Tuesday, 22 April 2014

An Update on Various Things

So even though I just wrote a blog post the other day I still am feeling disconnected from all of you and from the blog world at large. That probably sounds weird, but there it is.

I thought I'd give an update on where in life we are at this point since there really are some exciting things going on. I wanted to add some photos but with the internet at my dad's, you're lucky to even get these bulletpoints. Sorry, your eyes.

1. The House. Most of you know that we're working on buying a house. We found a place in Vermont that we really liked - the inspection uncovered some decently big issues and after some negotiation (ugh, that term doesn't capture how frustrating the whole thing was, but I'll elaborate on that later) we were back on track. Next came the VA appraisal, which I talk about below and which we are still waiting on.  We should be able to close this week or early next week, which I'm trying to get excited about but still seems sooo far away. I can't wait to share photos with you guys. There are plenty of white walls so I think it'll get the blogger seal of approval right quick. Also it has a dutch door which I'm super pumped about.

2. Dealing with the VA. If we learned anything from this whole endeavor it's that we probably should not have gone the VA loan route, even with the reduced interest rate and avoidance of PMI. The VA appraiser told us that we had to add railings to the stairs before closing in order to "protect the veteran." I informed our mortgage advisor that "the veteran" was shot and blown up in Iraq, and that the VA was completely unconcerned with "protecting the veteran" when he had an infection in his wisdom tooth and was denied dental care, but to no avail. To add an extra layer of absurdity, the layout of the house is such that railings limit the ability to move things up and down the stairs, meaning that we had to wait until the sellers moved and we had to tell the contractor we hired to make them easily removable.  We would've closed weeks ago if it weren't for this stupid, arbitrary requirement so needless to say we are a little bit frustrated.

3. Moving. Obviously we can't really move until the house closes, so we're still hanging out in Maine until the process starts moving forward. We have been alternating between Rob's parents' and my dad's houses, and while it's nice to get a change of pace it's hard to feel like we're mooching as they make us dinner and don't charge us rent. I don't know how some of my fellow millenials do this "living with parents" thing because we are getting pretty damn itchy.

4. The baby. We hit 30 weeks tomorrow which is incredibly surreal. I don't think I ever actually thought we'd get out of the 1st or 2nd trimester and now that we're like, 70 days away, it's starting to seem pretty terrifying. The crazy thing I keep thinking about is that if she were born now, she'd have a pretty damn good chance of surviving with few or no major problems. Crazy shit. Despite a few nervewracking hours here and there, she's moving pretty consistently and is currently head-down.  The ultrasound yesterday showed that her umbilical cord is in a rather precarious place, just above her head; apparently if my water broke now (not likely) she'd be at risk of prolapsed cord which could end tragically. But the doctor said she has plenty of time to "engage" in my pelvis and move around, so hopefully it won't be an issue come birth time. I've been trying to Google less and enjoy the pregnancy more, which is hard for me, but things have gone smoothly up to this point so I'm hoping for the best.

So there we go, a pictureless update on life. I hope you guys are having a great week.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Some Thoughts on "Home"

The other day I was refreshing my Facebook feed for the bajillionth time when I came across an article from Offbeat Home that posed the question, are you a mover or a stayer?

I had a strange moment where I thought, "definitely a mover. No, wait. Definitely a stayer. No, wait," before I realized that I have absolutely no idea which one I am.

I think anyone would look at my and Rob's relationship over the last 11 years from the outside and label us movers. Even putting aside the fact that I went to college 2000 miles away from home and studied abroad in Moscow and that Rob joined the Army and spent a year in Iraq, we're almost always on the move. Once we became adults, we never lived in one place longer than 3 or 4 years before moving on to the next adventure. When we lived in Maine, as we got closer to Rob's graduation date, our feet got itchier and itchier until finally Rob up and applied to be a firefighter with a semester left to his degree.  As you guys know we were in Santa Fe for two years before we got all pregnant and decided to move somewhere we could put down more permanent roots, which we are slowly doing now. Even aside from moving, we travel as often as we are able and are generally very comfortable being away from home.

On the other hand, though, we can easily see ourselves setting down roots, buying a home and raising our kid in one place.  The idea doesn't make us claustrophobic or itchy and if anything, it's just as exciting to us as moving and traveling always have been.

I asked Rob and he thought we were definitely movers. I guess we'll have to see how itchy we get in 3 years.


We are currently "nomadding" at our parents' houses as we wait for our house to close, and being back in the homeland has been interesting, eye-opening, and exhausting all at once.  I think anyone from the area would agree that it is a place of stayers--the majority of people I went to high school with didn't go much further than 2 hours away and I don't imagine that even the ones who complain about it incessantly on Facebook will ever actually leave.

I don't think small-town life is necessarily for everyone, but it's obvious how special it is to the people who stay here.  There's something comforting about the same tiny roads without any sidewalks, the 2 radio stations that fade in and out, the posters for benefit suppers and the 200 year old grange halls, not to mention the fact that whenever we leave home we're almost guaranteed to see at least one person we knew in high school. When you've grown up around the concept of tight-knit rural communities and the comfort of the expected you can see why it's so important to the people who live here.

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Even though Rob and I chafe a bit when we've been here too long--somehow the expanse of the woods and the distance between towns, not to mention the lack of amenities and cell phone reception can be stifling to us--I notice our rural genes popping up here and there in our daily lives. When we moved to New Mexico we were shocked when our neighbors didn't wave to us when they saw us on the road (we eventually trained them), or that no one was surprised by the fact that one murder wasn't statewide news.

This wasn't meant as an indictment on Santa Fe or non-rural life, nor was it meant to present some idealized version of what living in a small town is like (that's what Brad Paisley is for).  Maine and areas like it have their fair share of problems and crimes, especially in recent years, and though I think everyone gets sentimental about home, I know that it isn't really a place I ever want to live or raise my child.

Plus I find it incredibly annoying when people act like one place is intrinsically better than another. I see it a lot with Downeast Mainers who move out of state, and I'm sorry, but you aren't better than a place (and if you feel the need to assert it constantly you probably don't really believe it yourself anyway).

Having said that, I feel really lucky to have both married someone from here and to have family here that will enable my child to experience a little bit of what I had growing up, and that where we will most likely raise her will have a similar community.

So there you have some of my disorganized thoughts, wrenched from all the things I've been thinking about over the last two weeks away from Santa Fe.  I've been completely out of the blogging loop for the past few weeks so thought I'd fill you all in.  Maybe there'll be an update on the house soon, WHO KNOWS?

And since I haven't showed too many more photos of the baby, here's a shot of her face we got at my appointment today:

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When the OB focused on her face I saw her right eye open and close. CREEPY. 10 more weeks!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

I've Never Seen Links Like You

I'm done making my kid's childhood magical.  I'm not even a parent yet but YESSSSS. (via Kaelah)

One more parenting article: I can't always protect my children - and I don't always want to.

Idiot teenager makes a "terrorist threat" to American Airlines on Twitter.

Tattooed seniors respond to "What will they look like when you get old?" 

How to order coffee like a local in 26 countries.

Russian police photos on Instagram. 

Realistic drawings of animated characters.

A little late but still interesting: Crazy anecdotes about sex in the Olympic Village.

Annoying pet personalities.

10 strangest facts about penises. The largest penis was 13.5 inches?!?!

Scientists growing body parts using stem cells. SCIENCE!

Quiz: How privileged are you? I am "quite privileged."

Star Wars themed funeral fulfills 4-year-old's final wish. :( (via Order of the Good Death on Facebook)

The story behind the iconic Depression-era Migrant Mother photo. (via Erika's Twitter)

How to love someone with Alzheimer's.

Kids react to Walkmans. Why am I so old?!

Daughter's brutally honest obituary for her mother goes viral.

The gay father I never knew.

Some powerful "Boston Strong" photos.

Why anxiety is so hard to manage (and what you can do to cope).

Lindy West perfectly articulates why the "World's Toughest Job" video really rubbed me the wrong way.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Truck Stop Wisdom

Those of you who follow me on the Instagram have already seen this but here goes anyway.

One side effect of traveling by car when you're pregnant is, you know, stopping every hour and a half or so to pee. And that means lots of time spent in truck stop bathrooms.

In Oklahoma I came across this gem written in my bathroom stall:

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"Every second of every minute of every day I love my husband."
"Then you are probably too young to be married."

It was probably the most clever thing I've found in a bathroom, honestly. I mean it's obvious even from the handwriting that girl #1 is like, 20 years old.  

When I showed him this Rob said, "there's so much more clever stuff in the women's bathroom. In the men's bathroom it's just a bunch of dicks and swastikas."

I know questions at the ends of posts are kind of dorky, but do you guys have any good comebacks for girl #1's sentiment? I personally can't even come up with clever comebacks in a situation where I have time to think about it.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

A Moving/Driving/Whatever Update

Well that was a long hiatus, eh? I wish I could say that I spent that time doing something exciting, but we were mostly just mired in the minutiae of a cross-country move (how's that for alliteration?).

We are safely in our home state of Maine now, where we are staying until we close on our new house which should hopefully be in the next couple of weeks.  The house-buying process has been moving slowly and at times contentiously, but we think we're finally on the right path and minus a few hurdles, we are ready to move in and you know, play house or some shit.

Our last few weeks in Santa Fe were pretty busy. Every time we've moved (which I feel like has been a lot) I have an image in my head of how it will go - plenty of time to say goodbye, at least a few nights with each person we wanted to say goodbye to, maybe a bonfire or a party.  But when we actually get into packing and moving and sweating and sleeping, socialization goes out the window. We end up saying quick goodbyes when someone can come over to our empty house, or maybe a dinner for 20 minutes before we get back to packing.

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All the kudos in the world go to Rob, who managed to fit our entire life--including all of our books, a reclining chair, end tables, bedframe, and mattresses--into a shipping cube that measured around 6x7x8'.  When we pulled up in the UHaul (turns out it was cheaper to rent a Uhaul, drive our shit to the cube, pack it, and return the UHaul than have the cube brought to our house) I really didn't think everything would go in, but god dammit he did it and I'm still impressed days later.  He really earned the Chipotle burrito I bought for him afterward.

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As a side note,  having now moved with a trailer and a shipping container, I would really recommend the shipping container route. We were able to drive so much faster since we weren't trailing a massive-ass Uhaul and we didn't have to put the stress on our vehicles. The company we chose will store the shipping container for us until we need it (for a fee of course), at which time we'll rent another Uhaul and unload it.

We started our drive a few days ago. After our trip to Phoenix a few weekends ago we discovered that long travel days, a swollen uterus with a ~2lb baby inside of it don't mix, so our friend Laura graciously agreed to drive my car cross-country. I don't know what I would've done without her because who knew that sitting is hard when you're pregnant? Plus it was nice having company as it made the trip go by so quickly.  Cypress had a pretty miserable ride all in all due to her refusal to lay down and sleep like a normal dog, not to mention her gastrointestinal...proclivities. I hope we won't have to do too many more long drives with her because she seems to hate them more each time. If only it wasn't more cruel to just fly her there.

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A lot of people expressed jealousy at being able to drive cross-country from New Mexico to Maine, but since it was our fourth time doing it in 2 years I have to say that those people are not missing much. I'm not trying to humble-brag because for real, most of the middle of the country is pretty damn boring (sorry Oklahoma-Missouri-Northern Texas-Indiana-Illinois) and in the late winter/early spring, most everything else is too.  Plus we aren't fun and don't stop at all the kitschy road trippy things so it's mostly just a means to an end.

Even though we've been gone for a few days I don't think I've yet grasped that we are not going back to Santa Fe. I've found myself missing our friends, of course, but random shit like our grocery stores, my doctor, and the dog park too. I'm really excited for this new chapter, since it involves a new house and a whole new person, but I find myself missing the Land of Enchantment more than I thought I might.

My saddest moment came earlier today, when we went to Hannaford to pick up stuff for dinner and were met with excruciating disappointment at the so-called "Hispanic" section. I love New England, but Santa Fe has ruined me for Mexican/New Mexican food forever.

So there you have it, our last week or so.  We're currently staying at Rob's brother's condo before we head back to my dad's, and I think we're all enjoying the ability to stop moving even for just a second.

I hope you guys have had a great weekend!

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Self-Conscious Thoughts on Pregnancy and (Future) Parenthood

I have a confession: I've been wanting to write a lot more about pregnancy- and baby-related things lately but have been too self-conscious to actually let myself do it.

I don't mean posts about shit we are registered for or nursery themes, or tips on how to be pregnant (since honestly I have no idea how to be pregnant). As you can tell if you follow me on literally any social media outlet, I have no idea how to dress myself, let alone these new hipster-chic babies (seriously, look on Pinterest, how are kids better dressed than adults nowadays?). Our baby's nursery theme will likely end up being, "A baby sleeps here.  Look, Star Wars!" mostly because I'm lazy but also because I personally don't see the point of themes.  I guess for some people home decor is really exciting and it's just fun to do, which I get, but for me that kind of pressure is totally unnecessary. Choosing the right sectional color has been stress enough for me.

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Maybe we'll just have a baby Caitlin themed nursery. Also, let's hope our daughter does not inherit that giant head of mine.

I've had a lot of thoughts lately about our future child, who she will become, what traits she'll inherit from us and what traits she'll develop because she doesn't want to be like us, what holding her will feel like for the first time and whether I'll actually believe she came out of me or not. Since this pregnancy and all the fallout from it--our move back East, buying a house, being parents--has taken up most of the discussions we have over oft-repeated episodes of "Archer" I've really wanted to write about it. It's hard though, in a first-world-problems kind of way, to transition what I write here from life and awkwardness to parenthood and awkwardness, and I think I've been too afraid to alienate a lot of people who read by going on and on about babies and vaginas and pregnancy.

But then I realized that holy shit, this is a blog, and in the grand scheme of things it doesn't really matter for much. People can always skip over posts or roll your eyes and click "Mark as Read" if they really don't want to read about this new, terrifying part of my life, or unfollow me completely.  The sky won't fall and the world won't end.

So with that incredibly wordy introduction, here's a post about thoughts on pregnancy and our future child.  I found it easier to number them in a list until I can hash them out a little more.

1. Rob and I had a conversation the other day on what trait we would most like to cultivate in our child. I know the parents among you will laugh at me and think something along the lines of, "good luck! Babies aren't blank slates! You have no idea what you'll get!" and I know that objectively. This was more of a thought experiment since generally speaking we won't have absolute control over who she becomes.  Anyway, I told Rob that I would like our daughter to be independent. I want her to feel comfortable enough challenging herself and trying new things while always knowing that we are there to stand behind her.  Rob's choice similar, as he chose confidence - being able to stand up for herself and for others and feeling secure enough to go her own way.

2. The baby's kicks have been a lot stronger and more frequently lately which has been both incredibly reassuring and terrifying to me. Though my doctor advised against kick counts in a low-risk pregnancy--and you aren't even supposed to do them until 28 weeks anyway--I've been sort of vaguely keeping track and I get incredibly nervous when I've gone an hour or two or more without any distinct kicking motions.  I've actually started saying out loud "please move," and when she does I say "thank you," because I'm weird like that. Throughout the pregnancy I've had brief flashes of "holy shit this is real," and one of them came when I imagined myself looking at her legs and feet in person and remembering that those were the things kicking me from the inside. I actually teared up a little bit.

2a. The other crazy thing about kicks is that her motions have become a lot more fluid in the last few weeks. It used to be jabs and twitches, but now if I have my hand on my belly I can actually feel her roll and tumble if that makes sense at all. She's getting bigger by the day so I guess it makes sense that she has less and less room to frolic.

3. A keeping-it-real/TMI moment: no one ever told me that when you're pregnant sometimes your boobs leak. The first time that happened (because it's happened a lot) was the other time that the pregnancy felt real to me.

4. This is going to sound incredibly superficial but here goes. One other thing I've been thinking about is what our daughter will look like. At her last ultrasound she had her hands up by her face so we couldn't see her nose or anything, and even if we could my guess is it'd be difficult to discern any features that way. Then Rob's sister posted this photo of him on Facebook for Throwback Thursday:

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And I found myself 1. tearing up and 2. hoping that our daughter has that little Who-nose and goofy smile and lovely brown eyes that my husband has.  I also sort of selfishly hope that she gets the same birthmark Rob has on his chest - it's mostly just a darker patch of skin but it's one of my favorite things about him physically and for some reason I think it'd be really sweet if his daughter had it somewhere on her body too. It seems somewhat likely given that his mother and brother also have it.  I do hope she avoids getting Rob's hair though - it's wiry and curly and since my idea of "styling my hair" has included "chopping it all off" and then "shaving it" I will be of absolutely no help to her in this department.  Maybe she'll take after me and go short.

5. Rob and I have been talking a lot about our parenting style.  This is another one the already-parents will probably laugh at but hear me out. Rob is of the mind that having a "style" is already a mistake since you're overthinking your every move instead of just doing what works best in the moment and in the long-term.  I am the kind of person who likes to have a plan in place for every possible scenario - her first public meltdown, picky eating, etc. - and also a person who I think could easily lean toward helicopter parenting.  We've agreed that we want our daughter to have a childhood like the one we both had - one of independence, free play, and a general sense of freedom within obvious and reasonable boundaries. We also want to by and large avoid heavily gendered parenting - I read an article recently about how studies have shown that parents sort of sub-consciously coddle girls more, allow them more freedom of emotion than boys, and also underestimate their physical and mental capabilities, all without realizing it.  I don't think this needs to be a very active thing we do or don't do, I think it's just something to keep in mind on a day to day basis if we can.

So there you go, a pregnancy-level brain dump. You know, pregnancy has not really met any of my expectations of what it would be like, except for overthinking. I knew I'd do a lot of that.