Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Belated, but no less

So, one time over a week ago, Tim had a birthday.

Our blog readers would've had no idea!!

I forgot the obligatory birthday blog post.

Sometimes I'm a really lame wife.

But, honestly people, it goes without saying how freaking amazingly cool my dear husband is. But I'll say it anyways, for good measure.

He's not only cool, he's my best friend. It is an incredible feeling to have someone who is on the same page as you, in so many ways (including when we are reading books together, and literally, we're on the same page). How many women can say their husband has read "Sex and World Peace" and "Book of Mormon Girl" with them in one summer? Well, I can.

I cherish our evenings watching Joss Whedon series and eating ice cream in bed. Tim has really brought out my inner nerd, which I think is simply liberating. If I hadn't married Tim, I would have never read Star Wars fan fiction! My life would have been so... empty and devoid of meaning.

We have the best of times hiking and camping with our kids. How many men go with their wife and two babies camping 10+ times in one summer? I salute Tim for putting up the tent alone more times than I can count, and for being an expert fire starter (except in Tennessee), and for hiking many miles with 30 lbs of preschool boy on his back.

The past month has brought a lot of deep soul-searching and lifestyle changes and moral dilemmas and has turned our lives somewhat inside out. And though it's been difficult, talking and working through our thoughts and beliefs and nervousness has brought us together. Tim has bolstered me when I've doubted myself, and supports me when I'm down.

Happy day, Tim. You just get better every year.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Book covers

So, I'm still working on getting my first book up ready to publish. The editing process has taken longer than I thought. When you really start looking for things to change about a book that your wrote many years ago, you find a lot of stuff.

However, my sister, Charity, who is studying graphic design has been immensely kind enough to do some covers for the book, and I thought I would post them here. I will give them a number and you can let me know which one you like best and then I will choose the one that the least number of people liked. Or maybe not.





Kindly leave a vote. Thanks.

Monday, August 27, 2012

SAHD #2 I’m scared

Sure I’m scared to be starting out as a stay-at-home dad, hereafter referred to as SAHD. Even just that acronym is full of doom. If you are a man and stay at home with your kids, you will not just be sad, but SAHD. It’s like sad, but you put a little bit of disgust into the “a” sound right before you hit the D.
      I’m scared of all sorts of things, let me try to list them for you:
      -I’m scared one of our kids will die. We’ve had some close calls mainly involving 400 E traffic in Provo. Our home area is a lot safer here, with very restricted road access, but there are plenty of other ways for our kids to die.
      -I’m scared that Cait will never forgive me if one of our kids die or are seriously injured. She worries about this so much, I don’t know if she’d get over it soon enough to save the marriage.
      -I’m scared that I will scar our kids for life, mainly through not stimulating them educationally. This is also somewhat of a transmitted fear from Cait, but is still legitimate.
      -I’m scared that I’ll hate it. 3 years old and 5 months are tough ages, especially with Tallulah still breastfeeding. I’m afraid I’ll just get overwhelmed and go into some kind of survival mode that won’t help anybody.
      -I’m scared that I’ll resent Cait for getting to go to school, or that she’ll resent me for getting to be home with the kids.
      -I’m scared I’ll get to the point where all I talk about and think about is my kids. And that my intelligence will significantly decrease.
      -I’m scared that I’ll feel under appreciated.
      -I’m scared that I’ll deserve the lack of appreciation that I get.
      -I’m scared that I’ll never get in the habit of cooking and Cait will always have to do it.
      -I’m scared I’ll never write a good book or reach my potential as a runner because I was playing with my kids.
      -I’m scared that there really is something about being male that makes you a terrible stay-at-home parent.
      -I’m  afraid that I’ll never find friends among other stay-at-home parents.
      -I’m afraid of judgement for violating social norms. I’m afraid people will see me as lazy or incapable of getting a real job.
      Yep, I’m pretty scared. I was going to post some of my possible solutions to these fears, but I don’t really have that many and what I did have pretty much comes down to this:
      -Terrible stuff might always happen, I can’t live a life governed by fear.
      -My kids are real, individual people and there’s no way I can make them be anything they don’t want to be.
      -Other people have it much harder than I do. Much, much harder.
      But I’m still scared.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Marvelous Madison

[Written a few weeks ago, forgot to publish. Nothing much has changed. Tim owns a bike now.]

This post is hard to write, because I don't want to make all my Utah friends jealous, but HELLO, Madison is awesome. Please, move here. Everyone. Immediately.

Maybe we are still in a honeymoon phase, but let's start out by talking about the bikeable-ness of this city. Every road has a bike lane, there are miles and miles and miles of off-road paths connecting all of Madison with all of its outlying towns and suburbs. And there are a million cyclists, everywhere, riding to work, riding for fun, family bike rides, students riding to campus. There are also tons of runners, out at all times of day. Tim even joined a group at the UW Arboretum a few nights ago for a couple miles. The biking-running scene, as far as we've seen it, is awesome. Now... just to get bikes... but that will have to wait until our first paycheck, sadly.

The weather has been mostly pleasant, though Madison is having one of the hottest summers in the last 20 years or so. The first week was mostly really hot, and seeing as how we have no A/C, it was a tad uncomfortable, so we spent a lot of time out exploring and lounging around in the nude. Now, things have cooled down and our windows are always open and we spend 90% of the time outdoors. Even in the rain, which has not really been accompanied by thunder and lightning so we have enjoyed walking and playing in it. Atticus loves the fact there is a "park" in front of our apartment, and we love the fact there is a discreet fence in the woods in front of our house so he can't wander too far. There is a nice big shade tree to the side, so I can sit and nurse baby sister while he plays for hours. And not only do we have this area to play in, our apartment complex has no less than a million playgrounds, sandboxes, swings, etc. We have yet to discover them all, they are everywhere. We are also located in a nature preserve, so we walk a few blocks and are on a well-kept nature path that leads down to the lake one way and to campus the other way. We actually still haven't taken the kids out to the lake, which we really need to do, but Tim has run down there and swears it is great. I have walked a ways on the path with the kids in the stroller, but the Maclaren isn't really designed for outdoor walking on paths, so we usually turn back pretty soon. I kind of am wishing now we had a BOB, though I do like our Maclaren, it's just not very rugged [update, we bought a BOB and have since gone down the lake, swam, relaxed, run.... it was utterly marvelous]. The downside to our apartment complex is the hills. We are kind of isolated near the bottom, which is great because it's close to the main road, but not so great because to go to any of the other playgrounds or the Community Center, we have to walk up a really steep hill. Let's talk about how firm my butt and thighs are going to be pushing two kids up a hill in a stroller. Or on second thought, let's not.

I went to a garage sale yesterday, and got an awesome Stokke crib for really cheap plus cute clothes, AND I networked with a super cool feminist history professor and made like 10 new friends. They say that every second person you meet in Madison you really want to be friends with, and I'm definitely finding it to be true. When I go to someone's house to pick something up on Craigslist, I want to stay for a few hours and hang out with them. Madison is much more international city too; I knew our housing would be (I have yet to meet an American family on the playground) but so far I've met women from Germany, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. And I've only bought three things on Craigslist.

The Farmer's Markets are great, and we only have been to the small one [we went to the downtown one last week, it was splendid]! It was the size of the big one in Provo, so I can only imagine how the downtown one is going to be. And they all take food stamps and you get money from WIC to buy only locally-grown, seasonal fruits and veggies. How awesome is that? There was locally-tapped maple syrup and eggs and cheeses and all sorts of delicious offerings. Madison is surrounded by rural farms, just a few miles outside of the city, so there is plenty to go around.

And as much as we like our ward here (we do... kind of), the Unitarian church is in.cred.ible. It's designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (!!) and is airy and spacious (and actually, the part we were in was added onto, not the original, but still cool) and beautiful. The nursery was HUGE and there were tons of clean, well-kept climbing structures and wooden toys and mega blocks and all sorts of things, and you get a pager when you drop your kid off so they can just page you if your kid needs you (also: they change diapers for you. Even cloth ones). The room had huge windows and lots of natural light, and was by far the best room I've ever seen for kids at a church. The meeting room was the same, just beautiful high ceilings and lots of natural light, and while Tim stayed in there, I sat in the "Baby Haven" with Lu when she started to fuss a little. Seriously guys, the Mormon church needs to come and take some lessons from the Unitarians. The Baby Haven was a separate room from the rest of the congregation, but enclosed in glass and soundproof so no one is disturbed by your babies, but you are essentially in the service without being secluded in a dark, shadowy mother's lounge that smells of dirty diapers. There were comfy, new gliders and footstools (not the old, falling apart 80s maroon recliners found in most mother's lounges I've been in), board books for reading, other small baby toys. The other mom in there was openly breastfeeding, no cover-ups and there were a few men in there as well. Tallulah and I just rocked and then she fell asleep while I listened to the message. It was so comfortable and nice. Tim even said he saw that they had pre-made quiet toy packages that you could take in with you to the meeting with little games and books if you chose to take your kids with you to the service (kids were welcome, but there was also the nursery and primary-type classes for older ones). It's easy to feel lost with such a big congregation, and it seems like there isn't a big emphasis on the close-knittedness of the congregation like at a Mormon church, which we kind of like. They do have small gatherings, potlucks and the like, that we may attend in the future and meet other families but we still plan on attending our ward as well (for now). You can't get enough spiritual practice, am I right?

We are looking forward to many more years of Madison. We love it here.

A Little Bit Lu

Please, try to argue with me there exists a more darling baby.

You will lose.

Atticus wanted her to wear his hat

She loves sitting in front of the fan and sticking her tongue out

Please excuse poor lighting, the moment was too great to not capture

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The beginning

Time here is both moving along so quickly and standing still at the same time. Isn't it so bizarre how that happens? I feel like we've lived in Madison four months. And Tallulah seems like a completely different baby since we left South Carolina. I remember thinking when we left SC that my dad and brother would be here right after we arrived (it was three weeks) but it seemed like forever after. We've done so much in these past three weeks, mostly playing and exploring.

Dad and Ethan came for the weekend, on their way to school in Utah. They stayed two nights, and we were very happy to have them. Atticus especially... he cried a long time when they left. He missed his Poppy. For his birthday, we went to Target and he picked out a soccer ball and a Mater car. He's been asking for a soccer ball for weeks and he called Grammy more than once to ask her to buy him one for his birthday. So, my dad was under strict instructions from my mom to make sure we went to Target and bought him one while they were here. We told Atticus that, and he kept asking: "what did Grammy say?" and then he would say "Guy, store, soccer ball, birthday." Adorable.

And now that they are off, real life begins. I start school tomorrow, 8 am - 4 pm, every day for a week, then classes start the week after next. I'm nervous, but not for me. For one, I really hope Tallulah takes a bottle for Tim. I also hope Tim likes stay-at-home daddyhood as much as he claims he will. I am so excited to start school, and I'm a little worried he's dreading it on the inside, because I know if our roles were reversed, I would be. But, such is life, and he'll get his turn in a few years :) So, in the mean time, I'll be ready for math camp. And embrace my inner nerd. 

Letter from Grandma

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Five months

Did I even post a four-month update? Who knows. I'm losing track of her life, it is going by so ridiculously fast. It doesn't help to have two cross-country moves, multiple road trips, six plane rides, a beach vacation, eight camping trips all jammed into those first five months of life, but Baby Lula does it with grace. She is still our calm and chill baby, though she is recently starting to get louder and fidgety-er. For a while, we could stick her in the Bumbo at restaurants so she could sit with us while we ate, but now she grabs and kicks and throws herself out of it and is all-around crazy. This month has brought so many changes, all of them delightful in their own way. While I miss my snuggly sweet newborn, Lu is definitely becoming a baby and it amazes me to watch the changes in her personality that come along with the advances in her physical prowess.

This past month, she has started rolling over, sitting up supported and then quickly started sitting up unsupported with few topples, she scoots around like crazy, especially on her back. She is really adept at wedging herself into the corner of her crib, with no way to get out. She is a grabber, and wants to be constantly holding something/chewing on it. She is still our sleeper, pulling all-night stretches from 8 pm to 7 am most days, though occasionally we will be up at night together. She hates co-sleeping, which I didn't think was possible, but it's still true. We had her sleeping with us when we first moved here because it was too hot for her cradle and we only had one fan, and she was not impressed. Now that she has a crib, she goes down easily and is golden all night. Now, if only we can get Atticus to sleep in his bed instead of on the floor next to us...

She still doesn't take a pacifier, though the other night in the car she sucked on one for a solid 15 minutes and fell asleep when we were driving home. It was shocking. I've tried to replicate it, but not too often, because I'm not that into her getting attached to a plastic object. I was thinking it might help her take a bottle better (she hates it) to make my transition to being away easier, but we'll see. She mostly just gnaws on it (and the bottle) rather than sucking. The nice ladies at WIC gave me a little sippy cup, and they said she is old enough to drink from it (they were actually really anti-bottle, which was kind of funny in a way, they freaked out when I said she'd be drinking breast milk from a bottle and gave me this cup. Ironically, I was also told at WIC when Atticus was a toddler than sippy cups are for lazy mothers, but not apparently in Wisconsin! Oh, conflicting messages). Anyhow, back to the Lu. She weighs 14 lbs, 2 oz on the scale at WIC and was 24.5 inches long, and she has her first doctor's appointment since her two week one in the morning, where she will get a DTaP shot (not excited about that, but even less excited about the prospect of her getting pertussis).

Cloth-diapered bum

On our road trip with Sophie! (don't worry, we buckled her to drive)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Summer 2012 Road Trip, take 2

It's hard to believe it's been three weeks since we ventured from ole SC, through the foothills of South Carolina to the blue mountains of North Carolina and the rolling hills of Kentucky. All in all, it wasn't a  terrible drive. Tallulah had some rough moments on the first day driving up to camp on the Appalachian Trail, but that was about it.

So, here goes a brief recap for posterity's sake.

Day 1: We planned on driving and camping up near Asheville, on Powhatan Lake. But, as mentioned, Lu screamed all the way to Spartanburg, and as we were closing in on Asheville, fell asleep so we kept on driving. We made it to a great campground called Big Creek up on the NC/TN border. We loved it, and stayed there two nights. We played all day around the camp, swam in (cold!) river, hiked FOUR MILES. That's right, four miles with our babies. That was quite an accomplishment for us. We met some great friends, Becki and her 4-yr-old son Monty. They were pretty awesome and vegetarians. She was a professor and Monty had long, curly hair and wore pink. Our kind of people. We had some fairly deep conversations by the campfire, while the boys played sword fight and fairies and caught many daddy-long-legged spiders.

Atticus has a newfound love of photography, and post this picture, he learned how to move his fingers

Our new-ish Deuter baby backpack, on one of its first hikes

We made it!


I only have two baby wraps, I promise

There were so many butterflies, and they weren't scared of people and would crawl on your finger

We went swimming in this HUGE, COLD swimming hole. I also jumped off the tall rock formation, but we only have videos

Days 3-4: From Tennessee, we drove to Bardstown, KY where we spent the next two nights. It was a quaint little town with a kooky traffic circle. Background: I'm a reviewer on this website called Trekaroo, and if you write enough reviews and they like your writing, they will sometimes send you on trips or send you products to review. I've gotten free stays at bed and breakfasts in Utah, tickets to Medieval Times, outdoorsy maternity clothes, and other random products to test. This was our first big trip, and it went really well. It would've been better if Atticus had been half-interested in most of the things, but he was still a little young for a lot of it. The best thing they sent us to was Seussical at an outdoor amphitheater, which of course was stormed out after 15 minutes. SO disappointing.

Massive modern art made of tree saplings at the Bernheim Arboretum

Mammy's Kitchen, most delicious fried green tomatoes ever

Ole County Jail, which actually held inmates until the late 1980s. Hard to believe.

Now a Bed and Breakfast

The Mayor and Mayoress of Whoville

Atticus was a little terrified of the Cat in the Hat, but he is a little intimidating

Days 5-7: The day after Bardstown, we drove half an hour to Lebanon. While a nice enough town, it wasn't quite as cute as Bardstown, and there wasn't really as much to do. We were sent on tours of two distilleries and a cooperage, cool activities but not exactly Atticus's cup of tea. We sat in the car while Tim toured the cooperage, then we mostly played damage control while we watched where they create moonshine (think, boiling hot water, large vats of fermenting stuff, glass bottles everywhere). But, at least we now know where our bourbon comes from!!

We did tour this one place that will be cool in the future, but is still in the works (will one day be trails, campgrounds, cool country-western hangout bar place to go while you are camping and listen to music, eat food, etc.)

Also, Lu sat in a basket at our Hampton Inn in Lebanon, and those are all the pictures we took there
Post-Lebanon, we drove to Harrodsburg. Now, this place was pretty cool. There is an awesome old fort with restored buildings and a giant Little Tykes-style playground like looks like a fort. We were supposed to watch a play about how Harrod SAVED Kentucky from those blasted Indians, but when we realized that a) Atticus wouldn't sit still, and b) yikes! we decided to just hit the road to our sleeping accommodations  the Shaker Village. Also: cool place for either no kids or older kids, but when you are walking around old buildings with tiny beds and chairs, a 2-yr-old doesn't really get the reason they are roped off and will keep trying to sit in them. We did get to eat at a delicious cafe that is housed in the old drugstore.

The next day, we drove all day with little fanfare, arrived in Madison late and camped right outside the city. It poured and lightninged like I've never seen lightning lightning. It was beautiful but a little terrifying. We woke up, headed to Eagle Heights, and have been here ever since. And we love it. And coming up next, will be a post of all the great things so far about Madison.