST) on Wednesday November 30.  We will use to choose the winner(s) and announce the winner(s) here on December 1st!  Just click that little "Donate" button underneath the picture of the American Girl Doll. Here----------------->>

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Not cool, Zeus. Not cool.

I've had the hiccups for the last hour.  I'm not exaggerating.  I blame Lila because she had hiccups earlier today I think I caught them from her.  Hiccups are contagious, right?  No?  Well then aren't we cute that we both had hiccups today?

For real, though my stomach kinda hurts now from all the hiccuping.  I've tried holding my breath, drinking water upside down, concentrating on hiccuping, concentrating on not hiccuping, holding my breath some more, drinking water right-side up.  No good.  So as a last resort I just said out loud, "Not cool, Hiccups.  Not cool.  Now I'm going to blog about you."  Eric's response was, "That'll show 'em."  We'll just have to see, won't we?  If my hiccups are gone by the time this post is done, then I am a genius.

I just have a few random things to share with you tonight.

Firstly, we have a week left of our American Girl Raffle and we have only sold 47 tickets.  Which means several things:

1. We are still about $700 away from our next goal Update, 11/25: since I originally posted this, we have surpassed our goal thanks to some very generous friends!  Hooray! All additional donations will help fund our referral fee! (I'll explain what that is in a later post)  Thank you, friends! We are overwhelmed!
2. I don't have enough friends with 5-10 year old girls
3. Your odds of winning if you bought a ticket are VERY good - 1 in 47 in fact!  And if you bought three tickets, your odds are even better (except that math is harder to do, so you figure it out).

Raffle closes at midnight on November 30th so hurry your little self up and buy a ticket or three - we've got good odds! Just click that little 'ole button on the right there and Paypal it up for a good cause.

B of all, I have been praying for our family's immune systems this week because last year at Thanksgiving, a nasty and very contagious flu took out all but three or four people over the course of about 48 hours.  It was NOT pretty, my friends.  Eric and I took turns passing Lila back and forth as we alternately ran to the bathroom to throw up and held her over the toilet while she threw up.  I think it should be a law of nature that parents cannot get sick when children are sick.  So, get to work on that, Isaac Newton.

Third, we received news from Immigration that our paperwork is being processed and we have been given an appointment to have our fingerprints taken on December 9th.  It feels amazing to be checking the last few things off our lists!  Here's what we have left:

In case you can't read it (every time I tried to snap that picture, I hiccuped so it's kind of blurry), here's the list:
  • Collect remaining reference letters
  • Take a casual and "semi-formal" photo of ourselves (we may just have to get dressed up specifically for this photo as we don't really have a reason to get dressed up in real life)
  • Get passport photos taken
  • Wait for my birth certificate to be mailed to us
  • Fill out financial statement
  • Get fingerprints taken for Immigration
I can't believe the list is this short! Wahoo!

Finally, Lila would like to say a few words to end this post:

P.S. I still have the hiccups.  Boo.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I have an idea

I want to try to buy most of my Christmas gifts in a way that supports orphan care or another family's adoption.  So I'm on the hunt for some cool products with a cause.

I hate to say it, but there are a lot of really UNCOOL adoption things out there.  Just cheesy or overdone or not quality.

Okay, so I'm a snob.  

But, there is some really cool stuff out there.  Here are a few things I've already found (mostly via links on my friend Heather's blog - if you want cool, start with cool, right? Heather's cool.  And I'm not, because I say "cool" too much...)

Jambo shirts from Love is Waiting
Bear onesie from Twenty9Freckles

B is for Bear print from Dear Friend

Ugandan wildlife tee from Little Adventurer

Watercolor Ethiopia Map from Jodi Queenan
bird necklace from Love is Rising
Superman was Adopted tee from Team Parker 

Have you guys seen any other cool groovy awesome stuff for sale that supports an adoption or orphan care?  Tell me! Tell me!  Leave a comment with a link! Do it! Do it! Please?

(Sorry about all of the overly enthusiastic exclamation points.  I'm feeling silly.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's that time of year again!

Maybe for most of you it's the time of year when you bring out the holiday decorations, start shopping for Christmas gifts, rake your leaves on a daily basis because they just keep coming, or start making gratitude lists.  But for me (us) this time of year is punctuated by my obsession with planning Lila's birthday party.  (In one month, my baby will be TWO! What?! That can't be.  *sigh*)

As I mentioned last year, I am determined to not allow my daughter's close-to-Christmas birthday to be overshadowed by the holiday.  I LOVE birthdays.  Love them.  Especially my own.  But Lila's is almost more fun for me than my own.  And her first birthday party was awesome.  I joked that it was really more for me than for Lila.  And it was.  I mean, she won't remember it anyway.  First birthdays are really more about celebrating the fact that we, as parents, made it through year one.  And for that matter, second birthdays are kind of the same - just maybe the percentages eek a little more toward her side as far as for whom the party is thrown.  It's like 70/30, me/Lila this year.

Last year, we had a little birdie theme for her birthday party and I went a little bit crazy.  Evidently I was desperate for a creative outlet.  And I'm a sentimental fool who loves traditions so of course, I had to implement a few traditions for celebrating Lila's birthday.  Ornaments for party favors, little notes for people to write down favorite memories or things that characterize Lila for that year, etc.

I made these:
And these:
little notes for the birthday girl
And these:
brownie bite toppers (did NOT make the brownie bites themselves. thank you, Costco)
 And these:
party favors: birdie ornaments
And this:

And this:
happy birthday banner

The ornaments were definitely the most time consuming and Eric had to endure finding bits of felt in our bed every night and the all-too-frequent out loud wondering, "Where did I put my needle?"  In fact,  despite our no-Christmas-presents-for-one-another rule, he splurged and bought me a pin cushion for my stocking.  Perhaps it was more of a gift for himself to avoid the whole needle in the haystack bedsheets dilemma.

So since the ornament party favors are simultaneously my favorite birthday tradition and the most time consuming project, I'm already getting started on this year's ornament.  Here's a peek:

pardon the poor quality iphone picture

Can you guess what this year's theme is?  One of Lila's favorite things these days: butterflies!  Oooh...I'm excited!  And Lila is, too.  Or at least she thinks she is.  I keep asking her if she wants a butterfly birthday party and she says, "Yes!" with great enthusiasm even though she has no idea what a birthday party is.  I think she just senses my excitement and wants to be on board.

Okay, back to work.  Those butterflies won't make themselves.  Now...where did I put my needle?

P.S. All photos (except for my crappy iphone pic) were taken by the awesome and sweet Jewel Anderson.  Check her out here.

* I made the invitations using a photo I found doing a google image search for bird drawing or something like that and then doctoring the picture a bit in photoshop.  I feel bad that I can't give the artist credit, but I tried to find it again and it got lost in cyberspace, I guess.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

five and five

Five things I'm happy about today:

1. Lila took a nap at school today! Lila took a nap at school today!  What? You're not jumping up and down and peeing your pants in excitement?  Well I was, because that girl is a stinker I tell you and she usually refuses to nap anywhere other than her own cozy bed with the perfect balance of white noise and light filtration.  I usually line someone up to take nap duty on Wednesdays - they pick LJ up from school and bring her home for her nap.  Well, the last few weeks I couldn't find anyone to do it so we had to give it a go at school.  I figured worst possibility was she'd be wiped out when we got home and she'd take a quickie nap around 3:30.  In fact, I bet Eric $1000 she wouldn't nap at school.  But what do you know, she went down without a peep!  And slept for nearly 2 hours!  Maybe it's because she kept me up all night coughing (the nerve).  Poor kiddo.  Yup, she's sick again with the mother of all snotty noses and an ear infection to boot.  Seriously, I've sucked puddles of green goop out of that kid's nose and she still manages to produce snot bubbles every ten minutes.  It's gross.  I'll try to snap a picture for ya.  I know you're dying to see it. But anyway, back to the celebrating - she took a nap at school! A-wahoo!

2. We are only $1000 away from our next fundraising goal!  That means if we sell 125ish more tickets to our raffle, we not only will have met our goal, but we'll also have sold enough tickets to add a second doll to the giveaway!  I'm almost more excited about the giveaway than I am about meeting our goal - I mean, I get to make someone (or maybe two someones) really happy who in turn gets to make their daughter or niece or granddaughter or next door neighbor really happy!  What fun!

3. A parent of one of my students left me a Chick-fil-a gift card as an anonymous gift last week!  AND I've had the willpower to not spend it frivolously.  I'm saving it for this weekend when the Husband goes on his annual Man Trip with his dad and brothers (aka, hunting, eating steak and punching each other).  Fried chicken sandwich, a big Dr. Pepper, and a play place for Lila, here I come!

4. The way Lila runs to me when I pick her up in the nursery after school: "Mommy!" with arms wide open and snot running down her lips.  We'll just ignore that last part and bask in the small bits of that idealistic dream every pregnant mama dreams about her future children.  You know, the dream about her children always being thrilled to see her and showering her with affectionate hugs and kisses.  Never in that dream do those kisses come with a desire to immediate wipe oneself down with Clorox wipes, but alas, I'll take what I can get.  Snot-drenched or not, it's still awesome to be greeted like that.

5. Lila says hilarious things.  The other day, I was standing up on our bed killing a spider and she scolded me, "Mommy!  Get back here! Sit down!"  Apparently she was appalled that I would break the rule that I so incessantly drill into her head: No standing on the furniture.  Today I asked her if she wanted to go play in her playroom and she said, "No dank you, Mommy.  Go ahead."  And finally, she has picked up on some language nuances of mine and it's so hysterical to hear her say them.  Whenever she coughs, I ask her, "Are you okay?" because she often sounds like she's choking.  So she started asking me if I was okay whenever I cough.  To which I usually respond, "Yeah, I'm okay.  Thank you, Baby."  So now, it goes like this:

Lila: cough, cough, hack, cough, cough
Me: Lila, are you okay?
Lila: (in the sweetest little voice you ever did hear) Yeah, I okay, dank you Mommy.

It's so adorable, it hurts me.

Five things I'm sad about today:

1. As I mentioned earlier, Lila has a cold and an ear infection.  Yes, she's sick AGAIN.  (If you're keeping count, that's four colds, two flus and an ear infection since September.)  And even though I know they're trying to be helpful, sometimes other moms make me feel like a bad mom when they start asking me whether I've tried this (hippie remedy) or whether I do that (random rain dance/good luck charm).  I should remember how this makes me feel the next time I try to give a fellow mom "helpful" advice.  Unless I ask you what ideas you have, I mostly just want you to say, "Man, that sucks.  I'm sure you're doing everything you can."

2. Someone in our house got a speeding ticket today.  And I really want to be mad at him, but he's so mad at himself that I just feel bad for him.  In fact, he voluntarily grounded himself from his hunting weekend as punishment (and because, frankly, we can't afford $140 ticket on top of luxuries like hunting licenses and giant steak dinners).  But still, $140!  It just feels like a punch in the gut.  P.S. Good news, though, Eric's dad is generously paying Eric's way this weekend because he wants time with ALL his boys. :)

3. Our house is a mess again.  That's what happens when your kid is sick all the time.  My time is divided between equal parts wiping a snotty nose, cleaning up puke, changing poopy diapers and chasing a weirdly-energetic-for-being-sick-all-the-time toddler around the house.  So our house is a mess and it makes me sad because it was once and very briefly so sparkly and shiny.  It looked like a holiday. (name that movie!*)

4. My favorite jeans ripped.  I mean RIPPED.  As in, my whole butt cheek was hanging out at church after I bent down to pick up a sippy cup and heard a loud RIIIIPPPP.  And by favorite jeans, I mean "the only pair of skinny jeans I own which I bought for $20 at Target because I am always so late picking up on the fashion trends that I didn't want to spend a ton of money on something that would surely be out of style in a year or two but then I wore them every day and thus wore out their $20-quality material" jeans.  It was a sad day.  And so I had to settle for Jeggings as a replacement because they were the cheapest option at Target and I really don't NEED another pair of jeans.  I have plenty of non-skinny jeans.  But it's not the same.  I need pockets and zipper.

5. It's cold.  Don't like.

Okay, and just so I don't end on a low note, here's a little trick or treat for ya.  Lila the Peacock:
As kids, all of our cousins and Little Sister and I would always end our trick-or-treating at our grandparents' house.
The tradition was to have us all lined up on the fireplace to take a picture of us in our Halloween getup, so of course, we had to do the same for Lila.

Here's a back view of the AWESOME peacock tutu that Holly made for Lila.  It's so darling!  I kind of want to make her be a peacock next year, too because it's so sweet!
Hope your Happy List is outweighing your Sad List these days!

* "Very sparkly, very shiny.  Looks like a holiday." - Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Goodness gracious alive and Heaven help us.

Did we just have a major terrible twos episode?  Or is my poor kid just so exhausted from a LONG day at school and a too-short nap?  Yes and yes.

First, let me just say that the girl has been honing her pre-bedtime stall routine for the last few weeks.  An example might look like this:

Me: Lila are you all done with your milk?
Lila: Yeah.
Me: Okay, let's put it here on the shelf in case you want some more in a minute (read: let's put it here on the shelf because I KNOW you're going to THINK you want some more in a minute)
Lila: No, fridge.
Me: No, let's leave the milk here in case you want more later.
Me: Okay, are you sure you're done?
Lila: Yeah.
5 minutes later as I'm laying her in bed
Lila: Milk?
Me: Lila, we already put your milk in the fridge, remember?  You said you were all done.
Lila: Milk.
Me: No, you said you were all done.  We're all done with your milk.
Lila: Milk!
Me: Lila, Mommy asked you if you were done with your milk and you said yes.
Lila: MILK!
Me: thinking to myself, "she HAS been sick, maybe she really is thirsty." Okay, I'll get you're milk.
Lila: thinking, "My mom is such a sucker."
I get her milk back out of the fridge and bring it to her in bed.
Me: Here you go, Baby.
Lila: turning her head away No milk.
Me: grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

So the moral of this story is two-fold: I am a sucker.  And my kid is a master manipulator.
who me? really, mom, I can't help it if I'm charming.
That exchange may have influenced some poor parenting decisions tonight.  I was so intent on not being had again by my not-even-two-year-old that I refused to see things for what they were.  Lila was being stubborn (ironically, it started with milk again) and I was being stubborner.

The short version is that I asked Lila if she wanted to shut her bedroom door (which is part of her little wind-down routine) and she wanted to get her milk out of the fridge first.  I told her I had already brought her milk into her room and that she needed to close the door or Mommy was going to.   She still persisted, so finally I shut the door for her.  What seemed like a natural consequence of her stalling and manipulation attempts backfired into a full out meltdown.  Lila ended up in complete hysterics as I calmly told her that she was wrong and I was right.  Which was true. However, that should have been neither here nor there.  The reality that should have most influenced my parenting choices was that my 22-month-old was exhausted and therefore out of her mind with her NEED to "shut da dowa! shut da dowa!"

Unfortunately, I'm still a rookie.  Even though I've been in this whole mommyhood thing for almost two years, this is still my first go-round with a toddler.  Poor Lila will always have to be my guinea pig for the challenges of each age.  So while I was so adamantly clinging to my pride and my desire to not let my child play me like a fool, I completely missed the fact that she was running on empty.

Which is a mistake I should really know to avoid.  After all, some of my favorite parenting advice is to always ask yourself if your child's "tank" is full before you require something of them*.  Is she hungry? Is she sick? Is she overwhelmed? Is she out of her element?  Is she tired?  If the answer is "yes" to any of those questions, then the expectations need to be altered.  Not thrown out the window, just altered.

Which brings us back to tonight.  After about 15 minutes of absolute hysterics, I finally realized my grave error: I had entered into a power struggle with a child who had lost all control of what little emotional stability she had to begin with.  I realized I had two options:

1. Stick to my guns and fight this power struggle to the end - the end being a child who would surely wail/cry herself to sleep and potentially cause herself to vomit in the meantime.
2. Swallow my pride, admit that I entered into an unwise battle and give my kid what she wanted.

I chose option number 2.  Because a) we've already had our share of vomit recently and b) it seemed like the most loving thing to do.  You can judge me if you want.  I don't care.  I feel like I did the loving thing for my kid in the moment.  Sometimes the loving thing is a firm, authoritative voice to teach them that there are consequences to their behaviors.  But sometimes the loving thing is to get them in bed ASAP and not waste any more time on character building and good precedents.  There's plenty of time for that tomorrow.  After they've had a good night's sleep.

I remind myself over and over in this whole parenting thing: it's not about being right, it's about showing them you'll meet their needs.

Even if this particular need is to "shut da dowa" all by themselves.

(By the way, option number 2 worked like a charm.  She stopped crying immediately and I was left with a snuffling, gasping, exhausted and snuggly baby to rock to sleep.  So there.)

*It should also be noted, that it is important to ask yourself the same question in regards to your own tank.  Yet another reason I should have avoided the emotional battle was that this introverted mama was toast after a day of corralling rowdy 1st graders :)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Announcing a new fundraiser: American Girl Doll Raffle!

UPDATE: This raffle is now closed and the winners have been announced here.  Thanks for participating!

First off, I feel like a total jerk that I haven't mentioned this before, but our t-shirts were designed by the guys over at Factory 43.  They have some other awesome tees and prints for sale there so check them out!

So as I mentioned last Thursday, Eric and I have been brainstorming several ideas of how to reach our next fundraising goal.  We decided we needed one more fun idea to hopefully bring in the last $2000 we need for our dossier fee (which we hope to turn in by the end of the year).  

So I set about researching ideas and I found a link to this post from Julie Gumm's blog.  I originally read about the idea in Julie's book, Adopt Without Debt.  It had stood out to me when I first read it, because as a first grade teacher, I overhear a LOT of talk about American Girl Dolls.  I, myself still have my beloved Kirsten doll from when I was little.  I plan on passing her on to Lila some day.  And I'll admit that I've had a daydream or two about giving an Addy doll to my Ethiopian daughter (no, we don't know if we'll be adopting a boy or a girl yet - I just have a daughter so it's easier to daydream about what I know).  

Anyway, that's the backstory to our latest fundraiser.  Here are the details (totally stole much of this from that post I mentioned since they did such a great job of explaining it):

  • We will be giving away one* American Girl Doll of YOUR CHOICE to one* lucky winner! *If we sell more than 150 virtual tickets, we'll add a 2nd doll so there will be TWO lucky winners! 
  • The giveaway is open for the month of November (November 1st - November 30th).  The winner(s) will be announced Thursday December 1st - perfect timing for a Christmas gift for your favorite little girl in your life.
Here's how it works:
  • Purchase a virtual raffle ticket by clicking on the PayPal button on the right that says "American Girl Raffle."  Important: Please indicate your contact information in the notes section so we can find you when you win.
  • Each donation of $10 buys you 1 virtual raffle ticket.  A donation of $25 buys you 3 virtual raffle tickets.
  • Once your donation posts via PayPal, you will receive an email with your virtual raffle ticket number.  It will look like this: 
  • The winner will be selected using and announced here on this blog.
  • If you are the lucky winner, I will contact you via email to find out which doll you would like.  I will order and ship her to you through the American Girl online store (dolls can only be shipped within the 50 states - see their shipping policies here).
**We reserve the right to refund your donation and cancel the giveaway if we do not sell at least enough entries to cover the cost of the doll.**
UPDATE: It's on! We have enough entries to cover the cost of the doll!  Every subsequent entry will go directly into our adoption fund!  Thank you and keep 'em coming!

We are so excited about this giveaway!  Well, I'm excited.  Eric doesn't quite get what all the fuss is about.  He was all, "$100 for a doll?" and I was all, "Yeah! Cuz they're awesome."  But he has a point.  $100 is pricey...BUT $10 or $25 is a steal of a deal!  Plus, of course, you're helping us MAKE WAY for our Ethiopian Small One.  And for that, we are so grateful!

P.S. You can see all of your doll options here.

P.P.S. Please blog, email, link, tweet, facebook this giveaway!  Help us spread the word! We appreciate it!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

New fundraiser coming...

We are still about $2000 away from our next fundraising goal to cover the cost of our dossier fee, so Eric and I have been brainstorming ideas.  As luck  fate  coincidence would have it, an email popped up in our inbox the other day:

What!? How exciting is that!  True to her word, she blogged about us today!  I never thought that mentioning her book in this post would get us mentioned on her blog!  Hopefully it will open us up to a wider market and keep our t-shirt sales moving!  In fact we already had another sale this morning!  What an unexpected gift!

Her email got me blog-rusing (that's perusing blogs for those of you who can't interpret my made-up words) her blog again which eventually led me to our next fundraiser.  We'll announce details early next week so stay tuned! 

In the meantime, we're still cleaning up toddler puke.  Poor Baby Girl.  And poor me, too.  Let's just say that milk is best if you only see it on the way in.  Yucka.

P.S. You know how much we love the Jesus Storybook Bible.  And Haiti holds a special place in our heart as well because our sweet friend Melissa is a medical missionary there and our friends the Moldrups are adopting two kiddos from Haiti as well.  Well there's a quick campaign going over at World Orphans to raise money to send 500 French translation copies to Haiti where they will be used in schools, churches and homes caring for orphans.  The Bibles are usually $10-$20 dollars, but they have a deal with the publisher to sell them for just $4 each so your money goes a long way.  If you want to help, check it out here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

No no no no no....

At 3:30 this morning an all too familiar alarm went off in our house. It wasn't my phone barking at me to get up for work three hours early by mistake. It was a sad and desperate cough, followed by an even sadder and more desperate retch over the monitor and a cry from Lila's room. Kelsey, being a far lighter sleeper than I, made the first leap out of bed and it wasn't until she was holding Lila over the toilet that I offered my first dazed and completely unhelpful response, "did she throw up?" Some times I'm sharper than others.

So after Kelsey cleaned her up and I changed her sheets, and we had reluctantly hoped that it was all caused by an isolated and particularly tenacious cough, we put Lila back to bed only to be back up every fifteen minutes over the next three hours doing the same thing. Since Kelsey teaches Wednesdays (which seems to be the day Lila's body decides to not like itself) I took the day off and she eventually made the wise decision to sleep on the couch while I alternated between cuddling Lila on our bed and running to the bathroom every time she made a gurgling sound. Finally by 7:30 baby girl had slowed the pace down to only erupting once an hour, and seemed to be happy in between episodes. She even slept for about fifty minutes until her usual wake up time of 8:30. And true to form she wanted a pancake when she woke up.

So my morning looked like this- Lila sitting on my lap eating her pancake, then lying in the middle of the floor, then on my lap, then off, while we watched the following celebrity guests on The Muppet Show: Helen Reddy, Raquel Welch, Jean Stapleton, Leslie Ann Warren, Liberace, Pearl Bailey, Gilda Radner and Sylvester Stallone. Yeah, that's a lot of Muppet Show, but routine changes when kids throw up all morning. While Lila was into a marathon of her favorite show, I answered work emails and tried to keep things at the office relatively under control in my absence. Then I saw a blur of pink pajamas and blonde hair run out of our room and heard the familiar pat pat pat of tiny feet on hardwoods. And, "Daddy! Freezer!" I followed my sweet on-the-mend daughter into her play room and to the little wooden kitchen that my dad built. Again she said, "freezer!" It's worth noting that Lila's context for the purpose of a freezer is to quickly cool her pancakes enough to eat when they're right out of the pan. Naturally, I took her cue and opened up the toy refrigerator. And found this:

She was cooling the remaining uneaten half of her pancake, as well as a pot and her left Chuck Taylor. I guess they were all too hot.

After a lunch of crackers and applesauce and peaches (and it's a miracle she conceded to eat any of it) I changed her diaper and asked her if she wanted to rock before her nap. She said definitively, "No. Bed." And she hasn't made a sound since I put her in it. I know I'm prone to jinxing myself in these matters, but let's hope it was just a quick attack on her little tummy and we're in the clear. Because who wants a sad little girl when you can have this: