treading water

Last week, a friend told me that I seem to be handling all of my recent life events in an unusually calm manner.

I laughed. I told her that she should take a look inside my head sometime. Apparently I’m pretty good at faking like I’m ok when I’m an absolute mess on the inside.

The truth is, I’m completely overwhelmed. I’m trying to juggle two kids, a full-time job, as well as the process of selling our house, all by myself. It would be panic-inducing on its own. Top it off with the fact that Lucy currently wakes up at least two times per night? The exhaustion factor means that I spend a lot of time feeling like I’m about to lose it.

Oh, and there’s the whole post-partum depression thing too. Let’s not even get into that. The timing of all of this could be a lot better.

I spend a lot of time wishing that I could crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head, and stay there for at least a couple of weeks.

For better or worse, these two seem to make that impossible.

Catie (& alligator) snuggle on Lucy.

Freaking kids, man. They have all these needs.

So, yeah, I’m functioning because I don’t really have any other choice. Falling apart isn’t an option right now.

I’m incredibly grateful for all of the people who check in on me to see how I’m doing. Honestly, I’m so, so thankful for my support system.

Speaking of my support system, my brother came up this past weekend to help me rearrange furniture and start getting the house organized. We also hung out and watched movies, and he bonded with his new niece.

Lucy loves snuggling with her Uncle Chris

That was really nice, I needed that break.

And more of my support system is still on its way. Greis is coming for a visit this weekend. Her trip was planned months ago, and was supposed to be a fun girls’ weekend. Now it’s turned into a “hey, come stay at my house and hold my baby while I pack boxes” sort of visit. Which sucks, but I have a feeling we’ll still manage to sneak in at least one margarita at some point during the weekend.

Next week, my mom is coming up. She’s driving up rather than flying, so she can stay for an indefinite amount of time. She’s basically moving in for at least a couple of months, to help me get everything sorted out. I can’t begin to describe how grateful I am for that. My mom is my anchor, and I really need her right now.

So, I know I’m going to be ok, mainly because so many people around me are there to catch me if I fall. It’s a comforting thought, and it’s what’s keeping me afloat right now.

moving on (in so many ways)

I cannot even begin to thank y’all for all of the kind and supportive words on that last post. So many people also reached out on Facebook, Twitter, etc., and I’m just overwhelmed. This whole situation is so awful, but I also feel so blessed to have such an amazing support system around me, both online and in real-life.

Yesterday, I met with our realtor. We’re going to be listing our house on the market soon. I can’t afford the mortgage by myself, and it’s too big for just me and the girls. I feel the need to downsize and simplify our lives as much as possible. I think I want to rent a house for a while. I like the idea that if something breaks, someone else has to pay for it and fix it.

It’s sad because this place was my dream house, but now I’ll forever think of it as the house where my marriage fell apart.

The weird part? We bought this house from a couple that was divorcing. You know that horror movie cliche where the haunted house turns out to be built on top of an ancient Indian burial ground? I think this house was built on top of the graves of a really bitter and angry married couple. I even burned sage when we moved in, to get rid of any bad juju lingering around. Fat lot of good that did me.

Overall, I think I’m coping ok. Like I said, I have a pretty fantastic support system around me, and I’m so, so grateful for that.

But if you don’t hear from me much over the next few weeks, it’s probably because I’m going to be frantically de-cluttering and reorganizing this entire house to get it in “showable” condition. That should be… fun?

I’ll also be spending as much time as I possibly can hugging these faces.

Hard to get mad at these faces when they wake me up on Saturday morning.

Mostly successful, only slightly uneven bang trim. Yay, I'm improving!

You sure can't tell that she's sick.

Can’t really blame me for that one. They’re pretty darn huggable.

her favorite aunt

When we were kids, my sister Tracy and I didn’t always get along. She’s 5 1/2 years older than me, so she always treated me like a baby (which I suppose I was, to her). I went back and forth between desperately wanting to be included in all of the cool stuff she got to do with her friends, and being mad at her because she treated me like a baby.

Of course, we grew up, and things changed. I’m not sure exactly when, probably when we were both in our 20s. Now we’re pretty close and have an easy relationship with each other. Sure, sometimes we get pissy with each other, but it’s usually mild stuff that blows over within a minute or two (literally). I honestly can’t remember the last real fight that we had. I mean, I remember the time that I called her a bitch and it made her cry, but I think I was about 17 years old at the time. I can’t think of anything in the past decade.

And it particularly strikes me as odd, after spending the past weekend with my mom and her sisters. There are 7 kids in her family: 4 boys and 3 girls. And the brothers all seem to get along well with everyone; they’re the peacemakers in the family. But my mom and her two sisters… man. They have this competitive thing, this need to one-up the other and prove that I AM RIGHT AND YOU ARE WRONG WRONG WRONGITY-WRONG. They love each other, of course, but there’s a lot of sniping and eye-rolling going on too. And they’re all in their 60s now, so it’s not like that dynamic is ever going to change. So it’s strange to look at those relationships, and then see the relative ease that Tracy and I have with each other. It makes me grateful, to be honest.

Tracy doesn’t have any kids, and I’m pretty sure that if you asked her, she’d say that she’s happy that way. But when Catie was born, I think it made her second-guess that decision, even if it was just for a minute.

with her Aunt Tracy

It was hard when we lived in Seattle and we’d only see our family a couple of times a year, but Catie never went through a “stranger danger” fear with Tracy. It’s like she has always known that Tracy belongs to her.

bouncing in the bjorn

post-Christmas poop-out

When we moved from Seattle to North Carolina, my sister flew from NYC to Seattle, so that I wouldn’t have to attempt a cross-country flight by myself with an 18 month-old. That pretty much cemented her position as The Most Awesome Aunt Ever. (She even got to experience Catie’s motion sickness firsthand; and as a result of Catie’s epic backseat milk barf right as we were pulling in to the airport, I’m pretty sure Tracy’s name has been blacklisted from all Dollar Rental Car locations in the U.S.)

Catie practicing her "trust falls" with Tracy (whee!)

For us, moving to North Carolina was a little bit of a double-edged sword with our families. Sure, it meant that we got to see them more often, and that was great. Tracy was only a short 90-minute flight away in NYC. But it also meant that Catie’s tears were increasingly dramatic every time Tracy had to leave and go back home. It went from a few tears and sniffles and woeful moans of, “my Twaaacy!” from the backseat, to (at this last visit) a full-on screaming meltdown of “I GO WIF’ YOUUUUU!!!!” in which she tried to extricate herself from her carseat and almost made herself vomit from sobbing so much. It wasn’t a fun goodbye, to say the least.

SO happy to see her aunt Tracy

A few months ago, Tracy started talking about maybe moving to be even closer. The company she works for is international and has offices all over the place; after a little research, she found out that they have a branch office in Charlotte, which is only 150 miles from here (also, coincidentally, where my brother Chris lives). She asked about possibly relocating, and they said yes.

(Of course, in a perfect world, I’d prefer that she relocate to Raleigh. But her company doesn’t have an office here, and she doesn’t want to leave her job, which I understand. It’ll still be nice to be able to visit each other via car instead of airplane!)

I’ve been scared to blog about this for fear that it would fall through, but right now, as I type this, movers are loading up my sister’s NYC apartment. She is moving to Charlotte. Today.

I think Catie might like Tracy just a little bit

And I know one little girl who can’t wait to see her favorite aunt.

the trip home, part 2

Sorry for the delay in getting all this written down, I’m unpacking like a maniac and I’m actually having a hard time making myself sit down at my computer, which is freakishly rare for me.

SO! We spent the night at Cat & Tony’s house, and the next morning we all loaded up our respective children into various cars and went our separate ways. I dropped Catie off at daycare, and went to check out the new house. Still no power or water. I checked on the cats, dropped off our suitcases, and went to run a couple of errands. Came back to the house, and got to work setting up Catie’s room. I wanted the new house to make a good impression on her, so I figured that making sure her room looked like “hers” was a good place to start.

The utilities finally got turned on around 3:00. I was elated. I drove back to Cat & Tony’s house to retrieve our fridge & freezer food that we had stashed at their house. Came back, and picked up Catie from daycare. Dave got home a few minutes before we did, so we both got to witness Catie’s first reaction to the house. She seemed to like it, she was very excited to see a lot of her toys that she hadn’t seen in over a week. She kept saying, “Wow! Hey! Where’d that come from?” Like she couldn’t fathom how her stuff all magically got transported from the old house to the new house.

She’s had a couple of meltdowns since then, where she cries, “I no like new house! I wan’ go home!” Which stinks, and I hate it for her, but I think that once we get this place feeling a little more like a home and a little less like a box factory, she’ll start to like it more. Last night was rough, I found her standing in the dark hallway screaming her head off because she was scared and didn’t know where she was. (There are nightlights in both her bedroom and the hall, but it didn’t seem to make her feel less freaked out.) I’ve been trying to get things set up quickly to help her relax. The kitchen is almost done, then the family room is next on my agenda. I’m so focused on trying to ease Catie through this transition, I have a feeling that I won’t get Dave’s or my stuff unpacked until last. Oh well.

So. The transition is sucking, but we’re here. And this house is still beautiful and perfect and the absolute house of my dreams. So we’re good.

the trip home, part 1

Yesterday was one of those travel days where it was almost comical how horribly awry everything went. Or rather, it would’ve been funny if it happened to someone else. Like maybe someone I despised. Let’s recap, shall we?

* Up at 5 a.m., so we could leave the house by 6:45 for our 8:25 flight. Catie didn’t get enough sleep and had a huge screaming meltdown before leaving my parents’ house. Fun!

* Got to the airport, got checked in, everything ready to go… then no plane. Or rather, no boarding onto the plane that was sitting at the gate. Turns out there was a mechanical problem, so our 8:25 flight was delayed until 11:00. That means that Catie & I both could’ve had an extra couple of hours’ sleep if we’d known in advance. The ticket agent got us rebooked on the next flight, so we actually left Jackson at 9:40.

Side note to American Airlines: please find the guy who was working at Gate 4 at Jackson International Airport on September 15th, and give that man a raise. I don’t know his name, he’s a thin young white guy with a little beard stubble and almost too-pretty eyes. He was fantastic, he was very fast at getting everyone taken care of, he remembered my name, and he made sure that my 2 year-old and I had seats adjacent to each other (something another ticket agent apparently didn’t think was necessary).

* While waiting to board our first flight, Catie cried, “Mooommy, I go hooome. I see Mimi & Pop-Pop.” I reminded her that we were going home to Daddy and the new house. She replied, “No, no Daddy and no house. I jus’ go hooooome.” Yeah, you & me both, kiddo.

* High point of the day #1: Catie slept the entire flight from Jackson to Dallas. Halle-freaking-lujah.
what she looked like 5 minutes before our plane landed.
Ok, this picture is actually from the flight there & not the flight home. Still, it’s a pretty accurate representation of the moment.

* Got to Dallas/Fort Worth Airport about 10 minutes after our connecting flight had departed. Sigh. We were rebooked on a later flight, and then had three hours to kill until the next plane left. Fabulous.

* High point of the day #2: We found the children’s play area at DFW and Catie had a blast running around playing with the other kids there. Way to burn off the energy, kid. But really, she was very sweet and nice during the entire layover, no meltdowns at all. I could hardly believe it. Lord knows I wanted to throw myself on the ground and scream for a good long while.
revisiting the Dallas/Forth Worth airport children's play area

* Finally got on the 2:25 flight to Raleigh. (Irony: if we’d made our original connection, we would’ve already been home for an hour by the time this plane departed. Sigh.) Oh, but first we had to stand on the jetway for 20 minutes in 90-degree heat because maintenance had to replace a seat cushion. WTF?

* I got us both seated on the plane, then called Dave to let him know we were finally on our way home. Turns out, he had left his office a little early to meet the cable guy at our house. He got to the new house, only to learn that we had no electricity. Freaking fabulous.

* Highlight of the day #3: Catie and I both slept most of the way to Raleigh. I can almost never sleep on planes, but I bought some Dramamine at the airport, which helped a lot. Poor Catie just sacked out for the whole trip.

* We got to Raleigh. Finally. Oh, and American Airlines, seriously? I had a 3-hour layover in Dallas and you STILL managed to lose one of my two suitcases? Are you kidding me??? (They found it later & delivered it, thankfully. But still. ARGH!)

* I called Dave again. He found out out that our utility company had orders to set up our new utilities on the 17th, not the 11th (clearly a typo). So they shut off our utilities, thinking it was the previous owners’ that they were shutting off, not the new residents. No electricity might’ve been manageable – we have a generator, and it’s not insanely hot right now. But we also had no water. So, no. Not staying there. The utility company said the soonest they could get out to turn our utilities on was at 1 p.m. today (Wednesday).

* I called Cat & Tony, made hasty change of plans to instead go to their house to crash for the night. Called Dave, told him to bring the cold food from the fridge & freezer (so it wouldn’t rot), and meet me there.

* Highlight of the day #4: the bath that Catie and her cousin Elizabeth took together. Freaking hilarious.
Catie & Elizabeth in the tub

* We all crashed for the night, prepared to take on the day tomorrow, blah blah blah.

More about the big “new house” reveal later. I’m tired. Will update with pics soon, too.

catching up

I finally got the wireless set up at my parents’ house, so I can actually blog now that I can use my laptop. (My parents’ computer is not conducive for writing.) I don’t know where to start on the recap of this week, but here goes. Brace yourselves, this might get long:

1.) The flight to Mississippi was amazingly easy. Catie was an absolute angel, she had a minor meltdown on one of the three (THREE!) planes we had to take to get here, but overall, she was fun and delightful and just a complete breeze. I can only hope our return flight is as easy.

2.) The only bad part of the flight was that the airline lost our suitcases, so we panicked and ran to Wal-Mart to buy emergency supplies – pajamas for Catie, underwear and deodorant for me, etc. But the suitcases were found and delivered to my parents’ house by around 10 p.m. that night, so I returned most of the stuff that we bought.

3.) The funeral for my dad’s cousin was yesterday. It was great to see all of my cousins who I haven’t seen since my grandmother died in 1996. It’s odd because we’ve all reconnected through Facebook, so we keep up with each other and see pictures of each other’s kids, and it felt like getting to see old friends, which was fantastic. At the same time, it sucks that it takes something like a death in the family in order to bring us all together.

After the funeral, we all went to my cousin Suzette’s house for food and conversation – because, you know, that’s how we roll in the Deep South. They don’t call it comfort food for nothing, right? And all of my cousins’ babies were there, so Catie got to play with a bunch of other kids, and she had an absolute BLAST. In fact, she had so much fun that she completely wore herself out and she slept the two-hour drive back to my parents’ house. Nice.

4.) One thing that came up in the last few days that I haven’t mentioned, is that there was a remote possibility that our money issues were going to get straightened out, and that we’d be able to close on our house on schedule. So, before I left for Mississippi, I ran to the escrow attorney’s office to sign a document giving Dave power of attorney for me**, so he could close on the house without me, just in case the money came through on time. Turns out, the money DID come through on time, and Dave closed on the house today. The movers are unloading our belongings at our new house as I type this.

So, when Catie & I get home, we will be going straight from the airport to our brand-new house. My mind = BLOWN. It feels so weird that I’m not there for the move, but since Dave is calm about moving and I tend to freak out, it’s probably better to have me gone and let him handle it on his own. I’m sure he’s happier that I’m not there nagging at him about every tiny detail, but still, he is racking up the Good Husband points like you have no idea.

5.) One bit of bad news: when the movers came to pack up our stuff yesterday, they had both the front and garage doors open, and somehow Beaumont got outside. Dave has searched everywhere and hasn’t been able to find him. Our neighbors are all on the lookout, and I’ve posted a “lost cat” ad on craigslist, but I’m sick with worry. He hasn’t been an outdoor cat for a long time, and even when he was, we lived in the sticks. The street behind our house is very busy (with a 45 mph speed limit), and I’m freaked out that he could’ve gotten hit by a car. Or that he’s hiding in the woods, terrified. I hope he turns up. He’s a pain in the ass, but he’s ours and we love him. Please come home, Mr. B.

** For the record, the power of attorney document only applies to this one real estate transaction. It does not give Dave the right to have me committed to a loony bin. I sure hope he realizes that.

EDITED TO ADD: Beaumont has been found. Apparently he was hiding from the movers inside our box spring (there’s a tear in the fabric on the bottom, he hides in there a lot), and so he got loaded onto the moving van & spent the night there. He’s completely freaked out, but ok. I’m saying a prayer of thanks that we closed today and didn’t have our stuff sitting on the moving van for a week!

of course, the perk of having a cold is that I can't smell the litter box

When I got home from Chicago on Sunday, Dave was running late to pick me up at the airport. I got my bags and met him outside baggage claim. I gave him a big hug & kiss, and climbed into the backseat to sit with Catie for the ride home. I noticed that her voice seemed a little raspy, but didn’t think much of it. When we got home, she wanted me to carry into the house, which I was happy to do after not seeing her for 3 days. That’s when I noticed she was (very mildly) wheezing. Dave admitted that she’d come down with a cold over the weekend, but he didn’t tell me because he didn’t want me to freak out and fly home early. What can I say, the man knows me well.

(In my defense, a normal kid’s cold is not something to freak out about, and I know that. But for Catie, colds usually lead to asthma attacks, and after landing in the ER twice, I tend to be a little panicky. So there’s that.)

And really, her cold didn’t seem too bad. We had to give her albuterol a few times, but she seems mostly better now. Yesterday when we were playing, she threw her head back and laughed, and I noticed that her top two eye teeth (the “fangs”) are just barely poking through her gums. I figured, oh well, that’s what it is, then. It’s not a cold at all, she’s just congested because she’s teething again. No worries.

Then I woke up today and realized that she definitely did have a cold. And I know because I now have it too. Sore throat, runny nose, the whole nine. Now I’m just hoping that my cold passes as quickly as Catie’s did. Because I really don’t need to be sick right now.

In moving news, I spoke with our landlady about whether or not she’ll let us stay here for the month of August, since our closing date on our house has been bumped. Have I mentioned how horrible our landlady is? Oh yes, I have. First, she started in on me that a couple of people have complained about “a very strong cat odor” in the house. Well, yes, we have two cats. I try to keep the litter boxes scooped, especially when we have a house showing, but what can I do? Sometimes you still catch a whiff of them. I can’t believe her rudeness in trying to essentially blame me for the fact that the house hasn’t been rented yet. She even issued a mild threat by saying, “Well, if they’ve had accidents on the carpet, I don’t know what I’m going to tell the owners…” Um, well, you don’t have to tell them anything, because they haven’t had accidents on the carpet. (Admittedly, Teenie has had a couple of accidents on the hardwood floors, which I’ve cleaned immediately. So no worries there.) I reassured her that the cat odor will be gone as soon as we move out, then tried to ask again about whether or not we can stay. She’s impossible to pin down with a definite yes or no answer, so finally I just said, “Ok, how about if I bring you a check for the month of August, and then you can pro-rate a refund based on the day we move out?” She seemed satisfied with that.

So yeah. Apparently we won’t have to move twice. I guess. (I hope?) Oy. Such a pain. Now to figure out when we’re getting our money and can close on the new house. Good times.