Sunday, July 16, 2017

Driving ourselves crazy

When I was a new mom, I read a lot of parenting books. I read the super crunchy attachment parenting books, the super conservative books, the what-to-expect books, the sleep books, they this-will-solve-all-your-problems books. I even went to a seminar or two.

I can sum up what I learned during that time that I still use in a few sentences.  Consistency and structure are good. So is flexibility and spontaneity. Follow through.

I needed those books and seminars when I had them. I needed to be told again that I had to be a leader to my children and so I had to let my "yes" be yes and my "no" be no. I have be consistent in what I say to them so that they know that my word can be trusted. They also operate better with some structure when they are little and they need to be taught to create their own structure as they grow.

There, I've just saved you a lot of reading. As much as I loved my persona as earth mother with my cloth diapers and my slings and all the breastfeeding, most of that wasn't really about the baby, it was just how I was getting through the infant years. The real work starts when your cloth-diapered-breastfed-home-birthed baby says "NO" to you and sprints toward traffic.

We can drive ourselves crazy of those externalities of raising kids. Between the sunscreen that will kill you or the occasionally raised voice that's going to give your kid anxiety or the spanking that will permanently damage or the lack of spanking that will damage them another way or the sleep training that will kill them or the the co-sleep that will also kill them. None of this is the actual problem!

The real thing that keeps parents up at night, the real things that makes us crazy, the thing that has us so worried we mask it with all these other small fights is our own lack of control. We can't control how our kids will turn out. Let that sink in for a minute. We cannot control how our kids turn out. They will leave our homes and make their own decisions that we wont have a say in and that shit scares us. So we'll dither about sleep training or sunscreen because those are small problems that we can feel some small amount of control over and fool ourselves into thinking that if we just do the right things in the right order, everything will be alright.

Of course, we have some influence and lord knows we can screw up our kids if we want to. Look around and see the whamy that absentee, addicted or abusive parents put on their kids. But a lot of those kids, the ones from parents that seemingly did everything wrong, they're finding better ways to do it all today. I know many of them and I am one of them. I also know more than a few who had parents who did more right than wrong who still went down some dark and scary paths that no one wants their baby going down.

Our babies will go down those dark and scary paths through their own decisions and that's what keeps us up at night, that's the thing that's so terrifying that we have to invent other, smaller problems to occupy us so the big problem doesn't drive us over the edge of our dwindling sanity.

So go ahead and read those books and do your internet research if you have the stomach for it. Breastfeed your baby until they turn 3 and tie them up on your back even though you both sweat like crazy. Do whatever it is that lets you sleep through the night. Do your best, whatever that looks like, and love the children you've been given for as long as you can.

Friday, June 30, 2017

My own hypocrisy in action

So, last Saturday my pastor preached a beautiful sermon about the good Samaritan. He emphasized that we need to not only help those who are unlike us but we need to accept help from those who are unlike us. We need to be humble enough to accept mercy and compassion from those we may have looked down on previously.

It made me think about how often we refuse to let those around us offer us comfort because we don't even let them know that we are hurting. We put the brave face on, post something pretty and softly lit on instagram and hope that people buy it. We even judge those who do wear their pain on their sleeves because that is just not done. At least, that's what I do.

So, full confession time. I've been in therapy since January. My childhood was pretty crappy in a lot of ways and I've been effectively not dealing with it throughout adulthood first by partying a bit too much and then by distracting myself by having many babies. Now, I'm too old to party and my babies are big enough that they are no longer all consuming time suckers. Filbert is 3 and I don't change 15 diapers a day and get 3 hours of sleep a night. I've had time to think and thinking has let a lot of things surface that I thought were permanently buried.

During the last school year I started noticing that my temper was perpetually shorter than it had been.  I was anxious and worried all the time. I found I was perpetually late and started withdrawing from many of our usual activities because it was just. so. hard to get myself and four small people moving. I found myself retreating behind a book or a podcast or a show on netflix so as not to feel or think or deal with my life. I felt like I was getting worse at dealing with my life than I had been only a little while before.

So, I'm in therapy now and I've been diagnosed with anxiety and depression and the letters PTSD have been floated out as a possibility. Therapy is bringing up all kids of stuff I'd really rather not think about at all but I know it's important so I'm thinking about it anyway, most of the time. However, I haven't told very many people and even when I do, I gloss over and brush it aside. All this thinking means that I'm getting worse before I get better. At least, that's the hope.

And so, back to the good Samaritan. At our usual discussion time, I brought up a friend who is very sad about something awful that happened and she's grieving pretty publicly about it. I once went through a similar(ish) experience and didn't grieve so publicly (All 5 of my blog readers knew about it but that was the extent of it) and I did my best to get over it as quickly and efficiently as possible. I know, I hear how stupid that sounds but it seemed like the thing to do at the time.

I mention these things it passing and how maybe my friend has the right idea and she's letting her friends and family from far off bind up her wounds and show her mercy because she's letting them know how it hurts. Maybe me trying to be efficient about grieving was really just pride because I didn't think anyone else could or would be a good Samaritan to me.

I mention these things and the discussion moves on to other topics but my eyes feel strangely watery. Not crying but like I could and then we stand for the song and something in me breaks and I'm crying openly and not fully sure why. Our church is only about 30-40 people so I'm sure everyone can see me, especially when I break down and search for a kleenex. It's like a big ole' white flag advertising the fact that I've broken into tears.

And of course, I play it off like it's nothing. I pretend like my face isn't red and blotchy when I see people giving me a curious look after church. I smile at my kids and when our brand new pastor asks how he can pray for me this week, all I can think to mention is something so minor I can't even remember it a week later. That's right, with the pastors admonition to humbly accept help ringing in my ears, do I tell about any of the very real stuff I've been dealing with? No! I mumble something about nothing and get out of there as quickly as I can.

So, all this is to say, I'm so very sorry for not trusting my church enough to let them show me some mercy. I'm so sorry for my pride in thinking I should deal with this myself. I'm so sorry for completely ignoring the good and true teaching from my loving pastor and I'm sorry for not trusting Jesus enough to let him help me through his people. That's a lot to be sorry about and I hope my church family can forgive my pride. I still feel new and like I want to make a good impression which is ridiculous.

So, for now, I'm going to keep working on being humble enough to accept help. I'm going to work on my issues so that I need less help and I'm going to encourage anyone who reads this to answer honestly if you are lucky enough to have someone ask, "How can I be praying for you this week?" "Oh, I'm fine." is not an honest answer to this question and true community requires that honesty, mercy and trust in each other.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Shoveling out the expectations

It's that time of year again. It's end of school, finish those last assignments, do the testing, schedule the evaluator, pull together the portfolio, that time of year. It's always at this time of year that I get grand ideas for all the things I'm going to do when I don't have to worry about homeschooling every day.
Every year that I do this I set myself some pretty crazy expectations. I'm going to clean my house, organize all the things, reupholster the couch, sew full wardrobes for me and the kids, solve world hunger, bring about world peace, vacuum out the car. You know, the usual.

I think this year I'm not.
I'm not going to set myself up for failure by imagining myself with unlimited time and energy.
I'm not going to imagine an entire new me by fall.
I'm not going to lose 50lbs by September.

This was a hard year for us. I've been dealing with some mental health crap and Pudding and Tyke are moving into more challenging school work while the Walnut starts Kindergarten and Filburt is not schooled yet so he pretty much destroys my house while I do school with everyone else.  It's been a challenge to be everything to everyone at all different stages of development and education.

So this Summer I'm going to coast. I'm going to sleep as late as the kids will let me. I'll fix meals and clean them up. I'll read some trashy romance novels. I'll walk the dog and play with the kids. I'll putter around my garden and run the kids where they need to go but that's really it. I'm not going to bury myself in expectations. Maybe I'll find some motivation later, but right now, my instincts say to coast so that's my plan.

Monday, March 28, 2016

So, Lent is now over, Good Friday has come and gone and Easter morning came with all it's beautiful promise and power. Over lent, my resolution was to read my Bible more and to attempt to practice meditative study. That is, where you read a passage, focus on something that strikes you and meditate on in for a time allowing God to teach you in the stillness. During the meditation, you're supposed to try to clear your mind of all the sundry issues you may be dealing with and open yourself to the lesson. As you can imagine, this doesn't work super well when one has 4 crazy small people running around wrecking things while you try to be still. So, my meditation has been brief and segmented but it's the best I can do right now, and I think that's enough, for now.
Today I read Acts 1,2,and part of 3. I generally read until something sortof hits me, until the lesson I need that day jumps off the page and catches hold of me and says, "This! Right here! This is what you're supposed to think about today! This is the lesson you need to hear!" Today, the scripture that shouted at me was the story of the apostle Peter healing the lame man outside the temple gate. The man had been crippled since birth and had begged for his living outside the temple of the living God. I can think of nothing more contrary to the nature of this God than tossing a few coins to a beggar and then going in to the temple to go through the motions of worship. Isn't that crazy? How can the people of God leave this man outside the gate that is called Beautiful with a few coins or a smile and nod and then go in to the temple, leaving him on the outside?
Anyway, back to our story. The man asks Peter for money and Peter says, "Silver and Gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!"
The man gets up and finds he is healed and immediately begins walking and leaping and praising God. Then he goes into the temple and walks and leaps and praises God. Can you imagine the scene? This man who had sat outside the gates for years was so grateful to finally be able to walk that he couldn't keep silent about it. Nor could he just walk around like it was no big deal. He didn't just walk, he leapt. All those regular everyday people who were just there because it was expected of them must have felt pretty uncomfortable. They must have been shocked at the unbridled joy and praise of this man.
If someone started leaping in my church, I'd think they were high or else the sort of "I'm-more-spiritual-than-you" sort of Christian. How cynical is that! That's a horrible thing to think about another believer. How can I judge what the Spirit is doing in another child of God? But I probably would.
This makes me ashamed of my cynicism and it makes me ashamed of my quiet, buttoned down, rolling-my-eyes-at-lyrics-I-don't-agree-with singing. It makes me ashamed of standing in one spot while I feel my spirit moved.
God is praised in the stillness and in the noise. Worship in quiet can be just as powerful as a joyful noise. Don't get me wrong about any of that. What I'm ashamed of are all the times when I really felt grateful and joyful and I really felt that my praise was too big to get out of my body but I kept still anyway out of embarrassment or fear or a desire to blend in. Jesus doesn't require me to blend in!
I am a child of God! I am beloved! How can the joy and praise of someone so loved be contained in a quiet, don't-draw-too-much-attention-to-myself kind of worship?
I jotted down a little poem after reading this story and I'm going to post it hear so that all 5 of my readers can see it. Here it is.
My praise is calm and dignified
a shadow of what is real.
I'm cynical and skeptical
afraid of what is showey
What would happen if I let it out?
If I walked and leapt and PRAISED?
Would I be embarrassed?
Would I be ashamed?
If I danced and leapt in praise
would my praise be any deeper?
If I worshiped that bravely
Would I be braver?
Am I brave enough to be that brave?
Can I step out like that?
Right now, I just don't know,
But I want to.
I'm just going to hit publish before I get embarrassed of this too.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Birth of Filburt

This was the birth that turned everything I knew about how I birth on it's head.  Let's start at the beginning.

I thought we were done with suprise pregnancies but there we were, the line had appeared.  My period math had been inaccurate and apparently I'd been too lazy to go get the diaphragm and here we were.  Four kids, that's a massive family by DC suburb standards.  Shoot, even three seems a little nutty by those standards but 4 was crazy. I had always thought I would like 4, Matt had thought we could be done at 2, I was considering stopping at 3 but before we could decide any of that, here comes number 4.  I found out in the morning and didn't want to drop that kind of news on Dilbert at work so I bugged my friend Fergy about it instead.  I sent her a picture of the test, followed by an OMG and a WTF and probably several other obscenities. When Dilbert got home, I sat with my 16 month old in my lap and told him that that thing we'd been wondering about was in fact the case.  He took it pretty stoically, as he does most things.

I checked in with my midwife and she had me come in for an appointment just to talk things out.  I was pretty freaked out and she talked me off the wall.  My first baby was a suprise and I had thought we were done with surprises.  Our middle two had been planned and I liked having some warning.  My midwife listened to my ravings and calmed me down and by the time I left her office I was actually looking forward to this baby. Somehow in all the crazy of finding out I was pregnant, I'd forgotten about how awesome babies are and she helped me remember.

As our move to the Pittsburgh area approached, I looked around on the Google and found a new midwife up in PA.  Pennsylvania is pretty different from VA in it's attitude about midwives.  There are lots and lots of hospital based CNMs but they don't credential out of hospital midwives so they are difficult to find and evaluate.  I found one who was in the right area and seemed to have enough experience.  I asked a lot of questions and she had all the answers I was comfortable with. The only iffy thing was that when I told her about my experience with Joel, she told me that she would have counseled me differently.  I think her exact words were "I would have encouraged you to make a different choice." I found this a little judgmental but with so few midwives around, I figured one little thing like that shouldn't make or break this decision.

When I first met New Midwife we talked about a lot of the same things we had on the phone.  We sat in my new, unfurnished living room and chatted about homeschooling and kids and this weird rash that the Walnut had at the time. We talked a lot and then finally got around to birth.  I asked more and deeper questions and she asked about my previous births.  She really seemed to have all the answers so we gave her a deposit and went on our merry way.

She suggested that we become friends on facebook so that we could get to know eachother better in the short time we had.  I was already 20 weeks so we were getting started half way through this pregnancy.  New Midwife is very opinionated and very open and sometimes forceful about her opinions.  People often forget who the audience is when they are behind the facebook curtain so maybe she didn't mean for me to see this or maybe she did and hoped it would change my mind. I don't know.  I do know that she'd asked if we were looking for a church.  I know I told her that we were trying out a few of the Methodist churches in the area but hadn't settled on one yet.  I know I said that I'd been going to Methodist churches since the Pudding was born and that I felt comfortable with that theology.  Then on facebook I see that New Midwife has posted a link to the web site of the United Methodist Church.  The link led to the church's stance on abortion which basically says that we don't like it, we believe it's ending a life but that because of the unique circumstances of each woman seeking one, they believe that it should remain a legal option that is rarely used.

Now, this may not seem like much but here's the thing.  Because the church has this stance, that allowed my pastor to offer me comfort and guidance while we were going through our ordeal with Joel.  She offered to come to the hospital with us, to baptize Joel. She performed a funeral for him.  She wouldn't have been able to do most of that and still keep her job had she been a minister in a Baptist church.

So, when New Midwife posted this link accompanied by a rant about how far this church had drifted from the truth of the Gospel, I was hurt.  I tried to ignore the post, but people kept commenting on it so it kept getting kicked to the top of my news feed and the comments hurt too.  Finally, I felt like the comments I was reading were missing the point of the church's stance.  I spoke up and told my story, my Joel story.  I told about the condition that he had and the information we were given at the time.  I told about how sweet and encouraging my pastor had been when we were going through all that and what a blessing it had been to me to have someone guide me through it.  I told about the risks of not doing it and weighing those against the risks of having it done and why the former outweighed the latter.  New Midwife said she was sorry that I'd been made to feel like my body would be damaged by not having him when we did.  Her husband, after chiding me for having a female pastor, said that just because my pastor had said it wasn't a sin didn't make it so. Several others speculated on what could have been done to save my baby.

When I saw her next we didn't talk about it but I was thinking about it the whole time.  I was hurt that she thought I'd been manipulated by my doctors.  I'd done my own research and made my own decisions.  I wasn't bullied or pushed into anything. I made the best decision for my current and future family and I felt belittled by her comments. I talked to a few other people, including my old midwife but there just didn't seem to be anything we could do.  New Midwife is and always has been very sweet and friendly to me in person. But in order to preserve whatever relationship we had left, I hid her posts on Facebook. What a silly world we live in, where little comments said while hiding behind a keyboard can cause so much trouble. I probably should have just hidden her posts as soon as I saw it but you know how it is when someone is wrong on the internet.  It's sometimes impossible to stop yourself from setting them straight.

As my due date approached, I grew enormous.  I was depressed, I think.  I missed my friends and my whole world down in VA.  I was physically miserable due to my wacky hips and lower back.  My kids would tear the house apart all day and I couldn't bend over to put things right.  I wasn't happy.  I kept having little contractions, tickle contractions, nothing to write home about but they just kept comming.  One Saturday I asked if my midwife could come check me because these little contractions, even though they weren't intense, just seemed to keep on coming and I was wondering what they heck was going on.  She checked and found me nearly completely effaced but not dilated.  It was a relief to know I wasn't dilating yet.  My friend Fergy and Supermom were coming up from VA and I wanted to have plenty of warning before this baby made his appearance.

Finally, after yet another evening of heartburn and hip pain, I looked at Dilbert with desperation in my eyes and said, "Can we go upstairs and have sex just so we can get this baby out?"
...
I woke up at about 5:30 the next morning with more little contractions.  Then I realized that my water was leaking.  I'd never had that happen before.  With my natural labors, the water has stayed intact until the birth is imminent. Not this time.  I waddled to the bathroom and took a shower to get the amniotic fluid off, all the time having contractions about 3 minutes apart.  They weren't bad but they were more than the tickly contractions had been.  Dilbert called Fergy and Supermom and they got on the road. We let New Midwife know what was up but told her we didn't need her yet.  I got dressed and moved around our bedroom a lot.  Dilbert went downstairs to clean the kitchen since he knew people would be coming soon and our house looked like a bomb had hit it.  He was buzzing around cleaning things and I was focusing on contractions.  I told him he was stressing me out with all his hurry and that it didn't matter if the house was clean or not, the baby was coming.  He kept cleaning anyway.

I remember staying in my room a lot, walking and swaying or laying down, whatever felt right at the time.  Matt came in from time to time and the kids were excited because we knew the baby was coming today.  Then around 10, the contractions died down to nothing. I lay down to rest and they were just gone.  I was just starting to panic about it when at 11, I heard the car door close and knew my friends had arrived.  I had a big contraction and waited for them to come up.  I was so happy to see them I didn't realize that this big stall in labor is actually a symptom of a breach positioned baby.  More on that later.

It was so good to have my friends with me.  They knew just what to say and we had so much fun just hanging out while I labored.  We joked our way through some castor oil, to make my labor pick back up after the stall.  We walked around the back yard and enjoyed the sunshine.  I told them about what I wanted to do with the yard once the weather warmed up enough. We chatted with a few neighbors that were out.  Everytime I felt a contraction coming on I would lean forward and put my hands on my knees and let my belly hang.  It seemed to help me keep loose to do this.  I'm sure it' looked interesting to the neighbors.

Around 2 or 3 I told Dilbert he could call the midwife. While we waited for her I remember standing around my kitchen island and someone looked up the phrases you're not supposed to say to laboring women.  We thought they were funny so they all started saying them to me.  It was things like "Are you OK?" "Does it hurt?" "Wow, that one sounded bad!" I remember laughing a little even during the contraction.

The midwife got there and I was starting to feel like it was time to go upstairs and have a baby.  The contractions seemed more intense and I just felt like I was about to hit transition.

The sequence of events gets a little fuzzy for me here but the next thing I remember I was on the bed on my hands and knees and I knew things were about to go crazy.  My beautiful Pudding was there on the chair in my room watching and I remember telling her that pretty soon I was going to have to push and that I would probably sound really crazy and it would probably hurt but that I would be ok and that it was just want I needed to do to get the baby out.  I will always be proud that I thought to reassure her at that moment.
Well, I didn't feel pushy yet but New Midwife said I could try pushing with the next contraction.  I did but that big, uncontrollable urge to push didn't happen.  I kept waiting for that urge to just take over my body and get that baby out but it just didn't come.  I would half-heartedly push with each contraction but I couldn't find a position that was working for me and I wasn't making much progress.

I got down on the floor, my back against the bed and my feet held by my friends.  I tried pushing this way for a few minutes and the midwife started seeing meconium.  She asked to check me and when she did, she discovered that baby was breech.

The fun thing about breech birth is that it doesn't trigger that happy little expulsion reflex.  That squishy little bum doesn't press the right places like a big hard head does so it's a lot harder to get them out.  You also have to very be very careful getting them out because if you startle them, they can end up stuck and there's nothing you can do.  So, we were in a tricky situation.

I remember everyone telling me to push and trying to be encouraging.  I got on my hands and knees again and tried to push but every time a contraction came I felt scared  and tried to fight it.  I didn't want to push because pushing hurt and I had to mentally decide to do it, I really wanted my body to just take over, get my mind out of the way but it wouldn't.

Finally, after lots of little pushes and more whining and fighting and begging to go to the hospital for a c-section, the midwife told me to reach back and feel my babies feet.  His bum had come out first and his little feet and legs had just fallen out.  Finally, finally the urge to push came and I gave one great heave and he was out.

Now, I didn't see this part but everyone else told me about it later.  Remember, I was on my hands and knees, and the baby had come breach.  Other than myself, no one else had touched him at all. So, when his head was finally born, he landed bum first on the chuck pads on the floor.  Apparently he actually sat there for a minute, propped up on his own arms and legs and looked around at everyone, blinking. He didn't cry, which freaked me out because I couldn't see him and I'd been worrying ever since I started pushing and we found out he was breach about all the risks I'd read about.  So, while everyone was marveling at his froggy like squat, I was freaking out because I didn't think he was breathing.  After a beat, New Midwife rolled him over and got him to cry to clear his lungs and I was able to sit back and actually see him for the first time.

He was smaller than I'd expected, smaller than my last two babies and he didn't have the huge Hanson head that my other kids all had.  He had huge eyes in a tiny little face and he blinked up at me as they handed him to me.  He was covered with vernix felt very slippery.

When I was pushing and things had gotten a little scary, Fergy had sent the kids out.  They came back in now and surrounded me and I was so glad to see them.  I don't even really understand why because I was so tired and I didn't want them around for very long but I wanted them close.  Having just come through this very scary birth, I wanted to see the fruits of my labors, all my labors. I wanted to know that they were close and safe and that they knew I was safe.

The midwife and her assistant cleaned things up and made me take a shower after a bit, they checked over Filburt (8 lbs, 3 oz. 20 inches) and made sure he was latching alright and then left us alone. Supermom made me some eggs and toast and Fergy and Dilbert got the kids to bed.  My only job was to look at baby, who was pretty sleepy. And so began our journey as a family with 4 kids.

The Summer of Kelly

Homeschooling 2 kids while you have a threenager and an infant is hard.  Can we all just agree on that right now? By about 4, when everyone is finally done with school work and I've managed to get the little ones to nap and not screamed at anyone (much), I'm beat. Then I get to make dinner and clean it up.  It's an all day, full on mental exercise in self control and temper keeping as well as teaching.  Please don't misconstrue this as whining because I do really love homeschooling and I love having my kids home with me all day.  It just isn't easy and I'm never, ever alone.
All during the school year, if I ever talked about my weight, it was to say that I wasn't going to worry about it too much right now.  I didn't feel like I had the energy left over at the end of the day to tackle another problem, least of all my own issues with food.
Then the kids got their test scores back and I realized they'd actually learned something this year.  Then we had our evaluation and our lovely and talented evaluator was enthusiastic about how awesome our homeschool is.  That's when I realized it might be OK to take a break and focus on some other things.
So, this summer I am letting my kids do a lot of nothing (after they've done their chores, I don't want to have to unload my own dishwasher) and I'm starting to do some things for me.  I've signed up for Power Yoga at the YMCA which is exhausting but I feel stronger and better about me after I do it.  I'm attempting to cook low carb.  I'm not putting the pressure of a real elimination diet on myself because I still have 4 kids and that's still plenty to do but we're having a lot of meals of some kind of meat and a whole lot of vegetables fried in coconut oil and served over nothing or maybe cauliflower rice. The kids hate it but they hate everything I cook so whatevs.
So, I'm attempting to eat better and exercise more. Then why the sudden blog post after years of being idle? Well, I've had my last baby. He's now a year old and I'm starting to realize that one day soon, I will need something outside of my kids to pour my creative energies into.  I need something that's just mine that I can have a passion about. I sortof always thought that whatever I ended up doing when I grew up, writing would be involved somehow.  I blame my 8th grade English teacher who ceaselessly praised my writing assignments and encouraged me to continue with it.
So, I've joined a writing group at my church and I'm trying to take up my blog again and I've got a little something working on pen and paper that I may or may not share on here someday.  I'm thinking about it.
Stay tuned for the next installment of
The Summer of Kelly!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A brief recap of the last 3 years

I've been away from this blog for a really long time.  The five people who read this blog probably already know most of the things I'll bring up here but for some reason I cannot just write a current post without addressing the absent information.  I'm sure a random internet lurker will appreciate my efforts.
My last post told of the birth of my 3rd child, the Walnut. Well, when that child turned 16 months, we discovered much to our surprise that we were expecting another baby.  We looked around our 1200 sq/ft townhome with a parking spot for a back yard and thought, "Where are we going to but them?"
My dear Dilbert started looking around for other jobs.  He loved his current job but there was no way we could afford a large place on the current salary in the DC area. He found a few options but nothing that would allow for what we really wanted. 
We wanted a home that we wouldn't grow out of with enough room outside for the kids to play and a neighborhood where we could feel safe letting them do so.  To those not familiar with the DC area, those things come with a really big price tag. 
In the back of our minds we'd always thought about having Dilbert telecommute and moving wherever we wanted.  Dilbert talked to his bosses about this option and everyone thought it was a fine idea.  We'd always thought the Pittsburgh area would suit us well so we started looking and found that we could find exactly what we wanted well within our budget close enough to the city that Dilbert could commute in if he ever decided to switch jobs. 
We fixed up our place and put in on the market, got in our van that night and drove up to the burgh to look at houses.  We found one that weekend and by the time we got home we were under contract and the house had been inspected.  We closed a month later and moved into our truly enormous house on a half acre in a nice neighborhood in PA.
Five months later Filbert was born here in this house.  I'll write about that someday but not now.  That birth challenged everything I thought I knew about myself and birth and it got pretty heavy for a while.  I have to be in the right frame of mind and possibly fortified with a bottle or two of wine before I get into all that.
Filbert has just turned a year old now and in the meantime we have been doing our best to make friends, put down roots and raise and educate our kids the best we can.
I want to write down here as much as I can because the older my kids get (The Pudding is now 9!) the more I realize how much my mind is letting slip away.  All that stuff that I thought I'd remember, I don't remember.  First words, ages of first steps, teeth, words. All those little insights that mothers have into what works for their child, it's possible to forget them for a time and have to relearn them all over again.  It's mid May and so our school year is coming to a close and I'm hoping that I will have the time to record many of those little things here so that I can revisit them, relearn them and remember all the thousand and one sweet moments I have the privilege to share with my babies.