Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Obligatory Christmas Post!

We had a great Christmas, preceded by a record snowfall the week before - our first white Christmas in forever. Mari was very into Christmas this year and totally understood the "naughty vs. nice" list. The only thing she asked for were maracas - easy to oblige - and still her favorite present, although her art desk/easel is a close second. We had a wonderful Christmas and we still have one more small night of Christmas to go (tonight) with the rest of the family.

Enjoy our Christmas video.

Come back soon for more is the 2 year anniversary of when I left for Ethiopia. Mari's Adoption Day is Saturday, so I'll be posting the annual tear-jerking video (if I can get it done!).

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I would post but we're a little busy.....

Future Olympic Bobsledder!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Love Affair

  • Before I knew what a "lovey" was....
  • Before I knew what how effective a transitional object could be in helping with attachment....
  • Before I even met my daughter....
I met this little guy.
I thought he was a cute, soft, easily packable toy. A gift from my friend/coworker Pam, I planned to take the small giraffe lovey to Ethiopia with me. It fit the criteria of small, soft, quiet, comforting...exactly the kind of non-overwhelming toy that was suggested you take to a baby that has lived their life in an understimulating environment.

Little did I know what would happen.......
The first night....yes, the FIRST night, Mari fell in love with this little guy. It probably had something to do with the fleece blanket that lined her bed at the transition home, the one she sucked on to go to sleep. Which explains why she still, to this day, sucks on fleece to soothe herself.

This is her second night with Raffey
And flying home, to her forever home....with Raffey

Settling in at home....with Raffey

Chilling with Raffey

Falling asleep anywhere with Raffey

Yes, Raffey is green now. We have moved up to a total of 4 Raffeys - 3 green, 1 yellow (which is now in her memory box)

In all kinds of fun sleeping positions

Like I said....anywhere


We never leave home without Raffey

Even when naptime is unwelcome, Raffey is there

Raffey keeps me company in hotel rooms in St. Louis

And lays beside me when I'm down for the count

Raffey even likes to snuggle with Granddad

Raffey goes to school with me

And makes a great blanket

And makes me take a nap on Christmas Day even though I wanted to play more

Raffey is always with me, even when I'm a squiggle worm

And he always comes first when I have new friends to sleep with

Raffey helped me when I got tubes in my ears

And helps me get through really long hair sessions

Sometimes it takes more than one Raffey to do the trick!

And when I had pneumonia, Raffey never left my arms

Even a diva needs Raffey

And this is how Raffey helps me when I'm stressed

Barney is great....but he's not Raffey

Raffey loves to play games and always gets my jokes

He understands bad hair days nights

And helps me go to sleep in a strange hotel room when I am dying to just play on the beach outside my window

Raffey helps me with my breathing treatments

But most of all....Raffey is my BEST friend!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Little Pumpkin Pie

I think this is the longest I've ever gone without a post. I will be posting some very soon, trying to catch up on the last couple months but for now, I'll give you a short video. I love this time of year and am totally ready to kick off the holidays.

I could sit here and list all the things I'm thankful for but it would take so long and my fingers would fall off from typing so much. I think you know what I'm most thankful for in my life.

The thing I'm most thankful own little pumpkin pie.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The first time I saw your face....

October 5th, 2007
October 5th, 2008
October 5th, 2009

Can you believe it's been two years since I first gazed into your beautiful brown eyes and fell head over heels in love? If someone had told me then that my love would grow and explode and multiply and overwhelmingly consume, I would never have believed I could love you more now than I did then, with just a picture in my hands. I was so wrong....I can't begin to tell you how incredible my love for you is.

You make me whole.

I love you my Little Miss Mari!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Discipline with a Smile-y

Mari’s “two-year-old-ness” has recently hit an all-time new level. Not only has she been belligerant, disobedient, and defiant, she has really become hysterically dramatic (and not the funny definition of hysterical, the out-of-control definition) - throwing things, spitting, flipping furniture. We have tried time-INs…they don’t work because she has learned to use her head to smack you in the face. Time-OUTs are no longer working because, by the time I can actually get her into time-out and sitting and doing the time-out right, we are both physically and emotionally spent and neither of us can remember what prompted the time-out in the first place. Praising the good and ignoring the bad works somewhat but she tends to turn on the bad when we are in public and I can’t just walk off without her….let’s face it, we draw enough attention to ourselves without screaming and kicking. Reward charts will not work because she needs something tangible and immediate.

So it was time to think big…If you have a problem and don’t know what to do, just think THINK BIG! (oops, sorry…Pinky Dinky Doo!) I needed to come up some kind of punishment that could also be a reward and it had to be immediate and completely Mommy-controlled.


Mari lives and breathes TV. She loves it! She watches way too much but as a single mom, it’s sometimes the ONLY way I can even get a shower or potty. But now the TV has become a point of contention. She sits and watches it, toys untouched, unresponsive to my voice, totally consumed. She demands certain shows and even certain episodes. And she is not pleasant about it.

So TV is now my bargaining chip. I now have 5 smiley faces hanging directly above the TV. Anytime Mari has a breech of behavior, one of those smiley faces is replaced by a frownie face and the TV turns off. The TV remains off until all frownie faces have been changed back to smileys. Frownie faces can be given immediately for an infringement that is known rule or after some warning that she refuses to heed. Smiley faces are given for good listening, helping with chores, playing well with her toys, and (when we are stretching for any good moments) just heading to the potty without arguing.

It’s working. The first 2-3 days were really tough. She would get a frownie face for something and then pitch such a fit (throwing things at the wall, spitting, tipping furniture) that she would earn more than one frownie at a time. We went 3 days with no TV because…well, let’s just say it was a bad week! And that was hard on me as well…I was quite used to being able to cook supper or work on the laundry, etc. while she sat on the couch glued to the set. One of those first nights, she actually laid her pillow in the middle of the kitchen floor and laid there watching me work around her.

Finally, it started clicking. She was begging to earn happy faces. The mere mention of a frownie face would send her into instant obedience. As soon as she would earn her last smiley face she would jump up and down and tell me what she wanted to watch.

While her behavior has improved 180 degrees, I’ve noticed other changes in her. She no longer begs to watch TV when it’s off. She will play with her toys while it’s on and I can sneak over and turn it off without her noticing. She has suddenly become interested in watching new things. She has keyed into the emotions associated with the faces. “I’m so happy I got a smiley face.” “I’m sad cause of my frownie face.” She has become very quick to say she is sorry when she knows she has done something wrong. She is asking permission to do things that she needs help with… “Mommy, may you please help me wash my hands.” (That one earned a smiley face, hug, and a gummy!) The frownie face threat is even working when we are out of the house. On the way home from school one day, she asked about watching something, and I said that I thought she still had a frownie face up…she got really quiet and sad but then smiled and said, “I help Mommy and get a smiley face.” She did not want to go to bed one night, so I told her that she needed to go to bed or get a frownie and not be able to watch TV in the morning…she pouted and started getting her “angry eyebrows” but then smiled and headed to bed lickety-split.

So things are better, much better. I was honestly dreading the weekend because we had had such a horrible week. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy and pleasant this weekend was. Mari did not earn a frownie face until around supper time on Sunday night (climbing on the kitchen counter into the sink)…I was actually going to let her get by with it if she got down immediately and apologized but she grabbed a sippy cup and threw it across the room. She pitched a fit when the TV went off and the frownie face was hung. But then she dried her tears and sat on the floor to help me fold clothes, peeking over her shoulder occasionally to glare at the frownie face. She was able to earn back her smiley face by helping with the laundry but, while she was excited about the smiley face, she did not ask to watch anything!

So my next step will be to limit the TV time. I’m going to give us another week with just having the “all smileys=TV time”. The rule will still apply that any frownie face will mean NO TV but she will have to cash in her smileys….one smiley per episode. And the smileys are going to get a little harder to earn…as she understands that good listening and obedience are expected, I will start asking her to really earn her smileys (things like cleaning up her toys, helping me do chores, etc…things she can already do!). And my last step, to try to get the emphasis off the TV, will be for her to cash in smileys for something else.

So, hopefully we will continue to have good behavior and smiles all around!

The faces...

All smileys....TV is on

Uh-oh, 2 frownies...TV is off

Wait....all smileys and the TV is off??

Mari is playing with her toys???

Wait....did the episode finish and Mari not notice?

She's playing with her toys??

Helping to fold laundry in order to earn a smiley

(I did not ask her to do this!)

This is what a hysterical fit looks like before she escalates to aggression.

This is what Mari looks like when we are having a good day!!

Tell can you not just want to squeeze that and hang on for life??
Keep on smile-ing!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Mari and I took our first all-by-ourselves vacation last week. It was SO much fun. Mari had lots of "firsts" along the way and I got to sit back and revel in her squeals and giggles.

We drove to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg and spent the afternoon at the Sesame Street Forest of Fun. There was hardly anyone there and we could literally walk on to any ride we wanted that she wouldn't freak out on. The characters were out and walking around, playing games with the kids, posing for pix... Mari loved being close to the characters as long as she didn't have to touch them; she blew them kisses, talked to them, yelled "hey" at them, and even high-fived a couple. She told Grover about her fish named Super Grover and he immediately struck a "Super Grover Pose" for her. Wish I had caught that face on camera. She splashed in the waterpark that doubles as a castle for shows and danced to the music and basically was in pure Sesame Street heaven.

After that, we drove on to Virginia Beach, arriving just in time for sunset. I waited until we got up to our room and could look out from the balcony to show Mari the ocean. I didn't have my camera ready, so the pix of her seeing the beach for the first time were delayed by a few seconds as I ran back in the room to get my camera....I really did not expect the reaction she gave me. I've NEVER seen her that excited about something. I'll never forget that face and that squeal of pure delight!

We quickly scarfed some fast food (our first meal of the day because someone was too excited to eat until then) and then hit the beach just to get our feet wet. Then back to the room for bed, she didn't settle down until almost 10pm and was back up by 4am. She woke up feverish and croupy but she was feeling well enough to jump up and down in the bed and beg to go to the beach. I kept her quiet until 6:30, we hit the breakfast bar, then got ready for the beach. Not too many people on the beach at 7:30 in the morning. We spent the morning on the beach, did some shopping, ate lunch and then headed back to the beach. She got a lot braver as the day went on and I had to put the camera away to keep her from being swept out to sea. She loved being knocked down by the waves and really gave the people around us some good laughing moments. We finally got some supper, slowed down on the beachfront playground and then back to the room.

Mari started getting croupy and feverish before bed, so I gave her some motrin and tucked her in while I worked on packing. I had just finished up and was going to sit down and eat a candy apple when Mari made a funny noise. I looked over to see her shivering but by the time I got to her to tuck her in more, she was having a seizure. I won't go into the whole story of my freakout...except to say that I totally freaked out. By the time I even figured out where my phone was to call 911 (forgot about the hotel phone 5 inches away!), she had stopped. After some major freaking out and a couple phone calls. I decided to pack Mari up and come home. We had planned to leave first thing in the morning anyway and I knew there was no way I would sleep all night, so I thought it was better to just leave. I didn't want to risk her getting sicker, I figured that even if we had to stop at a strange hospital along the way, I'd like to be as close to home as possible. So we drove home in the dark, 80 mph, reading directions by a flashlight, me grabbing Mari's foot every few minutes to make sure she would react enough to pull it away. (Super smart and safe, huh?) We made it home a little after 1am. We both slept the rest of the night. A trip to the pediatrician on Sunday resulted in a shot of steroids for her croup and an conjecture by the pediatrician that she probably had the febrile seizure because her threshold was so low due to pure exhaustion, etc.

And I never got to eat my candy apple, I left it in the fridge in the hotel. So sad! But I was so glad to be home. Vacation was awesome, I'd never trade those great moments for anything, but I'm not sure I'll be up to travelling alone again for a very long time.

Enjoy the video. We had a blast. Even if the ending was a little premature.....

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Story by Mari

Mommy said I could write on her blog. She said that I should tell you what's happenin' with me lately. She put lotsa pictures so I could remember.

I love my Mickey Mouse, he's the bestest kitty-cat in the whole world.
Mommy took me outside at bedtime one night and told me to run in the rain. I thought she was crazy. Like boom-boom crazy. Boom-Boom ain't it great to be crazy!
Then she told me to dance in the rain. BOOM-BOOM CRAZY!! But it was FUN!

Then, Abigail came over one night and we rode bikes. I got in trouble cause I rode down the big hill after Mommy told me not to. She was mean and made me go in the house, so I screamed really loudly so all the neighbors knew how mean she was. But Mommy didn't care and just left me sitting in the middle of the floor screaming, so I stopped and went back to playing with Abigail.

Doesn't Abigail's hair look silly in this picture?

Then.......Abigail's Birthday PARTY!!!!! She turned 1 year old! Me and her and Madi all played together at the birthday party. She got lots of cool toys that I helped teach her to play with.
Isn't she a big girl now?
She wanted somebody to give her a hug...but she was too messy. Ewww....yucky!
Then, we gots to go the fishy place. Mommy called it a fish hatchery but I didn't see nothing hatch. We fed lotsa fishies. Big uns and wittle uns.
Unca Todd helped us with the fishy food.
This is Unca Chad and Madi! And that's Auntie Diana and Abigail! Abigail didn't feed the fishies but she watched.
Auntie Lesa came too!
I'm playing peek-a-boo over Unca Todd's shoulder. Mommy wanted to get my picture on the rock but I was being stubborn (whatever that means).
Eat, Fishies, Eat!
Me and Madi were grumpy here. But we didn't tell Mommy why, we just wanted to look grumpy, that's all.
We had a picnic too! I had to have a little of everything but I only ate my Doritos. Oh, and some potato chips. And Mommy was mean and made me eat my applesauce before I could eat more potato chips but I kept sneaking my hand in the bag.
Then we went to the park and rode the choo-choo train. I didn't really like the tunnels, they were dark.
We went down the big slide. Me and Madi are such big girls now, we don't need ANY help!!
I still need help to swing, though. Check out my cool bandaid - it's BIG BIRD!!
We had a race!
Then the next day, we went to the pool. It was freezing cold. Brrrr.......
But who cares? We had fun and then we had cheese crackers!

I was very tired after all that but Mommy was tired-er. She says we need a vacation. We are going to Sesame Street (Busch Gardens) and then the beach soon. I've never been to the beach but I watched Blues Clues and I know that I get to make a sand castle. And there's lots of water that Mommy says is yucky to drink. And there's a pool there too. Hmmmm....wonder if I can drink that water???