Monday, February 23, 2015

Happy Anniversary to my Mortgage!

I've been delaying this post for a while, waiting for two things.

1) The house to be "done"

2) The house to be cleaned up for its photo shoot

I realized I could be waiting a while. Truth be told, the house gets cleaned fairly regularly. (I did marry a Marine). But it could be ages before I get all the inner furnishings and my "old lady knick-knacks" (per Ryan) and doo-dads arranged how I like them. Plus, I have about zero dollars with which to decorate right now.

Nevertheless, we've come a long way. I can't sufficiently sum up how grateful I am to our family and friends for helping us make this house a home. I feel so at peace here; every day I'm happier we took the plunge on this place.

This is our living room one year ago (!!!) when we bought the property:

Check out that faux wood paneling. 

The back door was all glass panels -- not very secure.

The door way between the mud/wash room and living area was open

So, we said bye bye to the paneling . . .

And our family and friends (mostly my father-in-law) installed new sheetrock in its place.

New, white trim went up.
Ryan painted the built-in shelving to match.

House make-over television shows really irritate me now--and I wasn't even doing the work. They make it seem like throwing a new coat of paint over things is an easy fix. 

(When I just now corrected a typo, I realized "pain" is literally an essential part of "paint." 
Yes indeed. How appropriate)

In reality, those shelves had to been removed, taken into the garage, sanded down, painted and painted over again in multiple coats, & be re-fit into wall (the sheetrock altered the volumetrics slightly from the original paneling). 
All the cabinet doors had to be re-hung and the hardware needed replacement.

The cabinet/shelving job took weeks.

We replaced the ceiling fan with a larger one, 
but moved the old one to a smaller room since it was still functional.

I saw this blog post on Pinterest and it introduced us to heat-resistant Rustoleum.


And now, as it is this very second . . .

The old back door was painted and moved to keep Bubba out of the laundry room- aka post-work decontamination chamber. 

The Dining Room:

Mmm. That carpet  . . .

It was replaced with "Plum Orchard" laminate flooring. 

There was laminate available for about 70-80 cents per sq ft.
But I'm glad we paid a bit more for this pattern ($1.69/sq ft I think). All our furniture is mix-matched, and I thought the multi-toned streaks in Plum Orchard would complement 
both the light and dark pieces.

Really grateful for Anthony's time and help


Room, don't get comfortable 'cause I'm not done with you yet.

Same flooring for the formal living room, now Ryan's bar/library, 
on other side of the entryway:

Ain't it beautiful? I never thought laminate could look so good. 

The Kitchen:

Oh this room sold me.
So much hugeness. I still don't know what to do with all the countertop, especially coming from a rental where we had only about two feet of food prep space.

The kitchen came with appliances in every color: black, white, steel, and yellow.

Maybe one day we'll touch up the kitchen more.
For the meanwhile, it now has recessed lighting, a little ceiling fan, and a new-used dishwasher.

Levolor faux-wood blinds went up.

I really didn't know what to do with the ugly wall paper border, so we just painted it over.

The Nursery

Me, on my due date last year. 
I'm being really helpful, as you can see.

Oh, decisions decisions . . .

New paint. New carpet. New fan. Recessed ceiling lights
 (CFL's? LED's? buying the bulbs was such a big deal, I should remember what we actually got).

And 5 minutes ago. I didn't pick up yet today. Deal with it.

I'm skipping two rooms, but my internet time is up ; p

Friday, February 6, 2015

The times they are a changin'

I can't get over how funny the baby is being  -- and how different he is acting this week. It's been like a little glimpse or foreshadowing into toddlerhood.

Our family spent the first half of January sick with some feverish GI bug. We spent the second half teething and nursing non-stop. We are in a much happier place right now.

They say babies start to grasp the concept of object permanence around 5 months.* (Like, the understanding that things can exist in places even out of sight. What we take for granted!) It's just recently, though, that he's demonstrating it in any appreciable way.

Earlier he would laugh with a peek a boo game, but maybe it was just for the funny faces we make. He starts the game himself now. Last night he closed himself in his nursery closet, paused, and then pushed the doors out again with a shriek of joy. Over and over and over again. It was hilarious.

Since . . . I guess birth, this kid has never expressed any desire to be anywhere except on/with me, or whomever happens to be the closest mom-substitute in the room. This past week or so, he'll actually make motions to be set down to play with something, or he'll just crawl away to check something out in another room.

Don't get me wrong, he still wants to be held, but now it's like only 75% of the time instead of 95% of the time.

The other day I left him in the [mostly baby-proofed] living room for about two minutes while I put some laundry away in our bedroom. At some point I heard his happy playing-with-my-toys babble change into a whimper.

"Momma's in her room, Bubba, 'Coming right back." I shouted. Normally, this realization of separation would trigger a melt down. Instead, I heard just another little whimper and the soft pitter patter of his hands and feet on the tile floor. A moment later his smile peered at me from around the corner of the hallway and he headed into my room.

Instead of freaking out, he realized he could close the distance himself.

Trust me, it's a big deal for us ; )

And so, so, so curious. He used to be terrified of the vacuum cleaner -- it's big and loud and noisy. But when's it's off and unplugged, he can't help but inspect it. For a time, he wouldn't go near the thing. I swear he got upset once cause I left it (off) in the same room as him. Another time, in lieu of a baby-gate, I simply parked it in front of an area I wanted him to stay away from. But on his own initiative he's come closer and closer everyday, tapping it, rubbing it, tugging its cord. Usually I strap him onto me with the Ergo while I vacuum. This morning I ran it in the living room and, even sitting on the same rug with it powered on, he didn't act scared.

 . . . And he's telling me my internet time is up. See ya.

*The object permanence thing. Some theorize that children don't fully understand this concept until 18-24 months. That's debatable for sure. Nonetheless, this is one of my big problems with cry-it-out sleep training, for infants at least.  Without understanding where mom or dad is, that kind of isolation is just cruel.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Going all in

Have you read the Holy Father's message to the Filipinos?

I loved it because I love Saint Joseph. It reminded me of the homily I heard just before Christmastime. The priest was reflecting on the need for trust, and how trust is just another word for faith, and how important it is to have trust in relationships, particularly with your spouse and with your God. 

I think the reading was the story of the Holy Family's flight into Egypt, when Herod threatened the baby Jesus. 

It was the first time I began to appreciate how courageous Mary and Joseph were, and how radical their trust was in each other. 

For yourself, imagine last night in all its normalcy. Now pretend your husband woke you up at 2:30am and said "Grab your things; we're leaving. It's not safe here."

Do you say "you're crazy and/or drunk," and roll over to fall back asleep?

Or, what the hell? Why?

Because of A DREAM? You want us to do what because of a shitty dream?

Maybe you think your spouse IS just a little crazy but you go out on a limb and  put your faith in his gut intuition. 

Imagine packing just what you could fit in the back of the car, hitting the interstate before sunrise, and driving across the border into Mexico's desert. Imagine taking refuge in that foreign country for an unspecified number of years. 

Wait, wait wait. But Mary wasn't married to your Average Joe. She married Saint Joseph, for Pete's sake. Of course if St. Joseph told you to do something, you'd trust him. He's not exactly your typical husband. 

True. But . . . 

Remember, between Mary and Joseph, Mary was the perfect one. Mary never made a moral error in her entire life. She, in a certain sense, was always right. 

Joseph was a really great guy, but he was still a sinner. He screwed up sometimes. 

Mary trusted him anyway. She was way outta his league, but she gave him her heart to lead their family. 

I'm still trying to process that. 
And I'm going to bed. Goodnight. 

PS. Read what Francis said about having a dream for your family. Maybe tomorrow I'll find the link to post. 

PS II. It's worth noting that Joseph also had to give some radical trust to Mary in a highly dubious predicament. They were engaged to be married, and she suddenly appears knocked up. Peer pressure and the norms of their culture would have had him react one way to a cheating fiancé, but we know the rest of that story. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A New Year

I'm so hungry right now. Haven't had a real meal since my packed lunch last night. I could cook something, but the kid might wake up while the range is hot. And I don't feel like leaving something half cooked on the stove, so I'm distracting myself with yuletide rambling.

I rung (rang?) in 2015 at work, trying to chase down my patient's boyfriend so she didn't have to be alone when the clock struck twelve. I checked the waiting room twice while my coworkers counted down the last minute and toasted with sparkling apple juice in plastic flutes.

I didn't find him, but he showed up later and made her whole room reek of weed.

Around 4am I got another chance to pump upstairs in the lactation room. Sometimes it's so lonely up there, just me and the Medela. It's one aisle away from the hospital nursery and right around the corner from where I gave birth.

I hate pumping. It makes me feel like a milk cow and reminds me how far away I am from my little boy.

But on the other hand, it also reminds me I do have a little boy at home, how lucky I am to have him in my life, and how proud I am to feed him myself.

Ryan is out with his cousins right now. Bubba is actually sleeping in his own crib--wonder of wonders. It won't last long, and in about 30 minutes I'm sure he'll wake up and demand I join his slumber party. And bring the boobies, mom.

By the way, here we are last year, just beginning the third trimester.

And this year!

Selfies and babies just don't work sometimes. Not if you're trying to include a good shot of the tree.

Our tree topper is ridiculous. We didn't trim it though. It reminds me of the little dog with the lopsided antlers in the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. I'm grateful for my husband doing about 90% of the decorating this year, including hanging icicle lights which he hates. He even remembered to take baby Jesus out of the creche until Christmas day.

I worked Christmas night, which was okay. We had spent Christmas Eve with Ryan's family, and my son had a blast crumpling paper and chasing the dogs as fast as his fat little thighs could take him. That night Bubba had a little Christmas miracle for his momma and slept 6 hours straight.

Christmas morning we had to ourselves. It was lovely.

I just discovered "Hipster Holiday" on Pandora. I changed the name so as not to alarm the man of the house. I'm enjoying it. My three other Christmas stations were getting a bit overplayed, and it's not even Epiphany yet ; )

Looking forward to a few more days like these. Cheers.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Big Three O

A friend of mine recently celebrated a milestone birthday and took the opportunity to recollect all the defining events of her past decade. Having recently turned thirty myself, it got me thinking. Where was I ten years ago? What did I do with my twenties? A lot happened to me; maybe more so than for my teens.

Ten years ago this fall I was returning to college--skinny, muscular, and tan, and with not a few internal parasites, I'm sure. I had spent part of the summer in Banica, Dominican Republic, where a sister-parish of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington hosted me and several other students. It was supposedly a "mission trip," and while we were eager workers, we were but skill-less college students. The experience certainly benefited ourselves more than any Dominicans, unless the general spreading of goodwill counts for something.  We lived with local families, learned Spanish, built horribly rickety church pews, and poured cement for a widower's new home. We developed dysentery and a taste for goat meat.  I am almost certain I have never had as much fun as I did in the D.R.

Deacon Joseph: one badass carpenter. At least somebody knew what he was doing.

wash day in the Rio Artibonito

also in the river . . .

the local wildlife kept even nighttime outhouse trips . . . exciting

with my host family, Arturo and Maria

The power was out again in Banica.
Hitch hiking to Las Matas for cold beer and ice cream.
Stopping at our driver's goat farm. 

In the dorms that year I was a resident assistant--a pretty bad one. My intentions were good, but you know you've got a problem when you earn a reputation for being the strictest dress code enforcer on campus (in the most conservative Catholic college in all the land no less.) Hemline Gestapo I was, though personally I found the dress code too severe. Forgive me, girls. I was young, stupid, and really wanted to make things fair. It didn't seem right that some should get away with breaking the rules while others were making hard effort to comply. Call me Javert.

Anyway, there are about four things in life that I regret to the point of pain. Being that kind of R.A. is one of them.

Over Christmas break I spent time with my sisters and our good friends, the Kane sisters. Ryan spent New Year's Eve with us at a family party. I couldn't quite figure out why he stuck around. I was pretty sure he was out of my league, and surely someone as cool as he would have more exciting places to ring in the new year? While on preciously short leave, no less. In retrospect, I can only liken it to Elizabeth's bewilderment when Mr. Darcy keeps calling on her and Charlotte while she stays with the Collinses. (Sorry. I just finished reading Pride & Prejudice.)

We split paths early 2005. Ryan was deployed to Iraq.  I joined about twenty classmates in Rome for a semester abroad. It was rich, rich, rich. I had been to Rome twice before as part of a youth group, but never for more than a week or so. Having three months to live in the city was simply unparalleled.

Somewhere along the Appian Way, I think

Some of the best parts of the city are underground

Ancient latrines in . . . Ostia Antica?

I can't remember who this commemorated woman was,
but she was cradling a baby, riding horseback, and firing a pistol. What a badass.

Joannie demonstrates the proper way to launder in a bidet

St Peter's in Chains.
I'm skeptical whenever I hear of relics from the Old Testament (it's the thought that counts, right?)
but they say there are remains of the Maccabee brothers here.

It's Hanukkah time. Read that book. Those fellas were hardcore m*f*'ers.

Big sis came to visit me and we made day trips to Perugia and Siena
Twilight in Perugia

Joan was one of the best roommates ever

Trip to Florence. Stayed in a convent school. View from our window.

Cara goes for the magnum canned beer

There is a tradition of saying mass in forty of the oldest Roman churches for every day of lent. We spent many cold, dark mornings following Dr. Flippen to all the ancient station churches for early mass before returning to our boarding house for lectures. I swear there is a church on every block in Rome. Quite a few are desolate. Many are baroque ad nauseam. Others are just absolute treasures, whether in quaintness, age, or majesty. And more numerous than the churches are the saints' relics. There are graves, tombs, bodies, limbs, and severed digits everywhere. I don't want to be anywhere near the place for the Second Coming. Anyhow, it was a great way to learn the city little by little, especially the places away from the usual tourist traps.

Was this when we went to Montecassino? It was frigid.


Spent the week before Easter in Assisi

This little alleyway had its own street name! Love that town.
We were gifted in a particular way by being in Rome for the last days of John Paul II. I spent Easter morning in Saint Peter's Square wearing a lime green windbreaker jacket and red rubber flip flops (it was pouring rain and I didn't want to soak my shoes), and, in high Christian fashion, fighting for elbow room. That rain simply had to go somewhere, and people were packed in more closely than the expansion of their umbrellas. Everyone was jostling to avoid being in someone else's watershed.

My best friends and I visited Paris later that week. As frail as JP2 had looked for Easter mass, we were still shocked to learn of his death the following Saturday. Rome had become home for us, but there we were in France, watching television, and seeing all these other kids keep vigil outside his window in Saint Peter's Square.

Sacré-Cœur basilica in Montmatre: There is such a tangible presence here

behind Notre Dame

Picnic and the best white wine I've ever tasted

We had a wonderful stay in Paris. Despite all the hyped-animosity between the Americans and the French at that time ("They're freedom fries, dammit!"), the Parisians were lovely and gracious to us.  It was also really nice to see young families again. Rome is full of old people.

Back in Rome, we were lucky enough to see John Paul II in state, attend his funeral, and witness the coronation mass of Benedict XVI. Then it was time to go home.

Line to get in St. Peters while JPII was lying in state

To make it inside the square for the funeral, got to the street the afternoon prior

Looks like a Chik-Fil-A was opening . . .

I graduated that spring and--recognising that an undergraduate degree in philosophy wouldn't pay the bills--immediately began working on prerequisites to nursing school. I moved home to Florida and cleaned kennels for my dad in between classes. Ryan came home. I was in love with him. I knew he felt for me. It was awkward and thrilling.

The next year we started dating, if you could call it that ; ) I began an intense, accelerated bachelor's program for nursing. He was deployed again to Iraq. My dad helped me keep a little apartment in downtown Mobile. I studied and sweated for nursing school (literally, I didn't run the a.c.), survived on daily mass and caffeine, and lived for Ryan's precious phone calls from his firm base in Ramadi. I can't begin to describe the frustration I felt when I missed one of his calls. Once I was actually out of clinicals, in my apartment, and within fifteen feet of my cell phone. But the windows were open, somebody was mowing the lawn, and I didn't hear the ringer. It was awful. I was furious.

In 2007 we got him back again, and I finished nursing school . . .

{Bubba is waking up from his nap. I'm going to pause this and come later.}