My Story

The chronicle of the journey from infertility, to miscarriage, to finally raising twin girls born in June 2012.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Story's End

Yesterday I celebrated 10 years of marriage.  Today, I turned 40 years old.

Folks, I think the story I was telling is over.  It's been over for quite a while, I just kept randomly trying to extend it for some unknown reason.  But everything in my life right now is about leaving behind what was, taking the best of it with me, and starting anew.  We have lost or are losing our feline friends of 10+ years, the preliminary demolition has begun on our house, I've sold my cameras and closed my videography business, and the girls will turn 3 next month leaving their babyhoods in the dust.

I'm no longer the scared preggo, the mourning miscarriage mama, the hopeless infertile, or the overwhelmed new twin mom that's been telling this story for the last 4 1/2  years.  Today, I'm a woman turning 40, with her husband and children, ready to talk about the funny tidbits of the average life (as average as twins can be) and stop wallowing in the difficulties it took to get here.  Everything I ever needed was at my table sharing my birthday cake this evening and just about everything I ever wanted is in the works to become a reality.

If anyone is interested in keeping up with the new me, hopefully the much happier, much more entertaining me, I'll be starting a new blog called The Mug Makin Mama.  There's nothing written yet, but I placed a picture of the girls there so you'll recognize that it's me when you bookmark it.  That's where I'll be chatting about those things that make twin moms laugh, scream in frustration, and pictures of whatever carnage twins can make of our new house.  I'll be talking about pottery, starting with the rebuild of my studio in the upcoming months, and just life in general.  Very similar to here, but where the lighthearted will be the norm and the thinky thinky posts will be few and far between.

I can't tell you how much this blog has meant to me and how much it's helped me get through some really rough days having all of you sharing your thoughts and words of encouragement with me.  You've been there for me when I cried and it meant so much to me.  I hope to you see you all at The Mug Makin Mama where we can share far more laughter than tears!

So goodbye to my 30's!  Goodbye to mourning!  Goodbye to desperation!  Goodbye to First Time Twins.

video

And hello to so much more.




Sunday, April 12, 2015

I just don't even know anymore

There are good things, bad things, exciting things, and scary things going on.

First, some good things.








I don't think there's anything more heart warming than when I give one of the girls something like a banana and they immediately break it in half and deliver half of it to their sister.  They don't take a bite first, they don't acknowledge that it's theirs, they just immediately give half to their sister because that's what you do.

Teeny Tiny won a coloring contest!  When I picked up the girls from the grocery store daycare a couple of weeks ago (a really good thing in and of itself), one of the ladies told me how Teeny Tiny spent 20 solid minutes working on her coloring, trying to stay in the lines (they are still in that complete scribble stage) and that we should enter it in the contest.  Yeah, sure, ok.  Got a call a couple of days ago that she won and picked up a small prize package yesterday.  Yay!  Last year, amazon had a great deal on a laminator so I was able to laminate her coloring page to go in her scrapbook (scrap pile shoved into a folder for future organization) as her first ever award or contest win.

Middie Biddie is now asking for things instead of just reaching and whining.  It's so nice to know what she actually wants!  And what does she want?  Bubbles.  Endless bubbles.  Millions of bubbles.  We got a cheap bubble machine but that blows sooooo many bubbles that the floor ends up slippery if I use it.  Just a tip - try different brands of bubble mixture.  Those with more glycerin make better bubbles and because it uses less liquid per bubble, you don't end up with soapy floors.

The girls are starting to ask for diaper changes.  Not consistently and they often ask when they don't really need one, but it's the first step to indicate a readiness for potty training!

Second, a meh thing.

We officially have our first Disney obsession.  Middie Biddie adores Sofia the first.  She's constantly using the name Sofia in her random mutterings so all day I'm hearing "Sofia, are you ok?  Run Sofia run!" and so on.  We got the girls some princess dresses and Middie Biddie insists on wearing her Sofia dress almost every day and she started crying when we would change her into her jammies at night, so now we have Sofia jammies to make her ok with taking off the dress.  Thank you Clearance aisle at Target for the extra dresses so I can wash them from time to time!

We're also big fans of Doc McStuffins in our household and have a Doc costume as well.  I'm often being told to say "ahhhh" while the girls use some tool of some sort to look into my mouth.

As far as Disney characters go, I'm ok with these two.  An adorable little girl who imitates her doctor mom by being a toy doctor, and another little girl who's sweet and not used to the whole princess lifestyle.  As long my girls don't obsess over those princesses who fall in love without ever actually speaking to the prince or who require rescuing every 3 seconds, I'm ok with a little Disney fandom.

Third, some bad things.

It's been less than a month since we put down my cat Shadow.  A large part of the decision to put him down so far before the move was to give us some time to see if Mayday would be a urine problem now that the other male was gone so we could decide whether or not we would surrender him before the move.  Well, a week or so after putting Shadow down, we had to take Mayday to the vet for a respiratory and urinary tract infection.  While he was there, they got very concerned that he's lost 4lbs in the last few months and upon further testing found that he has cancer.  It started in the colon and has already spread significantly.  Current life expectancy is now about 1 month.  So I'm feeling horrible that not only are we going to lose him, but that we could have kept Shadow for another month or two.

In kid raising news, it looks like we might soon be dropping the afternoon nap.  Damnit!!!  Middie Biddie has been fighting that nap for as long as I can remember and now Teeny Tiny, the one who loves sleeping, is starting to fight it too.  We've had a few afternoons where instead of quiet time or napping, I'm running into the bedroom because Teeny Tiny has managed to get under her mattress and is trying to throw it onto her sisters head or Middie Biddie has started peeling the tape that keeps the power cable to the monitor camera secured to the wall.  Now we're experimenting with just winging it in terms of schedule every day and just keeping an eye on them to see if they seem tired around nap time.  If we skip the nap, it does mean some crankiness starting around 6:30pm, but bedtime moves to 7:30pm and they might actually crash within a half hour.  On nap days, who knows what time they'll finally go to sleep.

But what makes this royally frustrating is that I've been counting on nap time to login to my work computer and do the daily reports to get a few more hours on my time card every week.  If we drop the nap, I'm not sure how that's going to work.  I'm trying to teach them the concept of quiet time so I can keep them in their cribs for that 45 minutes regardless of whether it's a nap day or not, but we're having mixed results with that.

Side note - I stopped the lifting of the mattress by getting some of those sheet suspender straps and pinning the corners of the sheets under the grate of the crib.

Exciting and scary - we're getting closer and closer to the move and getting a new house.  That's a constant strain hanging over us while at the same time we think about how much life is going to be different in a new house.  AAACCCCKKKKK!!!!!!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

First bloody nose

Well it was bound to happen.  Two toddlers racing around, of course one was going to end up with a bloody nose at some point.

Last night, the girls were playing with the curtain that I have up between the office and the main living room.  As if choreographed for a sitcom, they both tried to burst through at the same moment, bonked into each other, and each landed on their butts on opposites sides of the curtain.

All fun and games until Middie Biddie started crying with a little bit of blood coming out her nose.  It cleared up pretty quickly, but she also has a cold right now (we all do), so she was sneezing some bloody snot bubbles for the rest of the evening.

I guess I'm getting a little better at relaxing and allowing the girls to get a few of the normal toddler bumps and bruises.  They've been playing with the sink all day today.  Just a little trickle of water that they are pouring from one cup to another.  There are now soaking wet towels lining the floor in front of the sink and a pile of wet clothing on the counter next to it.  Yup, I'm totally loosening up on messes and bonks.

Friday, March 27, 2015

I pee when I cough

And I have a really bad cold right now.

The glamour of the aftermath of 2 twin pregnancies.

Friday, March 20, 2015

First day of pre-preschool!

Had to get the girls up early this morning because they started pre-preschool!

The drop in day care center we go to has started both a preschool program and a pre-preschool program.  The girls aren't really ready for full preschool as they don't yet understand structured activities so this program is perfect.  It's an hour and half once a week and will teach them how to function in a structured setting so they will be ready to start normal preschool next September.

I don't have a whole lot to report about their time because they don't talk enough yet to tell me about it.  They weren't exactly thrilled to be getting up early as you can see in the picture.  The only funny thing was K bending down to give them goodbye hugs and they couldn't be bothered because they were zooming into the door of the school.

Here's what I'm really excited about - I have 90 minutes every week that I can count on to be able to take care of appointments!  I can finally make a follow up appointment with my doctor from last January.  Maybe I'll schedule a hair cut.  Who knows???  I have some freedom!!!!

Goodnight Shadowboy

Last night was the night and we said goodbye to my Shadowboy.  I've had him my entire adult life, rescued him and one of his litter mates (we lost her a couple of years ago) in a parking lot as a kitten the summer after I graduated university.  He had a really good life even though he never got over his skittish nature.  I still remember the first time he decided to give me a chance and came out of hiding to sit next to me on the bed.

I spent the day at work and K did the hard part of chasing him down and getting him into the carrier and getting him to the vet where I met him.

Once we got there, we were taken into a room that was prepped with a nice gushy blanket and signed the papers indicating what we wanted done with his remains.  Then the vet came in and gave him an injection to sedate him.  She's a very sympathetic vet so my description sounds cold, but it wasn't.  We held him as the sedation took over and once he was fully asleep, there was another injection to stop his heart.

It was all very peaceful.  He didn't have any pain, and if I didn't know any better, it would have seemed like he was just sleeping heavily.  There was a moment in there when the sedation was taking effect that I craved another few minutes of interacting with him but I also knew that there's no end to the desire for "another 5 minutes".  I asked the vet to take him out very shortly after the end as I didn't really want to spend time with him after he was gone.  Petting him and getting no response would have made it all the more real and I didn't want that.

It really just seemed like he was sleeping as the vet cradled him in the blanket and took him out of the room.  I cried a little bit but wasn't as overwrought as I expected to be.  K and I went next door to have dinner and we went over all the reasons we had decided this was the best of our bad options.

When you lose a pet, you often look back at the health decline that lead you to the decision to put them down.  I'm finding that the more we look back on things, the more we see the health decline in hindsight than we do when it's happening.  There's a point in their life where they start going from healthy to sick and that point always seems farther behind you when you're looking back on it.  We've now lost the original 4 cats that we brought to our relationship and looking back at each one, we see how with most of them we should have spared them a lot of pain by making the decision sooner.  With 2 of them, they passed naturally and one of them we put down after she had been suffering for some time.  I think the goal is to put them down right about when they hit that 50% healthy point, that point where they've experienced as much happiness as possible and everything going forward is pain.

With Shadow, it's hard to say exactly where he was. I think he was probably about 60% healthy even though we thought he was more at 80%.  Looking back at the last year, and especially in most recent months, he was having a rough time.  We found vomit daily, often multiple times a day.  We set up a camera to find out exactly which cat was peeing on laundry in the bathroom (we set up a sacrificial towel) and we saw him peeing on it every 60-90 minutes indicating his kidneys were farther gone than we had initially thought. K gave him some tuna yesterday and he wasn't able to keep it down.

So even though we had external factors leading us to do it now rather than later, in the long run, I think it was the right time.  Maybe a month early, but not much more than that.  He experienced discomfort, but I think we spared him any true pain that was in the very near future.

He was a sweetie even if he will be known in our memories as The Great Urinator.

And now we keep the cameras up and make sure that our 2 remaining indoor cats keep their urine in the boxes because if we find it elsewhere, more hard decisions are coming.


Friday, March 6, 2015

I can still be triggered

Yesterday was not a good day for me.  A bit of back story.

We have 2 male cats and one or both of them pee in the house a lot.  We've thought it was Mayday, but in the last year, we've come to believe it's actually Shadow.  Shadow is coming up on 16 years old and last October I was told he's started the end of life health decline and to expect him to be with us about 6 to 12 months.

Well, in 2 months, we're demolishing our house and moving in with my parents for the 2 months or so it will take to build our new one.  Our female cat can come with us, but my parents have a territorial male so we can't take either of our males leaving us with a big conundrum about what to do with them.  2 months of boarding even one cat would cost us thousands of dollars that we can't afford.

With Shadow at end of life, being a total scaredy cat who's only bonded to me, and the stress of whatever we figured out for him for those two months would probably kill him and he'd be miserable in the process.  So I took him to the vet last night to see where his health lies, really hoping the vet would tell me that he's starting to tip over from uncomfortable to being in pain so I could put him down somewhat in peace that it's the right time for him.  Except, the vet wasn't able to tell me that.  He's lost a pound since October which is about 10% of his body weight, but otherwise he's in the same state he was in back then.

Due to the situation, we really have to put him down soon.  We need at least a month before the move to have Mayday in the house without Shadow in order to determine if he is going to pee inappropriately or not.  If there is no stray urine in the house when Shadow is gone, that means we can keep Mayday and just have to figure out what to do with him during that displacement time.  If he does pee, we will likely surrender him to a no kill shelter.  So for the sake of everyone else in the household, Shadow really needs to be put down within the next couple of weeks.

So I came home from that vet visit already feeling like a selfish monster.  Even the vet agrees it's the best decision given the circumstances (she refuses to do convenience kills), but I've never actually put a pet down and certainly never imagined doing so before it became absolutely necessary to spare them from immediate suffering.  I spent most of the evening on the verge of tears because of the guilt and sadness I feel over the realities of the situation.

Then I logged into facebook.  Right smack in my face is a picture of a mother holding the baby she miscarried at 19 weeks.  The baby that lived for a few minutes before dying in her hands.

I have spent the last four years very specifically avoiding knowing what a 19 week fetus looks like.  But there it was, pictures, right in front of my face.  Now I've seen it and I can't unsee it.

I triggered hard and started crying and hyperventilating.  When I was already feeling like a monster for making the intellectual decision to cut my cats life short (but haven't done it yet), the last thing I needed was to come face to face with what my body destroyed four years ago.  To have it visibly tangible for the first time.  I couldn't have handled that image at my strongest of moments so being confronted with it in one of my weakest was overwhelming.

So here I am, 4 years later, and I can still be triggered to grieve.  I didn't know if that could happen, but apparently it can.  But that was last night.  Today I'm ok.  When triggered a couple of days ago, the trigger would have flattened me for a week.  Now, an hour or two.  I'm still a bit bummed today, but the visceral reaction is gone and I'm more bummed about knowing I have to put Shadow down in a couple of weeks than seeing the fetus I had hoped to never see.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Buy Nothing Bothell House giveaway

I posted my house as a giveaway on Buy Nothing Bothell but it's become a bit of a mess due to the groups splintering off right now.  There's discussion of this house in 3 different places so I'm writing this to point everyone to one place.

Here's what's going on -

We have a 1976 Pre Hud manufactured home that we need removed from our property.  We are slated to demolish it on or around May 15th and that demolition and haul away is going to cost us a lot of money we'd rather not spend.  So I am hoping to give the house away to someone who can make some use out of it and will take on the cost of having it moved to another property.  Due to tax issues with receiving a gift valued over $10k, we will accept payment of $1 so it is a purchase rather than a gift if necessary.

I don't know how one moves a house so I can't answer those questions, but I can give you the phone number of a guy who does have those kind of answers.  Rather than put his number out here, I will tell you his name and where to reach him, but you have to google and find the phone number yourself in an effort to reduce how many people call him who aren't seriously interested.  He knows exactly what house you'll be talking about so you will be able to talk to him about specifics and not just in the hypothetical.  I haven't gotten any bids on what it will cost to transport the house, but I'm hearing various numbers between $6k - $10k.

The house -

It's a 1976 double wide, external dimensions of 64x28ft, approximately 1700sqft of living space.

Currently 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, but the addition of one wall and a door will turn the office into a third bedroom for minimal investment.  Very open floor plan with a large kitchen.  A storage closet was added to the dining room.  The regular closet in the second bedroom was removed because we needed to fit 2 cribs in there.  There's a 1970's tastic wet bar in the living room.  Good sized utility room.

We will be taking the washer and dryer with us and probably selling the fridge, but the stove and dishwasher will be left in the house.

Things we've done in the last 10 years -

New water heater about 8 or 9 years ago.  We put down laminate flooring last year, but never got around to installing the molding around the edges.  Most of the house had newer vinyl windows when we moved in and we just replaced 2 windows last month (because we're brilliant like that).

Why we gave up on improving the house and are opting to just replace it instead -

We have found black mold throughout the master bathroom.  I would recommend gutting and completely rebuilding it before anyone attempts to live in the house.  We found a couple of leaks in the roof, above the second bedroom and causing the mold problem in the bathroom.  It can be patched for now, but you'll likely need to replace the roof entirely within the next 5 years.  At that point we stopped investigating problems with the house and just said forget it, so there may be more improvements necessary.  But those are the immediate problems that a new owner will need to address.

Ok, time for pictures.  Now, I really apologize for crappiness of these pictures.  I didn't expect anyone to actually want this house, and ran around snapping shots when someone asked for them.  I have 2 toddlers and everything we own is currently on the floor or on countertops as we sort crap in preparation for the move.
















So, that's what's up with the house giveaway on Buy Nothing Bothell.  If you can haul it before May 15th, you can have it!

Comment below with any questions so I can answer them for everyone, and contact me with the form on the right if you're actually interested.

PS - there are two sheds in the back, one of which we're keeping.  But you can have the other one if you can move that too!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Things Middie Biddie has asked for today

Wow.  I can't believe how quickly this turned around!

A couple of days ago, I was enduring 45 minutes of whining and screeching before she would utter a word, now she's walking up to me and asking for things!  When she doesn't know the word or exactly what she wants, she calmly comes over to me, grabs my finger, and leads me to it.  She still occasionally goes over to what she wants, reaches, and whines, but now if I ask what she wants, she'll almost immediately change gears and tell me.

Today she has already asked for:

  • A banana
  • To do puzzles
  • To do jungle gym
  • Treat (damnit)
And here's the one that threw me for a loop - milk!  She's not a big milk drinker, that honor goes to Teeny Tiny.  But she brought me her water cup and usually she asks for more water and I have her help me fill the cup, but this time she clearly asked for milk!  What makes this feel like such a break thru is that she asked for something that is completely out of our norm.  In our household, the girls drink milk with meals and have water available in their cups all day.  Asking for milk, it's a whole different level of thinking from following the patterns we usually follow, it's the creation of an action outside the norm.  And you damn well better believe I got her some milk!

She's still whining a little bit but it's not nearly as bad as it was even a few days ago.  We really only had to be hard assed and endure a bit of misery for one day, then consistent on the second day, and she's learned the lesson that she needs to communicate politely for us to understand.  I know there will be backslides and stuff, but now I know that she knows how to communicate politely, she'll just have to be reminded to do so and not rewarded when she doesn't.

The household is already so much happier!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Making her speak experiment so far

We're holding firm that Middie Biddie has to use the word for something before she gets it.  Of course we only do this for objects that we know she firmly knows the word for.

It's been rough but I think we're on the right path.  Just yesterday when I blogged about starting this, the tantrum and whining for bubbles lasted 45 minutes before I could coax out any utterance that sounded like "bubbles".  Today, about 5 minutes.  She would either finally say it, or she would get sick of whining and go do something else.

At one point I was chatting on the phone with my mom while Middie Biddie danced on the couch around me and I heard "bubble?"  Boom!  "You want bubbles?  Ok, let's do bubbles!  Sorry Mom, gotta go, she asked for bubbles!"

She also asked for "jungle gym" which means climbing on me and then diving over my shoulder while I sit on the couch.

So, yeah.  I wasn't expecting this much progress this quickly.  I'm sure there's a whole lot more struggle ahead of me, but my afternoon wasn't nearly as rough today as it was yesterday.


Now if only we could fix her sleep issues.  She's waking up every night around 2am and isn't able to get back to sleep.  Last night I brought her into our bed and she actually went right to sleep.  Normally when I try this it's a disaster because she'll lie down for about 15 minutes and then get excited and try to start wrestling around the bed, then we get fed up, put her back into her crib and listen to her scream for an hour before she passes out.  But last night she snuggled in and fell asleep.

Anyone have any ideas as to why she's waking up every night?  I don't think it's night terrors because she's perfectly consolable.  She just sits up, cries, if we go in to check her diaper or rock her, she's perfectly happy until we put her back in the crib again.  It's pretty much guaranteed that she will spend 60-90 minutes crying before falling asleep whether we don't go in at all, or whether we rock her for an hour solid before putting her back down.

We're getting tired around here.

I know it's been all about Middie Biddie lately, so here's a couple of adorable pictures of Teeny Tiny.  I do pay attention to her too!

 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Making her talk

Middie Biddie can talk a lot more than she does.  I've made the mistake of continuously trying to figure out what she wants and providing it for her without making her learn to ask for what she wants.  I never really transitioned from the constant guessing and evaluating a babies wants and desires to properly teaching them how to communicate their desires properly.  I think about how long it's been since they've eaten and just provide the next meal or snack without being prompted in any way.

As a result, I'm constantly hearing reports of children much younger than the girls, like a year younger, speaking more complexly than my girls do.  I still don't get to hear any of their thoughts.  I don't post any funny things kids say here because they don't say those funny things.

Teeny Tiny has taken some initiative and will occasionally tell us what she wants.  Any time either of them says something like "banana" or whatever, we say "you asked for a banana very nicely so Mama will get you a banana!"  So if they ask or communicate what they want, they get it almost without fail (with the exception of treats, those are only if they ate well that day).

For example, I have curtains separating my office from the main living space.  I leave them wrapped around a pole so they are out of the way, and Teeny Tiny has learned to say "curtain please!" when she wants me to put them down so she can run through them or use them for peekaboo.  If she just tugs on them, I remind her to say "curtain please", she does, and all is well.

But Middie Biddie is a whole other story.  She won't ask, she'll reach for what she wants and cries/whines. She's perfectly capable of speaking, she's entertaining herself in her crib right now blabbering away.  She counts all the time, will correctly identify random letters about 90% of the time, will tell me what all the animals say, she just won't use words to communicate what she wants!  Speaking is entertainment to her rather than communication. The frequency, strength, and persistence of the crying whine makes my ears bleed and it's becoming a constant thing.  It frazzles me the same way newborn screeching frazzled me.  I'll remind her endlessly to say "curtain please" and she just refuses.  I know she's perfectly capable, but once she wants something, she's already upset at not getting it and has started the tantrum to get what she wants.  Once a toddler tantrum starts, that's it, you really can't stop it to get a desired behavior.  So the problem is, she asks for what she wants by throwing a tantrum!

We need to put a stop to this and it's going to be painful.  I went to work on it tonight.  She was doing her whining and I figured out that she wanted me to blow bubbles.  She can say "bubble" just fine.  It was one of her first words, the first thing she ever identified unprompted, and she yells out "BUBBLES!!!" whenever we play with them.

She whined, and cried, and got very distressed reaching for the bubbles.  I kept telling her "say bubbles and I'll blow bubbles.  No honey, I can't until you ask.  Just say bubbles.  What is this?  Is it the bubbles?" and so on and so forth for 45 agonizing minutes.  I showed her videos of people blowing bubbles.  She tantrumed away, trying desperately to get me to blow bubbles but I held my ground.  Finally, FINALLY during one of the videos, she finally uttered "buhbuh" and I very enthusiastically declared "You want bubbles?  Yay!  Let's blow bubbles!!!!" and then it was bubblepalooza in the house!  Every so often I would stop and say "What do you want?" and she would say "Bubbles" and yay!  More bubbles!  Then I started to say "I want bubbles!" before each blow because she parrots a lot so she would repeat "I want bubbles" and be rewarded with a room full of bubbles.  That was our activity for about a half hour until she got bored and moved on to something else.

I'm calling it a victory but it's one small battle in a long war.  I'm frustrated that I'm listening to her chatter in her bed when she won't talk in person.  And I'm so unbelievably sick of saying the word "bubbles" I could scream.  But if we want her to start communicating with words rather than whining, we can't continue to allow the whining to work.

Bubbles.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Death in the family

This is one of those blog posts where I really don't have much to say, but I can't say nothing either.  I feel like whatever I write will hurt K's feelings when he reads it because it's not enough, but I don't have much to say and I can't say nothing.  So here goes.

K's mother passed away yesterday.  We knew she's been ill for some time, but an immediate passing was not on our radar.

K called his father several days ago to be met with his father panicked on the other end asking if he was returning a call from his mother whom he had just found unconscious.  K was flabbergasted as he was just calling for a random chat and of course his father had to get off the phone as he had to tend to the emergency at hand.  There was evidence that she had been that way for some time so I think we all pretty much knew what would be happening.  She was physically alive, but non-responsive.

After a day, K's father called and told him to get himself to Florida as quickly as possible as the doctors were saying it was a matter of time since there was nothing that could be done for her.  He was on a plane 3 hours later and arrived the following afternoon.  K got to say his final goodbyes and saw his father through her final couple of days until she passed yesterday morning.

He'll be in Florida until the end of the week, coming home on Friday.

This came as quite a surprise, but not a shock.  Like I said, we knew she had been quite ill, but in the back of our minds we thought it was a temporary thing.  That at some point she would rally, and start working towards health again.  We had been discussing taking the girls out to visit once they were old enough to not be nightmares on such a long flight but we never really determined exactly what age that would be.  But we had been talking about it in sooner rather than later terms over the last few weeks in light of K's grandparents passing.

We're very glad K opted to attend his grandfathers funeral a couple of months ago.  It was the first time he'd seen his mother in about 2 years and we're grateful that they had some time together before her passing.

I know when I started this blog it was very much about going into depth of my feelings and thinky thoughts and really exploring the inner workings of emotions.  I hope you all don't mind if I skip that for the time being.   It's been a whirlwind couple of months of so many things we're figuring out, so much we're changing, so many people passing, I'm kind of thinky thoughted out even though I haven't been chronicling all those thinky thoughts here.  I'm kind of emptying my head of thinky thoughts for the time being so I can help relieve K of his burden when he gets home. I'm sure he'll have plenty of thinky thoughts he'll need to get out of his head and heart when I see him next.

Goodnight Maureen.  May your rest be comfortable and everlasting.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Big change a comin

No, I'm not pregnant, I'll just get that out of the way right off the bat.

No, instead, it looks like it's time for a new house.  We've been talking about it in the abstract for a year or two now but it looks like the day has come.  I finally had an inspector come out to investigate the stains in our bathroom and just as I suspected, we have a black mold infestation and a leaky roof.

We live in a pre-1976 manufactured home on a great plot of land.  The house was built a month before all of the new quality codes and regulations went into place so now we're having problem after problem. The land is worth about $100k so if we tried to sell this location with the house on it to someone, they would need to get a mortgage, but due to that 1976 cut off date, no lender would ever touch it so no one would be able to buy the two together.

We've been throwing money into this pit for a couple of years now, replacing this, upgrading that, and it's just getting to the point where we're trying to throw bandaids at a gaping wound.  Every dollar we spend on this place is a dollar we'll never see again.  The roof needs to be patched at the moment and fully replaced within 5 years.  Despite all of the new flooring, there's still a hint of cat pee in the air that we simply can't get rid of without tearing out the entire bottom of the house and even then it might still be here.  And who knows what else is going to disintegrate in the days ahead.  We could put tens of thousands of dollars into patching this house (as we have been) or just cut our losses and start over.

So we're now shopping.  We've been afraid of this moment for quite a while because money is tight every month as it is.  But now that we're actually looking at prices and crunching numbers, we're realizing just how silly it's been to be afraid of this (we still are of course).  While we have a lot more research to do, it looks like we can get a new mortgage for a brand new manufactured house that will be bigger, more bedrooms, be practically maintenance free to live in for about 10 years due to being brand new, and have it put on the land that we already own here.

Once we have a decent house here, we would have a multitude of life choices that we simply don't have now.  We can live here forever if we choose, we can move and rent it out for a profit over the mortgage every month, we could sell it and have enough for a solid down payment on another house, whatever.  But we would no longer be financially trapped (I hope) by a sinking ship.

I talked to my uncle at some length today because this is a world I know very little about and he's been dealing in a variety of types of real estate for decades, including having some knowledge of manufactured homes.  After talking through the situation and some numbers, he says that this is probably our best option.  It feels really good to have someone far more knowledgeable tell me that he would reach the same conclusions about the best way to move forward as we have.  He told me that the price of new manufactured homes doesn't really change according to the real estate market.  Right now, we're at the top of a bubble meaning house prices are at their highest price, but mortgage rates are at the lowest point.  But a $100k house from a manufacturer is going to cost that same $100k when the market flips back over, but the interest rates would be higher so it's best to buy it now while we can get the loan at record low rates.  Part of the fear of this whole thing is that we're making this decision rather fast and that makes us feel like it's a rash, foolish decision.  But he confirms that it's actually a wise decision and fast doesn't mean foolish in this case.

The next few months are going to be terrifying and stressful while we do research and make final decisions.  I don't know how we're going to come up with the money for a down payment (though we were given some from an inheritance on K's side of the family recently).  We also have to figure out how to get the money for the removal of the building we already have here.  My uncle says that there are people who would buy this and haul it away even with all of the problems, and while I doubt it, I'll take his word for it and see if I can find someone who will take it off our hands.  If we can get someone to give us a bit of cash for the living expenses of being homeless for 2 months and take care of hauling this away (saving us the cost of doing that ourselves), we'll jump at the offer and clear our asses out of here right quick!  Otherwise, I dunno, we might have to get really creative about fundraising some money really quick.  Yes, I might actually be selling my house on Craigslist!

To get over the fear and anxiety that this all causing, I'm shopping and day dreaming.  For our budget, it looks like we can get just about everything we would want.  It turns out 3-4 bedrooms is actually doable, we might be able to get a bonus room that would allow me to do pottery in the house rather than in the shed in the backyard, the process of clearing the land might actually include gutting the rock garden in the front yard leaving us free to put down sod and have a beautiful yard for the girls.  Hell, it would be worth it almost just for that!  A landscaper quoted us about $5k-$7k just to take out the rocks so that was a dream we gave up on and now it might be taken care of as a side effect of this whole thing!

If we can actually swing this, I'm looking forward to it.  I'd say about 75% of my life stress and financial struggles are due to this house that doesn't work and is falling apart.  To have that wiped out in one fell swoop, ahhhhhh!  Sweet relief.  Knowing my kids won't be going to school with that faint smell of cat pee that permeates their home is such a load off my mind.

Now, what to do about the cats?  One of the cats is in the process of dying.  We aren't sure which cat has done the majority of the peeing, but we know that he's done a significant portion of it.  We're hoping that once he's gone, the other male will no longer do it in response.  We'll probably be putting the remaining male on prozac as the vet says that sometimes stops this stress behavior.  But if nothing else, we're probably going to investigate a second layer of flooring in the master bedroom, one with a layer in between that floor and the original floor that comes with the house.  Then we'll keep him locked in there (he chooses to stay in the bedroom away from the kids already) and if he pees, sorry, but he's gone.  We'll try him out in the new house without another male to compete with, but if he continues the behavior, he can't live in my new house. Then we would pull up the floor he peed on and have an undamaged floor underneath.  Before anyone gets on my case about being mean about the cat, please remember that we've put up with this for 10 years and that we are basically losing our house because we chose to keep the cat despite this problem.  I'm done.  We'll find a humane way to rehome him, maybe make him an outside cat or find someone who will tolerate the urine, but I will not have another house destroyed by a pet with bad behavior.

So, anyone in the Pacific Northwest want an old house or a peeing cat?  We're practically giving them away!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The end of an era

With the turn of the new year, the company I occasionally worked for making small business videos has upgraded the specs on the deliverables.  I have a shoot in a couple of days and while I thought I was already in compliance with the new specs, it turns out I'm not.  It would take some equipment upgrades to be able to produce what they now require.

Oh sure, it would probably only take about $300 to get the part necessary to patch my old system so I could keep going, but it's not worth it.  My schedule is so full now that fitting in video gigs has been difficult.  It's also been rare that they've offered a gig within 50 miles of me.

Looking at the tax forms they sent me, it turns out I made more selling pottery than I did working in video last year.  Considering how little I make selling pottery, well that says a lot.

I'll call the company that I've been working for since 2007, let them know what's up and have them reassign my shoot this week.  Then I guess I'll have them drop me from their database unless they tell me they've got 10x as many gigs lined up this year as they did last year, but I doubt they're going to tell me that.  Maybe I'll just stay in the database and have their emails forward to trash so I don't have to feel all horrible about not being able to accept the jobs and then if the equipment I need magically falls into my lap, I can pick back up, but again, I'm not holding my breath.

I have two outdated professional grade cameras, one that only shoots SD and one that shoots HD (but I don't have a means of transferring the footage to my computer for editing).  I'm considering selling them both before they lose even more trade in value.  Not sure I can emotionally handle that kind of finality on the subject so I'll probably stupidly let them sit in the closet gathering dust until they start going up in antique value.

So there you have it, videographer is officially dropping from my career identity.  I guess I'm now a Twin Mom, Part Time Office Manager, and Part Time Potter.  I suppose that list will have to be long enough.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Empathy

It's been almost a month since I last wrote and we've passed through the turn of another new year.  Last year it was all about me stepping out of various comfort zones.  This year, we focus on upgrading K's happiness by hopefully finding him a new job/career.  To kick this off, we spent our date night last night shopping for a new wardrobe that's more business oriented.  Partially because he needs business appropriate clothing for interviews, partly because his wardrobe was becoming threadbare anyway.

In toddler news, Middie Biddie has got a case of the Empathies.

Yesterday, we gave the girls their breakfast and were sitting down to eat ours.  K peeled a banana for us grown ups to eat within sight of Teeny Tiny and she started to get really upset.  Of course, she already had banana on her plate, but that didn't matter.  There was a banana to be had and it wasn't being given to her!  Oh noes!  So she starts crying, and sitting next to her is Middie Biddie.  She kept looking over the TT, got a sad look on her face, and her eyes started to fill up with tears until a few escaped.  This wasn't "pay attention to me!!!" kind of toddler crying, but rather a silent overwhelming sad because her sister was upset.  It happened again today when I had to take the snack cup away from TT as I was putting her down for her nap.

I'm kind of torn about this because it's just so sad to see her sad, on the other hand, it's also heartwarming to see how much she cares for her sister.

I think the girls recently development leaped again, it seems a bit more communication and skills have popped up.  TT's new hobby is making trails throughout the house and she's very insistent on feeding anyone she can reach.

We've rearranged some of the furniture in our house so things make more sense than they used to.

I guess I haven't been writing much because there isn't much to report!  We're plugging along, starting the long process of upgrading our lives by trying to upgrade K's career, it's all just slowly moving up.