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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, March 24, 2015

Sing On

     In the book of Genesis, chapter 1, the Bible says that God created the Heavens and the Earth and that the Earth was covered with seas and oceans and that theses seas and oceans were formed by the collection of tears harvested by all the babies that were still to come. The tears of needed naptimes, the tears of naptimes being fought. The tears of hunger, and the tears of still being hungry due to having thrown your grapes on the floor for the 12th time in 2 minutes. The tears of needing a clean diaper,and the tears of that new diaper being put on. The tears of missing Mommy and then, upon getting Mommy, realizing that it was, in fact, Daddy who was the one being missed, adding to the seas and oceans of tears that were spoken of in The Beginning. **
     Today, and the entire last week, my child has been adding to the seas and oceans with flood-worthy tears. We are ALL losing our minds. Captain Cranky-Pants is unleashing his emotional fury during homework time and meal time and bed time and all the times in between, making it impossible to focus on another task and creating a great deal of tension as we attempt to talk over the wailing.
     Honest Moment approaching: Yes. I have screamed this week. Into my pillow, out of my pillow, and directly at my baby. Shut up! Just..... oh my gosh, SHUT UP!!! Thankfully, my little man thinks this is hysterical and doesn't seem to be scarred too deeply by my momentary disdain. Nevertheless, my screaming because of his screaming leaves me feeling deflated and weak and tearful myself.
     On the flip side, I have found that singing through his tears puts me and my other children in a much more pleasant state of mind. Not that it changes the screaming being done by the wee one (of course not), but it does improve my own demeanor considerably. For example, this morning, Wyatt took the opportunity to ferociously wail and attempt to climb my legs the entire time I was getting ready for our afternoon of running errands. After jabbing myself in the eye with my mascara wand and burning myself with the curling iron, I kinda wanted to exile him to his crib (and then exile his crib to Antarctica!). Instead, I chose to sing a song, more for myself than for him, in an attempt to fend off the crazed panic that was threatening to overtake me. To the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat, I sang:
     Drive, Drive, Drive your car, to the grocery store. Buy some ice cream, eat it all, and then go back for more.
     I sang it at least 10 times before I supplemented a few variations of what I would buy at the store, adding some musical runs and vibrato to the mix, and trying my vocal chords at Twinkle Twinkle. Keep in mind, the baby was still screaming, but I was not. The singing did nothing to change my circumstance but did everything to change my ability to deal with it.
     A similar occurrence happened yesterday on our way to swim lessons. Wyatt was exhausted and ready for a short nap, but he just did not want to give it up and rest in the car. My normally travel-happy camper had a whiney case of the "Hold Me's" and was unwilling to sleep until he got his cuddles in. The kids were in the back and grumbling with one another, not that I could hear the specifics over the crying baby. I was almost to my breaking point and ready to holler when I chose to turn on the radio to K-Love. Fighting the tears that threatened to spill down my own cheeks, I let the music wash over me. My voice sang even when my heart didn't want to as I began to focus my attention less on what was going on behind me and more on what was going on inside of me. At some point during our journey, the baby gave in to rest and the bigger kids had traded in their bickering for unison as they sang along with the tunes echoing through the van.
     This reminded me of an actual Scripture verse in Psalms 59. Verses 16 and 17 read like this:
     But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God.
     Singing through the tears has been a tried and true theme throughout centuries of crying babies, lost jobs, devastating diagnoses, and failed relationships. There are definitive moments in life that scream for our attention and wail to be picked up. They tug and pull and distract and cause us to stab ourselves in the eye with a proverbial mascara wand.
     Sometimes, these moments warrant our attention. And sometimes these moments are nothing more than weighted neck-ties trying to pull us down into a sea of tears as we fight and scream and forget that we have a Strength and a Fortress that has called us to sing through our current circumstance.
     There is a popular phrase among Christians that says, "If He brings you to it, He'll bring you through it". Another Honest Moment approaching: I'm just not a huge fan of that phrase. Now, before you scream blasphemy and call for a lynching, let's remember that this common phrase is found no where in the actual Bible (nor is it in the good book of Mommy's Losing Her Mind). In fact, I believe that God brings us to situations, not for us to sit there white-knuckling our faith with clenched teeth and closed eyes, wishing and praying and hoping for the moment to come when God will rush in and chase away the clouds, restoring our previously sunny life.
     I believe that God calls us to a much more active role in times of tears. Just as the slaves chose to write songs to tell their stories and lift their spirits in the midst of great suffering, God also calls us to sing through the tears. Each battle is an opportunity to tell your story through song. Each tear is filled with words and feelings and melodies just waiting to be unleashed. God brings us to these moments not to passively wait for a savior to come but, instead, to sing your heart out in the midst of it all. Maybe God isn't looking for us to beg and plead for a change in our circumstances as much as He's challenging us to find a way to praise Him for the opportunity to tell our story in the middle of the circumstance.
     When Wyatt cries incessantly, I sing nonsensical songs to silly tunes. He continues to cry, but my mood improves exponentially. I am able to smile while I pull my hair out, in a sense! When Cameron and Taylor are flipping their lids at one another and battling their own demons that they came to us with, I can put on K-Love. They may continue to squawk, but a silent story is being told as they see me praising through it instead of screaming the infamous Shut up!!! at them. And when another Mama comes to me in tears because she's lost a child and is facing heartache of the worst kind, I can sing along with her a mournful, holy roar of solidarity because I, too, have felt that very heartache.
     Our stories are in our songs and our songs are in the tears. It is your song that will be the story to heal hearts and elicit praise in the middle of it all. Even if the tears continue and the circumstances don't change, Sing On, Sisters.

**The book of Genesis, paraphrased in the book of Mommy's Losing Her Mind

Thursday, March 19, 2015


     Earlier this week I posted a very, very serious question regarding bathtubs. I wanted answers. Legitimate answers from honest moms willing to make me feel less guilty about my own flaws. The question was this: Exactly how long is it socially and hygenically acceptable to go without scrubbing your bathtub?
     I was secretly hoping and praying with fervent pleas that at least 100 ladies would tell me that it was OK to never wash my tub. Ever. These ladies would become my people and I would become theirs. We would be one against the world of anal-retentive tub-scrubbers we've heard tell of. And following up those faithful hundred, maybe there would be a handful (a large handful) of people who would've told me that yearly tub-scrubs would suffice. Those people would receive an affectionate Christmas card from me and my ladies, along with a condolence card to help them through their Dark Day of scrubbing. And then there would hopefully be even another handful (small.... Very small) of women willing to put me in my place and tell me that I have to clean at least twice yearly.
     People, I wasn't thrilled with the response. SOMEONE made me realize that I am failing and that it can no longer be ignored. I am a dirty, dirty woman and probably destined to an eternity cleaning Heaven's bathtubs. But then I realized something.... I think that, A) my ladies have yet to find the courage to out themselves as unclean, or B) it's because I didn't set the stage adequately enough in my original Facebook post. So allow me to digress....
     I originally failed to mention that I have chronic back pain (whine) and that I have a 10-month-old baby who lets me accomplish literally NOTHING during my day (sob). But most importantly, cleaning the bathtub is the worst. The absolute pits! It's stupid and gross and I'll hate it always and forever. After all, if it were just my germs, I probably wouldn't even bother washing it ever... until I saw mold. Then maybe I'd put on my big girl panties and bite the bullet... but only for mold. As for soap scum, I find this oxymoron to be utterly ridiculous. Soap's job is literally to wash away scum. So the utter idea that the two could marry and form an evil film around my shower is nonsense. I choose to ignore said film and pretend that it's just a line of memories from dirty days gone by.
     As for the rest of my family:
     My husband and all his manly dirtiness bathes in our downstairs shower. All wood chips, mud, and fireplace smoke have been banned from the rest of the house entirely, so the amount of grime build-up for our family has been reduced by at least 50% right there.
     Then there is Cameron. Honestly, I'm pretty sure he doesn't even bathe. I mean, I send him up to the bathroom and all, and he comes back wet most of the time, but because he still has mud coating his skin, I don't think he actually does anything other than stand in the water. He may even just shove his head under the faucet for a few seconds before he resumes playing with his toy cars on the bathroom floor until the appropriate amount of shower time has passed.
     Taylor is the size of a watermelon. How much soap scum could possibly be created by a watermelon??
     And Isaac, well, his version of taking a bath includes swishing and flopping and shimmying all over the tub... kind of like a human sponge, some may say. So in essence, the very nature of him bathing is the equivalent of me using a midget-sized sponge covered in Johnson & Johnson all over my shower. That should at least buy me a month of tub scrubs right there!
     Wyatt pooped once in the bath. I blame all tub grime on his teeny-tiny bottom.
     And finally, there's myself. In the off-chance that I get the time to shower, I spend equal time washing myself and scrubbing questionable looking patches off the tiles. I use Cameron's wash cloth (because I know he isn't using it anyway). After all, the tub's already wet, there's soap suds floating around, and I can rinse off quickly when the scrubbing-exertion makes me sweaty.
     So now you have all the facts. And knowing these facts, I ask the question again. Just how long can I go without officially scrubbing my tub? Come on, ladies, I'm looking for my faithful hundred!! ;)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Birthday Week

     It is Birthday Week in the Costa household!!! Note the exclamation points? That's because we are not celebrating any holidays nor are we hosting any children's parties. It is Birthday Week for just us big people, therefore we don't have to do ANYTHING we don't want to do (uh-hem baking cakes, cleaning the house "guest-style", blowing up balloons until we're dizzy, wrapping presents, or dealing with fall outs from disappointments and emotional "it's over"s). We will eat the good food and watch the good T.V. and NOT clean ANYTHING because we won't be inviting over the people who care if our house is guest-style clean, our-style clean, or just plain dirty! The benefit of adult birthdays is that we can do virtually nothing and it feel like all the somethings that we longed for as kids. It's wonderful and fabulous and perfect. This, my friends, is how we celebrate Birthday Week.
     But not this year. Apparently we've grown tired of celebrating the in wonderful, fabulous, perfect sort of way of which we are accustomed. Because this year, we are going away.
     I know. Hold the phone, right?
     We are actually leaving our dogs and leaving our kids and leaving our dirty house to go away. Could it be that perfect just got more perfect?? Folks, not only do I not have to clean for my Birthday Week, but I don't have to stay here and look at the filth either! It's so exciting that there may even be some tears shed as we walk out the door and prepare to spend 36 hours away from it all.
     However, as with most things, there is a catch. And it's name is Packing. You know what I never have to do for Birthday Week when we stay home? Pack. Even the word itself just sounds to harsh. Pack. P-ack. Ugh, why can't there be people in my life that will know what to pack for me and just come over and do it while I'm asleep? People that will plan for the unexpected, know which pants will cover my muffin top, and anticipate just which top will make me feel sensational and yet sexily understated at the same time. People that will drag the suitcase from the back of my closet and fold all the things so neatly and wrap my leakables in leak-proof containers and load my heavily-laden suitcase into the back of the car for me..... I need better friends, that's all I'm sayin'.
     My husband fails to see p-acking as an issue. Probably because his list includes these three things:
Phone charger, clean underwear, contact solution.
     Anytime we go ANYWHERE he acts like packing is just no big deal, and he proceeds to grab his few items and then make a sandwich while I run around like a mad woman, scrambling to get all the "what if" items accounted for, make the list of all things needed for my in-laws to care for our dogs and kids, make sure we've got enough money in the correct account for any unexpected purchases, etc., etc., etc.
     So, to make my life so much easier, I made a list of things that I absolutely must bring and I will simply wing the rest, just like the husband. Here is my list so far:

     1) Breast pump- even if I leave everything else, this is a must! There will be no relaxing or fun times to be had if I'm engorged and drenching the front of my shirt while in public. No one will know if I forget clean underwear, but everyone will know if I forget my pump!
     2) Mini cooler- to store the pumped milk. Wyatt has grown used to milk sans chunks.
     3) Extra breast pads- no sense risking it. They weigh like half an ounce and are worth their weight in gold.
     4) Condoms- oh my gosh, and birth control! I'm pretty sure Husband has birthday wishes that involve more than making good use of the hotel's gym accommodations, and we need another munchkin running around like we need a kick in the head.
     5) Caffeine- While the kids are away, the parents will play. But only until 8 p.m. if we forget to pack the caffeinated things.
     6) The real bra- no one wants the nursing bra uni-boob on date night. No one. It's time to suffer through and put on something with an underwire and some support. Hike 'em up, tie 'em up, whatever gets 'em UP and where they should be instead of keeping my abs warm where they usually reside. (Well, keeping the place where there used to be abs warm, anyway.)
     7) And while we're at it, let's pack some good underwear- (but also throw in a secret pair of granny panties for the actual sleeping part of the trip.... no one wants to sleep in the pretty stuff because it shifts around and creeps up and up and up and, well, it really ain't pretty any more at that point).
     8) Shoes with a heel- gasp!
     9) Skinny jeans- (or at least skinnier jeans) basically anything that makes me look like I did before all these little people is acceptable, skinny or not.
     10) Earrings- I haven't worn them for 2 1/2 years due to grabby hands and a few torn ear lobes. But for Birthday Week I will make an exception.
     11) Toiletries- all the things that it takes to make me look human.
     12) Medicines- all the things that it takes to make me feel human.
     13) And finally, The List......
     You couples know The List. Every time you manage to leave the house kid-free, what's the first thing you talk about? The kids. But not us! We are NOT talking about the kids at all during our time away, and to make sure we stick to our plan, I am creating a list of go-to topics that are sure to spark meaningful conversations, flirtations, and emotional intimacy. Things like......
     The Holocaust....
     Gas Prices.....
     Favorite Colors.....
     The Weather.
     Well, hopefully I'll win him over with my skinnier jeans and flashy earrings. If all else fails, we'll just make out in the corner booth and hope my breast pads hold out. Happy Birthday, Baby.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Working Mama: Superhero In Disguise

     Dear sweet Jesus, help me.

     This week was the week. It was inevitable and I'd put it off as long as I could, but after 10 months, it was time to return to the "working" world. (Let the record show that the "working" world is the one in which I will get paid for my efforts, as opposed to the world I've been living in that has consisted of 24/7 labor-intensive and mind-numbing tasks for which I have yet to be compensated.... and no, hugs do not count as compensation when you've changed 5 sets of urine-soaked sheets in a week.)
     Pre-pregnancy job outlook: I have the skills needed to do my job, not only adequately, but remarkably. My documentation is near flawless, my people skills are superb, I spend countless hours outside of the workforce practicing new skills and researching updated theories and techniques, and I am organized to a fault. Working keeps me sane and sanity keeps me working.

     During pregnancy job outlook: I have some skills, but I sometimes puke in front of my clients and have to use toilets that I would otherwise slit my wrist before using. I can do my job pretty well, when I'm not cringing with Braxton-Hicks contractions or fumbling in my purse for a much-needed snack.... how old are those Tic Tac's, I wonder? I spend some time thinking about my clients before I crash for the night, but I usually fall asleep before I can get through the newest psychology articles. I sometimes can't tie my shoes and my socks don't have to match, but I'm managing to keep my cases organized.... I think. Working keeps me sanish and the need for money keeps me working.

     Post-pregnancy with a 9-month-old, a toddler, and two nutty big kids job outlook: I have the skills to.... Wait, where the crap is my briefcase?!?! I can't even tell is that's dog poop, baby poop, or spit up on my one and only pair of fitting dress pants.... it kind of smells like all three.... I don't have time to wash them so I guess I'll Febreeze them and move on. Anyways, what was I saying again? Skills. Yes! Ok. I have some skills.... somewhere. They're either in the diaper bag or the lunch box.... Skills, not Skittles.... shoot. Um, I think I still know how to talk to people, but I've been told I lose my train of thought, but who knows, I can't remember. I spend countless hours trying to get everyone ready and out of the house for me to complete a two hour training, some of which I even retained. (Pat on back.) I have no idea where anything is or how I could ever possibly help another human being.... Ever again. Working causes insanity and money is working for nothing and sanity and....um.... crap.

     DO YOU SEE MY PROBLEM??? How in the world am I going to DO this, people? It took me longer to get me and munchkin ready to leave the house than it did to attend my first training, you guys. And then I had to go grocery shopping, pick the baby up, get the kids off the bus, help them with homework (another Dear sweet Jesus moment brought to you by the letter T and the word TAYLOR), get dinner made, lunches packed, the house kinda "cleaned", online paperwork completed for the new job, laundry put away, kids readied and put to bed, baby fed, dogs taken care of ,and finally, at 10:45 pm I was allowed to go to sleep. I was so busy I didn't even have time to cry over the panic I experienced leaving my little man for the first day! (Two hours... that's how long I worked... two. freaking. hours.)
     I remember a time when going to work was seriously my only obligation. And I loved it. Now it seems like work is that crappy errand I have to run that interrupts the real things I'm supposed to get done, like taking care of EVERYONE. Never did I feel that I encountered something in my career that was impossible to overcome.... I was certain that there was a solution and that my 100% effort would payoff.
     But as a mother, I rarely feel that kind of confidence, and that's with giving it 1,000,000% effort!! It seems that no matter how hard I try, I'll probably not succeed, but that it won't matter too much because there's not enough time in a day to focus on each little failure before the next one is there to present itself with a new way to screw up. Who knows, maybe going to work will reboost my confidence, reminding me that I.Can.Do.Some.Things! But in a schedule that already felt overwhelming between therapy sessions, swim lessons, gymnastics classes, and church or school obligations, where is a gal supposed to allow time to go to work? I suppose my luxurious 3-5 hours of sleep per night could be cut back.... but I don't know that I should drive under those circumstances.
     I, for one, am looking forward to seeing how all this unfolds. (Well, looking forward to it or not, it's gonna unfold, people... be sure to stand at least 6 feet from me at all times, just in case my brain explodes from all the "unfolding".) After all, there are all these other heroic women out there, earning the bacon and cooking it too, so why can't I? (Because my brain is mushy? Because I only have one pair of pants? Because I never did find that brief case? Because I found crusty boogers in my hair upon returning home from the first day of training.... and I don't know how long they had been there???)
     So, what do I need from you, Mamas? TIPS! Help me, please! Tell me what you have found that works for you. How do you manage time? Family? A changing schedule? Homework? How do you just not drop all the balls and sit on the floor and cry??? Okay.... Go!