Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Our house in the middle of the street

I don't know what closing costs are. I've had three different people explain it to me and I've googled it multiple times, but I still have no idea what they are. Same goes for mortgage insurance. And PPI. And APR. I really should know what all those letters mean because we just bought a house.


Every time our lender or realtor started talking numbers my eyes would glaze over and I'd start daydreaming about lunch. And then when I'd come to again I'd have to ask them to repeat what they just said, and the cycle would start over until I became Michael Scott asking Oscar to explain a budget surplus. But despite my complete lack of mathematical comprehension, we managed to buy a house.

I bet house hunting is really fun if you have lots and lots of money. Then you can say things like, "Is that fountain in the foyer made from French marble? We were really looking for an Italian marble fountain." But when you don't have lots and lots of money house hunting isn't that fun and you say things like, "Excuse me, that two bedroom, split-level home with the peeling Chicago Bears wallpaper is how much?". We quickly realized that there was a real discrepancy between the house we wanted and the house we could afford. We spent, like, twenty seven Saturdays in our realtor's car, driving all over Salt Lake City looking at homes, and each house felt like a treasure hunt. Except the treasure was whatever abnormality made the house within our price range, and most often, unlivable. Usually it was the "basement" that Stephen couldn't stand up in without hitting his head on the ceiling. Sometimes it was lack of central air. Sometimes, I'm not kidding, it was a house listed as a three bedroom with the third bedroom being a previous coal depository the size of a small dog kennel. We felt discouraged. But. Stephen and I have both spent that past eleven years as renters, which is a lot of years to spend handing over chunks of money to landlords. And we have very much outgrown our apartment. And we just felt like it was time to get some equity, whatever the H equity is, so we kept looking. Then we found a house we liked. We toured it, made an offer that same day, AND SOMEONE ELSE MADE A HIGHER OFFER THE VERY SAME DAY. Because apparently everyone else in our blessed city is looking for affordable houses that aren't super crappy. So our realtor sent more listings, we found one that looked promising, and we toured it the day it hit the market. We loved it. Three bedrooms with high ceilings all on one floor. A recently updated kitchen, a porch, a master bathroom with TWO SINKS. So we made an offer. One of many things I didn't realize about home buying before this adventure is that houses are like Oakley sunglasses in Tijuana in that the price the seller lists is not the amount they actually expect to get. Except this seller. This seller was in a hurry, so he priced the home at a level he thought would sell quickly, so when we heard that he would only accept list price we said OKAY FINE and made another offer. And just like that, we were home owners. 

There are some quirks to the house. Like, the floor is a different level in every room. The house slants to the right. The basement is a glorified cave containing a washer and dryer. The stairs to the basement are slightly less steep than a sheer drop. The chimney might crumble after a slight breeze. And the yard needs a whole lot of work. But for us, right now, it's perfect. 

We've spent the last month painting, replacing carpet, and making lots of trips to Home Depot which is why you haven't heard from me in a while. Well that and children and work and The Bachelor. We hope to be completely moved in by Saturday, so then maybe life will slow down a little? Probably not. Anyway, as I write this I really should be packing so I better go. But I'll leave you with some photos. 

The exterior:


Our empty living room:


Ivy riding her tricycle on the tricycle-friendly floor. Also, Ollie's bum:


Ivy in her bedroom painted the color she chose:


A not very good photo taken at night of Ramona's bedroom wall color:


New, fresh, carpet. It smells so good.








Thursday, February 5, 2015

May you stay forever young

I woke up at 5 am Sunday morning to use the restroom. As I stood washing my hands, something gushed. 

Let me back up here to explain why this is miraculous. For the last six months Stephen has been planning a major conference for the Thursday, Friday and Saturday before my due date. I told him I would do everything I could to keep from going into labor before or during the conference, all the while growing fatter and grouchier and generally more miserable with that blessed final stage of pregnancy. 

At my last doctor's appointment, we decided to induce on Wednesday, February 4. However I told Dr. Lash I really hoped to go into labor before then (see: fat, grouchy, miserable), and that I was actually planning on Sunday. He laughed at me.

So when my water broke 5 hours after Stephen returned home from the conference after-party and right when I told my doctor it would, it was what I consider to be a total flipping miracle.

I woke up my confused and exhausted husband, added a few things to the hospital bag, made Ivy go potty, and headed to drop off our child and dog with Stephen's parents. 

I had a few contractions en route to the hospital, that may have been legitimate or may have been hysterical. I kept wondering if my water really had broken. As much as you think you know your own body, things just get straight up weird in pregnancy and it's hard to ever tell for sure what's going on. Plus having been sent home twice from the hospital before having Ivy made me feel like history was about to repeat itself.

"I think my water broke," I told the nurses at labor and delivery check-in. They asked a few questions then took me to a room where I would either deliver Ramona or be told to pack my things and head home. As the nurse monitored my vitals she asked if I was sick. She said my heart rate was abnormally high. She ran some tests to see if the gush was in fact amniotic fluid. There are three tests. The first two were negative. The third was positive. When the nurse said we could stay, my heart rate immediately dropped to normal. Nerves, man. 

I was given some pitocin to get things rolling. My family soon showed up. I had previously agreed to let my sister, who hopes to be a labor and delivery nurse, be present at the birth. Personally, you couldn't pay me enough to watch someone else give birth, but if that's her thing, then cool. My parents, brother, and sister-in-law were there for moral support before the big show. I think they were surprised by how boring labor really is. "Why are you not yelling or crying in pain?" my dad asked at one point. Because epidural. Bless those drugs. I napped, played Trivia Crack, watch Bob Ross paint a cabin in the woods, and saw the last half of an episode of Law and Order before it was time to push. Well actually it was beyond time to push. Suddenly I went from feeling nothing to feeling yikes, ouch, which apparently was because Ramona was centimeters away from the outside world. But Dr. Lash had not arrived yet. So the nurses pretended not to panic and I kept hitting the happy epidural button, hoping there would be some sort of placebo effect. 

Finally, Dr. Lash arrived looking like he had run from the parking lot. I kicked everyone but Stephen and Hannah out of view, and got to work birthing the baby. It took longer than anticipated because of some pelvic angle something or other, and her shoulder needing some adjusting. But at 4:33, she was here and I heard her cry. 

If I'm being completely honest, going to the hospital Sunday morning, I was more excited by the thought of pregnancy finally being over than I was by the thought of having a new baby. But when I heard that cry, and watched as she was washed and examined, and then when I was finally able to hold her and see her open her eyes for the first time, I fell so completely in love.

Ramona arrived weighing 7 lbs 11 oz and measuring 20 inches long. She came with a full head of dark hair, and her face looked identical to Ivy's when she was born. 


Due to flu season regulations, Ivy was not allowed to visit the hospital (she was having the time of her life with Stephen's parents instead). So it wasn't until we came home Tuesday afternoon that she was finally able to meet the baby sister she'd been hearing so much about. When I walked into our living room holding Ramona, Ivy got a look on her face that seemed to mean "Wait, this is really happening?" and for a while she was scared to get close or say anything. But then five minutes later she was rubbing Ramona's head and telling her stories and asking to hold her over and over and over again. 


We've spent the past few days enjoying Ramona's pleasantness for the twenty minutes she's awake every day.


My pediatrician said something I really liked. He said second babies are always easier. Not necessarily because their personalities or dispositions are actually better than a first child's, but because there's so much less anxiety on the part of the parents. I'm finding that to be absolutely true. With Ivy, I'm afraid I spent her entire first year worrying about my own incompetence as a mother. I've always loved Ivy with a fierce kind of love, I've just had moments where I was unable to truly enjoy being her mom out of fear or just inexperience. 


But I'm calm this time around. Like our family now has a piece we were desperately missing. Things feel more complete and we're just really glad Ramona's here. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

I'm glad it's your birthday

Today Ivy officially turns 3, but nobody tell her that. She thinks her birthday was on Saturday. 

That's when we had cake. Cake that my sister Hannah and I spent the entire day before making. It's supposed to be a flower.


Hannah and my mom also made a banner, because I'm morbidly pregnant and tired and incapable of doing anything beyond blowing up balloons. This is also why I made my mom and Stephen's mom do all the food for the party. 


We crammed both sets of grandparents and my siblings into our not-large apartment, ate amazing soup and salad, and watched as Ivy was spoiled rotten with everything a 3-year-old princess could ever want. It pays to be the first grandchild on BOTH sides. It pays in toys, specifically.



I'm considering having a maternity test done because I'm not so sure Ivy is mine. She doesn't like chocolate cake. She likes the idea of birthday cake, the singing and the candles and the decorative shapes, but she refuses to even take a bite of the actual baked good. I, on the other hand, have had cake for breakfast every day for the past three days.


I guess it doesn't matter whether or not she consumes anything so long as we got the picture, right?


I'm struggling to wrap my head around three years. The way kids change feels both very gradual and very sudden. I couldn't tell you the difference in Ivy's maturity from one day to the next, but over the past year, even the past six months, she's gone from baby Ivy to little girl Ivy. Potty-trained, bottle-free, having conversations, dressing herself, sometimes driving me nuts, sometimes making me laugh.

I was in a...mood last night. The kind of mood one gets in when one is ready to not be pregnant anymore but is still very, very pregnant. I threw the parenting reigns at Stephen, who did a professional job of getting Ivy prepped and ready for bed. But the bedtime just didn't take. And at 10:30 at night, after hours of fighting sleep, Ivy yelled, "Mom! I'm hungry!" She may have actually been hungry, or she may have been stalling. But it seemed the fighting would only continue if the hunger claim was not addressed. So I begrudgingly started heating tortillas, Ivy's very favorite food in the world. And then I sat next to her as she took her sweet, sweet time eating the tortillas at 11 pm. I wanted to be upset with her, which shouldn't have been too difficult given my general upsettedness at the time, but she kept making me laugh with her commentary. She told me all about her day. About nursery, playing with her relatives at family dinner, about how Ollie wanted to eat a snack, and about how she's a princess. Also about how she watched the Lego Movie, and it wasn't scary. About how lions roar and pigs oink. It was one of the better conversations I've had in a while, and it made me grateful that I had thirty minutes to just sit and enjoy my kid. Our worlds are about to be rocked, that is if this baby ever decides to grace us with her presence, and I worry that Ivy will feel neglected or less important. But after getting a glimpse inside her world, I feel like she's ready to share it with another little person, and that maybe Ramona will be the best thing for her. And maybe we'll all have a late night conversation over tortillas another three years from now, and I'll be grateful I have thirty minutes to just sit and enjoy my two kids. Here's hoping. 


Thursday, January 8, 2015

That's a Fine Looking High Horse

It was getting to the point where I didn't want to go to Target or anywhere public because my eyebrows looked so bad. I had neglected them for too long and they were too far gone to attempt any DIY trimming. So I made an appointment online and it was so great to not have to interact with another human during said appointment making. I told Stephen, "I wish a robot could wax my eyebrows so I could avoid smalltalk altogether." Little did I realize how ominous that statement was. 

Yesterday I dragged Ivy to my 11:15 appointment. I apologized to the stylist for having brought my child, and she said "That's okay" in a way that indicated it actually wasn't. And then, to make sure Ivy would sit still, I had to turn Netflix on my phone. The sounds of The Nightmare Before Christmas (Ivy's current fave) soon drowned out the Enya meant to add a relaxing, sleepy vibe to the experience of having hair ripped from one's face. But whatever. Ten minutes and we'd be out of there. OR SO I THOUGHT. 

Amy, I think her name was, finished the right eyebrow, and then things got weird. I was all the sudden burning up. Not wanting to be a bother, I quietly asked if I could remove my jacket. But that didn't really help. Part way through the left eyebrow, I had to sit up. And then I thought I might throw up. And then I was convinced I would deliver a child right there on the eyebrow waxing table. I apologized, stood up and made a bee line for the restroom, my confused toddler trailing behind. Turned out a quick walk was all I really needed, and I was able to get that left eyebrow finished without giving birth or passing out. I left a giant tip, tried my best to say sorry for being the most dramatic client ever, and felt sad that I can clearly never return to that salon because Amy did a really killer job on my eyebrows.

As embarrassing as the whole ordeal was, I think it was just what I needed to get jolted into the reality that this child is in fact coming, and that I had better prepare. Yesterday I packed my hospital bag and the diaper bag. Today I washed and organized all those tiny newborn clothes. I've been having braxton-hicks for the last seven hours, and I'm wondering if Ramona will show up ahead of schedule, or if all this preparation will keep her at bay. Probably the latter. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Let the merry bells keep ringing

We live in Utah now, so for the first time in Ivy's life we had Christmas morning in our own apartment.

When 9:30 rolled around and our child was still asleep, we couldn't stand the excitement any more and woke her up. I used to think being a kid waiting for Christmas morning was exciting. But having a kid and waiting for them to experience Christmas morning is a whole other level of great. 

She wasn't thrilled to be nudged into the waking world, and when we asked her if she thought Santa visited, she said no and tried to fall back asleep. But with a little more coaxing she eventually got out of bed, only to stop at the window and exclaim "snow!" over and over.


Sure, the snow was beautiful and a Christmas miracle and blah blah blah, but Santa had stayed up late wrapping presents, cleaning, and perfectly arranging the living room, and it was starting to feel like all that hard work might go unappreciated and be totally one-upped by nature. 


However she did finally find the presents and it was snow shmow for the rest of the day. 


Of all her presents, the Doc McStuffins undies were probably what she was most excited about. Go figure. 

It's been a little bit of a post-holiday adjustment for Ivy in the days after Christmas. She keeps singing Jingle Bells and talking about Santa Clause. She also unwrapped a few presents that weren't for her. Quitting cold turkey is hard.






Monday, December 22, 2014

Just like the ones I used to know

Wait, what's the date? Seriously?

I've been feeling a little...overwhelmed this Christmas season. As with most things in my life right now, this is probably 70% pregnancy hormones. And then a good 20% stress over whether or not my child needs to visit a restroom, and 10% normal life stuff like work and laundry and trying to feel the Christmas spirit and make our house magical and Christmasy for our kid, and feeling like I'm just not doing a great job with that.

So by yesterday when it was time to head to church I was feeling a little frenzied, guilty and tired. Being the Sunday before Christmas, it was our ward Christmas program, which is my favorite Sunday second only to the Primary program. It was a pretty standard Christmas program with some ward choir performances, a couple Luke 2-themed speeches and the congregation singing Oh Come All Ye Faithful. But just when I thought we were coming to the end of another perfectly pleasant Christmas Sacrament Meeting, they brought in a closer. A guy I had never seen before stood at the pulpit and started singing Oh Holy Night. The thing about that song is that not a lot of people can sing it well and most shouldn't even try. But when someone nails it, it's the most beautiful song in the world. This guy nailed it and hammered it and built a freaking house out of it. I cried, which, again, give my condition is not remarkable. In fact I cried in the zoo cafeteria the other day for absolutely no good reason at all. But this was like a moved-to-tears by the majesty and beauty of performance kind of cry, and it felt really nice to just sit and enjoy something so beautiful and not feel frenzied or guilty or tired. For about three minutes I remembered that Christmas doesn't have to be perfect and no one really cares that I never got around to putting a wreath on our door, and pretty much all the things the Grinch feels at the end of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

In other news, Ivy has warmed up to Santa this year.


It could be because we took some time to explain the concept of Santa instead of just throwing her into a bearded stranger's lap without warning. 

Also, have you seen this?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Because winning is what Christmas is all about

It's that time of year again when you, the blog readers, determine the winner of the Morley Family Gingerbread House Extravaganz-a-a-a-a!

There was only one participant who had an emotional meltdown this year, and it was not the toddler. I'd say everyone else fared pretty well, and this year's work may be some of our best yet. But there can only be one Christmas winner, so please place your vote in the poll to the right. The poll is on the right and not below the post because blogger hates me. Also, please excuse the shoddy photography, and remember to focus on the creativity and execution of the structure and not the poor lighting and candy mess in the background.

Entry A:

Roadside Farm Stand

Entry B.

A Hot Mess from the participant who had two separate tries collapse and who then spent an hour trying to compose him/herself on the couch. 

Entry C:
Chichen-Itza

Entry D:

City Skyline (Remember, ignore the background)

 Entry E:

Rockefeller Plaza (Yes, there are four diet coke cans back there. Get over it.)

Entry F:

House of Ivy featuring a special photobomb of someone's rear

Entry G:

Brazilian Favela

Entry H:

Project Runway

Entry I:

Scene from a Railroad, shot from two different angles because there's a lot going on.