I Did It!

As of 2:30pm (Brisbane time) on the 29th of September, I am a stay at home mom. I advised my now-former employer of my decision not to return to my role as a student progression advisor, updated Centrelink of the change to our circumstances, and promptly experienced 15 or so minutes of subsequent doubt as to the wisdom of my choice. Questions of career progression, how we’ll ever afford to buy a second vehicle, and general money rubbish swarmed around my tired brain, halted only by my daughter’s blood-curdling “my teeth are trying to bust through” scream. I rubbed some homeopathic teething gel on her sore gums, kissed her fuzzy head, and the doubts that moments earlier seemed so, so important kind of just faded away.

Where else can I be but right here, in my little home, doing laundry at an alarming rate and singing to my diva of a blessing as she fights her nap? There are moments when I’d rather be at work, where I’m praised and productive, but that’s not where I’m called at this point in life.

Harli and I decided early in our marriage that, should we have children, I would stay home with them. I firmly believe that motherhood is a high calling, and that my child(ren) deserve to have me put as much of my energy into their early development as possible. That said, actually saying the words “I won’t be coming back” was near agony for me. I know how incredibly blessed I am to have the ability to be at home, and I don’t want to take a moment of that for granted.I guess what I’m trying to communicate is that it wasn’t really a choice for our family; I’m at home because it’s what we believe is best, and we will make any sacrifice necessary to ensure that it stays this way.

Because I have an anxiety issue, and don’t want to offend anyone, please know that I have the highest respect for parents who have to return to work for a myriad of reasons, and can truthfully say that there are some amazing child care providers out there who pour so much into the kids in their charge. I have fond memories of my day care friends, one of whom is sort of my benchmark for life (check out teamvanvoorst.blogspot.com – Paige is a peach!) so I obviously came out alright. Yea?

So, friends, I did it! Stay tuned for regular updates on our single income life, punctuated by informative posts related to immigration, media recommendations, and the gaggle of creations that pop out of my sewing machine each week.๐Ÿ™‚

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Harper’s celebrating! See how happy she is…?


Pregnancy and Postpartum Preferences

My pregnancy was relatively uneventful. With the exception of killer heartburn that left me in tears some nights, and a very sore back, I can’t complain about much. It was far from magical, and I didn’t feel like a goddess or in touch with my ancestors via the life inside of me, but there are worse ways to spend 40 weeks and three days.

Recovery from Harper’s birth, on the other hand, was less than thrilling. My plans for a drug-free birth were thwarted by a strongly encouraged induction, which led to a caesarean section. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of a c-section, I’ll summarise: I wasn’t able to walk up stairs or lift anything heavier than my daughter for six weeks, spent three weeks unable to sit down or stand up without assistance, became very familiar with a plethora of pain relief tablets, have semi-permanent nerve damage in my bottom, and am have yet to regain total feeling between my bellybutton and pubic bone. Without the grace of God, assistance from my husband, and a two week stay from my mother and aunt, I would have been a hot mess. Thankfully, we all lived.

So! In the vein of my “baby must have” list, I thought I’d share some of my favourite products and tips for surviving pregnancy, and a postpartum/c-section recovery. As before, I’ve included links where possible.

PREGNANCY:

  • SLEEP
    • Get lots of it. During the last trimester, sleep is especially precious due to the physical discomfort (ex: sore back, round ligament pain, insomnia,) that can accompany the process of gestating a human being. If you have the thought that you’ll sleep better once your baby arrives, because you’ll be able to sleep on your stomach and your husband will do some of the nighttime wake-ups, toss it out like a grocery store bag. I’m not saying that life with a newborn has to be horrible, sleep-wise, but bear in mind that labor, delivery, and recovery take a ton of energy, and you’ll likely be shocked at just how knackered you are once bub arrives. It took me roughly eight weeks to start feeling like myself, and at 12 weeks postpartum I still need a nap some days.
  • MIESSENCE BELLY AND BREAST BALM (cost varies depending on membership)
    • Be sure to moisturize your bump, and the rest of your pregnant self. The Belly and Breast Balm from Miessence is a guilt-free option, and is still my full body moisturizer of choice. It’s thick, nourishing, absorbs nicely, and is made from certified organic ingredients. I’m a big fan of Miessence products, and can vouch for the sustainability, ethos, and quality of the company’s leadership and practices.
  • ZANTAC
    • I was 36 weeks pregnant before I discovered that Zantac is not only available in Australia (US brands of medication are rare here- there be no Tylenol,) it’s safe to use while pregnant. In an effort to avoid hyperbole, I’ll say this: it made a world of difference for me, especially in those last few weeks when sleep was elusive (see above). I’m allergic to mint, therefore wasn’t able to take any of the chewable or liquid antacids found in supermarkets, so the only relief I’d had prior to being prescribed Zantac were gulps of almond milk. You’ll obviously need to confer with your midwife, OB, or whomever is overseeing your pregnancy, prior to taking it, but don’t hesitate to ask for something stronger than Gaviscon if needed.

 

POSTPARTUM/C-SECTION RECOVERY

  • REST
    • By “rest,” I mean more than sleep. Following a c-section, you’ll be swept up with all the things that come with a new baby, and may forget that you’ve just had major surgery. The midwives will tell you to get as much rest as you can, to sleep when your child sleeps, and to not do a long list of things that you’ll want/need to do (ex: walking up and down stairs, vacuuming, mopping, lifting anything heavier than your child, bending down to do laundry). Try to take their advice. Lay down, take a nap, read a book, watch a BBC period drama, just relax. The dishes can wait, and you won’t die of shame if your mother in-law sees your dirty floors.
  • LEGGINGS
    • The softer, the better. Mine were from Target. No matter the type of delivery you’ve had, be kind to your belly, and don’t try to fasten jeans around it. If you can’t bear the idea of being seen in leggings, then buy a couple of long tops, and suck it up, Buttercup. Kidding aside, don’t put too much pressure on yourself (figuratively and literally) to “bounce back” to pre-pregnancy shape. If you’re dealing with a c-section scar, be especially attentive to fabrics that rub or feel tight around your lower belly.
  • HUGE UNDERWEAR
    • Inside your soft leggings are your Granny panties. Don’t be ashamed- they’re stupidly comfortable, and are the only real option for housing those gigantic maternity pads that you’ll use for weeks after your little darling arrives. Yay! Again, buy the Target brand to avoid feeling guilty if you need to toss them later. There will be plenty of time for pretty underwear, later.
  • BATISTE DRY SHAMPOO (cost varies, usually cheapest at Priceline)
    • There will come a moment, probably at 2pm on a Thursday, when you realise that you haven’t showered since Tuesday, and you’ve already walked up and down the stairs more than the doctor said you could, so you can’t take one until tomorrow morning. What’s more, the topknot you’re rocking suddenly feels like a greasy mess, which makes you feel like a greasy mess, and wonder if you’ll ever feel like “you” again. Fear not, dry shampoo is here to get you through. A couple of sprays, a quick brush, and you’ll feel just human enough to fold the laundry, wipe down the kitchen benches before they begin sprouting, or just make it until bedtime. Batiste has the nicest scents, and comes in a few sizes, so it gets my vote. I use the “Wild” fragrance, because I do. Quick note: I’ve used the tinted “Brunette” formula in the past, and ended up with colour all over my hands, scalp, and neck. I might just be incredibly inept, but I’d recommend sticking with the non-tinted versions of the product.
  • NUROMOL
    • Following a c-section, you’ll likely leave the hospital with a prescription for Endone (oxycodone,) and the advice to alternate taking Panadol (paracetamol) and Nurofen (ibuprofen) as needed. If at all possible, don’t fill the script, and instead grab a box of Nuromol, which combines Panadol and Nurofen and is a decent pain reliever, even in the early days when your incision is most tender. Once I began to regain sensation below my bellybutton, there were moments when I was certain that my scar had burst. Thankfully, I was just being dramatic. BUT! I unashamedly took Nuromol as often as I was allowed, even setting reminders for the next dose for roughly three weeks.
  • HIGH FIBER DIET
    • This one is simple: don’t eat junk after giving birth, and you won’t feel like death. Avoid simple carbs, or anything that gives you a massive sugar rush, and load up on beans and fresh veggies. Need a snack? Have some air-popped popcorn. Fiber fills you up, sustains healthy blood sugar levels, and helps relieve constipation. Don’t be ashamed- everyone poops, and you’ll need to following surgery.
  • ALL THE SUPPLEMENTS
    • Iron, and Vitamin C, and Magnesium- oh my! In addition to a healthier diet, I took an iron supplement for several weeks following Harper’s birth to help with some moderate anemia. I added vitamin C because it increases iron absorption, and most people are magnesium deficient and could use an extra dose each day. I can’t offer specific brand recommendations, just the general advice to pay attention to what your body is lacking and take whatever steps you feel necessary to make it right.

So, there you have it: my novice recommendations. I hope they’re helpful!

 


Australian Baby “Must Haves” (First 12 Weeks)

Yes, yes, long time, no post. I’ve been busy. Busy working 60 hours a week, busy with a semi-surprise pregnancy, busy making sure my cat adjusts to my daughter, and of course, busy being Mummy to my little bumblebee girl.

So, yes, moving on with business. From the moment I saw that faint second line on a cheap pregnancy test one Saturday afternoon, I began compiling a list of all the ‘stuff’ I’d need to acquire to accommodate the new addition to our family. Ok, I may have started making the list a few months before that day. What? Pinterest is a dangerous place.

While attempting to put together my master list, I quickly came up to the roadblock of not living in North America. In case you didn’t know, the majority of the internet is geared toward residents of the US or Canada. This shouldn’t matter, except for the fact that when you live in Australia, many (read: MOST) of the products aren’t available. Similarly, money-saving tips aren’t applicable due to the lack of coupons, and generally higher cost of living here. The number of times I’ve added “Australia” to search criteria, only to find that a book or toy that is $12 in the US retails for $57 here, is high enough to make me grumble like a curmudgeonly panda. From Youtube to Pinterest, finding Australia-specific baby gear, pregnancy products, and postpartum advice proved too difficult a task, hard as I tried.

In the hope of easing this tremendous burden, I’ve pulled together a list of the products I’ve loved the most during Harper’s first three months of life. Obviously, this might change as she gets older, and not everything will be available throughout the country. I’m located on the Gold Coast, and have easy access to several “baby” shops, along with the usual haunts, like Kmart, Target, Big W, and major supermarkets and department stores. Where possible, I’ve included links for your use, as I currently lack all semblance of photography skills. On with it!

  • ALDI NEWBORN NAPPIES! ($4.29 per pack of 28)
    • This is my #1. Seriously, they’re amazing. Trust me; my daughter wears cloth nappies part-time, so I’m pretty diligent about what goes on her bum.Not only are these nappies cheapest, they’re soft, super absorbent, have an easy to read wetness indicator, and fit perfectly. I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t rave about the performance and quality of Aldi nappies. The package says that they’re meant to fit babies up to 5kg (11 lbs), but Harper successfully wore them until she was seven weeks old, and she weighted in at 6.02 kg at her checkup that week. We received some Huggies as a gift prior to her birth, and she was never able to wear them. We shoved one Huggies newborn nappy on her, watched the poo shoot out the side, and gave the rest of the package to my sister.
  • DYMPLES SCENTED NAPPY SACKS ($6 for 400 at Big W)
    • As Harper’s bum is clad in cloth nappies part-time, I didn’t want to invest in a nappy bin that required refills. Instead, I use an inexpensive lidded trash can, and nappy sacks. Big W has the cheapest prices, and given what they’re used for, I don’t see the point in paying more than I need to.
  • Waterwipes ($7.50 per pack of 60 wipes at Woolworths or Coles)
    • No soap, fragrance, or other chemicals are present in these wipes. Just water. I’m all for having the least impact possible on my baby’s skin, and shy of usingย  a washcloth dipped in lukewarm water, this is it. The first six weeks are especially important in this regard, but we’ll be using the Waterwipes indefinitely. (EDITED 30/09/2016: My post originally promoted the Curash Simply Water wipes, which are touted as being 99% water. I’ve since learned that part of the other 1% is Methylisothiazolinone, which is linked to a host of nerve and skin-related reactions, and is banned from being in baby wipes in the EU. We promptly swapped to Waterwipes.)
  • GAIA BATH PRODUCTS (cost varies, found cheapest at Chemist’s Warehouse)
    • Organic, sweet smelling, gentle, and effective. Ok, and a little expensive. But, do you know how much product a baby goes through? Not much. It will take my daughter ages to go through the big bottle of Hair and Body Wash. In fact, I’ll probably have to help her use it up before it expires. I believe in spending my money where it matters most, and this is one of those cases. Harper loves “getting some Gaia” each day, and I can feel content with what I’m putting on her sensitive skin. Plus, the Moisturiser smells like Fruit Loops. Win!
  • TARGET ESSENTIALS WHITE BIBS ($12 for a pack of 10 from Target)
    • Boring, but invaluable. My mom picked up a pack for us when she came to visit several weeks ago, and I’ve used them every day since. They’re sooo soft, wash well, and fasten on the side instead of behind the head. When your child is screaming, flipping them around to velcro a super cute bib is low on your list. When Harper’s tongue tie broke a few weeks ago, one of these bibs was sacrificed in the name of having something soft to shove in her mouth to avert the trauma that was taking place. Take my advice, and buy these bibs.
  • ADEN & ANAIS BAMBOO SWADDLES (cheapest online at http://www.babybabyonline.com.au)
    • There’s a reason these muslin blankets are mentioned in most “baby must have” lists. The internet can’t be wrong, folks!๐Ÿ˜‰ These muslins get softer with each wash, serve approximately 1388 purposes (swaddling, tummy time support, light blanket, extra sun protection in the pram, etc.), and come in beautiful patterns and themes. We still swaddle Harper at night, and have tried just about every “swaddle” blanket, sack, or suit, only to find that the Aden & Anais muslins work best.
  • BONDS ZIPPY WONDERSUITS ($20-$25 each at Big W, Target, Best & Less, etc)
    • Ah, the Bonds Wondersuit. An Aussie favourite. Yes, they’re expensive. And, yes, they’re worth every cent. Miss Harper has outgrown all of her size 000 Zip Wondersuits, so I’ll be picking up at least one in size 00 in the next week or so. I’m so impressed by the quality of Bonds clothing, and loved the two way zipper, and fold over feet and hands for the moderately chilly days that Queensland calls “winter.” Plus, they come in adorable patterns, and who doesn’t love an adorably-clad baby?
  • BONDS LEGGINGS ($12-$15 per pack of two at Target)
    • Again, Bonds. I bought two packs of size 0-6 month leggings, and they’ve become staples of her daily wardrobe. They’re super soft and stretchy, and again, certainly worth the money. I’ve found that Bonds clothes are pretty generously sized, so I’m certain that the leggings will last another few months, despite Harper’s rapid growth pattern.
  • BOPPY (Approx. $100 new online at chicco.com.au, or less if buying used)
    • I didn’t actually buy my Boppy. A lovely friend gifted me with several boxes of clothes that her daughter had outgrown, as well as a Boppy and an extra cover. While it wasn’t on my list, I figured I’d at least use it as I figured out a nursing routine. More on that below, but in short: I’ve never used the Boppy as a feeding pillow. Instead, it lived on our couch, and served as a safe and comfy place to lay Harper in the first few weeks of her life as I was recovering from a c-section, and had to minimize strain. She used it for naps, and lounged in it most evenings. Now that she’s moving more, and loves to wriggle herself away from any constraint, however minor, the Boppy is seeing less action. Still, I couldn’t have done without it, and can foresee using it more as she begins sitting up.
  • LEKA BABY GYM ($45 from Ikea)
    • I can’t stand garish baby stuff, and gravitate toward natural materials, so this wooden gym was really the only one I looked at. I love that it encourages midline play, and doesn’t attract fur the way fabric toys do. Harper began using it almost immediately, and it has been so much fun to see her find new ways to play. This super sweet toy comes out most mornings while I’m sterilising bottles and loading the dishwasher, and can usually entertain Harper for 20-ish minutes. The dangling toys can be switched around or removed to encourage her to look from side to side at the spinning dials (her favourite part- she’s been spinning them like mad since she was about 10 days old), and its free standing structure means it can be used with any soft surface.
  • BRIGHT STARTS SAFARI FLOOR MIRROR ($15 from Kmart)
    • Harper is insanely strong, and has been a tummy time champ from the start, but was growing irritated by her current inability to actually crawl, making her a very grumpy girl at times. Enter this cheap and cheerful, baby safe mirror. My daughter has clearly inherited my vanity, because as soon as she caught a glimpse of “that pretty baby,” she became all too eager to resume her tummy time routine. I love that the mirror folds flat and doesn’t pose any danger to her, should she decide to head-butt it, and she loves looking at herself and whoever is playing with her.
  • BRIGHT STARTS BOUNCER ($17 from Kmart)
    • We have an Ingenuity automatic bouncer that has an adorable toy bar, and plays music and white noise. It barely gets used due to the fact that the bounce isn’t strong enough for Harper’s liking. The cheap manual bouncer, on the other hand, sees plenty of action. I lug it from room to room when I’m cleaning or taking a shower, and Little Miss has occasionally taken short naps in it. Truth be told, I’ve bounced her with my foot while baking cookies, folding laundry, and using the toilet. Seriously, buy the cheap bouncer- your baby likely won’t care about the snazzy features of more expensive options, and I kid you not when I say that our inexpensive bouncer works the same as the sleeker $199 Baby Bjorn version.
  • AVENT NATURALS BOTTLES ($11-$12 each at Baby Buntings or Target)
    • I planned on breastfeeding. Thanks to Harper’s severe tongue tie and high arch, and some minor complications related to my c-section, which necessitated medical treatment that left me unable to pump, that didn’t happen. I’m so glad that I bought these bottles prior to her birth, and recommend them to everyone. She’s never had a moment of reflux or colic, and the bottle design is recommended for mixed feeding, so I would have been comfortable using them had I been able to breastfeed and pump. We’ve also used Avent Classic bottles, which are a bit cheaper at $10ish each, but prefer the Naturals shape.
  • BELLAMY’S ORGANIC INFANT FORMULA ($25-$28 for 900g at Woolworths)
    • Accompanying the Avent Naturals bottles is our formula of choice. It’s comprised of 97% organic ingredients, and was a lifesaver when we were transitioning Harper from the formula provided by the hospital, which wrought havoc on her little tummy. Bellamy’s is the only organic formula that is readily available in supermarkets, and is roughly half the cost of other organic brands available online. To be honest, I’m not super thrilled with the ingredient list, particularly the inclusion of organic palm oil, but it’s the best option I’ve found. I toyed with the idea of homemade formula, but wasn’t able to source raw milk or cream, so Bellamy’s Organic it is.
  • BOON GRASS & ACCESSORIES ($40 for the mat, $8 for accessories at Baby Bunting or Target)
    • Oh my word, do I love Boon Grass. This drying mat is a cute addition to our counter top, and provides some much-needed organization when prepping bottles each day. We have two separate mats for the bottles- a small one purchased when I planned on bottle feeding on an occasional basis, and a larger one added later- along with two Twigs, a Stem, and a Fly for hanging the bits and pieces to dry. Bonus: it’s fantastic for drying glassware, as all liquid drains into a reservoir under the mat.
  • BOBA SLEEPY WRAP ($75 at http://www.babycarriersaustralia.net.au)
    • This was a hand-me-down from my sister in-law, and it’s been invaluable. My c-section incision was very tender for the first two months or so, and this soft stretchy wrap allowed me to wear Harper without discomfort. I’ve tried a few other wrap carriers, and the Boba is far and away my favourite. I still use it on a daily basis, especially when she’s fussy or I need to get off the couch and move a bit. I love having her nestled close to me, and she’s been known to nap in the Boba for three hours at a time when she’s feeling particularly sooky. The one downside of the wrap is the heavy fabric, which sometimes leads to a very sweaty baby, and will make using it in summer less than appealing. I’m hoping to find a cooler alternative for the warmer months, but for now, the Sleepy Wrap is still king.
  • ERGOBABY CARRIER ($169ish at David Jones or Baby Bunting)
    • Harli uses the Ergo whenever we go out with Harper. He prefers the structure it provides over the stretchy carrier, and we both appreciate how simple it is to use. It’s so sweet to see the bond that he and Harper have thanks to baby-wearing; she cuddles into him, and he talks to her about all the noises and sights around her. Again, she likes to sleep in the carrier. Without the Ergo, errands would be a much more difficult task. It’s really handy to not have to worry about loading and unloading the pram, or making room for it in shops. There are several versions of the Ergo, and I’ve yet to hear a bad report on any of them. We have the X-tra model because we’re both tall, big, people, and prefer the longer shoulder and waist straps.

Not listed, but required just the same when your baby begins their invasion: a freezer full of meals that you’ve pulled together ahead of time (things like burritos, casseroles, pasta bakes, and shredded chicken for salads and tacos are all super helpful when you’re too tired to make dinner), a simple meal plan when you do feel like cooking, at least two pairs of comfy leggings, and a good book to read while your bub is eating.

In a few days, I’ll post my pregnancy and postpartum recovery favourites. Stay tuned๐Ÿ˜‰

 

 

 

 


Isn’t She Lovely?

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It’s true. Come June 2nd, or thereabouts, I’ll be joining the Cult of Motherhood. Excited, nervous, and impatient, I am. God is good! Harli, Loki, and I can’t wait to meet her.๐Ÿ™‚


“Lucky for me, I have you to tie my shoes”

(My Big Fat Greek Wedding for the win!)

Thus was my sentiment to Harli earlier in the week, with bathroom habits referenced rather than shoe-tying. I’m not helpless, or a child, right? I could reeeeealllly go for a 64 pack of Crayola, along with one of those “Jumbo” activity books that my mom used to buy at Wal Mart for $2.97 in the hopes of keeping me occupied for more than 15 minutes, but I am most certainly an adult. An adult who drinks hot chocolate in the afternoon at around two, and occasionally enjoys single serve macaroni and cheese (from the BLUE BOX) for lunch, but an adult just the same.

Looking for proof, you skeptical sort? Well, I’m married- only adults do that! And I can drive, though I probably shouldn’t over here, as I’m my spacial relations are still a bit scary when I’m driving the wrong side of the car. Have a look at my house sometime, and you’ll find it spotless, aside from the almost constant presence of clumps of white fur on the floor, courtesy of my Chinchilla-cross-Persian cat who desperately needs to be groomed, but has parents who are too poor to afford the vet visit required to prove that he isn’t going to harm other cats at the grooming centre in Pet Barn, and is instead molting. He has the decency to walk around while self-grooming, and therefore spreads his fluffy deposits in every room of our townhouse. Loki even shuts the door of Harli’s “study” (it’s a bedroom devoted to his “collectibles” [TOYS] and RPG books, but it has a desk in it, so let’s pretend) behind him, so the floor looks as though a winter frost has hit if I’m not diligent in checking every day or two. No joke, before we got Loki Lou, I had to vacuum the downstairs of our place every three or four days, and the upstairs portion maybe every three weeks. Now, the entire place has to be tackled every other day, which is fine at the moment, given that I’m still home all day, but still annoying. I might just be developing better homemaking tendencies, and care a little more about how clean our house looks and smells. Anyway, point is: the house looks decent, so I am an adult, yes?

On point Panda. Things feel better than they have in months. Nothing has changed, circumstantially at least, but my days are happier and much more peaceful. I’m actually heading toward feeling pretty amazing, again. It has most certainly been an answered prayer, and I’m so so thankful. I know that there are a number of people/families who send up a word for Harli and I, and it means the world. It’s so corny, but I know when we’re being prayed for.

Practical speak: I’ve lost a little bit of weight- woohoo! Not much- like six pounds, but still.๐Ÿ™‚ Better eating habits (the hot chocolate and Easy Mac are pretty rare, truth be told) and exercise, who would have thought? I have the time, so devoting 20-30 minutes each morning to a dvd or YouTube workout isn’t exactly a sacrifice. Financially, we’re still ok, but our debt is the same as it was two years ago, so increasing our income remains a requirement if we ever want to be in able to afford to have children. Yes, I know that if I wait for “the right time,” it will never come and then I’ll be old and crusty and lonely. But really, we can’t afford it right now, and that’s just the honest truth. If God moves otherwise, then we won’t be upset, but it definitely isn’t our plan to add to the family before the end of next year.

On the subject of additional income, an idea of sorts has sprung up recently, and I’m praying for wisdom before we leap into anything. Don’t panic; we’re not going to flip houses, become Tupperware demonstrators, or work in the adult film industry.๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s only a small thought today, but any extra intercession would be most appreciated. I know- gimme, gimme, gimme, but I’m wicked like that.

Smile, Panda still loves you! xx


Life From the Passenger Seat

No need to brace yourself; I’m not going to have a proper whinge in your direction. However, I feel the need to document a bit of where life is moving, and that isn’t always a cheerful affair. Let’s be honest, kids: I’M not a cheerful affair. I’m not an affair, at all. Not even an event, and certainly not a spectacle. I’m just a panda whose life is still whizzing by, and I’m trying to find the good in it without ignoring the flaws.ย 

As of today, I’ve been without a job for five months. This is distressing, disheartening, frustrating, and a myriad of other adverbs with mopey connotations. When I quit my job in November, I didn’t anticipate still being out of work in mid-April. At most, I expected to have a new role by sometime in January, seeing as no one hires in December due to the holiday season. It seems that God’s still refining me, and my pride. I’ve had several interviews, and nothing has fallen into place. In some cases, the potential employer doesn’t have the courtesy to even ring to say I haven’t been successful after the interview.

Incidental to the above, I won’t be able to go home to Iowa next month for my best friend’s wedding. We were waiting to find out if some alternative funding would come through, but no. The dread I feel in breaking this news to her is palpable. What if I can’t get back before she moves away? What if I never see her again? It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve realised that my “goodbye” in 2010 is the final one I’ll share with someone, but it’s almost too much to contemplate in this case. We’ve been friends since 4th Grade Orchestra, shared an apartment for two years, and she did my make-up for my wedding to Harli nearly four years ago. To miss her big day feels much bigger than I anticipated. Everything about life “here,” instead of “there,” has been more difficult than anticipated.

In incredible news, Harli and I are in no way struggling, financially, on one income. Wait, not true! My student loans are currently in deferment, but other than that, we’re doing just fine. There aren’t words enough to express my gratitude for God’s provision in this situation. Bills are paid, and there’s still enough left over for a date night to the cinema every now and then.

I’m still struggling with some emotional baggage, particularly in relation to feeling “forgotten.” For all my claims of leading a life full of friends, and an amazing church family, in Iowa, only a few people have made an effort to keep in touch. I know that’s just what happens when geography gets in the way, but sometimes it’s biting to feel insignificant to people I thought were precious.

Six weeks ago, we added a fluffy member to the family in the form of a Chinchilla-cross-Persian named Loki. His full name is Loki Lou Laufeyson, because we’re Marvel geeks and “Lou” just sounds so sweet when I’m scolding him. He has the sweetest little voice, super soft paws, and a delightful attitude in the mornings. I just love my Loki boy.๐Ÿ™‚ Even sweeter: we only paid $100 for him from the previous owner. He came with his litter box, three scratching posts, some food, up to date vaccinations, and desexed, so he was quite the steal. Harli’s family are all very fond of him, and he’s just fine with that. He loves Harli best, but is content to be my cat during the day. And, that’s enough chatter for you to see I’m obsessed with my pet, so we’ll stop there.

H and I celebrated the wedding of my closest friend in Australia, last month, and it was incredible. No exaggeration, drama, or fibbing, it was the most beautiful celebration I can imagine, and a perfect representation of her relationship with her husband, family, and friends. As her brother-in-law was giving a toast, praising the Lord for His provision, and speaking honestly about faith in this world, I nearly wept for my dear friend. The time I’ve spent with Mia and her entourage has been so good for my panda soul. I know where I belong in those moments, and that is an answered prayer.

Familial issues and drama are still there. You know.

Harli and I started a “Bible in 90 Days” reading plan a little over a month ago, and are progressing nicely. It’s really fascinating to discuss stories and teachings that have been part of my consciousness since childhood, with an adult man who is reading them for the first time. He’s wowed in ways I’ve ceased to be, and the opportunity to re-read the OT is so precious right now. Love, love this part of our married life๐Ÿ™‚ Fingers crossed it continues.

Lots of “lifestyle” changes are starting to come about, and should anything stick, I’ll doodle back and report. Let’s not celebrate before the table has been laid, kk?

Overall, I don’t feel terribly in control these days. I’m sort of just along for the ride, and miss being the one behind the wheel, so to speak. I suppose life is sweet enough from the passenger seat, at least for this season. I’m not in a valley, or belting a tune a la Maria in The Sound of Music, and that’s perfectly fine. My Lord is amazing, even in the quiet.


Um, yuck?

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I’m not sure if I should be completely disgusted, or just thankful that my feet are so coarse that they keep my floor clean.