Saturday, August 16, 2014

Snapshot: Jane (23 mos) and Peter (7 mos)

(Consecutive weeks. I'm making a comeback, baby.)

Oh man. My kiddos are the cutest, I'm pretty sure. They are so much fun right now.

I think they're adjusting to life pretty well here. It's crazy to think that this is Jane's 4th residence since she's been born. Hopefully we don't move in the next year, but you never know.

Jane first, I suppose. She is just the sweetest little girl, and when I say sweetest, I really mean it. Not too long ago, Amy was about to breastfeed Peter so Amy went to sit on the couch, and as she did so Jane brought her a pillow (because Amy always grabs one when she's doing that), and then followed that up by pushing up the ottoman for Amy to rest her feet. She just does that kind of thing all of the time.

When Jane watches TV, she loves to come over and sit in my lap or at least right next to me. She's just a cuddly little girl. I love it so much. If I'm just holding her and her attention is on something specific, she'll unwittingly just be rubbing my hair on the back of my head or my back.

Jane is very naturally obedient. She understands direction and takes it really well, at least for the time being.

She always goes to sleep really easily, whether it's naps or for the night. She's been a great sleeper for so long, I probably take it for granted. (Although I can thank Peter for not letting me go too long in not recognizing that mercy.) She still eats mostly pretty well, but she' more distrusting of things that are unfamiliar. It seems mostly to be appearances because pretty much when she actually tries anything, she almost always likes it. Jane is just easy as can be, so naturally affectionate and sweet, and she's the apple of my eye. I can't imagine that I'll not ever swoon over her.

She's talking up a storm, although she does get shy around strangers. I'm always surprised at how many words she knows and even the way she's starting to pick up on concepts and story lines. It's the craziest thing to be watching a show with her and she gets the drama behind the story, when people are distressed, that sort of thing. That's probably normal for a toddler her age, but it still surprises me. She's able to pick up so much nuance. It's neat.

Peter is so mobile now. It's great because for most of his life, he's just not been very good when being left alone (not like we are leaving our less than 6 month old babies alone a whole lot, but you get what I mean). I feel like Jane was pretty good in this area, but Peter just has not been. With being able to get around now, he's able to busy himself so much more and be content with it. He has favorite spots - the fireplace grating, wires plugged into the wall, the peddle that opens the lid on our garbage, and more recently, the door stop that makes that twang over in the kitchen. I remember last summer in Michigan when Jane was all about that. (I can't believe I have babies that close in age that I say last summer and it's talking about a different baby.) He very much does the wounded soldier crawl, but he's getting up on his knees a lot more and doing the rocking. The hardwood and linoleum doesn't slow him down at all, which is great, because there is more of that flooring in our place than we'd probably like.

His noises have a few more consonants now. He imitates a lot more. Not like he's following dance steps or anything like that, but you just can interact more with him and there is more cognizance there now.

And probably the best part about him is just how much he lights up with people. Every time he sees someone, he freely gives the biggest grins. Everyone's first comment is something along the lines of "he just loves people," "he's such a happy baby," or "does he ever get sad?" I tell people all the time that he's just very validating and will make you feel like a million bucks. All you have to do is engage with him and he'll light up. It's amazing how a child like that can just disarm people, even ones that you wouldn't think be so easy to crack. It's the sweetest thing.

He's been going through a bit of a rough patch lately and has not been great with his sleeping patterns, not to say he's really bad, but when you're being compared to Jane when it comes to sleeping, it's hard to be good. He's a little trickier than Jane, but I think we're mostly realizing that Jane was just about as low maintenance as they come. She can be really sensitive when it comes to her emotions, but I think she's actually pretty physically tough. She rarely cries long or much when things happen to her and that's really nice.

She's come to enjoy the water a lot more. It took a summer of beaches, pools, and waterparks, but I think she's there. Peter takes to water like a fish, it seems.

I love my kids more than anything. They have changed my life completely and I'm grateful for it, although I will say that just getting out to see a movie sounds like the most exciting thing in the whole world.

They're great. They bring us much joy and I'm so happy to be a dad and feel so lucky that these ones are mine. I think that day and night.

Monday, August 11, 2014

It's Sweeping the Nation

I've been thinking about this for the last few months, but I have decided to take the plunge and start my new hobby - sweeping - as in, entering in lots of contests and sweepstakes.

Is it totally off the wall? Of course.

But is it possible? I don't know. I've been reading articles about it for a little while and truth be told, I think it sounds kind of fun and I'm interested to see what happens. It doesn't seem like it'll take too much time and with being able to enter online and use automatic fill forms to do the entries, I think it can move pretty quickly.

So starting today, I'm going for it. I've got my alternate email setup for it. I've got my spreadsheet to track what I'm entering. Then the winnings start piling up after that.

That's how it works, right? Anyway, I'm just kinda curious about it. So I'll be tracking what I'm doing and periodically I'll check in here to update what kind of progress, if any, is being made.

Here goes!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Home Sweet Home

Since Amy and I have been married, every place that we have moved into has felt like it had some amount of serendipity to it. With our first place in Pleasant Grove we felt like we had made a decision and were about to move forward with it. I had left town to go to a bachelor party for Mike Reid and Amy was going the day I left to go sign the papers for it. We didn't feel 100% about it, but it felt close enough and we felt like it was time to commit to something. She decided to check one more time that morning, found a place that was cheaper and bigger and had a deck (which we obviously wanted) and saw it on her lunch break. I remember taking the call from her while at the Smith's Gas in Mesquite, NV as she told me that she thought we should take it. Not everything was ideal about the place, but it felt like the exact place we should have been and we loved it.

Last year, coming back from internship, we were looking for places coming out of Michigan. We had about a week window to look at stuff and commit to something for the following school year. We ended up finding one after the one we had originally called on had fallen through. The place was huge compared to everything we were looking at, was really close to campus, and was a good deal to boot. That place wasn't perfect either, but we just loved it and were so happy to call that place our home this past year.

So when we come out to Indiana to find a place to call home for the next however long we would call it that, I think we both had a feeling of wanting to capture some of that previous magic in our new house. We had been looking online for weeks, but nothing was really working out and we figured we'd arrive in Indy and then find and sign on a place once we got into town.

After visiting at least two dozen places, nothing felt right. We had been neglecting to look at Craig's list much because we felt like between HotPads and PadMapper, we were seeing everything that was out there, but on Friday night in our hotel room we decided to look again. All of a sudden we were finding a lot of new places that felt like really good options. We hoped to see and maybe even apply for at least one or two places by Saturday so that we could hopefully be moving into our place either by Sunday or early in the week. We obviously didn't want to be in a hotel much longer and I was about to start work soon so time was running out, but we just weren't hearing back fast enough.

We started to settle on one place, but it didn't feel optimal to either of us, but we were ready to apply and get the ball rolling. We took a second look at the place, but then decided that we should just drive past one that we had found that looked great, but only had an email contact. I was thinking that maybe we could find a "for rent" sign out front at least and maybe get a phone number that way.

We drove down and saw the front of the house and we knew that it was vacant. We inched along in our car, even passing the house, about to take off when we decided that we could ask the neighbors next door that we had seen a few questions. They told us a little about the house was supposed to have been sold, but the buyer dropped out, and now it was for rent and how the owner would probably love a lead. She had a phone number we could call, and that was when we were told the neighbors on the other side of the house were actually showing the place. Within a few minutes we were able to get inside, look around, meet our neighbors who just really felt like great people, and we were about decided to rent the place. Amy was on the phone with the owner and casually asked if he would go lower on the rent price, which he agreed to without hesitation, and then we had decided for sure that we wanted it.

The next day, Sunday, we went to the ward we would be attending and were thoroughly unimpressed. It just felt like it wasn't the right mix of people for us and that was something very high on our list. I had talked to a few different bishops of wards where it at least seemed to feel like we would be great fits for. We raced over to attend the other ward for the other home we were looking at in the ward that sounded like the best match for us, but that one didn't feel right either. We decided then that whatever hesitations we had on the church front, this still felt like the right place for us.

It may not sound like a big deal to anybody else, but all of that really led to us feeling like this was the place we were supposed to be. I'm not one to really feel like I lead a charmed life and know that a higher power is guiding me in all that I do, but in this particular area, my only conclusion is that I feel like the Lord is watching over us. It's been a few weeks now and we have loved the area, have amazing neighbors, and love the proximity to my work. The place has required some work to make it feel like our own, but I think it's working out great and it's just a really nice to feel like you are where you're supposed to be. We had submitted at least hundreds of petitions that we would find the right place and it feels like we found it. Thank heaven for that.