On social media this week, there is one issue where my liberal and more conservative friends found some common ground. Convicted rapist Brock Turner should suffer consequences for his actions.

This video explains the “no means no” mantra in a new way.

‘Maybe they were conscious when you asked them if they wanted tea, and they said “yes”. But in the time it took you to boil the kettle, brew the tea and add the milk they are now unconscious … Don’t make them drink the tea. They said ‘yes’ then, sure, but unconscious people don’t want tea.’

You can find more about the video in this Metro.co.uk article.

Moving Day: One Year Later | nextlifechapter.com

Tim in front of our rowhome, right before we left for the airport, our van in the foreground

Today is May 2–exactly one year ago today my husband and I woke up from a night spent sleeping on an air mattress in an otherwise empty bedroom. Adelaide too slept on an air mattress in her bedroom, mattresses borrowed from friends who lived around the corner. The girls and I had a flight to catch, but we first had to return the mattresses at our friend’s house and say good-bye. I knew it would be hard, the last good-bye in what seemed like an endless stream of them over the six weeks since I got the job and we decide to leave Philly and relocate to Tallahassee, Florida to be closer to Tim’s family.

Tim took us to the airport and finished cleaning up the house we had called home for nearly six years. The house we returned to when both of our daughters were born. The only home they had ever known. He cleaned, made one final trip to the recycling center/landfill, and somehow managed to fit the rest of our belongings in our minivan before locking the door and heading out on the Philly-to-Tally drive. Our POD left the day before with all our other earthly belongings and would meet us at our final destination once we determined where it was we’d be living.

*    *     *

Here I am one year later sitting on the couch in our new apartment having just returned from a two-mile run (something I couldn’t have done without stopping a year ago), and it all feels surreal. It’s feeling more like this is our home, but it still seems so strange that it’s been an entire year. I don’t love it here. Not yet. (For some reason, on Instagram I can’t bring myself to use the popular hashtags #ihearttally or #iheartFL because it feels inauthentic.) But, the days are getting easier and we’re into a routine, for better or worse.

The good things:

  • My girls like their preschool/daycare. We really lucked out with a great place for Adelaide to spend this year preparing for Kindergarten. It was hard to leave the school she had been at since she was 12 weeks old, but we found a school in Tallahassee where she could continue to grow. Juniper started daycare in January and has adjusted nicely as well.
  • Daycare costs are less here and by living near family, Junie was able to spend weekdays with her grandparents from age four months until right before she turned one in January. It was a blessing to have this cost savings, and (I think) the bonding time between granddaughter and grandparents was mutually beneficial. Papa and Gram, it was fun, right?
  • I like my job. I took a pay cut in moving here and sure, I wish I was paid more. Plus, I don’t know if there’s much room for advancement (at least within my department), but I like my co-workers and what I’m doing on a day-to-day basis. That’s more than a lot of people can say.
  • I’ve made some good friends and am continuing to find “my people.” Making new friends as an adult is hard. I joined a knitting group and am slowly getting to know them and meet others through activities and friends of friends. It’s an ongoing process that will take time, but I’m proud of the strides I’ve made in “putting myself out there,” letting people get to know me, and deepening relationships with the few I already knew here. I’m thankful that I have an understanding husband who knows friendship is something I value and has supported me in making this time for myself.

In addition to friends, the things I thought I’d miss most about big city life were the cultural opportunities–the children’s museum, the zoo, art museums, theater. It’s definitely different here, but we’re making the most of what’s available. I am proud to say that just in the month of April Tim and I saw Jason Isbell play at an outdoor amphitheater, I got free tickets to a conversation with James Franco at FSU, we took Adelaide to the FSU Flying High Circus (no animals, just Cirque du Soleil-style acrobatics), we went to the beach and to the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab (where we are members), and Tim and I saw a production of “Once” the musical at the civic center.

There are many other good things about moving here–the weather (in the winter at least), the gulf coast beaches, the pool at our apartment complex, family support, public schools–I know it was the best decision for our family. It’s the beginning of our second year in Tallahassee, and I’m wondering what this year will bring. What will I be thinking next year as I look back on how far we’ve come?

Moving Day: One Year Later | nextlifechapter.com

Selfie on the plane to Florida, May 2, 2015

Moving Day: One Year Later | nextlifechapter.com

Girls enjoying the pool at our apartment last Sunday, May 1, 2016

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nextlifechapter.com

Today is our Juniper Love’s first birthday. I’ve spent much of the last month reflecting on what I was doing at this time last year. I remembered the weekend we had a birthing class refresher, the afternoon Adelaide had the “big sister class” at the hospital. I remember how sick I was around Christmas and New Year’s last year, the awful cough that caused me to pull a muscle on my right side. I spent the two weeks I had off work for Winter Break just sitting in one spot on the couch. I watched a lot of TV, kept my feet propped up, and felt miserable.

When Adelaide was born, she surprised us at 37 weeks 5 days. I thought (hoped) June would also come earlier than her 40-weeks due date on January 9. When I left work for our Winter Break on December 19, I was prepared to go straight into a maternity leave. I had done the math and for this pregnancy, 37 weeks 5 days fell right on Christmas Eve. I worried that I would have a Christmas baby or that her birthday would be super close to Christmas. Friends joked that we should have her before the new year so we could get the tax break.

When Monday, January 5 rolled around, I reluctantly showed up at work. I didn’t want to take time off before the baby arrived because I didn’t want to “waste” the sick and vacation days I had banked to get me through my 12-week maternity leave. Most of my projects had been handed off, but I spent that week finishing up little things and answering questions. My due date arrived that Friday and still no baby.

I remember wanting to meet her so badly, knowing these were our final days as a family of three, but not feeling well enough to do much to appreciate them. I remember Tim saying “it will be nice to have a baby around again,” and feeling it hard to believe that in a matter of days we would indeed have a tiny baby in the house. I would be breast feeding again–I could hardly remember what it felt like–and up in the middle of the night again. It all seemed surreal.

I remember going in to the midwife practice for my 40-week check up on Monday, January 12. The midwife said she didn’t think I would make it another week, that I was “ripe.” She said that if I was brave I could try castor oil, and I vowed to give it a try if the baby hadn’t come by say, Thursday or so.

I went to bed Monday night. Almost exactly one year ago as I type this. I didn’t know that it would be THE night, but it was. Cramping woke me up, and my water broke around 1:45am. I immediately awakened Tim and told him to call his brother and our sister-in-law who began to make their way in from the suburbs. The contractions came strong and fast, and I knew we needed to get to the hospital. We called the midwife on call and told her we would be headed to the hospital soon. It even crossed our mind to just leave Adelaide there asleep. She was safe in her room and Ben and Adrienne would be there soon. We waited for them to pull up in front of the house and did a quick “hi/bye” as we hopped in the car. It was 2:30am and we made it to the hospital in about 10 minutes only to find the front doors locked. I remember the pain, standing there in the cold, and the security guard slowly getting up to let us in. The quiet hospital, the elevator, the quick visit to triage where they attempted to put in an IV and monitor the baby’s heart beat with a belt.

“She doesn’t need all that,” the midwife said as she sent me to the birthing suite.

Juniper was born at 3:01am. In the same room where Adelaide was born nearly three and half years earlier.

I don’t remember feeling quite so sappy about Adelaide’s first birthday. Maybe it’s because this has been a particularly hard year with a cross-country move and that celebrating this milestone feels like the bookend to our big year. Maybe it’s because June is baby #2, and I know how fleeting this all is. Or maybe it’s because I know our family is complete and I won’t be doing this again.

This weekend we will have a small party for June, and while I realize first birthday parties are more for the parents than for the kids (yay! we kept her alive an entire year!), I’m looking forward to celebrating my little blondie, her scrunchy-nose smiles, her giant appetite. I’m looking forward to the next year as she begins to walk and talk and her personality develops even more. Happy Birthday, Junie. I’m so glad I get to be your mom.

 

Tuesday afternoon, about 12 hours after June’s birth, Uncle Ben and Aunt Adrienne brought Adelaide to the hospital. Tim is behind the video camera and our friend Helen was there to capture the photographs. This is a video of Adelaide meeting her sister for the first time, and I’m so thankful to have it documented.

 

knitters 2015

The knitters and me at the going away brunch they threw for me in April.

Moving is hard. Yep. I said it.

Moving to a new city and state as an adult pretty much sucks. The only way I know it will get better is because I’ve done it before.

When I graduated college, I moved from Southern Indiana to Portland, Oregon with Erin, a friend from school. I had just turned 22 and it was a huge period of transition for both of us. We didn’t know what we wanted to be when we grew up. We felt lost without our circles of friends from school, but at least we had each other. Well, at least for the eight months before Erin left me and moved back home to Illinois.

After Erin left I was forced to leave my comfort zone, find new roommates and make new friends. When I made the cross-country move to Boston for grad school four years later, I had created community in Portland.

The first few months in Boston were tough. I missed the life I had in Portland and although I knew I needed a change and I was excited to go back to school, I was starting over again. Fortunately, being a student automatically put me in situations to make new friends. I met Tim, my now husband after living in Boston only three weeks.

Three years later, after finishing grad school, Tim and I moved to Philadelphia. We wanted a fresh start and had heard good things about Philly. The cost of living was better than New York City, and it had an emerging arts scene that made it extra appealing. Moving to Philly we were forced to start over again. I don’t think I loved Philly at first. Finding a job, meeting new people, and navigating a new city is stressful. I had Tim, but the transition was tough. It took a while before we felt at home, but fast-forward eight and a half years and I had a fulfilling life. We were married, we adopted a dog, we had a three-year-old and a new baby. I had a job that I liked (and had worked at for over seven years). I volunteered in my community, had close friendships, and a city I knew well.

We’ve been in Tallahassee now for almost six months (what!?! how did that happen!?), and I’m still mourning my Philadelphia life. I miss my girlfriends tremendously and am moved to tears every few days whether by things I see on Facebook or an email I receive from a friend. Sure, on a moment-to-moment basis I’m doing fine. I’m settling into my new job, meeting new people, and finding activities to do with my family. We have the loving support of my in-laws and that’s been great, but I still feel homesick. Philly feels like home to me, and I don’t know when I’m going to get to visit again.

I think it would be easier for me if I had a Philly trip planned. If I knew I would be going to Philly over Christmas or even next year, I think it would be a easier for me. I could say, well, I’ll see you in May. But now, we have no plans to return to Philadelphia. It’s expensive and our Christmas holiday will be spent on pricey flights to Central Illinois to see my side of the family. Then, in April we’ll be flying to LA for my sister’s wedding (again, an exciting trip–yay, Gina!–but it’s not Philadelphia). Tim’s whole family is going to Key West next August and there’s just not enough time (or money) to do all the things I want to do.

Sometimes I daydream of just taking a long weekend trip to Philly for a girls weekend. I’m sure I could make it work financially if it was just me, but part of the reason I would want to go to Philly would be for my friends to see June and how much she’s grown. Plus, I would want to take Adelaide and have her get together with all her little friends.

It just breaks my heart to think that Adelaide won’t see her friends again or that by the time we do get back to Philly they won’t remember each other. I don’t know why that’s so hard for me. One bonus of moving Adelaide when she was only three-and-a-half years old was that she would be easily adaptable. Still, I hadn’t considered that she may one day completely forget her time in Philly–a time that was so important to me as a new mom and young family will likely just be the shadow of dream for her one day.

Tears stream my cheeks as I write this. I wrote it in two separate sittings and still, both days, tears.

My brain knows that I’m doing the right things–putting myself “out there” to meet new people, explore my new city and make new friends. I feel blessed to have made such good friends in all the places I’ve lived. (Otherwise, leaving wouldn’t have been so difficult.) I remember when I first met Tim and he said I talked about Portland all the time. I’m sure I did. Portland, Portland, Portland. Now I feel I do that with Philly–especially at work. I catch myself doing it. In Philly this and in Philly that.

Somedays when a Philly friend sends an email or comments on Facebook and says that it looks like I’m doing well or adjusting well, I cringe a little. Yes, sure. I guess I am. Right? But hell if it isn’t hard, and boy do I miss Philly.

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Beach Day | nextlifechapter.comYesterday was a great day and worthy of note. We decided to spend the day at the beach and Tim insisted we drive a little further to the “real Florida beach” at St. George Island. I’m not sure it was worth the extra 45-minute drive, but the sand dunes were lovely and the beach accommodations were better than those at Bald Point.

We bought boiled peanuts along the side of the road on our way out (a true Southern treat…salty and soft like beans, not crunchy like roasted peanuts). We did get some rain and even had to eat our lunch in the van due to a passing storm, but in true Florida style, the bad weather passed quickly. It was a fun afternoon of jumping in the waves with Adelaide, playing in the sand, and resting in the shade of the beach umbrella while June napped on my belly.

On the way home, we hoped for good seafood and chance found us at the Seineyard Seafood Restaurant where we had a delicious meal and super-friendly service. (Tim can convince me to go to St. George Island any time if we can stop there on the way back.)

But what made the day truly remarkable was what happened the night before we went to the beach. For the second night in a row, June slept seven hours straight, in her crib in the room she and Adelaide share. It may not sound like much, but we haven’t had many nights like that since moving to Florida.

And–this is the biggie–Adelaide went to bed and slept the entire night without her pacifier. Aside from perhaps a few weeks of infanthood, this was the first night of her four years of life without a paci. This is a big, big deal in our house and for Adelaide. We have attempted to wean her from the paci several times in the past. “But I love it,” she once told me, such a sincere, yet sad plea.

When June was born, we decided to pick our battles and let it go. She only used the paci when she slept at night and it brought her such comfort that my post-partum self couldn’t emotionally handle the fight. I figured (hoped? prayed?) that she would give it up when she was ready. We did hang the carrot of “an awesome prize” over her head, telling her that she could choose something awesome at the store when she decided to give up her paci forever.

Well, tonight makes the third night in a row that she has gone without. I’m so proud of this young lady before me. I swear she seems to have grown an inch in the last month, and while it’s probably just coincidence, she’s been particularly pout and whine free this last week. My baby is growing up. And maybe, just maybe (knock on wood), I may once again get to regularly have a good night’s sleep.

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Reflecting on your birthday  |  nextlifechapter.com

Me at Adelaide’s age, my 4th birthday.

 

Yesterday was my birthday. With birthdays often comes reflection. Where has this year taken me? What do I look forward to in the year ahead?

I can’t argue that my 37th year was a memorable one. This time last year I was four months pregnant and celebrating with my sister, having just spent my birthday in NYC on an overnight trip to see Neil Patrick Harris perform in Hedwig and the Angry Inch during his closing weekend on Broadway.

A year later and I have a beautiful seven-month old daughter. I’ve moved to Tallahassee, Florida to start a new life with my family, and I have a new job. Whew! This year will always be one defined by before and afters. Before June was born. After we moved to Florida.

I have a few of those clearly defined years in my head. The year I graduated high school. The year I graduated college and moved to Portland, Oregon. The year I left Portland and moved to Boston for grad school. The year I graduated from grad school and moved to Philly. The year I got married. The year Adelaide was born. And now, 2015. The year June was born. The year I moved to Tally. The year I turned 38.

Last night on the phone my dad reminded me that he was 38 the year our family hosted a foreign exchange student. I was in 7th grade then. Sometimes when I sit and think about the passing of time I’m blown away. Time really is a crazy beast.

I’m nearly certain that last year my birthday wish was a healthy baby. After two miscarriages, I concentrated all my positive energy on a healthy pregnancy. This year, as I faced the cupcake candles, my wish didn’t come as naturally. The possibility is wide open.

A new year. A new start. Today, today I feel hopeful.

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Moved.

POD

When the POD arrived and we saw how small 16′ actually was, we thought there was no way all our stuff would fit. But it did.

Life has been really crazy the last few weeks–returning from maternity leave, packing up all our physical belongings, saying good-bye to good friends and a city we’ve called home for nearly nine years, moving to a new city and state, starting a new job, looking for a place to live, living with my in-laws, supporting my husband in his job search, balancing my personal stress through all the change while still showing an “excited” exterior to my daughter. It’s been a lot.

We will be moving into our own apartment this weekend, and while I’m looking forward to having our own place and finally being able to feel settled and at home, I’m definitely going to miss the convenience of having two extra adults around to help with the girls. (I’m still not sure how we’re going to handle the new morning routine with drop-offs now that Adelaide has started preschool.) My in-laws have been great roommates–not only do they clean after themselves, they clean after us too. Plus, they cook for us and often take us out to eat. We’re really appreciative of their generosity.

No one said packing up our family of four and moving 1,000 miles away would be easy. And there’s good reason for that–it’s so hard! I guess I knew the move would be hardest on me. The girls are young and resilient, and Tim is moving home. He hasn’t lived here for 12 years, but it’s still home to him, familiar for better or worse. I had a lot to lose by leaving Philly–a good job, a fantastic group of friends, a community I valued. I found “my people” in Philly. I’m sure I’ll find that here too, but it will take time.

I hope to pick up this blog again once we get settled and I get a new laptop. I didn’t realize how much having ready access to a laptop directly correlated with the ease of my blogging life. I have a lot to say about life as a mom of two. I hope to share it here soon.

Next life chapter, indeed.

When I first started this blog, I named it “Next Life Chapter” because I was starting the new chapter of motherhood. Plus, I liked that the blog could grow with me. There will always be a next chapter.

I started a new chapter in January with the birth of Juniper, our second daughter. However, that chapter will be titled “The fourth trimester,” and it will be superseded by another exciting new chapter that’s about to begin.

Philly LOVE necklace  |  nextlifechapter.com

I gifted myself this special “LOVE” necklace as we prepare to leave the City of Brotherly Love.

Tim and I have been thinking about moving to Tallahassee, Florida for a while now. Tim’s parents are there, and with the arrival of Juniper we’ve dreamed of being closer to family. It’s a huge decision, but we are officially moving! I have accepted a Communications Coordinator position at Florida State University, and Tim is interviewing as well.

We told Adelaide last week, and she seems excited. Since I’ve accepted a new position, things are happening fast! The idea of moving to Florida has always been just that, an idea. It’s all happening much more quickly than I imagined. I’ll be starting my new job on May 8, so we’ll be leaving Philly on May 2. I’ll still be returning from maternity leave next Monday and working for two weeks. My official last day at work is Friday, April 24. Then, we’ll have a final week at home before heading out. (I’m flying down with the girls this time. We drove down when we went to Tallahassee to interview, and I don’t want to make that road trip again anytime soon.)

There’s so much to do and sort and pack. I go back and forth between feeling excited and feeling overwhelmed and sad about leaving. I’m going to miss my Philly friends immensely, and I feel dumb/scared/crazy for quitting a job that’s been good to me for the last seven and a half years. I know part of it is just the fear of the unknown. I’m comfortable in my job here and at a time when I’m trying to navigate the waters of being a new mom of two, starting from scratch somewhere else is a lot to bite off all at once. I’ll miss being so close to NYC (although we don’t take advantage of it as much as I’d like), and I’ll miss all the culture and opportunity that comes with living in a large city. Tallahassee does have a better cost of living, but it’s not THAT much better.

It’s all so bittersweet. I have to remind myself why we’re doing all this, and there are a lot of factors. One being that Adelaide will start Kindergarten next year–what!?!–and the Philly public schools (at least in the neighborhoods we can afford) are struggling. Plus, putting two kids in daycare is ridiculous. Tim’s parents are going to watch June this summer and then there’s the possibility they will continue to watch her two days a week into the fall and winter. It’s also going to be nice to have a free babysitter once in a while when Tim and I just need a date night. I think this will be really good for our marriage as well as our girls growing up near some of their extended family. Hopefully not having to travel to Tallahassee will allow us to visit my side of the family in Illinois more often–or *gasp* dare I say, take a vacation that doesn’t involve visiting family.

Overall, I know it’s a good move for our new family of four to be closer to Tim’s parents (they’re newly retired and ready to help), and the sunshine won’t hurt either.

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Adelaide says…

“Mom, why you not happy?” Adelaide asked as we ate lunch and listened to her new Frozen soundtrack.

I wasn’t not happy, but I was feeling exhausted and just trying to make it through the next 30 minutes until her nap. “I’m not unhappy,” I said. “I’m just not smiling right now.”

“You need to smile when I’m talking to you.” she said.

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One-month survival

Rock 'n Play for newborn sleep  |  nextlifechapter.com

Resting peacefully in her new Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play.

The babe is one month old today. I appreciate your patience in my lack of blogging as I enjoy my maternity leave and this special once-in-a-lifetime period with my family.

The last four weeks have flown by, as expected. We enjoyed visits from our parents–Tim’s parents drove up from Florida and later my mom flew out from Illinois.  It was nice to have the extra hands and especially helpful to have sources of entertainment for Adelaide. Now we are on our own, trying to figure out our new normal.

Tim is convinced that June is more “fussy” than Adelaide was as a baby. I think he might have selective memory. Sure, Adelaide was a pretty chill baby, and June really likes to be held (plus, June seems to inhale a lot of air when she nurses and it makes her very gassy). Still, I don’t remember Adelaide being especially “chill” during the first four weeks. That time is mostly a blur, but my memories of Adelaide being a laid back baby were from when she was a bit older.

There was recently a thread on the Longest Shortest Time Mama’s Facebook page asking people to name their most useful baby item and least useful one. Over and over the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper came up as the “can’t live without” baby accessory recommended by moms. I had heard good things about the Rock ‘n Play, but we didn’t have one for Adelaide. After a particularly bad sleep night this week, I decided we would give it a try.

The Rock ‘n Play is positioned on an incline to help babies with reflux and gas, and I thought it might help a baby who constantly wants to be held. I was apprehensive to have her use it for night sleep because I didn’t want to create a bad habit. Plus, June had a surprisingly good night on Wednesday and slept 4.5 hours flat on her back in her bassinet (fluke? maybe).

The Rock ‘n Play arrived yesterday and so far, so good. We didn’t use it overnight, but June seems to like it for naps. We’ll see if that continues. I did appreciate a little hands-free time today–I did the dishes,  a load of laundry, and was able to write this update.

 

So, what was your most useful baby item? What could you totally have done without?

 

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