28 September 2015

Schooling

Lately I've been reading a lot of posts about homeschooling and the benefits of doing so, the evils of common core, and sex education in today's public school system. I thought maybe I'd blog about the school options we're mulling over and my/our thoughts.

In a bit of background, I went to public school for elementary school, was homeschooled throughout middle school, and went back to public school for high school. My experience being homeschooled was unusual in that we were very isolated (I literally had no friends). I was very depressed and hated those awful days.

My husband went to private Catholic school from kindergarden until 8th grade. He then went to a public school for high school. Despite the fact that he wasn't homeschooled, he was surrounded by
people who were. His sister choose to be homeschooled in high school, a majority of his closest friends were homeschooled, and both his married brothers married girls who were homeschooled.

I recognize that there is a "good" and "bad" way to homeschool one's children, and so I don't use my experience up to condemn all homeschoolers. When I married Matt, I married into a very pro-homeschool support group, so I imagined that I would homeschool my kids, at least until high school. I was scared of the risks of public school and felt that homeschooling our kids was the only way to ensure they stayed safe.

And then we had Abigail and our education decisions became directly tied to our therapy decisions. And I blogged endlessly with all my anxious insecurities about whether or not public preschool was the right decision. Spoiler alert: it was.


Abigail is flourishing in the special education program in a way that I could not replicate at home. And I'm okay with that. In fact, now that we are into year 2, Matt and I realized that we're okay with Abigail remaining in the public school system throughout her entire education. It will always have teachers with experience, aides, tutors, coaches, and counselors who can give Abigail opportunities that I can't if I were to homeschool.

The reason that we prefer public school to private school for Abigail is because of government oversight. I realize that sounds pretty crazy to most religious conservatives, but it's the truth. The government sets standards that all public schools must follow - so no matter what school I send Abigail to, I know what we're getting. Private schools are allowed to do whatever they'd like with regard to special ed programs, including having none. So if we wanted to send Abigail to a private Catholic school, I would have to do all of the leg work myself. And I'd need to stay on top of the program should it change.

As I gained a year of public school experience under my belt, I realized that I make a much better super-involved public school mom than I would a homeschooling mom. The patience, stamina, energy, and creativity needed to provide my children with a good education? Yeah, so not my strong suit. But I'm really good at the "involved soccer mom" lifestyle. I read over every newsletters the teacher sends home, I'm eager to have the teacher over for dinner, I'm the first one to respond when the teacher asks for more classroom supplies, I go to the "parenting tips" seminars the school hosts. I look forward to the days when I can chaperon field trips and volunteer as an aide.

 
So while we still have lots of time to change our mind, Matt and I would both like to send all of our kids to public school. He understands my hesitation to homeschool and he is a big fan of community involvement. There are certainly risks. Right now I can identify two things we can do to combat those risks. The first: stay away from the hysteria. Yes, California may be doing crazy things and there may be a gay high school teacher in Massachusetts with a nasty agenda, but I live in Michigan and those states do not concern my girls. I need to stay focused on the curriculum at our school in our childrens' grades. The second: provide a strong family support system. I believe one-on-one time, regular family activities, and two involved parents will give them the most powerful tools possible to combat bad influences: self-confidence and loving support.

Public school means the some benefits of homeschool are out, but I can supplement my kids' schooling in other ways:
-I like the benefits of year-round schooling, so I plan to homeschool my kids during the summer. They'll get a religion class, a literature class (I promise that no matter how fabulous the books they're reading in schools, I will find gaps. I'm an English major, I can't help it.), a class in a subject they love, and a class in a subject they struggled with that year.
-I don't think we'll start the rest of our kids in school till kindergarten or first grade. I'll look more critically at it when we reach that age, but I definitely agree that kids learn through play and shutting them up in a classroom setting can be detrimental to learning.

So that's where I stand right now. The best part of school decisions is that you can change your mind every year, so maybe one day we will send our kids to private school or homeschool them. But right now I just wanted to explain the position of one politically conservative, practicing Catholic whose plan is public school.

20 September 2015

September Date

For our September date, Matt and I went to a Michigan State football game. It was actually my idea, I'll have you know. We're alumni of MSU, so it was a very exciting return to campus - getting caught up in the excitement of the buzzing fans, feeling the beat of the drumline warming up, enjoying the trombones practicing the fight song as we meandered around the beautiful campus.

I did all the typical things Jacqueline does when she is getting ready for something big: I packed lots of delicious food, scored a Michigan State Spartans maternity shirt, which I coordinated with a large gray and green running hoodie (non maternity, but I could still fit in it and I wore it under the maternity tee, so no one could tell it didn't quite cover the belly), I painted my nails green and silver sparkly...


The weather was cool and cloudy, with scattered showers, which made for an enjoyable three hours in the bleachers, even the rainy bits, as it caused the crowds to clear out before the game ended and left things wide open for us "in it to win it" types.

It was incredibly enjoyable and a fabulous "last big date night," as the remaining months will probably be made up of simpler, dinner-and-a-movie style dates. We probably only walked a total of three miles over the course of seven and a half hours, yet between the walking and the stadium stairs, I was definitely exhausted and sore. My mind doesn't seem to realize I'm as pregnant as my body really is.

Which brings me to another campus experience: the experience of being in my late twenties, married, and pregnant, as opposed to my early twenties, single, and ready-to-party. I got a lot of open stares. I don't really blame them, these people are only a few years out of high school at most, and my belly has long passed the "cute, little, round" tummy stage. I'm due in two months, but measuring almost a month big. Size-wise, I look like I'm going to give be giving birth next month.


The other big difference is that campus, unlike at the mall or the grocery store or pretty much anywhere else, no one held the door open for me, no one let me cut in line for the bathrooms, and no one made space when I needed to pass by.

No one said anything mean and I'm not taking offense to anything, I just find it interesting and somewhat amusing how much difference a mere seven years can make.


Seven years ago, I was one of those students strolling across campus, never giving a thought to being pregnant or having a special needs preschooler or a toddler with a stomach bug or being excited about cleaning out my apartment. Yet here I am, with all of those things, strolling across campus with green and silver nails, hoping our kids go to Michigan State and we continue living nearby so we can keep doing this fun tailgating stuff.

I managed to get sunburnt. It was cold and cloudy and rainy and I still got sunburnt. Go me.



17 September 2015

The Big Cleanout

My apartment is looking amazing. Seriously, I've never seen it so open and spacious before, and I'm not even done with the clean out!

Since we decided to hunker down for the winter in this small space, I've been doing my absolute best to try to make it more comfortable. It's also doubling as a chance for me to nest. The clean out means that in one room at a time (sometimes each room takes me a few days so I don't end up too exhausted):

-I go through all drawers, cabinets, totes, cubbies and sort things into "keep," "storage," "donate," and "toss" piles.
-I reorganize the furniture as needed to maximize floor space.
-I do any babyproofing for either this newborn or for the girls.
-I clean - dusting, vacuuming the places that never get vacuumed, that sorta thing.
-Once everything is back in place, I rearrange the wall decorations. Yes, this clean out is that hardcore.

We (finally) got a storage unit - an inexpensive one in town the size of a generous walk-in closet - and have already moved all the holiday decorations and a few other odds and ends out.

So far, I've completed:
-The bathrooms - I cleaned out the cabinets, got rid of expired stuff, and made space for newborn stuff
-The laundry room - which included adding a shelf to serve as a pantry
-The kitchen - I seriously needed to rearrange stuff for more counter space
-The dining room - I created a shoe rack/hats, mittens, scarves/purse/keys area and tried to open the space up a bit for a high chair
-The front closet - it was serving mostly as our storage closet, so lots of stuff went to storage and now the coats actually fit
-The girls room - Abigail has an official toddler bed and her old hunk-of-junk crib is gone, and I moved the toys and beds around to transition the room from a "baby and toddler" room to better serve a toddler and preschooler.

I'm really good at repurposing stuff from one room to another, so the only thing I've purchased so far has been a shoe rack and a bin for the hats, mittens, scarves, etc.

I have yet to do the girls' closet, the living room, the master bedroom, and the master closet. The girls' room saw the most dramatic change, but I suspect the master closet will be the most work for me.

I've done so much work and am really throwing myself into this project that I've actually become okay with spending the winter here. The key word being "okay." Things still aren't perfect and there is something that comes up daily to remind me that I really want a house, but I don't think I'll actually die now, whereas before I had my suspicions.

One of the things that needed changing were the girls' toys. I had their books in their room and a few toys in the living room on our bookshelves. But Abigail was in the habit of chucking her books across her room when she was bored or tired. So I moved all the toys into the girls' room and all the books out onto our bookshelves. The results have been pretty fabulous.


Abigail has always been a bookworm, but Eleanor isn't as intense. But it turns out that Abigail was being over-territorial about the books when they were in the girls' room and now that they are in the open living room, Eleanor wants to read all the time. Plus the book chucking had diminished significantly since I'm around to patrol it.


Ah the fun of small, easy, simple changes! I so enjoy walking into the completed rooms and taking in the clean, open space like a breath of fresh air. I'll regale you with some pictures once the apartment is complete, but for now, here is a "before" picture of the girls' room...


14 September 2015

Third Trimester Update

So we have decided to stay in this doinky little apartment until we get back on our feet after having the baby. It sucks. But I choose it too, so now I am trying to come to terms with this new cross I'll be bearing all winter. There is, of course, always the possibility that the perfect thing at the perfect price might pop up - and if it does, we are open to pursuing it. But for the most part, we are staying put and I am sick of talking about houses. I am sick of talking about how the cute little house I fell in love with slipped through our fingers and now we will be five people in a two bedroom apartment. The awfulness of the situation is continually enhanced each time I have to rehash our decision.

So I'm not talking about it today.

I recently realized two things. First, this is my fourth pregnancy in five years. I do sincerely want to have more kids, but I would really like to take a break following this birth. Secondly, I am currently 29 (almost 30) weeks pregnant. With both girls, I only made it to 38. So it is possible (likely?) that I only have 8 more weeks to go.


8 more weeks is an exciting realization. I am a miserable pregnant and the doctor said I am measuring about 3 weeks ahead of schedule. I put together a comparison of my three pregnancies because I find that sort of thing interesting. With Abigail, I put on about 55-60 pounds. With Eleanor, I only gained 29. I have gained exactly the same amount of weight this time around as I had with Eleanor by the third trimester, so I'm on track to gain another 29. Except this baby is measuring bigger than Eleanor did at this point. So really, I gained less weight and the baby gained more. Ha, technicalities.
I am definitely carrying higher this time, and the baby is usually sideways (both girls were head down by this point and stayed that way). I feel like a huge bubble on little stick legs and finding clothes that cover the belly is getting harder and harder. Having Abigail away at preschool in the mornings and having a babysitter during appointments is a huge relief. I'm not craving anything in particular and food usually sounds gross. I'm tired all the time. After finding no relief for all my pelvic pain in the medical world, I did a little self physical therapy - an hour and a half of stretches, deep breathing exercises, and using a foam roller - and am completely pain-free. After about a week, some of the soreness comes creeping back and I do just the key stretches and roll our the key muscles and again find instant relief.

One final note on this rambly post. If Tom Cruise were pregnant, I like to flatter myself that he would look like this:





10 September 2015

The House Deal is Dead

The offer on the house is all but dead, I am sad to report. The agent said "we were close," but he rather lied. The homeowners have only lived there a few years and need to get a certain amount of money out of the house, but that certain number is overpriced. The home is the most overpriced house in the subdivision on a per square foot basis. In our opinion, our offer was rather generous considering the comparable houses that have recently sold, but after several counteroffers, we have discerned that they refuse to accept anything less than a nearly full-price offer.

I'm not exactly sure what this means for our short-term future. On one hand, we can continue to house hunt throughout the fall and winter. But on the other hand, newborn babies + packing and moving is a very difficult challenge. I moved when I was nine months pregnant with Abigail and again at three months post c-section. I would definitely prefer to move when I'm pregnant rather than after. In sum: yes, we might try for another house before the end of the year, but I need to be prepared for us to stay here.

When the deal fell apart (yesterday), I felt deeply depressed. Mentally I am preparing to hunker down in this little apartment for the winter. Staying here will require a huge sacrifice on my part. When the snow falls and we are five people trapped in 1000 square feet - no backyard, no basement, not even a garage - I will be struggling. Trying to imagine life more than one month out right now is very depressing for me.

I am desperate for two things: stability and space.

I am craving stability like a starving man craves food. I want it so bad it hurts. Pregnancy significantly heightens my desire to create a little space that is our own, and I can't do that when we never know if the apartment complex is going to offer to extend our lease or rewire our apartment again. Apartment life is anything but stable, but moving in the midst of a major life change (birth) is even more tumultuous.

The girls need space to burn energy and I need space to put the things three kids in a growing family require. I got a storage unit this morning - it's about five minutes away and will give us a place to put Christmas decorations, outgrown clothes, out-of-season clothes, and baby stuff as it is outgrown. Matt and I are also going to sit down a brainstorm a list of things that would help us use the space we do have more efficiently.

I'm not thinking clearly right now. I'm frustrated and depressed and dreading the winter. I am resorting to the only coping method I know: planning.

Today and tomorrow we'll come up with ways to make this space work just a little longer. This weekend will involve some shopping trips to secure the approved improvements. Next week, during the quiet morning hours when I am not yet fatigued and I only have one kid at home, I shall begin cleaning, organizing, packing away things for storage, and getting things ready for the new baby.

Stupid best laid plans.

09 September 2015

The Roles in Apartment Life

My apartment always throws my nieces and nephews for a loop when they come over to visit or I am babysitting them. They've lived in the same house their whole lives and I don't think they've even stayed in a hotel. So many families living in one building baffles them. That people live above us and on the other side of the wall is confusing. There are a few advantages to apartment living (a few, among the mounting disadvantages as our family grows) and the prospect of moving into a house and leaving apartment life forever is giving me some reflection on our 7.5 years of married apartment life.

Our first apartment in Florida was located directly above the Complex Gossiper. Initially that may seem like a bad thing, but I loved it. Joe was retired and had a bit of cognitive impairment, but was doing well enough to live independently. He worked a few hours a week at the apartment office, stuffing envelopes and chatting with the office staff and he would sit outside on his front porch area and talk to everyone who walked by. Joe was a talker who was dying for a listener, so if I merely paused on my way to my front door, Joe was sure to let loose everybody's everything. I knew what the complex was doing, I knew what apartments were having bug issues or resident issues. I knew about new policies and construction and rent increases. It was pretty fabulous. Abigail's bus driver last year was a Gossiper too and I got all the inside dirt on route changes, sub drivers, and the school staff. There was even a bomb threat at the nearby university one day that caused all the surrounding schools to go into lockdown mode - including Abigail's. It was pretty scary for us, obviously, even though it was all just precautionary. The next day, Bob gave me the full inside scoop. Being a listening ear to the Town Gossip is a sure-fire way to get the full story.

In the apartment community, I like the think of myself as filling the "Community Watch" roll. Being home all day with the kids makes it really easy for me to know who drives what car and their usual daily schedule. I know that the water softener guy comes every Monday (so if I leave the stroller in the hallway, I can't park it in front of the door to the water room on Mondays), the garbage truck comes several times per week, and when the complex switches lawn maintenance companies (these new guys are way faster). Basically, I catch wind of changes, new cars, and unusual guests very quickly. Heck, I even know that the gray cat on the second story of the building next door always hops in the front window when his owner leaves for work in the morning. When the girls are grouchy, we always start our walks in that direction because a cat is a fabulous distraction for grouchy girls.

Erica lives next door and she's the type of person you can go to if you needed something. She's in her thirties and has twin 10-year-old girls. She's friendly, always compliments my kids, and holds the door open for me. She is single and doesn't work and drives a black Hundai. the girls' dad is pretty involved in their lives and Erica is close with her brothers, one of whom visits often and drives a small, black foreign car too.

Eric lives across the hall. He works nightshift in a factory and always parks his sport edition black Focus in his carport. He has a girlfriend who lives out-of-state and visits once a month. He has a son who stays with him during school breaks and for a few weeks every summer. When his son visits, they go on a father-son fishing/camping trip. The son is gets along with the girlfriend and he thinks Eleanor is cute.

Creeper lives across the hall. She's an older lady, retired, and sits in her apartment watching tv all day. I call her Creeper because she's always spying on me, especially when she first moved in. When we'd come back from a walk or when we'd sit outside and draw with chalk on the sidewalk, she'd be standing in her window, peeking at us between her blinds. Whenever I'd check the mail, she'd always crack open her door and watch me, never saying a word. Last summer when we got back from a long walk, I was particularly struggling to hold the door open and navigate the double stroller through the doorway. I fumbled through it, started down the hallway, and totally freaked when I looked up and saw Creeper standing there in the middle of the hallway, watching us with one hand on her open door. "I just wanted to introduce myself," she said, staring at Abigail. I introduced myself and the girls. "I've heard a lot about you, Abigail," she said with a weird smile on her face (which I've since learned is her normal smile). She continues to remain creepily obsessed with Abigail, although her spying has since toned down. Creeper has a teenage granddaughter who has a young son and is constantly moving in and out of the apartment. Creeper used to drive a white HHR, which seemed like the kind of car a creeper would drive (no offense, HHR owners), but one day it suddenly disappeared and the granddaughter moved out again (I suspect the girl totalled it). It's now a green Chevy that never leaves its carport because Creeper rarely goes anywhere.

Kneel and his wife live upstairs. Kneel is generally polite, but he's fat, lazy, and demeaning toward his wife. He has a serious inferiority complex and his always bragging about something to bolster himself up. He sometimes works a part-time job, but usually quits his job after a few months and goes on disability. His redeeming quality is his fatherly streak that sometimes appears. For example, this past winter, I usually popped out to shovel the front sidewalk (I enjoy shoveling), but he felt bad that I was doing the hard work and made a point to beat me to it so I wouldn't have to. His wife works for the local newspaper, she's a nice woman who always compliments the girls and tells me I look nice when I'm dressed up. They hold the door open for me when the see me coming.  Kneel drives a brand new silver Ford Edge while his wife drives a small, beat-up car. They just replaced it with something newer and used, and I haven't learned what it is yet. Kneel's wife does get the carport space, though.

The Young Asians also live upstairs. Two guys and one girl who are always dressed very professionally and driving rental cars that they never park in their carport. They don't speak much English and are always traveling for work, so we rarely interact with them, but when they are around, they are exceptionally friendly. They wave at the girls and one time, one of the guys saw us coming home in the rain and ran out to the car with an umbrella to escort us to the building.

The Asian Family just moved in upstairs - actually, I think they are Pacific Islanders. They have two kids - one is about Eleanor's age - and share one car, but they don't speak a lick of English. They never hold the door open for me when I have the girls, even if I am right behind them. I can never remember the model of their car, but it's a mid-sized black sedan with a fancy trim package.

Then there is Richard the bachelor. Richard works for the local university, but wears jeans and baggy shirts to work. He almost always comes home from work with fast food for dinner. He is pudgy, wears glasses, has greasy hair, and usually keeps to himself. He watches a lot of movies and plays a lot of video games at hours that a bachelor would keep (we know this because he lives above us). Richard drives red Dodge Charger that he keeps very well maintained and always parks in his carport. Sometimes when Richard is at work, I notice that his blinds have moved (like, they were open when we left for our walk, but closed when we got home), but I have never, ever seen him with a woman or a friend or have a visitor over and there are no unaccounted cars in the parking lot. Richard adopted two black kittens shortly before we had to put our white cat down. Since our black cat is too old to care about cat toys, I gifted his cats with all our cat toys after Emma passed. He was appreciative and told us we could come visit his kittens anytime, but we never did. His cats love to sit in the front window and I think my girls think his cats are our cat. It's pretty cool when his two cats plus our cat are all in their front windows. You walk by and see three black cats all staring at you at the same time. If there are any superstitious burglars out there, I don't think they will ever rob our building.

Two of my favorite tenets in this building were Jim and Ruth. The recently moved to Florida, but they had a very exciting story before the left. Jim was recently divorced and moved in with girlfriend Ruth. He was lush with cash from the settlement and buying up every toy a middle-aged man could ever want. Ruth had a red Impala and Jim drove a huge white Ford pick up with $800 tires and $800 wheels. Per tire. Per wheel. But Jim made his living as a truck driver and always did an immaculate job parking his giant pick up. When Ruth hit a deer/a deer hit Ruth, they replaced her Impala with a Cadillac. Jim bought a giant RV and a Harley motorcycle with special Harley Davidson trailer. They outfitted themselves in brand new leather jackets, chaps, boots, and serious-looking helmets. Despite their lavish lifestyle, Jim was a really down-to-earth guy who wore "dad jeans," repaired his vehicles himself, and waved to the girls when he saw them in the front window (they liked to supervise him when he worked on his cars). It was easy to give directions to visitors because I could say "we live at the building with the giant white pickup truck that you have to swerve to get around when you drive through the parking lot." Or, "we live at the building with the Harley Davidson trailer parked out front." Or, "when you see an RV that looks big enough to house a touring band, stop. That's our building."

One Saturday afternoon we will move out of our unit and the other residents will wonder where that family with all the kids went. We'll be here one day, but gone the next. I know who they are and what the drive and when they leave for work in the morning, but we are not close enough to knock on doors, hug goodbye, and exchange cell phone numbers. We all live in a little community, each person playing a role. I know the roles of apartment life so well. I hope that very soon I will get learn the roles we would play as homeowners in a subdivision.

08 September 2015

First Days

She was incredibly excited for her first day of school today. Now she's away and Matt's away at his first day. It's just Eleanor and me, and it's weirdly quiet on this rainy day.


P.S. When the homeowners saw our offer, they said we are "very close." We'll see their counteroffer tonight. It looks like we'll be able to agree on price and it will come down to financing and inspections.

07 September 2015

Stream of Consciousness House Buying

Side note: this post is very ramble-y, stream-of-consciousness-y, and hasn't been properly proofread.

The world of house hunting goes well for us, my friends. Today at 1pm, we will be putting in an offer on a cute, little, 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom ranch. 1,443 square feet, main floor laundry, a master bedroom with a master bathroom and walk in closet. There is a full basement of which half is finished, a large, fenced backyard, and front and back porches. It is in a small subdivision that we've heard great things about. It is not walking distance to town nor is there a nearby park, but with a fenced backyard, finished basement, and my own car, I think we can counter-balance the negatives. It's in the same town as we currently live, so nothing outside of our address will change - like the school system, our church, or even the grocery store.

I am excited about the house, but trying not to get my hopes up. I spent a lot of time in prayer over this house, and the more I pray, the more I feel that this is the right call. In addition, the price is right and we are the only interested party. But our offer could still be rejected, the bank could not want to work with someone who hasn't yet earned his first paycheck at his new job. Lots of things could pop up in the middle of this "Buying a House" roadway and we'd have to slam on the breaks.

Buying a house is nothing like I thought it'd be and nothing like it was when we tried to buy the house in Lansing in 2013, when we were first moving back to Michigan from Chicago. I thought when Matt got a job, we'd buy a house, and bam! Instant stability and relaxation. But so far it has largely just been stress. I think it has probably just been the whole stressful year, what with the buying two cars, getting ready to have a baby, and starting a new job.

This whole process has been stressful, nothing is for-sure, and we haven't even actually put in the offer yet (1.5 hours until we meet with the agent!), but I still find myself skimming Apartment Therapy's small bedroom fixes, flipping through the Ikea catalog to discern possible kitchen renovations that could fit in a 3-5 year plan (the last time I spent at least five years at one address, it was from ages 8-14 when I lived in a suburb of Detroit!), and contemplating paint colors for the girls' room. At night I fall asleep thinking about where we're going to put our bookshelves and how wonderful it will be to stash outgrown clothes and Christmas decorations in our basement. I've even been stalking the local animal control's pet adoptions page, trying to find a medium-to-large, middle-aged dog who's good with small kids and just wants to lay on someone's living room floor and be petted. Someone who might be interested in an evening stroll around the neighborhood with a couple of pink-sparkly-shoe-wearing toddlers and a stroller.

Matt starts his new job tomorrow and Abigail returns to preschool. For three hours a day for the next three months, Eleanor can pretend to be an only child and I can attempt to get some packing and deep cleaning done around here. If this house falls through, there is nothing else on the market right now that tempts us and we have decided not to build, so we'll just get a storage unit, and continue to slowly pack and clean while waiting to see if anything worthwhile pops up.

That has been my life for so long: picking a course of action that would be best for the most possible outcomes, proceeding along, and waiting. If everything goes smoothly with this house, that uncertainty and lack of stability will finally stop. I will finally, finally put down roots.

02 September 2015

The Making of Big Decisions

Matt has just left for his last day of work. I don't know if I mentioned it before, but he - as of 4:30pm eastern time - was a research attorney at the Court of Appeals. Today is both his last day and the start of my third trimester. He'll start at his new job on Tuesday, after a lengthy holiday weekend, which is also Abigail's first day of school.

We have these next two days off jam-packed full of things that happen best during business hours - like getting my "vintage" computer fixed (that's what the Apple Store politely called it) - but also doing some house hunting! We've been getting our pre-approval lined up and will finally get to tour a bunch of houses in person! There is one in particular that I have been falling in love with via the Zillow photo stream. The big problem (at least, that I can tell without having actually seen the house) is it's not walkable to downtown, something Matt and I both really wanted. There are almost no houses that meet our qualifications that are walkable to downtown right now. But this other Top Contender house has a fenced backyard, a sizable deck, and adorable front porch. It's in a mini-subdivision just outside of walking distance, but subdivisions hold more promise of being family-friendly (I'm thinking other kids our age). We are also still entertaining the idea of building a house. And then, of course, we could always decide to buy a house but continue to stay in our apartment and wait for something new to pop up. Then there is the desire to be settled in a new house before this baby is born. I am trying very hard not to stress out about the house situation. I keep reminding myself that no matter how much I stress, I am not going to speed this process up. Needless stressing comes easily to me, so this task really plays to my weaknesses. But for some reason, maybe it's the therapy distraction, I think I've done a really good job staying calm.

By the end of 2015, over the course of one year, we will have bought two cars, bought a house, started a new job, and had a baby. And the calendar year before that? We had a baby. We are launching so hard into Family Life, we might end up with whiplash, I joked to Matt last night. He feels it and I worry the girls will feel it, but me? I'm perfectly content to blast forward at break-neck speed. I'm ready. I'm confident we can handle it. We've spent several years preparing for this responsibility. We took the girls for a walk last week or so and I realized that I'm even looking forward to cleaning out the gutters.

So lately life has been made up of browsing Zillow, doing dishes, and taking liberal advantage of a baby sitter while I take Abigail to therapy (she ate a few bites of pizza this week!). We enjoyed a few days of cooler weather, during which I made sure to break out the denim and cable knit sweaters...

"A tat, Mama! A tat!" A spinning wheeled chair of death and a tat!

But I remained in a tank top because hot flashes and cable knit sweaters are arch enemies. The doctor said I'm/the baby is measuring a week and a half big, but we're still sticking with my original due date of Thanksgiving (with my endorsement). Here I am a few days shy of the third trimester...


Abigail wanted to take a picture of her blankie. I think it turned out gorgeous.


She also said, "Cheese!" on behalf of her blankie...


I just got word that the survers are down at the court, so Matt is headed home early on his last day of work. Today is a good day : )