Tuesday, September 6, 2011

No, I Didn't Die

Remember last time we moved? Remember how I sort of fell off the planet for a month? Well, that's pretty much what's been going down lately. It's been a whirlwind of circumstance changes these last few weeks. What started out as us frantically looking for an apartment to rent before our lease ended has turned into us leisurely packing without so much as glancing at an apartment listing.

Chris and his parents have worked out a deal where they buy a house and rent it to us. This is a great deal for us because we don't have to worry about having our rent raised after every lease expiration and because we will be able to live in a nicer place than we could afford otherwise. The only part that is undetermined is whether we will be getting a condo in our current location: about 45 minutes to work for Chris and 45 minutes the other direction to our families, or if we will be returning to our hometown, as it were, in order to have a house with a yard and all that jazz. But, we have some time to work out the pros and cons because in order for this deal to be financially beneficial to my in-laws we have to wait until after the new year to buy. Which means...

We're moving in with my in-laws for a few months!

Needless to say this is going to be a big adjustment for all of us. We are extremely grateful that they are willing to turn their home upside down to accommodate us, especially right as they are in the middle of doing us such a big favor. And, I am personally grateful that I get along great with my husband's parents. I love them and have felt like a part of the family for over a decade now. So, don't expect to relive "Everybody Loves Raymond" through my blog.


It isn't easy to live with anyone, and I feel for them and the loss of their privacy as much as I feel for us. Especially since a precocious toddler will be invading their home. I think she's a great kid, but, you know, she's TWO. So, she lets out an ear-piercing cry when she doesn't get her way. She also likes to do things a certain way, and doesn't like to be corrected. And she's fiercely connected to both me and Chris, but especially me, these days, and that can be a bummer for friends and relatives that were hoping to get a little bonding time with Charlotte, only to be shunned for the opportunity to bury her head in my shoulder. She's at an amazingly fun and sweet age, but it is also an incredibly difficult one, and I feel nervous about bringing such an intense personality into a house with new rules and expectations.

That's the hard part. Chris and I are very comfortable with how we are raising Charlotte, and we have butted heads with both our families at times when it comes to differing philosophies and practices. There are obviously certain things we will not bend on no matter where we are living, such as not spanking and respecting Charlotte's personal space (i.e. She doesn't have to hug or kiss anyone she doesn't want to) but there will probably be different "house rules" and we will have to respect those rules. I mean, despite what some people may think, we really aren't raising a hooligan who gets to do as she pleases. We expect her to be polite, to ask nicely, to clean up after herself (with our help,) to take turns, and so on. But, we also encourage her to express herself, and unfortunately as a two-year-old "expressing herself" translates to "throwing herself on the floor and screaming." It's okay for her to get angry. To say she she's sad about not being allowed to watch a movie or have candy. She can cry, and I will rub her back (unless she's spurned my advancing hand) and tell her I understand she's unhappy, but these are the reasons for my decision. We find it to be very effective, and her tantrums have decreased over time. But, as it's happening, it's..loud. And, I'm worried about disturbing the peace in a house whose owners work hard everyday and deserve some peace and quiet. But, it isn't forever, and with Charlotte being my in-laws' fourth granddaughter, they aren't exactly strangers to the whims of a toddler.

And, I'm hoping that something really great will come out of all this. See, Chris's brother and his wife have three daughters that I absolutely adore. And, Chris and I are very close to all of them. I met Mikala when she was four, and over the years I have been her teacher (admittedly not the best year of our relationship,) taken her out for ice creams and dinners and coffees, and just basically spent a lot of quality time with her. And Athena and Victoria, the younger two, I've known their entire lives. They have stayed many nights at our house, and Chris and I have spent hours playing with them and taking them on little day trips. Chris, especially, has a special place in their hearts for being the one that gets down in the dirt with them, looking at bugs and doing whatever else it is they do while the rest of us grown-ups catch up over a glass of wine. And the girls have an incredibly strong bond with their grandparents as well. They spend many weekends staying at Grandma's house, baking, shopping, and playing games. They are at ease with their grandparents.

But, Charlotte? She has lived 45 minutes from both our families since she was 15 months old. We still go up there most weekends to visit with Chris's family, and I try to get up there once a week, if I can, to have coffee with my mom and grandma. So, it isn't like Charlotte sees her extended family as strangers. But, the fact is that she spends 99% of her time with me and/or Chris. And when a week or more has gone by without seeing someone, to a two-year-old, you aren't exactly starting from scratch, but it takes some coaxing to get to a happy/familiar place. And, even then, the slightest little thing goes wrong, and the two-year-old is running for the nearest parent to soothe her wounded pride or disappointed heart. And that can be a bitter pill to swallow when you're only trying to bond with your loved one. It can even make you a little resentful. I know, because I've been there with other kids in the past.

So, I'm hoping that since we will be spending so much time with our families, that Charlotte will have a chance to strengthen the bond with the people who love her.

Okay, if you have made it this far, you are very patient. I realize this isn't interesting, really. But, these thoughts have been swimming around in my head for days, and I needed to get them out. Since no one pays me to write this blog, I can do whatever I damn well please. But, as a reward (and I use that term loosely) for sticking it out, here are a few anecdotes and a video of the princess herself:

-Charlotte is obsessed with Disney soundtracks right now. We listen to Beauty and the Beast, various princess tracks, and most recently the Tangled soundtrack whenever we are in the car. And, ever since we started this, it has become very clear that Charlotte's favorite track on any soundtrack, is the villain's song. Every time. I have to admit that they are usually the coolest songs, but this seems a bit odd for a tiny kid. Meaning, I LOVE it.
Just a few of Charlotte's heroes.

-She also has a streak of the ol' goth in her. She asks for "sad songs" and "sad moobies." She is constantly asking me and Chris, "What makes you sad, Mommy/Daddy?" And the other day this happened: Charlotte: "I dreamed about ladybugs!" Me: "How nice! What were they doing? Flying? Crawling?" Charlotte: "They were dead." Yikes. Oh, and when she had her face painted at a Greek food festival last Saturday, she wanted a sad face painted on her cheek. I agreed, but at the last minute she changed it to a happy face. Which, thank god, because she was miserable enough that night without a physical manifestation of it on her face.

-She finally initiated a tea party with her tea set! I was thrilled, until I realized only bunnies were invited to this tea party. Then we read a book about a little bunny who wants to go camping with his older brother and sister, but can't. So, Charlotte reached into the book, pretended to pull the bunny out with her hands, and told him he could go camping with HER. So, apparently she can share and show empathy, but only when it comes to bunnies.

Here is a video of Charlotte dancing on the Third Street Promenade recently. Rather, frenetically, I might add.


Yeah, she's got sweet moves.

So, there you have it. I haven't forgotten how to use the computer. I'm just getting ready for some big changes. Hopefully the internet will be waiting for me when I'm settled in.