Friday, January 30, 2009

Two Days into Moving Hell

The good news is that the furnace guy came this morning and we have heat. The bad news is that the water heater is broken. We've been replacing it tonight, and if I hear Jeramy tell me it's a water heater not a hot water heater (because why would you heat it if it's already hot) I'm going to hurt somebody. The funny news is that we came home from our latest trip to Home Depot to find a bat flying around the living room. After a few minutes of ducking and screaming and laughing and barking (from Cujo that is) and opening doors we managed to coax the winged rat to fly back outside.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Quick Update

Hopefully the deed arrives today. The tracking number sent to the closing agency on Monday said it went to Ohio. The closer thought that was the wrong tracking number though. It better be the wrong number. I'll be pissed if my deed is in Ohio. Then we can close and the keys are ours.

I'm working on getting utilities and such set-up. On a brighter note, heating oil companies have the nicest customer service agents ever. I spoke to four different companies and all of them were incredibly helpful and knowledgeable. On a not so bright note, I absolutely despise Direct TV. In fact despise might not be a strong enough word. Worst customer service ever. If one more idiot starts reciting from their script, I might reach through the phone and strangle them.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Papers are Signed

We went into the closing agency and signed the papers yesterday. Our hands and wrists are now in tip top shape, so if you would like our autographs now is the time to ask. We are just waiting for the deed and the bank to complete their review of our loan. Then the keys are ours. We've gone through this a couple times before with our current house and then a refinance. This time was a little different though, because we had Jillian with us. Of course she was a happy, go-lucky girl until it came time for us to sign the papers. Then she decided it was time for a bottle and got cranky needing a nap. As a result, Jeramy and I can attest to the fact that you can sign important legal documents while giving a baby a bottle.

I seriously cannot believe we're moving. You would think the house and storage unit full of boxes would provide me with enough proof. And if not that, the fact that we're painting rooms that have never been painted in seven years of home ownership would help it sink in. For me, it doesn't seem to sink in until we actually stay the first night. I'm excited, nervous and even a little sad all at once. I'm going to miss our current next door neighbors and their little girls. We even have a gate between our back yards for easy access. At the new house it won't really even matter if we like our neighbors because the nearest ones are a quarter mile away. That's right, we're moving to the country. Or at least as country as you can get in the suburbs of Seattle.

Anyhow I've got to run. I've got to order heating oil, reserve a U Haul trailer and run to Home Depot yet again.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Still Packing and Sniffling Too

Please note that we are not alcoholics. We happen to get our moving boxes from the liquor store. Because they're free and well, it is just a lot more fun to pack up your belongings in a box that says Jack Daniels or Bacardi.

We were all bound to get sick eventually. It is winter after all. It started with Jeramy and then spread to Jillian and now I'm picking up the bug. It is just a cold, but illness could have picked a better time to strike. Let me tell you...packing and painting are not any funner when coughing, sneezing and sniffling. Jillian is a little bit fussier than usual, but otherwise seems undeterred by her congestion so far. She woke up coughing at 3:30am, which was not much earlier than usual and seemed to be her usual smiley self. Thank goodness her Grandma watches her so that I don't have to miss work due to it. Plus Grandma probably knows how to deal with her cold better than I do!

Things are moving forward with the home purchase. Hopefully we'll go in for the signing today and get the keys later this week. Jeramy had last week off, and had planned to have this week off too but was called back to work today. They money is great, but it is tough to get the house fixed up and on the market when he works 60 hours a week. Our friend Clint is unemployed right now and able to help us out with some of the painting, moving and such, which is a huge help.

Let me leave you with proof that Jillian is still all smiles...
Yesterday watching me pack. Note the tape gun in the background.

With Clint's daughter, Dakota

Hanging out with Cujo who somewhat tolerated her and posing for this photograph.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hello from the House of Moving Boxes

Not surprisingly life is a little hectic between my full-time job and preparing for the move. Add on top of that a little girl who just turned 15 weeks old and you have pure craziness. I have to admit that I'm lucky that she is not yet mobile. These days she considers hanging out in her bumbo chair and watching me pack boxes quite entertaining so it is really a win-win situation.

While I'm excited about the new house, I really...I mean REALLY...hate moving. Not exactly a shocking statement I know. Moving seems to rest just below waterboarding on any list of the most excruciating forms of torture. I just can't feel comfortable in my house anymore, because even when I'm not packing it is impossible to relax when surrounded by towers of boxes. And how did we acquire so much crap to begin with? I would sort through it and chuck half of it, but really I only have enough time to load things into boxes. Hopefully I can do a big purge when unpacking. At least we got a storage shed yesterday, because it is rather difficult to paint walls and replace carpets in rooms filled with boxes.

Ugh. I promise a funner update later when life has resumed a little more normalcy whatever that means.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I Lack a Control in this Scientific Experiment

I've said before that Jillian often seems like one huge science experiment. There is always some sort of problem to be solved from how to get her to sleep through the night to how to convince her to drink a bottle in one sitting rather than leisurely sipping with several breaks over the course of an hour. When trying to tackle these problems, I inevitably form a hypothesis about a possible solution and then test it out. The problem is that I lack a control in this whole scientific experiment.

Here is an example. Jillian likes her pacifier to get to sleep. Lately she has been waking up as many as four times a night fussing. She's only a little awake and not hungry as I found out after a couple of irksome late nights where she fell asleep less than an ounce into her bottle. All that I have to do is get up, stick her pacifier in her mouth and go back to bed. While this disrupts my sleep a bit, I'll happily take a quick solution that I can complete while half asleep over an hour long feeding even if I end up getting up a few more times each night. What I don't know is whether the pacifier causes these wake-ups (e.g. it falls out, she wakes up, and her paci addiction is so strong that she must have it to soothe herself back to sleep). Or is this a phase that she is going through and the paci is actually my savior because it allows me to get more sleep?

I totally need an identical control group baby who I never gave a pacifier too to answer this question. Of course, that would require taking care of another baby. It's probably easier to just keep waking up and giving her the pacifier.

As a side note, Jillian's grandma loves dressing her up and taking pictures. It's sort of the kind of torture that only a helpless infant will put up with. Here is how she arrived home yesterday. Luckily she seems to be a good sport.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Life as a Working Mom

So I'm a week into this working mom thing, and so far I am liking it (although I reserve my feminine right to change my mind at any time for any reason without informing you in advance). At points during my pregnancy and early in my maternity leave, I had all the usual concerns about returning to work. Would I get enough time with her? Would she forget me? Would I feel like somebody else was raising my child? Would I miss her too much during the day? And the ever important would I get enough sleep? What I am finding so far is that for me at least, most of these fears were unfounded.

All the financial reasons for returning to work aside, I really like my job. Sure there have been ups and downs, but in the past several months I feel like I have reached a very good place career wise. I have an ideal boss who promotes my career growth, provides me with an endless supply of interesting projects, and is happy to champion my work without micromanaging. As a Project Manager I get to work on exciting projects that I am not operationally responsible for. It is a relatively low-stress position with a lot of flexibility yet tons of exposure to all aspects of our organization. In other words it is a great job for learning and growth while also allowing to focus on my family. As a bonus, I feel like I am good at what I do and really enjoy my colleagues.

Being a stay-at-home mom sounds wonderful to me in concept. The problem is that I have a completely Martha Stewart-like vision of what I should be as a housewife, which is hopelessly unachievable for me especially without the structure that working outside my home provides. So in the end I get lazy or procrastinate, and then I beat myself up for having failed to meet my self-imposed expectations. I also miss adult interaction when I am at home. Of course I know that I could join groups or meet up with friends regularly, but to be honest I've never been very good in the whole making and maintaining friendships department. I think this comes as a surprise to those who know me, because I have a lot of friends and I am generally a very friendly person. However, I owe most of the friendships in my life to my husband as he is the one who happily invests the energy in chatting on the phone with folks and scheduling social events. Seriously, if it weren't for Jeramy, I would probably be a hermit. I do best with low maintenance friends who either don't mind a more casual relationship or are fine if they don't hear from me for weeks or months at a time.

My leave flew by quickly it seems like I never left. If it weren't for the frequent nighttime wakings (more on that later) or spending my mornings and evenings trading bottles of formula for the cutest smiles ever, it really would be the status quo. I do miss being with Jillian, but there have been no tears. Instead, I have been spending much of my time fielding requests for pictures and enthusiastically agreeing with colleagues that she is indeed the most adorable baby that ever lived. Plus I know that Jillian is quite happy to spend her days with her grandma who loves her very much and does a wonderful job in taking care of her. It is extremely reassuring to know that I can call whenever I want, and when I called today I could hear my little girl happily jabbering away and laughing in the background.

All of those fears of not spending time with her seem to be unfounded for the most part, and right now I am getting less time with her than I will after the move. Before the early mornings and evenings were the most trying times with Jillian, because I was exhausted from caring for her. But now I look forward to them, because after or before a long day at work there is nothing better than spending time with my smiling baby. So while I spend less time with her, I am better able to enjoy and appreciate the time I do have with her.

So overall I'd call my transition to working mom a success. I know that I'm in a bit of a honeymoon period right now and that there will be times that I will hate it. But there will be times that I would hate any arrangement that we could come up with. I just feel lucky that I like my job and have a great daytime care arrangement as those are really the elements that are making this whole thing work.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Weekend Recap

The past few days have been crazy. We are in the middle of some of the happiest and some of the saddest times of our lives right now in addition to going through a lot of change. The news of Scott's death was such a shock, and obviously Jeramy and his family are very upset. We have a lot going on between the move, my return to work, and Jeramy's crazy 60 hour work weeks to keep us distracted. But in those quiet moments it can be tough to think about. I just keep thinking about how quickly life can do a 180 on you. It seems like often take those around of us for granted and find it easier to be short or sharp with them rather than kind. How easy it is for us to forget to tell others how much they mean to us.

My return to work last week went wonderfully. Each morning Jillian got up just after my shower and between Jeramy and I she got a bottle and diaper change. Then I head off and he drops Jillian off at his mom's on his way to work. I get home a couple hours before them in the evening since he is working 10 hours, and I'm using that extra time to get the house packed up for the move. It is strange to be home with just Cujo...that hasn't happened since before Jillian was born. Everybody at work was thrilled to see me (perhaps too happy even). Pictures of the little missy were in high demand, and I was more than happy to provide them. For the most part I was too busy to think about how much I missed her. If the first two days were an indicator, I'll be plenty content to be a working mom. Of course I feel like I'm still in a honeymoon period with work right now, so ask me how I feel again in a month!

The weekend was busy. I spent Saturday morning packing up the office. The I took Jillian over to see Jeramy's dad and stepmom's house to see if I could help distract them some from their sadness. A smiley Jillian helped a little bit perhaps. That evening we went to the bowling alley for a surprise party for our friend. Then after a late night we headed out for a 9am breakfast on Sunday with friends (which seemed horribly early when it shouldn't have) and then visited other friends in the afternoon. Oh and I squeezed in some laundry somewhere. I should have packed more. I should have cleaned more. I should have gotten the grocery shopping done. I really need to get me an "Alice" like the Brady Bunch had.

Anyhow here are some of the highlights from our weekend:
Jillian hanging out with her BFF, Becky

Hanging out with Daddy and Uncle Josh. She looks a little worried!

More interested in the bowling ball than giving us a smile

How she could sleep in all that noise is beyond me.

Dads and babies

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Gone Far too Soon

After my last meeting at work today, I got word from Jeramy that his step-brother Scott had died. His mother went to wake him up today and discovered that he had passed several hours earlier. He was 28. We don't know all of the details yet, but it appears to involve an overdose of pain medications he took for back pain following a bad car accident a couple years ago. Needless to say, we are all very upset especially Scott's mom.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Happy Birthday to Us

Today Jillian turned 3 months and I turned 31. We have remarkably similar birthdays with hers being 10-07-08 and mine being 01-07-78. I informed Jillian that I am approximately 124 times her age today, but she seemed unimpressed by such statistics. It was also my last day home with her as it is back to the daily grind tomorrow.

All in all we had a lovely day together even if it was busy. After getting some packing done in the morning, we had lunch with my mother-in law. Then we went to downtown Seattle to enroll Jillian in a study for type 1 diabetes. It turns out that she has some of the genetic markers for the disease that puts her at increased risk (1/30 as opposed to 1/300), which is not surprising since my brother is a type 1 diabetic. Since I work in clinical research, I'm always interested in such studies especially when they focus on a disease that hits so close to home for my family. After that, we stopped by my work to visit Jillian's Aunt Jaime and Lauren. With the exception of the last stop when she was cranky and in need of a nap, she behaved beautifully. She has reached an age where she doesn't fuss much unless she is tired or hungry. The hunger part is easy to deal with as I now predict when she'll want a bottle, and she sleeps well in her carseat provided that we are moving in a car or shopping card. Plus she is easily entertained and happy to spend her time just observing what is going on around her. This combined makes it very easy to take her out in public, and I figured I should enjoy it now as this stage may well be short-lived.

Jeramy got pizza on the way home from work and made Mojitos, which is my new favorite cocktail. We had some quiet time as a family while feeding her a bottle, giving her a bath and getting her to sleep for the night. While my 30th birthday was marked by the frustration of infertility, this year was marked by the quiet celebration of what I have waited so very long for. While it hasn't been the easiest 3 months, every moment has been well worth it.

And of course since it has been a few posts, I must leave you with the latest in Jillian photographs. Every time I look at her, I shake my head in amazement over how this completely adorable little girl is ours. It is enough to bring me to tears sometimes (cheesy but true).
Jillian loves her monkey pajamas from Aunt Jaime...and her hands. She really loves those hands. Mine too if she can get them into her mouth.

Helping me move. Just don't tell her that her new bedroom will be smaller.

Modeling her new overalls.

Due to her intense hatred for tummy time there has been no rolling over to date. However she can roll from her back to her side especially when really pissed off. It is a good thing you can't see her face in this picture.

Helping with the laundry.

I placed her in the bumbo chair thinking it would wake her up enough to finish her final bottle of the day. It didn't. She did wake up an hour later wanting it though. Figures.

Damn. She's adorable.

Not to be outdone here is Cujo showing off his new, cleaner look. He hadn't had a bath since Jillian was born and his nails hadn't been trimmed in at least two months. So I finally broke down and took him to the groomer, only to find out that they charge a mere $24 for such services. If I'd known it was that cheap, I'd have stopped giving him baths and trimming his nails years ago!

Friday, January 2, 2009


Women's lib got it wrong. You can't have it all. You can work and have a family but as there are only so many hours in a day you have to compromise somewhere. In an ideal world I would get to spend just as much time with Jillian as I do now and work full-time at my job, which I very much enjoy. But there is this little thing called sleep that does not allow me to fit 8 hours of work, 2 hours of commuting and 14 waking hours with Jillian into one day. And if anything, having a baby has only reinforced my understanding that I do not function well when sleep deprived.

The reality is that I am not cut out to be a stay at home mom. I applaud the women out there that can manage it as you must be saints. I on the other hand have been going stir crazy the past few months. I have rarely had a moment away from Jillian in three months, and when I have managed to get out of the house alone it has usually been for something as fun and exciting as a trip to the grocery store. So I find that I am really looking forward to returning to work on Thursday. I crave adult interaction, intellectual stimulation and appreciation. Yes, appreciation. I'm sure Jillian appreciates me being her mom as evidenced by her many smiles, but being a mom is a grueling job. Let's face it, cleaning up vomit, changing poopy diapers and comforting a screaming infant wears a person out and such events rarely end with your baby proclaiming "Thank you so very much. You are the most wonderful mom on the planet". Plus being a mom feels downright unproductive. I look back at my day and it is all about trying to get something done. But just when I was about to accomplish that thing Jillian wakes up or demands to be fed (which itself seems to be an hour-long event). As evidence of this I offer up that this post alone has taken me 3 hours to write, and I'm really quite a speedy author. And of course it isn't that I'm not accomplishing something...quite the opposite. However the project of raising a child has a long time horizon, making it difficult to feel the gratification of immediate results.

I'm always hearing "why not work part-time" from people. Well let's be honest. I work with a lot of moms who work part-time and that arrangement comes with compromises too. Like not being taken as seriously in the work place. And trying to fit in even more responsibilities at home while still trying to do your best in your job. Increased impact of needing to take time off for sick kids or doctors appointments because you are already working fewer hours to begin with.

The truth is that life is full of compromises whether you are raising a family or not. It is true whether you are a woman or a man. The stakes are just suddenly higher when you are making choices about how to care for your children. And men somehow seem to be able to deal with this compromise better than women. I don't really think that women's lib was wrong, per se. You can do it all. It's just that I now realize you can't do it all AND do it all as well as you would like. I have to accept that and find where I'm most willing to compromise. Unfortunately I'm a people pleaser and thrive by making other people happy, which seems to make these choices especially difficult as it will be even more impossible to make everybody happy all the time.

So I head back to work with mixed feelings. I'm excited to return to work and my projects. I'm not so thrilled to cut back my time with Jillian to the early mornings, evenings and weekends. I'm incredibly jealous of my wonderful mother-in-law who will caring for our little girl while we work (the most perfect arrangement possible short of winning millions in the lottery to make working and finances a moot issue). Honestly, the whole thing has made me very irritable the past couple of weeks to the point where it is hard to enjoy the time left at home and where I've been inexcusably mean to Jeramy several times. You see, I'm not one to wait and see what happens. No. I must worry and mull over every negative possibility until I can no longer contain such feelings within myself. To top it off I'm very bad about asking for help, expect Jeramy to read my mind, and then let my resentment over his lack of mind-reading skills stew inside me until I can no longer contain it. Buying a house, prepare our current home for sale and Jeramy's 60 hour a week work schedule are certainly not helping things any. I'm being challenged to learn how to manage my stress and communicate my needs...a life lesson that is long overdue I'm afraid.

Hmmm...parenting seems to be full of these little "life lessons".

Thursday, January 1, 2009

I'm Officially Insane

Why you ask? Because I'm buying a house. In this economy. Without selling my house first. All in the same month when I plan on returning to work from maternity leave which will be stressful enough all by itself. Plus we know Jeramy will be laid off again by late January or early February. And I think this is all a good idea.

Jeramy and I have been talking for many years about moving closer to his mom who is 25 miles away. She will be watching Jillian every day starting on the 8th. While she has been planning to come to our house and either watch her here or take her home, that is a long ways to drive in Seattle area traffic five days a week. Obviously living near her would be much more convenient. In addition we simply like the area better because it is a bit more rural and offers the opportunity to purchase a home with some land. And oh how we need land, because Jeramy sure has a ton of junk. So not only to we require a large amount of space for storage, but it is best to have neighbors further away to keep your annoyance of them to a minimum. (Note that he does not consider it junk but highly valuable possessions that he would be foolish to get rid of such as quads, motorcycles, 1 Jeep, 1 Nova, 1 camper and 3 trailers all serving very different purposes). Plus we'd like a bigger house to to raise kids in, and ideally one with large garage or space to build one. This house offers all those things as it is 5 minutes away from his mom, sits on one acre, is almost 1000 square feet larger, and has a good amount of garage space plus room to build another one down the road. It is in great condition and fully renovated inside with just a few minor details left to finish. We would like to remodel to add another bedroom, but the timing of that would be dependent on how much our house can sell for.

We had thought that it would be a few more years before we make this move. However, the perfect storm of events seem to have come together. Interest rates are at all time lows and obviously housing costs are falling, putting a house that we would desire within reach financially. We have sufficient equity in this place to price it competitively enough to sell even in this crappy market. I've always aimed to keep our expenses low enough to live off of one income, which gives us the credit needed to have two mortgages at once. Plus the truck will be paid off in March leaving us with no car loans. I've done the math...we can survive this way for several months even with Jeramy laid off if needed between my income and our savings. It would not be fun but we could weather it with our credit score in tact. Oh and Jeramy should be laid off right about the time of closing, which gives him the time needed to move and get the current house ready for sale.

Obviously there is risk involved. In an ideal world, we would sell this house first but that won't work in this situation. The new house is bank owned (it appears to have been a flip that flopped), and they will not consider contingency offers. Plus our house will probably sell better vacant because we do not have a place to store all of the aforementioned junk. In addition, the combination of what we are looking for in a house are not common in a price range that we can afford. On the market right now there are two houses that meet our requirements...this one and one other newly built that lacks an occupancy permit because it does not perc.

I know that this is a good decision for us and while there are elements of risk, highly sensible. However, anybody who reads this blog regularly probably understands that I am not a person who is comfortable with unknowns. I'm type A. I'm risk averse. I want to control my environment to the furthest extent possible. Having a baby challenged me because suddenly there was somebody in my life that demanded flexibility and adaptability. Now we are delving into the unknowns of selling a house in the ultimate buyers market.

So yeah, I think I might be insane. It is going to be a crazy start to the new year between closing on the new house, packing, moving and sell this house. Oh and a little thing called being a working mom for the first time. Wish me luck. I'll definitely need it. Wish Jeramy luck too, because I'm likely to become the snappiest and most irritable wife on the planet before this is all through.