Monday, December 20, 2010

A little giddy :)

I'm guest posting today for Ordinary Sarah!

When Ordinary Sarah first asked me to write a guest post for her (while they move into their new house, hooray!) and suggested that I write about my favorite place in my house, my first reaction was skepticism. Let's face it, folks, we live in a tiny, two-bdr apartment in the middle of the city-- no yard, no space, too many neighbors right up in our business, and the kids aren't allowed to draw on the sidewalks with chalk. I thought to myself "My favorite place in this "house" is NOT-IN-THIS-HOUSE!" I want out of here so badly, I dream about it sometimes.


Go on over there to read the rest!



Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mother Meditations

In the evenings, when I walk into my bedroom to get my pjs, I walk over to stand by Jamie's bedside and gaze at his sleeping face. My heart catches in my throat at the sight of his precious face; so still, so peaceful, so breathtakingly beautiful. After the events of this year, I have a newly awakened sense of the fragility of life and as I watch his sleeping face, looking half-afraid for the steady rise and fall of his chest, barely moving in the light breath of sleep, I can feel just how close to the edge we walk as parents.

To be a parent is to forever have your heart walking around outside of your body.


So true. My heart is sleeping there in that little cot by my bed. And in the bunk beds in the next room over, two more... In sleep, each one of them is a picture of perfect innocence. All the strife and struggle of the day wiped clean, my heart (the one still in my own chest) remembers how deeply I love them. Behind all the hustlebustle of the day, behind the struggle to teach and train and guide, the two of them are so deeply, deeply planted into my heart.

With Jamie, the planting is still new and fresh, the roots diving deeper in every day. This time around, I'm so much more aware of the process. I can feel every smile, every half-laugh, every sweet breath tying a thousand strings around my life. I'm all tangled up in him... in just three short months. It happens so fast and so thoroughly, this falling in love with my children. No matter how long a time I am granted with them, they have changed me forever, each in their own way.



Thursday, December 16, 2010

We'll be right back after theeeeese messages!

So in a complete change of pace from the last few posts, I want to take a minute to give a little pep talk about Swagbucks. I know some of you guys are tired of my spamming my facebook page with this stuff, but bear with me for a minute. I really don't get into a lot of the internet advertising junk (you notice that after three years of blogging, I still don't have ads on here), and I'm the LAST person in the world to knowingly sign up to receive spam. BUT. This here Swagbucks thing is a good gig. I'm telling you!

At it's most basic level, Swagbucks is a search engine that earns you points that you can then trade in for Stuff. Doesn't sound real good on the face of it, which is why I resisted my friend Cristen's spamming on facebook for so long :) (no offense, Cristen!). But what you might not realize at first glance is that one of the Stuff you can get is actual cold, hard cash. Well, VIRTUAL cold, hard cash, actually. In the form of Amazon.com gift cards and Paypal money.

Once I figured that out, I signed right up! During my first month of using SB, the points just craaaawled in so slowly, I kinda gave up on it. But then Laurie B. gave me a swift kick to get me going again by giving me some tips on how to work that search engine! And also by telling me how often she was raking in those $5 gift cards! (which I can't remember at the moment, but it was more than I was getting, anyway) And in the month or two since she got me going again I've earned SEVEN GIFT CARDS. That's almost (but not quite) FIVE DOLLARS A WEEK. Just for my internet usage.

Ok, so maybe that doesn't sound like an awful lot to some of you. But let me tell you, for a stay-at-home mom to get paid $5 a week to fool around on the internet during naptime.... Well, people, that's like paying a teenager to smoke dope!

And of course, as with paying a teenager to smoke dope, it does come with it's own set of problems. The week that they came out with Swagbucks TV, I earned three gift cards in one week by endlessly looping those stupid videos. With the sound off and the screen covered, of course, but still... it become an obsession.

So I had to get a little more disciplined about my Sb habits. I will take tomorrow's post to explain my daily SB routine! In the meantime, why not click on the link below, sign up and start on your way to $5 off your next package of diapers? Yes, Amazon sells diapers AND I can get free shipping, since I signed up for Amazon Mommy Prime-- also for FREE!!

I love that word.

FREE!




Search & Win

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Actually, it IS all about the presents.

I've been doing a little rushing around the last two weeks, buying gifts for the kids and other family members. Not too much, though, I've been doing pretty well this year about pacing myself and planning ahead and all that.

As I was rushing and enjoying thinking about each person and trying out different ideas in my head and thinking about what they like, etc, I had this guilty feeling hovering around my heart. We hear so much every year about how Christmas is not about the presents-- don't focus on the commercialism, your kids don't really need all that crap anyway. You know, right? And I began to suspect that we may have gone a bit overboard. :guilty face: We usually buy each kid one major gift and a couple of little things that are more on the "need" than "want" side of things. But this year, after we'd already bought Judah a train set, we came across a castle/knights/horses/medieval weapons set that was IRRESISTIBLE. He's obssesed with knights and castles this year and any time you ask him what he wants for Christmas, he (without fail) says "A recipe to make a castle!"

Anyway. There I was again last night, shopping and feeling slightly guilty and commercial, but still somehow enjoying it all! Bad, bad! But then, this morning in the shower (because i do a lot of my daily deep-thinking in the shower because it's the only place i can have five consecutive minutes of privacy. sometimes. on a good day) I realized, hey wait a minute. Christmas IS about the gifts! What was I thinking? The whole holiday is celebrating the most precious gift ever given-- the Son of God made Flesh! Why shouldn't we go overboard? Why shouldn't we give extravagantly, sacrificing of our resources to give joy to our family and friends? Isn't that what God did in the gift of Christ? He came that we might have Joy-- ABUNDANT joy! The kind of joy I'm anticipating from Judah when he sees this castle! Absolute mind-blowing excitement and thrill.

Granted, the joy of Christ is in a whole different league from Judah's excitement over a train set, but there's a parallel, I think. Especially for children, who haven't yet learned about the Deeper Joys. They start with gifts given out of love and for the simple purpose of their unbridled enjoyment and the grow up into the Gift of Christ. They learn about the love through God from the love of the parents. And Gift Giving is one of the five Love Languages, remember?

So I've tossed out my guilt over commercialism and decided to claim for myself the joy of extravagant gift-giving! Don't you wish I picked YOU in the Round Robin this year??? ;)

Within reason. I mean, I'm not selling the car to make money for gifts, or anything. And I'm still only buying stocking stuffers for you guys, so don't get TOO excited... you know who you are ;)




Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Oh yes... THIS feels familiar.

Since we've been in Florida people repeatedly ask us if we miss the weather in Va. My answer: not at all. I miss manymany things about my old home, but certainly not the weather.

In the summer in Va, depending on how far north you are, it can get every bit as hot and humid as it was here in Orlando this year. And in addition, we never had air conditioning anywhere we lived. In Florida, we have air conditioning AND a pool. Nope. I don't miss our Virginia summers.

In Hburg we had our first snow every year within a week of Thanksgiving. Maybe not much, probably just a few flurries, but snow, nonetheless. And EVERY YEAR all the longtime locals would walk around shaking their heads and going, "Can't believe it's snowing already! It never snows this early 'round here." EVERY YEAR. For nine years. And I bet at least two people are going to respond to this post by saying, "What are you TALKING about? It never snows that early here!"

In Florida, we went swimming the day before Thanksgiving. Not for very long, granted, and it was certainly cold, but still... Actually, to be perfectly honest, I didn't get in above my knees, but the kids swam for twenty minutes! So no, I don't miss Virginia winters.

But then this morning we woke up from a night of lows in the twenties, J turned on the heat before leaving for work (first time we've used it) and I made the kids cocoa for breakfast. Something about the combination of smells-- the hot cocoa, the just-turned-on-heat, the cooooold air swooshing in the door as he left for work... Suddenly I realized I was feeling just a little nostalgic, if not quite exactly for the weather we're missing, at least for that familiar feeling of being cozied up inside, out of the elements, safe and warm against the Winter.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Judah: Imagine That

"I'mam the dread pirate Rickbeard! AAAAARRRGH!! Dis my HOOK!"

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"Bye, Mama, I'n goin' to da MOON!"

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Jamie Lovin': A Photo Essay

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Continuing the Forshey Tradition: Somewhat Preppy and a Little Bit Hippy

Jamie spent the church service this morning cuddled up in his handmade mai tai carrier, dressed in his sweater vest and argyle Baby Legs.

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And of course, an adorable smile is the perfect accessory for ANY style!


Friday, December 10, 2010

It's good to be back

I tell ya, I've missed blogging. Missed writing on my own blog and missed commenting on all of yours. I've been reading still, now and then (although when I logged in to my reader the other day, I had over 150 unread posts), but I miss commenting and being commented upon.

Sooo, I've spent a few days getting back to the writing, today I will forgo a blog post in order to spend my precious 20 min before the kids wake up to go around and comment on some of y'all's blogs :)




Thursday, December 9, 2010

Seriously? SERIOUSLY???

A note from Management placed in our mailbox this week, informs us that our Christmas decorations are in violation of neighborhood regulations because (seriously???), while our outdoor lights around the door are fine, window lights are only allowed on the inside of the house.

ThankyouverymuchhaveaMerryChristmas.

:headdesk:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Norah Jones

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I recently had the privilege of joining One2One Network's promotion campaign for Norah Jones' new album:

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I received an early release copy of the album several weeks ago and the kids and I tried it out. We loved it! I've always said that I enjoy a wide range of musical styles and this album is a perfect representation of that. What a variety show! I've always loved her music and this album pairs her up with some other really great artists.

I had intended to post about this much sooner (especially since today is the deadline for posting our reviews. doh.) and in much greater detail, but for now, suffice to say that Norah Jones has done it again-- stellar album. The kids and I give it two thumbs up!






Saturday, December 4, 2010

My children force me to tell the truth

Last night we had our first dinner guests over. I carefully planned out the whole day so that I could greet our guests at the door; showered, dressed, coiffed and make-up-ed, with yummy smells wafting from my spotless kitchen, through my spotless house and onto my spotless front porch.

What! What?? Why are you looking at me like that??!! It's a new town, new friends! I wanted to make a good impression. What can I say? I dream big.

Disaster 1) The avocados I purchased for my famous home-made guacamole were over-ripe and quickly turned that sickish brown-green of an over-ripe avocado exposed to the air.

Disaster 2-- 17)

Jeremiah was home late from work and rushed off immediately upon returning home to buy the beer, chips and cilantro that I had forgotten to get earlier in the day.

Jamie pooped the Incredible Poop ten minutes before they arrived, greeting the guests naked on the couch, while I rushed around frantically trying to catch up from the fifteen minutes clothes-change-and-mop-up-delay.

Judah, while "showing" his weapons to the guests, had a fit when the Mrs offered to take his sword to check it out and angrily jerked it out of her hand, leading to awkward remonstrations about "sharing".

Judah invited the innocent, child-less Mr to play "sor-fight wid meee?" Judah is not yet mature enough to moderate his blows for Play. Bruised shins and shocked noises for the guest.

Jamie gets the hiccups while sitting in his bouncy chair and fusses till he's picked up and patted/bounced/walked to get rid of them.

Judah lies down on Jamie, now back in his bouncy chair, until he cries. Judah is scolded, Jamie is consoled.

Judah dumps his taco on the floor.

Judah drinks Sofi's water.

Judah declines to eat anything but taco chips. Daddy informs him of his lack of options in this regard.

Judah and Sofi fight over the bag of taco chips resulting in taco chip crumbs all over the living room carpet.

Children are sent to their room to "play".

Judah pees in his bed.

Judah realizes that he has peed on his B (his lovey blanket that he has never slept a night without in his LIFE before)

PANIC

Daddy and Mommy realize that it is 7:15, there is no credit left on the laundry card, the office (where we re-credit the card) is closed, and the machines that take quarters are all the way on the other side of the complex.

BUT

The B MUST be washed and dried before Judah will sleep.

Jamie, now ten minutes past his usual bedtime, melts down.

The curtain mercifully falls on Daddy heading out the door to the laundromat, Mommy rushing the crying Jamie off to bed and Sofi sweetly and helpfully reading Judah a book to keep him from "sor-fightin'" the guests, who are clearing the table....

*sigh*

Well, at least they know we're NOT perfect.




Friday, December 3, 2010

Question for my baby-wearing pals!

Jamie now weighs 17 pounds.

My whole body aches since, in addition to being my heaviest baby, he is also the most cuddliest and prefers to be carried at all times. I can't wear him in any of the slings I have, because I have a cracked/sprained/strained/something rib. I don't really know what's wrong with the rib-- it's been like this since his birth. The chiropractor has me getting x-rays next week... Do any of you other baby-wearers have a suggestion for a carry that doesn't involve pressure (even the slightest pressure is painful) on the ribs? I have a ring sling, a pouch sling, a mai tai (Frankencozy style) and a native wrap. He's not really cooperating with the traditional newborn "folded legs" stance anymore-- prefers to sit (knees out) or stand (Frankencozy works great for that). I'm a little nervous about a back carry at his age, but I'll try one if you have any suggestions.


Climbing back in the saddle again. Kinda.

I love writing. I really do. You wouldn't know it from my blog recently, though. The thing is, writing is like exercise for me. When I'm doing it regularly it's AWESOME. I enjoy, the words flow, I'm in a rhythm, it makes me happy. I love getting comments and commenting on other blogs. But then something happens, like moving, or having a baby, and I get out of the rhythm. And it's sooooo haaaaard to get back to it.

But a bloggy friend asked me to write a guest post for her and everyone knows that writing guest posts bring extra traffic back to your own blog. So somehow, by hook or by crook, I've got to get some decent (and recent) content on here so greet my potential new readers.

So this morning I am determined to write a new post-- no matter how "sore" it makes me and hopefully, I'll soon be back into the rhythm of that daily "exercise.

But right now, I have to go. There's a supercute chunkalunk layin' beside me and trying to get my attention!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Desperate appeal

I've just invited five women I barely know (new friends here in Orlando) to come to my house next week to watch the Thanksgiving special on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. The one where he's up against Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. Problem is, I don't actually HAVE the show. It's the ONE EPISODE they aren't airing on the Food Network's website. The only one. I promised them pumpkin martinis, baked fudge and The Pioneer Woman.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO????

If anyone reading this has any way of getting me that episode, I will name my next child after you, bake you a cake, clean your house or whatever else you like.

I am desperate here, people!



Sunday, November 14, 2010

Blogging-- Facebook-style

Dear Body, You are not going to get more than two three hour stretches of sleep for the next six months. Deal with it. And get over yourself. Love, Me

Judah: "Mama, this is a song. I have no aaaaarrrms, my heeeeaaad is chopped OOOOOFF, my leeeegs are broken and I thiiink Costco has no saaamples leeeft!!!"

My laundry is so bad this week, I think it may actually qualify as a Bio-hazard.

Judah: "I'm a.. I'm a ... I'm a... WhatmamI'mam Mama??? A VIKEEEN! Yeah! I'm a Vikeen! I'maI'maI'ma... whatmI'm am, Mama? Oh! A VIKEEEN" (multiply by 5oo)

"Aaall the knights in Camelot eat bananas. They eat bananas at the Wouwnd Table. Our table is wouwnd too, Mama. Why is Camelot so far away?"

more later....






Sunday, October 31, 2010

Convoluted Emotional Implications, Part Four:

(oops. forgot to set this one to auto-post!)

I have no idea what time I finally got my head in gear, or what time the midwife called her assistants and we all got down to business. But I will never, ever forget the last part of my labor with James. I've heard women describe the pushing part of their labors as a virtual out-of-body-experience and now I know exactly what they mean. Once I finally "turned off my brain" I felt as though I was standing beside the birthing pool watching myself labor, only I knew and felt exactly everything that was happening to my other self. I was so hyper aware of every sensation, I almost felt like I was narrating the experience, like I was writing the story of what was happening to my body... I know. That sounds superweird. I don't really know how else to describe it.

It was the first time I've been through pushing without having to blow and pant and Not-push, waiting for the last two cm of cervical lip to think out. But this time! None of that! Praise the Lord! And the interesting thing was, I never got to that mind-blowing, irrisistable NEED to push. I didn't even push on every single ctx. I'd push, then not push, then push a little, then push with all my might! I don't really know how long that went on-- I was totally out of it :)

Then I started to be aware that I was actually pushing a Thing, not just bearing down, not just muscles contracting, but something being moved by my effort. I mean, I started to really feel his head and body descending. So different from the other births where, once I could finally push, I just mindlessly pushed with every ounce of strength until they flew out! This time I could feel everything. It was awesome. I reached down to feel his head inside and felt something not-head coming along-side. I asked the midwife to check it out. Blast. That rotten cervical lip-- swollen and holding things up. She easily pushed it up out of the way on the next ctx.

And then crowning! Which was awful. Awful and wonderful at the same time. It lasted forEVER. I bitched and moaned about that quite a bit, but the midwife reminded me that was good-- meant I was less likely to tear. And then his head was out. And then there was this looong, eternally long, contraction-less pause, while Jamie tried to make up his mind which way to turn. He twisted and wiggled and kicked and finally turned and one more push-- he whooshed out into the water. Oh, thank GOD, it's finally over! And reach down into the water-- I could see him in the water, looking up at me and then he was on my chest and he was finally HERE! Thank GOD! It was OVER!



Thursday, October 28, 2010

Convoluted Emotional Implications, Part Three:

It's about 5:00 am (I think), I'm at 7 cm. The midwife is here, ready and waiting. J is getting excited again. I am still waiting for the ctx to stop so I can go to sleep and have this baby... maybe Monday, or something. I remember doing a lot of squatting and a lot of sitting on the toilet. I was in and out of the pool, afraid to stay in for very long, since the ctx spaced out dramatically in the water-- even at SEVEN CENTIMETERS. Can you see why I was still thinking I'd be pregnant for another few days at least?

Since I'm titling these posts "Convoluted Emotional Implications", let's talk about my emotions at this point. I had stopped crying, but I was still caught in this web of not wanting to "do this". As I got to the point of beginning to push, I remember crying out "No, no, I can't DO this, make it stop, I don't WANT to" with each ctx. I know. I admit it. I'm such a baby. In between ctx I felt bad about it, if that makes it any better. I remember turning to the midwife and saying "I'm really not usually this high maintenance." (Which is totally not true. Ask anyone in my family.) As the ctx (finally!) got closer together and began to last two or more minutes, and I was pushing with almost every ctx, I started to get more and more frantic. I felt caught, stuck, trapped.

And here's where that quote from the old hymn comes in:

Trust and Obey
For there's no other way

J and the midwife each said something to me that marked the turning point in this whole experience. First, J got up in my face, during one really bad ctx when I was nearly out of my head with resisting and fighting it, and said "Listen to me, you've got to stop this. Stop saying you can't do this. I don't say want you to say that any more. You can do this, you've done it twice before, and you have to do it. There's no other way."

Obey.

It hit a nerve somehow. I quit saying "I can't". Instead I looked at the midwife and said "I don't know what to DO. I can't figure out how to DO this." And she said "You don't have to DO anything. Stop thinking so hard about it. Turn your brain off and let your body do its job. It's doing fine. I understand why, after all these weeks of your body messing with your mind, you'd have a hard time trusting. But this baby is coming NOW and you've got to trust that your body can do this."

Trust.

And right then, I swear, that's the first time I actually realized that I was having a baby. Right now. Any second. I turned my brain off (actually, I'm pretty sure that was Divine Intervention). And that's when it started to get Awesome.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Convoluted Emotional Implications, Part Two:

So, it's now 9:00. J is sleeping in the living room on the couch so his snoring (wait, what? J? snoring? did I just say that out loud??) won't keep me from being able to sleep. But then, lo and behold, the ctx start up again!

Let me pause for a minute and say positively that regardless of the fact that it wasn't until this point that I actually began to dilate consistently, these were absolutely the exact same ctx that I'd been having since early Friday morning. Same intensity, same length, same spacing. And up until I was pushing, they never got any closer than five minutes apart or longer than a minute. So, whatever you skeptics want to call "real labor", I say phooey. Labor started early Friday morning, regardless of when dilation kicked in.

So I lay in bed for a few hours, trying to sleep between ctx. I finally gave up and woke J at around 2:00am (I think). We talked and contracted and prayed and wondered when this would all just stop so we could get some rest, since we "obviously" weren't in "real" labor yet. We actually got to the point of talking about the possibility of going to the hospital, since at this point I hadn't slept in 48 hours and was beyond exhausted. I don't know exactly what we were thinking we'd DO at the hospital, but we felt like we'd reached the end of our ability to cope. I started crying again. This time just because I was tired and miserable.

At this low point, God brought to mind somethng from Judah's birth. Sometime during that day of labor, the midwife checked me and mentioned that my cervix was still "rigid." She took about six EPO capsules, popped them and applied the oil to my cervix. It softened up and began to dilate much more quickly-- I think I went from 4cm to 7cm in about an hour, and then from 7cm to pushing him out in another hour.

So that's what we did. By now, J thought I was about 5 cm, which would have been good news, but I refused to believe him. He was greatly encouraged and called the midwife. He asked her to come alone and only call her assistants when she felt birth was imminent. That was such a relief to me, not to have so many people crammed into the room-- especially people I didn't know.

When the midwife arrived, she checked me again (so much for me not wanting to have any cervical checks :P ) and now I was 7cm (gotta love that EPO-- keep it in mind, ladies). But I didn't believe her either! I had by this point completely convinced myself that I was NOT in labor.

And the next part of the story will explain the quote I posted at the beginning of this saga.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Convoluted Emotional Implications, Part One:

When we first moved here (I'm going waaay back to the beginning) our intention was to rent very short-term and try to be in a house by the time Jamie was born. As we began our search, we quickly realized that it would take an act of God to get things moving that fast. We began to resign ourselves to cramming three kids into this tiny apartment. Or at least, J did. Right up till the last minute I was still holding out hope that we'd somehow make it in time.

Most of you know that a few short weeks before we moved, our friends suddenly and unexpectedly lost their baby girl to an unknown virus. Also, my sister had just had a baby and sent her husband back to Iraq for the final months of his deployment. Picking up stakes and moving away when all of them were in such pain and sorrow was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I felt as though I had abandoned some of the people closest to me in a time when they needed me the most. I think it's an "oldest child" issue...

J and I lived in Virginia for over 20 years. It was home. Moving here-- leaving the only home our kids and our marriage had ever known-- was very hard. It wasn't a move we "chose". We left out of financial necessity. We came here specifically because we felt it was where the Lord was leading us and we've continued to feel that it was the right choice to make, but it was/is still a hard one.

So the last months of my pregnancy were fraught with emotions-- above and beyond the normal pregnancy hormone emotions. To say the least. During the day on Friday, as I progressed through the early stages of what turned out to finally be "real labor", it all came crashing down on me. For about two hours, right before the midwife came, I cried with each ctx. And cried. And cried. I think that's what made J decide to call them.

I cried because I couldn't go outside and walk around in my own yard. I cried because Judah and Sofi had no one that they knew to come and care for them (although people from church offered, Judah was still so shy and fearful at that point that we decided to keep them with us). I cried because my mom couldn't be there. I cried, remembering Gwen's tiny little perfect body that looked just like she had the last time I held her, only she wasn't there anymore... I cried thinking about not being able to sit and nurse Jamie while Susi nursed Gracie and we joked about who's baby was fatter. I cried when the midwife came in and set up the stuff because I didn't want to have my baby here, in this strange place, with all these strangers around (one of the assistants I had never even met), in this cramped place where we couldn't even walk from one side of the room to the other without crawling over equipment and furniture.

As I look back on those afternoon hours, I think I really just talked myself out of having that baby right then. I wanted so badly NOT to do it that way, that I simply didn't.

So then, at 8:00, everything just stopped. The midwife checked me-- 2 cm. Everyone packed up and left and J went to lie down to try to get some sleep.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

I'm pretty sure God put me on earth as a cautionary tale for other women.

And then He gave me a blog so I can tell y'all all about it.

Today, in preparation for our evening prayer time (which we JUST started attending) with several families from J's school, I spent the entire Florida still-summer-even-though-it's-October afternoon slaving away in a hot kitchen in order to impress our new community with my hot buttered dinner rolls.

When I went into the kitchen moments ago to remove the luscious dough from the bread machine where it's been rising, I discovered that I had inadvertently pushed the wrong button on the programmer-thingy and my bread machine had COOKED MY DOUGH. And not just like, baked it into a loaf, but rather cooked an entire batch of THREE DOZEN dinner rolls on the QUICK BREAD SETTING.

*sigh*

I've spent the last 20 minutes banging my fist into various surfaces around the apartment and trying to turn time back or figure out a way to get to Publix, buy more yeast and re-construct four hours of work in the next 50 min before we leave. J wisely took over and is headed to Publix to buy some of those tacky dinner-rolls-in-a-can instead. My Southern Soul rises up in rebellion within me.

Let this be a lesson to all of you who attempt to impress new friends with your baking skillz!!

*groans of agony and wounded pride*


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Trust and Obey: The birth of James Oliver

Trust and Obey,
For there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
But to Trust and Obey


The succinct version first, for those of you that aren't into the whole emotional/spiritual side of birth and just want to know the basic facts: On Friday, Sept 24th I "woke up" after a loooong night of ctx to find that they didn't simply fade away as I began to move around the house as they usually did. Throughout the morning the ctx stayed a pretty steady 15 or 20 min apart, lasting about 30 sec. By early afternoon they were 5min and lasting 60-90 sec. As they began to get more intense (by, say 2:00), J got a little anxious and called the midwife to come with the pool. they all came over, set up and settled in. The ctx stayed intense and 3-5/60-90 all afternoon and evening. However, at 8:00, as J began to put the kids to bed, the ctx inexplicably stopped. And I mean completely stopped. They went from every 3-5 minutes to NOTHING just like that *snaps* It was a low point, let me tell you. We did a cervical check-- only two cm. TWO CM!! The whole crew packed up and left. J and I went to bed. Of course, as soon as I tried to lie down and rest, the ctx started up again. In about two hours they were back at 3-5/60-90. We called the midwife back at about 4 or 5 o'clock, at which point I was in transition, and Jamie was born at 6:58 am.

Now. On to the long version. The part where I dissect my mental and spiritual state and discuss all the convoluted emotional implications of the whole experience. Please feel free to move on if you're bored-- I won't be at all offended. Also, a warning. This is not a peaceandlightcandlesburningtriumphanthippymama story. That was Judah's birth, but not Jamie's, poor thing. But it's an affirmation to me of the choice of his name and a reminder of the quote Laura sent me:

Peace: It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.

And the Peace that the Lord sends (that would be Jamie) is inexplicable, unexpected and totally unrelated to the circumstances in which one finds oneself.



Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Jamie rocks out with Daddy

I'm still workin' on the Birth Story. In the meantime enjoy this video of Jamie during his "settling into bed" time. It takes about an hour of winding down after the older kids go to bed to get him settled, but then he sleeps till 7 with a few "dream-feeds". I am SO not complaining :)

I just love watching him stare into J's face. *blissful sigh*




Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Homesick

And jealous that the Other Forsheys are home and we are not.






Friday, September 24, 2010

Quickie Update

1) Still pregnant.

2) Up all night with intense ctx AGAIN. Finally fell asleep around 6-ish.

3) Woke up at 7 with lingering ctx.

4) J decided to stay home for the morning so I could get some sleep. This translates into even more hounding for poor him from well-meaning people at work wondering when in the WORLD this child is actually going to make an appearance. If he doesn't come today, I mean. *crosses fingers*

5) Despite all that last night, ctx are irregular, at best, now-- although every couple times they are wicked intense.

6) Just a reminder, when I first starting "taking bets" about Jamie's birthday, I predicted the 25th :) We'll see if I was right!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Staying the course

Still pregnant, still contracting, still determined.

I spoke to my midwife the other day, just to touch base mid-week and let her know how things were going. In the course of the conversation, she reminded me that waiting till the timing is right and letting things run their full course is so much better than forcing labor to start before the baby and my body are ready. This I know. I know it intellectually, but right now I'm sick and tired of all this. This y'all know. :) I haven't been shy about telling it like it is. I told her on the phone, if anyone gave me half an excuse, I'd sign up on the dotted line for an induction RIGHT NOW. Even knowing all the statistics about the inevitable cascade of interventions and the likely-hood of a c-section (given my history). In the exhaustion and impatience of three days past my (ultrasound) due-date, I'd give up everything I know just to have it be OVER right now. She chuckled and then I sighed and admitted that was only half true, I really was committed to what I think is the Right Way and her job, and J's job, is to keep me from doing anything stupid while I"m half crazy with hormones and impatience. And then she said something that's been stuck in my head since then,

"You see, don't you? why so many women are talked into interventions they don't need by equally impatient medical professionals?"

Yes, yes I do.

People often respond to the fact that I'm having a home birth by saying things like "You're so brave," or "I would never have the never to do something like that." But the truth is, I have home births because I'm afraid to entrust myself to the medical mainstream. As a pregnant woman, I do not feel that they have my best interests at heart. I do not think the average ob/gyn is committed to helping me be and do my best-- to stick to what I want for my birth and my baby. Instead, I feel that they are there, hovering, waiting for me to reach the end of myself so they can swoop in with all their knowledge and equipment to "save the day". That's not what I want.

I don't want to be "saved" by impatient, well-meaning professionals who's main goal is to get a live baby out of my body as quickly and hassle-free as possible. I want to be encouraged, inspired, challenged to do my utmost. I want to be supported, uplifted, helped and inspired to endure to the end. I want to get through to the other side-- MYSELF-- and look back and know that by the Grace of God and with the help of my husband and women who were committed to Jamie's and my Best, I stayed the course. I accomplished something awesome, even though it was freakin' HARD.

In addition, I want, in the quietness of my home, and under the protection of my husband and knowledgeable women, to have the beautiful privilege of participating in the act of creation. To reach the end of myself and have, not a glove and a gown, but Almighty God, step in and extend His strength beyond my own. I want to be surrounded by peace and respect for the miracle of new life, as I reach forward and life my son into my arms.

In the end, the truth is, I home birth because I'm afraid of my own weaknesses. I am not a super-strong, militant, determined woman. Truth be told, I'm kind of a wimp. But a wimp with convictions about what's best for my baby. So I surround myself, during birth, with people who are passionate and strong and wise and who I know will help me make the right choices-- not the easy ones.

Because, seriously, if I could get my hands on a vial of pitocin right now.... Well, I could hardly be held responsible for my own actions at this point, right??

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Thank you, God, for Old Navy Maternity, clearance sales and the U.S. Postal Service!

Thank you also for a husband who works tirelessly and dedicatedly at his job so that we have enough money that I can occasionally splurge on new maternity clothes even though I'm about to drop this baby any day now.

Thank you for Ebay and the comforting thought that at least I can make back some of what I splurged since the clothes will be practically brand new (please God!).

The last few days have been rough-- I'm not going to lie. Contractions have ranged from simply annoying to flat-out painful. Yesterday when I went to pick J up from work, I could barely walk around from the driver's side to the passenger side. I've gotten a couple nights of good sleep in the last week, but the rest of the time I wake up sometime in the wee hours and labor for a couple hours, falling back into exhausted sleep around 5 or 6, only to wake up again at 6:30 to the day's normal activities.

I've not been posting much (duh) mostly because I'm getting tired of talking about it. I've said before, it's a mind game. For example; last night J and I were both thinking he might not go into work this morning. Things were intense. He even called the midwife to let her know that things might just come to head any time. Around 8 I just went to bed, so I could try and relax a little. But at 8:30, the ctx just freakin' QUIT. Just like that *snaps fingers*. They were gone and I got this burst of energy and tidied up the house, helped him get the kids in bed and washed the dishes. It was like I had dreamed the whole thing up till then. Or like it happened to someone else. I'm getting tired of wondering if it's all in my head, if I'm making it up, if people are beginning to suspect me of being a chronic hypochondriac. Sometimes I wonder if I'm really pregnant, or maybe I dreamed that up too! (that feeling doesn't usually last too long, though, considering the size of me)

I was pretty bummed last night and then the Lord put this verse in my head:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding
In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.

It was a bracing reminder that my own understanding (as confident in it as I tend to be in this particular area) is ohso limited when confronted with the plans of God. I have no idea what He's doing with my body right now, but it's completely outside of my control. And if I try to take control, I will only mess it up. I have to give it up and simply be a vessel, for as much longer as the Lord sees fit to require that of me.

But with the admonition of that Scripture, the Lord also sent comfort-- He does remember our frame is but dust :)

1) Quiet time with J before work-- we woke up early on purpose and it was worth it.

2) Children slept in an extra half hour.

3) The postman bringed me a package!!!! Oh the pretties!! Most of them are nursing things for after Jamie is born, but there were a few maternity tops in there, too :) And some white linen shorts. Yum!

4) As the looming pile of filing on my desk slid to the floor, the ultrasound pics from Jamie's 22nd week were uncovered-- reminding me that in the end, it will all be worth it. And I'll forget these hard days in an instant when I hold that tiny wet body and look into his eyes for the first time. Bliss!



And thank you, thank you, God for creating the colors coral, hot pink and lime green!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sleep....

......that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast.

I went to bed last night at 11 and got up this morning at NINE! Praise the Lord! No contractions, very little heartburn, just a couple of trips to the bathroom.

*sigh*

It was lovely. I woke up feeling like I could lick fifty tigers today :) Or at the very least, survive the last three weeks of this pregnancy. I even made pancakes for breakfast. And still no contractions! Yay! Let's see if I can clean the house and get ready for Sabbath without waking the sleeping beast.

On the flip side, Sofi caught J's cold-- coughing so hard last night she actually threw up! And Judah seems to be fighting it off, too. So we may or may not make it to church tomorrow.

On the house-hunting front: We've narrowed the list down to our top four picks and are working on scheduling a second trip to each house. I hope to get that worked in by the end of next week. I'm trying to jam a lot into the next two weeks-- baby coming and all...

In particular, I REALLY want to buy a rocking chair! I've been haunting Craigslist for MONTHS now and several really nice ones came and went while the stupid truck was in the stupid shop for so stupid long. You can tell I'm not really dealing with THAT whole thing very rationally yet. Anyway, now that the truck is back on the road, people seem to have decided not to sell any more glider/rockers. I'm not sure I can actually give birth without a rocker in the house. I can't believe I had to leave mine behind...

The midwife's home visit was this week. Jamie is finally settling down into a good position and seems to be hanging out in OA more than OP these days. HOOORAY! But I'm skeptical (after two other op labors) that it will last. He is Low Down, though, and my pubic bone is suffering mightily. I look like an old lady, the way I walk around these days...

Since I'm feeling so great today, I want to start planning and nesting and all that :) So I have a couple questions for you other mommies...

1) Older children present at the birth of their siblings-- yes or no? I was at the birth of my last three siblings, remember it vividly and should probably credit it with giving me the confident perspective on birth I've had ever since I can remember. I'm not really concerned about things from Sofi's point of view-- she'd love it and be fine. I'm more wondering how I'd handle having her there. Would it be a distraction? Would I be able to focus on what I was doing and not feel that tug to my Mommy-Self? Know what I mean? Any of you with opinions, air them! :)

2) Labor play list! This is one of my favorite "getting ready for labor" things to do. Anyone have any favs to suggest? I like a pretty wide range of music-- although I'd draw the line at heavy metal...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

More philosophical conversations with Judah

Today in the pool we were discussing Jesus' dead body, which was brought back to life and then went to heaven for a new body (Judah thinks this whole new body thing is the best thing EVER). We spoke of God and Jesus, established that they were both boys ("cool, mom") and then went on to talk about how God is a King and will come back to earth one day to establish a New Kingdom.

"Andandand, I will be a KNIGHT in da Kingdom"

(of course, since there's a King and a Kingdom, there has to be knights, right? Of course right!)

"Um, sure, Judah, you will be a knight for God"

"What do knights DO in da Kingdom?? Do dey FIGHT??"

(doh!)

"Umm, I don't think so... What do YOU think they do?"

"Ummm, I sink dey...sit around and kiss nice geeeuls.. and den dey will pray to Jesus and pray to God aaaaaaand.... den dey bring nice ladies to da King!"

*pause for deep thought*

"And DEN dey go andandand kill da dolphins. 'Cause dey're baaaad dolphins"

('cause, you know, he's three)


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Making new friends

What a wonderful morning we had! We went back to Downey Park, which was a blast last time, but this time we went with FRIENDS! Friends of all the right ages!! Plenty for Sofi and Judah both to enjoy. It was so refreshing to spend time talking to other moms and playing with their babies and sharing stories and tips. I really do feel like things are settling in at last. Good thing, too, if last night's and this morning's ctx are any indication... :P

I am a little concerned about Judah still, though. Have any of y'all moved with a child around Judah's age before? He seems to have become very shy and withdrawn in crowds these days. My memories of him from Va are of a happy-go-lucky child, content to pal around with whoever is nearby, not afraid of strangers and rarely moody. But today, for example, he spent a large part of the time on the very outskirts of the group, quietly picking up fistfuls of sand and watching them dissolve in the current. He swam, too, but wouldn't talk or interact with any of the other kids.

Towards the end, I got him interested in helping me and Martha (2) build sandcastles and that seemed to cheer him up a lot. He talked to her a little and they energetically stomped the castles down together. He seemed to enjoy her company-- she doesn't talk much and seems a quiet, gentle little one.

Perhaps it was just her quiet spirit, or perhaps some Middle Child Deep called to Middle Child Deep, but when we were leaving he leaned his head over on my shoulder and said, "Mom, there's lots of people. Too many people-- I don't know them."

"Yes, but we're getting to know them, they will be our new friends."

"I think Martha is my new friend now."

Thank the Lord for new friends!


Monday, August 30, 2010

waiting on the Lord again :)

It's such a cycle, life... isn't it? I mean, you fail and fall, you wallow a bit, then you remember the God you serve, you get a note from a friend, you get some sleep (or some protein) and you get back up and keep going. Somehow the strength is renewed every morning. Actually, not so much "somehow". It's the Lord. He promised He would and He is so faithful to renew His strength in me.

Not that circumstances have changed since last night, it's just my attitude that changed. Today I find myself able to remember all the good things in my life, instead of just the challenging things. And to see the good even in the challenging things. For example, the tiny, sharp feet kicking me violently in the hip-bone right now. There are two ways to think about that, right? Right now I'm able to smile indulgently and reminisce about the curse of the Huge Howell Feet. I mean, if the mother wears a size ten, you gotta expect some major kickage, right? Oh and by the way, can you believe my swelling's bad enough that I'm actually wearing a size ELEVEN right now???

Still, I have to get myself together a little better and try to avoid the kind of crash I had yesterday. I need to be more careful about getting enough rest, food, water and not trying to pack too many activities into one day. We almost crashed and burned again today, but after Judah's third meltdown in Costco, I decided to just go home. Best decision I made all day.

And I need to make sure, also, that I get some time first thing in the morning to spend with the Lord and my day planner. Both of those are vital. I've made that my goal for this week-- quiet time every morning. We'll see how that works out.

A quick update on the Labor is up!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Another bad day

We all have bad days, right? Of course right. But it seems especially unfair, spectacularly unfair, when that bad day falls on a Sabbath. It started with a long, sleepless night and just went downhill from there.

Judah had a meltdown at church resulting in J having to spend the entire service in the back of the church calming him down. This is the happy child we're talking about here. Judah is not the moody type. He rarely actually Cries. Whining we deal with-- it's a family besetting sin (well, not J, just the rest of us), but the crying? that's not like him. He wailed heartbreakingly when dropped off and after about five minutes, J just went in and got him.

I just know it's the move and the unsettled-ness getting to him. He was never like this at church back home. He spent the rest of the day being super clingy and wanting to sit on me, talking about our old house and his friends and asking for Violet to come see him. We got on Skype with the Other Forsheys and chatted for a while and he was so precious ooing and aaaahing over Grace-- whom he ADORED from the moment he first saw her, just a few moments after she was born. He told me that God told him He was going to give Violet "lotsalotsalotsa money to buy a aaaaeeerplane, so she can come see me in Flooooda"

And then all the trickiness I've been trying to balance with neighbor kids came to a bit of a head and I had to call Sofi in from playing Chicken (!!!!) in the pool with the neighbor boys (!!!) , riding on the shoulders of a neighborhood dad (!!!). And somehow I had to find a way to explain that Ladies don't play chicken in the pool with boys while riding on the shoulders of men we don't know. *sigh* Never an easy conversation to have with your 8 yo. And yes, we'd given her permission to play in the pool with the gang of kids and adults out there. It's right off our front porch after all, and one of the dads we know vaguely had offered to be responsible for her. Apparently our version of "responsible" and his version were... not the same.

We were supposed to have dinner with some new friends, but by 4:00 in the afternoon, after the conversation with Sofi, and a parental conference over Judah's anxiety issues, and a failed attempt at a nap (for me), and the gradually increasing stranglehold of a headcold (J), and Jamie's constant bone-crushing roller-coaster imitation (me) had all worked their magic, we decided that it might be just a bit much. So we didn't go. And not-going made us both feel a little lonely and a little more aware of just how soon (pleaseLordpleasemakeitsoonAmen) we'd being entering that fatigue-crazed labyrinth of new-baby-ness without the safety net of a settled church family.

And someone sang Be Thou My Vision at the offertory this morning and it was beautiful. And I cried. Still. I think I will never be able to hear that song again without thinking of that tiny wooden box and the room full of mourners trying so hard to find words to say, to express what their hearts were feeling. That one line:

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall....

It stabs me to the heart. To think that they choose to claim that, even in the midst of heart-crushing grief-- such faith awes me and touches me and I want so much to be there with her, for her. But I can't.

So, so much has changed so veryvery quickly for our family this year. I still feel as though I'm standing in one of those hourglasses with the sand running rapidly through, out from under my feet and I'm clinging to the slippery glass walls trying to find a way to keep from getting sucked through. I just haven't had the time and the space to process it all, to "adjust". Someone asked us this morning when we decided to move and J said the end of March and it hit me. Bam. March, April, May, June, July, August. Six months. Half a year. That's all. In six months we went from normal Us, to something that, on a Bad Day, I don't even recognize anymore.

I recognize that bad days come and go and there are also beautiful Florida days, when the kids are happy and Jamie is still and tranquil, the contractions are mild, J gets home early and I remember that "...the lines have fallen to me in pleasant places". I am so thankful for all that the Lord has worked in our lives in these six short months.

But some days, I just want some time to sit and think. And some days I just want to go out for coffee at Organic Grounds. Or drop in on the Trainums. Or run into friends at the Farmer's Market. Or call Laurie up and go buy some plants. Or put up a post on Facebook to meet me at the library in twenty minutes and see who shows up!

I think I should go to bed now and see if things look any better in the morning.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Scratch that

I'm a little leery, I have discovered, of subjecting all you innocent readers to my descriptions of the sensations and events of my labor. Soooo. I'm starting a new, quickie blog which I'll link to whenever I have a post up. You can subscribe there, if you're interested, or link in from here, or simply remain in blissful ignorance of that part of my life :) Your choice. I'm really just doing this for my own benefit and that of any interested parties. It's not that I'm shy, just that I realize that some of you are a captive audience, receiving my blog in a reader or by email (those of you who get it in an email, Barb, can let me know if you want to get the Birth Blog, too and I'll set you up). I'll still be blogging innocuous family news and all my latest opinions on stuff here as well, never fear!

The grown-up me re-emerges

OK. So. The last post was written in something of a maelstrom of self-pity and frustration. As I spent the last day pondering what I wrote (yes, I know, I should ponder BEFORE I write) I realized that all that whining might even hurt some friends that read this blog and would literally give their right arms to trade places with me-- four weeks of contractions or no. So, in the spirit of gratefulness for the blessing that is this new life and repentance for my bad attitude, let's do a re-write. Only for penance, I'll leave the other one up, too. Honesty at all cost.

It's for the sake of dealing better with all this prodromal labor that I've decided to go ahead and let myself talk about "being in labor" this time around. I've decided not to play mind games, not to try and ignore contractions, or do crazy, herculean feats to try to get them to increase, or take all kinds of weird concoctions to get them to quit. But rather to just accept that this is the normal, GOOD working of my body to bring a baby into the world. It takes me two to four weeks to get a baby out. It just does.

I'm not going to say these are Braxton-Hicks, either. They're not. It's different. This is the same kind of ctx I have in labor, just less intense and less regular and predictable. B-H ctx feel like squeezing... like squeezing a rubber ball really hard and then gradually letting go. But these ctx have an edge, a sharpness, that B-H don't. Like squeezing a ball of tinfoil. Prickly, with edges. Later on, as labor progresses over the next few weeks, the edges will get sharper and harder-- although it's always one step forward, two steps back. Then, at some point, I'll notice that it's less tin foil and more like actual tin. And then we'll progress to the feeling of being in a car-crusher and then I'll call the midwife :)

When I can think rationally and calmly about simply being in the looooong first stages of actually bringing my child into the world, I'm able to be at peace about it. When I can agree with what my body's doing, instead of fighting it and trying to manipulate and change it, then I can accept what's going on. It lets me distract myself with other tasks, instead of getting all tense-- "will they stop? will they get harder? is this It? what should I do???"

The answer is, do nothing. Rest. Wait on the Lord. The good work He has begun in me, He will accomplish it in His own time.

As far as blogging goes, I intend to keep a kind of daily journal of how this weeks-long labor progresses. It might be helpful to Sofi one day, as an example of how the women in our family seem to do this :) Who knows? It may be good info for others in the meantime. Regardless, it will at least help me to articulate what's happening and keep track of the progress, as slow as it may seem in the moment.

As a disclaimer, I don't know if I have any male readers, but if so, y'all might wanna occupy yourselves elsewhere for a while here. Things might get a little TMI.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

In which I cuss a little and make pronouncments that will shock the internets.

That's it. I'm calling it. I am in labor. Starting now. Or rather, 6:30 pm, August 25th. God only knows when he'll actually be born, but by golly, I'm going to get full credit for all the *muttercusscussmutter* I have to put up with in the last month of pregnancy. EVERY SINGLE EVENING, I will probably have at least an hour of regular, strong, timeable contractions. Contractions intense enough to have me pacing the floors and snapping at all and sunder. For at least the next four weeks. One day my children will appreciate what I went through for them!!

I hope.

In the meantime, I'm at least going to get the credit for my four-week-long labors. And when y'all hear rumors of three or four "false alarms" that bring J rushing home from work in the middle of the day, only to have things peter out in a few hours, I want you to realize the extent of the confusion caused by my BLASTED uterus. Seriously. With Judah, I wasn't convinced it was reallyforreal until my water broke, 45 minutes before he was born. Everyone else knew what was going on, but I still had this nagging feeling that I was going to have to shame-faced-ly send everyone home any minute right up till that moment.

*stomps off to get in the pool*

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Two More Houses

We saw four houses tonight, but these were the only two that didn't get crossed of the list right away. I'm linking to the Photobucket album, is you want to see the pics and video I took, but in summary (for those of you with dial-up--- Mom):

Monticello Dr:

This one is my favorite. Matter of fact, it's bumped up to the top of my list-- all time. I like the wood trim, the extra room, the KITCHEN (omg. the KITCHEN-- and the cabinets!! Cabinets out the wazoo AND a PANTRY), the fireplace in the dining room, the stained glass windows in the "study" and beside the front door. Another feature that I didn't photograph; there's a very small bdr, kinda hidden away on the other side of the master bath. So you walk through the MBR and the MBTH and then there's a sliding door to a bdr, about 9X9ft (5 "bdrs" total-- although one would be used as an office/guest room). Perfect for a baby's room! Also, there's tons of space around the pool (a safety issue for me-- I don't like the feeling that you walk out the back door and fall linto the pool, as we've seen in several houses so far) and plenty of room for gardening! Love the shutters and the brick pillars in the front.

Cons: No outside entrance to a bathroom (means wet swimsuits traipsing daily through the house to the bathroom), no appliances (not too big a deal), no pool screen-- bummer.

North Cypress Way:

This is J's favorite. :) You can probably all tell why. He's the realistic one that looks at a house like this and says, "What?? It's in perfect condition, we could move in tomorrow, it's in our price range and the pool is SCREENED IN!! What more could you want???" And I grant you, it's truly lovely. And I'm a fool for preferring one that needs a little TLC. BUT. I can't help myself. I think it's a family curse. I want a house with character-- brick and hardwood and stained glass, you know? This one has brand-new tile, laminate (*gags*) and a HOT TUB. Right outside the MBR :D The kitchen has brand-new modern appliances and a built in desk, granite counter tops and a wet-bar in the living room. There is a truly SJP-worthy walk-in closet in the MBR and spotless paint on the walls.

But it's also $20K more than the other one. And it doesn't have a brick surround in the kitchen. Or stained glass windows. Or much room in the back yard.

*sigh*

Ok. Opinions, people. I need opinions!!!!!!! Fire away!