Friday, April 27, 2012

Living out of our car

(sorry our updates as of late are boring... I need to think of interesting and controversial topics to blog about)

As of Tuesday, we officially moved out of our house and the new tenants moved in. It was a bittersweet moment. I was happy to be done with the moving business and the cleaning, but we've loved that house so much it is sad to leave it all behind. We had an amazing summer last year, and the school year has brought a lot of changes, all of which have been great (grad school, Lu, etc). 

We are leaving May 5th for our big cross-country drive (exciting!), and until then we have alternately been relaxing at our friend's mom's house (Jane is the coolest mom ever, no offense to other moms out there) and running tons of errands (dentist to fill my two cavities, chiropractor to fix my messed up post-childbirth hips, REI, Target, playing with friends, eating dinner with other friends). We bought a solar charger, which Tim thinks is the coolest thing ever, and bought Theo a new pair of Keen sandals for our summer adventures (he was complaining of his shoes hurting, though they didn't appear to be too small... so we decided to splurge and buy him nice ones). He loves his new shoes, and they look really cute on him, plus are built to last, so we bought a relatively gender-neutral pair to pass on to Lu in a few years (or maybe I'll pass them to Logan...) 

We went to a delicious Mexican/Salvadorian restaurant last night with the Bryner clan, and enjoyed piping hot, freshly-cooked pupusas with cabbage and chips and salsa. MMMmmmmm. Theo ran around the restaurant the entire time, only sitting to play with the iPad for a minute and eat a pupusa. We were reminded that lack of money is not the only reason we don't go out to eat ever.

Speaking of money, our stipend next year is going to be great. I'm so excited to actually have an income and a budget. Even though we'll be making less than $20,000 a year, to us that feels like A LOT (especially when our rent on a two-bedroom apartment will only be $750 a month including all utilities, internet, laundry). Depending on how my school schedule is, Tim might also find a part-time job at a library or something similar. I've been so ridiculously frugal and obsessive about money, and I'm ready to live simply but not worry about money ever. We will probably still shop at thrift stores and eat lentils & rice on a regular basis, but I'm sick of overanalyzing every purchase and feeling so dang cheap. I did let Tim buy me a Kindle with our Wal-mart gift cards from returning some baby gifts, and geez, I should have bought this ages ago. I LOVE IT. I'm currently reading The Book of Mormon Girl, which I don't highly recommend yet, but maybe I will once I'm done. I love her writing style, and she puts into words so many of my thoughts and feelings as an adolescent girl in a traditional LDS family. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Month One

Poor Tallulah Fern. She will never be as well-documented as her brother, but she gets just as much love and cuddling and breast milk so I'm not feeling too guilty about it. The real reason behind my lack of documentation is her inability to sit by herself, she has to be constantly held, and she is. Thus, hard to type. BUT, she has many life experiences under her belt already, including 8 plane rides, traveling to four states, and having a girls' night out in NYC in a hotel on Times Square.

At one month, Tallulah loves:

- Being held, rocked, carried around in the Sleepy Wrap

- Airplane rides

- Being outside at the park

- Baths and showers

- Pooping in the bath

- Her Grammy

- Sleeping all afternoon

- Meeting Elmo

- Nursing at the MoMa


Tallulah dislikes:

- Being put down

- Her gastrointestinal issues

- Pooping not in the bath

- Atticus jumping on her

- When Mom eats milk, chocolate, onions, garlic, etc.

- Loud noises when she is trying to sleep

- Sleeping at night


She is beautiful, feisty, noisy, and opinionated. It is amazing how different she is from our firstborn. Atticus still adores her, and all week when we were gone he kept asking "Where'd Lula go?" to which he'd reply to himself "Oh, go on airplane." She still sleeps in the bed with me while Dad sleeps with Atticus in the other bedroom, though we are thinking of integrating sleeping spaces soon. She loves to cuddle next to me in the night, and hates being placed too far away. She has feminine, long fingers and toes so we think she will be tall and skinny like her Dad. She definitely has my facial features, and my mom thinks one of her pictures looks like her (my mom) as a baby. She is starting to chunk up and it getting little rolls on her thighs. She is healthy and strong and we think she is the cutest little girl ever born in our family.

Lupus long toes

Taken by Atticus


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Home again

I planned on blogging all week with the run-down of my thoughts, pros/cons, feelings towards Wisconsin vs. Rutgers.... but the iPad keyboard died the first day we were gone, thus preventing me from doing such. It would've  been nice to have feedback during the difficult decision-making process, but when it came down to it, Tim offered a little input and the decision was solely mine. I loved Wisconsin: the environment (though it was quite cold even in April, but we'll get used to it!), the beautiful lakes, the cool downtown area where there are no cars, only bikes and buses. I liked the family housing, the bus that runs through the family housing to campus and downtown (every 7 minutes during the day!), and the other students we met that lived there. I liked how bike-friendly it was (paths everywhere!) and the fact there is a Whole Foods AND Trader Joe's within a mile. Plus, cheap children's museum (memberships start at $9 a year if you are on WIC or some other low-income program. $9!!!) and FREE ZOO. Health insurance for families is apparently awesome and we will only be paying $100 a month (so awesome they will pay for a CSA, gym membership, etc.)

The Political Science department at Wisconsin is a top program and I really felt like all of the professors there were not only doing interesting research and involved in cutting-edge scholarship, but were truly involved in mentoring doctoral students and would be excellent teachers as well. I felt right at home on the campus and among the professors and other graduate students.

And while Rutgers had its merits and their program in Women in Politics is well-known, it could not hold a candle to the program at Wisconsin and the cool city of Madison. So, decision made, acceptance and rejection sent, Wisconsin it is!

(Also, the trip was so fun. I met really awesome people in Wisconsin and stayed with a really neat couple who were supremely hospitable. Having my mom around in New Jersey was great, she is so helpful with my child, fun to hang out with, and likes to spend money! Perfect vacation for me!)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

First Chapter of Book

UPDATE: I think I got the link right this time. The link is here.

So I have made it through my first wave of finals/final papers. Really, I've only done one paper and one final, but I also have another paper pretty much finished leaving me with one paper and two finals left to do. I'm not really stressing about any of it. One final will be SUPER easy (Middle East Anthropology) and the other will be on something I am comfortable with (Political Science 110). The paper should also be interesting, as it's on the "rejection of the infantilization of women" in the books that we've read for my women's lit class.

All that to say that I've spent some time on my book, both as an escape from schoolwork and as a reward for finishing (rewriting has been a rewarding experience so far). So I present to you the first chapter of my very first book Hot Chocolate in Here which is about two hopeless guys who hire pirates to help them convince girls to join them in marriage, but everything goes wrong, until turtles save the day. I have it open for comments (I think) so feel free to leave them in droves.

Some decisions that I have to make include (which I would love to hear comments on):

1) Price
a) 2.99 is definitely the highest I would go, which also gets me 75% commission on Amazon. This seems a little high, but I am also a very cheap person.
b).99 or 1.50 which is more reasonable but only gets me 35% commission.
c) free which gets me %100 of nothing, but gets my name out there and will get a lot more people to read my book

2) Pen Name
a) Timothy K. Browning, or some alternative of my usual name Tim Browning, Timothy Browning
b) T.K. Browning which is the name I've had in my head for a long time, but it sounds a lot like J.K. Rowling
c) T. Kay Browning which I also like, but makes me sound like a girl, which wouldn't be the end of the world
d) Timothy Carroll borrowing Cait's last name
e) Separate names for my humorous books and my more serious books, which would be easier for individual books but would make it harder to gain name recognition.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Angels in the airport

This blog post is brought to you from Delta flight 985, which was almost missing a me and a Lu had some divine intervention not helped us out. Totally my fault I arrived at the airport less than 31 minutes before my flight was scheduled to take off. I misread the itinerary in my sleep-deprived state, and therefore, went to check-in and was told I would have to get on a different flight and arrive hours later than planned and pay a fee. The male Delta employee was not sympathetic to my plight, but after negotiating with him, he printed out my boarding pass and sneered, "good luck making it through the THIRTY MINUTE security line."

Well, said security line only took about ten minutes, even with taking baby out of wrap, hauling car seat and carry-on, and not taking out my mini tube of toothpaste...

I was then booking it through the airport, baby in tow, car seat in one hand and carry-on dragging behind. My gate would be the absolute farthest away, and I was dying near the end. Out of nowhere, appeared a tall, handsome and saintly Delta employee, smiling and running toward me; he grabbed my baggage and car seat and helped me to my gate. Then, three beautiful, smiling Asian women greeted me, took my boarding pass, and exclaimed: "we left the seat empty next to you since we knew you had an infant!"

If those are not the greatest words ever spoken to a frazzled, traveling mother, I am not sure what are.


Monday, April 2, 2012

Tallulah's birth, part III

I've had complaints that with all the various parts of the birth story, everyone is hanging on the edge of their seats waiting to see if the baby was actually BORN. Well, I'm here to tell you, she most definitely came. And with a bang.

Sometime close to 3 pm, I began feeling the almost unbearable constant wave of pressure that signifies transition and moving quickly to the pushing part of birthing. Since Atticus took over 2 hours to push out, I was thinking I still had a long way to go and was becoming a tad discouraged thinking about the next step to getting her out of me. My groans intensified and there were a few times I said the usual "I can't do this, I'm not going to be able to get this baby out of me myself" or something to that effect (really, shouldn't the witnesses write the birth story, I can't remember what happened!) But of course, everyone was very reassuring that I was doing this, and it was almost time for her to come.

Unlike with my first birth, where I was checked, declared to be 10 cm and ready to push, and only then started pushing (probably too soon).... this time around, I didn't even have time to think, oh, I'm complete, time to push. I went from one intense wave to one where my body just automatically started bearing down, I had absolutely no control over what was happening. I think maybe Jennifer had left the room, so I believe someone ran to get her because I was pushing. Next thing I know, I look up and there are no fewer than 8 nurses surrounding me yelling at me to get out of the tub. Yeah, because I can really move right now, I thought. My body kept bearing down, I kept groaning, and I reached down and felt a head maybe an inch or so from crowning. Whoa.

Nurses and midwives and loving friends kept coaxing me out of the tub, but during those few seconds/minutes I was having a contraction and pushing I couldn't even fathom moving. I was told to PANT! And my baby was in DANGER! And "someone call respiratory!!" "We're afraid from your baby!" says one nurse, and I look up and scream at her to "SHUT UP!"

Jennifer was the only one of them who actually said something that reassured me that I could and needed to get out of the tub because if I didn't, everyone would freak out, take the baby away to check her, and didn't I want to keep her on my chest right after she came? Finally, the contraction ended, and I lifted my head and calmly announced (ok, in my imagination I was calm, but probably not...) I was ready to move to the bed because if they called in respiratory and freaked out, I would be pissed. Tim and a few others helped lift me out of the tub and moved me to the bed, where I knelt down and leaned against the back (Tim was right there next to my face whispering wonderful, confident sweet things), just in time for another wave to hit me and the uncontrollable urge to push overtake my conscious desires. I felt some burning, lots of pressure, and in no time, that wonderful, amazing relief that can only be experienced when a baby's head emerges from your vagina. The rest of her followed quickly and I sighed a huge sigh of relief for how short the pushing was.

After a few seconds of making sure all was well, I was helped to turn around and sit down, and the vernix-covered, wriggly little baby girl was placed on my chest. I couldn't believe how perfect everything was, and that I actually had my baby, here with me, not in a warmer somewhere not moving or crying, but screaming at the top of her lungs and letting everyone know she was JUST FINE, THANK YOU, leave me with my mom. We waited for the cord to stop pulsing, then Tim (with Atticus in arms) cut it.

Everything after this point was fairly (non) routine, the nursery nurse came in to give her a bath and check her over, but we didn't want her bathed and had waived all the standard procedures (eye ointment, vitamin K, Hep B, blood sugar testing), and I didn't want her taken away. When I said she could do everything with the baby on my chest, she kind of looked at me and was like "uhh, I guess that's ok" like no one had ever requested that. They did take her over the infant bed to do her footprints because the nurse just could not do it except on a flat surface and it was of UTMOST importance to her. After a while, we weighed her, and she was a hefty 7 lbs even, 18.5 inches long. She was nursing well (it took her a little while though, she screamed and screamed for a good ten minutes after she was born), and continued to do so for the next, you know, six hours...

Looking back, I can't help but think how her birth was exactly what I wanted. I couldn't have written a better birth. It was long enough to not be too fast, short enough to not be too slow. The pushing was easy, I didn't tear, she basically slid out of me with little conscious effort on my part. She came out healthy and pink and screaming. The only part that kind of sucked was a nasty postpartum hemorrhage that required much uterus pressing on, a shot of Pitocin in the butt, and some suppository Cytotec pills (yish). But even though it was painful to have someone pushing down on my uterus for ten minutes (I think she forgot I didn't have an epidural) and inserting burning pills into my anus right after having a baby, I can't help but be grateful that I was in a place with skilled birth attendants, drugs to save my life, and it was all paid for by my awesome health insurance (thanks, Dad). I appreciate the lack of intervention during the birthing process but at the same time, when I needed it, medical intervention was there and for that, I am grateful.

(I do wish to point out that even during a home birth, a skilled midwife will recognize a hemorrhage and carries the same drugs to stop it as they had in the hospital, and all would've been well at home too).

After Atticus was born, I remember thinking how I never wanted to do that. EVER. AGAIN. I couldn't stay on top of the pain during transition, pushing was long and hard and tiring, and then to top it off, he came out still and silent, was whisked away and not given back, and I didn't even get to hold him for hours, and he was in the NICU the entire hospital stay so we couldn't do the constant skin-to-skin like I did with Tallulah. Now, everything turned out well in the end, breastfeeding went smoothly despite everything, we are plenty well-bonded, and Atticus is a healthy and smart toddler. I still felt sad about a lot of his birth and the aftermath, and going into this birth, I was so nervous and scared it wouldn't go well. I feel like Tallulah's birth has healed me from those feelings, and made me appreciate everything wonderful about her older brother's birth in addition to hers. Not to mention, made me realize I could do this again. And maybe even again. So, thank you, baby Tallulah, for this beautiful birth experience and for completing our family in the present moment. We really love you.

The Lu

Baby girl continues to delight us with her usual sweet demeanor and occasional feisty temperament. Big brother loves her more and more every day, and when she is not around, he is usually asking "Where's baby? Where'd Lulu go?" As soon as she cries, he rushes in, singing "... this is SERIOUS. We have to HELP HER!" 

He also likes to pretend to nurse on my shoulder while baby is eating now that he is pretty much done with the real thing.

I've cut out dairy to help with her tummy issues, and it seems to be helping. She used to grunt constantly and was pooping weird, but now it's normal, runny mustard-type poops. She did projectile vomit yesterday, which was a little concerning, especially since it wasn't even after a nursing session, just random. Needless to say, she is now sleeping elevated on her side lest she spit-up, choke, and die. The no-dairy thing is definitely worth a happy baby. I have clients all the time that have fussy, stomach-issues babies that are not willing to do it, they'd rather put their baby on soy formula (which has the equivalent of many birth control pills of estrogen for a baby every day, yuck). I do miss cheese, but Almond Dream chocolate ice cream is better than the real thing. Delicious.

I wish I had more interesting things to blog about, but my life is currently consumed by breast milk, poop, and not having time to shower (like, when I actually want to be showering every day, I don't have the time... figures). I am going to fly to Wisconsin and New Jersey next week, so then I will have more exciting things to report on, like where we are actually going to live next year! But for right now, I'm confined to my bedroom while I recover from a recent bout of mastitis (horrible, horrible) and rest up for next week (and the next week, when Tim has finals, and then the next week when we move, and the next week when we drive across the country). Oh, I am going back to work tomorrow, but my life will still be consumed by breastfeeding and infant stool consistency. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

I'm Tim and I'm a Mormon

As we are in the middle of General Conference I thought I would share the profile I created on A lot of my friends have read this on Facebook, but not all blog readers are also my Facebook friends. I've really loved this general conference and it has given me a lot to think about, but mainly has just filled me with new commitment to do what I know to be right. I've gone into it with an open mind and tried to be teachable and its been a great experience, even if Theo is getting stir crazy (even though we've taken him outside for a few sessions while I listened on my iPod.

So, here's the profile. Feel free to disagree, but I tried to be really honest.

Feel free to share a link to your profile in the comments if you like, I would interested in reading other's thoughts on faith.

Hi, I'm Timothy Browning

I'm a runner, a writer, a gay rights supporter, an ardent feminist, a father and husband, and I'm a comfortably conflicted Mormon.

About Me

I"m in my last semester at BYU studying Arabic and MIddle Eastern Studies. I love the MIddle East even if I'm not very good at speaking their languages, and have spent time in Egypt, Israel, Palestine and Jordan. I'm a father of two and a husband to my wonderfully feminist wife, Cait, who after I finish school, will be going on to get her PhD in Political Science while I stay at home with the kids. I've grown up in the Church and had many wonderful experiences with the church (along with a smattering of negative ones). I served a mission in Argentina Mendoza and had a wonderfully difficult time. I plan on eventually getting a degree in Library Science and becoming a university librarian wherever my wife ends up teaching. I am a fairly liberally democrat, a firm supporter of gay rights, including their right to marry. I am also a ardent feminist, which for me means striving for gender equality by combatting the urge to impose fixed roles on either members of either sex. I am also a runner and have finished 3 marathons and numerous shorter races. Also I am an aspiring writer and a very active reader and would like to publish a few successful novels before I die.

Why I am a Mormon

I've had so many spiritual and meaningful experiences in my life to doubt that, for me, living a Mormon life is pleasing to God. I get great strength from the belief that I am a son of a Heavenly Father and Mother. I believe the Atonement was an act that reveals great fundamental truths in the universe and that by accessing the Atonement I can gain the spiritual strength I need to succeed in this life. I also believe the Book of Mormon to be an inspired, if not perfect document and Joseph Smith likewise to be an inspired Prophet who had flaws like all prophets through history. I believe that those prophets and leaders of the church that have followed Joseph Smith have been similarly inspired while still being similarly human and flawed. I also have a fundamental recognition that, while there is great truth in the church, the greater, universally governing Truth, is much greater and grander than can be comprehended by the human mind, and that the gospel, beautiful as it is, is in many ways but a symbol and type of this greater Truth. This also leads me to understand most other religions as having the same inherent value as my own, as symbols and types of the greater Truth that we now see only through a glass, darkly. Despite my level of ambiguousness regarding absolute truth, at the core of my faith is my love for the Savior and what He has done for me. He has stood by me in dark moments and in bright, and I would be a liar and a hypocrite to deny what I know I've felt.

How I live my faith

I live my faith by striving to live a life that in some way follows the example of Jesus Christ. The principles of faith, hope, and especially charity are what I would hope to base my life upon. Living a Christ-like life for me means believing in God's love for me, believing in my own eternal potential and looking for that same potential in everyone I come in contact with. I work to make sure that my doubts don't distract me from the core truths of the gospel that give beauty and meaning to my life. In church, I try to make myself a part of the community, and although I'm quite shy, I try to make an effort to reach out to others worshiping with me. I currently serve as a Family Search Indexer and help out on my own time with the Family Search Indexing project of the church.