So, pictures first!
Here is the living room, on the middle floor, just when you come in. It's the cleanest and most peaceful room in the house, so I like to sit here. This picture was taken before the piano was delivered -- it sits next to the brown couch now. I am very excited to hear John play, and for the kids to get a chance to start learning.
If you turn the other way, you can see the front door and the steps up to the bedrooms. It's a split level, so only a half flight to go up and a half flight to go down.
Through the living room (if you were to turn right from the previous picture) you get into the dining room. We got all new chairs, because we had only four dining chairs, of which two were broken. So every day we had to drag John's computer chair over to the table, plus my chair too because it was just a borrowed dining chair. Now the old chairs sit out on the screen porch with the card table and the dining room actually seats six. Which is handy because that's the size our family is going to be.
The dining room adjoins the kitchen -- how nice not to have to bring all the food out into the living room like we've done for five years! It has quite a lot more cabinet space than I've been used to, and there's a dishwasher beside the fridge there. I think of it as my robot servant and it makes me so happy.
I kind of hate the colors in here -- the walls are yellow, the counters are almond, and the cabinets are very light gray. Not sure what they were thinking with that. I want to paint the walls white except for a red backsplash area. But not right away; just moving here was enough work to hold us for awhile.
Here is the family room, which is downstairs. It is very cozy and I thought it would be my favorite room in the house ... but it's often boiling hot down there because it doesn't have any window air conditioning units like the upstairs has. And the heat makes the ancient orange carpet smell weird. Eventually, we want central air, but that's massively expensive to do in a house this size -- doubly so because it doesn't have air ducts, only radiators. And we'll probably pull up the carpet at some point.
The other half of the downstairs is taken up with a huge bedroom which we have designated the playroom. It was only this tidy very briefly, because John cleaned it; as soon as he was finished the kids ran down and dumped out all the toys. Marko in particular was really upset by having it cleaned up. I guess he's only happy if he's stepping on Legos.
I'm a little overwhelmed by the yard. The previous owner was an avid gardener who actually had time and money to keep it up, so there's tons of stuff there, both edible and ornamental. The trouble is I am not always sure which is which. I also don't really consider flowers to be worth prime garden space, so I may be digging some things up and moving them around or giving them away before next spring.
The previous owner gave us a three-page list of instructions for how to care for all her plants, which left me feeling rather inadequate. Then I remembered, I own this, I'm not plant-sitting, so if I want to neglect some of her many mulching steps, I can. But I'm still nervous about all she's said about pests. She put in some fences to protect against deer, but she admitted there was basically nothing you could do about the bears other than store the trash in the freezer till trash day. This sounds dreadful. And also, if there are bears around, are any of us safe?!
But, on the bright side, there are scads of herbs, there are tomatoes (though not ripe yet -- how late did she plant them?!), there is a late planting of beans. It doesn't have as many of the things I like as my old garden usually had -- no bell peppers, no cabbage, no cucumbers. But next year it will! There's plenty of space.
And the rest of the yard is a perfect jungle for kids. Some flat, smooth grass and lots of trees, especially in the side yard, where there is a huge, climbable magnolia tree, two holly trees, and some dogwood and redbud. There's a huge back porch. In the front there's a brick walkway which is good for toy cars. I worried about there being no fence, but they have all been excellent about staying in the yard and not playing close to the road. Though it's a very quiet road as it is, and the house is right at the end where few cars pass.
I found moving extremely difficult, especially that last day before the move where absolutely everything was packed and there was nothing to do and nowhere to sit. It was very sad, looking at our house all empty and lifeless. Once we had arrived at the new place, things started to get better right away -- with every box we unpacked, we got more comfortable.
But moving is an emotional experience whatever you do. You don't have any place that feels like home to relax in, no habits to revert to. Plus you have to go through boxes and boxes of stuff with sentimental value. Unpacking my clothes got me very upset -- when I see all my clothes, rather than just the stuff I usually wear and keep handy, it feels like I'm looking through someone else's closet. It's the closet of someone who isn't pregnant or nursing, who doesn't get grease and dirt on her clothes, who gets invited places. Cute dressy clothes, clothes in my size and my favorite colors. And the present version of me doesn't get to have any part of this. I wear John's t-shirts and the exactly two pairs of pants that still button.
That, plus the sight of myself in all the full-length mirrors, gave me a bit of a body-image crisis. This is why I always get drastic haircuts when I'm pregnant. I just can't bear the way I look, but the thought of buying a new wardrobe sounds dreadful. I couldn't afford it before, and now that I can, I'm thinking it's much better not to bother for just four months. And I do have some decent cold-weather maternity stuff anyway.
Once John went back to work and I started settling into a routine, I felt a lot better. There is just so much more SPACE here. Like, the kids can go down to the playroom and have noisy adventures, and I can be upstairs barely hearing them. I can relax in a comfortable chair and read a book, or potter around my new kitchen. I feel way more motivated to do housework than usual, perhaps partly just from the novelty factor, but also because things actually stay clean after I'm finished for more than five minutes. And I am finally spared my most time-consuming chore, daily dishes. I just put dishes in the machine whenever I'm finished with them, which means my counters are always pretty clear.
And after John gets home, we have a nice dinner in our pleasant dining room, put the kids to bed in their own rooms, and then spend the evening in the rest of the house. We don't have to whisper for fear of waking them, or leave the lights dim so they don't shine under the door. Instead, I can tidy the kitchen, or I can sit and read in the peaceful living room, or I can go downstairs and lounge on the comfy couch. John generally sits at his desk in the family room, so we can talk or not, without that awkward pressure of being two introverts a few feet from each other feeling like we should be talking because we don't want to be rude, except we're both tired and don't want to talk.
There are lots of little things that make life easier. Having more than one bathroom, for instance, so Michael doesn't suddenly get desperate to go potty the second one of us gets in the shower and not be able to go. Or having a built-in water filter so we don't have to keep filling up the tank on the one we had. Being able to park in the carport right by the side door, so I can let the kids run out to the car without worrying they'll run in the street. Miriam having her own room at night so that if she wakes up and throws an hours-long party (like she did last night, ugh) she only keeps one person awake. But I think the one that matters to me most is the quiet. The split-level design muffles everything; I can vaguely hear where the kids are, but if they're not on the same level as me, they aren't loud. And oh, how I have needed quiet.
(Of course this does not work when Miriam is feeling clingy and crabby and is climbing all over me screaming. Which has been a lot lately, probably for a lot of reasons. But I'm sure that will get better.)
I had a big freakout the first day we moved here when some ants got in the trash can. And then they got on the counters. And then we found them in both the dog's and the cat's food bowls. I sprayed citrus vinegar and wiped down their trails, but they were persistent little buggers. John finally sprayed the outside of the house with some nasty chemicals and they are now staying out. I hate poisons, but I also really, really hate ants. So hopefully they do not come back.
Speaking of the dog and the cat, they are going through some trauma. Gilbert whined a lot the first night, wondering when we were going home. He's recovered to some extent, but we haven't yet let him explore anything but the downstairs. And since there's no fence outside, he has to be tied up when he's out, which he doesn't love. The result is that he's been pretty hyper. I want to walk him and explore the neighborhood, but it's going to have to wait for a day when it's not in the nineties.
Kitty-kitty is worse off -- she's still pretty scared to come out of the basement. I'm proud of her that she's even come off the top shelf in the basement, which is where she stayed the first three days. She's always been like this about change. When we first brought her home as a kitten, I thought we'd lost her until I saw her glowing eyes shining out at me from behind the fridge. And she stayed there a solid week. Hopefully soon she will get used to our new place so I can get back to snuggling with her in the evenings. I think it's one of the highlights of both of our days. BUT, we can still shut her up downstairs at night so I can leave the bedrooms doors open without her coming in and walking on our faces. Definite perk there.
We finally have internet and phone now. That's a big relief; communication with the outside world has been slow and difficult all week. I have data on my tablet, but only a limited amount, and that was problematic considering Miriam only likes to go to sleep to cooking shows.
And with that, I feel like we are back to normal life. Since May we have been in the process of packing up and selling the house and moving, so I haven't been able to do any other projects. Now I can get back to spinning or start on that rag rug I want to make. I want to make a new sourdough starter, since I accidentally destroyed my old one over a year ago and haven't felt like I was in a place where I could be responsible for another one. These little things are what make life feel like MY life, to me .... projects that excite me and make me feel I'm accomplishing things.
Sadly, despite my interior motivation, I'm finding it very hard to actually DO anything....
... because at 17 weeks, well into the second trimester when one is supposed to have energy, I feel more lethargic than ever. I'm sure Miriam's poor sleep is a factor. But other than that, I don't know. I've had more out-of-breath-and-heart-racing moments, usually when going up the stairs or walking around, and I'm beginning to think maybe it's not anxiety. I feel very relaxed lately and a bit excited. But on some days, I just struggle to be even moderately active around the house. I'm supposed to get bloodwork done soon, so perhaps we'll find out if I'm anemic or deficient in some vitamin. That would be excellent news, because I could fix it. If that isn't it, I may just have to put up with it for the next four months. Lovely. Seeing what I said above -- that completing projects that excite me is one of the big things that makes life worth living -- feeling my energy sapped like this makes me feel utterly despairing.
Most days my mood is good, like I said, but for two days last weekend I had a total breakdown. It was very weird; there wasn't a lot I could point to that was upsetting me, I just couldn't keep it together. It went away, thank goodness, but I am worried it will come back. I felt that way for much of Miriam's pregnancy and postpartum, and it was horrible. Not even mainly for how I felt, but for how incapable I seemed to be of reacting empathetically and patiently with my kids. I don't have a lot of skills, but keeping it together emotionally is one I'm super good at usually. Not having that makes me feel I am failing my kids. It's a terrible way to feel.
I don't want to end on this note, so let me just say -- overall I feel hopeful. I feel that living here is going to be great for us. We have the space we've needed for so long, and so many small things that make life easier. I think we can manage. I'm glad we did this. And while pregnancy is a very temporary burden, living here will last a lot longer. I think we'll be happy here for a long time to come.