About Me

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WE HAVE MOVED TO A NEW SITE!!! http://www.mommyhood-shivonne-costa.squarespace.com/ As of June 18, 2015, this is our new location. Please come join us!! I started blogging the week I got married. I thought it would be nice to blog the full first year, you know, to cherish those memories and share them with my family and friends. Little did I know, it was going to be my greatest coping skill for the craziness that comes with marriage! I found writing to be a fantastic way to reframe an ugly marital spat into a humorous event, allowing me to smile at the situation by the end of the post. And now, I am honored to share my struggles and joys of fostering, adopting, birthing, and raising 4 beautiful children. It's my hope that others gain laughter and new ways to see their own frustrating life situation through my writing. Because I love to write! PS, look for me on Facebook - "Mommyhood-Shivonne Costa"

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ode To Odors

     To those lovely Mommies out there that offered so many suggestions on how to deal with a gassy and colicky baby, I am so appreciative. Thank you all! But a question to those of you that mentioned using gripe water.... WHY DOES MY BABY NOW SMELL LIKE SULFURIC ACID!?!? My house smells like a science experience that went awry! I come home from work and the odor hits me with a force that could knock me into the next county. And the results are almost instantaneous... in goes the gripe water, out comes the rotten eggs. I feel that the creators of this product should also come out with a line of air freshener that acts as a neutralizer when it encounters gripe-butt-odor. Now, that being said, Isaac slept for over 4 hours straight last night... no gas, no fussing. So, explosive smells or not, I'm hooked. (Not that the fussing is completely gone, but I'm not one to knock improvement when I see it!)
     Speaking of smells... how about that flu, huh? You know the one... it's effecting roughly 98% of the region right now and is accompanied by the glorious aromas of vomit, diarrhea, and potent air that explosively leaves one's rectum (AKA, the fart). Not only have myself and my husband experienced a variety of these symptoms within he last week, but the children have had their fair share of "explosive" moments as well. First, there was the incident of Isaac projectile vomiting all over me... WHILE I was wearing him in the baby carrier. His puke literally bounced off of my chest and flung back at him, covering his entire face and head with goo (not to mention the large quantities that leaked all the way down my shirt AND inside of my pants).
     And then there was Cameron. This morning, he informed me that his stomach was a little upset. So, I told him to lay back down for a few minutes in his bed.... only to hear him gagging over his garbage can moments later. (Yummy.) Then, this evening, Cameron said to me, "Hey Shivonne! I went to the bathroom and it looks like water!" "That's good, Cam. When your pee is clear, it means you're drinking enough water," I said. "No, not my PEE! My POOP looks like water!" he explained. (Ouch. Double yummy.)
     Finally, Taylor's need to take the cake at all times emerged while we were in the bathroom this evening getting ready for her bath. She began telling me that her butt was hurting her where she poops. I asked her if it hurt when she went to the bathroom, and she said yes. (Oh great, a hemorrhoid, I thought.) Being the good mother that I'm trying to be, I told her I'd take a look (against my better judgement). She bent over, spread her cheeks, and just as I was leaning down to take a look, she farted directly in my face. Awesome. She stood up and covered her mouth, eyes big, as she squeaked out an "Excuse me!" But I suppose it could've been worse. Afterall, at least she isn't taking the gripe water!

Monday, November 26, 2012


     After a brief hiatus from writing, I am happy to announce that I'm back...and feeling a good deal saner, too! It truly was a rough couple of weeks. Without going into all the woe-is-me's, let me just say that lack of sleep, an increase in kids' negative behaviors, getting sick, and having a broken computer (not to mention prepping for the holidays) was a bit more than this Mommy could handle! So, as to avoid bringing down the mood of all you other lovely mommies out there, I decided that I would suffer in silence until the dark cloud passed. (And by suffer in silence, I mean roar like a raging lion at my husband, children, and all those near me for about 2 weeks straight.)
     So, when my parents came out from Michigan to help us manage life (oh, and to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday... I suppose that was the actual reason they came out, wasn't it?...), it gave me a bit of time to pull back and yell less.... less. Then, my father had a novel idea. He suggested that I try to be calm with the children. Is this man out of his precious mind? I thought. He's been with these rascals all weekend and seen how taxing they are! But he reminded me that being reactionary makes me feel worse instead of getting my point across to unruly kids. (Duh... this is therapy 101, but because I'm currently living on the crazy farm these days, I've lost all sense entirely.) I decided to try my dad's plan. So, this evening, I calmly told the children to clean up their rooms... I had to calmly tell them about 40 times, but I did it calmly nevertheless. Then, I calmly informed Taylor that she could refuse to get her potties out before bed, but that I would then wake her every 10 minutes throughout the night until she peed for me. Finally, I calmly reminded the kids that their constant squabbling over minute matters breaks Jesus' heart... and that we now have three children, so that means we have a spare if one of them would happen to, say, disappear in the middle of the night and never be heard from again. Both Cameron and Taylor looked at me with slight grins... because they were PRETTY sure I was kidding, but they weren't positive, so they figured they'd better behave.
     On a different note, I'd like to request some advice from you Mommies (and Daddies) out there. Let's say your baby were to scream for hours on end, no matter what you tried to do to calm him... and let's say that your baby ALSO has gas pretty ferocious all day long. Could these screams be due to gas pains? And if your baby were getting gas drops regularly but not feeling any relief at all, what would you do? Because MY baby would never be like this at all.... (I'm just asking for a friend of a friend....) And if your baby were to have consistently green and yellow soft-serve-ish poos that cause his diaper to rival your Thanksgiving turkey in weight, would you be concerned? Isaac... I mean, my "friend's" baby, Shmisaac... is completely fine for many hours during the day, but then he cries constantly, and even food won't calm him, which is COMPLETELY abnormal for this little chunker. Anyways, I'd love to pass on your advice to my friend, so please, let your Mommy juices start flowing and help this gal problem-solve!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

No Brains

     Our baby apparently has no brains.... according to our 4-year-old. I tried to tell her otherwise, but she just insisted that our baby is brainless. This all started when Taylor, Isaac, and myself went to her gymnastics class last night. I decided to take the baby with us because he has turned into our sweet little bundle of colic (or whatever the heck is making him cry for hours at a time) and we needed to give Daddy a bit of a break. Plus, this is the only time of the day that I get to see him while he and I are both awake (well, him more than me these days!). So, we arrived at gymnastics, 4-year-old, 3-week-old, purse, diaper bag, gymnastics gear, and baby carrier in tow... all of this, naturally, had to be carried to the top floor of the building (because athletes don't believe in elevators... these people are all too "fit" and "perky" to be weighed down by an extra 20 lbs and kid crap in a slippery stairwell).
     Taylor's gymnastics coach was ready to greet us at the top of the stairs (bless her heart... she took half of my luggage as I gasped for breath.... these kids are turning me into an asthmatic, I tell you). Miss Dawn immediately began to coo at the baby, giving the perfunctory ooo's and aahhh's. Taylor, Miss Show-Off herself, proudly told her coach all about baby Isaac.
     "He's MY baby and I'm the big sister." (Taylor)
     "And I bet you make the best big sister in the whole world!" (Miss Dawn)
     "Yup... I help take care of the baby... I feed him, and I help change him, and I hold him...." (Taylor)
     Um, in what universe?? That must be in those imaginary times between being sent to your room for bending his arms the wrong way and trying to pinch his nose closed....
     "Wow, you're such a big help! You must know a lot about babies now." (Miss Dawn)

     "Yeah, like you can't push on the baby's head in the center." (Taylor)
     "That's right! Very good, Taylor. We never push on a baby's soft spot." (Miss Dawn)
     "Yep, because he don't have any brains in there yet." (Taylor)
     Hmmm... I remember explaining this very differently to her...
     " Well, honey, it's not because he doesn't have brains..." (Miss Dawn)

     "Uh huh....that's why baby Isaac's not smart." (Taylor)
     "Taylor, Isaac is smart... we don't push on the soft spot because we don't want to hurt him, not because he doesn't have brains." (Me, finally interjecting)
     "I don't think so." (Taylor)
     "Oh no? Because even baby Isaac is smart enough to know that his big sister will be grounded if she continues to talk back...." (Me)
     "Fine. He has brains." (Score 1 for the Mama)

     And while Taylor was attempting to do handstands and cartwheels, I received the phone message that I'd been desperately waiting for all afternoon. Grasping my phone with the two fingers I could spare as I balanced Isaac, his bottle, and the binky, I received the news that my brother's first baby was born. I am a new Aunt! Konner Isaiah was delivered 6-weeks early by emergency C-section. And he's already a champ! Healthy, alert, and happy... all that you could ask for in a sweet little baby boy!
     When Taylor came out of her class, I had tears in my eyes as I showed her the first pictures of Konner.
     "Aww, he's pretty! And I won't even touch him on his soft spot. Hey, can we get ice cream?"
     And with that, she moved on with her life as if nothing had happened... but it's obviously Isaac that doesn't have any brains.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Wolf Bait

This post contains a less-than flowery depiction of children ranging from ages 4-6.
Two children, ages 4-6.
(Will take best offer)
(...or free to a good home)

     Every few weeks or so it seems that I get re-bitten by the Bipolar bug. Thoughts begin to run through my mind such as, "I wonder why God chose to populate the earth by using such crazy things as children?", and "I think it's about time I get that hysterectomy... ya know, just to be safe.", and "Hey! Let's hire a sitter for the night and then... move away! (We'll send the kids a post card, without a return address.)"
     These regular cycles of actually liking and disliking the short people that live in my home are akin to those associated with menstruation.... except that children don't make me bloat, and PMS doesn't make me homicidal. But my favorite part of this parenting experience is the large number of people that tell you, "Oh, what your kid is doing is totally normal." Oh my gosh, really?? If that's the case, why in the WORLD are people still having sex? It's a wonder that word hasn't spread like wildfire : BEWARE! CHILDREN ARE ROTTEN! USE ABSTINENCE!!! I mean, seriously, in the animal kingdom, it's survival of the fittest. If you're the obnoxious, tattling, argumentative young in the animal pack that's drawing the attention of a predator, you'd quickly become wolf-bait. "Charlie was a sweet squirrel, but he just wouldn't stop whining... so we had to let him go." And the rest of the squirrels would understand!
     Now, I'm not saying I would feed my kids to a pack of wolves just because they're being disobedient little stinkers.... wait, am I saying that?? Regardless, it truly is amazing that our nation is as over-populated as it is. You can almost see where China is coming from, regulating the number of children each couple can have. It's not because the country doesn't have the room for these kids, it's just that they don't have the tolerance to put up with them outnumbering the parents and, thus, causing them to go insane!
     Well, obviously, my Bipolar swing is in full force (it has been all weekend, hence my lack of blogging for a few days. I didn't feel that it was very Christian of me to subject you all to more than one day of this horrid attitude that has overtaken my insides!). My usual self-help remedies and coping skills to manage these drastic mood swings have become virtually impossible while caring for a newborn. Sadly, the baby is the only one NOT driving me utterly bonkers... but have you ever tried playing the piano while holding a screaming infant? Or doing yoga while trying to keep a bottle in his mouth? Or talk on the phone to a friend while the baby wails into the receiver, as you try to hold it against your ear with your shoulder, causing it to slip right out and shatter into 3 pieces on your kitchen floor??? Yeah, how's THAT for stress-relief!
     But my "medication" is finally kicking in.... I was able to go to church and get my worship on (blessedly the baby slept the entire time and my husband kept the kids' incessant demands to a minimum) and we heard an awesome message. I was also able to spend some time yesterday and today with friends (my husband, ever the saint, returned home from work and took the kids for 3 hours, giving me some much-needed time away!). And now, I've got a sleeping baby beside me, two larger versions sleeping just down the hall, and dogs cuddled at my feet. Here in this moment, it's hard to believe that I was stressed at all. However, I do not let myself forget that in a matter of hours, everyone will awaken, full of renewed energy and mischievousness, and the work week will be in full swing, and I will once again consider the wolves.... but for now, I'm going to rest and enjoy the peace that is finally in my home.... well, as soon as I change this last diaper... or get the septic tank pumped, whichever the case may be.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Rationality Is For The Childless

     People in my house may start dying if I have to wipe crusted chunks of toothpaste off my sink, faucet, mirror, or counter top one more time! Of course that's not a rational statement, but since when does rationality have anything to do with being a mother? But seriously, I'm going to hire a sniper to sit behind the shower curtain and take out the responsible party and/or parties each time they try to do a spit-and-run. I just don't understand it.... toothpaste gets squeezed out of the tube, onto the toothbrush, and then the toothbrush gets put into the mouth. Only spit should be coming back out, not entire chunks of toothpaste.... especially when I know that I've watched the kids brush their teeth for at least the length of the ABCs and it's STILL coming out chunky. And why in God's name is it on my mirror?!?!? I feel like this actually takes effort and a well-thought out plan to achieve, particularly because my kids can't even REACH the mirror without being lifted up. I haven't seen a ladder or a set of stilts, so unless they're climbing onto each other's shoulders to smear the glittery, sea-green paste onto my lovely mirror, I'm completely baffled.
     This is a conversation that we've had repeatedly in our home. If you make a mess in the bathroom, you MUST clean it up. Toothpaste, pee, toilet paper, toilet flushing, used tissues, soap drippings, and all dirty clothes must be promptly taken care of BY THE PERSON WHO MADE THE MESS. So, because my daughter is choosing today to be obedient, I came home and went into the half-bath after a full day of "holding it in". Just as I'm about to sit down, I notice that there is liquid.... everywhere. As I did a bare-bottomed hover over the seat, I contemplated the source and consistency of this mystery fluid. The options were narrowed down to 1) water, and 2) urine. (Please be 1, please be 1...) Naturally, I did what any mother would do... I dipped a few fingers into the liquid, held it to my nose, and took a deep sniff. Relief. It's just water, I told myself. I began wiping up the water, which was all over the toilet seat, toilet lid, toilet tank, floor, rug, mirror, and counter top. I finished my business, washed my hands, and.... It was then that I noticed the hand towel and kids' wash cloth for cleaning faces were also wet. Then the thought occurred to me.... Is this sink water or toilet water???
     I exited the bathroom and questioned the first person I found.... my husband. He laughed as he explained to me that he had no idea where the water came from, but that Taylor was "cleaning" the bathroom for us earlier. My daughter beamed innocently and proudly as she told me that she washed the toilet and counter with the face rag and then dried the toilet and counter with the hand towel.... the towel that I just dried my hands on after I used the restroom.... the face rag the children had used to wash up with after their craft. Awesome. But don't worry... to get even I just cleaned up the toothpaste situation with Taylor's wash cloth. No, no I am definitely NOT rational... but it's just so hard to find a good sniper these days.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Plead The Fifth

     Today, I went to vote. Now, don't worry... this is certainly not a political blog, as I am (by far) the least qualified person to discuss such a topic! But while I was in line at the polls (for over an hour.... outside, in the frigid weather, without a jacket... catching my death of a cold, I'm sure... playing Words With Friends and Scramble until my icy fingers cramped up and my battery blinked red), there was a family in front of me. A mother, a father, and two little girls, ages 18 months and 3-years-old. They looked just like their mommy. They were beauties... spunky, energetic, full of laughter, playful. Their high-pitched squeals and silly games kept our frozen crowd entertained for the duration of our voting journey.
     As I watched the family engage with one another, I couldn't help but join in... afterall, I was sleepy, cold, hungry, wishing I had peed before leaving work, and my phone was dead... playing with a stranger's children seemed like the best solution for the time being. The mother looked to be about my age and she turned and asked me the oh-so-frequent question: "Do you have kids?"
     Now, I know it sounds ridiculous, but this question always stumps me. The obvious answer is YES.... I have 3 children. But in a way, I feel like I'm cheating when I give that answer. Primarily, I feel nervous to jinx Cameron's adoption by claiming him as "my child" a moment before the judge himself announces Cameron as a Costa. And then with little Isaac, it seems like I'm not allowed to call him mine, especially since we are no where near talking about adoption. Afterall, I could run into this other Mommy 6 months down the road while at the grocery store and she could ask me how my baby is, and what if I have to answer, "Well.... I don't exactly have him anymore....) It's awkward!! The sweet gal was in line, just making friendly conversation, telling me all about her girls and the silly things they do. And then she asked me, "What were your kids like at this age?"
     "Um.... smaller?" (That seemed like a safe, yet completely idiotic answer.) So, I did the only thing I could do.... I made up a story. "Oh, they were just like yours! Tons of energy, fought like cats and dogs.... but don't worry, they'll grow out of it."
     What the heck was I talking about??? For one, I have NO clue what my kids were like at 18 months and 3-years-old. Worse yet, I gave this poor woman false hope that her children would start getting along better at ages 4 and 6?? It's a wonder lightening didn't strike me down right then and there! But I can't explain it... I felt so much better being able to tell this woman, a stranger, that I have 3 children.... and that I have past memories to attach with them.... and the words "foster" or "adoption" never had to leave my lips during just this one conversation. It was refreshing.
     Other awkward moments include the comment: "There's no way you just had a baby! You look fantastic!" Do you have any idea how badly I want to just smile and say "Thanks!"? First of all, I've never in my life been able to claim that "my body just bounced right back" from anything... (unless it was bouncing because I fell down and the fat in my bottom propelled me back up into the upright position). Secondly, it would just be nice to take the compliment and pretend that we are truly a regular family instead of a foster, pre-adoptive, and adoptive family (all 3 of our kids have different status' right now, so it's not exactly an easy explanation!).
     But then there are the moments that I am HAPPY not to claim these little monsters as mine. For instance, if I've got the kids in the store with me and they start running around, screaming like monkeys being freed into the wild, I can just scream at the top of my lungs, "THEY'RE FOSTER KIDS!!! NO NEED TO LOOK AT ME LIKE I'M A BAD MOTHER... THEY CAME TO ME THIS WAY AND I'M JUST AS ANNOYED AS YOU RIGHT NOW!" Or, if they're being exceptionally bad, I can simply walk down another aisle (as we wait for security to come and escort them from the store) and leave them alone with the elderly man in the wheelchair just trying to reach the Raisin Bran... he's a bran-eating, unsuspecting cripple, but he would be a passable "grandfather figure", right?
     Anyways, all this to say... I enjoyed the moment of normalcy this evening. All I did was get in line to vote. But I ended up following a different political path. I plead the 5th... there was no need to give this woman every detail of our familial journey, and it allowed me to revel in the moment of just being a family. I'm grateful for the opportunity to vote... and I'm grateful for the opportunity to just be normal (well, in the family sense, anyways). 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Returning To Real Life

     I was blessed to have this past week off of work. I, along with my husband, used this time to adjust to having a newborn in our home: figuring out a feeding schedule, attempting to figure our a sleeping schedule, rearranging the house to be more baby friendly, showing Isaac off to everyone we encountered, trying to get a level of sleep that would prevent us from becoming predators from The Walking Dead, practicing outings with Isaac (such as grocery shopping, his first doctor appointment, and participating in church functions), and learning to attend to the needs of the new baby while not neglecting Cameron and Taylor.
     Since we failed at 90% of these adjustments, I've decided to put word out on the black market, advertising some not-so-vital organs in order to make enough money that I can be a stay-at-home mommy.... someone is bound to be looking for a 30-year-old appendix in fairly good condition. I'll even through in a kidney for a reasonable fee (only slightly used, never had a stone...). But, until my new (and extremely illegal) job starts booming, I will be returning to my vocation as a therapist starting tomorrow. I tried not to think about it while I was snuggling with my new little "Bug" (as he's been affectionately dubbed in our home)... I tried not to think about it during the precious few hours I actually got to sleep this week... I tried not to think about it while we were Christmas shopping for the children (exactly where do I find the phone number to the black market?...) and I tried not to think about it while I wasTrick-orTtreating with my kiddos (Side Note: Cowboy Cam and "Strawberry The Cupcake" Tay, accompanied by Tigger Isaac, were cute as pie!... PS, this was Taylor's first Trick-or-Treat and it took her until the last few houses to realize that she is supposed to say "Trick or Treat" before getting the candy, and then "Happy Halloween" after receiving the candy. Poor kid was lost as a blind man in a maze, but she had fun... until the coldness and sleepiness set in... and then she was just insufferable! We came up to a Michael Meyers character that stood silently with his mask, holding a large knife made of tin foil. Cam giggled and tried to lasso him with his cowboy rope. Taylor smiled big and waved happily at him, only to burst into tears moments later, asking "Why won't that boy say 'Hi' to me??"... this is when the tiredness REALLY became apparent! End Side Note.)'
     But alas, the moment is upon me. In 12 hours, I will begin my career as a sleep-deprived Mommy/Mental Health Professional. So, in preparation for this moment, I devised a plan.... and it's name is Caffeine. I've decided to go with my usual bucket of coffee in the morning, but perhaps add another scoop of grounds, just for good measure. Then, around 10 am, I will have a snack of chocolate covered Espresso beans. For lunch, I will need a bit of protein, washed down with a Big Gulp sized diet Coke. Then, around 3 pm, I will teach myself how to install an IV so that I can hook up my Caffeine drip (I was thinking, and I'm pretty sure I can hang the bag from that handle in the backseat that's supposed to be used for hanging clothes... but who in the world ever uses it for that anyways, right?). Then for dinner, I will have an energy bar with a pot of tea, followed by cappuccino ice cream for dessert. And just in case I get a bout of the weepies while I'm working(which I've been prone to experience daily this week.... ok, fine... hourly), I will pack a lunch box filled with Kleenex, midol, chocolate (courtesy of my kids' Halloween candy), and a running slide show playing on my phone with pictures of my kiddos, baby Isaac, and a complete playlist of  pick-me-up favorites such as I Will Survive.
     Eventually, I will get used to the idea of leaving behind my sweet bundle of cuteness... or at least that's what I keep telling myself. But I am comforted with the blessing of having a husband that will take approximately 4 million photos per day and text me with each milestone that I miss. I love you, honey :)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Poo Pandemonium

     Today, I had my first real "poop" experience. I knew it was only a matter of time, but for some reason, I thought that I was immune.... afterall, I know how to change a diaper. And I certainly know how to find my way around these silly baby snaps now. But today was the day. My husband and I were co-changing Isaac's diaper (one person holds the binky in, the other one changes the yuckiness... if this is the only reason to get married, it's worth it.) when I realized that we had quite the load on our hands. We were experiencing smells and sights that had not yet been breached with this little guy yet. And, lo and behold, here we were, on the living room floor, trying to keep his squirming to a minimum, when PLOP! In went his foot!! His tootsies were covered in poo and he was rapidly cycling his leg about, making it near impossible to clean him off (and prevent flinging of gunk from his waving limb!). I finally latched hold of his foot, which transfered a big smear of gooey poo onto my hand... Um, gross.
     For whatever reason, Little Man's "smear" would NOT wipe off today. The consistency was different from his norm and it was as if the brown goo was immune to the powers of the baby wipe. The poor fella was wailing his head off as his little body was exposed to the cold air and even colder baby wipes. And the thing about baby screams is that they chill you to the bone. I know in my rational head that no one is dying in that moment. I KNOW that Isaac will survive this diaper change and that he will warm up, calm down, and eventually be the happy boy I've come to love. But that scream.... that SCREAM! It turns on a level of panic inside that says, "Ya know what? Someone MAY actually be dying right now! Hurry, HURRY, HURRY!!! Get that diaper changed NOW!!!" And before I know it, I'm sweating and making silly mistakes and my husband and I are screaming at each other as dogs run for cover.... Shear poo pandemonium, I tell you!
     But the poo was finally wiped off. Baby finally stopped screaming. Heart rates finally returned to normal. Dogs finally came out of hiding. All was righted with the world within a matter of minutes. And then I reminded myself that I was the one that had turned down the baby wipe warmer at the store. And I chose not to wear the latex gloves we purchased for such a time as this. So really, I did this to myself. No one was to blame but me. I realized that I was NOT immune to having a good ole fashion poop experience.... and I was ok with this. Baby Isaac is teaching me that not everything has to be in order, go as planned, or even be sanitary (although, we are certainly striving for sanitary as well as sanity, aren't we, Mommies??). There will always be more poo, more laundry, more dishes, more homework to do with kids.... but childhood is not made up solely of moments to "get through". They are a series of events that come together to create the Beautiful. So, I chose to enjoy the pandemonium and to get it right tomorrow, because today really was beautiful.