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"

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Athletes.... To Be Or Not To Be?

     A question for all you mommies out there... how long do you force a child to stick with an extra-curricular activity? Taylor, who is just barely 5-years-old, has decided that gymnastics is not something that she really wants to do anymore.... to the point that she threw a tempter tantrum at gymnastics last week. We had already paid for this month, so we made her go tonight because we didn't want to lose the money. She "mysteriously" came down with a stomach ache right before class. I told her that real athletes push through when they're sick... they suck it up and put on their tough face. She then asked me what an athlete was, so I'm pretty sure the lesson didn't stick.
     Last night, knowing that I was probably going to have a battle on my hands this evening when class time rolled around, I decided to turn on the college gymnastics competition and get Taylor excited about the sport. Instead, Cameron decided that HE wants to join gymnastics and Taylor just liked the sparkles on the girls' unforms.
     So, with one final attempt to encourage my kid to have any sort of hobby and social life, I chose to manipulate her.... just a little, just enough to get what I wanted from her. I told her that since it was her last night, she better make it her best class ever, for the sake of her teacher and everyone in the class. And then after each stunt and tumble, she dutifully looked over at me through the class as I cheered, smiled, clapped, and gave two thumbs up. Her huge, cheesy grin informed me that my mind games were working! She came out after the class was over and I praised her improved cartwheel, and reminded her that her teacher must think she's pretty amazing, since she's the only girl that was able to move up to the tall balance beam. In fact, she's probably so awesome that the teacher may even cry if she doesn't come back....
     "Ughhh, fine, Mom! I'll try it for one more time, but then I might still quit again.... did you see my handstand?? I did really good, right?" She was beaming as she asked it. "You did INCREDIBLE! I was so proud watching you.... I told all the other mommies that you were my daughter and they all thought you were super good at gymnastics," I said to her. "I'm REALLY good at gymnastics! Can I have a sparkly outfit like the girls on t.v.?" (Wait a second.... is she using mind games back at me?)
     So, Moms, what would you do? Would you make your child stick it out, even if another tummy ache comes up next week? And if so, for how long does a 5-year-old suffer through? I don't want to raise a quitter, but it's not like there's an end to the season that we are holding out for. And I see so many benefits of a sport (teamwork, coordination, self-pride, dedication, socialization, etc), but should I waste money each month if she really chooses she hates it next week again? Advice is always welcome!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Saturday Morning Confusion

     You know those days when the kids start fighting from the moment they wake up (which is, of course, at the butt crack of dawn), the baby fusses constantly and refuses to nap, the dogs are repeatedly underfoot, and the day comes to an end without a single thing accomplished? (I'm sure no one else has ever experienced this kind of day!) Well, that was how I spent my beautiful Saturday... breaking up fights, soothing a squealing infant, and stepping on toys that were still in the same place they've been for days, despite numerous reminders that I will, in fact, dig a hole in the yard and bury each toy that is left out, one by one, leaving only the shovel for the kids to play with. This, however, backfired when Cameron thought this would be a "cool" idea... and now I'm absolutely positive there will be holes dug in my yard by the end of the weekend.
     Still struggling with a sinus infection that I picked up sometime last week from my live-in germ carriers, I have been walking through a Nyquil-induced haze for the better part of the week, mixed with a DayQuil / Benedryll coma. Between green mucus and swallowing what has to be phlegm-coated razor blades, I feel like a bomb is going off in my upper body. So, I'm obviously the epitome of patience today. This is why I now regret asking Taylor if we need to have her tested. She looked at me dumbfounded and asked, "Why, Mommy?" (I blame the DayQuil.... it says non-drowsy, but it lies....) "Because, Taylor, if I ask you to pick up your pile of belongings from the middle of the floor, and you walk over to the pile and pick up ONE THING, it MUST mean that YOU NEED TO BE TESTED FOR SOMETHING BECAUSE NO ONE IS THAT LAZY!!!!" (The back of the bottle says not to operate heavy machinery.... mother-hood has to be harder than driving a fork-lift, right??) To which my daughter answered.... "But Mom, I am that lazy!" (Knowing is half the battle, my dear...)
     And now, the two arguers are asleep, most of their crap is off the floor, the face towel that was used to wipe up the toilet earlier (courtesy of Cameron) is now in the laundry, and there's a drying rack of barely rinsed baby bottles sitting by the sink. The chunky one is still fussing, despite having eaten 45,000 ounces of formula, and my dog has once again decided that the new leather furniture is his playground and that my decorative cream-colored pillow, his butt-rest. And I have decided that the makers of DayQuil will be receiving a strongly-worded letter from this unsatisfied customer. But despite it all, I am grateful that we are all still alive. It was touch and go for a while, but we have survived yet another fun-filled Saturday. Now it's time for this Mommy to switch to her Nyquil with a Benedryll chaser and let this fuzzy head dream of clean houses, polite children, and clear-colored mucus.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sweet Baby Bundle

     There's something utterly fantastic about a long weekend. And there's only one thing that makes a long weekend even more miraculous than it already is.... and that is spending most of that time holding a 3-month-old, chunky baby. This little fella of mine is seriously the sweetest and happiest baby in the world (well, since switching to soy formula, that is... I'm sure you can recall the posts of me pulling my hair out and slobbering over the computer keys before little man was determined to be lactose intolerant!). But now, Isaac is full of curious cooing, sweet smiles, and infectious laughter.
     Some of my favorite weekend moments with Bug have been finding that he LOVES the cooking channel. This is not going to bode well for his weight problem later in life, but it sure is cute to watch his entranced gaze as he hungrily sucks on his entire fist, probably wishing it was one of the gourmet burgers being made on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Interestingly enough, he also seems to enjoy The Biggest Loser, leading me to think that he may be an athlete... you know, high caloric intake but willing to work it off in the gym. (Either that or he simply is drawn to the constant movement of the contestants on the screen, sounds of puking and panting, brightly colored shirts, and the frequent (LOUD) tongue-lashings of Jillian Michaels).
     My guy also appears to greatly enjoy my new tablet. (Cam and Tay can't figure out why the baby is allowed to play with my Christmas gift and they aren't.... but then again, Taylor broke her own mini tablet within 5 days of having it, and Cameron lost his for 2 days, so.... yeah.) He was so excited looking at the pictures and watching the screen move to and fro that he would yell out and shake his lumpy arms back and forth. And it was only when I was ready to throw the tablet across the room for repeatedly malfunctioning that I realized my baby had his chubby little fingers on the bottom of the screen, finger-blocking my own swipes. Apparently you're never too young to learn technology!
     And even now, he's sitting in my lap, sleepily watching the letters appear on the computer screen, listening to my click-click-clicking of keys.... And even though I know he needs yet another diaper change, and that he'll be screaming for a bottle in about 20 minutes, I honestly don't think I could be happier. My sweet little bundle of squishiness is all I need in this moment. The rest of the house is quiet, the puppy next to me is sleeping, and I have a baby that adores his Mommy. It's been a fantastic long weekend.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Llama Love

     I thought it would be fun (and necessary) to spend some quality time with Cameron, just me and him, over the weekend. After giving him the opportunity to pick our activity (the pet store), I quickly realized we were either going to be coming home with tears or a guinea pig (don't worry, Mommies, I was strong... although that guinea pig was awfully cute and Cameron's tears were awfully convincing!). And even though the day itself was productive and filled with memorable moments, it was the conversations between the two of us that will remain in my mind for years to come.

Cam: "Mom, am I gonna get married some day?"
Me: "Yeah, probably, Cam."
Cam: (sigh) "I don't even know how I'm gonna find a girl with the last name 'Costa'..."
Me: "Well, Bud, that's not how it works.... when you get married, the girl changes her last name to Costa,         like yours... you don't have to find a girl with that name already. That would make for slim pickin's"
Cam: "Oh... how do I find a girl to marry? Do I just open up doors and say 'Hi, my name is Cameron, do you want to marry me?'"
Me: "Uh, no... that would be weird. You meet girls and ask them on dates... after you've graduated from college, of course."
Cam: "What's a date?"
Me: "A date is when you ask a girl to go to dinner or a movie or to hang out, and then you spend lots of time talking.... and you pay for her meal."
Cam: "That's not fair."
Me: "It's dating. It's not supposed to be fair."
Cam: "Who do I ask on dates?"
Me: "Well, when you're much older, you will find a nice, Christian girl that loves her family, has a good sense of humor, cares about animals as much as you do, someone that helps others, and someone who is pretty, and you'll ask her on a date."
Cam: (bashful grin) "She'll be pretty...."
Me: "Yes, and then after you've taken her on many, many dates, you'll fall in love, ask her to marry you, have a wedding, and then get a house together."
Cam: (big sigh) "I think I'll just get a llama."

Fast forward to an hour later.

Cam: "Mom, when I was living with my dad, he would do bad stuff in his room with 'Chelle... they moved the bed all over and broke it. It was nasty!"
Me: "Well, Cam, not everyone is quite as expressive to one another as to break the bed, but they are married, so that's what married people do."
Cam: "No way! I'm not doing that when I get married!"
Me: "Then you won't be having any babies, Bud. That's how mommies get pregnant."
Cam: "Are you serious??"
Me: "You bet."
Cam: "Well then I'm DEFINITELY getting a llama!"

I will have to remind him of this llama when he's 16 and ready to date!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My Thank You

     As a parent, you spend hours training your kids to do the right thing. There are endless conversations about rules, self-care, chores, and bedtimes. And many moments are spent trying to do the right thing, yourself... showing your child unconditional love when they're screaming at you, teaching them the act of forgiveness even when you were the one wronged, and being the example of what kind of adult you hope and pray they grow up to be.
     These are things that Mommies and Daddies do on a daily basis. It's a job that is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week... no holidays, no sick days, no mental health days. There are no raises and certainly no health benefits. The working conditions are not only tiring, but they involve dealing with irrational people day in and day out, being puked on, and never getting to go to the bathroom in peace. Being a parent is generally a thankless job....
     Until one day it isn't. If you're as lucky as I am, you came home today and found your 6-year-old son beaming from ear to ear while he held out a stack of colorful hand-made cards. As I looked through the pictures of stick figures, misspelled words, and attempted drawings of hearts, I noticed that in each drawing, all family members were smiling. I also noticed how many times he wrote the word "love", even if it was misspelled. And I noticed that he practiced making a heart on every single page he gave me. I thanked him and gave him a huge hug and kiss.
     "Thanks, so much, Buddy! What were all these for?"
     "I just wanted to say 'thank you' for taking care of me and my sister... and the baby. You take real good care of us and I love you."
     No, today being a parent was not thankless. When a 6-year-old boy is capable of demonstrating such love and care to others, you know that something is working. (And he even made a stack of cards for my husband AND for his sister... because "sissy would've been sad if everyone got cards but her.") I love my kid.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Christmas Baby

     I don't know how we did it, but we survived Christmas, New Year's, AND our first birthday party as a family. I would seriously be ok if I never saw wrapping paper and tape for the rest of my life... I'd like to say the same thing about all the sweets I ingested over the last month, but that would simply be a lie (so much for those 7 pounds I lost while I had the flu!). But that's neither here nor there. However, what I DID decide was this: had I birthed Taylor myself, I would've done things differently (well I would've done a LOT of things differently, but I'm talking about one specific point of the event). I, obviously, would've made all marvelous choices in my diet (gaining no more than 10 pounds during the pregnancy), I would have exercised daily to keep all things that sag from sagging (wait a second, I haven't even been able to do that without having a baby....), I would have told those pregnancy hormones exactly where to go, and I DEFINITELY wouldn't have chosen to get pregnant in March so that I'd never have to deal with the STRESS of planning a child's 5th birthday 2 DAYS AFTER CHRISTMAS!!
     So, I apologize to you Mommy's out there that have Christmas babies, but what in the world were you thinking?? "Oh, what a lovely Christmas present! A brand new baby!", right? That's what people say to you when they're really thinking "Oh my gosh, those poor parents! They have no idea what they're in for!!" Sure, I get it... It was March and there was probably this snow storm that left you stranded in some romantic cottage with this blazing fire (in your loins) and you simply couldn't resist your basic urges.... (scenario 1)...or you were sitting in your living room, bored during a crappy month in the middle of winter, and there was nothing good on t.v... (scenario FACT). And who uses condoms when they're married anyways, right? I mean, that's just ridiculous. It was just a quickie, just to pass the time.... there's no way we would conceive out a moment of boredom..... (Enter baby, stage right). Congratulations! Now you're stuck in the same predicament as I am. Christmas will never be the same again, birthdays will always get overshadowed, and parties will have to be canceled due to freak blizzards that leave your driveway un-enterable, or by the nasty flu bug that threatens to contaminate each person that eats a piece of birthday cake that was blown on by a 5-year-old with spittle issues.
     Be that as it may, I gotta say, not only did we survive this party, we kinda rocked it. Just sayin'. Not only did the house finally look clean (for the first time in 10 months), but the kids loved the make-over theme.... even the boys! We had Mexican pirates, fairy cowboys, and princesses with enough make-up on to satisfy the cast of The Jersey Shore. I didn't expect to see little boys falling down the staircase wearing my high heels, but no one got hurt, nothing got broken, and the birthday girl had a good time. SUCCESS!! I'm sure that I will forever curse the "March Madness" that overtook one woman 5 years ago (lovin' couldn't have waited till springtime?), but she did give me my only daughter (which was more than I can say for my own uterus), so I suppose a thank-you is in order. However, I will be sending her a strongly-worded post card mid-February, just in case Valentine's Day gets the best of her!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

I Am Mom

     I am now Mom. It took a while to get here (ten months, to be exact), but the only person in my home left calling me by my first name is my husband (and most of the time we're too rushed to bother using names anyways)! It started over the Christmas holiday. Taylor, since being adopted, has consistently called me some form of Mom... in fact, I think she goes through stages where she tries out a new form of my name, just to see which one gets her the best results. "Mom, can I have some candy?" vs. "Mama, can I have some candy???" vs. "Mommy, can I pleeeeaaaase have some candy???" (the words dripping with saccharine.) I say no to all of them, which is probably why the poor kid still can't decide which name she likes best!
     Although Taylor had finally come around, Cameron was a tough nut to crack. I didn't push it with him                    
I knew that he struggled a lot with calling me Mom, since he was in a constant state of worry that he was just going to get ripped away from our family and sent back to live with his biological mother... or worse... to his father. His unsettled insides radiated from him constantly, causing so much anxiety that it could make you cry just looking at the worry in his eyes. And then, a couple of weeks ago we found out that his mother had signed over her rights voluntarily in order to stand a better chance of getting the baby back (that's a post for another night!!). We were elated, of course, but when we told Cameron that his mother had finally signed the papers and that he was going to get to be a Costa soon, his lack of enthusiasm was definitely apparent! I guess it didn't really shock me that he didn't jump for joy (afterall, it meant saying goodbye to life as he previously had known it.... what would any six-year-old do in that situation?), but I certainly didn't expect him to remain silent about the whole thing. Not a peep from the kid! After all these months of asking when he could be adopted, when was it going to be his turn, how many more days was it till his next court hearing.... after all that, the boy didn't bring up the topic again. He simply said "Ok" and then asked when it was time to play outside!
     I wasn't sure what to do with the silence. So, I pulled a procrastination stunt (something I rarely do, but I've decided more and more that it has it's benefits... especially when the snooze button is concerned) and put it off until I could figure out how to talk with him about his lack of response to the big news (which was.... um.... never). But during my wait, Cameron started to do something unexpected yet again. Throughout Christmastime, he began testing the waters more with calling me Mom. And not just when referencing me to other people, which he's done since the first week we've had the kids. He actually started calling me Mom... to my face! And then another thing happened. My anxiety-ridden kiddo came out of his shell, ever so slightly, but it happened... he talked with all the new family members he met at Christmas parties, he made new friends with kids and cousins (this, in and of itself, is an outright miracle!), and he became super affectionate towards my husband and I. 
     Scared to jinx it, I simply acknowledged and returned his affections, and I praised his friendliness towards others, without asking him what was causing the sudden changes. We returned home and the Mom-ing increased as Cam prepared for his final visit with his mother. It's funny how something I've waited for for so long can come and go as nonchalantly as brushing one's teeth.... I wanted to be called Mom, and then it happened. I wanted there to be a final visit, and there was. Don't misunderstand, I certainly don't minimize these events or  trivialize them in any way.... it simply feels as if this was the only possible outcome. These kids were meant to be mine. Ours. They were meant to be in our family, they just happened to have been born to these other people.... people that gave them a life that is already getting fuzzy in their minds at times. I may have procrastinated out of uncertainty, but Cameron, even though he didn't verbalize his inner struggle, found his way through anxiety and into a family. He showed me what he needed.... not to talk it out for the millionth time. Not to get worked up over a final goodbye. Not even to count down days till hearings. He needed to be able to finally call me Mom.... which works out perfectly, since that's all I really needed, too.