Time Marches On

At the beginning of the last school year, a month or so after classes started, there was a new kid in Bowie’s class. I’ll call him C. He was put in the desk next to Bowie, and the two hit it off immediately. So much so, that C was moved to another desk entirely by the end of the day.

They were in cahoots right away. They were partners in crime. Allies. Joined at the hip. A duo unified against the outside world. From the moment they met.

Their energies are very similar, their interests almost identical. They played together every recess. There were playdates upon playdates. And as they grew to become the best of friends, we became close with C’s parents as well. And they actually helped us through a very difficult time this past spring.

The thing that keeps this from being perfect is that C’s family was here for C’s mom’s job, and were only here for the year. Meaning, they go back home on Friday. And home is Canada.

We have been promised a warm welcome if we ever find ourselves there, and we will probably plan a visit at some point. But for Bowie, it won’t be the same. His best friend will be thousands of miles away, not sitting across from him at the lunch table.

Bowie struggles to make friends. The combination of his sensitivity and emotional extremes and shyness make for a hard nut to crack. Most kids give up pretty quickly. C was an exception. He wanted to hang out with Bowie, and he accepted Bowie as he is.

We’ve told him that C is moving away. But, I don’t think he understands the real facts of the situation. And I’m really afraid of the day that it does all sink in. Especially since it will be the beginning of a new school year, and last year was, well, not awesome.

Have any of you had to handle this sort of situation before? With the age 7-ish crowd? When I was a kid, I was the one that was always the one moving away, so while I know what it’s like to have to leave a friend, I think watching a friend go might be a different sort of experience. I think he’s too old for me to get a book on the subject too, he’d probably just roll his eyes at me, and I’d seem insincere in my empathy.

I know we can’t protect them from everything. But, I’d like to, you know, soften the blow.

Help, Intertubes!

Onward

 

I still remember the moment we pulled up in front of this house.

We had a lease in an expensive neighborhood that was about to run out, and if we renewed, the landlord would raise the rent. Again. We were desperate to move to our current neighborhood, where we’d have more space, lower rent, and be super close to a kick ass preschool that some of our friends’ kids went to.

Everything we’d looked at or found on Craigslist was too small, too pricy, totally dilapidated, in the wrong neighborhood, or, in one instance, above a liquor store. I remembered seeing a picture of this particular one on Craigslist, but it had blended in with the hundreds of other pictures I viewed of total duds, and those we couldn’t afford.

When we pulled up to it, it was like we were breathing fresh air again for the first time in a long time. And then we met the super sweet, very inviting landlord. And then we went inside, and really fell in love.

I always knew in the back of my mind that we were only renting and would have to leave someday, but that didn’t stop me, or all of us, from letting it start to really feel like home. Our home.

This year we made some big plans to buy our own house. Which is no small feat in San Francisco. So, we made some big budget plans too, and a savings plan that will hopefully take only a year, and then we’d be ready to move onward and upward. One more year here, we thought, and off we go.

So, when the landlord told us they wouldn’t be renewing our lease this year, that instead they themselves would be moving back in, it knocked us on our butts and we didn’t even know what hit us.

We were faced with grim prospects when it came to new places. We had lived in our old house for 4 years, and in that time they raised our rent by $100. In the meantime, rent for similar places had gone up $1500. Which we could probably afford, but then all that saving up for our own place that we were going to do would have gone out the window. So, we had to try to stay close to the same price, but find something livable.

The first apartment I looked at made me want to cry. It was tiny, dark, dingy, falling apart, had ancient appliances and had a fire escape out the window of what would have been the boys’ room. And for that kind of rent, I could never see myself raising my family there. I looked at a few more in that range.

We completely lucked out, really, finding the house that we did. It’s a similar style house, it is actually a house and not an apartment, we can use the garage and backyard, it has laundry, it has nice-sized bedrooms, it was a really good fit for us. And best of all, rent was about $100 less. 

We made a huge effort to impress the landlord. Luckily we have good credit scores, and a good relationship with our past landlords, and the new landlord really seemed to like us, and the place was ours.

After we moved most of our stuff in, we had some odds and ends at the old place and a ton of cleaning to do. As I chipped away at it, and the old place got emptier and emptier, it really clicked that we were leaving that house behind. And I realized how sad that made me.

Typically I don’t get too attached to houses. We moved around a LOT when I was a kid, and when I was in college I moved every year. Moving was just what you did at the beginning of every summer. When we moved to California, we had an apartment for two years in the Silicon Valley. Then we moved to the city, and lived in that flat for three years. It was hard to leave that one, because that’s where we had Bowie, where we became a family. But, leaving there was our choice. We had reasons. We wanted a different house.

Leaving this one was not our choice. We loved living there. We had even joked about asking them if they’d sell it to us, once we were ready to buy.

Like I said, we knew it wasn’t our house. That someday we’d have to leave, for one reason or another. But that didn’t mean we wouldn’t be surprised when we were asked to leave, and supremely bummed out to have to go.

So, out of sadness, anger, frustration and just plain old disappointment, I’ve started noticing all the things I’m not fond of in the new house. The house that seemed like it had fallen from the sky directly into our laps, a gift from some higher power at just the moment we needed it.

A list of things I don’t like about our new house:

1. It’s not our old house.

2. It’s further from Bowie’s school. So mornings mean a long walk to school, or driving him there.

3. To do the laundry or go into the back yard, we have to go outside to the street level and in through the front of the garage. Mildly annoying.

4. Also annoying about the cars driving by: we are right on the corner, and unlike most of the other intersections in our neighborhood, it is not a 4-way stop, but only a 2-way stop with oncoming traffic that does not stop. So, at least once a day, often more, I hear someone skidding to a stop and honking their horn incessantly because another driver wasn’t paying attention.

5. There’s no dishwasher.

6. There’s no garbage disposal.

7. There’s a street light right outside our bedroom window.

But, it’s absurd, really. We went from functioning house to functioning house, roof over our heads to roof over our heads. Being picky about the house is certainly a First World Problem. And I really need to remember that.

Besides, there’s a good number of things I do like:

1. We’re 3 blocks from the ocean.

2. The next door neighbors are a really sweet older couple that have already stopped by to introduce themselves, given the boys a small gift, repaired a little hole in the sidewalk near our driveway, given us protips about the street parking here and pulled our garbage bins back to our house on garbage day.

3. I have a lot more space for gardening than I had before. So much more! Barring gopher issues, I should really have a lot of success back there. The yard also comes complete with a peach tree and two pear trees! Gotta love that.

4. The kitchen is bigger and more open. I can see and hear what the boys are doing either from the living room or from their bedroom while I cook and clean.

5. The whole house is brighter. There are so many more windows in a corner house, and the way the house faces, we have sun almost all day.

6. The house is SO MUCH LESS DRAFTY. That was one of the things I highly disliked about the old place. You could feel the wind blow through the glass in the living room. So, nice, new, non-drafty windows are a plus.

7. We have much better cell phone reception than we had before. I used to have to go outside to make a phone call, or at the very least go all the way to the back of the house and stand next to a window. But here, I can make calls all around the house! In the living room! In the KITCHEN!

We are likely only going to be here for one year. Bowie’s first grade year. Ferris’ first year of preschool. It should zip right by. And maybe after my feelings of loss start to ease up I can let myself settle in and really enjoy it here. We’re still in the city that we love, and we’re still in the neighborhood that we love, and we still have a place to call home. I’m grateful for all of that.

Life Change

I am going off of the birth control pill. I am taking my last pill on Saturday night, and then that’s it. No, we’re not trying to have another baby. Because we’re not ready. Well, we are, but we aren’t. And we are. But we’re not. I know you know what I mean.

The reason I want to stop taking it is that I have been completely miserable for the better part of the last 18 months, and the more reading/talking/advice-seeking I do, the more I am convinced that the pill is to blame for all of it.

If you are a regular reader, you will remember when the trouble started. After I weaned Bowie from the breast, and went from the mini-pill back to the regular pill. Remember all those months of “holy crap, I thought I was pregnant again this month” posts? Only got WORSE as time went on. Until last month, when I was so sick, so tired, so mood-swingy, so hungry, so fat, so needing to pee every 5 seconds, that I was convinced–CONVINCED–we were expecting baby #2.

But no! Not pregnant! Just having trouble with the hormones RAGING THROUGH  MY BODY. So, after talking to a few friends, my mother, and the good old Interwebz, I have made the decision to take a break from the pill.

The nausea, the weight gain, the depression, the fatigue, the appetite, the mood swings, the panic attacks, the near-fainting, the crying, the lack of (ahem) libido. Turns out, it can all be attributed to hormonal imbalance. I’m really, really hoping it all goes away.

And if it doesn’t? I don’t know. I guess I will go get some blood work done because, WTF BODY, THIS IS NOT NORMAL. I want to feel good again. I want to have energy. I want to be able to be in a crowd without heart palpitations. I want to go to bed happy, not sad. I want to stop needing food every hour. I want to lose 10 pounds!!! Hoping I get there. Thanks for coming along on the ride with me.

Newton

I got Newton as a birthday present for Brien about five years ago. Brien was dog crazy, but all we had were cats. So, I found some cheap beagle puppies in the paper, and we drove out to a farm on a cold January day and picked him out.

He was independent from the start. He was the only one of the tiny puppies to come up to us, smell us and let us pick him up. He also loved playing with all of his puppy brothers, and I almost felt bad plucking him from his family. But, he became our “baby”.

I wasn’t even sure at first that I liked owning a dog. We never really had one when I was growing up (once, briefly, we had a black lab, but that’s a story for another time), and I wasn’t cut out for all this potty training and sitting and shaking and learning to socialize with the other dogs…it was so much more exhausting than owning a cat!

But, eventually we bonded. Especially when we were moving to California. Brien went ahead of us, and it was just me and Newton for 6 weeks. And, several years later, when I was pregnant, Newton would cuddle by me and put his head on my belly like he just knew that his world was about to be turned upside down by a little wiggly baby, but he was happy for mommy and daddy. And he really was the first baby. We tried so hard not to shut him out once Bowie arrived.

Brien has always had bad allergies. He figured it was the pets, and put up with it for a long, long time. Medication seemed to help. But recently, it stopped helping. And he was having more and more really bad allergy days. So, he went in for an allergy test. And lo and behold, he’s allergic to many things, near the top being dogs. (Strangely enough, he’s not allergic to cats!)

So, we made the decision this past winter to find Newton a new home. Hoping to keep him in the area, we talked to a few friends about it, but nothing seemed to pan out. So, my in-laws have stepped in, and will take him. Back to Wisconsin.

To say we’re heartbroken is an understatement. Really, the only thing that keeps us going is that we know we’ll get to see him whenever we’re visiting in Wisconsin, and we know he’ll be well taken care of. I feel so much better now than I did when I thought we’d have to turn him over to strangers. But still, it’s hard.

I’m trying to learn to live dogless after so many years with a dog, a dog that was so much a part of our everyday lives. It’s going to be quiet around here. Bowie fills a lot of that void, but something about it is so different.

Miss you doggie. Have fun with Grandma and Grandpa!

Red-eyed Newton

End of Naps?

We’re phasing out Bowie’s nap.

Before you write me off as a total masochist, you must understand, this was in response to our days beginning at 4am and ending at 10pm. The kid (read: mommy and daddy) needed his sleep to be during the dark hours. It just seemed like his schedule needed some outside help.

This transition has certainly not been without its troubles. Every day he’s in a different mood, and I have to try to assess whether he needs a quick snooze or not. Usually of four things happens:

1. He takes a short nap right after lunch, has a good afternoon and goes to bed on time.

2. He doesn’t take a nap at all, has an okay afternoon, falls asleep in his high chair eating dinner and thusly goes to bed early. And gets up early the next morning.

3. He acts like he doesn’t need a nap, but then falls asleep late in the afternoon on his bedroom floor or the couch or my lap and I have to wake him up, guaranteeing myself a crappy afternoon.

4. He acts like he needs a nap and asks to lay down in his crib, but then doesn’t nap, has a terrible afternoon, and screams and cries until bed time.

Today is shaping up to be a number 4. But, promisingly, yesterday was kind of a 2, but he stayed up until his regular bedtime. Making me think, he’s getting this. Maybe? Hopefully?

When did your children stop napping? Was it on their own, or did you have to help?

Year 31

Today, I turn 31. Not a big deal, I suppose. Last year was really the big year.

But, thinking of myself ten years ago makes me laugh. 21. Who knew the mixed up little beer-guzzling band bunny I was back then would turn out to be the wife and mother I am today? My 21 year old self would be so bored with me. Just goes to show people DO change, they change all the time!

For fun, I dug up some journal entries from year 21, like I did last year (which you can’t see because we’re still cleaning up from the data loss, but I hope to have that post back up very soon).

This is a good one: “The next day [after my birthday] I watched C’s plane until I couldn’t see it anymore and I felt like dying. This long distance thing is really getting to me. I have to go to UWEC next year because I signed a lease, but so help me God, if I don’t graduate in a year, I’m quitting school, moving to Indiana and getting a full time job”.

Hahahahahahahahaha. Oh my. All that for a boy who never respected me and bowed to kiss his parents’ feet when they told him I was ruining his college career (hello, I was in the same relationship, and my grades were fine!). I ended up breaking up with him the following fall and going to school for 3 ½ more years. And thank God. I have a degree that I actually like using. And Indiana? INDIANA? What was I thinking?! No disrespect to anyone who lives in Indiana, it’s just…not for me. I can’t believe just 10 years ago, I thought the sun rose and set in his stupid steel toed boots (that he wore for no reason, he didn’t even have a job at McDonald’s back then).

This one is fun. Written while I was reading Bridget Jones’s Diary, can you tell? “Calls from boyfriend: 3, with one more promised later. Fingers smashed in car door: 3. Hours of sleep last night: 4. Classes attended: 1 of 3. Hours of sleep after class: 2. Diet Cokes: 3. Level of gladness that I skipped class: infinite.”

Four hours of sleep?! I’d never make it on that nowadays. Four calls in one day from the boyfriend? I didn’t have that kind of time back then, did I? And 2 classes skipped in one day? Good lord, no wonder it took me 6 years to get a Bachelor’s degree. Sheesh, girl! But, I guess now at age 31, I’m no worse for the wear, right?

P.S. I have the same birthday as my good friend N. Happy birthday hon!

The New Sitter

Last night was the first time Bowie’s babysitter was not either my sister-in-law or some parent from the park that he knows really well. We met the gal last week, she works at an indoor play space, so we went and played for an hour or so. He was really shy that day, and kind of shy last night but he seemed more at ease.

I was freaking out the whole week leading up to it, and while I was super excited for a night out with my husband and friends, I was NOT super excited about leaving Bowie with someone he didn’t know very well.

It’s not at all that I don’t trust people, I do. And this girl was definitely trustworthy. The best way I could explain it to my friends was, there’s a million funny little quirky things about your kid. And for some reason, you feel like you have to remember all those things at once and tell them all to the caregiver. Even though some of them are so insignificant, you yourself tend to forget them sometimes. And others, like he needs his diaper changed when he poos or he’ll get a terrible rash. Like, duh. I’m pretty sure any sitter would do a diaper change at the first whiff of poo.

So, at some point you have to say to yourself, “Self, just let it go”. Any and all things about your kid will be one of three things:

1. a complete non-issue.

2. figured out by the caregiver.

3. maybe worthy of a quick phone call if they can’t figure it out.

Now that we’ve survived the ordeal, my life is completely changed. There’s going to be so much more we can do now that we’re not solely relying on family and close friends. Such as, going out with said family and close friends. This is going to be AWESOME.