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  • Archive of "home life" Category

    On Transitioning to a Family of Four

    June 3, 2014 // No Comments »

    Posted in Baby, family life, home life, Siblings, Toddlers

    In my naive, only-child ways, I truly believed adjusting to life as a family of four would be easy. B and I have kept a tiny human alive for the last two years and seven months who has become more and more independent. People far less equipped than us have done the same. And the same less equipped people managed to add additional tiny humans to their families. B and I should have had this in the bag.

    But here’s the thing. Your independent, creative, funny toddler may start to resemble the Honest Toddler. Suddenly there are temper tantrums coming out of a child that previously kept good listening ears on all day. He’ll only want to eat when the baby is eating and the rest of the time can be found orchestrating a hunger strike with a level of enthusiasm that makes you wonder if Child Protective Services will be appearing at your house soon. When he eventually caves on his hunger strikes, he’ll refuse to eat anything but strawberries (which isn’t helpful because you don’t have any in the house).

    Navigating sibling relationships is such a strange journey for me. This is the closest I’ve ever been to siblings before. Even though W is only two weeks old, there is a dynamic relationship forming between him and T. It is fascinating to watch and such a heavy responsibility when I think of all the ways that my behavior will influence that relationship.

    If there is one thing I want for my boys, I want them to be close in adulthood. I want them to feel like they always have each other. I want them to be the best man in the other’s wedding. I want them to always have a sense of family because of the other. I don’t want them to feel alone like I frequently do.

    Update: February 19th, 2010

    February 19, 2010 // 1 Comment »

    Posted in Bristol, home life

    My friend Evan Curry does these periodic updates about what is happening in his life. And for awhile I laughed at these updates. I vowed I would never do an update like one of his. Because in my mind I was a “serious” blogger. And then after further reflection, I remembered that Evan is also a serious blogger (and he blogs about things I barely understand).

    So here’s an update on life in Bristol.

    Highlights:

    • As I write this, I have a kitty in my lap and another kitty on my feet. Which means that both of our rescue kitties not only trust me but are also starting to get along better. I’ve learned that caring for someone other than myself is important but sometimes it is better to practice on the cats. I have no expectations for their behavior and I’m never disappointed. Only happy when they choose to curl up on my lap.
    • A year ago today, my grandfather passed away. It has messed with my head more than any other event today. I’m still not sure I’m entirely okay but I’ve become a lot better at putting one foot in front of the other.
    • Our little church plant that could is the little church plant that does. We’ve started the paperwork for incorporation. We’ve been bringing the homeless to services. Our home groups (small intentional groups) have been flourishing.

    What I’m Reading:

    • I may have read Cassandra Clare’s “Mortal Instruments” this week. While not heavy reading, I did enjoy losing myself in a story for a few days. Note: If you liked Twilight, you might as well just go out now and pick up the three books in the “Mortal Instruments” series.

    Looking Forward To:

    • Our Ash Wednesday/Sunday service at Redemption this week.
    • My friend Susan and I have decided that now is the time to start work on opening a coffee shop in Bristol. I’ve dreamed about this for years and we’ll see how it goes but I’m excited about the potential.
    • Brian’s oldest sister is getting married in May and we get to go to a wedding in Vegas.

    Have a good weekend.

    How to name a cat

    September 21, 2009 // 6 Comments »

    Posted in adoption, changes, home life

    Over lunch at Panera a few weeks ago, my husband started questioning my ideal cat names. Usually, this is a topic he avoids like the plague because it ultimately ends with my relentless questioning of his ideal baby names but somehow, we plod through it without mocking each other too much.
    I like names with character, names that are quirky. I think a name shapes a creature’s identity – a generic name would therefore lead to a life with a generic creature. I lean towards names like Roark (from Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead) or Mercutio or Puck. I like names that make my well read friends smile and my other friends say “what an unusual name!” One of my suggestions with Pierpont, as in J. Pierpont Finch from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (one of my favorite musicals ever) but that was met with an embarrassing snort bursting out of my husband’s face so clearly, Pierpont was off the list.

    Naming a pet is a bizarre process. I guess it might be a little easier if you buy a kitty from a pet store or a breeder but Brian and I love the animal rescue route. Which means the newest addition to your family was recently the newest temporary addition to someone else’s family and that foster family has given your precious kitty a name.

    My parents recently adopted a kitten from the SPCA who had named the kitten “Fang”. Fang. As in “I’m a vampire and I have a Fang”. Weird. “Fang” was quickly changed to “Alex” but then there were questions about “Alex” so it became “Sir Alex Meowsalot”. Ultimately, it was decided that the whole naming process was just too hasty and after much thought and deliberation Fang/Alex/Sir Alex Meowsalot became Pippin and then normally patient vet realized that my parents were nuts as they kept calling to change the name for the appointment.

    The name you chose for your kitten says a lot about you as a person. Are you a crazy cat lady who names her kitten names like “Whiskers” or “Paws” or “Tiger”? Are you the person who is trying to meet your human needs with a cat so you name the cat something like “Pete” or “Sally” or “Ralph”? Maybe you are the sarcastic teenager who thinks it is very funny to name the cat “Cat” but in another language (FYI: Kissa is Finnish for cat). Ultimately, our cat name would reveal more about our hidden quirks and tendencies than the contents of our medicine cabinet.

    After our lunch, we made our way over to pet store to see who was up for adoption on a Sunday afternoon. In the car, my husband started telling me a secret trip he made the day before to the pet store where he saw a black behemoth of a kitten. The kind of kitten that you look at and realize that you’ll need to feed it a small dog each morning for breakfast because kitten food is just not going to cut it. The kind of kitten that is one part adorable and one part panther escaped from the wild. Of course, my husband instantly loved this cat until he saw the name on the cage. “Twilight”. Like “I’m in love with a sparkly vampire”.

    This was not the small dog eating kitty my husband dreamt of owning. Somewhere out there, a teenage girl desperately wanted a black cat named Twilight.

    As always, we kept our expectations low. Or my husband did. I was too busy falling in love with a black four month old kitten named Oliver.

    The one where you find out where I’ve been

    September 8, 2009 // 4 Comments »

    Posted in family life, home life

    Before Labor Day, I took a lifetime supply of books on “How to Write” out from the public library with the intent that I would spend some serious time improving my skills. As with anything in life, writing is a skill that if not used, you will lose. And for the last three months, I just haven’t been flexing my writing muscles.
    Then again, I haven’t really been flexing any muscles. And there is now a Homer Simpson style butt imprint on my new couch that belongs to me and a little kitty butt imprint right next to it.  (By the way, we adopted a kitty.) We are nothing but class at the Morgan household.

    The big reason for all of this was that I was on a medical leave of absence from work for 6 weeks and I’ve only recently gone back to cube land part time. I’d like to say that cube land missed me but there were some dust bunnies forming on my desk while I was out that had started to impersonate me. At least the dust bunnies got a head start on some of my projects for me.

    As for the medical leave of absence, the long and short of it is that I started off with bronchitis that was later re-diagnosed as “Acute Asthmatic Bronchitis” (which there is nothing cute about, FYI). That diagnosis was problematic since I don’t have asthma but they treated the asthma I don’t have any way but the medicine they gave me angered my heart problem and then I was done. 6 weeks later, I’m still moving at a quarter of the pace that I am used to moving at and I feel like I massively missed out on summer. Which are side effects of the fun filled beta-blockers I’ve since been consuming twice daily.
    So while everyone else was out there enjoying the sun and wearing bikinis on the beach, I was on the couch. All day. Every day. I’d like to tell you that it was exciting but the most excitement I got was the day I decided to watch all of the Terminator movies in one sitting (hence the Homer Simpson style butt print). I also had great plans that I was going to expand my mind while I was out of work, but I was really lying to myself. I did a lot of reading but my mind was so foggy (and still is to a certain extent) that I wasn’t reading anything challenging. For example, I’ve had Saint Augustine’s “Confessions” on my reading list for about three years and this was not my summer to finally read it. I think I lasted about five pages before I decided to go back to bed.

    In the same line of thought, I had great plans to do lots of writing. After finding a box filled with my poetry from college, I thought I spend some time writing poems. Or maybe I’d would spend some time creating some blog drafts and cleaning up a few writing projects that have been littering my kitchen table for a while now. I did none of it.

    The most ambition I had all summer was fold hundreds of paper stars while watching movies and painting my nails at least twice a week.

    I’m not saying any of this to complain but more to explain: at the moment, I am prone to rambling due to a lack of human interaction. Remember community? I needed more of it than I was able to receive for six long weeks. Sadly, while I’m able to hide my temporary rambling tendencies in person (unless you are Brian or Oliver, in which case, you are getting hit with all of it) hiding those rambling tendencies is a bit more difficult while writing. Because in my head I have so much I want to share with everyone that I haven’t said in months.

    And I miss blogging. I miss sharing ideas and encountering new ideas I can barely wrap my mind around and I miss commenting. I miss twitter and Facebook and the good feeling that comes with a morning coffee (decaf these days) and a full Google reader that desperately needs attention.

    It is good to see all of you again. Excuse the rambling, the books I picked up just didn’t help with that.

    His name is Steve

    August 10, 2009 // 3 Comments »

    Posted in compromise, home life, husband, marriage

    After about a month in the house, I began to realize that Brian did not kill the water bug. The giant, menacing water bug that was lurking in my house. And the giant menacing water bug start to become a little more brazen, running into the bathroom when I was brushing my teeth or coming into the office while I was reading. The water bug was starting to get comfortable.

    I was not having any of it but I would not kill the bug myself. Bugs freak me out.

    So I finally snapped one night as I was going up the stairs and the water bug ran past the top of the stairs. I started screaming my head and B came running as if I was seconds away from dying. Which I was contemplating. It would either be a heart attack or a murder-suicide (in which the bug killed me and then turned his evil methods on himself).

    “Brian, the bug is still here. Why is the bug still here? I am freaking out.”

    And my dear, sweet, kind husband replies: “Well. He’s just minding his own business. He runs around in the hallway and doesn’t go in the rooms. And he doesn’t really cause any trouble. He’s kinda like our pet.”

    “Our pet?”

    “Yeah. I was thinking we could name him Steve.”

    “Um, Steve is a big, nasty bug. Steve is dirty. Are you emotionally attached to Steve?”

    “No, but I just really don’t want to kill him.”

    “I knew it! You’re emotionally attached to Steve. A big, nasty, dirty bug named Steve who is tormenting, tormenting!, your poor wife who just wants to walk down the hallway without wearing shoes. You know I keep shoes by the bed so I don’t step on ‘Steve’ in my bare feet?”

    “No…”

    “And now, you’re emotionally attached to Steve. You won’t kill Steve for me! You’ll never kill Steve! Our babies won’t ever learn to walk because we won’t be able to put them on the floor because Steve might eat our babies and we won’t want to kill Steve! And what about the cats? We won’t be able to get kitty friends because they might eat Steve and we’d have to save Steve from the kitty friends!”

    “Fine. I’ll kill Steve.”

    “Don’t kill Steve for me. Although I guess we’ll have to tell your sister that we can’t watch the baby anymore because Steve, a big, nasty bug is more important than the baby.”

    “I’ll go kill Steve. Because you’re right. Steve is a big, nasty bug who doesn’t belong in our house.”

    “I hope Steve isn’t a Stephanie.”

    In the end, it took about half a can of Raid to kill Steve while I screamed my head off as he tried to escape my husband, the terminator (cue music). He fought hard against it but ultimately he lost his battle and his giant, nasty bug corpse found its way into the kitchen trash. Which I made Brian take out on trash day in case I was attacked by a mutant zombie Steve.

    Really? You know a guy?

    June 24, 2009 // 1 Comment »

    Posted in community, Home Buying, home life

    In the attempts of being neighborly, our next door neighbor asked us how our first night in our new home went. I start beaming. Brian scowls and starts muttering about not being able to sleep at all.

    At the risk of being the “dirty” people, I decide that this is a great time to announce the bug incident. Complete with me leaping around the driveway to give our neighbor the full impact of my hysteria. Classy. But before I can finish telling him about the bug, he bursts out with “What? A Water Bug?”

    Clearly, he doesn’t understand how traumatic this was so I break out the ridiculous hand gestures and failing limbs to add to the leaping in order to paint a truly vivid story about the horror that ensued. I’m about to tell him that the bug was larger than my cat, had a knife and seemed to be connected with the mob when Neighbor Friend interrupts.

    “Yeah, we get water bugs all the time.”

    “I thought it was a cockroach. I don’t want to be a dirty person.”

    “Nah, a water bug. You know, we know a guy.” (I should add that most of the block appears to be Italian in a bad stereotype way so to hear “we know a guy” was bound to happen eventually.) “He’s my wife’s friend and he’s the exterminator.” (What? Are you trying to have us killed?) “Next time he comes over, we’ll have him get in touch with you.” (This can’t be good.) “He’ll give you a good price.” (Wait, who am I supposed to be killing? Oh yes, the giant “water bug”.)

    To be fair, my neighbor and his family are perfectly normal. I don’t think they have any sort of affliations with any sort of mafia. Not even Mafia Wars on facebook.

    I just pretend I’m not a lunatic

    June 23, 2009 // 2 Comments »

    Posted in changes, Home Buying, home life, marriage

    In an older home, I expect there to be bugs. I’m not talking about a complete infestation but I try to remember that over time, things settle and cracks form and bugs find their way in. But that’s okay because for the most part they don’t harm anyone and it is good motivation to keep a clean home because it will keep the bugs away for the most part.

    They won’t stay if they cannot find food.

    Since we bought a home built over 90 years ago, I thought I’d be well prepared for what was to come. Every time Brian ripped out a piece of baseboard to replace it, I expected to see bugs scurrying away. But there were none.

    Never saw a single insect.

    I expected to find bugs in the basement. I expect to find nasty yucky creatures behind the oil tank when it was replaced. Once again, nothing.

    I was lucky. I was happy. Despite the volume of work my home required, I did not have bugs. This was the good life and this was my dream home.

    So we moved in and on our first night in our new home I’m about to climb into bed with my dear sweet husband who provided me with this glorious house. And then I notice something on the floor and I go to pick it up and throw it out. It is dark in color and about an inch long.

    It moves. And I fight the urge to scream my head off because we have friends staying with us and I don’t want them to think I’m a dirty person who lives in a bug infested house.

    Instead I leap on top of the bed with the force and speed of an Olympic athlete, grab a hold of a very confused Brian and whisper frantically “it’s a bug, BRIAN, it’s a bug”.

    Brian calmly gets out of bed and beats the insect with his sock until it scurries out of the room and through a crack in the wall in the hallway while I do the full body shudder like a small baby with a developing nervous system.

    Then panic sets in. Because the truth of the matter is that I can expect to find bugs in my home but that doesn’t change the fact that I am terrified of bugs.

    Suddenly my mind is racing and my mouth is struggling to keep up with the words spewing forth. “It must a cockroach. It has to be a cockroach. Of course we didn’t have any little bugs, the cockroach was eating the little bugs for survival. But I learned in my food and safety class that there is never just one…”

    “I don’t think it was a cockroach” Brian attempts to interject.

    “…cockroach. There are always multiple cockroaches. Multiple. Brian, I think our walls are filled with cockroaches and now we live in squalor. Do you think your dad will let us move back in with him?”

    “I really don’t think it was a cockroach…”

    “We’re now the dirty people, Brian. We’re living in my dream house and it’s filled with cockroaches and bugs and WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO? We don’t have money for an exterminator! We just bought a house! What were we thinking?!?!”

    “I’ll lay some traps tomorrow. I don’t think it was a cockroach. It’s going to be fine.”

    “I don’t think you understand the gravity of the situation.”

    “I’m going to bed now.”

    Moral of the story: Don’t have house guests the first night you sleep in your new place. You can’t scream your head off like the lunatic you actually are when a giant insect tries to escape your insanity.

    Tires are like underwear

    April 28, 2009 // No Comments »

    Posted in home life, money, priorities

    I’m trying to trick myself into thinking that new tires are just as exciting as a new purse.

    I’m pretty sure it isn’t working.

    There are all of these ways that I love being an adult. I love being married. I love owning a home. I love transforming my home into something special for Brian and I. I love that all of my friends have made adorable babies and I get to hand the babies back to their parents when they start crying.

    But then there are these adult things that I must do that suck. Like paying my student loans on time each month. Or taking out the trash when it’s raining and I’m trying to get to work. Or spending the money I saved for indulgence at the MAC counter on new tires for the car.

    So now I catch myself trying to rationalize the tires and make myself happy I spent the money that way.

    Without new tires on the Civic, the car would not pass inspection. Without a passing inspection, I would not be able to drive the car legally on May 1st. Without a car to drive, I would not be able to accomplish my twenty mile commute to work without two trains and a short bus. Without work, I would have no where to show off my fabulous MAC indulgences and no income to buy more.

    Tires should make me happy.

    I told my mother this as I drove to work yesterday. Even though I knew it sounded slightly insane. Even though I knew there was a 90% chance, she would gasp, have a heart attack and her last words would be “save your money”.

    Instead she paused and said “Well, tires are like underwear. No one sees it but you better have it on”.

    I probably wouldn’t have spent the money at the MAC counter anyway. There would have been some other “underwear” purchase I would have made. Or I would have used the money to help someone else. I just like the possibilities aspect of having that money in my bank account.

    Would I have purchased something to surprise my husband with? Would we have used the money for paint for the house? How many books could I buy with that much cash? Could it have bought a plane ticket for a vacation? Maybe it could buy some diapers and formula for a low income family?

    In the midst of mature, responsible adult decisions, I find my imagination takes over. Like a little kid getting allowance, I imagine all of the glorious things those dollars could be doing and how much happiness it could buy me.

    I wonder if the imagination is how we make the adult decisions easier to do. Instead of thinking you just lost all of your money for the month on rent or a mortgage, you think about the friends you’ll have over to your place that month. Instead of getting frustrated when it is time to pay for a tank of oil, you think about how good a hot shower feels at the end of the day. Instead of complaining about the cost of new tires, you think about all of the places those tires will take you.

    I made Brian admire my tires. The gratitude was good for both of us.

    Honey do? Honey Don’t.

    February 16, 2009 // No Comments »

    Posted in challenges, home life, husband, money

    In my head, I know “Honey Do” lists are one of the worst things ever.

    Partially because no one tells you to create “Honey Do” lists when they give you unsolicited marriage advice during an engagement and early days of marriage. People told me to not let myself go or to never go to bed angry or always tell each other our story of us. No one ever said “create a laundry list of tasks you’d like your spouse to complete and pass it along whenever possible”.

    The other reason I know that my “Honey Do” lists are horrible is because whenever I attempt to give one to Brian the response is usually something along the lines of “I refuse to submit to your unreasonable list of demands”. And while I did not think my lists were unreasonable, I have to respect Brian’s desire to not receive those lists.

    Lately, I’ve been sending him renovation lists which are remarkably similar to Honey Do’s but usually include items such as “build and install custom kitchen cabinets”, “obtain 4 quotes from heating and oil specialists” or “remove wall that is visually displeasing to my eyes”. Since he is a contractor, none of these requests are particularly unreasonable but would probably be entertaining to outsiders if the list fell out of his pocket.

    But with work slowing down (okay, screeching to a bitter and painful stop) in the construction industry, I’ve started sending Honey Do lists to him again. Because on the days he is a stay at home husband, I can’t come home and do everything. That’s not to say that he doesn’t do things around the house to begin with but it just really sucks to come home and have to cook dinner when someone else was home from work for the day.

    The recession is redefining our gender roles within our marriage. Which is entertaining because we previously believed that our gender roles were much more fluid than they actually were. And that was a surprise.

    We also didn’t expect that I would be the primary source of income. Or rather the steady source of income. When work is available, my husband makes considerably more money than I do. I’ve got to admit, it was a terrible blow to my ego when we first were married and I was very angry about. Now the roles have been reversed and I still don’t like it.

    So I cope by making lists. Lists about laundry and lists about cleaning and lists about how someone other than me should be spending his time. I hope that wall is out when I get home.

    Christmas on Spring Street

    December 24, 2008 // No Comments »

    Posted in church, faith, family life, home life

    We didn’t set up a Christmas tree this year. I thought about setting up one on Black Friday so I could avoid shopping but instead I stayed in bed with a good book. Sure, the living room is a bit bare now but with all that is going on in our lives at the moment, I’m grateful that I don’t need to find time to take down a tree next week.

    We didn’t hang lights from the front of the house either. I don’t really have an interest in going outside in the cold to hang lights from the house. I’d rather be warm. My husband works hard everyday and when he gets a day off, he’d rather be renovating the inside of our home than putting transition objects on the outside of it. I don’t blame him.

    We didn’t really buy gifts this year either. I picked up a few things for Brian – things he needed for work and a trinket he would value for years to come. We really don’t need more things to fill our space. And I’d rather save the money for new furniture for our new house.

    As far as festive holiday cheer, we’ve baked a lot of cookies while listening to Christmas music (Brian is very, very close to perfecting his peanut butter cookie recipe and each batch turns out better than the last). I’ve folded hundreds of paper stars and given them as gifts when the moment arises. My grandfather taught me how to make stars when I was a little girl and watching my fingers fly through strips of parchment is a reminder of who I am and what I am made from.

    So far, it has been a very low key Christmas. And I enjoy it far more than I ever thought I would.

    We’ve tried to have low key Christmases in the past but it has always fallen through. Inevitably, someone would get very upset about the lack of presents and we would cave. (One year, we tried to have a book Christmas where we announced that the only gifts we wanted to give or receive would be books but then no one bought us books and we ended up with even more stuff.)

    This year we have a recession to help us out.

    Maybe the recession is good for our souls, reminding us that we really don’t need all of the stuff that we think we need, want and desire. I might love the jewelry that my husband gives me but I really don’t need it to be happy. I find that I’m usually happiest on the days we are curled up together with a pot of tea and a good book in hand. My laptop might be nice to have but my laptop isn’t going to offer to rub my feet when I’ve been in heals all day and I’m getting cranky.

    And none of the stuff would make me happy if I didn’t have a husband to share it.

    Sure there is a part of me that still gets excited at the idea of Santa Claus coming. When the local fire department drives around with Santa on the back of the truck, I can’t help myself from running to the front of the house and yelling “Merry Christmas” at the volunteers. But really, it is the community that comes together to create that experience for the neighborhood that gets me excited. And in the context, Santa has very little to do with the experience.

    I don’t think we’re really Pro-Christmas in the Morgan household, but we certainly aren’t Anti-Christmas either. We’re in this weird middle ground because it isn’t about the presents and the hoopla and the chaos and the madness. And then I realize that Christmas is really just the most visible reflection of our family’s priorities compacted into one emotionally charged day.