We’re about to do a crazy thing

….we’re thinking seriously, seriously, about selling our house.

WHAT?!?!

Yes.

Even more crazily, we’re going to buy  A NEW ONE.

I KNOW.

Okay, in all seriousness, we are making  steps towards moving out of this house and getting a bigger one with a layout that suits our needs better. We’ve started the preapproval process online, but now we have to talk to the bank on the phone to verify income and what not. Since Chief is military we’re starting with USAA to see what they can do for us. I’ve been talking to a realtor in town about our house and based on the comps I think we can reasonably expect to make about 50K in profit from our house, probably closer to 40K after fees and closing (although there’s some confusing language about what fees people with VA loans actually pay, so we’ll see).

That amount of money could pay off all of our unsecured debt (credit cards) and our new car. We’d still have payments on the jeep, but just for another year and a half. That would be magic. It would free up about $1500 a month. I know. I KNOW. and with a VA loan we don’t have to have a down payment on the next house, and only pay 1% in closing costs and some other small fees.

It’s exciting. It’s exciting that this is the first time we’ve applied for a loan under chief’s name and haven’t instantly gotten a no. It doesn’t mean that we might not still get a no after talking to the lending folks on the phone, but Chief’s actually in pretty good shape. His credit score has really bounced back from it’s dismal levels, his DTI is only 20%, and he makes a decent amount of money.

It’s also stressful. Because we have to sell this house. And I have a lot of pets. I fear that every time we have a scheduled showing I’ll be loading seven animals and a baby into the car to drive around for an hour while people look at my house. And then if we somehow manage to sell this house that has been mostly remodeled we actually have to MOVE. WITH A BABY.

It’s also a leap of faith, because I have paid to have just about everything in this house fixed to tip top condition. It’s got new AC, a new roof, new appliances, a new porch, new grass, new WALLS in some cases, repaired electrical, repaired plumbing, new kitchen, new front bathroom, paint, NO carpet anymore….I know that it’s solid. and I’ll of course get an inspection on another house, but shit happens, you know? I watch a lot of HGTV, so I know shit happens.

But we’ve really outgrown this house. Really really. Our living area is way too small for us and it’s hard to separate the animal noise from the back area of the house when the baby is sleeping. And babies have so. much. stuff. We just need more space. And more open space.

Here’s some truth though: I think I’m going to have to pay someone to clean before the appraisal. I can’t seem to work from home, raise my child, AND keep my house clean. So I fear we’ll be paying a hefty bill to a cleaning service to not only clean, but organize and declutter my house. Anyone ever had to do that? Was it worth it?

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The Days Are Long

When we decided that it was really, officially time for Charlie to sleep in her own room all I could think about was what I was losing. I was losing the closeness of having her in my arms all night. I was losing the ability to just turn my head and see her asleep in her pack in play. I was losing the ability to nurse her through the night without getting out of bed. I was losing a lot and I was so mournful.

At the end of the day I don’t have any regrets. Charlie sleeps better in her room, and selfishly I have some space back. I can now go back to my room at 9:00 while Chief stays up watching whatever. I can watch Downton without complaint. I can put my laundry away without waking my kid up. I can color, or read, or work on the computer. It’s like getting a bit of freedom back.

I also got something new from this change. I appreciate Charlie so much more. She is the most amazing creature. I have been amazed at how easily she has adjusted. I miss her every night when I get into bed-but I also have something amazing to look forward to-her waking up.

I thought I would hate getting up a few times a night, walking into another room, and having to force myself to stay awake until she’s done eating-but I don’t. I haven’t been “awake” for a middle of the night feeding since she was a newborn, back when cosleeping still freaked me out so much that I probably didn’t sleep much at all. But now I get her out of bed and I always say “Cafe Momma is open for business, now seating for our midnight, 2 am, etc, service.” She nurses for a few minutes and falls asleep (this is against the rules of our sleep plan, but I don’t care. It doesn’t seem to be hurting anything). Then I always lift her up and put her head on my chest and just rock with her for a few minutes.

Every night, I rock with her, and I tell her how much she has changed our lives. I try to express how much I love her. I smell her hair and kiss her head a few times. I rub her back, and I rock, rock, rock. It doesn’t matter how tired I am-I never skip this part. We always rock. Maybe just for a minute, maybe for ten. Then I lay her back in bed, she rolls to her side and drifts back into sleep, and I pad my way back into our room where I fall back asleep pretty instantly too, looking forward to our next visit.

She won’t remember this. She will never remember how her nursery filled up with love two times a night, and she won’t remember what the sound of my heart felt like in her ear as she drifted back off, or the scent of the detergent on my nightgown. I wish she would, but she won’t. I will forever though. I will think about it on her wedding day, and when she has her first baby, and as I’m drawing my last breath I pray I have the clarity of mind to remember these moments above all, because they have been the most precious of my life.

I haven’t slept through the night in something like a year and a half now (because no one ever thinks about how you basically stop sleeping when you’re pregnant, thanks bladder), and some days are long. Some days are really long. But Charlie is eight months old now, so while the days are long, I am realizing how very short the years are. Soon, very soon I know this baby girl won’t need me in the night. Our rocking days are numbered, but they are mine for now, and mine alone, and I won’t wish them away.

Because the days are long, but the years? They are so, so short.

Pity, Party of One

Today has been a day folks.

Nothing particularly bad has happened, but there are just a few things converging that are causing me to be pretty down in the dumps.

First of all, it’s that lovely time of year when it’s time to renew my IDR payment plan for my student loan company. Long story short, I have a lot of loans. A lot. But most importantly to remember is that 40% of what I owe is interest. Fucking interest, thanks to our country’s ridiculous interest rates and predatory loan practices. I realize that I signed the papers agreeing to this nonsense, but I was also 18 and told by the loan advisors that student loan debt was “good debt” and that the government was supportive and committed to helping people with their loans.

And what I have learned is that by “supportive and committed” they really mean “cruel and ridiculous.” They want $900 a month from us based on my husband and I’s income combined, so we have to file our taxes separately. My husband is a civil servant. We are paycheck to paycheck kind of people. And they want $900 a month. When we file our income separately, they want $0.00 a month. There’s just something not right about that.

So anyway, our tax guy is all over Chief about are we SURE we want to file separately? Because we lose $1000 right off the bat that way. Well yeah, we know. And yes it really sucks, but it’s either lose $1000 or lose $10,000 a year. It’s a no brainer.

I want to pay back what I owe. I never intended to skirt that responsibility, but they’ve made it a real challenge, and whenever this comes around I just feel really shitty. I feel like I shouldn’t have gotten my graduate degree. I feel like I’m dragging my husband down with me. This is going to be hanging over me for a really, really long time and today it just got really overwhelming, especially when I went online and looked at the total I owe now. I felt okay with what I owed when I got out of school. It wasn’t nothing-but it was also, well, what I expected, because it’s what I took out. I signed off on it, and I watched the numbers rise.

I never knew I would have to wait so long to get a full time job. I never knew that I would apply for job after job that required my masters degree and not get one of them. And I realize it’s easy to complain about all of this while I’m not working, but I will work again in a few years and these problems will still exist for me. And honestly if I had know they would I probably would have skipped out on the hard work that grad school was. Because what the hell is it doing for me?

And you know what really, really pisses me off? How hard I worked. I worked so hard in high school. I was never home after school-I was at band, or choir, or play practice, or WORK, because I WORKED in high school. And I still graduated in the top ten percent of my class, but because I couldn’t get a 29 on the ACT no matter how hard I tried (three attempts) I only got a partial scholarship. my sister skipped so much school she almost got kicked out, but she got a 32 on the ACT so she got a full ride.

And then I graduated Magna Cum Laude in 3.5 years, and I mean why? Why didn’t I have fun in college and party? I went straight into graduate school and paid full price for the whole damn thing.

And just to put a cherry on top of that cake, Dora is leaving in the morning around 10:00 am. I’m just in pieces about it and I ended up crying at the law firm today. Luckily no one saw but my mom. So this is a pity party post. I’m real sorry you read it.

For those playing the home game

Happy Sleeper is really a good plan.

A few days ago I would have said differently I think. Nights 4-6 were abject hell. But then on day seven I realized that while she had been working on FOUR teeth up top, she actually cut one on bottom. So I blame that for a bit of the issues we were facing.

Also, and I hate to say it, I think some of it was the partial cosleeping we had been doing. Originally we had been bringing her in with us at her 2:00 am wake up. But she slept terribly with us all of a sudden. Restless and super fussy. And then sometimes in the hours leading up to 2:00 am we couldn’t get her to be happy in her crib for more than thirty minutes to an hour at a time. So anyway, on night seven we decided to try the whole night in her crib and it went remarkably well. I did cheat just a tiny bit. We’ve been bringing her in at around 6:00 am. She normally wakes up at 7:30, but she had been waking at 6:00 ish to eat (I figure she was probably doing this while cosleeping too because those early morning hours anytime she made a peep I just shoved my boob at her and went back to sleep) so instead of getting up and trying to get her back in her crib for another hour or so I’ve just been having Chief bring her in. I need the snuggles anyway. This does not seem to be confusing for her since it’s just a small little tidbit.

Tonight she has taken to her crib quite well virtually no fussing. And she actually napped in her crib today for an hour. AN HOUR. For my child that is basically a miracle.

The only hard part about Happy Sleeper is that instead of just popping a boob out and going back to sleep, I’m now up for three feeds a night. I think tonight I’m going to try a dream feed and see how that does for us. I would love to drop just one of those feeds. I’m not hell bent on having a baby that sleeps through the night, but maybe just having a baby that only nurses twice? Please?

At any rate, she seems so much happier and more energetic now that she’s getting some quality sleep. I’m just really pleased as punch with her and how well she’s done.

Giving Up Dora

Sigh. I’ve avoided this topic for a while because I was sort of in denial about how bad it was. I really thought it would get better. I’m not a cat expert, but I’m pretty good. I’ve had them my whole life, I connect with them very well, and I take really good care of my cats. I’m not humble about that-I do. I take DAMN. GOOD. CARE. of my cats. And my dogs too for that matter.

But Dora. Poor, sweet Dora. As you guys may remember, Dora, Cookie, or Baby Cat as she has been known has been a part of our family for about a year now. We officially took her in last March, but she first showed up on my porch about this time last year. We got her fixed, shots, tried to find her a home. We couldn’t really find one. I had one lady interested, but by the time she came round to committing I had gotten so attached to her that I begged Chief to let me keep her and the day before my birthday he agreed. She was my birthday gift last year and I adore her. I really do. She is so special to me, and she’s even more special to me because she is linked in my heart with Charlie. I was six months pregnant when we adopted Dora. I have some pretty great pictures of them together, and Charlie loves her.

A few months ago Dora started having tummy trouble, so I took her to the vet. It was a pretty easy thing to deal with-she needed to lose some weight, so we put her on a diet food. When she first came home Dewey went after her pretty hard. This isn’t entirely abnormal-she smelled different. It happens. I broke it up and didn’t think much of it. But then it happened again. And again. And again. And then at one point. Nate got dragged into it because the fight happened near him, and I think someone got him with a claw, so he jumped in. And now all of a sudden I have a small female cat afraid of two, large males.

It got the point of her not being willing to leave the couch. So I decided to isolate her and reintroduce her slowly. I was sure this would work. I got the feliway things out and plugged them in and did the whole slow introduction again.

It did. not. work. In fact if anything, it made things worse, because now she’s afraid to come out of the sewing room. We put a litter box and food and water in there for her. Even if I open the door she doesn’t come out unless I carry her out. And then she stays wherever I set her. Set her on the bed? She stays there. Set her on the couch? Stays there. Afraid to walk through her own house. And yesterday, while sitting on the couch, Dewey jumped her the minute my back was turned.

I had already contacted all of our local rescue groups and heard absolutely nothing back. I know how overwhelmed they are, I really do, but are you telling me no one could even say “Sorry, we’re full.” back to me? It was really upsetting.

So I put a long post up on facebook talking about her story and what was going on. It broke my heart, but I can’t ask her to live this way. Trapped in one room forever? Afraid to be around my other cats? That’s not fair. She’s only 2-3 years old, she has a long life ahead of her and she is so damn sweet. She just deserves better than that. I didn’t expect anything to come of the facebook post. But my friend from my birth club said that she wanted her. And she meant it.

I don’t love all the folks in my facebook birth club, but I do really, really like this one person. We get along really well. She loves cats and hers died while she was pregnant and she hadn’t had the heart to get another one yet. She has saved a lot of strays and found them homes. Her daughter was born the same day as Charlie. And she wanted Dora.

But….she lives 11 hours away. It didn’t matter though. It felt right. It felt right for Dora to be an only cat with a like minded woman (she’s even a Detroit Lions fan!) and a little girl to grow up and adore her. It makes me sad to not be Dora’s momma anymore, but knowing she’ll have a great momma and be the apple of their eye makes me happy.

Now we just had to figure out a way to get her there.

In comes my friend N. She used to be my boss way back. She moved away, but her mom is still here and she was coming to town next weekend. She volunteered to take her home with her and then drive three hours out of her way to a Indianapolis. So that was more than half the journey. So I posted that we needed someone to take her from the meeting point to where my friend lives, which, since there are no names, I think I can safely tell you is in Michigan. Then, we find out that my friend who is taking Dora, J, has a sister who will be working IN INDIANAPOLIS FOR THE DAY ON THE VERY DAY THAT N WILL BE TAKING DORA TO INDIANAPOLIS. So she volunteers to pick up Dora and take her on to her sister, J.

And…. just like that, Dora has a new home.

I am….so incredibly sad. More than I can express. I may not have had Dora as long as my other guys, but she is still mine. I fought to keep her. I fought hard. I spent the night on the floor with her in the bathroom when I was pregnant. I cried basically for an entire day at work when I thought she might die from her difficult spay surgery. I love her, simply put.

But last night I went into her room and talked to her about where she was going and why. I explained to her that it’s not because we don’t love her, or because she’s not good enough-it’s to give her a better life. I told her how happy J’s family was to be getting her, and how she was going to have a sweet baby girl just like Charlie to play with. Then I put the very first blanket I ever made in the corner that she sleeps. I wanted her to sleep on it for the next week so it can go with her and she’ll always have a piece of our family. I have one more week with her and I’m going to try and give her as much as love as I can before she leaves our home forever. She lights up when I come in the room because she spends so much time alone. As sad as I was, this strengthened my resolve that what I was doing was right.

Sleep sleep, glorious sleep

Let’s talk about sleep some more, shall we?

Last night we completed night three of “The Happy Sleeper” method. Major props to Molly over at Hound Mamas for introducing me to this. The funny thing is that we had sort of been doing this on our own without knowing it, but the reason it wasn’t wholly successful is that we hadn’t been as structured as the plan calls for.

My official grade for this sleep training method is that it is a huge success. It is what is considered to be a cross between CIO and attachment parenting. Look, I wanted to do the 100% attachment parenting thing, but it just doesn’t work for us. We’re still pretty attachment-y. Charlie nurses when she wants. I am with her every hour except when she spends six hours in her crib at night and when I spend a few hours at the law firm every week.  She still spends half the night in our bed, BUT nursing to sleep, rocking to sleep, holding to sleep? It wasn’t working for us. Not because I didn’t want to put the time in, but because with those methods Charlie was waking up every hour to two hours screaming her head off, needing the 30-45 minutes of nursing and cuddling all over again. This would continue until I just got into bed with her eventually.

I’m sorry. My world is my child. It really is, but she goes to bed at 7:00 pm. And if you tell me that I am wrong for wanting the hours between 7:00 and midnight to be my own to clean, meal plan, sew, spend maybe five minutes with my husband,  POSSIBLY even have sex? Well we can’t be friends. If I’m wrong for that in your eyes, sorry not sorry. Those hours are what make me a better mom. I love my child. I smile just when I see the top of her head as she naps on my chest. But I need a few hours at night. And she needs to learn to sleep on her own, and for longer periods of time. Teaching your children to sleep is a gift, period. That’s all.

So anyway. Happy Sleeper. A big part of this is that we moved Charlie to her room. That was huge for us, because she’s been either in a bassinet, a pack n play, or our bed her whole life, but the minute, and I mean the minute I would creep into our room to go to bed she would be awake. Didn’t matter how ninja like I was. Babies just know, man. They just know. So night one, Friday night. We do her bedtime routine, Bath, Baby merlin sleepsuit, nursing, story. Then we said goodnight to everything in the room, turned on the sound machine, turned off her lamp (she has a red nightlight in the room) and said our mantra:

“It’s time to go to sleep. I’m right down the hall. Momma and Daddo love you very much.”

And walked out.

And she cried. Of course she cried. Five minutes later I went in and said the mantra again. And again five minutes later, and again five minutes later. Eventually Chief came back from getting dinner and he went in and said it because I was becoming Jello like and wanting to bend.

She cried for almost an hour exactly. But then….she slept. For 3.5 hours. Then she woke up to eat and I fed her immediately. Then put her back down and she cried for a minute maybe, and went back to sleep for another three hours. At this point I pulled her into bed with us which had been our plan from the get go. Half the night in her room, half the night in ours.

Night two she cried for 2.5 minutes. No need for the mantra. She slept for another 3.5 hours. I was SUPER tired on Saturday so when she woke up I just pulled her into bed with me because I knew I didn’t want to get up at 2:00 am and get her out. Last night she cried for less than two minutes and went to sleep. When I put her back down after nursing she didn’t cry at all. Just went straight to sleep. She slept for about 2:45 after that and then Chief got her and brought her into bed with us when she started to fuss for milk.

So I consider it a huge success honestly. she’s not sleeping long stretches yet, but she is putting herself to sleep on her own in her room. Honestly I think she’s digging having all that room. With the pack in play her arms were touching either side and it would wake her up easily when she would move. She sleeps solid and hard in her crib. And I’d be lying if I said I weren’t enjoying an hour of reading or TV in our room with the lamp on before I fall asleep.

I haven’t started the plan for naps yet because i need to put the black out curtains in her room and honestly…..I’ve been enjoying a few last days of letting her nap on me. I think she’s going to resist naptime change, HARD and I’m dreading the tears a little bit.

Tonight I start the slow process of weaning her from that first feeding. I don’t want her to stop nursing at night altogether, but at almost eight months every three hours is really not necessary. So I’d like to cut out the first one, keep the 2:00 am one for a while and eventually cut out the early morning 4-5 am one. Waking up only one in the evening sounds like a dream. Sometime when she’s about a year I might work on getting rid of the 2:00 am one. Weaning is really slow on this plan-you just nurse 30 seconds less every two days, so it takes about two weeks to cut out a feeding, but that’s fine. 30 seconds isn’t going to be enough for her to even really notice what’s happening and it should help her slowly shift to taking more in during the day.

I have so many sewing projects to work on this week! I still have my baby gifts for our friends to complete and MPB has commissioned me to make her a chenille blanket just like the one on my last post! I’m so excited to make this happen for her and love the idea of my work going out into the world 🙂

I have another post in me with some good and bad news about Dora kitty, but this one is already long enough, so expect that later.