Monthly Archives: April 2012

Sparrow months 8 and 9

I missed out on the 8 month update because, well, life got crazy.

The day Sparrow turned 8 months old we were in Arizona for Stephen’s cousin’s wedding and then we went to Bakersfield immediately from there for Stephen to accept his job offer and start looking for a place to live.

But we’ve made it through the other side of crazy.

He finally started sitting up on his own around the 8 month mark and I felt like his little personality started to shine through as well. Up until this point he was just this little baby. He had baby mannerisms and just seemed so infantile. During month 8 he started doing this fake cry thing when a toy would be taken from him by a sibling where he’d be on his tummy and throw his head back and let out this half hearted fuss. He also started to laugh at a lot more stuff. He was really zooming with the army crawl too.

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This last month Sparrow has made a few more milestones. He’s perfected sitting up and is no longer super wobbly. He can sign all done now. The last few days he has started to do real crawling, but still favors the army crawl for quick getaways. There have been a few times when he’s used an object like a box or my legs to pull himself up into a knee stand. He’s also decided in the last week or so that he is going to reject all puréed food and only feed himself. I’ve been having to get pretty creative there because there is still quite a bit he can’t handle yet and there have been a few coughing and near choking incidents. Sometimes he comes close to what sounds like Papa, Mama and Bubba. He’s definitely chattering away with all kinds of vocal sounds lately too. Fingers crossed his blue eyes are sticking. The other two kids had their eyes change around 8-9 months, but his are still deep blue-grey. The blue eyes come from my dad and sisters.

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The drool is out in full force right now and I am really hoping that means this last little tooth will finally be coming in. It has been brutal waiting for it to make an appearance.

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He’s also a bit of a mauler! I feel like I’m always getting bitten or slapped or pinched. And I had to get new glasses frames this month because the kid keeps ripping them off my face really fast and throwing them.

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Attack of the killer baby!

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Life in a two bedroom apartment with three kids

Once we made the decision to move back to Bakersfield, everything really started to happen very quickly. Stephen accepted his new position on a Monday. We spent the entire week looking for a place to live without much luck.

The current rental market reminds me of what the house buying market was like when we bought our condo and then house 5-7 years ago at the height of the housing bubble. When we bought our condo we put in offers well over the asking price on a couple of different properties only to be outbid. When we bought and built our house, many of the developments we looked at had waiting lists.

We drove around looking at properties we’d seen listed from several sources only to call and find out that they were not going to be available until the end of May or early June. It was completely frustrating. Then we tried several apartment complexes only to find that they had waiting lists. We went to a few showings where there were several other people looking.

We talked to a few of the property managers and they said it is because loan verification is so much more strict than it was and a lot of people are having a hard time qualifying. There are also a lot of people that have foreclosed that are being forced to rent and a lot of people just don’t have the higher down payments that are now being required. It’s caused a flood in the rental market.

We finally found a place near Stephen’s high school alma mater, his parents’ and my sister’s that was near the top of our price range and available immediately. It kind of seemed perfect in a lot of ways.

We applied and were told we were the only ones that had applied. A week later I get a call saying we’d been approved along with another applicant. Another phone call to say that the tie breaker would be if one of the applicants was willing to sign a two-year lease. We were not. Neither were they. Another phone call to say that now it was whichever applicant could get down to their office first with a holding deposit and sign lease documents.

At this point we decided we were not going to play this game. We’d already played it twice and that is how we wound up with an under water mortgage. We didn’t want to be forced into making a rash decision just because Stephen had already started his job at this point.

So we already knew from our search that an apartment complex we’d wanted to live in when we first married had a two bedroom available and that we’d be able to sign a shorter term lease. So we decided to go through with that to give us six months to decide if we wanted to find a house to rent, move back into the house we own after our current renters move out, or buy something else. It gives us breathing room in our decision making process.

But not necessarily physical breathing room.

It’s been less than a week and I’m sort of getting used to it, but here are some of the challenges.

All three kids share a room. Two of them share a full size futon.

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I have basically not stopped doing laundry since we moved in here. My washer only holds like five adult sized things and the dryer only can handle 7lbs of wet clothes. So I have to do laundry round the clock to keep on top of it.

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We wound up having to put the kids’ kitchen and a lot of other beloved toys into storage. But we still managed to have room for the dress up clothes!

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The toys we do have usually wind up dumped all over the hallway.

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I have no pantry. But I do have quite a bit more counter space. So it is the new pantry.

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Our gigantic dining table, even with all the leaves out and shoved up against the wall, extends into the kitchen.

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But overall, I am actually happy with this current situation. Our place is in a really good location of the complex and of town in general. We’re around 5 minutes away from everything and everyone. Prior to our move and before we even knew we’d be moving for sure, I was on a bit of a simplifying and purging spree so for the most part it feels like we’ve just got the basics and not a lot of extra stuff to manage and being in this apartment has me even more on the lookout of ways we can simplify our stuff even more.

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“Stop the car! I can’t find the baby Jesus!”

At Christmas our kids received the LittlePeople nativity. Bean has been kind of obsessed with babies in general and she took a major liking to “the baby Jesus” from the nativity. She carried it around with her, wanted to sleep with it, wrap it in blankets, have it in her car seat, etc.

Bean usually has some kind of bag or box or purse for carrying a random assortment of currently favorite items.

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Her current favorite carrying case is this lunch tin:

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Today I found it with baby rings, bubble wrap, the LittlePeople mechanic, and a gold elastic string she had tied in several knots.

Here are a couple of other samples from today:

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Her silk and pearls bag with Mater, baby clothes, Little People “veggie box” (that’s what she calls it)

 


Hello Kitty glitter purse with “Fransico Bernoolia” (that’s how she says it), Plan City wooden fire truck, mini baby doll.

So last night after dinner we all head over to Target for the usual random Target necessities. We’ve just left my in-law’s house and we’re about halfway there when Bean, after frantically searching her lunch tin, shouts, “Hey! Stop the car! I can’t find the baby Jesus!”

We let her know that we can’t really stop the car at that moment, but that we’re really close to Target and we can look for “the baby Jesus” when we get there. “No! Hey! Pull over! I need to find the baby Jesus!”

We do not find “the baby Jesus” when we get to Target. A meltdown ensues. But we push on and we make it through Target.

As soon as we get home Bean walks through the door and announces, “I can’t find the baby Jesus!” My mother-in-law, completely oblivious to the figurine she’s been carrying all week and not knowing what Bean is talking about quips back, “He’s in your heart!” Bean shouts back, nearly in tears, “No he’s NOT! He’s NOT in my heart! And he’s not in my tin! And he’s not in the car! We can’t find him! We have to look for him!”

I explain about the figurine and we all go on a search with no luck. Grandpa even humors her by looking for “the baby Jesus” inside the cuckoo clock.

So this afternoon at my sister’s house Bean explains her woes, “Auntie Andrea, we can’t find the baby Jesus anywhere and he’s not in my heart, he’s not in the car, he’s not at grandma and grandpa’s and he’s not in the cuckoo clock.”

Oh man, trying to explain this just keeps getting more and more complicated as the search continues. Well, would you say a prayer that we find “the baby Jesus” soon? I’m not so sure I want my three-year-old arguing that “the baby Jesus” is NOT in her heart. Haha.

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How we wound up moving back to Bakersfield

I can’t even begin to scrape the surface of all of the details of this decision and what has happened these past few months (quite frankly, much of it isn’t appropriate for this venue), but I have to say something even if it isn’t all of it. If I don’t, I fear this little blog of mine will continue to go on neglected because I feel I’m not being “real” enough.

Hindsight is 20/20 or so they say. When I look back on it now, I can sort of pinpoint when it all started and when it started is actually much, much earlier than when it all started.

I first felt it when we were to purchase our home on the East side of Bakersfield. We were not far into the decision. We’d made a few minor downpayments on upgrades and maybe a holding fee or two and something desperate cried out within me to not go through with the decision. I remember two conversations, in tears, pleading not to buy the house because I didn’t want to be “stuck in Bakersfield for the rest of our lives.”

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But why?

The following Spring, I got my answer. We drove up North to visit my sister and some friends in the Pacific Northwest. Something about that area, our friends, my sister, I don’t know… it all just clicked.

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Upon our return I began making list after list of “Top cities I want to live in,” which pretty much always included Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and, because of a handful of fun weekends with Stephen’s sister’s family and their circle of friends, Thousand Oaks. Part of me knew that even putting this list up on my blog (it was featured on the sidebar for a time) was sort of thumbing my nose up at Bakersfield and our friends/families that lived here.

Then the Winter came and Stephen was given a serious opportunity for us to leave Bakersfield and help his sister’s husband grow his company in Thousand Oaks. It seemed like kind of a dream come true.

I think it was slightly naive to think that our handful of “party weekends” over the past five years would be the norm.

As much as I wanted it to, Thousand Oaks never really fit for me. I had a really hard time making new friends outside of the small circle of people I already knew that led really busy lives.

We thought we found a church. Then thought it wasn’t “it.” Then thought it was “it” again. But we never really could get very well connected there. Our attendance was hit and miss because of having (nearly constantly sick) little kids.

I don’t think I’ve ever really mentioned this to anyone except Stephen before, but when I drove my Accord from Bakersfield to Thousand Oaks on our official moving day with Jillian in the back three years ago, I cried almost the whole way.

Sometime after getting in such a frenzy about all these other cities I wanted to live in, I learned to accept that Bakersfield was where I was. I started to learn to love it and all the quirkiness that it is. There were the obvious things that were not my favorite, but most of the people I knew felt similarly and even joked about these “negative” Bakersfield things.

A few months before we left I had started to really try to love it and think positively about it. I joined a neighborhood playdate group, I started attending a mom group, I reconnected with friends from high school that were in similar life situations as me, I joined a homeschooling social group because many of the members supposedly were “crunchy” like me.

I threw myself all in. No wonder I cried when it came time to rip myself away.

And the past three years I have watched (with admitted slight envy) as those friends get together with seemingly regularity for playdates, Bunco, book clubs, craft nights, girls nights out to watch movies, gone on dates effortlessly with friends and family available to watch little ones, etc. I’ve also watched friends I never thought would begin to think in the least like me, making changes in the way they view our food system, the environment, etc.

When the church that we mostly went to over the past three years announced their latest plant this summer, we were actually there to hear it that Sunday and the stirring and restlessness was awakened once again. I think that was when we first voiced to each other that Thousand Oaks had never really fit. We couldn’t quite describe or picture the future, but we knew Thousand Oaks wasn’t in it long term. We just knew. We discussed the possibility of us being involved in a future church plant and our futures outside of church. At the time, all of this changed seemed quite far off, but we had a glimpse of it. After that conversation we felt so close to each other and so very much on the same page of life in an almost gives you the creeps sort of way.

Starting the week after that discussion, it felt so much like our world started getting rocked. Some of it was good and some not good at all (like at least one person in our little immediate family being sick almost the whole fall and winter). I constantly felt like I was being sucked down into quicksand or out in the open during a snowball fight. It has continued to be like that.

I’ve questioned my faith. Nearly become a skeptic again on more than one occasion. I’ve questioned many of my beliefs about the way the world should work pitted against the way the world actually works.

In November, the restlessness was again at the forefront of Stephen’s attention. And it was confirmed after a reconnect with some of our oldest friends. Friends that we’ve collaborated with creatively, have spent many long hours on band road trips and crammed hotel rooms with, that kept us accountable while we were dating, talked us through a brief break up, stood with us on our wedding day, let me stay with them when Stephen was working 80 hour weeks out of town and I was too afraid to stay in our apartment by myself, friends that are easy to pick back up where we left off with no matter how much time has passed.

And so in February he left the family business. It was time to move on. Heart wrenching about sums that decision up.

Suddenly a whole world of freedom was opened to us. So many possibilities were discussed from our love of the Pacific North West and whether the timing was right for a move there to Orange County where we’d be closer to some of my family and some of our friends.

We seriously explored the OC, looked at properties, tried out stores we typically shopped at, drove the freeways, played at parks, tried to picture ourselves there. It just didn’t click for me. Everything felt so
large and busy. Being down there was overwhelming for me.

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During this period one of my friends reminded me that you can find positive things about any place you choose to live. I knew I could make the OC work if that was where we’d end up.

And then an opportunity presented itself in Bakersfield. Gut reaction was, “No way!” and “I can’t believe this is seriously even on the table!”

We mulled it over a bit. We made out a pros and cons list and were surprised at all the pros and that there really were more of them than the cons. I still wrestled with this idea. I cried about it. I bristled. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.

Here are just some of the pros:
-a shorter, less time consuming commute for Stephen (less than 15 minutes!)
-a job in tech & healthcare where he’s got most of his experience and background

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-we will get to live in a house with a backyard

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-closer to a majority of our family

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-lots of great friends that have known us for a long time
-don’t have to deal with lots of freeway traffic and “LA drivers”
-the pace of life is a little more relaxed
-lots of young families like ours
-cost of living is much more affordable
-it’s an easy, safe “home base” for us for at least the next few years
-etc.

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So, as one of our friends commented, “The gravitational pull from the black
hole that is Bakersfield sucked you back in.” Yep, it sure did. Now how does one go about getting themselves invited to one of those play dates around here?

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