Spare Time is a Thing of the Past

Okay, so posting once a week is proving to be more challenging than previously thought.
In the past week I have been alone with the boys two days, on Wednesday and again today. Both times I have been completely run ragged, ready to throw in the towel by about 4 pm. The scary thing is, when I am left alone with both of my sons, I get NOTHING else done. At all. I'm doing good to get a shower. But laundry? Dishes? Forget it. So I'm a little concerned about the move, as setting up house requires so much work, and I can't seem to do even basic maintenance. I guess we'll have unpacked boxes in our new house until, probably, March of next year. Errgghhhhh. That's going to drive me crazy. You'll hear all about it here, I'm sure. If I ever find time to post. I can't make any promises.

Here are some pics of the new place. It's quite a large duplex... we have nearly twice as much room, and for a lot less money. It's a different world down here.

These are pictures of the side and the front porch, respectively. Not the best photos, but you get the idea.

On Tuesday, the day we signed the lease, I fell into a terrible depression. A don't-talk-to-me, don't-look-at-me, I'm-staying-in-bed-all-day-except-to-feed-this-baby depression. Signing the lease made our move from Chicago finally sink in, and, as you know, I hate that we have to leave. I stayed in my funk for all of Tuesday and a good part of Wednesday. Then the clouds started to part, and I started to feel okay again.

So I think I am finished with most of the emotional work of moving. Now comes the manual, menial labor of finding a home for every single item that we own. Can't somebody please fast-forward my life to three months from now, when the majority of this would be done?

Oh, I guess that's not a good idea. Fourteen years from now, Theo would confront me about all the missing baby pictures from the first months of his life. And I would feel bad. So I guess I have no choice but to flounder through these next months. Hard work, here I come.


Four Weeks: A Little Distance Makes a Big Difference

Theo is four weeks old today. Nothing much to say about that... just thought I would mention it, as it is the reason I'm writing today. My goal for this blog now will be a weekly Wednesday post, coinciding with the anniversary of my baby's birth. Keep an eye out for that 6-week post, and we'll see if the sleep schedule is becoming any more merciful.

We are a week out from the decision to move to Central Illinois, and what a difference a week can make. I am feeling much better, in no small part thanks to the support and kind words from my friends. I had a few truly dark days there, but as time passes I am able to see the situation more clearly, and I feel less desperate, and more resolved to make it work.

Also, yesterday we made a decision that I think will really help: Instead of Peoria, we are looking at Bloomington-Normal. Nate will be working in Morton, which is equi-distant from Peoria and Bloomington, so the commute was not a factor. Since the distance from work was a non-issue, we were free to examine the benefits of moving there:
- Because Simon will likely be entering kindergarden while we live there, Bloomington seemed like the better option; their schools are notably better than Peoria's.
-Bloomington is still a lot closer to our families, but it's not close enough for people (namely, my mom) to just pop-in. The potential for frequent pop-ins was one of my greatest concerns about being in Peoria, so to have that threat eliminated is a relief.
-Since we'll be so close to ISU, I am hoping to go back to school. I had always planned to wait until my kids were in school before I started classes again. But while we are close to family, I figure I should take advantage of the free childcare. Nate's mom has graciously offered to help out in that regard, so I am going to go for it. Also, as I am harboring hopes that we'll get back to Chicago before too long, I thought staying busy with school might help the time down there fly, until we can get back home. Now I just have to decide what I want to be when I grow up.
-From the little research we've done so far, I'm pretty sure we can afford to rent a HOUSE. With a YARD. Hoo, baby.
-Did I mention NO POP-INs???

So, Bloomington it is. It doesn't take the sting out of moving away from Chicago and dismantling my cozy home, but it certainly makes it more bearable.

Thanks again, everybody, for your encouragement and understanding after my last few posts. During one of the darkest periods of my life, your words gave me permission to feel what I was feeling. So I felt it. It was hard. And then I was able to start moving forward. So thank you. I am a lucky girl to have such friends, and I know I'll have you no matter where we are living.


Report: Week Three

Today our apartment is filling up with boxes, which are in turn being filled with books, cd's and other household miscellany. So it seems that this move is really happening, and not just the bad dream I've been waiting to wake up from.

We're going to be out of here in a week and a half. That seems completely insane. I have totally removed myself from the process, warning Nate that I won't be able to help because all I have time for in my day is taking care of this baby. I think the distance I'm putting between myself and the work of moving is as much about emotional survival as anything else, though.

I know you're probably all tired of hearing me bitch about the situation, and about the move specifically. I'll try to keep it to a minimum today. Suffice it to say that moving from this apartment, this neighborhood, this city is one of the hardest things I have ever faced. When we first started talking about the possibility of moving, I was sure it wouldn't really happen. Then, when it looked like it was becoming a reality, I cried and cried in horror and disbelief. This is an unusual role for me... I don't think of myself as a negative person. Additionally, under normal circumstances I would fancy myself flexible, adaptable, practical, and downright optimistic. But, this time, in this situation, I just can't seem to get to a positive place, try as I might.

Nate thinks that sleep deprivation is magnifying my emotions about the move. I hope he is right. Otherwise I am a whiny brat who can't put her family's well-being above her desire to live on a pretty street in an apartment I love. Those things are so superficial; I know that. Taking care of our family should be my top priority. Still, I worked so hard on this place, thinking we would be here for years, until we could afford to buy a place here in the city. Did I mention that, in addition to being really sad about the move, I also feel hugely guilty for being so sad? It's just a fucking apartment, Laura. Get over it! I know that's what you want to say to me, and I would say it to myself, except I'm too busy crying. Again.

Enough about that!

Today marks 3 weeks in the life of Theo. We are half-way to the 6 week point. According to our sleep guru Dr. Weissbluth, 6 weeks is a magical landmark for most babies. At 6 weeks, he says, 80% of babies start sleeping longer at night and going to bed earlier at night, too. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to that change. Theo is a good baby; he's not exceptionally fussy. Usually during the night he goes right back to sleep after a feeding. Still, he wakes up every 3 hours to eat, like clockwork, during the night. He'll sometimes go for longer between a feed, but only during the day. According to the good doctor, that will change in three weeks. Yes. Bring on the extended nighttime sleep.

In the same book, I also learned how sleep deprivation affects adults. Studies have shown that adults who are subjected to a constant amount of sleep deprivation do not adjust to the lack of sleep over time. Instead, the affects of the sleep deprivation on their bodies accumulate and worsen as time goes on. Side-effects include headaches, gastrointestinal problems, stress, emotional instability, lack of concentration, forgetfulness, and daytime sleepiness. Mmm-hmm. I'm feeling all of that. I totally understand how sleep deprivation is a form of torture. I'm living in my own personal Gitmo. Was that joke very inappropriate? It's not my fault. Remember, I'm sleep deprived and therefore not responsible for anything I write here.


Pet Peeve

I can't stand stupid statements like this one about kids music. This is one of many times I've seen this, the ol' "Man almost all the kids music out there is shit, but this one artist/album/etc., their music is really good." First off, usually when people say this, the kids music that they prefer to traditional kids music is music that kids don't actually like... it's music labeled kids music but really aimed at parents, who then get to:
A. Feel cool because their kid listens to crazy kids music that all the other kids/parents have never heard of.
B. Listen to music that sounds exactly like all the other music they listen to, but pretend that their kids are enjoying it more than adult music because it's marketed as kids music.

Kids music is repetitive and cheesy because that's what kids like. I don't enjoy Sesame Street very much (for myself, as a kids show I think it's brilliant), but that doesn't mean that I think Simon would enjoy The Office or Weeds more.

Another thing about this that annoys me, and it's not really fair but I can't help it, is that it reminds me of all those dudes out there who argue that "hiphop mostly sucks, but there's this one hiphop group" or "country sucks, but there's this one country band" or "opera is lame but there's this one DJ who mixes opera and crunk..."



We had a baby. I got fired. Here's a list of good stuff:

  • Simon. I know Theo is supposed to occupy this first spot, but the fact of the matter is that Simon is just killing me right now with how well he has taken this having a new brother thing. He's in a period of major transition right now, and he's grown up in a lot of ways in these last two weeks. Amazing kid.
  • Theo. I'm not much of a baby person... not because I don't like babies but because they just get so much better when they get out of that allIdoissleepeatpoopcry phase. But Theo is damn cute and I'm learning how to be a dad to an infant, which is so different from being dad to a 3 year old. Plus, he looks JUST LIKE Laura, which is awesome. As Susan mentioned, I guess we know which one is going to be the troublemaker now.
  • Laura. Could write a lot about why this is right now, but to put it simply, ol' girl is operating off of 5 hours or so of sleep a day that she gets in 2 hour shifts, and she still manages to post up funny ass stories about her ex-boyfriend on this here blurg.
  • T.I. King Best new hiphop album that I've heard this year. And yes, I know 12 year olds listen to this stuff.
  • Shawnna Block Music Common's gone, Kanye's gone, but we still have Shawnna in Chicago. And Block Music isn't as good as Be of course, but it's worth a few digital spins.
  • Speaking of Common, "They Say" would be one of the best songs ever except... damn it Kanye's just not a very good rapper. Restraint Kanye, restraint.
  • Bush says he's going to veto something. Please, kid, we remember McCain's torture bill amendment. Pull yr signing statements out! Bush using the veto.... that's some funny shit.
One more thing. I've been kicking around the idea of doing a weekly podcast, it would just be music I'm listening to and me talking about it. 4 or 5 songs, probably a ~30 minute long mp3 every week. I'd just post it here and you could click and download that and listen and show off yr hot new tunes to all yr special friends. Would you kids download it? Post a comment or email or whatever. I know most of ya'll come here for those good mommy stories, so I'm not gonna be hurt if no one says "yes". I don't wanna put in the work if no one's listening.

Week Two Report

-Feeling fat. Still four weeks until I'm supposed to exercise. I don't know when I'll ever have time to do that again... Need to go thrifting for some new duds. I don't have anything that fits me besides maternity clothes, and a girl just can't feel good wearing those when she's not pregnant.
-Not much pain. My nipples are still tender, but they no longer feel like they've been dragged across asphalt. Nursing feels a lot better, though it still smarts from time to time. I had a few tears on my perenium, which were very painful for the first week. Those seem to have healed up nicely. I don't really notice any pain down there anymore.
-Exhausted. Can barely keep my eyes open sometimes. Could be 3 am, could be 3 pm.

-Very mushy, due to exhaustion.
-Emerging from the confusion over which books/experts to listen to. I've finally decided to reject Tracy Hogg, aka The Baby Whisperer. I found her helpful with Simon, and used some of her techniques successfully. This time, though, her books were just making me feel angry and inadequate. So she's out. I'm using some ideas from Dr. Harvey Karp, mainly his swaddling technique. He's got a great diagram of how to do a tight swaddle in his book. But I can't subscribe to him wholesale, because I can't carry my baby around all day long or breastfeed on demand. I have another kid to look after; I just don't have time to do those things.
On Janna's advice, I bought Dr. Weissbluth's book. So far, I like it. It's actually based on science rather than anecdotes or ideologies.
I admire Angela and Oliver for deciding to avoid all the parenting books, but I just don't roll that way. I've never felt like parenting was intuitive for me. I need help. I need guidance. And this book seems to have the tone I'm looking for: based on research, more flexible than rigid, and building my confidence rather than tearing it down.

-Hormones seem to be less volatile the last few days. Fewer crying spells. Emotions are finally evening out, settling down.
-Fears about mothering two children are subsiding. Monday morning I was alone with the boys for the first time. It went well, better than expected. But, it was only 3 hours. So we may yet have some challenges ahead of us.
-Starting to accept the fact that a move is imminent. It really is the best choice for us right now, as sad as that may be. I can talk about it now without crying. That's progress.

Oh, yeah, and the baby is fine too.


Holiday Story

Five years ago today I was dating a guy I met at an evangelical summer camp. We were both counselors there for the summer, and dated for a year after that.

This guy was a history major, and the worst kind. Very romantic in his view of history, and prone to hero-worship. He sure loved America. Shortly after we started dating he invited me to celebrate the fourth of July with him and his family. He repeatedly emphasized that it was his favorite holiday.

Up until that point in my life, I hadn't considered myself a great patriot. But I was willing to turn a new leaf for this guy. On the morning of the Fourth, I woke up and made a cake to take to the party. It was an American flag made out of berries, like this. He was impressed.

The day went by pleasantly. There were the traditional holiday activities of eating too much and basking in the summer sun. Later in the evening, we were sitting around with a few of his buddies. He suggested that we all take turns stating reasons why we love America. I looked at him and realized he was serious. I panicked. My fakery was about to be revealed.

I forget how I made it past that moment, but I must have come up with something, because we dated for almost a year after that, as I mentioned.

Sometimes when I think about that relationship it seems frighteningly possible that we could've ended up together for good. I broke up with him eventually, but for no reason that I could pinpoint. It just didn't feel right anymore. Thank God for that gut feeling. If we had ended up together, I would still have to think of why I love America every Fourth of July.
Dodged that bullet.

Old-Timey and New-Fangled

Yesterday I ordered my baby announcements, and most of you will probably be receiving one in the mail in the coming weeks. You know, mail.... in your mailbox, with postage stamps affixed. I don't know when in history baby announcements were actually announcing something. I guess it was before the advent of the phone. Nowadays everybody knows about the baby before they get the announcements, if the parents even choose to send one out. Nate thinks announcements in this day and age are a ridiculous waste of time and money. I can see his point. Not only do all of our friends and family already know that Theo is here, but they have probably met and held him, or at the very least seen a picture of him on this here blog. Still, I don't care. I send out announcements because I like the feel of paper in my hand. I like the idea that someone might save this memento, even if it's only the grandparents and myself. I'm just old-fashioned that way.

Here is something not at all old-fashioned. It's a video of my very own boys, right here on the internets!!! Thanks, Oli. This was a big hit, especially with its star. We pushed the "replay this video" button 3 or 4 times. Brilliant.


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On Thursday we took Theo to his first doctor's appointment. In the pile of paperwork I had to fill out was a little section that asked questions about the patient's home life: Who in the home uses alcohol or drugs? Is there a gun in the home? Have there been any stressful changes in the home recently? I almost put down "New baby" in that blank, but then I realized that they were wondering about anything that would be stressful to the patient, that is Theo, who is the new baby. There was another obvious answer to the 'new stress' question, but, again, I didn't put it down because I don't think it's stressful to Theo, as he is blissfully unaware of anything besides the scent of my mammary glands. Actually, Theo and Simon both are happily ignorant of the fact that Nate lost his job two weeks ago.

When he came home and told me that he had been fired, I didn't freak out. All I could really focus on at the time was my pregnancy, specifically, when was it going to end? Theo was born almost a week later, and his impending arrival kept my mind off the job loss for that week and most of the following week. It's pretty easy to ignore your dire financial circumstances when your nipples are throbbing night and day.

But now baby care is becoming more routine, and the reality of our situation is setting in. Nate has been looking for jobs full time. He leaves in the morning as if he is going to work, but instead heads to the library to comb through job listings. He feels like he has a pretty good sense of his options at this point, and the options are very limited to say the least. So limited, in fact, we are at this point considering moving to Peoria. Nate could get a job at Caterpillar there. We could pay less in rent. We could hover further above the poverty line than we are now. He could get a job that would give him valuable work experience.

Moving is pretty much the only thing that makes sense at this point. I know that. I really do. I want to be grown up about this, and make a wise, grown-up decision. It's hard, though, because the thought of leaving here --- this apartment, this neighborhood, this city --- makes me sick to my stomach. I can't think about it without crying, and I believe that these tears are driven by more than just postpartum hormones.

God, all I do is cry anymore. No wonder no one wants to come visit us.

Here is some cuteness to try to balance out the mood of this post. Enjoy.