Monday, February 27, 2006

A sad week

Sunday, we received two pieces of bad news within an hour.

My paternal Grandma passed away early Sunday morning. She was 92 years old, and the last of my living grandparents. She was living in a nursing care facility at the time of her death, and I'm sorry that it had been 3 years since I last saw her. During my "tween" years, Mom and Dad and I would visit Grandma at her assisted living apartment. She would make elaborate meals (she was a really good cook), and we would sit around listening to old songs and singing along. Grandma loved to sing, and so do I. God be with you, Grandma.

The infant son of friends of ours died this past Saturday. He was scheduled for open heart surgery for a heart defect, but didn't make it until the operation. He had just celebrated his one month birthday. Our friends have two older daughters as well (ages 4 and 2). My heart broke when I heard the news.

It's going to be a sad week. My Grandma's service won't be for awhile (she was cremated), but we will be attending the funeral of the baby on Thursday. I have been praying a lot for everyone touched by these two people. Sometimes, there doesn't seem to be an explanation for what happens in this world. We just have to trust in God's plan.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Gender Experimentation

Whose is whose?

Mark and I try to raise our kids to be adventuresome. Anything they want to try, they should! Our job is to help them pursue their interests.

True to personality, they are putting a spin on gender identity! Abby is more of an engineer than a doting mommy to her dolls. Ethan loves to hug and rock dollies in addition to his love of all things vehicular. Ethan's favorite toy right now is the pink dolly in the photo. Abby's is the stuffed tiger (roar!) They both need these things to sleep with them in their beds, and "Dolly" and "Grrr" always make it into the car when we leave the house. The Pull-ups we buy are the Disney Princess variety and the Toy Story variety. Abby will NOT wear the princess Pull-Ups... she considers that punishment if she has soiled her Buzz Lightyears. But Ethan will choose the Disney Princesses 9 times out of 10.

I'm proud that my kids can experiment with so many things without feeling it's wrong or inappropriate. I say throw convention out the window and let them find out who they are. Someday, if I'm lucky, I might be the loudest football mom in the stands - cheering on my daughter. Or I just might be the proudest mom at the dance recital, giving a standing ovation to my son. It will make me so happy to see them following their hearts. I consider that success.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Happy Birthday, Mark!

Today, my darling husband turns 31. Happy Birthday, Lovest!!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Things I Love Lately

I've been feeling down lately. I suppose it's largely because illness has been running rampant in our house, and recovering takes a long time. I'm also feeling cooped up and long for SUMMER and time outside. In times like these, it helps to focus on things that are making me happy.
  • Soaking in my giant tub with a good book (currently Nicholas Sparks' The Guardian)
  • Ashley Grutter singing "Never Ever After Ending" (listen here)
  • Ethan's super silly head bobble
  • My beautiful house, it's spaciousness and homey-ness
  • Sitting by our fireplace (even if it's just a gas log instead of real wood)
  • When Mark calls me "Hot Ta-mommy" (like hot tamale)
  • Scrapbooking - my creative outlet
  • Abby drawing "puppies" (her latest craze)
  • Reading blogs, especially those of people I care about (even those I haven't met in real life)
  • Writing in this blog - another creative outlet
  • Reading comments posted to this blog
  • Reminiscing about babies
  • Relishing the laughter of toddlers
  • Imagining the future of preschoolers
  • Eating Break 'n' Bake cookies fresh from the oven (dipped in milk, of course)
  • Watching House, Medium, American Idol, The Office, How I Met Your Mother and Survivor recorded from TV
  • Receiving a new Netflix DVD in the mail
  • Setting up dates with Mark (we have one this week!)
  • Sitting on the couch on Sundays for "coffee night" with Mark where we talk about all things non-kid related
  • Talking to Jennifer, Tracy and Jenny on the phone and catching up with our lives
  • Getting e-mail and non-junk snail mail
  • Playing hide-and-seek with my kids and hearing them call out "here I am!" as soon as I stop counting to start looking for them
Life is good.

I know we've done something right...

...when I overhear Ethan talking to Casey, who is laying in his path, "'scuse me, please."

Friday, February 17, 2006

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery. I Guess.

The words of Mark and Trista coming out of Abby's mouth:

[After peeing in her Buzz Lightyear Pull-Ups]: {low growl of frustration}... oh, man! (pronounced may-yon)

[To her stuffed bear that she has seated at the table]: Careful, bear! Get hurt!

[To her brother who is touching anything of "hers"]: No, Ethan. Don't touch. That naughty.

[To her mom who is showing how to use the toilet]: Good job, mommy! Yay!

[To Ethan, who isn't having success on the toilet]: Good try, buddy!

[To Ethan, who is currently taking a turn with a toy while the microwave timer counts down until Abby's turn]: Beep, beep, beep, then Abby's turn!

And today's show stopper...
[To her dolly, who she has placed in the time-out spot, spoken with a very solemn look on her face]: Stay there. Don't move. [After some amount of time she takes dolly out of time-out, and her face beams] C'mon, dolly! Let's play blocks!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

My "Baby" is Growing Up

Much to my amazement, Abby is 2-1/2. In August she will be 3. And so, it's time for us to start looking at preschools.

How can my little baby be old enough for preschool already??? It seems that we first laid eyes upon her just yesterday (or maybe last week). Mark likes to remind me that it's not for another 6 months, so why am I nostalgic already? I guess that's a mother's prerogative. Every milestone seems bittersweet. She's growing and learning, which is so amazing and such a blessing. But (on the other hand) she's growing and learning, which means she's leaving her "baby ways" behind. It's hard to imagine that my daughter could be becoming a preschooler.

Despite my nostalgia, I am excited to get Abby into a 3-year-old program next year for three reasons:
  1. I am not the most effective teacher for Abby. She is a strong-willed child, and although we love to play with each other and have fun together, she is not motivated by a strong desire to please me. We sometimes clash when I want her to do or learn something, and she resists. It's just a "strong personality" issue between us, and I work on it within myself all the time. Abby does respond well to other adult authority figures, though, and I think it will be great for her to have a regular *non-related* adult role-model.
  2. Abby will be a "young" five when she enters Kindergarten, and we want her to be as prepared as possible.
  3. It will be really good for her to have structured play and learning time with kids other than Ethan, and to be required to cooperate with her peers. It will also be good for Ethan to have some time without Abby around.
This morning, after dropping the kids off at co-op, I went to my first preschool tour/observation. (Mark is out of town today and couldn't come, unfortunately). I was there for an hour, but it brought up a lot more questions than it did answers. You see, we are ones to research the heck out of anything before we do it. Today's meeting provided me with lots of research questions by which to make a decision. These are some of the issues that we need to address.
  • Convenience of the program/preschool (is the classtime too short? is the school year too short? is the school too far away, and will I be dropping Abby off and driving home just to turn around and have to go back?)
  • Cost of the program (we need to consider that the very next year we will have TWO preschoolers, and none of the programs we found are less than $75 per month)
  • How important is a Christian aspect to the teaching?
  • What type of teacher runs the class, and which type of teacher is best for Abby? (Today's teacher was very subdued compared to how I teach, but is that good or bad? Will the teacher work for Ethan's personality as well, since he will be in the program the following year?)
  • How structured or unstructured is the class? Are kids encouraged to be creative, or are they encouraged to follow instructions to a T? Which of these is better for Abby and Ethan?
  • How much of a benefit is it to have the preschool at the kids' elementary school? (that's where today's visit was) (possible benefits: familiarity with the building, some of the preschool classmates are likely to be Kindergarten classmates as well)
  • How valuable is a relationship with the other families or preschoolers? (one preschool provides monthly social events for the families)
  • Does the preschool hold conferences, and how detailed are the assessments of the child's progress?
  • Do other moms I know recommend the program?
There are certainly other issues that I'm not thinking of at this moment. Right now, I plan to tour four preschools to see if there is a good fit. It's awesome to look back five years to when we were having difficulty starting our family, and to realize how blessed we are now to be choosing a preschool for our oldest daughter. God is great!

If anyone has any ideas of what else to focus on, please let me know! The more information I have, the more comfortable I am in making a decision!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentines Day from Team MEAT

A Valentine's Day Poem

A kiss for you...

A kiss for me...

We're as giggly as two kids can be!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Letter to my parish priest

Hello Father!

I just wanted to apologize for my family's absence at Mass today. We wanted to make it, but yesterday's events just wouldn't allow. Actually, it all started on Thursday...

When I dropped Abby and Ethan off at the co-op, I should have turned right around and gone back home. You see, one of the moms had kept her son out of school because of stomach problems (diarrhea, mostly). So he was at co-op, playing with the other dozen kids. I saw the red flag, but assumed that he was "over" the illness. Why else would his mom bring him?

Sadly, the next day, Ethan and Abby had the same symptom. In the afternoon, Ethan added a high fever (101.5) and a bout of vomiting to the symptom list. By morning, he seemed back to normal, as did Abby. Whew! It's a short one! We'll be fine to go to church tomorrow.

NOT. Yesterday afternoon, as we were sitting down to a pizza dinner at one of our local restaurants, Abby started coughing. And then IT started. Without becoming too graphic, lets just say that anything Abby had in her stomach was quickly ejected... onto Mark, the booth, the table and the floor. After a hasty clean-up, we took our food "to go" and drove home. Abby made it all the way until the car pulled in the garage, and then let go again. By the time she finally fell asleep, she had 7 episodes (and five changes of clothes, 2 carpet cleanings, and three loads of laundry).

Now, Father, being the kind and compassionate man you are, I'm sure you're thinking, "oh that poor girl! She must have been miserable!" But Abby is the best sick-person that ever existed. After throwing up, a look crosses her face that says "wow I feel so much better!" and she immediately proceeds to jump on the couch or run around the living room. While we're still cleaning up, she wants to play legos or build puzzles or dance.

When Abby finally fell asleep at 8, I rejoice! That is, until I looked over at Mark, who was white as a ghost and holding his stomach. "I'm not feeling very well..." he stated with a weak smile. And it all began again. Between 10 and 2, Mark alternated between the toilet and the bathroom floor, praying for relief. That's the "holy" part of this story... at least we got some praying in!

I could have brought the kids to church myself this morning, since Abby (bright-eyed and bushy-tailed) woke Ethan and I at 5:15 this morning (doesn't she know her body needs rest when she's sick???) But I figured you wouldn't want to be surprised with a gift of the flu-bug, like we were. Besides that, I'm waiting for my turn. Around this house, it's only a matter of time.

See you next week!

- Trista

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Musical Meme

Meme: n (mëm): A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another." In "blog-land," a survey of sorts to be written about on your blog and then passed along to others by "tagging" them and having them do the same.

I have been tagged by my new cyber-friend Tracy (who's writing is absolutely hilarious) for my first Meme! I'm so proud! I do have friends out there :)

The challenge: List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now. Post these instructions in your blog along with your seven songs. Then tag seven other people to see what they’re listening to.


1. Shania Twain, "Man, I feel Like a Woman." If you read my last post, you know that I'm a dancing fool right now, and this is the song to get down to. And GREAT music to clean the house with, also.

2. Allison Krauss, "Forget About It." I have been really digging female contemporary country artists for the last couple of years. I LOVE Allison's voice, and this song gets stuck in my head.

3. The Wiggles, "Toot, toot, chugga-chugga, Big Red Car." OK, actually most of my current music is for the toddler set. I do enjoy singing Wiggles songs - and I'm proud of it! Abby sings this whole song now while watching the Wiggles, and she can do the motions, too.

4. Vyktoria Pratt Keating, "Spider." I got turned onto Vyktoria by my good friend, Danny. She's folksy, alternative, and just plain good. And Danny included "Spider" in one of his Detuned Revue podcasts from a few months ago. "Spider" is a song where I put on the headphones and sing so loud that Mark has to snap his head and give me a look that says "shush up, I'm trying to work over here!" It's just that good.

5. Will Ackerman, "Sound of Wind Driven Rain" (instrumental). Will Ackerman is an amazing guitarist, who I discovered by accident by renting a CD of his from the library once. I loved it, and bought the CD shortly after. I have taken out this CD because we just saw "Brokeback Mountain" recently (loved the movie - but so sad), and the soundtrack sounds very much like Will Ackerman (but is actually Gustavo Santaolalla, apparently). This song is great background music for anything I'm doing.

6. They Might Be Giants, " The Guitar (The Lion Sleeps Tonight)." Or as Abby and Ethan call it, HEY! [which is exclaimed about 1 million times during the song]. We love to dance around the living room like crazy people to this song - it makes my heart smile. And can anyone tell me - "HEY! Who's that playing the guitar?"

7. ABBA, "Take a Chance on Me." This is my favorite song of ABBA's. It's fast and catchy, and if I really listen to the words, probably inappropriate for a married woman to be singing (unless she's pining for someone else - which I am NOT.) Oh well... "If you change your mind, I'm the first in line, honey I'm still free, take a chance on me!"


OK, the songs are kinda lame and weird and all-over-the-place. Let's see if Mark, Jennifer, Danny, Steve, Lynn, or Tracy are up for the challenge. TAG - YOU'RE IT!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Variety is the Spice of Life

Sometimes I surprise even myself.

I have done something this week which I never imaged I would do. I agreed to perform in the Variety Show at our church. Instead of doing something I'm actually comfortable with (singing), I will be - gasp - dancing! I have NO previous dance experience (with the exception of the occasional wedding and boogying down in the shower).

A few of us moms will be performing a musical number to Shania Twain's "Man, I Feel Like A Woman." But in fact, I feel more like an entire herd of clumsy elephants, embodied in one thirty-something year old body. I went to my first practice on Monday, and although I picked up the steps pretty quickly, I discovered just how out of shape I really am. My legs are SORE today. I have been practicing on my own at home, since the song is very fast and we're doing a lot of steps. I'm getting it, but no one will be calling me Grace Kelly. Luckily, there will be alcohol served at the performances and my lack of coordination might look OK through beer goggles. I can't believe I'm doing this...

The shows are March 24th and 25th. Wish me luck! I'm definitely going out on a very thin and fragile limb on this one!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Portrait of a boy

Portrait of a girl

Tales from the Potty

The timer on the microwave goes off - BEEP BEEP BEEP - signaling the end of a 60 minute countdown. "Abby and Ethan, time to go potty!" I call out cheerfully, hoping my children will not see through my smile to the dread of yet another session in the claustrophobic half-bath that is the stage for our new activity. Ethan's face lights up - "potty, too!" He runs full-force to the bathroom, anxious to beat Abby there. Abby herself has no desire to do anything on Mommy's terms... she leisurely strolls to the bathroom, stopping to put together some legos, pet the dog, run a lap around the living room, and grab her stuffed cat before meandering in. I help Ethan take off his pants and Pull-up diaper so he can try to "go." Abby has already stripped down and plunks herself on her "lellow" potty (which is teal with a yellow lid). Two seconds later, she jumps up and checks the bowl. There is a satisfying yellow puddle. "Alright!" she exclaims, jumping up and down. "High Five!" And she runs over to give me a high five after slapping Ethan some skin. Ethan sits determinedly, with full concentration on his face. "Push out the peepee with your tummy," I clumsily explain. He grunts and his face turns red. A burst of noise escapes. "Gas!" he cries. "Yes, honey, you tooted." He stands up to check the potty - nothing. "I's OK, Ethan," Abby consoles in her motherly voice. "Good try." Ethan sighs and sits back down. A minute later, he stands again. "I DEED IT!" he exclaims. And he has, indeed, done it.

"Great Job!" I say, gathering up two pairs of pants. "Candy," Ethan reminds me, and I retrieve the bowl of conversation hearts that have recently been our reward (two hearts for a poop, one for a pee). They're Pull-Ups are not soiled, so we put their "Buzz Lightyear" Pull-Ups back on, Abby's favorite part. "Abby's 'Lights!" she proudly announces. And so we wait another 60 minutes to do it all over again.
Abby in her 'Lights.
The kids are not 100% potty trained yet, but we are well on our way. Abby is very close to being "on her own" as far as the potty goes - she tells us when she needs to go *most of the time* and can do the whole process by herself. Ethan still needs the timer to remind him, but just recently has made big strides in noticing when he has to go. He asked to go 3 times in one hour this morning, and actually produced results each time. We are working hard at getting Ethan to take off his own clothes without help, which will be a huge help in the process. Currently, if you don't catch him right away, he will go into the bathroom, sit on the potty and "go" - without taking off his clothes. Close, buddy, but not exactly what we're looking for! ;)
Ethan is adorable in underwear. He prefers his Buzz Lightyears, though. Sigh.

I will keep you posted on the progress we are making - we have already had one day last week where both Abby and Ethan were "accident-free" during their waking hours. We are so proud of them!! I will do a little dance of joy when we are no longer spending half of our day in the bathroom. :)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Awesome Tool for Blog Readers

Mark turned me on to a great FREE website that can track the blogs you read and let you know when a new post has been added.

Simply go to and set up an account. It takes awhile to add your blogs, but when you're done you have a list with links to the blogs. And the list shows you how many blogs have new posts since the last time you checked. You don't have to check a blog site every day to see if there is anything new - the website manages all of that for you. Awesome!

By the way: I am now up to 31 blogs I read regularly - can anyone say obsession?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Hello, Friends, Meet the New Trista!

The older I get, the harder it is to make new friends. I have been blessed with a fairly stable life with few moves (this house is only my 5th residence, 3 of which were after marriage). That helps to cement friendships, for sure. I had a lot of the same girlfriends all through my growing up years, friends who went to school or church with me, friends I shared my secrets with, friends who were there when I got my first period, friends who stood up in my wedding. Only a couple of those friends remain in contact, including my best friend Jennifer.

Married life brought my first move from my parents' house - all the way across the state. And it brought a new challenge of making friends. I took on some of Mark's college classmates as friends, which was a blessing. And I met people at work (one of my best friends, Jenny, was my "employee" - heehee). I was just starting to become friendly with other moms in my community when we moved back "home" almost a year ago.

And here I am again, making new friends. But I've noticed something about my new journey - the traits that were a large part of my identity in my past city are no longer the things forming my identity now. I am starting with a clean slate, presenting my new friends with a new and improved Trista.

Adoption was a huge part of what made me "me" in my last city, probably one of the first things people said about me when talking with someone else ("my friend, Trista... you know, the one who adopted the two kids"). But, I've just recently shared with my mom's group that my kids were adopted. I haven't consciously hidden the fact that I'm an adoptive mom, I just didn't really think about sharing it or not. As many adoptive moms can appreciate, there comes a time when you are swapping birth stories with the other moms that you are asked about your labor or if you have stretch marks. Just today, I was asked how long I nursed (which opened the door to tell my news). Of course, when I share how our family came to be, I can see the lightbulbs go on (it's hard not to wonder exactly how close in age two kids are when they're the same size, and at almost the same development stage). I haven't been hiding my adoptive parent status, but haven't been proclaiming it from the mountaintop, either.

I've also just realized this week that although I am going back to the same church I grew up in, the same church that my sisters' family goes to currently, that I haven't really told people that Becky is my sister. Becky is very well-known in the church, and true to her personality, she has her hands in every pot. But I haven't mentioned our sibship to my new friends (most of who have had contact with her for one reason or another). It's another thing that would have been a big part of my identity in the past, but is not in the spotlight like it once was.

As my sister-in-law Tracy can attest to, it's hard to be the "new mom on the block." Adult friendships don't come easy, and take a long time to nurture. As I stand on the threshold of my new journey to frienships, I am taking a breath and putting on a smile. Because despite the challenge of making new friends, I'm getting a fresh start.