Saturday, July 30, 2016

7qt - new house!


First, the house news!  After many nail-biting moments, we finally did close on both houses.  The old house (henceforth to be called Dunsinane House for clarity's sake, since I'm not going to give you the address) was sold for its asking price, although we had to pour quite a bit of money into the repairs.  The buyer, a young woman buying her first home, seemed unbelievably suspicious.  Not only did she insist on many different repairs, but even after the work was done she (or rather, her agent) would pick apart the invoices and demand they be redone because they weren't worded properly, or didn't have seals on them, or whatever.  It was kind of ridiculous and I felt like we were being given the third degree, with threats to back out at the last minute if all their demands weren't met.

In the end, though, we found out the real trouble was that the buyer's father was convinced his daughter was making a huge mistake.  He was sure that since the house was inexpensive, old, and in the town it's in, it must be falling apart.  So he constantly questioned everything, which is why his daughter got spooked and demanded so much extra stuff.  I don't really regret selling the house to her, despite the trouble -- at least our house is going to someone who is excited about it and plans to take good care of it.


Dealing with all the repairs, though ... was a headache and a half.  It seems that a contractor who does a good job, at a reasonable price, at the time he said he'd do it, is rarer than diamonds.  We had roofers whose price wasn't that great, but who promised they could get the job done that week, before our inspection got done.  Nope, took them a MONTH, they added extra money onto their bill that we never agreed on, we had to keep calling them back to put our bathroom vent back on, and after the fact we found out their price was about a thousand dollars more than another company would have done.

(I never ever ever in my life want to be in a house that is getting the roof worked on again.  Constant bangs and crashes left me jumping out of my skin, and I actually started to have trouble breathing.  I have always known that it would be idiocy for me to have a job working with, say, explosives or jet engines, but now I am SURE.  My system just can't take loud noises.)

The plumbing was an even bigger headache.  The first guy we had come out diagnosed the problem, a cracked waste line which had some sort of break or tangle under our front lawn, but wasn't authorized to give an estimate -- but he thought five grand at least.  We had his boss out to give the real estimate and got $3500.  Better, but still, quite a bit more than we could afford considering the other repairs we had to do at the same time.  Finally we got a different company out and they agreed to do it for $900.  Sweet deal!

Only, it wasn't really a sweet deal because after they fixed the pipe, we started to get water in the cellar.  The first time, they thought it was because they'd left the old pipe in place and the water was getting in through there.  (Seems reasonable, and also WHY did they leave it in place?)  But instead of taking it out, they plugged it up and said it would be fine now.  Nope, more water.  They came out again, dug the yard up again, and found they had somehow broken the fresh-water line, which was gushing water out.  (Oh dear.)  I thought for sure that would be the end of it, and we set to drying out the cellar, when one day we found fresh puddles.  I did some sleuthing of my own (that is, running faucets and then running down to the cellar to check the pipes) and found out that the sink was the actual culprit.  The drain of the sink was never hooked up to the new waste line, it was hooked up to the OLD waste line, which of course was hanging right out into the cellar and dripping the water right out onto the floor.  Once I told the plumbers the problem, they were able to fix it in an hour.  But seriously, that's FOUR visits for one repair.  They always came back promptly and didn't charge us for the further visits, which was the honest thing to do, and that's why I haven't given them a horrible review calling them nasty names.  But .... I wouldn't hire them again.  I'd pay for the monstrously expensive guys and hope that the extra money would get me some competence.


On to the new house -- which I'll call here Powhatan House, for the same reason as the other pseudonym.  It really is gorgeous.  John's the one who really fell in love with it, whereas I ... well, I keep dreaming of a house in the country with the cows and everything, a dream that gets further away all the time.  But I have to admit, it's a nice house, larger than we thought we'd be able to afford, in a pleasant neighborhood a little closer to John's work than the old one.  There's nothing to really dislike about it.  I just hope I feel at home there.

What gave me hope that it is the right house for us is that is has great gardens, both edible and ornamental.  Here's a picture of the back of the house -- note the chimney (two working fireplaces!), deck, and screen porch.

It's a split-level -- living room, dining room, and kitchen on the main level, where the entry is; family room and play room downstairs, and bedrooms upstairs.  It has my non-negotiable features -- more than one bathroom, and .... a dishwasher!  It does not have central air, which is a real downer, but of course that can be fixed eventually.

Anyway, so we were under contract for this house and things were going great.  But then two weeks before the closing, we got bad news: the appraisal had come back for $10,000 less than the agreed-upon price, and the bank was not willing to let us buy it for more than the appraised price unless we made up the difference in cash.  Of course we didn't have the cash because we spent all our cash fixing up Dunsinane House.  And we couldn't redo the whole loan (trying to make our down payment smaller so that we could have some cash left to make up the difference) because there wasn't time before we would have to move.  We tried to bargain with the sellers to bring the price down, but they refused to budge even a little, because they were convinced our appraiser was wrong and their house was worth more than that.  We tried to get the appraiser to adjust the appraisal, but after making us wait over a week, they denied the claim.  We had a week before we closed on Dunsinane House and two weeks before we would be homeless, and the whole deal on Powhatan House was falling apart.  We looked at other houses but everything else in our price range sucked, and anyway, you can't buy a house in two weeks unless you've got the whole price in cash.  So we were looking at short-term rentals where we could live while we continued looking.  I felt like everything was collapsing around us.

And then, miracle of miracles, the bank suddenly "put us in a special program" wherein they'd agree to the original terms of the loan.  It seemed to be because we and our realtor harassed them so much, pointing out that leaving us with so little time to spare was entirely their fault, and they figured it was best to placate us rather than being That Bank that destroyed our homeowning dreams.  Or whatever.  At any rate, we were back on to close right on time, and that was the last complication -- we signed the papers and now own the new place!

We don't actually move till Friday, because the old owners of Powhatan House needed time to arrange their new housing in another state, so we are technically renting Dunsinane House from the lady who bought it and the old owners of Powhatan House are renting from us.

The closer we get to the move, the more trepidatious I feel.  What if I don't feel at home there?  What if it's actually harder to keep track of the kids in so much space?  What if I find myself desperately wishing we'd never moved, that we'd just put up wtih living here two more years so we could have gotten out to the country?


On to the kids.  They have not been at their best at all lately, probably because of the chaos in their lives (on this day, you can't play outside so the roofers don't drop things on you! on that day, we can't be home at all because there is an inspection!  on the other day, we can stay home but we can't flush the toilet!  also, all your toys are packed up!) and perhaps also because I haven't been pouring positive emotional attention into them the way I'm supposed to do.  This, more than anything, is the part that shatters me about having kids so close together -- that I change from the mother who enjoys spending time with her kids and snuggling them and answering their million questions, to the mother who's hunched in a chair begging them to please, please, not touch or talk to her.  I do try to force myself out of that zone, but it's hard.  I just want to be alone and quiet so much.

Anyway, in that vein, instead of talking about all the many misadventures the kids have gotten up to lately, I want to talk about the good side of each kid.  I don't want to forget this stuff.

Marko is so brilliant these days.  He reads more and more fluently, still only the easiest kind of easy readers the library has, but definitely real books.  He reads Little Bear and Mouse Soup and Pete the Cat.  Sometimes I can't read with him so he sits and tries to puzzle them out for himself -- yelling out every minute or so, "How do you pronounce T-H-R-O-U-G-H?"  Reading with him is difficult because Miriam insists on being on my lap and will try to grab the book away.  And Michael gets on the other side of me and tries to "read" just by guessing from context.  But I try to do it every day because technically, we are really homeschooling this year, and because when a child is able and interested in a subject, you have to jump on it THEN, not later.

(Some of these "easy readers," though, I question their vocabulary.  One story began with the sentence, "The two friends would often take a walk."  No big deal to you or me, but that adds up to only THREE words that follow the rules and FIVE that don't.  Way to make a kid give up on the first sentence because he thinks the whole story is going to be that hard.)

John finished reading The Hobbit to the boys and is now reading, by Marko's demand, The Fellowship of the Ring.  I think it's waytheheck over their heads, but Marko is super excited.  I track their progress by what they pretend each day.  Lately it's Barrow Wights and Tom Bombadil.  Marko has a "one Ring" he made out of a twist tie, but that wasn't good enough so he got me to make him this one:

It makes me so happy seeing him pick up all his parents' obsessions.


Michael ... poor Michael.  He's almost always the problem child, and when he's not, he's just the middle child whose achievements never seem like a big deal because Marko's done all that stuff for years.  But he is a delight all the same.  He's in that four-year-old stage where their love language is having you attempt to answer a million hypothetical questions: What if we were walking in the woods in the dark and there were bears?  What if the sun came down to the earth?  What would happen if a germ ate my sandals?

It gets super annoying when it goes on constantly.  Especially in the car: Why can't we drive on the other side of the road? What would happen if we did? Why are there lines on the road? Why is that car blinking its yellow light?  The same questions are repeated every trip and he doesn't pay that much attention to the answers, he just wants my attention.

On the other hand, he's so adorable that one is willing to put up with a lot.  He still has kind of a lisp and his gap-toothed smile is just ridiculously cute.

And 85% of the time he is a really, really sweet big brother.  He loves to get Miriam involved in his games.  He gives her hugs and kisses and tries to get her to sit on his lap.  It's adorable to watch.  


Miriam gets cuter every day.  I try not to pick favorites but HOW COULD I NOT?  Not only is she almost two, which is Peak Cute in my opinion, but she's learning all kinds of new and adorable tricks.  For instance, she likes to play complicated pretend games now: all the steps for what you do with a baby, all the steps for making dinner.  Today she was packing up her toys in bags and carrying them to different rooms, saying she was "moving to the new house." It's the cutest thing in the world.

She is annoyingly helpful, in the sense that I am not allowed to wash dishes, do a load of laundry, or make dinner without her involvement.  She drags over a chair and "helps."  And she really wants to actually help -- she's not just splashing in the water or tasting the food.  She wants to do exactly what I am doing.  Unfortunately, she's no good at most chores so she makes more work for me while at the same time making me feel overstimulated and overwhelmed because even housework, a usually kid-free activity, has become this exhausting Montessori thing.  I am sure it's for the best, as long as she doesn't lose interest in helping the instant she becomes competent, but boy would I rather do chores by myself right now.

Her obsession with cooking extends to her preferred shows.  She will pass up kid shows for a chance to watch "show foodie," meaning shows in which people cook.  She enjoys the YouTube channel "Tasty" and in the evenings before bed we watch Parts Unknown.  Food plus travel, what's not to like?  Well, the part where I finish the show with the munchies, walk into the kitchen, and find the food in my kitchen is not at all like the stuff Anthony Bourdain was just eating.  But I mean, other than that.

Of course she has hit the terrible twos lately, in conjunction with my milk mostly drying up so that she spends all day climbing on me, very difficult to settle down or console.  Nights are sometimes great and sometimes simply awful -- we will be nightweaning after we move.  She's moved from extreme independence (refusing to hold my hand in parking lots and throwing fits when I insist) to extreme neediness (demanding to be held the entire time we are out and refusing to walk anywhere).  You know.  Standard two-year-old stuff.  That's why they are so cute, to make up for how hard they are.

But man, listening to her talk.  She'll go on for some time telling a story she remembers of something that happened to her: "I fell down!  I hurt my cheek.  I cried.  Mama put bandaid on.  Feel better!  Got back on merry-go-round."  I'm pretty sure this is an advanced level of talking for an under-two.  I wish I could share a video, but she never obliges for the camera.  She's too interested in looking at herself.  Here's a photo though:

She's also every bit as affectionate as Michael, if not more so.  She loves kisses and hugs and often says, "I like you Mama.  I like you Mama."  If someone is sad she tries to figure out how to cheer them up.


And baby?  Baby is for-sure alive -- I heard the heartbeat yesterday.  I'm relieved, and relieved that I feel relieved instead of disappointed.  I feel like every child deserves to be wanted, even if they aren't.  I still don't exactly want a baby.  But I definitely don't want a dead baby, and at this point those are the only choices.

I feel pretty okay these days.  I had a week of crushing headaches, though I think those are just the standard ones I get in stormy weather rather than a symptom.  And my back was giving me a lot of trouble for awhile there, but I started being extra careful with it -- never kneeling, never lying on my back -- and it's mostly okay now.  I mostly do not feel depressed or anxious, but I do feel hyper-sensitive to sensory things.  I wish I knew what causes that.  I do know that in past pregnancies, weaning or partially weaning always helped.  Perhaps it's a depletion thing.  I take vitamins already, but if there were some tablet I could be taking that would make me no longer want to tear my skin off when Miriam wants to sit on my lap and be fidgety .... that would be great.

I expect my next update will be from our new house!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Why I don't believe in natural law

Andrea has promised to come back and argue in favor of natural law, but it occurs to me that the comment thread we were on has gotten very long and unwieldy, so I thought I'd write a new post to continue the discussion.  I'll include a more complete explanation of the problems I see in "natural law" arguments against, for instance, birth control and homosexuality.

First, I have to clarify, because "natural law" is not a clearly defined term.  When some people say it, they simply mean "those ethical rules we can derive through reason alone," or "the moral intuitions everyone agrees on."  Of course I have no objection at all to this idea.  I've written a number of things on the emotional and rational grounding of morality.  Simple rules of thumb for moral action include things like, "Would I like it if someone did this to me?" "Does this action harm anyone, either inherently or through some distant side effect?" or "Would I like to live in a world where everyone acted like this?"  These rules are reasonable -- I can demonstrate that it is to everyone's benefit if we all follow them -- and they are universally applicable.

The sort of "natural law" talked about in these arguments, though, is much more specific.  The natural-law argument that underlies Catholic sexual ethics is as follows: Human faculties possess a teleology, a purpose or end.  For instance, the sexual faculty exists to create children.  The pleasure we get from using it is meant as a spur to get us to beget children, and to seek out the pleasure while frustrating the primary end, reproduction, is a perversion of the sexual faculty.

The first simple objection I can make to this is that teleology implies a creator.  That is, nothing has an end unless someone creates it for that end.  If I create a car, a fork, or a chair, I create them the way I do because I have a purpose in mind for that thing.  To comb my hair with a fork or to stand on a chair would be misusing that thing, and if it's my item you're misusing, I might object.  However, from a human perspective there is no "proper use" of a tree.  It simply is, because we didn't make it for any particular purpose.  We can turn it to any purpose we like -- we can make it into chairs or into paper or we can sit underneath it.  It might be better for some of those purposes than others, but no one will object to how we use it if it's our own tree.

If God created us, it's reasonable to say he built in our different functions and desires for his own purposes, and he might have an opinion about how we use them.  If, however, we came into being through the blind process of evolution, nobody actually cares what we do besides other humans.  Evolution is a terrible source for morality, because it doesn't care about human concerns like happiness, love, or beauty.  If we took evolution as a guide, we should probably give up things like art and music, each of us should have the maximum number of children we possibly can -- celibacy or late marriage would be sinful -- and we should euthanize our grandparents because they're a waste of resources.  That, need I point out, would be terrible, so I vote for "kick evolution in the face and do things it never intended."

So if you are already Catholic, it is quite reasonable for you to believe in natural law.  However, the church claims that natural law is available to everyone, regardless of their religion, through the unaided light of reason alone, and it just does not appear that this is true.  You have to have a prior belief in God, and it's pretty evident that reason alone does not bring everyone to a belief in God -- particularly not a specific version of God that has specific expectations for what we are to do with our bodies.

The second problem with natural law is that it doesn't really distinguish between things that are perversions of a bodily function and things that aren't intended by our body but are just fine.  For instance, if the purpose of the sexual faculty is to beget children, you would think that we are all bound to beget children since we all have a reproductive system, but the church says no to that -- you can forego using the sexual faculty altogether, provided you don't use it in a way that frustrates procreation.  That seems a distinction without a difference -- as though the point was to make sure those who don't have children suffer for it, rather than to get everyone to have children.

And, while natural-law proponents make a huge deal over the difference between sex between naturally infertile people and artificially infertile people, it does not appear to me that there is a real difference.  In both cases, the effects are the same; and the intentions of the people may be the same too.  (For instance, a couple that only has intercourse when one of them is infertile is deliberately avoiding procreation.)  Only the means varies, and what is the justification for making the means matter?  What is intrinsically bad about the means?

Another issue, when you bring homosexuality into the equation, is that a gay couple is not deliberately frustrating procreation.  They might want to procreate, like an infertile couple might, they just can't.  Like the infertile couple, they experience the other ends of sex, like pleasure and bonding.  Like the infertile couple, they don't experience the procreative end, but that's not intentional.  It's a massive stretch to me to imagine that there is a teleology of the body that exists to encourage procreation, but it cares about things irrelevant to whether a couple procreates.

And then, of course, we can point out that sex is the only faculty of the body that is treated this way.  The digestive system can be frustrated in similar ways, but no one makes a fuss about it.  You can drink a zero-calorie soda.  You can chew gum, which gets your stomach growling as it expects food, but which will never nourish you.  You can do all this purely to get the pleasure of food while not nourishing your body -- even though the only reason it is pleasurable to eat is to get you to nourish your body.  That doesn't matter; no one thinks this is immoral.  And if you're sick, it's okay to nourish the body without eating -- with a feeding tube or an IV.  That's perfectly fine, even though begetting children without sex is not okay.  The rules for sex are different, and I don't think there is a rationally-explicable reason why this should be.

It's a general medical principle -- accepted by the Church -- that you can damage one part of the body to save the whole.  You can take out a diseased kidney.  You can irradiate the body to kill a tumor even if it makes the rest of you sick.  You can do a gastric bypass which hinders the digestive system in order to help a person lose weight.  All of this is okay!  But sterilizing a person because pregnancy will risk their life is not okay.  I can't see a clear rule which you could figure out ahead of time that would allow you to draw these conclusions.  Instead, it seems like people had the conclusions in their minds in advance and tried to come up with an argument that would justify them.

And you know what?  That's totally fine.  It's okay to say, "We think God created us with a purpose, and through revelation, we know a lot about what that purpose is.  Let's spend some time and see if we can figure out what the logical rules are that made God draw the lines where he did."  That's a part of religion, but it's not a bad thing.  The bad thing is when you claim that non-Catholics could come to the same conclusions without first knowing the rules, and then claim that this means they are bound to your rules despite not sharing your beliefs.

We all know that virtually no non-Catholics ever are convinced by natural-law arguments.  The few who are generally wind up converting to Catholicism, because apparently they already believed many of the same first principles.  I think it's uncharitable the way that some Catholics put this down to self-deception or outright lying -- that is, "you would be convinced by this argument if you weren't so selfish/lying about not being convinced/morally twisted by your sinfulness."  Is it so hard to imagine that people might simply disagree?  I myself was ready and willing to be convinced by natural-law arguments in college, and I studied them quite a bit, but I simply felt that without the basic premise that God wanted certain things of us and had revealed what they were, the arguments would never be convincing.

For more on this topic, I recommend this post by Melinda Selmys, as well as the comments.  I also agreed with many of the counterarguments in the comments on this post.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

7 Independence Day takes


Happy Fourth of July to my American readers!  It's not my favorite holiday, mainly because I don't care for loud bangs going on all night.  And of course American patriotism can sometimes take on a jingoistic tone that I really don't like.  I love my country and don't want to live anywhere else, but I also think that criticizing it is part of the point.  "Love it or leave" is cult language, not American openness.

On the other hand I used to love the Fourth of July a lot because it was the time of our family's reunion.  My great-grandfather's birthday was nearby, so we would celebrate both together.  G-gpa would put on his ridiculous 1920's bathing suit, take out his hearing aids, and leap in the freezing lake.  Nobody else would be brave enough to get in the water, except me!

After G-gpa died, the reunions shrank down a bit, but we still had them.  I have so many great memories of swimming with my second and third cousins, the stomp rocket contest, the water balloon toss, the push-the-marshmallow-with-your-nose race.  (Having the Clarke profile -- i.e. a big nose -- really helps with that one.)  The last time I went, my grandpa was starting to decline from cancer.  It was the only time I've seen him less than a glowing picture of energy and health.  He had a brave face and a good attitude, but he confided that his doctors weren't trying to cure him anymore, just to give him time.

He rallied enough to participate in the paddleboat race -- the main event of the day -- and I was lucky enough to be his partner.  Despite his illness and my inexperience, we won!  For a moment I couldn't help but think, maybe this means he isn't really going to die.

That was the last time I saw my Grandpa.  I sobbed as we pulled away from their house.  I knew there was no way I could afford to fly back out anytime soon, but I also knew I'd never be ready to say goodbye.  He was a special person and things just aren't the same without him.

*clears throat* Anyway, it makes the "Glorious Fourth" not a huge thrill for me these days.


So I haven't given you all any updates on our house situation!  When we finally got it on the market -- a process that took longer than I would have thought -- it sold in three days for our asking price.  What a relief -- especially as attempting to keep it clean for people to look at it, and finding places for us to go during showings, were both extremely difficult with these kids.  I would kick them outside to clean the house for a showing, go out to check on them, and they'd be drawing on the outside of the house with charcoal.  I am kind of amazed we managed, especially as I've felt very lethargic lately.

I thought that meant our worries were behind us, though, and they really weren't.  First we had to bid on the house we wanted, and had to hold our breath for quite some time because someone else almost got it away from us.  Then our house had its inspection, and that was nervewracking too.  The inspector spent three hours checking every last thing, as if eager to find something, anything, he could ruin the deal with.

The roof, we already knew we had to fix, and that wiped out most of our savings.  The inspector found a cracked pipe, too, and insisted we hire a plumber to send a camera down to inspect the rest of the line.  More problems were found, and we had to drop almost a thousand more dollars to fix it.  (That went on the credit card, ugh.  Though we should be able to pay that off before it accrues any interest.)  And the inspector also was concerned about the foundation.  Nothing specific, he just was "concerned"!  The buyers demanded we hire an engineer to look at it -- $750 just for an assessment!  The assessment came out just fine, so we thought we could breathe out.  The engineer said that it might be good to pour a little concrete at the base of one column, and we thought, "That doesn't sound so bad.  We could get that done for cheap."

Well, despite having an engineer's recommendation -- the recommendation they insisted we get! -- the buyers still weren't sure.  (When I say "the buyers" I really mean the buyer's agent.  I really like the lady who is buying our house, but she has never owned a home before and I think the agent and inspector are teaming up to freak her out, for whatever reason.)  They wanted more work done.  And they wanted the plans to be drawn up by an engineer ($$$) and the work to be inspected by an engineer after (more $$$).  Now we've found a contractor to do the work, and she says because the work is being planned by an engineer, that puts us into a category of work that needs a permit and the permit will take weeks to get.  It's just one ridiculous thing after another.  And all that money is going to come out of the proceeds for the house -- which, between the down payment on the new house, the realtor's fee, and paying off what's left of our mortgage, doesn't leave a lot of leeway.  We thought we would have enough money out of this house to pay down our car loan, but NOPE.  I just hope we have enough money left to buy a washer and dryer for our new house.  I'm not really keen on washing our family's copious laundry in the tub ... again.


I am just staggered by the unprofessionalism of all the contractors we've dealt with.  It seems to be everyone's habit to say "we'll be out there tomorrow" every day for weeks.  The roofers said they could get the work done in time for our inspection, and they didn't even start until two weeks later!  Then it took them over a week to finish what they said was a two-day job.  Not because they spent a week working on it, but because they would come, work for awhile, and then vanish and not come back for days.

The roofing work has been the worst for me.  The kids couldn't play outside because they might have gotten hit by roofing material or poked by nails.  And the constant banging was like a nail file on my nerves.  I felt anxious and starting having trouble breathing again, like I had a few months ago.  But, at last, it is finished.  Now we just have to pick dozens of nails out of the yard.

We had to deal with some unethical plumbers, too.  They gave us an initial guess of $5000 to fix our waste line, and then the official estimate was $3000 -- I guess to make it feel like we were getting a bargain.  But another company came out and did it for $950.  So I'm not sure what the extra couple thousand were supposed to be for -- John's guess is, they saw the "for sale" sign and figured we were in too much of a hurry to get a second opinion.


I have to acknowledge that it could be a whole lot worse.  We feared the engineer would find serious structural damage in the foundation, which could have cost tens of thousands to fix.  It would have not only destroyed our sale, but made the house unsellable for the kind of money we needed to get for it.

Or we could have lost the house we want to buy, if our house had sold even a day slower.  To me that wouldn't have been a huge deal; there are other nice houses.  But John was extremely attached to this one.  And I have to admit it's very nice.  It's over twice as big as this one; it has a room we could use as a playroom; it has a dishwasher and a vegetable garden with blueberry bushes.  And it's on a quiet street that's on the end of town closer to John's work, so it will shave a little time off his commute.

Really, we're very lucky that things have gone as smoothly as they have.


I'll miss this place, though.  I have a lot of happy memories here.  Of course we never meant to stay long, but knowing that hasn't stopped me from sending down roots.  I love spending time in the back yard, or under the plum tree.  I hate the thought that we might be gone before my tomatoes get ripe.

It's hard to imagine waking up in the morning in the new place, wandering downstairs, getting breakfast.  Where will I drink my tea?  I have a spot here to drink my tea, at my desk which faces out the front window toward the rising sun.  The new place faces west.  So where will I put my desk?  Or will I want to sit at the dining room table?  I just don't know.  It's weird to think about.

I like continuity in my life.  If there is to be change, I want it to be one thing at a time, while the rest of my life stays the same to buoy me up.  But my life has never changed like that.  It's involved a lot of getting into airplanes and flying across the country with two suitcases.  I have more continuity in my life now, to be sure -- I have my family to come with me wherever I go.  But the kids, of course, just keep growing and changing.  It feels like trying to hold onto a river.


Part of the nostalgia in all this comes from going through our stuff.  Of course we've had to go through our attic and throw as much stuff as possible out -- we don't want to move with dozens of old copies of The Philadelphia Bulletin and a broken tennis racket.  But it's hard.  John does it with ease, consigning whole boxes of books to the giveaway box and bags of old letters to the trash.  Not I.  I wistfully look through folders of old college notes and sketches of scenes from novels I was writing and poems in made-up languages, and I can't part with a thing.  I do try.  I threw out some old stuck-together letters from boarding school and some cards we got at our wedding.  But that caused a pang and maybe I shouldn't have.  I've got enough change in my life right now!

I've read articles about the KonMari method and how you're supposed to get rid of anything that doesn't spark joy.  Admit you'll never read those books, wear those clothes, whatever.  The thing is that my stuff really does spark joy.  Old journals?  Letters?  Notes John and I passed to each other in class?  So much joy.  I readily get rid of old clothes, but most everything else stays.  Even jewelry, despite the fact that I never wear jewelry.  I like to take it out and look at it and remember the people who gave it to me.

I read an article about tattoos lately, saying that it's just a desperate grasp for commitment in a world where nobody gets married and everybody gets divorced.  (Most people still get married.  Most marriages last.  C'mon, people.)  But someone commented that it's hard enough that so many things have to change, even if you do have real commitments in your life, and a tattoo is something you can always take with you, no matter what happens to your other stuff.  And I get that.  I'm still scared of needles, but it is a tempting idea.


I feel ... eh.  Not horrible.  I feel randomly sad some days.  I have very little energy right now but hopefully that will pick up soon when I get into the second trimester.  Food still sucks.  I hate it all.  Well, that's not true.  A lot of it sounds delicious and then I feel ill afterward.  Fatty things make me feel like I ate some bad sushi.  Acidic things give me heartburn.  Vegetables sit in my stomach like a pile of rocks and then I get bloated.  Dairy makes me gag.  Bread, crackers, and ramen noodles are acceptable, but you can't live like that!  So I try to plan very carefully what I'm going to eat and then eat teeny tiny portions of everything.

My stomach's pickiness has caused a lot of wasted food.  Well, really, it's Miriam who causes that, it's just that I'm used to eating her leftovers and lately I can't make myself do it.  She will come up saying "I hungee, I hungee."  I offer a million things and finally she picks one.  She has a bite, throws it on the floor or gives it to the dog, and then comes back: "I hungee, I hungee."  If I physically feed her, she'll eat more.  I remember Marko having a stage like that too, where he would starve to death if you didn't put the food in his mouth for him.  I guess it's just an almost-two thing.

I suspect the lack of eating is why she is sleeping so badly.  I'll put her to bed at eight and she'll wake up at 9:30 or ten, go back to sleep in her bed, and then wake up again around midnight.  At that point I just bring her to my bed because I've had bad luck trying to get her back into her bed that far into the night.  But I do not like sleeping with her all night.  She always lies on my arm and it falls asleep.  I want to work on getting her to sleep better, but that's always a challenge because to get a child to sleep better, you generally have to sacrifice your own sleep for awhile.  I'm barely functional as it is!  So I'm saving it for after we move.

I finally got around to contacting the midwife.  I'm getting the same one as last time, because we were very happy with her work -- or, honestly, her nonwork.  A midwife is someone who can be trusted to sit back and NOT do anything when she doesn't need to do anything.  But she also said all the right things at the right times, and basically seems competent and confident.  She brings calm and positivity into a room.

I feel anxious about my first appointment with her, which will be in a couple of weeks.  Till I hear the heartbeat, I don't feel that sure that we are even having a baby.  Something in the back of my head keeps bugging me that something is wrong.  On the other hand that may be just my anxiety talking.  If I can finally hear the heartbeat, I think I'll be able to put those thoughts to bed and start focusing on actually planning for a real baby.

Happy Fourth of July weekend, all.   Hope you are having a pleasant one.

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