Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Settling in

The boxes are mostly unpacked, some of the pictures are hung, and the rhythms of our new life are starting to take shape. And boy, is it ever tiring.

We knew the commute would be killer. Our hope is that it won't be for too long a time. My job ends at the end of May, so I won't have to do the drive anymore. John is hoping to find something closer in the near future ... but we'll see. No luck yet.

Here's what our schedule looks like. We get out of bed at 5:25 and leave the house by 5:45, taking the sleeping baby out of bed in his jammies and letting him sleep in his carseat. At 6:45 (or hopefully before) we reach the train station, and John gets on the train to arrive at work around eight. Once I've dressed the baby and we've both had something to eat, I still have an hour to kill before work. Monday I spent it cleaning our old apartment, yesterday I played with the baby in a park, and today I went to daily Mass, which is amazingly convenient. Well, I guess not so amazing considering I work at a Catholic school which schedules itself around daily Mass in case anyone wants to go.

From 8:20 to around 9:10, I teach. Then I usually go by the office and make sure there's nothing else I'm supposed to be doing. Then we drive home, whereupon the baby goes to sleep. All this car time kind of wreaks havoc on his nap schedule; if he is even a little bit tired, he sleeps in the car and destroys all chance of any other nap for four hours or so. But we're working with it. The important thing is that the baby wakes up when we get home, which isn't too hard to arrange.

Then I play with the baby, clean the house, work on my garden, and make dinner. The baby naps at 2:30 or 3:30 for about two hours. At 5:30, I have to leave to go get John. His train comes in at 6:25. If we're lucky, the baby is nicely rested from that nap and won't go to sleep in the car ... if he does, we are all in trouble as far as bedtime goes. That happened on Monday.

By 7:30, we're home, and I have to put dinner together (which, if I've been sufficiently productive earlier, won't take long) and we eat it. Then John gives the baby his bath, I wash the dishes (I miss you, apartment dishwasher!), we say prayers, and I try to get the baby to bed. Lately it's been kind of a chore. A long stroller walk works, but what about when it rains? Sometimes it's 9:30 or 10 before he's really asleep ... hopefully today will be better, because he went down for a nap at 2:30 instead of 3:30. I sure hope so.

Once he's in bed, we're quick to follow. The baby is in his own room now, so we no longer have to wait for him to be in deep sleep before we can get ready for bed. Ideally we'd be in bed by 9:30, but that hasn't happened yet. Then, the baby wakes up during the night. Monday night, he woke at 11 and 4 and slept soundly the rest of the night! Last night, he was up four times between 10:30, when we went to bed, at 5:30. Not fun.

This is all very hectic and tiring, and I have to admit I've taken to drinking black tea. I do not normally drink caffeine, but I realized I can't keep this up without it ... I'd be a hazard on the road. If you've been keeping track, I'm driving for 3-4 hours a day. Not a good idea to be feeling sleepy!

The upside of this is that, for me, it will only last three weeks and then I'm done. After that, John will drive himself, leave the car at the train station, and come back in the evening. Baby and I won't have any car time at all ... but John will still have a lot, and will be pretty tired. You see why he's in the market for something closer to home.

The house itself is just as nice to live in as I thought it would be. Of course it has its quirks. One is the old-fashioned doorknobs. I love these, but John hates them -- and even I don't like it when they won't open silently to peek in on my baby while he sleeps. Then there's the general lack of outlets, another function of the house's age. We have to plan every room based on where the only outlet in it is ... and very few of the outlets are grounded. This means that my laptop can only be plugged in in the kitchen, bathroom, or utility room. Luckily the cord reaches into the dining room, where I have it set up.

A big plus of this house is its wonderful insulation. It was made to keep cool in these hot Virginia summers, so even on the hottest day it's at least ten degrees cooler inside. On the cooler days, this isn't such a plus. It's a refrigerator in here! I'd be tempted to run the heat, even though it's May, if there were oil in the tank. There isn't, and by the time we have the ability to fill it up again, it will probably be much too hot to justify it. So I've been keeping the windows open on the hot days to fill our house with warm air for the night.

I still love the yard. The front is in bright sun pretty much the whole day, while the back is in partial shade. We switch between one and the other to keep from getting burned. The landscaping is what you call "mature," that is to say, there are tons of well-established plants, most of which I can't identify. Sometimes there's the remains of a bush with something else planted on top of it. Sixty years of would-be gardeners have been poking around in this yard. There are tulips scattered all over the place, as well as many different shrubs. I found the tag for some green peppers the other day ... so I am not the first to grow vegetables here, either. At the moment, though, there isn't anything edible growing that I recognize -- though there are tiny green fruits on the two trees in front, and I'm quite curious to see what they are.

A little bit of me worries, hoping we've done the right thing. I still love it, I love the house, the town, everything, but what about this commute? Can we really do this long-term? Will John completely burn out, and when will he have time to spend with us? But I think of all the other options that we had, and I really do think this was the best. Yes, of course we have to make sacrifices to live on one income where most people have two. A lot of people think that means cutting coupons or not going out to eat, but this is a drastic way to save quite a bit of money. It's a big sacrifice for my husband to put up with all of this trouble for our sake, but he has always been willing to do what he has to for our good.

Still, I hope that perfect job opens up right here in town. It would make everything just right. Until then, we're plugging along and doing okay.

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