I knew time had been flying by, but I had no idea it was flying quite so fast. It really doesn't seem like a month since my last post, but I just realized the date stamp on it is May 11th, so...that sounds like a month to me.
I've updated our House Progress page to have a longer slideshow; in a nutshell, we now have a complete basement and the first floor deck is in place, meaning we no longer have a big hole directly out of our kitchen doorwall. Our garage is full of lumber for the framing of the house and Benjamin, Isaac, and Aaron spent a while today lining things up so the full crew can come in and do probably a very large chunk of the rough carpentry tomorrow.
Today also marks the first day the newest Joseph was present on the job - or rather, the first day he was present outside of Leah. John Benjamin Joseph spent the afternoon here mostly snoozing and eating, but given his heritage I suspect it's not going to be too long before he's out there working as hard as his daddy, uncles and grandfather. Abigail currently looks huge next to him, but he's catching up fast and he was born with his hands and feet already bigger than hers - he's going to be a big boy, but right now he's long and lanky and Abigail looks bigger because she's so much heavier.
It's been pretty busy around here, between construction and keeping up our normal things. Abigail began "talking" this week and has a lot to say - she rides around much of the day in her baby carrier with me and loudly comments on everything from washing dishes to watching the work go on outside. She really likes all the activity and continues to be busy and want to move all the time, which has prompted Mom Turner to state that Abigail has a personality that's a combination of me, Mom Turner, and Dad Tuckfield. She followed the comment by saying our next baby needs to have a personality that's a combination of Ben, Mom Tuckfield, and Dad Turner - in other words, a quiet peaceable laid-back sort of person instead of a busy-busy-go-getter.
I have more to say, but wanted to put a post up before any more time slipped by and putting slideshow pictures in turned out to be pretty time-consuming. After a month with Internet not behaving much at all, I'm happy we seem to've mostly solved the problem and that'll make the whole process of posting pictures much faster and easier; but it still took my all my spare time today to get those up. Enjoy and hopefully it'll be much quicker than a month before I put more up!
For those who don't already know, we are thrilled to announce that we officially broke ground on our new house this week! (I've uploaded a new slideshow under "House Progress")
Yes, it really is an addition rather than a completely new building, but to us it's going to mean a very different house than we have right now. We'll go from about 960 square feet to around 1,830 square feet and we are being given the spectacular gift of a complete basement underneath the new part of the house. To double our space again, all we have to do is finish the basement. Our new house will be HUGE compared to the old one!
Originally, we were going to build on a crawlspace since a basement didn't fit in the budget; but we have wonderful friends who decided we ought to have a basement and therefore they're building one and doing some amazing things to make it work, such as advertising free fill dirt on Craigslist and then patiently hauling truckloads of dirt out to different locations to dump it. One of the bigger expenses in building a basement is hauling away all the dirt that came out of the hole. Everyone is also spending time searching Craigslist for other material supplies that we would normally just purchase new, but every little bit we purchase as odds and ends from other jobs is money we save off the total cost, giving us the ability to do a lot more than we would've otherwise. Ben is thrilled and intrigued with this - he's always really enjoyed bargain-hunting, but this is going to a whole new level we hadn't ever thought of.
He's also thrilled because he's gotten to use the mini excavator. When we did all the work on our house the first time, things were going so fast and we were trying to prepare for our wedding at the same time, so he didn't get a chance to help with a lot of the projects. He also felt like he would get in the way since he was always having to learn how to do whatever was being done. He's said for a year he wants things to be different with the addition: he really wants to be able to learn more and be able to help with the building - and one side benefit of having friends willing to build our house is that they're also ready to teach how to build our house.
We began digging the basement on Wednesday afternoon, though the work really got going in earnest on Thursday. One of the things about working with friends this way is that there can be a long period of waiting followed by a fantastic amount of activity in a short period of time. To anyone watching it probably looks like nothing is ever going to happen; but a good thing to remember is that we pretty much took the house apart and put it back together as a wheelchair-friendly place in two weeks - from the 14th of November to the 28th, the kitchen floor was stripped and raised, the wall between kitchen and living room was removed, a new bathroom was totally installed (including the new drain lines and the construction of a shower), extensive drywall repair was finished, the whole house was cleaned and painted, the stairway and doorways were raised in the kitchen where the floor had been raised, the electrical system was revamped and a bunch of new fixtures were added, all new interior doors were installed, and we moved Ben and I in. That is a LOT of work in two weeks. I tend to think the addition will be the same way. Kim asked us in April if we thought we'd be almost done when she came back in August and I honestly think there's an excellent likelihood of it.
In other news, Abigail learned how to roll over both ways this week. She also did something I've never seen done before: she's learned how to flip over while in her bouncy chair. She rolls herself around so her face is in the chair and her little bottom is stuck up in the air...and then she cries because she can't figure out what to do next. Actually, in order to roll over she yells the whole time. It's not crying exactly, just like she's yelling. And then she gets over onto her stomach and lifts her head up to look around in a sort of bewildered way - "Okay, I did it. Now what?"
She finds all the activity surrounding the addition pretty fascinating and will sit quietly for an amazingly long time watching the big machines out the doorwall as the excavation continues. Grandma is convinced all the loud machines scare her, but she doesn't look scared at all to me, just intrigued. She was even laughing hysterically (for her) when Benjamin was pounding up the concrete from the old sunroom. She's laughed more this week than I've ever heard. Her aunts have all been around a lot this week too, so she's been getting used to them hauling her around. When it's just me and I get tired, I put her down; but with all the girls around, when one person gets tired, they pass her on to the next set of hands. Now she thinks she really ought to be carried everywhere so she can see what's going on rather than being stuck in one place. She thought that anyway, but now it's even more pronounced.
Obviously, this has been quite a month. I didn't realize I'd left things this long! I have a new slideshow up on the Abigail tab.
After another relapse on Abigail's part, we are finally well aside from some various allergy-related problems now that we have some beautiful warm weather. We did end up going to a doctor for Abby's ears after she was up crying in pain all night and it turns out we most likely had RSV, which explains why we got so sick. When my brother Jonathan got RSV at Abigail's age, he was in the hospital for three weeks. Abigail didn't even get an ear infection; although Ben did and had his eardrum rupture - he's just now able to hear mostly out of that ear again. Yikes.
I've pretty much been waiting three months to reach the three-month mark, because it's usually at this point that many things get a lot easier. Babies and parents both learn a lot in that time. Babies usually have their digestive systems develop a lot better by three months and learn to sleep through the night, among other things. I'm happy to report that Abigail's now sleeping for about seven hours at a stretch at night, then eats and goes back to sleep for another three hours or so. Ten hours is a really nice night, folks. Plus, at three months Abby is starting to find things interesting besides just being walked around, so she can be entertained for ten or fifteen minutes trying to reach for the toy hanging on her carseat, for instance. And she laughed at peek-a-boo for the first time this morning. Which is good. What do you do with a little person who doesn't get the concept of a game yet?
Unfortunately, she hasn't grown out of her digestive issues completely yet. She can now handle me having some peanuts, but any dairy at all - and because it's the casein in the dairy, it means even sodium caseinate that's an additive in a lot of food - causes three days of crying and her little stomach gurgling uncomfortably every time she eats. It makes me nervous to eat away from home where I can't read labels because I always wonder what I'm accidentally going to eat without knowing it and have Abigail pay the price for days. Since I'm not dairy-intolerant myself, I don't get any stomachache or other warning. It's a little taste of what it would be like to have a serious allergy myself; and I'm glad I don't actually have it, so I won't have to be so very careful the rest of my life.
Thankfully almond milk turns out to be quite good, actually, and it makes a great substitute in baking so I can still make some good stuff like muffins and my favorite raisin bread. Also thankfully, I'm not doing a gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free, corn-free, peanut-free diet. If you have a kid with really severe allergies, that's what you'd get; and I think that pretty much means celery sticks and plain chicken for a long time. Good for the waistline...but boy, it'd get boring!
In other news, lots of work has gone on behind the scenes to prepare for our addition. We have an amended building permit now posted in the window and we're pretty firmly expecting to start excavating Tuesday - though this could always be changed, having a date to start is new and exciting. Ben and I have been working around the yard the past couple of days, cleaning things and getting stuff out of the way and moving the little peach tree a little further back so it's in a more convenient location...and also a little more out of harm's way when the big machinery comes through.
We had a little surprise pop up in the middle of our yard - the round circle garden that was so totally full of weeds last year that we pulled everything out sprouted a whole crop of tulips this spring. Apparently, they must've been choked by the weeds but sprang right up once they were exposed to sun and water. It's been a serendipitous occurrence; and it's entertained Grandma Lila for weeks as she sits at the breakfast table and looks out at their progress. I'm probably going to go cut all the flowers tomorrow so they don't get crushed; they're completely in the middle of everything and there's certainly no point making machines drive all over the yard to avoid a few flowers. But I'd like them to finish blooming on our kitchen table if they can't stay in the yard.
Ben and I have been attempting to put some order back into life so we can get things done. Abigail definitely slows us up, but we've been gradually taking care of things one at a time and venturing out of the house on little outings. We went to the library a few weeks ago and came home with a DVD collection of Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe. We watched one episode every evening after Abigail was in bed for the night (usually around 10:00) and got kind of hooked. It's not that all the jobs are really that dirty, but the show focuses on all the small tasks that people make their living at in order to keep what we know as "civilized society" functioning. One of the amazing byproducts of watching this show is that we're starting to look at our surroundings and say, "huh...I wonder who maintains all those lights on the side of the freeway and what it takes to do that job" or "I wonder what it's like carting produce around to all the grocery stores and making sure it stays fresh and getting rid of rotten stuff". There are literally thousands of seemingly small jobs that people spend their lifetime doing that we never notice because it all goes into maintaining the infrastructure we've built up and are familiar with.
I will caution that it's definitely not a show for the little guys. There are some fairly graphic bits involving breeding farm animals (yep, that's definitely a dirty job) and an awful lot of tasks involving what Mike always calls "poo". And I have to say, if I didn't already not eat pork, I'm not sure I could now.
All in all, this month has gone by really fast and I'm starting to see some light at the end of the adjust-to-the-new-baby tunnel. There may even begin to be time to sit and write more often again soon.
Then again...there's always construction!
Abigail is taking a nap. That means that I have a few minutes to actually write something - I've had a lot of minutes sitting and doing not much of anything while she's nursing, but I've discovered that I haven't yet mastered the art of typing and nursing at the same time - she keeps trying to swallow and breathe at the same time, which then means she begins turning an alarming shade of purple and I have to quickly sit her up and remind her that even though she hasn't been doing it all that long, breathing really has it's good points. This makes it difficult to balance a laptop on my lap and type at the same time.
I expect this will get better. Most people I know can get through dinner without choking every few minutes and needing a vigorous back-pounding to start breathing again. Can you imagine what a big gathering would be like if we didn't all learn how to swallow and breathe at different times? It would sound like an orchestra's percussion section.
For the past few weeks, every time Abby slept I spent time trying to get basic normal things done around here until she woke up and I needed to do the whole eat, change, walk a little, go back to sleep rounds again. I was pretty slow for the first few weeks and am really just now feeling like I can move at normal speed, though I must still be recovering because I'm usually completely wiped out and ready to go to bed at 9:00, a time when I'm normally still going strong. My brain knew that recovery after a new baby is usually about six weeks and it really takes more like three months for everything to have settled into a new routine, but knowing something in your head is a whole lot different than living it!
Things have been pretty busy around here even if Abigail weren't adding a new layer to the usual routine. Kim and Emma were in town for a bit and we celebrated Grandma's 90th birthday as well as having a "Meet the Baby" shower with the Turner side of the family. These were events that I could normally handle in my sleep, especially since Mom and Dad and Kim and Jenny did most of the work; but I think I found out a little what it must be like to be Grandma during those days because even just having people over was oddly tiring. I always wondered why older people seem so tired just from people visiting, but I guess in a weaker-than-average state, even just visiting really is tiring. I've been saying all along that when our wonderful work crew is available to start the addition, I'd really like to see it started no matter what was going on with the baby; but after last week's festivities I'm very grateful to our friends who said, "You do not want us working on the addition right after the baby's born. That's crazy. We'll aim for March instead."
Abigail herself has been as little trouble as a newborn can be. She sleeps pretty well most nights, takes good naps during the day, has taken to nursing like a champ (except for the breathe-and-swallow thing...), has not shown up with any unusual rashes, digestive issues, or any other potential concerns, and even spends a little while awake without fussing most days, which is pretty much perfect in my book. Of course, I'd like to see her awake without fussing ALL the time, but when you consider that babies as little as she is tend to wake up only when they need something, I figure a little time awake without crying is a good sign. I think she's also begun smiling the past two days, but she'll only do it when she's exactly in the right frame of mind and then only once each time: but she was wide awake and staring at me peacefully when she did it, so it wasn't one of those fleeting sleep-grins that newborns so often exhibit. She'll be four weeks old on Monday, so maybe next week we'll start seeing some more reliable smiles. I'm looking forward to that!
Ben has gotten comfortable holding and handling her and has been learning all about brand-new babies since he doesn't really remember Kim and Jenny at this age very well. She tends to be very awake in the morning and he likes to balance her on his chest and laugh as she holds her head up and stares around. He says she's adorable when she wrinkles her forehead up; the funny thing is that he's spent two years trying to get me to stop wrinkling my forehead when I'm thinking of something, which you would think would be a lost cause since I'm told I was born with that expression on my face. Just goes to show you what is adorable in a baby might not be as adorable as an adult - same goes for little pudgy fat rolls, no teeth, and hair that sticks up in all directions.
Grandma is doing well, though she gets concerned when Abigail cries and follows me around to see if I'm going to get her to stop and enquires anxiously if she should hold the baby instead. I'm not completely sure how to answer her because I do definitely want her to be able to spend a lot of time holding Abigail, but she gets very distressed whenever Abby cries and thinks someone must be doing something wrong and Abby is either in pain or very unhappy. There's also the factor that if Abby is crying for her mother, she will probably cry harder if her mother gives her away...and she's usually crying because she wants her mother to feed or change her. Even when her mother is in the middle of making dinner. As a side note, I have to say that the gift of a Baby Bjorn that we received last week has been a huge help because Abigail is much more content when she's getting dragged along with whatever I'm doing than when she's sitting in her bouncy chair watching.
Thankfully, Abigail doesn't disturb Grandma at all when she cries during the night because her cry is so soft and high that Grandma can't hear it with her hearing aids out. This is a definite relief for all of us and takes away a concern I had before Abigail's birth: that Grandma would be kept awake by the baby crying.
We've begun working on all the paperwork requirements that come with adding someone to our family. We have an appointment on Monday to get Abby checked over by a doctor so we can certify that she does indeed exist - in order to get her a social security number, we have to have two pieces of identification saying she exists and she really is our baby. One is a birth certificate, but the other is a little more difficult to come up with. It reminds me a lot of trying to get a driver's license when you're homeschooled. The system is just not set up to deal with anyone who strays a little outside the accepted norm; but I suppose that's how systems are!
Even with the resurgence in home births across the United States, everything is still geared toward hospital births and hospitals have a routine set of paperwork the government agencies are all comfortable and familiar with. The receptionist at the doctor's office scolded me a little by saying, "Well, we usually do newborn checkups two days after they come home from the hospital." Hm. Well, Eileen and Heather did the two day, one week, and two week checkups, so it didn't seem particularly important for us to take our brand-new baby out to a doctor's office in the middle of cold and flu season; and the only reason we're going now is because Abby's almost a month old and it's going to start getting trickier to get all our paperwork done if we let her get much older.
We've actually not taken Abby very many places at all: she's been to a funeral, the grocery store, and to my family's house. I'm starting to feel a little homebound, a feeling I don't think I've had too many times in my life. It's not that I have such a busy social calender, but I don't recall very many times in my life where I actually didn't leave the house for a week on end - we went to my family's house for my sisters' birthdays last Friday, so I've just been outside one time since. We aren't even going for walks. I'm beginning to look forward to warmer weather!
Ben has been going into the office again, but his wonderful schedule is that he leaves here sometime around 1 or 1:30 in the afternoon and comes home around 6:30. Tough to beat that.
I still am not totally used to the idea that we have a daughter. There's this strange sense that I've been "one of the kids" my whole life, and the concept that Ben and I are "Dad and Mom" the same way my parents were "Dad and Mom" is a little odd to adjust to. To me my parents have been parents for as long as I can remember, but I haven't been. Ben keeps looking at Abigail and saying, "Can you believe we have a daughter? I mean, she's part of you and part of me, but she's all ours and not anyone else's." It's completely normal until we stop to think about it...and then it's weird. Ben's other question is, "Was this what you imagined having your own baby to be like?"
Well, yes and no. As I said before, your head can know things, but it still feels a lot different when you're actually in a situation than when you weren't, no matter how much preparation you've had. Nursing, for example. I had really, really excellent training to nurse Abigail. Every time Mom had a new baby, she'd tell me the whole routine she used to get a newborn started (it takes a little time just to teach a baby to eat, oddly enough) and I spent way more hours than I can count sitting next to Mom while she nursed the babies. I knew what everything should look like, knew all the little noises babies make that are normal, knew the whole routine like the back of my hand. My mom was having other babies and teaching me about them from the time I was 2 until I was 22, and I wasn't even gone to school during the day. That was an incredible level of preparation that I'm only just beginning to grasp the true value of now.
But it was still new and different and unfamiliar to be the one on the spot, so to speak: the one who was responsible to teach this newborn how to nurse, the one who had to spend most of her time sitting and nursing because that's what you do with a new baby, the one who was responsible not to eat dairy because that usually makes the babies colicky (I can't tell for absolute certainty if Abby is lactose intolerant, but she does definitely show some tendencies and considering Ben and I were both probably lactose intolerant at her age...I've pretty much cut dairy out of my diet to give us all peace and calm!). The one in charge of poopy diapers and who gets the baby handed back when she's fussy. It's definitely different. Is it what I expected? Yes...with my head. But it's a bit disorienting yet.
Still...Abby is one month old, come Monday. It really does seem to take three months for things to all fall in place and be normal again - the new normal. So while we're not there yet, we're a third of the way through. If the next two months go as fast as this one did, it'll be no time at all before the last remaining vestiges of weirdness fade away and being Dad and Mom won't seem so odd and I'll know when I can and can't spend time writing blog posts and...we'll probably be in the middle of starting an addition and that'll be a whole new experience to learn!
I have to report that our window of opportunity to begin really building the addition was closed due to some unforeseen circumstances and we'll be waiting a bit longer to start the excavating, which is what I was originally hoping to blog about.
The good thing about delays is that they usually result in equally unforeseen advantages in the long run, and given the perfect timing that has characterized our life since we first met, we're reminding each other that the addition is running on the same timing everything else has. I remember a little over a year ago when we weren't sure when we were actually going to get keys to our house. We were trying to figure out why there was delay after delay then and in the end, the timing worked out so beautifully that the house was able to be prepared for Grandma to live here in the two weeks before our wedding...so not only did we have a house, but we were able to get Grandma home right away when we'd been thinking there was going to be a several-month-longer delay.
That said, there have definitely been some changes around here. Ben and I have gotten motivated to work on all the little projects that have been hanging around needing to be finished, probably because we have the feeling that if we can't work on the addition, we should at least work on what we can. I've put up pictures that have been sitting around for quite a while and we've been doing things like cleaning and organizing the basement (Ben organized the pantry and it's way more usable than it used to be!). Generally, just focusing on what we can to take care of our house as it is rather than how it's going to be.
Which brings us to the kitchen faucet.
About a month ago, our faucet started leaking in a really strange way I'd never seen before: straight out the side of the faucet stem about midway between the handle and the spout. It was just a little pinhole at first and the spray of water was so fine you could only feel it, not see it. I said, "Well, we were going to get a new one in a few months anyway - I guess we'll just have to work around the leak."
Then it began leaking out the other side and both leaks got considerably stronger in no time at all. After about two weeks I had to keep a washcloth over the stem of the faucet or else everything on the counter on both sides of the sink would get soaked if we turned the water on.
Then it started getting just plain ridiculous. It wasn't a leak anymore: it was more like an imitation of Old Faithful. If we weren't careful, the water pressure would throw the washcloth off and then everything around the sink (including the unwary user) would get a surprise shower. Ben said, "There's no way that's making it a couple more months. We need a faucet."
So on Black Friday, he perused websites looking at faucets, reading reviews, and asking me questions about what styles would work best in the new kitchen. My contribution to the process was to point out one style I really didn't like and say I thought the finish should be brushed nickle since that's what we were using in all the other fixtures. Ben found a faucet that got excellent reviews and was a good style, used the right sink holes, and was being sold at a decently reduced price. I didn't realize it at the time, but one of the reasons he ordered that particular one was that it had good marks for being easy to install.
After the new faucet arrived, Ben announced, "I'm going to install this."
"Sounds wonderful!" I said. "I have only one suggestion."
"Wear old clothes. It seems like plumbing always involves yucky water at some point."
So on Sunday afternoon, Ben changed into old clothes, excavated all the stuff stored under the sink, and began removing the old faucet. He kept me busy hunting for things ("Didn't we have a channel locks around here somewhere?"), but I didn't mind because it seemed like the least I could do considering he was the one lying on his back under the sink. My favorite moment - and one that partly illustrates why I decided to marry him - was when his voice emerged from under the sink excitedly saying, "Oh, look at this - I'm getting yucky water all over me just like a real plumber!"
That's Ben. It's one of the many reasons he's a wonderful man. Not to mention one of the reasons he's very easy to live with.
He would've had the faucet all installed by 7:30 that evening, except the connector hoses that came with the sink were about six inches too short and Lowes and Home Depot close early on Sundays. He even went on a determined expedition to Walmart and Meijer looking for adapters, but ultimately had to wait until Monday evening to finish up the project.
So we have a new faucet and Ben has a new skill. He's been picking up all kinds of new stuff this year and I expect he's going to pick up even more next year (there's always the important, "Being a Father" if nothing else!). I love his willingness to take on something new he's never tried before and the way he doesn't get frustrated when he has to take the faucet off and put it back on three or four times and the way he gets excited over things other people think are problems. I've been thinking over the ways I've learned more about Ben since we were married a year ago, and this is one of them. I've had the chance to get a much deeper look at the kind of courage he has, the way he will joyously tackle things other people (including me) see as obstacles, the way he doesn't let himself get upset at things. The man I got to know a year ago hasn't become any less admirable in the past year as I've gotten to know him much better. He's only grown in stature. He's getting better with every day that goes by.
By the way, I really enjoy the new faucet. It's perfect. And I don't have to wear a raincoat to turn it on.
...before writing a proper post on this eventful week.
We've begun the addition by tearing down the sunporch and tentatively expect to get footings in sometime this week, if all goes well. We've put a new slideshow on our "House Progress" page (or you can just click here) with a little description of last Sunday's activities.
And we got our first snowfall today. Kind of ironic that last week we had doors open all day because it was warm enough for that sort of thing and today it's snowing. Good thing the ground's still warm enough for foundation work!
It seems like we have a lot of things to prepare this week. It's occurred to me that at seven months pregnant, it's probably time to start gathering a few baby things - we have coupons for a few things that we can get just for shipping fees that we planned to order over the next few months and I ordered the first of them this week. And it's looking like the addition will be getting underway any day (though I know it probably looks like nothing whatsoever is going on), so this evening Ben and I are going to clear out the sunroom in preparation for tearing it down. I'm going to miss that little room, but I keep reminding myself that a new family room will be so much more pleasant and useful!
While we've been preparing little things like this, we've also been watching things happening in the outside world and wondering...how does a person really prepare for bad things to come?
A lot of people believe that we're looking at the beginnings of complete economic collapse in our country and are preparing for scenarios like no one being able to get food or water for months or years. It's pretty amazing what is advised to stockpile: everything from ibuprofen to ammunition. It's a lot like Y2K, from my perspective. We really don't know what's going to happen, so we try to think of everything that might and prepare for it.
I've had a thought that's gradually become more cohesive this time around than it was back in 1999: what is it in the Human psyche that reacts to danger by wanting to horde things? And how much will it really protect us?
I think one answer is we always want to know what's coming next and when we don't, we often place an incredible amount of emphasis on one of two things: totally ignoring the possible threat...or trying to heavily prepare for whatever we can imagine happening. And we have very vivid imaginations. The Unknown scares us enough that we try to cover all the bases we can think of, even ones that are wildly improbable, because then we feel safe. Unfortunately, when real bad things happen I don't think even our vivid imaginations cover all the results.
For instance, I know of one woman married to a man from Russia who recently mentioned what his parents did to prepare for the bad times they foresaw coming under Communist leadership. They actually did lay by supplies and try to get ready for what was coming...and the first thing the new government did was raid houses, uncover secret storehouses, and take everything.
Not sure how you can prepare for that one.
Now granted, keeping supplies on hand to deal with problems like grocery stores not being stocked for a few weeks due to storms or earthquakes or other problems like that is a sensible thing to do. But how exactly do you prepare for the collapse of your economy? How to you get ready for the end of the world? What about girding yourself to face World War III?
I think perhaps what we need to prepare isn't so much the pantry as our minds. Because the truth is, if we find our security in stockpiling enough stuff, it's going to let us down. There really is no way to physically lay by supplies for every eventuality. So ultimately, surviving any cataclysmic event can't come down to "Did I prepare enough stuff?" The answer will always be "no." If you bought a thousand dollars worth of dried rations, you probably should've bought two thousand or five thousand. If all you did was look at the future fearfully and say, "I have to DO SOMETHING!!" you will never be able to prepare enough.
But your mind drives all that you do and every response that you make to every eventually. It really does cover everything. Focusing on physical survival is one thing: preparing your mind to take anything that comes your way is another. In my opinion, the greatest thing any of us can do to prepare for anything at all is to learn to use our minds and see clearly. Because the biggest danger of all seems to be inside us. When things don't go our way, we panic, act irrationally, forget that God made us and God is in charge. When really bad things happen, we despair, lose hope, and sometimes even do crazy things like riot and kill people. When we let our minds get corrupted by things like fear, we no longer have the wisdom or the foresight to make wise preparations for even commonplace problems, let alone big ones.
We had a conversation last week about how the term "repentance" really means "to change your mind". You can't truly and usefully repent of anything until your mind has been changed and you see clearly. I think the exact same thing applies to preparing. Preparing for anything, really, even a new addition and a new baby. Ben and I have been preparing for the birth of this child for months by getting our minds ready for what's going to happen and how we're going to respond. We don't have a bassinet or diapers or baby clothes, but we've spent a lot of time saying things like, "That's how we want our baby's spirit to look - just like that!"
We don't have rifles and ammunition laid by, but we do keep preparing for whatever could happen by constantly noting and examining how God proves he's in charge. Not because we need the proof, but because that's our version of stocking the pantry so we feel safe. Considering the first urge we often have is to DO SOMETHING, this sounds like not doing very much: but it's absolutely essential. It's the foundation for being able to handle whatever comes our way. The only way for us to make wise preparations for our future, no matter what it happens to be, is to keep our minds from being filled up with junk that will prevent us from seeing what's really happening and making decisions based on that. If we put extra things in our pantry, we want to do so because we've reasonably and thoughtfully decided to, not because we're terrified we won't survive if we don't. Fear is one of the biggest corrupters of the mind out there and it's pretty easy to let it in when we hear things like "fiscal cliff" and "war" and "major tax increases". But fear has a tough time getting a foothold if you've already prepared your mind to accept that even when fearful things occur, you don't have reason to fear because you are ultimately not in charge of what's going to happen and there is someone who is, someone who is trustworthy and good and who doesn't forget even about little things like making sure we have a house next door to Mom and Dad so we can take care of Grandma Lila. Or giving Ben a job that allows us to make money to cover what we need and still give him an incredible amount of time to spend with Grandma and me. That someone is not going to suddenly forget about us just because the stock market crashes or we go to war with Iran. We keep reminding ourselves of those kinds of things and then we're at peace.
And that kind of preparation really does cover whatever happens.
Ben and I have had an interesting week. So far, it's included two plane trips, walking about 25 miles, watching sunrise over the Atlantic at a beach, tasting seven or eight different olive oils (hey, for those of us who don't do wine tastings...), having another double birthday celebration (Kim and I have birthdays only four days apart), and having our baby finally tip out in front. I went from looking a little pregnant at the beginning of the week to looking VERY pregnant by the end of it. My ribs are eternally grateful - on Tuesday they were so sore they were driving me crazy, which tells me the baby had grown up just about as far as he possibly could and since he had to go somewhere, now he's growing out instead.
On the downside, now when I look in the mirror I wonder where that fat girl came from and why she's wearing my clothes. Ben said, "Maybe a little too much pasta."
We've enjoyed pretty much every minute of our trip to Florida, even when we opted out of going through the body scanner at the airport and submitted ourselves to the full pat-down instead. Turns out it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected; but whatever it was, we weren't interested in taking the baby through the scanner. We haven't even made free use of a Doppler heart monitor because we were reading about what the sound waves can do to a developing baby's cells...why bombard him with whatever super-rays are used in those big body scanners? Pat downs are much safer.
Our plane trips were a lot of fun for us - we enjoy doing everything together and plane rides were no exception. We had one little hop from Detroit to Atlanta and then another little hop from Atlanta to Jacksonville, where we walked off the plane to a beautiful Florida autumn day complete with a breeze that smelled like salt water. It hasn't been particularly hot here, but we certainly aren't going to complain at 70 - 75 degree temps and sunshine after 40 and rainy had become the norm back home. It feels pretty good.
We got some good advice on the plane ride from Atlanta to Jacksonville, too. In a bland professional voice, the flight attendant advised that "in the event that our flight should become a cruise", we should stop screaming and clutching our neighbor's leg and don the life jacket located under the seat in front of us. "If you're traveling with a child or someone acting like a child, be sure you prepare yourself before helping them," she continued. "And if you're traveling with multiple children, this would be the time to pick your favorite."
I'm guessing she's had to make that safety announcement one too many times. But at least she made it interesting.
Stephen and Kim have a beautiful home in the suburbs of Jacksonville and we've agreed they have a very nice guest room bed. We have been very relaxed about the schedule of things and have basically eaten our meals peacefully, taken a lot of very long walks, done what we could to keep Emma's naptimes and bedtimes as secure and uninterrupted as possible, and enjoyed Kim and Stephen's company a lot. Stephen was unexpectedly able to be home for the week since Hurricane Sandy closed the airport he would normally fly into during business hours to do his business - which turns out to be setting up IT for very large companies. I didn't realize I was marrying into a family of computer guys, but the definite upside to this is they are very keen on new gadgets and it's a lot of fun to see all kinds of new stuff in action. Ben has gotten hooked on another new iPad game and says there is absolutely no way we can ever get an iPad. He would be much too addicted to playing on it. And the truth is, now I've been playing the games with him so we'd both be hooked. Our bed would never get made and we'd be eating TV dinners.
As for Hurricane Sandy, as Mrs. G. always said..."It's an ill wind that blows no good." Out of all the mess and mayhem, the good in this instance was extra time with the Man of the Izzo Household. Who ran twenty miles this morning instead of the fourteen he was planning on. I just can't imagine being able to run that far - it was a major accomplishment to me when I reached ONE mile!
On Thursday, Ben and I went out to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory for my birthday, which was a present from Kim and Stephen. We sat outside since 75 felt plenty warm enough to us for eating outside and the rest of the clientele seemed to think it was too cold, so it was quiet in the outdoor dining room. Ben proposed again, which he pretty much does every time we go out to eat. As I get more pregnant, this either gets funnier or more embarrassing depending on how you look at it.
We've noticed that we make decisions very decisively as a team, too - there were about two dozen different cheesecakes on the menu for dessert and it took us about five minutes to pick one. Typically, I find three or four that I like the sounds of and Ben casts the deciding vote. In this instance, I said, "I think the Banana Cream, the Wild Blueberry, or the Coconut cheesecakes sound really good." Ben said, "Blueberry it is, then." He very rarely says, "Hm....none of them," though that does happen on occasion.
Friday we went out to dinner at Maggiano's with Kim and Stephen, which Kim was excited about because she said it was like a double date. That was fun; and we came home with so many leftovers we had enough for dinner last night too. (This is where Ben's comment about my suddenly much-expanded belly being due to too much pasta came from.)
Yesterday morning, we got up relatively early and drove out to Jax Beach to watch the sunrise, since it's not often we have the opportunity to see sunrise over the Atlantic and it's not even like we had to get up all that early to do so. The sun came over the horizon at 7:42 and it was only about a 10 - 15 minute ride to the beach. We left at 7:15 and got there in plenty of time. We'd already been out to the beach on Thursday afternoon and discovered it's pretty quiet out there this time of the year. Not to mention no one seems interested in wearing bikinis, which is a plus. The interesting thing I've noticed about Florida beaches before is that there's a huge percentage of the female population present in bikinis; and the percentage of women who could even think of looking reasonably un-ridiculous in a bikini is a lot lower than that. Modesty issues aside, sometimes I wonder if maybe people don't look closely in the mirror before heading out the door.
But coming to Jacksonville in November mitigates this particular issue. In fact, most people who were out even in the warm afternoon were wearing sweaters (not necessary to our Michigan way of thinking) and at sunrise, folks were out in their pants and jackets. We drank coffee and hot chocolate respectively and walked a ways down the beach keeping an eye out for some of the nice big waves that came in now and then. I haven't been up that early on a Saturday morning in years and it was absolutely worth it.
In the afternoon we went to visit Stephen's mom (his dad is out of town - and planning to visit the Jordan River today, to give you an indication of how far out of town he actually is) and had lunch with her. They've just finished some fairly major renovation on their house and it was fun to see all the results. I got some very good ideas for our kitchen in the process - I've been trying to figure out if we should try to get cupboards that go up to the ceiling to make the ceiling appear taller or if that would just be kind of pointless, but after looking at the Izzo's new kitchen it looks to me like having the cupboards go up like that really does give the sense of the ceiling being higher than it is. I also liked that Mrs. Izzo picked out an island that was stained/painted a color (a beautiful blue, in this instance) rather than using the same cabinets. I'm not positive we can do this easily in our kitchen, but I have considered what would happen if I over-finished the cabinets at the island to get this effect and I really like it, so even if we don't do it now it might be a project for the future some day.
Mrs. Izzo also told us some really good stories about things like the politics of becoming a general's wife (in the military, the capability of a wife to support her husband and take good care of other military wives and keep order in their home is actually one of the things that weighs into her husband's eventual promotion, something I found really intriguing because it reminds me of Paul talking to Timothy about choosing deacons to lead a church) and living in Germany at the time Stephen was born. She said she had to quit before we got bored. We were a long way from being bored.
Speaking of our addition, Mom told me today that she'd called MISDIG and our yard is now full of little colored flags. Ben and I picked up the building permit the day before we left for Florida, so it sounds like when we get home we're going to be heading straight into addition-building. I'm relieved and excited that things are underway, but I expect these next few months are going to be some very super-busy ones. Sometimes it's hard to believe that by this time next year we'll have a totally different house and a baby who's starting to talk!
I should probably wrap this up and go find out if we've figured out what to do today. We've been playing our days very much by ear, which means we probably aren't seeing all kinds of things there are to see...but that's okay with us. Getting to spend every day together is quite a special thing for us all by itself, and getting to spend the time with Kim and Stephen and Emma is icing on the cake. The warm weather just puts everything over the top! We're pretty glad we're the ones that came out in November and Grandma went out in September, though. While we think the weather's lovely, it's a little cool for swimming and I think Grandma would still think it was cold. Ben talked to her on the phone yesterday and she doesn't really believe him that it's only in the early 70s, but I can see her out here sitting on the patio in a jacket and blanket while I'm barefoot and in summer clothes.
So long for now...and in my next post, perhaps there'll be something new and exciting about house preparations to talk about. You know we're going to really get to it eventually!
I seriously have been trying to write this blog post all week. Every time I sit down to work on it, something comes up and I get derailed until it's too late in the evening for me to have enough functioning brain cells left to write anything coherent. Assuming I do anyway, of course.
It's been a busy time, between working on the house and getting our garden produce picked and taken care of. The garden isn't producing as plentifully as I'd hoped (too many plants, not enough room, I'm thinking), but it's bringing enough in that it's taking a few hours every few days to harvest everything and then take care of it. We had chicken curry last night made with our own tomatoes and peppers and Ben was really thrilled - both with the recipe and the fact a good portion of it came from the garden. He's never been around for canning tomatoes before and I sort of regret now that I did the blanching and peeling while he was away so he didn't have the fun of squishing the tomatoes.
Anyone else reading who has been similarly deprived: you have my sympathy. Tomato squishing is the best part of doing any canning all summer. I mean, just picture a great big pan of warm peeled tomatoes just waiting for you to stick your hands in and start squishing them up. Doesn't get much more fun than that.
Since we're beginning the process of getting our building permits for the addition (hooray!), we've finally began doing some of the work on the kitchen we've really wanted to do all year, like getting the transition bar installed between the wood floor in the living room and the composite floor in the kitchen and hanging the vertical blinds. Yes, we know it's all going to get torn out again shortly. In fact, installing things pretty much ensures that. If all goes well, we should begin the foundation work in the next few weeks.
I've been feeling the baby move now and then, but it seems we have a placid one on our hands: whoever this little person is, they're not in a big hurry to start thumping away on Mom. I've been praying for a baby with a laid-back sunny disposition like Ben's and now I just have to remember not to get too worried when he or she is not too worried about being on time with things like movement milestones. One of the big differences between me and Ben is that he's not concerned when he's running late for something; I always feel bound to be absolutely on time even for things that really don't matter. Which is probably why I walked at 12 months and he waited until 15.
Having said all that, as I'm sitting here typing I'm getting probably the strongest movements I've felt yet. It feels...sort of like someone popping popcorn very gently under my skin. I'm very relieved to feel that because I've been firmly resisting using the Doppler monitor to hear the heartbeat again. I've been doing some reading and it seems there are some indications that exposure to focused sound waves from ultrasound or even the Doppler monitor can be hard on the baby's developing cells. So unless there's an emergency, I really don't want to go bombarding Peanut with focused sound waves just so I can feel happy to hear a nice little heartbeat.
All of which makes a little movement a welcome event. Today, Peanut is alive and well and cheerfully kicking me in the stomach.
Hm. That doesn't sound too good, put in those terms.
Wife of Benjamin and mother to two wonderful little girls who are getting bigger every day. Enjoys writing down thoughts and discussions we are having within the family and sharing them with whoever is interested in reading.
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