Drugs and Medicine

Yesterday morning, I worked in the attic for a couple of hours shifting insulation and putting in a 2′ wide floor. I got about half done.

Then, we went to brunch with Kate, a friend of April’s from college, and her SO Kevin.

I wore Simon for the last half hour of that, then we went home for a break and a change before heading to Wonders of Wildlife where we spent over 3 hours wandering through the aquarium (which was pretty great, and I’ll write a review about it later) and Wildlife Galleries (lots and lots of taxidermied animals, which wasn’t thrilling).

Simon and Matthew at Bass Pro Shops’ Wonders of Wildlife: Wildlife Galleries — 2019-03-30

And eventually, back home to watch some TV and finish a movie on the couch.

Suffice it to say that my back and hips were killing me this morning. Simon’s not super heavy–probably around 15 lbs. now–but getting out of bed was a struggle and I was really stiff and sore.

Not too many years ago, I would have grabbed a handful of ibuprofen and washed them down with coffee. But instead, I grabbed my yoga mat and did 20 minutes of stretching.

It always amazes me how much better I feel after some yoga. I know in advance that it’s going to help, but that doesn’t spur me to do it regularly. Instead, I turn to it when I’m hurting, and after 20-60 minutes, I feel great. Much better than I would have after 5-6 pills.

Medicine isn’t always a drug. Sometimes it’s stretching, and sometimes it’s talking with someone, or it could be going for a walk in nature, or eating a healthy meal. I’m glad that I have added the tool of yoga to my wellness toolbox so I don’t have to rely on pills quite as much.


What’s Mine Is Yours

Before April and I got married, we decided that we wanted to live our lives fully together. One way that this was represented was combining everything we owned: all of our bank accounts are combined, and we’re each other’s beneficiaries on everything.

I always assumed that this was the default in marriage, but I’ve been meeting more people for whom it isn’t the case. They might have some joint accounts, but other separate accounts. Some couples split up the bills, with one person paying the mortgage and the other paying utilities and for groceries and whatnot. Others stay completely separate and split the cost on everything.

For us, we have everything together. And every account is in Mint.com, and we can both see every financial transaction.

I felt like this was a pretty high level of integration and transparency, but last week we finished putting together our estate plan after several months of talking about it and working through the process. An estate plan is similar to a last will and testament, but because we have a kid, it gets a bit more complicated. Instead of creating a will, we wanted to create a trust.

You can’t leave stuff to a minor, so you have two options. You can leave everything to the people who will become your child’s guardians, or you can create a trust. If you go with the first option and something bad happens, like the new dad is in a car accident and gets sued, the person suing could take all their funds including what you left to your kid. But if you put the money into a trust, then it’s safe; it can only be used for your child(ren).

So we wanted to setup a trust, and along the way we also setup a health power of attorney (POA) and a financial POA so people could make decisions for us if we are incapacitated, and lots of other paperwork. One of the things we setup was a POA for each other, so I can sign things on April’s behalf and she can sign things on mine.

The lawyer told us that April didn’t need to come in to pick up the binder at the end of the process, so she stayed home with a napping Simon. While I was reviewing the documents, I found a minor typo that needed to be corrected, so the paralegal tore out two pages, printed new ones, and we needed to sign them. But since I have POA for April, I could sign on her behalf rather than dragging her into the office.

This was a whole new level of… I don’t even know what to call it. Financial togetherness? Legal entanglement? Our trust is revocable so we can amend or tear it up whenever we want. But when I was driving home with all the paperwork, I had this feeling like we had leveled up. While all our stuff was shared, we still very much had a legal firewall in that I couldn’t sign things for April and she couldn’t sign things for me. That’s important to me: I want her consent on things that affect us and vice versa.

But I know that we’re responsible, and we care about each other, and we won’t abuse this. And it’s kind of neat, because removing that legal barrier then means we have to rely on our love and trust. It reminds me of Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the state of Pennsylvania about Quakers: you can’t legislate morality. And by removing the legislation that prevented us from committing one another to legal or financial agreements, we now have a greater obligation to be moral and ethical with and to each other.

It doesn’t change anything in practice for us. But it did prompt me to reflect on this, and that reflection filled me with happiness. I love that I found someone I can trust and who trusts me.

On 2018

I often do an end-of-the-year blog post in which I reflect on the year that was. These are often very long, and this year I thought about breaking my reflection into multiple blog posts, one per topic area, to make it all a bit easier to digest.

But truth-be-told, I don’t want to. When I was a teenager, or in my early 20s, I blogged incessantly and shared everything with everyone. These days, I just have no interest. If you, the person reading this, and I are close, then you already know everything. If you’re reading this and don’t know, then we’re not close.

And unfortunately, that’s been one of the major challenges with 2018: the number of people I’m close with continues to dwindle. If I’m going to invest my energy sharing thoughts and feelings with someone, I would like that time to contribute towards building a friendship with someone. Blogging doesn’t do that.

I’m not ready to close this down yet. 2019 may bring some interesting things that I’ll want to blog about. But having a purely personal blog is of less and less interest to me.

What can I say about 2018? My job is awesome, my wife and son are awesome, and God is awesome. And I am growing some friendships through our church, which is great. I’m going to try and make some new friends in 2019; if I want to be close with more people, then I need to meet more new people.

I spent 2018 with some great books. I spent time well caring for my wife and now my son. I invested further in our home. I worked hard and continued to build a fantastic team at Adaptavist. I lost 50 pounds of fat. I don’t think I could have spent 2018 much better than I did. It has been a good year.

I think 2019 will be better.

I just want to brag a bit

We’re about as ready to have a baby as we can be. We’ve actually been preparing in earnest for a few years now, beginning with buying this house and then trading the truck in for a minivan. There were some major renovations that came with the house, such as repairing termite damage to the floor joists and girders, the wall studs and ceiling beams in the front room, some foundation damage from a tree root… and then we had to get a new roof last summer. Oh, and two summers ago I replaced all the power outlets with ones that have covers built-in so kids can’t stick things into them. But this summer has been really baby-inspired.

  • Because the nursery is typically 8-10 degrees colder in the winter, we tore off some drywall with the intent of adding insulation to the exterior wall. It turns out that the wall was insulated, but the termite damage had left a gap between the floor and the wall that went straight into the crawlspace. So we insulated and blocked that up.
  • Put up ceiling fans in the nursery and guest bedroom.
  • We also did some other constructiony things like replacing a rotting wall on the shed, painting the shed, replacing a column on our front porch, and lots and lots of thinning flower bulbs and spreading mulch.
  • April has done a ton of reorganization, cleaning, and furniture assembling (crib, bassinet, shelves, etc.).
  • While exploring the crawlspace to make sure there weren’t any other gaps between the floor and the wall, I found that the ductwork was super damp. The condensation had caused rust, which then led to some small holes in the ductwork. These have now been patched and the ductwork insulated.
  • We had a vapor barrier installed in the crawlspace to help reduce humidity further and prevent insects from burrowing up into the crawlspace.
  • The vapor barrier (sheets of plastic spread across the ground and up the walls of the crawlspace and the piers supporting the house, then sealed with tape and tacked to the walls) made it evident that pipes were leaking. Turns out our entire plumbing system was close to failing, so we had it replaced. The galvanized steel pipes were so full of rust, and metal chunks were flaking off because of the rust. Now we have pex everywhere.
  • Hopefully, the pex will help prevent our pipes from freezing like they have the last two winters. I’ll also be blocking up our foundation vents properly this winter.
  • After all the construction, we had the ductwork professionally cleaned.
  • Our thermostat went out, but I was able to get it replaced under warranty. This came with an extra room sensor, so we now have a remote thermostat sensor in the nursery. We also have a video baby monitor with three cameras that we can put in different places or travel with.
  • Rugs have been shaken and cleaned, floors have been swept, everything has been washed, etc.
  • April has begun preparing freezer meals so that we have around 2 weeks of food that we can just pop into the instant pot or oven without having to do much prep or thinking.
  • We acquired a deep freeze so we have room for freezer meals, etc.
  • After all the construction, we had the house fully treated (crawlspace, attic, inside, outside) for all manner of insects, but mostly spiders.
  • We’re going to a birthing class on Monday nights that has been tremendously helpful and eye-opening. Tomorrow night, we have a hospital tour. Next week, we’ll install the car seat.
  • Our friends and family have been so generous and we now have enough baby clothes for probably the first year and a half, as well as plenty of cloth diapers.

So much of this was possible because of April’s parents, and between the support of our family and our network of friends (which, again, kudos to April… she does such a good job of making sure we stay connected to people despite my inclination to never leave the house or talk to anybody), we feel ready. We feel secure and supported. We know that we have people to catch us and help us. And we’ve learned so much from everyone.

I want to celebrate this. We did good. I can’t wait to meet our baby. We’re about 4-7 weeks away!

Jesus Christ y’all, the new album from Florence + The Machine is so good

I think it’s just speaking my language, and I want to tell you all about it, but I also want you to discover it by listening to it twice and I don’t want to spoil it for you.

The beginning of the album is broken-hearted, and it progresses through hope and on to happiness. And the final song begins a capella with the lines:

And it’s hard to write about being happy
‘Cause all that I get
I find that happiness is an extremely uneventful subject

And there would be no grand choirs to sing
No chorus could come in
About two people sitting doing nothing

And then I go back to the top of the album and begin again, and I hear:

You were broken-hearted and the world was, too
And I was beginning to lose my grip
And I always held it loosely
But this time I admit
I felt it really start to slip

And choir singing in the street
And I will come to you
To watch the television screen
In your hotel room

I love albums that tell a story, where every song is related, and listening to the album altogether is the best way to hear it.

Florence + The Machine isn’t Christian, but I love her spiritual songs.

Sometimes I think it’s gettin’ better
And then it gets much worse
Is it just part of the process?
Well, Jesus Christ, it hurts
Though I know I should know better
Well, I can make this work
Is it just part of the process?
Well, Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, it hurts
Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, it hurts

You need a big god
Big enough to hold your love
You need a big god
Big enough to fill you up

Shower your affection, let it rain on me
And pull down the mountain, drag your cities to the sea, yeah
Shower your affection, let it rain on me
Don’t leave me on this white cliff
Let it slide down to the, slide down to the sea
Slide down to the, slide down to the sea

Listen to it on Google Play Music: https://play.google.com/music/m/Bigmsii2zedk5egwpbb2wkrsroa?t=High_As_Hope_-_Florence__The_Machine

Stepping onto the deck at night

The USA seems to be in a bad place. What we’re doing to immigrant families and their children is horrifying. I’m concerned about the trade wars that Trump is getting us into. I’m pretty well convinced that Trump has colluded with Russia to subvert our democracy, and I think the GOP is complicit and is shirking their duty to uphold the constitution and hold the President accountable.

But each evening, I step out onto the deck with Willow before bed, and I stand in the soft humidity and look up at the stars while crickets converse, and I enjoy the relative quiet. And I think, maybe it’s all terrible, but right now, here in Missouri, maybe it’s OK? Maybe…

I’m not convinced by that “maybe.” I’m still disconcerted. But I can halfway pretend. My conscience won’t let me go entirely, but I can take some solace in the night and lie to myself for just a moment about global warning, and the rising prominence of Xi Jinping, and our president’s abuse of our allies and our citizens.

I wish I could be convinced by the night sky. I wish I could accept the peace of a still, humid evening in the Ozarks and believe that the rest of the world was like this. But we know it’s not. We know that all is not well, and that our leaders are making it worse.

It’s hard to leave the deck. Even a half a morsel of peace is a relief. I wish that I could make everything better so it didn’t feel like such a lie.

I’m not defined by my past

I met a man at church who told me about a motorcycle accident, fractured kneecaps, a fractured elbow, and a broken neck. He was homeless, and these injuries inhibited him from working.

I think he told me these things because they are a core part of his identity.

I have been hurt terribly in the past. And I had a traumatic childhood. I have lately been wrestling with deciding whether or not to write that story. This potential memoir would help communicate my childhood to my own children and maybe help them understand why I have the priorities I have and why I believe what I do.

But the more I think about it, the less certain I am that I should write this. It has been over 16 years since I converted to Christianity. I do not feel near to the person I was 16 years ago. My identity is rooted in who I am today, not who I was back then.

And I often ask myself, “Does this story really need told?” Will it actually help people? I’m not so sure it would.