8 Months: A Snapshot
6 weeksToday Addison turned 8 months old. This is just crazy to me. How can she already be 8 months old? How can she be just 4 months from her first birthday? We haven't even known her 2 months but it feels like a lifetime. I just can't wrap my brain around it all. I'm going to try to do these snapshots of her at each month and then year as she gets older, more for my own sake than anyone else's. I realize this is ridiculously long. Who knew one could type so much about an 8 month old? So bear with me.....it's only one post a month :-P

Today she weighs 18 lbs and is 27.25 inches tall. This mean she hasn't grown much longer but has grown significantly heavier in the last few weeks.

One of Addison's "trademarks" is her odd contortionist abilities. She does some crazy things with her legs that have led us to repeatedly have her hips evaluated but we have been assured by three different doctors that all is well. She is just that flexible. It makes for lots of odd photos, freakish videos and interesting ways she attains milestones!

She has mastered the military crawl and rolls from front to back in both directions. She can get up onto all fours but doesn't have the muscle tone yet to crawl in a traditional way. She can get into a sitting position from her belly and can sit perfectly now, playing with toys in both hands for prolonged periods of time. We no longer hesitate before plunking her down alone on the floor in a sitting position although craning to turn around and see what is going on leads to at least one fall backward a day. As long as she doesn't land on something, she's fine. In fact, sometimes she giggles.
3 Months
She likes to pull to a stand using our fingers but has yet to pull to a stand using anything else, although she tries and often gets onto her knees where she bounces happily. We think she is a daredevil. When set in a standing position in front of the couch, she likes to intentionally push herself away from it and practice free-standing or standing with one hand holding on - the look on her face is just priceless during these feats!! But the real fun is in falling down into my lap haphazardly which is just hilarious, apparently. I fear the day she does pull to stand on her own and tries this stunt without adult supervision! She is not yet cruising at all, even while holding our hands. She wants to (as is evident by her pitifully staring at her feet while trying to pick them up) but she just doesn't have the leg muscles yet to accomplish this goal. Recently she made her way off the carpeted livingroom and onto the hardwood dining room where she had so much fun pushing and scooting herself around on the slippery wood on her butt. It was hysterical.
5 Months

Her real talent is in the "small motor" areas. She has long since mastered the pincher grasp and uses it constantly to pick up even the smallest of items off the ground....like a rogue loose staple or a microscopic sliver of wood tracked in from the garden. No amount of cleaning or vacuuming seems good enough to overcome her desire to seek out the microscopically small. In fact, she would prefer never to play with toys and to spend her free time exploring the house for stuff to choke on. This is much fun for us.
6 Months
Recently Addison learned to clap in her uncoordinated non-sound-producing baby way. She is so proud and always says "ba ba ba" while she claps which Daddy swears is her rendition of "Patty Cake" - a rhyme she closely associates with clapping. She also learned to give kisses (my favorite), wave, do "high five" and, yesterday, she learned the ever-entertaining baby game of "share"....she gives you an item, you take it and give it right back. Back and forth, back and forth, for endless hours. She loves to turn pages, open things like cabinet doors, lids, etc. In other words, she uses her small motor skills to search out miniscule bits to choke on.

This is so different than my three boys and Tony's three kids. She is so inquisitive and so dexterous. She does put things in her mouth but is equally as likely to explore them with her fingers and try to figure out how they work. The other kids were all movement and sort of clumsy in the small motor areas. This is taking some major getting used to. We have already admitted we will have to really utilize all those child safety devices that we always wondered why they were produced at all. None of the other kids needed them!
7 Months

She is babbling a lot these days. Her favorites are the aforementioned "baba" and my favorite, "mama". She does others as well but those are her favorites.

Sleep eludes her. She takes two good naps a day and it is so easy to get her to sleep. We turn on her lullaby, rock her for a few minutes and she is out cold. She transfers easily to the crib or our bed and sleeps for anywhere from a half hour to 2 hours depending on the nap. But nighttime is another story. She wakes often, crying and uncomfortable. A bottle will help but she can't take a bottle every hour or two. Sleeping with us seems to help sometimes and not others. She also wakes wet from her diaper - a consequence of being soothed by bottles. So we are working on a better solution and I think we are making some headway. Last night she slept 12 hours and only woke 3 times. This is definitely progress.

8 MonthsShe still drinks 4-6 oz bottles during the day and still nurses a few times a day, for comfort. She still has no teeth at all and is still in pretty constant discomfort while she waits for the first to pop through. She loves to eat and this is a rough area for us because she's still too little for most foods we eat but she is absolutely obsessed with what we have. She literally salivates like Pavolv's dog when we eat in front of her and she has the saddest little dejected fact about it all. Offering her baby food is not enough to pacify her. I wish we could just give her what we eat but I am too worried about allergies and sensitivities. On Christmas, we did give her a tiny piece of Christmas cookie and, oh my goodness, the smile on her face made it clear that THAT was her real Christmas gift. I've never had a kid so obsessed with food before!

Speaking of which, her eczema has totally gone away. She still gets occasional red cheeks or dry areas but they go just as fast as they come. She has very sensitive skin, it scratches easily and shows even the lightest bump as a big red mark but it goes away within hours. Strange.

So that sums up 8 months! I hope her 8th month goes by a little more slowly than her 7th month did.
posted by Stepping On Legos at 12/28/2006§

The Slowest Christmas Ever
We started our Christmas at something like 8:30am and opened the last gift around 8:30 pm.

That was one long day of consumption.

Now before you go emailing me and wondering how we got the kids to hold off until 8:30 am, I'll tell you. All our bedrooms are upstairs so after we moved all the gifts under the tree, we sealed off the entire upstairs at the stairway with wrapping paper! hahaha. What's even funnier is that the kids asked what time they could get up and I told them they could wake up any time after 4am if they wanted to, laughing to myself the whole time about how evil I was for setting them up for major frustration on Christmas morning. Selfish, selfish I am! Two of Tony's kids actually SET THEIR ALARMS for 3:50am so they could get up and dressed in time for 4am!!! We, of course, had only been asleep for 2 hours ourselves when we heard an alarm go off and then the baby woke up for a bottle. Tony went out and there were already two frustrated kids pouting in the hall. I think they all eventually went back to sleep but I wish he had gotten pictures, just to humor me :-) So Addy and I slept in until 8:30 am which is when the fun finally began.

We don't prescribe to the whole "tear into every gift like crazy and open them all in 2 seconds flat" methodology. We don't really have a methodology but that isn't it. So we try different things every year until we find what works best for us. Some common goals are to have others appreciate watching each other open gifts and enjoy others acting as recipients, instead of just themselves. And also having and respecting a kid's desire to use what he gets and really enjoy it instead of prying him away from the toy to open more presents. So those are the two goals.

This year we decided to do present opening in "rounds". We let each kid open a few presents and took a break to let them play with what they just opened. We thought it sounded good in theory and I guess, in practice, it was a huge success. Problem was the kids took huge long breaks and, like I said, the whole gift-opening process ended up taking 12 hours!!!!! Thankfully that was our Christmas. We don't do lots of celebrations with family everywhere or on separate days. So one day of over-consumption is it, for us! haha

The kids had a blast and we thought the day was nicely paced, if not exhausting. We just reheated (disappointing) appetizers from the night before and then ordered in Chinese, per our tradition, for dinner. It was lovely and low key. Addison was still overwhelmed but she did just fine.

Today began Mass Organization. It is the part of the holiday I love almost as much as watching the kids open gifts. Putting stuff together, ditching the packaging and trash, cleaning up the kitchen and getting ready for our New Year's Eve festivities. It feels good to clean and organize and purge after such over-consumption the day before, I think. We got a lot done and met all our goals for the day so that was good.

Tomorrow doesn't bring such fun. Noah has an abscessed tooth - his second in just six or so months. He'll have to have it pulled tomorrow and he's not really sweating the procedure but is totally stressed out about the gauze they use afterward which he HATES. If you know me, you know I am totally *phobic* about all things tooth and dental related so I made him a deal that I would not freak out about his tooth if he braved through the gauze. We shook on it. He's so sweet. So off we (we being Tony and Noah) go tomorrow to lose another tooth. I'm really depressed about it. Now he will have no teeth on either side of his top front two teeth and he won't grow those permanent adult teeth in until he is around 8 or 9. Sigh. It just totally changes the way he looks. I hate it. He's still my baby and I hate anything that forces him to look older than he really is.

Hope everyone had a great holiday. Thank you for all the kind thoughts about the adoption video. It was fun, although emotional, to put together.
posted by Stepping On Legos at 12/26/2006§

Merry Christmas

The best Christmas Gift ever:

posted by Stepping On Legos at 12/25/2006§

My Kids are SO Sweet
Sarcastic? Not sarcastic? You be the judge!!!

Earlier this week my eldest son came to me to say that he had thought about it and wanted to spend his own money to buy all his siblings gifts. We don't usually have the kids buy each other gifts because there are 7 kids and, well, we aren't millionaires. But he wants to do this. And he has all sorts of ideas on how to spend his own money to get the job done.

Sadly my reaction was a sort of jaw-hit-the-floor combined with deer-in-headlights. It is the WEEK before CHRISTMAS! I spend ALL YEAR trying to avoid THIS ONE WEEK, planning, organizing, making lists and spending energy I have long since exhausted out at night shopping so I don't have to go out THIS ONE WEEK to do ANY MORE SHOPPING.

A coincidental few minutes later, my youngest son walked in with the same request. Ugh. Here we go.

So as wonderful and selfless and considerate as it is that they are thinking of their siblings and have made these wonderful gift lists that really take into consideration what the siblings would like, I can't help but cringe inside (ok, outside too) at the mere thought of venturing out into the Commercial Abyss called the Week Before Christmas.

Thank goodness for Amazon. We have an Amazon Prime trial which allows us free 2-day shipping so, other than a few trading card booster packs, I was able to do ALL their last-minute purchases on Amazon and they will be arriving on my front porch tomorrow. Whew! Saved again!

Every year I try and every year SOMETHING happens that prevents me from staying out of the stores this week. I guess it is just nice that it is selfless kids and not something else.
posted by Stepping On Legos at 12/21/2006§

2006: Year in Review
I snagged this idea from Frectis. You can go read her list and see who she snagged it from. Please - snag it from me! It is totally fun to read other people's blog-year's in review. The way it works is you take the first sentence from the first post in each month over the last year and compile them for an overview of your 2006. Here's mine:

  • Today I got the call from our assigned social worker for the home study.
  • We had our second (and last non-home-visit) home study meeting today
  • Ok, I'm totally loving LJ!
  • Today our fingerprinting appointment letters came!
  • Here I am, sitting at the computer, watching the pot, waiting for it to boil.
  • See how I rhymed?!
  • Yes, indeed, it seems July is already starting out in a positive way.
  • Well we are back from our last-minute trip to Stepford, USA.
  • I'm home from our not-so-spontaneous spontaneous summer vacation.
  • I've been pretty quiet and those that are very very observant might notice that my adoption travel ticker is no longer up on the site.
  • Please excuse the ridiculous Mama-has-a-baby-girl voice :-)
  • My Dad and stepMom have been here staying at our house for the last few days for a visit.

I am going to have to pay more attention to my opening sentences in 2007!!
posted by Stepping On Legos at 12/20/2006§

Holiday Hoopla: Part Deux
Ok, as promised (although a few days late), my responses to my own posed questions about the holidays. It isn't too late - feel free to comment with your own experiences or blog about them.

What is the one holiday ritual you would absolutely never give up?
Oh this is a hard one - we have so many! I can't chose one. I will chose two. First is our Winter Solstice celebration. My kids adore it and I look forward to it as our one best meal of the year. We celebrate this longest night of the year and the subsequent longer and longer days ahead by having a very rich meal, hanging golden "sun" ornaments on our tree, opening the ornaments that my Dad and stepMom give to us each year and hanging those and we burn a huge golden candle all night long. The meal is homemade chicken tortilla soup, pumpkin muffins and piping hot wassail. Yum. And then we all watch my favorite Christmas show, The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus.
The other big ritual I would not give up also, coincidentally, has to do with food :-) Our Christmas Eve hors devours feast! This is a ritual that I did as a child and I carry on some of the same recipes we had each year. When we were little, we went to church on Xmas Eve and then had hors devours late into the night and finally passed out. I don't know how my mom ever did her wrapping! Haha. We don't go to church so we have the appetizer earlier in the night and get the kids off to bed early. It takes them about 100 hours to fall asleep, thanks to the excitement of Christmas looming ahead. Meanwhile we feverishly wrap and wrap. Plus there is always some big gift to *build*. This year is no exception. I think I love Christmas Eve even better than Christmas day!

What is the part of the holidays you find the most tedious and exhausting? I have worked VERY hard to cut out any and all parts that are tedious or exhausting. If it isn't enjoyable, we just don't do it. Some people have told us that we are selfish for thinking this way but you also won't find me bitching on Christmas night about all the negativity that a lot of people are faced with. There is enough negativity thrust upon my life the other 364 days of the year. Christmas is PEACE. Period. But if I had to pick one thing, I would say that it is keeping up with stupid online orders. I have had a HORRIBLE year with Circuit City customer service. I will save that for tomorrow's rant. Above and beyond that, I ordered 4 things from online resellers (ebay, half.com, amazon marketplace) and of those 4 things, THREE of them never showed up and of those three, TWO were "oversold - oops!". But there is always a little Christmas Miracle along the way and yesterday was definitely my Christmas Miracle redeeming day. More on that later.

What is the worst or weirdest gift you have ever received? Once I received a used wallet. Another time I received a pair of leggings that were well worn and way WAY too short for me. I'm really REALLY unpicky about gifts and rarely get any so I can't say much negative in this area.

What is the most memorable gift you have ever received? I was given an engagement ring by my boys' father during my eldest son's first Christmas (he was six weeks old). That was, by far, the most memorable gift I have ever received - COMPLETELY unexpected. That was the same year he also bought me this really hot "little black dress" that fit me like a glove and I had just given birth six weeks ago so it completely turned around my self-esteem and made me feel like a woman again. He gave that to me on Christmas Eve so I could wear it to church. That will probably always be the best Christmas I ever had and definitely one of the only Christmases in my adult life where someone really paid close attention to what I deserved and what would make me feel good and worked really hard to make me happy. And, sadly, it is probably one of the few decent days I ever had with my ex! haha.

What is the one thing you do to make organizing your holiday a little bit easier? This year I made an Excel spreadsheet for gifts! I am not even kidding. This way I can sort it by kid to make sure that one kid or another didn't get totally shafted in the gift department and I can also track what was purchased, what was sent, what was received and what has been wrapped. Guess how many checks are in the "wrapped" column so far? Anyway, as I said before, we have seven kids to shop for. If I did not have some sort of system for gifts, I would have totally forgotten about the abovementioned three unsent items from online resellers. And I would probably overshop for some kids and undershop for others. Plus if we need to make any returns, I have a written list of where we bought from which is nice because I often buy and return until I find the best deals so it is impossible to remember where any one thing came from.

If you could make one holiday wish, this year, what would it be? Sadly my holiday wishes are usually the same every year. Let's just say it involves never having a repeat of the past year. That may sound strange since I don't blog a lot about the very personal areas of my life and this past year brought my Addy-Mai. I am definitely grateful for a lot this year but being grateful is different than being happy. This year also brought more heartbreak and pain and turmoil and chaos and did I mention heartbreak? than one person ought to endure in a year. It brought cancer and lies and betrayal. I would not wish this past year on anyone. So my wish is that, Addison aside, my next year is better. I know that is selfish. I should wish for peace, no more war, no more hunger, etc. But right now I feel selfish. So there ya go. Maybe that's why my wish rarely comes true?! haha. So if I have to have another heartbreaking year, then my wish is that I have it in Houston :-)
posted by Stepping On Legos at 12/19/2006§

Bebee Leggz: Take 1

Bebee Leggz: Take 1, originally uploaded by sixmonkeyjungle.

Today's project was to sew up some really cute baby legwarmers similar to these. The ones I made say "I (heart) Santa" and I think they are just the most adorable thing ever! I can't begin to tell you how much better and more comfy and easier these are than tights and socks. And they can totally cover her ankle (as seen below) so no "ankle freeze" so common in Michigan. She totally loves them! They don't drive her nuts like tights and she loves being barefoot. No rug burn, easy diaper changes and they are so adorable I can't even stand it!

I have two more pair to make today. One khaki/brown stripes and another funky purple and pink. And then the official obsession begins for more and more cute styles!

posted by Stepping On Legos at 12/17/2006§

Holiday Hoopla

So, like pretty much everyone I know, I've been eyeball-deep in holiday preparations. Last year was the Holiday To End All Holidays and - haha - it pretty much did end all holidays. It did not end well. So this year, still recovering from last, I've been slow to ramp up and get in the spirit.

When you have seven kids to shop for, Christmas is a full time job. I like to shop. A lot. And I love to give gifts. A lot lot. And it is one of two days a year my kids are totally spoiled and I think they have earned it. Or I have earned it. One of the two. So in order to maximize the dollar, Christmas requires a lot of pre-planning and frugality. Well, at least it does for me.

There are gift lists to collect, Santa wishes to nail down (hint: the earlier you take them to see Santa, the earlier you can firm up that one special wish and simply say "Sorry, you already told Santa what you wanted, no changing your mind now!!), purchases to bargain-shop for, online and off. Then there is tracking the packages, keeping tabs on what comes in and what still needs to be purchased. I feel like a warehouse. Plus throw in our annual traditions and the occasional insane desire to start a new one and it makes for a jam-packed couple of months.

So in the spirit of the holidays, share with me (either on your own blog or in my comments) a few things:

  • What is the one holiday ritual you would absolutely never give up?

  • What is the part of the holidays you find the most tedious and exhausting?

  • What is the worst or weirdest gift you have ever received?

  • What is the most memorable gift you have ever received?

  • What is the one thing you do to make organizing your holiday a little bit easier?

  • If you could make one holiday wish, this year, what would it be?

My answers are coming tomorrow :-)
posted by Stepping On Legos at 12/15/2006§

Dear New Version of Blogger Users
I am sorry, I can not comment on your posts. I have written COUNTLESS comments in the last 48 hours but becuase I am using the older version of Blogger and refuse to update to the newer version, it flips me the bird when I try to post my comments. It will not let me post them annonymously, it will not let me post them with other info. It will not accept my Blogger username and password. It is HIGHLY annoying. Blogger - are you listening?!

So I am reading, I am even responding and commenting. But you aren't receiving. Sorry. :-( I hope Blogger fixes it soon.

Meanwhile I can at least comment to those "old school" Blogger bloggers, like me :-)
posted by Stepping On Legos at 12/14/2006§

Addison's Newest Trick
posted by Stepping On Legos at 12/12/2006§
Monty Python & Relactation
If that is not the two most oddly conjoined topics, I don't know what is! haha

I scored four press passes for Monty Python's Spamalot which is playing in Detroit tonight. Tony is taking our three biggest Holy Grail fans. We were originally offered two tickets which I turned down to the the impossibility of picking just one child to attend. Later we were offered the four necessary tickets and the kids are so excited. In fact, as it relates to age, the excitement level seems to increase as the age of the child decreases! Noah spent all day today running around singing "We are the knights of Camelot". To say he is a little into Monty Python is probably, sadly, an understatement. He frequently quotes the movie which I think makes him a really bad influence on other people's kids. Haha. I hope they aren't disappointed. You can look for the review in the morning at About Detroit.

In other news, this week marks Week 1 of Relactation 101. Monday morning I hauled out my dusty Pump-In-Style and set her up with all new tubing and shields and plugged her in and pumped. The results? Nothing. Zero. I have always had, let's say, an abundant supply. Overabundant, really. I'm shocked, dismayed, off-put. I pumped and tried to keep my chin up anyway. Today I pumped again and, again, nothing. So, it is clear I need to up my efforts in some way. I got on the line with a local lactation consultant who delivered me an Supplemental Nurser System. I have not had good experiences with these babies back in my LLL Leader days, let me say up front. So I was maybe suffering some PTSD going in. But it did not go well. I actually got a very pissed off Addison to nurse WHILE the tube with in her mouth by some miracle but she did not stay latched long enough to drink all - or even most - of the milk. And she was tired. Eventually she got latched on without the tube and fell asleep that way and I decided to leave well enough alone. The goal was to get her to nurse and stimulate milk, not to fill her up. So I am doing the one thing I never thought I'd a) need to do or b) be willing to do and turning to pharmaceuticals. Because I do not like being stressed out. And I do not like stressing out my baby. And I think what I need is a tiny boost, that's all. So I've placed my order and in 10 days or so I will be able to start my milk-producing meds which should have me in business in no time. Meanwhile, we will keep practicing comfort nursing and I've tortured myself by refilling the SNS where it waits, glaring at me, in the refrigerator for the next time I feel like stressing myself out.

So there we go: Monty Python and Relactation all in one post. I can not WAIT to see the search engine hits this entry gets!
posted by Stepping On Legos at 12/12/2006§
Noah's Crazy Crawling
As promised, I dug out an old low-res video of Noah's crazy crawl. It's really short but it gets the point across. He never crawled "normal". He was always "efficient". Haha

posted by Stepping On Legos at 12/12/2006§

Life, As I Know It, Will Never Be The Same

Ok, yes, it is a bit disorganized but a girl has to do what a girl has to do to get where she wants to go in life. I'm sure what is her "crawl" today will turn into a more traditional military crawl very soon. You know, I don't think any of my kids ever crawled on the traditional hands-and-knees! Somehwere I will have to dig out the video of Noah's patented "hop-skip crawl".
posted by Stepping On Legos at 12/11/2006§

Birthday Shout Out
Happy birthday to my dear husband. Today we get to fill the day by doing the things HE wants to do (which I'm pretty sure will end up including stroller and crib shopping -oops!) and eating where HE wants to eat (Bahama Breeze).

Want to know what to get him for his birthday? Buy the book! You will stay safe online and we will get to pay our bills! Woohoo - win/win! haha

Happy Birthday honey!!!!
posted by Stepping On Legos at 12/09/2006§

The Good Santa
Today we made the annual trek down to the Good Mall to see the Good Santa. This is the Santa that does not smell like smoke OR alcohol. The kids love it, it is a lot of fun. I know some of you reading this have experienced the Good Santa so you know all too well exactly why it pays to travel so far and so wide for The Experience. For the rest of you, let me share:

First you must know that in order to see The Good Santa, you must line up quite early in order to get an "appointment time". It is nearly impossible to get an appointment with Santa on the weekends. So this morning, bright and early, Tony drove down by himself to stand in line for our appointment. 11:17am - the early bird gets the worm! castle

I got "the call" to start heading down the half hour drive to The Good Mall at about 10:00 am. But, haha, that makes it sound real smooth and easy. What it really meant was that I had to get dressed (because who is dressed already at 10am?), prepare bottles, nipples and formula for several feedings, dress the baby in a "transitional" outfit (because she, too, was not yet dressed but the froo-froo Christmas Dress was a bit much for her carseat - haha), pack her little shoes, her hair "ties", the digital camera, etc. Then I had to make sure the boys were all wearing their matching sweaters AND pants that were at least not athletic pants in the color of bright red or royal blue AND remind them not to wear boots (boots don't make great Christmas pictures). So, having succeeded in all regards and feeling oh-so-on-top, we headed out: 3 boys, one car seat containing baby girl, one frilly dress, one diaper bag, one purse, one baby sling.

Addy & SantaBut then I realized our van had not been started at all since the snow storm 36 hours ago and so it was covered in snow and - even better - an inch of ice. The door would not open, the windshield would not thaw. I could not find an ice scraper. My shoes (because I, too, refused to wear boots) were sliding all over the ice all over my driveway. The baby was hungry. And although the automatic door could not open, it also could not close completely either. Finally, a half hour later, I managed to get enough ice off the windshield to safely drive and just pretended not to hear the incessant beeping of my still-frozen-open automatic door while I prayed Noah would not fly out while we drove down the road.

Eventually I got the door shut at a red light. That's when I realized I had yet to eat anything and was feeling a bit faint. So I flew into McDonald's with 3 minutes left before breakfast ceases to be served and got some food for the road.

It was about this time that I started to relax. Apparently relax means "daydream" because shortly thereafter I realized I had somehow entered the fast line and was going 90mph. Thankful I realized this before any passing police officer, I steered back into the middle lane so I could let the car in front of me set the pace. I can not be trusted to judge such things anymore.

Noah & SantaFinally we made it to the mall and of course the baby was sound asleep. Tony met us at the entrance and brought in the kids and car seat. I realized we had not thought to bring a stroller: between both vehicles there were NO strollers at all. Plus I had not yet made a priority of getting the nifty stroller that works with Addison's car seat. So we just made do and lugged her around.

We had to wake her up to change her into her pretty dress and prepare her to meet the Good Santa. It was around this time that we were sent to "the prestaging area". Seriously. There are songs and Renaissance-era elves who get the kids excited and then when it is your turn they announce your child/ren by name in their fancy rennaissance accent and everyone claps. We finally made our way up onto the Good Santa's lap and Addison was completely stunned. Anyone who has met her knows that she will smile at just about anything and everyone. But not so today. Although she loved Santa, she was not fond of the Elves jingle their obnoxious bells to make her smile. So she did not oblige. Instead she looked horrified with her big round eyes while she waited for them to stop. Eventually she found solace with the Good Santa's long silky beard which she pulled very hard repeatedly, much to his jolly dismay. The bigger kids smiled and said cheese, everyone shared their Christmas wishes and off we were ushered to the post-picture area where we paid our $30, picked up our cd full of pictures along with our coupon for free one-hour processing at the camera store in the mall and the kids each got three magical tokens redeemable for free goodies at any one of many participating stores in the mall.

It is usually at this point that the kids totally melt down. We are exhausted and they sense this, I think. They are hungry, they are anxious to cash in their tokens, they want want want RIGHT NOW. But none of this can be done because we need to hike it to Ritz Camera to get our pictures processed. Which, today, took 15 minutes. Then we need to cajole the kids into eating a real lunch which, today, required a 40 minute wait. During the wait for Real Food, the fun with tokens begins. What might be a fun way to spend a few hours with one child is a nightmare with 3. They all want to go to different stores but they might not REALLY want what the store has to offer so we might all hike it all the way across the mall only to have the ONE kid who HAD to get a treat from that store change his mind on the spot! Usually there is at least one meltdown when the youngest kid spends all his tokens frivolously and then wants what the older kids are getting but no longer has tokens to cash in. It is a real blast. Haha. Yet we continue to do it every year, like some sick mechanical clockwork.

Eventually we made our way home but not without leaving Tony and Noah stranded at the mall during a "car key snafu" wherein they had none and this was discovered after I was already about 15 minutes away. Thank goodness Addison slept the entire ride home and then some. Now if only I could find a way to sleep too!

To say I am glad it is over is an understatement!!! I know the kids really do love this ritual so we are happy to oblige. We will likely not be living here next year and although we love the Good Santa, we will not be coming all the way home just to visit him at the Good Mall next year. Hopefully the Woodlands has a few Good Santas of its own!

Dalton, Noah, Addison, Teegan

posted by Stepping On Legos at 12/08/2006§

All The Things I Took For Granted (or Where Has Nicki Been?)
Ok, I am really struggling in the computer department. Withdrawal!!!!!!! I was not mentally prepared for how little computer time I would have after we returned home with Addison. Our room is not really babyproof. It is sort of the central repository for all major projects in the house. And it is also Addison's bedroom. And my office. So while she sleeps, I can't use my computer. While she is awake, I can't use my computer.

To add insult to injury, our return home also coincided with Tony's return to the "outside the home" workforce for the first time in 5 years. So not only am I learning how to be "on" all the time as Mom but also there is just no way to pass her off for a few minutes to check email or blog.

Finally I realized I can steal a few minutes to at least read email here and there but that I can get more done - read and respond to blogs, update this blog, if I just use Tony's "old" office. So here I am. Eventually I hope to move my computer here since he is gone all day now and then I can actually read and respond to emails more consistently.

So this week is really crunch week for me. Tony is back to work full time (plus some!) and the visitors are gone and we are back to homeschooling and trying to fit in Christmas shopping, house decorating (for Christmas), baking, shopping, cooking, etc and I am so NOT a domestic Goddess. In the middle of it all, Addison decided to have some sort of developmental growth spurt that has affected her ability to sleep at night so she was up every two hours for a few days. Last night she was back to waking up twice, like normal, so hopefully we are back on track but there were a few days when I thought I would die by 5am and had no clue how I would handle a whole day, on my own, with 3 other kids who had needs along with Addison's normal needs. My body is whacked, my muscles are so sore, my neck is killing me, I'm living on Motrin.

But it isn't all bad! I am so in love with this baby girl!! She is doing fantastic and we are all loving her so incredibly much! She is 7 months old now and we have been together just over one month. She is now sitting on her own and playing with toys while sitting. She isn't a huge fan of the sitting and knows how to flop over so the sitting never lasts long. Yesterday she started crawling foreword instead of the normal rolling she does to get places. I have been both looking forward and dreading the more accurate and precise forward crawl :-) And she is so typical for a 7 month old - it is the forbidden that motivates her. Give her a basket of toys and she will throw them aside and pick wicker off the basket and try to eat it! There is no such thing as babyproofing with this baby! It is a full day job!

She is nursing more and more and has actually nursed to sleep two nights in a row now which is definitely the highlight of my day. For anyone who has nursed a baby, you know just how wonderful and special those times are when you just hold your baby and watch them drift to sleep from the comfort and warmth of your body and your milk. You know the feeling of that fluttery suck babies do when they are asleep. Nothing I have experienced as a mother is as connected as that experience with my babies. I feel so incredibly lucky to get to experience that with Addison too. So much so that I even actually physically got the pump off the shelf today! haha. Maybe I will even use it (finally).

The boys are all still just as in love with their sister as day one. Yay. Sort of. But today I used Boy Number One's love for his sister to entice him to take over Baby Duty so I could shower. Because showers are also something else I had not properly planned for. So many things you take for granted with no baby in the house and a husband home full time! But it is helpful having older children this go-round to help out. And Boy Number Three is ever-so-helpful in the "fetching diapers" or "fetching bottles" or "fetching anything" department. And he still can't get enough of his baby sister.

Now if only I could figure out how to get out to the grocery store with all these kids, icy roads, snow on my car and sore muscles all over my body. And actually buy groceries, get them home, unpacked and put away. That would be getting somewhere! And then maybe I could get a Christmas tree up before Christmas which would mean I could take the Infamous (and this year sure-to-be-challenging) Family Christmas Photo in front of the tree and POSSIBLY get Christmas cards out! And adoption announcements. Maybe. And then, if I get all that done, maybe - just maybe - I can find a way to drive the half hour to the Good Mall to get in line at 8am to get an "appointment" with the Good Santa so that we can come back LATER in the day to have the kids' pictures taken with the Good Santa and then spend the day shopping for treats (part of the Santa Experience at the Good Mall). But that sounds like something for Daddy's Day Off. Because something else I took for granted before this work-outside-the-home insanity and this baby-insanity was that we were free souls, non-scheduled. Now we are a slave to Addison's schedule and Tony's work. What we have to do has to fit beautifully between those two events and guess how often it works out that way? And so guess when the last time I left the house was?! Haha

So hopefully you will hear more from me soon, if I can get my computer down here into the Normal Office. For my own sanity.
posted by Stepping On Legos at 12/06/2006§

My Dad and stepMom have been here staying at our house for the last few days for a visit. It has been nice and the kids have had a great time, as usual. They are thankful for some massive doses of attention that have otherwise been missing for the last few weeks. They just loved Addison and spoiled her with gifts and attention.

The combination of Tony's kids returning home after their extended absence and our visitors meant that Addison's schedule has been totally topsy-turvy. Her naps are all crazy and her bedtimes are atrocious. Last night she went to sleep too early, woke up a half hour later screaming and then stayed up until 11 but still woke at 7am. This is just crazy. Not to mention she had 2 huge bottles in the night. Something's gotta give with her nutty schedule and hopefully it won't be my sanity. Really though the waking and schedule isn't so bad but her corresponding moods are what are so tough. she is just SO upset and SO tired and it is not fun for her at all.

Today is a new day. Tony is back at work, the kids are back at school, the guests have moved on and I am determined to help this baby get back to her natural schedule. She is dozing at her regular time right now so this is a good start.

Yesterday I took her for her follow-up appointment at the doc. She got a clean bill of health, so far. All her bazillion blood tests were already back and great. She still had to have the urine culture and stool culture but we don't expect any surprises at this point. Her TB test was also great and her vaccine titers were completely non-existent....proof that there were zero vaccines given to her at all. We don't vaccinate for philosophical reasons so now I have to decide how we will proceed with her based on the law, etc.

Also yesterday we got Addison's social security card and next week I am filing for her Michigan birth certificate. Hopefully within a few months all that paperwork will be done.

Meanwhile, I am busy looking at online home rentals in Houston and planning my next big move. I'm still pounding out the when, where and how so that's fun (not). I just want to get it over with, I wish life was as easy as making a decision and just doing it. Unfortunately there are a million tiny details to see to that make any plan like that torturously complicated and long. I keep thinking I wish I had some friends who lived real close who could help out with things like packing and emotional support but - haha- if I had that I probably would not feel so driven to move in the first place! The irony. So, anyway, I'm plugging along.
posted by Stepping On Legos at 12/01/2006§

Name: Stepping On Legos
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