Monday, February 13, 2012

How to Build a Community

"Unity. As one stand together."

I very much crave a sense of community. Of giving and receiving from a group of like minded friends. I have made a lot of friends and reconnected with existing friends online and it has been so nice to see how willing people are to step up to help each other. I really want to find a way to integrate that spirit into my everyday face-to-face life.

Questions I'm Asking Myself

1. What kind of life do I want for myself and my family?

2. What is most important to me?

3. What kind of values do I want to teach my children?

4. What do I feel is missing in my life?

5. What worries me about the direction my life has been going?

6. What worries me about making changes?

7. What would my ideal life look like?

8. What am I afraid of?

9. Why have I started to dread holidays? What can I do to make them better?

10. Am I suggesting that we just *stop* buying things altogether? What about necessities? Where do luxuries fit into this? What about holidays, birthdays?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Palace of Fitness

How I miss you! I will be back just as soon as everyone is healthy! 


When S and I were divorcing I thought one time how nice it must be for some divorced/remarried couples to have two extra people who loved the kids and were there to help. And when you take out the negative emotions that come up sometimes, it really is a blessing.

S and Miss C took the boys last night on what is usually one of my nights. He took them to the dentist and  they took them to school this morning. I was able to focus on my sick baby and husband knowing that my sweet littles were being loved and fed and taken care of.

This morning I was talking to a mama friend who is still married, and also has three kids. We were discussing how stressful the day to day running of a household is WITHOUT sudden illness and when she heard the boys were with their dad she said: 'I wish I had somewhere to send my kids sometimes!'

It seems that blended families are the new extended families. I don't have grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. to lean on but thankfully I do have another set of parents I can call in emergencies.

It is sometimes hard emotionally to *share* but I'm getting better at dealing with that, I think.

This morning I checked my phone and saw that both S and Miss C had texted to ask how baby G was doing. It felt good to know they cared and were there for us.

I am an over-thinker

And I am really working on it. I tend to over-process a situation. It goes from understanding to confusion pretty quickly. It's even worse when I am not exercising or meditating. I have been home with a sick family for a while and that takes away my daily refocusing time. Once I am able to exercise and blow off steam I'll be less wound up.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mama Guilt, Sick Babies and Chewed-up Fingernails

Ok. So everything sucks really, really bad right now. G seemed to have caught a cold a few days ago. He got a cough and then a fever. The fever was mild but I was still monitoring it closely. I gave him all of the big guns from my hippie medicine arsenal. I made a garlic ointment, which made him smell like a plump little ravioli.

He seemed to be fine, still in good spirits and maybe having a lessening of symptoms. Around the same time C got super ill. Fever, chills, body aches, congestion, the works. He slept on the couch last night so he would be away from our room and baby G. It really really sucked being away from him.

This morning I went back to bed after taking the boys to school and we all woke up for the second time around 11am. G was burning up so I took his temp. 39.1 C. Why the eff was my thermometer suddenly measuring Celsius? Who knows, but that converts to 102.something. Which was way higher than it had been and way high for a baby.

I called the nurse hotline and she asked for symptoms then told me to count his breaths. 18 breaths while she timed, according to her that was high so she suggested we go to the ER.

G seemed to be in good spirits while we were being admitted and I felt silly, like a skittish amateur mama. But once they started listening to his lungs it became apparent something was wrong. They x-rayed his chest and did a flu/rsv test. The results came back (-) flu  (+) rsv. Shit. Shit. Shit.

So I am in charge of 3 boys (2 of them healthy and happy, luckily) alone and am trying to manage our day to day lives PLUS attempt (and fail) to orchestrate a move and try to take care of a sick baby and very sick husband.

The house is crazy messy and probably filled with germs. My landlord wants me to show the house when it's convenient for prospective renters, which means when it's very very inconvenient for me.

So why the guilt? Well, I feel terrible about ripping the boys from the comfortable lives we have built here. They have to go to a new school next year and they really like living here. I also feel guilty because I take G to the infant room at the gym. The gym has been so great for me--but if he caught RSV there, not so great for him. He could have caught it a million other places and he DOES have school-age brothers but...I never took the boys around a bunch of other kids and they didn't get sick until 18 months. I also feel guilty because C is so sick and I can't give him much, if any attention. I ran him a lukewarm bath when his fever hit 104 but that's about it.

So right this second I am on a mattress in the kitchen next to the cat bowl. G is in his Rock and Play next to me, he needs to be on an incline for his nose to drain. I also need to be near the table, and his nebulizer for his breathing treatments. I wanted to let C have the bed and cant really be in there while he's so sick.


I am exhausted and overwhelmed and hoping we make it through all of this in one piece.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My Brain Part 2: The Ex Files

Ok, so where was I? Oh yeah, the house is walking distance to their dad's house. This post perfectly captures the bitterness that happened at the end of our marriage. I have read it many times over the years since I posted it and it never fails to make my stomach churn. We had so.much.animosity. When I left I wanted to get far away from him and our life together. I wanted to do things the way I wanted without him judging or criticizing me--at least to my face.

I found a cute little duplex and I just kind of lived with my little guys alone. Which was amazing. But also hard and lonely. I met C sooner than I figured I'd want to meet ANYONE. When we fell in love and decided we couldn't stand to be away from each other and he moved in my single mama bachelorette pad got really cramped really fast. Sooo--I found our suburban oasis. It was everything my home with S was not. Brand new, open, airy, spacious. It was the type of place he'd never agree to live and the type of place I longed to live during my darkest married moments. We moved in and I loved it.

I loved taking loooong baths in my giant bath tub. (I even spent my first few laboring hours with Baby G in that tub) I loved flipping through my clothes in my big walk-in closet. I loved baking in my--ok, you got it-- BIG kitchen. We had nowhere near enough stuff to fill a house so we had to do lots of Ikea shopping trips--not exactly a hardship for us. C is my soulmate, my best friend and so much like me sometimes it's scary. He is my bearded twin. So it was fun for us to feather our nest when we could. We have very similar tastes and it was easy to agree on where things should go, how they should look, etc. Once our house was filled it felt great for a while. The boys were happy and flourishing at a great school, we had just enough (7 miles) distance from S to feel comfortable and things were good.

I sometimes would sneak off to our neighborhood pool in the middle of the day when I finished up work for the afternoon. I'd ride my bike there and sit in the shade with a book and swim and read until I had to pick the boys up. It felt yummy and decadent, my two favorite feelings.

A view of the pool at the Olympic Heights community center.

We live right across the street from a dog park/walking path with a big pond in the middle. I love walking there--sadly this past summer, when I was pregnant was the hottest most miserable summer ever and I didn't go there ever. Now my time to hang out there is very limited. 

So anyway, it was tempting to buy this house when it was offered to us. I loved it, the boys seemed happy, C--well. C never quite loved the house as much as I did. He enjoyed building a home with me and creating our family structure within a safe space that was big enough for all of us. He loved that the boys got to have their own, well their own floor really. A bedroom, bathroom and art room all for just them. G's bedroom is up there but since we co-sleep, they have hung out in it much than he has, or ever will. 

But--it wasn't perfect for us. The layout is a bit wonky, the kids' rooms are upstairs which has it's advantages but it's not realistic to have a new baby upstairs, or a just-walking toddler either. There is also carpet throughout which is kind of gross with kids, or really in general. There are no trees. The development is too new to have great trees, especially at our house. The back yard is not super great for entertaining, something we really want to do more of. And the commute for C is terrible. Grueling and frustrating every single day. He burns so much gas traveling to and from work each day. 

Once we decided for sure not to buy the house, it suddenly didn't feel so much like home to me anymore. One day (when S's wife was here to get the boys, actually) all three of our pictures fell off the wall next to the stairs. A floral fabric panel fell first, hitting a giant heavy Buddha print which in turn hit an identical floral panel which fell down, leaving the Buddha to tumble past it and into the wall at the foot of the stairs. Our stuff was starting to move itself out!!! 

So when the choice became leave now or leave in one year, it seemed kind of attractive to just get the move over with before the boys were even more attached to their school LeeLee came home last week with an assignment: to tell how he was special. He hemmed and hawed, having a hard time with it. This killed me because there is SO MUCH to love about this kid. I told him what *I* love about him and he finally came up with three things:

1. I am special because I have two brothers and one is my twin.
2. I am special because I live in a 2 story home.
3. I am special because I am good at art.

What, back up. What does number two say??!! Did I teach him that? Is my ego tied up in living in a "nice" house? Well, kind of, yes. I guess so. Part of why I was hesitant to move back into my old neighborhood is because I was afraid I'd be shy to invite friends over to a smaller, older house. Which is stupid because it's a cute house and it will be filled with all of our normal stuff that we like and chose for ourselves. It will be smaller but cozy and the boys won't be in the far reaches of the house destroying something. There are many advantages to living there from location to price to size. But that brings me back to the tense feeling I get when I think of being so close to my old house.

I have thought and thought about it and the thing is: I have some unresolved feelings towards that house. Look at hundreds and hundreds of blog posts from 2007-2009--they were all written from that house!  I found the house on Craigslist for us to live in in 2004 when we were moving to Austin from Berkeley. We moved in sight unseen in the middle of the night. I formed a friendship with the owner, Zaida and asked if we could buy the house. When S and I bought it in 2007 I had such high hopes for it. It was small, but I had all these big ideas about how cute we could make it together. But the thing was, we couldn't agree on anything together ever so the house got less and less cute the more stuff he brought home that went against my taste and sensibilities. Finally that house represented everything that I was unhappy with. I gladly signed it over to him and didn't look back. 

Now that I am going to live within walking distance I have to face the fact that I did love living there sometimes. We were deeply unhappy in our marriage there which made it a very toxic environment but that is where my boys came home to from the hospital after they were born. They learned to walk and talk and dance there. They co-slept and nursed with me there for close to 4 years. I cooked and crafted and blogged and lived there. I took walks all over the neighborhood: with the boys in our giant stroller that Jimmie Vaughan suggested we buy. With S, by myself. I rode my bike and took pictures and picked flowers and raised chickens. 

When I left I never in a million years figured I'd miss it. At all. And over the years when I've had to go there to get the boys I felt uncomfortable and ready to run out and zoom back to my own place. My duplex, then my suburban home. Now that S is remarried (never thought I'd be typing THAT sentence!) there is an added sense of awkwardness there. There is a woman in "my" house. Cooking meals, helping bathe my kids, raising another generation of chickens. Living in the bedroom that I lived in. Where I talked to my boys in my tummy and teared up when I tried to imagine who they would be. I had no problem giving him our house but I never thought in a million years he'd be sharing it--and our boys-- with someone else. 

I like Miss C. We have a lot in common and she is genuinely a sweet and loving person. But it's been hard adjusting. I never imagined, when I gave birth to the boys, that this is how our lives would go. And after S and I divorced we went from co-parenting with two people to three and now four. We even got re- married almost exactly a year apart. Our respective anniversaries are now just a few days apart.

 In a lot of ways it is ok and once we all become more comfortable we could have a great partnership, but the *but* to that, is if everyone is willing. I imagine, like my evolving relationship with S, this new phase of our lives will take time to feel right. I am processing the shit out of it in my head and have been reading a book (more on that later) so that makes me a bit of an eager beaver (more on that later) in terms of trying to make sure we are all comfortable and on the same page. I know that can often have the unintended result of making everyone uncomfortable so I'm trying to rein it in. 

I have come full circle. And it's great and scary and stressful. We have approximately 3 weeks to get everything together, then after that I get to drive the boys to and from school every day til the end of the school year. Just thinking about it makes me want to dry heave. But, I have a good feeling about everything. I have no idea how S and Miss C feels about our move, but I'm hoping it all works out well. I'll talk more about the book I'm reading and the journey of openness and acceptance that I find myself on later. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

My Brain

I have so much going on in my head right now, it's really hard to form a coherent thought. I think of blog posts all the time, then never post them. I suppose I spend too much time on Facebook and Pinterest to mosey over here too often. Another thing is, I guess I'm shy about who may be reading. (although I know realistically at this point no one is ;)

So, what's new--well, a LOT. C and I decided to move. We have been at this place for 2 years now and we had thought we may purchase it. We finally decided not to which left us with two options: stay another year or leave now. I had thought we'd just stay another year but then, as usual there seemed to be other plans for us.

image 0

I looked ALL OVER Craigslist at rentals. Bigger ones, smaller ones, near ones, far ones. I had it in my head that I needed to find a bigger house for us. We are now a family of five and that seemed to translate into more and more and more space. But then we took a step back and re-evaluated our goals.

C has a new job that pays better than what he had been making. I am still self-employed/home with G a lot but as he gets older I'll be getting closer to working full time again. Whether that will be still as an independent contractor or not remains to be seen. But the point is, we want to own a house that is just right for us. Not just one that fell into our lap. He works pretty far North and we have been living very far South so the commute has been a bitch--and takes away even more of our time together. His job will be changing as they open more restaurants and we have no idea what part of town will work best then. But we do know that once we save money, work on our credit/debt and find a place it will be the place that we will raise our children in until they are ready to leave the nest.

So--that left us with two choices and since we hadn't made the choice to leave, time was making the choice to stay for us. I'd been going to the gym religiously for a few weeks (more on that later) and was putting on my workout clothes one morning, pondering our situation. I was thinking about what our ideal price range was, what part of town would make the most sense, how much I thought our utility increase might be in a bigger place when it hit me: what if we moved into a SMALLER place? It seemed crazy--yet....

As I was thinking this I flashed onto our couple-friends M & H. They have a cute, small house. True, they are a couple and do not have kids yet but...they have 3 bedrooms and really that's all we need right now. When we buy we'll probably do 4 so Moomers, LeeLee and Baby G can all have their own rooms, but right now? Our needs are pretty basic.

After my workout I went into the locker room to sit in the steam room and take a shower. I opened my locker and checked my phone to make sure I was on track to pick up Baby G on time from the infant room. I saw a FB note: "Friends, help us rent our house!"  It was from M & H. I wrote back and said that actually WE are looking for a new place. I texted C and told him and he said: "let's move there!" and I was like "really??!"  Aaaaannnddd---things kind of went from there. I was already planning on driving by a house I found on CL (slightly bigger than M & H's house but with only ONE bathroom which, as the only lady in the house I find very alarming) so after I did that I impulsively drove to M & H's house. M was home and surprised to see me. Not the first time my impulsive nature made me feel like a creeper. ;)   She showed me around and we chatted. I pictured living there and wondered what C's thoughts would be, and what the boys would think.

The one thing I'm leaving out so far: The house is .4 miles away from their dad....

To Be Cont'd.....