first experience with house hunting

As I mentioned yesterday, my husband and I and our younger daughter left on Sunday afternoon to drive the two hours to the Sacramento area to begin our search for a new house.  We (especially I) went with high hopes and expectations, and we returned home with adjusted hopes and expectations after having a good dose of reality.  Houses look different on the internet then they do in real life! Continue reading

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a much-needed break

My husband, younger daughter, and I left on Sunday afternoon to drive to the Sacramento area to begin the search for our new home.  Our older daughter, Lyd, stayed behind.  Our Kindergarten teacher, AM, graciously agreed to stay with her at our house so that Lyd could continue her usual school routine.  We gave Lyd the option to come with us, but since it was “Spirit Week” (aka. dress-up week) at school, she opted to remain behind.

The house hunting process will be another post in itself (a one-word description: demoralizing), but when we returned safely to our current home 48 hours later, we returned to a Lyd who had had a wonderful time.  JJ and I were wondering if we had made a mistake in not bringing her with us, as she had never been separated from both of us for so long before.  However, it all worked out very, very well.

AM, the Kindergarten teacher, needed to be at school by 7:30 a.m. in the morning, so Lyd also had to be there at that time.  Getting Lyd to school by the start of the school day has … well, never been our family’s strong point.  We tend to get her there at the last minute, even though we live right next door!  We’re just not good with that morning routine.

However, with AM as her “second Momma” (as Lyd called her), Lyd did very well getting to school so early on the two mornings we were gone.  This morning, she wanted to be to school early again.  She laid out her outfit last night, and this morning she did great at getting up and going on her own – without an alarm!  She had time to eat her breakfast at her own pace, review her memory work with me, brush her teeth, and give her sister (and me) a pleasant goodbye before heading off to school – at 8:10 a.m.!  It was pretty neat.  I was very proud of her.

It’s nice to feel proud of Lyd.  You see, she and I have been at outs a lot lately.  It’s not power struggles, but she does things – or doesn’t do things – that she KNOWS she should/should not be doing.  It’s been driving me absolutely bonkers, and in my frustration, I’ve been frequently raising my voice to her.  I must confess, I wasn’t completely sorry to drive off with my husband and almost-perpetually-cheerful younger child and leave my older child behind.  I really felt like I needed a break from her.  I felt guilty for feeling that way, but I was still grateful to drive away without her.

But, it seems the break has been good for all of us.  Lyd had a marvelous time, and she didn’t cry once.  She was almost crying when we left, but apparently when we drove off, she said to AM with a twinkle in her eye, “And now it begins…”  AM cracked up, Lyd cracked up, and it set the tone for the next 48 hours.  Lyd got to go out to eat with AM and a few other people, and she just had a wonderful time on her own.

Plus, with the calm morning I had today getting Lyd ready for school, I had plenty of time to start my Lentil & Ham soup in the slow cooker for tonight’s Lent Supper at church.  I also finally (finally!!) got a walk in with Jujubee this morning.  After over two weeks of not being able to take my much-needed walks, the weather has taken a major turn for the better.  I think our winter of rain, rain, and more rain is finally drawing to a close.  (For you Midwesterners who have had one of the snowiest winters on records, be glad you don’t live in the Sierras: some parts have had close to 700 inches of snow!  Yes, that’s 58 FEET OF SNOW!)

So, things are looking up here.  Hopefully this break provided Lyd and me with a much-needed break from each other.  We certainly seem to be starting off on the right foot.

a true, unexaggerated story

After our nightly prayers, our family has now gotten into the routine of creating our own prayers.  We do a simple format that the girls can follow: We choose something to say “thank you” for, or we ask for something.  Both girls, but especially Jujubee, have caught onto how this works.

Tonight I put Jujubee to bed a little earlier on her own, so it was just the two of us.  I laid myself down next to her on her bed to say prayers.  After saying and singing our usual prayers, Jujubee piped right up without my prompting and said, “I’m going to pray tonight that Momma has a baby in her belly.”  After she said her prayer, I took my turn; I thanked God for Jujubee and asked him to help me be a good mother to her.

After Jujubee and I said Amen, J said to me, “That was a good prayer.”

After a pause, I said, “I have no baby in my belly.”

Without missing a beat, Jujubee leaned over on one elbow, looked at me and said, “But you have me.”

I started to tear up a bit and replied, “Yes, I have you.”

Jujubee leaned down and hugged me and said, “I like you.”

That prompted my tears to actually fall as I responded, “I like you, too.”

Jujubee noticed my tears and hopped off of the bed, saying, “I’ll get you a kleenex.”  She got the box of kleenex and brought it to me.  I took a tissue and wiped my eyes.

Jujubee looked at me and said, “Next time you’ll have a baby in your belly.”

All I could say was, “I hope so.”

Jujubee watched me for a moment and then said, “But you have me!”

I said, “I’m so thankful for you, baby,” and gave her a big hug.

After a few moments more, I got up off the bed and told her, “I’ll be right back to say good night one more time.  I have to run downstairs for a bit.”  I went downstairs to get Lyd’s clean pajamas out of the dryer.  I stayed down for a few minutes, telling my husband what our daughter had just told me, and I cried a bit again.

When I got back upstairs, Jujubee was already asleep.

I kissed her forehead, whispered, “I love you,” stroked her soft hand, and closed the door.

a growing sweetheart

Jujubee is an amazing little girl.  She can entertain herself for hours, although she definitely likes it when I play with her.  However, because she CAN entertain herself, I’ve been able to indulge my current obsession with viewing houses on the internet.  I’ve been a bit of a slacker parent lately, but I do try to find opportunities to do things with my sweet girl a few times a day.  It helps that Jujubee really wants to “help” me with my non-computer work.  Yesterday I made up a batch of pecan tassie cookies (I scheduled for my final Coffee Hour this Sunday), and she wanted to be right by me in the kitchen, helping measure and stir and mold dough into the tins.  We both wore our aprons, and we had a good time working together.

But this girl, on her own, can really keep herself amused.  She loves listening to music CD’s, and she’ll often sing along softly – and sometimes loudly!  She likes to do puzzles, and she loves to slowly page through books, talking to herself about what she sees on each page.  She likes to play with her princess dolls and make up stories.  She is very good at finding ways to do imaginative play on her own.

And she is SO cheerful!  She has a smile that can light up the room.  With her little curls framing her face (curls that she inherited from her Daddy, lucky girl), she is just adorably beautiful.  She’s happy and enthusiastic, yet still full of compassion and hugs.  If I mention that I have any kind of owie and/or that I’m sad about anything, she is instantly there to give me a hug and kiss and “make it all better.”  She’s so sweet.

She loves the opportunities she gets once or twice a week to go to Kindergarten for an hour or two.  The Kindergarten teacher and I worked out a deal that Jujubee goes to Kindergarten for an hour before lunch on Fridays, right after our music class.  She LOVES that, and apparently she picked up on the routine very quickly.  Once in a while, something else comes up where she’ll get to go to Kindergarten again, and she is always SO delighted.  Despite the fact that she’s home with me most of the time and NOT in preschool (although we do go to art class and gymnastics class once a week), she is quite good at sharing and working together with other kids when she gets the chance.

Next year, we have the option to put her in morning pre-Kindergarten, and we think we’re going to do it.  She’s so ready, emotionally and socially, as well as physically.  I don’t know if we’ll have her do two years of pre-K or one; I think we’ll decide that when the time comes.  But, she is SO ready to go.  I have no doubt that she will definitely enjoy that big change this fall.  In fact, I’ve already mentioned it to her, and she knows that when we get to our new house, she will get to go to Kindergarten every morning.

The only problem with this plan is that I’m not sure if I’M ready for this change.  My baby in school?  Oh my!  I’m going to miss my cheerful little Jujubee ray of sunshine.  She really is a Joy to have around the house.

Here’s hoping I get pregnant soon to ease my empty nest syndrome…

haven’t found the perfect house yet

Oh, this house-hunting process is going to be difficult for me.

It’s so easy to look at houses on the internet and waste a bunch of time doing it.  My poor kids are already suffering.

I don’t think the “perfect house” is out there for us.  I have so many criteria that it doesn’t exist!  I can see why people would want to build their own house.  Alas, that’s not an option for us.  So, we’re going to have to decide what is most important to us in a new house, and pick our home based on that.

Thankfully, my husband isn’t getting as “into” this internet house-hunting craziness as I am.  I’m glad at least one of us is staying sane and calm.

I’m extra-nervous because we only have a few days here and there where we can actually go to our new city and look at houses.  Once April begins, it’s going to be a lot more difficult to find time to drive the two hours out there to house-hunt, except for the week after Easter.  Once May comes, we’ll have absolutely no time at all, due to my more-than-doubled teaching schedule.

AAAAAHHHHH!!!!!

I have to keep reminding myself to stay calm, that God will take care of our needs, and that he will provide us with a place to live.  We won’t be on the street.

And I also know that there are lot bigger problems in the world today that God has to deal with.  My finding of the perfect house does not need to be high on his list.

But I’m praying that it will all work out okay in the end.  Logically I know it will.  Emotionally, I’m a bit uptight right now.

And we haven’t even officially looked at a house yet!!!

Deep breaths, Emily.  Deep breaths.  It’s all going to work out just fine…

And maybe, just maybe, when we actually DO get to see some houses in person, the “perfect house” will become very obvious to us.  I certainly hope so!

head spinning

I’m beginning to realize that I’m not going to be blogging as often in the next few months, as there is SO much to do between now and June!

Of course, as Murphy’s Law would have it, Jujubee got pneumonia again last week.  She’s better now, but just as she was improving, Lyd got sick.  She stayed home from school two days.  And just as Lyd is feeling better, now my husband is feeling sick.  Argh!

But, despite the illnesses, I managed to get all the necessary paperwork together to fax to our lender to get pre-approval for our mortgage.  It was *only* a 36-page fax!  But we are now pre-approved, so we can start house-hunting in earnest now that we have a price range for what we can afford.  I’ve looked online a LOT over the past month, and I think I’m now pretty familiar with all of the houses for sale in the area where we’d like to buy.  We’d like to buy near the church/school, but unfortunately I’m not hugely impressed with what I see yet.  The neighborhood is fine and all, and every house has a few things I love.  But every house also has a few things that are a definite “no.”  Besides having a certain number of bedrooms and bathrooms that I’d like and a certain square footage I’m aiming for, I also would like a non-postage-stamp-sized lot so that I can have a garden and raise a few fruit trees, I have a certain layout of kitchen that I would like, and I don’t want a pool.  Those criteria shrink the pool of available houses considerably.

However, there are a number of foreclosed and bank-owned homes in that area that I don’t have many details on.  I hope that when we get a chance to drive out there and look at houses with our realtor, we can get into some of those homes.  I’m hoping one of them will prove to be The One.

The situation in Japan still has me jittery as well.  I just can’t read or think about it too much.  I was talking to a friend on the phone last night, and she wondered if part of my anxiety about these things is that I’m picturing what it would be like for me and my children under those circumstances.  I think that she may be on to something.  I literally cannot imagine what those poor Japanese people are going through.  The families!  The mothers!  The little children!  Oh, it’s just awful.  Come quickly, Lord, and take your people home to heaven.  I’ve been praying that prayer a lot lately.

And, hey, if Jesus comes back soon, I might not have to pack!  It’s not that I don’t want to move to our new church, it’s more that I’m not looking forward to the transition/moving process.  It’ll be good once we get there, but right now … Ugh.  So I would be perfectly content to have Jesus come back very soon.

I told my friend last night, “I just don’t see how this move is going to happen.  It’s not that I don’t believe that it will happen, because I do.  But you know how you have some situation and you say, ‘Oh, yes, I see how that would work.’  I’m the opposite; I don’t *see* how this will work.”  That’s where I am.  It’s a bit overwhelming.

But my biggest concern right now is finding the right house for us.  I am praying that a house goes on the market soon that will be just perfect for our family.  Right now I am not convinced that the perfect house is out there.  And, buying a house is a BIG DEAL — I’d like to find the perfect house!  I’d like to get it right the first time, because I definitely don’t want to have to go through this moving process any more often than necessary!

walking to save my sanity

Please don’t think that I’m criticizing people who choose medications to deal with their anxiety and/or depression or other issues.  I’m not.  I do, however, feel that those drugs are prescribed too quickly.  We’re a society that loves to take a pill to solve our problems, and while modern medicine can do amazing things (it has kept my younger daughter alive more than once), it has drawbacks, too.  This is my story; yours may be different, and that’s okay.

——————-

When I was trying to get pregnant with my second child, I experienced a lot of anxiety.  After a miscarriage, I experienced depression, too.  (Probably some form of post-partum depression.  Did you know you can get PPD after a miscarriage?  You can.)

I was also recovering from over a year of perpetual foot problems at that time, problems that had culminated in my having foot surgery.  When I had the miscarriage and resulting anxiety and depression, I was post-surgery, but I still had to check in with my podiatrist on a regular basis.

I liked this doctor’s liberal/crunchy-yet-practical-down-to-earth personality a lot, and I felt very comfortable with him.  So, I shared with him the emotional turmoil in my life.  In response, he told me that he had been part of studies at UC Berkeley that were studing something with brains and SSRI-inhibiting medications (whatever the kinds that anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds are), and he told me to be extremely cautious before starting those kinds of drugs.  He said that the longer a person uses those kind of drugs, the more the person’s brain changes to become dependent on them.  He said, “Use those drugs for a short while and as a last resort, only if necessary, but there’s a lot of other stuff you can try first.”

Then he said that a brisk walk for 45 minutes or so will gradually – and naturally – increase a person’s serotonin levels (or whatever chemical it is that is low when you’re depressed and/or anxious).  He said that most anti-depression and anti-anxiety meds take at least a month or so to make the proper chemical changes in your brain, but that over the same length of time, you can often cause those same chemical changes in your brain by adding mild exercise to your life.  Plus, the benefit of exercise is that your body makes the good chemicals in exactly the correct amounts and in exactly the right form, and you end up feeling physically better from the exercise.

So, I decided to give it a try.  Around our home are lots of nice quiet streets for walking, and there are varying degrees of hills.  I could choose the streets with more or less hill, and I pushed 3 year-old Lyd in her stroller to help work my body a little more.

Did I love it?  Oh, no!  I hated it.  There were many mornings I did NOT want to go outside.  Too cold, too damp, too tired, too unmotivated.  Or too sad.  Some mornings I didn’t go.  But there were still lots of mornings when I did.  As I pushed Lyd up a hill, sweating and panting and hating every moment, I would repeat to myself, “It’s this or Zoloft.  It’s this or Zoloft.”

And, over time, I did feel better.  The doctor was right.  And, blessedly, I never had to go on medication.

———————-

I’ve come to realize that anxiety problems will always be part of my life.  When I’m overtired, I get anxious.  When my blood sugar gets too low, I get anxious.  When big stressors come my way, I get anxious.  Some people over-eat in those situations, other people get an upset stomach or an ulcer or a headache or some other less-than-ideal response.  My default is to be anxious.  For me, it’s a physical response, not an emotional response.  (And not a spiritual response.  My Lutheran husband reminds me that my faith is not based on how I feel.)

Knowing those facts about my anxiety has been a huge comfort for me.  It’s still scary to feel anxious and to have my heart racing, but now I know, I KNOW that I’m going to be okay.  I know from experience.  I also have lots of little mental tricks and, if necessary, supplements that can help me.  Best of all, I have a husband who also knows that my default is to be anxious, so he doesn’t freak out about it, which helps me to not freak out about it either.  It’s easier now to view my anxiety in the same light as one would a headache or a backache: it’s a nuisance, and you need to change things up a little bit when it acts up, but it’s not a huge deal.

The stress of an upcoming move – and all that goes with it – and the situation in Japan (Must. Not. Read. or Watch. the News) has racheted up my anxiety recently.  I also know that my anxiety is not likely to completely go away anytime soon.  In all likelihood, it probably won’t calm down completely until we’re settled into our new home.

So, despite everything I have to do right now, I’ve started walking again.  Walking used to be a regular part of my life when I had a walking partner, but now that I’m on my own, it’s more of an effort for me to go.  However, I have to do it.  It’s this or else I’ll slip down into a big pit of anxiety.  I don’t want to do that to me or my family.

So, I’m walking.

I’m grateful to have a cheap method that works.  I hope I can continue it as long as necessary to see this anxiety through.

(And we’re looking for our new house to be within walking distance of our new church!  A built-in walk every day would be a blessing.)