Laughing, Weeping, Living

Life happens. You laugh about it or cry about it, sometimes both.

Epic Road Trip: Billings, MT

Sorry for the gap in posting, but it’s difficult to keep it up when we’re driving all day and spending the night at monasteries in the middle of nowhere Colorado, then we get to Billings and it would be rude to not visit with our lovely hosts!

So. After we left Littleton, CO we took a short trip north to the Abbey of St. Walburga in Virginia Dale, CO. The location is quite remote in the mountains just south of the Wyoming border. Jeremy lived there for a couple years helping the nuns on their cattle ranch, so he knows a bunch of the sisters. It was a nice stop to go there and see the holy ladies and spend some time attending liturgies in their beautiful chapel. Because of the location, our cell phones didn’t receive a signal and there was no internet connection for guests. That was  nice, too. After we ate and attended the final liturgy of the evening, we went back to the guest house and we each picked out a short spiritual book to read. Then we hung out reading in peace until bedtime. Then we went to bed early. It was great. We both finished our books, too! 

On Thursday morning, we packed up the car after mass and began our trip to Billings. It was a loooong day of driving. It took longer than I thought it would and we were all pretty tired of being in the car by the time we got to Billings. Stephen had a difficult day despite the allure of one of his brand new road trip toys. He did play with that thing for most of the trip, but he was being really ornery about eating so he got super mad toward 5pm and we had to pull off the side of the road at a “no services” exit to feed him. A guy drove up after a while to ask if we were okay. Yep, we’re fine, just a toddler meltdown is all. Then when we got back in the car, Stephen kind of whimpered and whined for the rest of the nearly two hours we were in the car. Jeremy was the real hero, entertaining Stephen with blocks, a monkey, a dog, and who knows what else. I was just focused on driving as fast as I dared to get to Billings as soon as possible.

Whew. It feels so good to finally be in Billings. Our hosts here are just so lovely. They are full of wonderful stories and are a very inspiring Catholic family. Our weekend so far has been relaxing, and comforting. Today, we are going to a large party to meet many of our old friends. I’m really looking forward to catching up with all the people we had to leave behind when we moved to New Mexico. Tomorrow we are going to mass at our good priest friend’s church, then moving across town to visit a family we were very close to, and still are. Then, we leave Billings on Monday morning. I expect it will be sad for me to leave Billings behind a second time, but I know I’ll have to get over it so hopefully it won’t last long. I really like it here. It feels like home to me.

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Epic Road Trip: Denver, CO

So here we are in Littleton, CO which is just south of Denver.

Our move out of the apartment went well. Several of our friends came over to help carry down boxes and furniture, and fit the puzzle pieces into our four U-boxes. We finished loading the boxes around noon which was awesome! Then some other friends came over in the afternoon to help clean the apartment which was so helpful. We were able to leave the place on Saturday around 4:30pm. All that was left for us to do on Sunday was wait for the U-boxes to be picked up, then turn in our apartment keys. Everything went smoothly.

The guys loaded up the boxes like 3-D puzzles.

The guys loaded up the boxes like 3-D puzzles.

It's really crammed in there.

It’s really crammed in there.

On Monday, we had a last minute doctor’s appointment which really had me nervous. I was afraid they would tell me I can’t go on a two week road trip. But everything was fine. They told me the only thing I needed to be concerned about was if I can’t feel baby movements like I normally do. So far so good. One piece of great news: at the appointment our baby’s head was finally tilted toward down! Hopefully she stays that way until birth. That will really increase my odds of avoiding a c-section.

So we made it through the first leg of our journey and we are officially on the road. We had good driving conditions for almost the whole trip yesterday. We only drove into snow about 5:00pm when we got to Colorado Springs. It did snow here all night, but I don’t think any more precipitation is forecast for the next couple days. Stephen was just wonderful in the car. He was able to entertain himself pretty well with his basket of toys, and we stopped at a couple playgrounds along the way so Stephen could run around a little before getting back in the car. He took a little nap too.

We are having a nice lazy visit with our friends here. I think we might go out and visit the local Ikea after lunch since I’ve never been to one. I know, that’s a strange family outing, but I think it will be fun. Tomorrow we head out again, just a short trip up to the Abbey of Saint Walburga just north of Fort Collins, CO. We’ll visit the nuns for a day before our next long leg of driving on Thursday.

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Moving Out

Today we were super busy packing up the last few odds and ends that we can pack before the last minute. I did a ton of laundry. We ate with plastic forks. Jeremy used a multi-tool to open a can of tuna fish for lunch because we packed the real can opener already. It was pretty crazy. We just got back from a little date: dinner and a movie. We saw Oz the Great and Powerful. It was pretty good. Tomorrow Jeremy is taking Sashimi the Cat to the airport for his trip to Ohio. Our friends who will help move us out are arriving at 9:30am. We are deep cleaning the apartment tomorrow afternoon. Some gracious friends are letting us spend the night tomorrow at their house so we don’t have to worry about camping out in a spotless, furniture-less apartment with a toddler who will be missing all his stuff. Sunday we’ll come back to finish up the last few things, meet the U-haul truck that will take away our U-boxes, and then we’ll turn in our keys.

Monday morning I have a last-minute doctor’s appointment. God willing, we will be on the road as soon as that is finished. Apparently every location along our planned route is snowy and disgusting. Yay. Anyway, it will be a great relief to finally be on the road. I can’t wait to visit all our friends.

I don’t know what I’ll be able to do on the blog over the next couple days, but as they say in the movie While You Were Sleeping, “I’ll see you when I see you.” I love that line.

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My Advice On Working for a Church

I have been thinking about writing on church employment for some time. As some of you may know, I was a church employee for several years before and for a short time after my son Stephen was born. Jeremy has also been a church employee for much of that same period of time, continuing up until very recently. We have had what I would consider to be a fairly typical experience of being employed by a Catholic church, but we also recognize that our experience is by no means universal. Based on our experiences, both of us individually and as a family, I would like to offer some insights and advice to anyone who is currently or who may be soon employed by a church.

First, Jeremy and I realized quite soon after Stephen was born that my strongest desire is to be home with my babies. At the time of Stephen’s birth, I was still employed full time as a parish music director and Jeremy was working almost full time as a parish director of religious education. We were lucky that our jobs were flexible about what times of day and days of the week we needed to be in the office. My boss was very accommodating and even allowed me to bring Stephen to the office with me during the week and work from home. It was our family’s strong desire to never place our child in daycare as a way of life to accomodate two careers. I am not putting down families who do place their children in daycare, but it was not what my family wanted to do. Even though our jobs were flexible, there is only so much the employer can do to accommodate family time. As a musician, I had to be on the job for every mass. That means Jeremy was stuck watching a baby by himself during mass, and we never got to attend mass as a family. Jeremy had a few masses where he was “on the job” as director of the RCIA program. He couldn’t watch Stephen when there were Rites to facilitate. We had to hire a babysitter for the Easter Vigil. At Jeremy’s most recent job, he had to work at least three nights a week and sometimes during the day on Sunday, overseeing the education programs and teaching classes. The work schedule of a parish employee is very irregular, which makes it difficult to plan family activities. Some weeks, there is enough work to fulfill 60 hours on the clock, some weeks there is only enough for 35. And Jeremy’s most recent job considered 40 hours or less to be unsatisfactory performance, which really doesn’t leave time for family. There were some days Jeremy saw Stephen in the morning for a couple hours, then didn’t see him again until the next morning.

First advice: if you plan to work for a church, you have to be okay with working a lot of hours, possibly never attending mass as a family, and having irregular time slots available for family activities.

Second, when Stephen was born, I decided that it is most important to me to take time off my career to be home with my young children. That meant Jeremy had to bring in all the income our family needed. I did work limited part time in such a way that allowed me to be home almost all the time, but since moving to Rio Rancho, I have not worked at all outside of the home. Jeremy has been responsible for bringing home all the bacon. It has been our experience that a church cannot pay a salary that will support a family living on a single income. Churches are basically charity organizations; they can only pay out in proportion to the generosity of donations and tithes that come in. A church may have every intention of paying a living wage; churches are not in the business of purposely denying their employees fair compensation. In fact, when Jeremy negotiated his salary for his most recent position, they were very generous and sincerely attempted to meet his requirements. However, after we had lived here for several months we realized the cost of living is more than we estimated and his salary wasn’t quite cutting it. We were able to live on church employment in Billings because I was doing just that little bit of part time work, but as a strictly single-income family, a church just can’t support us.

In a similar vein, a diocese is also a charity organization, just like a parish church, but on a much larger scale. All the programs and funding coming out of the diocese depends on the generosity of donations. These programs include the health insurance and other benefits offered to employees of parishes and Catholic schools in the diocese. The diocese may not be able to afford a very good health plan for their employees, which was the case both in Billings and here in Rio Rancho. As parish employees, we were offered a choice of limited coverage with steep monthly premiums. If Jeremy had been a single man of good health, that would have been fine. But the plan made it prohibitively expensive to add me and Stephen, which left us up a creek. I know there are dioceses that offer better coverage and lower premiums to their employees, but it has not been our experience. I know a diocese will offer the best benefits it can afford.

Second advice: if you want to work for a church and you have a family, you will most likely need at least a part time income to supplement your church job income. You must also be prepared to pay back a large part of your income for health insurance premiums, especially if you add your family to your employee plan.

That’s all I will write about tonight, but I do have some more thoughts to share. Please do not read this as a criticism of any church or diocese. I am just sharing my own family’s personal experiences of being employees of Catholic parishes.

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Chicken Catalogue

I am totally wiped out from today. So all I have energy for is a post about the chicken catalogue I got in the mail today.

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It's a premium Chick-N-Villa.

It’s a premium Chick-N-Villa.

Anyone Can Build a Tub Style Mechanical Chicken Plucker. Whew, that's a relief.

Anyone Can Build a Tub Style Mechanical Chicken Plucker. Whew, that’s a relief.

So many pretty birds.

So many pretty birds.

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Jeremy does subscribe to a couple gardening and self-sufficiency magazines, so I’m not totally surprised this arrived in the mail for us. But it is kind of amusing to flip through a catalogue to pick out birds for my mail-in order. Plus we currently live in an apartment, which makes the idea of chicken farming even more laughable. I don’t think there’s room for the Chick-N-Villa out on the balcony. Plus I know lots of cities have ordinances against raising fowl within city limits. I don’t know if Rio Rancho has anything like that, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

Another amusing thing I discovered today while cleaning up, packing, and tossing out garbage:

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I found this in the packet of new-parent material that I got from the hospital when I signed up for pregnancy care. Their program for prenatal education is called Baby Love. The welcome packet came with all the normal leaflets: caring for a newborn, proper nutrition for pregnancy and nursing, how to install a car seat, yadda yadda. And this. “Congratulations on being a new mom! We hope you’re enjoying your newborn. Now that you’ve had a baby, you probably want to know how you can prevent it from ever happening again! Well, here at Baby Love, we want you to know too, because your newborn was expensive and we don’t want to provide care for any more babies than we absolutely have to. Plus we hate running those stupid labor and delivery education classes. Yours truly, the hospital.”

A fine example of the current state of medical care.

 

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Ventriculomegaly Update

img013Click for Part One.

Click for Part Two.

We had two doctor’s appointments this week since we are out of here next week. We visited the perinatologist yesterday and had an ultrasound done for all the measurements, and today we met with my regular O.B. for a bit of not much at all. There are no major new discovers about my baby girl and her ventriculomegaly, which if you’re just tuning in, basically means there is fluid in her brain that is not draining properly, so it gets backed up in the ventricles of her brain thereby causing swelling where there shouldn’t be any.

Two things of note from this week’s appointments: First, the swelling has increased to about 13 mm. Just to recap, it’s not considered “severe” until the ventricles are swollen to at least 15 mm. Even though the swelling has increased, my baby’s overall head circumference measures normal size, which makes the doctor think maybe the ventriculomegaly is the result of fluid filling in where a missing brain structure should be. He said if it were just a blockage, he might expect the head to measure large. However, he also said the swelling isn’t that pronounced so he still can’t say what the heck is going on. Maybe possibly a genetic disorder that won’t be identifiable until the baby is born.

Second, my baby now weighs about 2 pounds 2 ounces! That is awesome because she gained almost a full pound in three weeks whereas during the last three week interval, she barely gained half a pound. So she’s maintaining a growth curve, just at the small end of the spectrum. On the flip side, though, her abdomen is still measuring small compared to the rest of her body. The doc can’t say what the heck is going on.

Can anyone say “mystery baby” because that is exactly what is happening here.

Jeremy and I have been praying to Saint Maria Goretti to intercede for our baby, and we even made a little pilgrimage a couple weeks ago to Chimayo, NM where we scooped up some Holy Dirt and I applied it to my tummy. Also yesterday, I drank some water from the miraculous spring in Lourdes, mixed with a couple drops of St. Walburga oil. If you’re playing along with Catholic bingo, those are all elements that have historically been associated with miraculous healings. In light of all that, I would like to call MIRACLE for baby’s growth, since she weighs over 2 pounds and that would have been impossible if she had kept at her previous rate of growth. She really stepped it up. She has also been extremely active. I can feel her on and off for the entire day, and sometimes she moves around so vigorously I can see my tummy jumping. Her heartbeat is very strong; except whenever anyone tries to listen to it, she crawls away and they have to chase her around the womb with the doppler wand.

I really do feel hopeful about the outcome for our precious daughter. So many people are praying for us and for her, and the ultrasound scans continue to reveal a baffling mix of good and bad that just doesn’t seem like it should be possible. If she’s missing a brain structure, how can she be so active and strong on the heartbeat monitor? If she has swelling in her brain, why doesn’t her head measure larger? If her nutrition is poor (small abdomen) why does the cord, placenta, kidney function, fluid in the womb, everything, look normal? If she’s supposed to have growth restriction, how can she be maintaining a curve? This condition is commonly caused by chromosomal abnormality or in utero infection, neither of which are the case here. What is going on?

Seriously, I call MIRACLE. Just you wait and see.

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Eat-the-Freezer Challenge Update

Almost a couple weeks ago, I posted about our goal to consume all the foods in our freezer and refrigerator before we moved, here. Back then, we had seventeen days to accomplish the task. Now we have six days remaining on that time table, and we are doing pretty darn good if I do say so myself. We’ve eaten enough of our freezer foods that all the food that is left can fit in the little freezer on top of the fridge. Score. We do have a lot of things in the refrigerator, but it’s mostly leftovers from meals we’ve prepared recently, and they will disappear quickly, especially on the days later this week when the extent of my menu planning is, “use what we can find” for dinner.

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And now, a brief recap of how far we’ve come in a few short days.

100_1591Meats: 1 rack of ribs; 6.5 pounds 1 pound of boneless chicken breast; 6 chicken drumsticks plus 2 thighs; 4 thin cut pork chops; 1 pound ground beef; 1 pound bacon; approximately 12 meatballs

Produce:  partial 16 ounce bag green beans; 16 ounce bag plus 32 ounce bag corn kernels; partial bag mixed pepper strips; 5 hash brown patties plus about 1 cup loose shreds; a bunch of several sweet potato baby food puree cubes; lots and lots of fresh frozen thai ginger slices, cilantro, fenugreek leaves, and curry leaves (all used in Thai and Indian cuisine)

Dairy: milk but I’m not worried; dozen 16(!) eggs but I’m not worried; 8 ounce brick of cream cheese; partial carton of ice cream; 1.75 0.75 pounds of butter but I’m not worried; actually I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up buying more milk, eggs, and butter before we leave. [WE DID!]

Miscellaneous items: 2 servings of leftover turkey noodle soup, yes from Thanksgiving turkey; gallon bag of chocolate chip cookies; single pie crust; many corn and flour tortillas; approximately 1 cup of nutritional yeast; approximately 2 cups 1 cup of oat bran; 4 pack 2 egg rolls; 3 hot dog buns but no dogs to match; assorted condiments; plus a nearly full half of a 3 pound bag of corn chips in the pantry cupboard; and an 18 pack of beer; and the last several inches in each of Jeremy’s liquor bottles.

100_1592We have menu plans to use up the corn kernels, the hash browns, the sweet potato puree cubes, the eggs and milk and butter, the egg rolls, the chicken breast. Now that the eggs have multiplied in my fridge, I’m planning to make Eggs Benedict for breakfast tomorrow morning. We have a few strips of that bacon left, so it won’t be real Eggs Benedict, but it will be close. And later this week I’ll make a corn curry from my Indian cookbook that will use hopefully all the corn, and some of those exotic herbs we’ve had in the freezer for months. We’ll serve some of the snack foods to our moving helpers on Saturday, and take some on the road with us. Whatever food is left, we’ll give away what we can, then throw the rest in the garbage! Bwahahahaha!!!!

Now I think I must go do my duty and eat the rest of the ice cream while Jeremy makes a double cocktail of whatever it is he has left in the liquor cabinet. I think it’s blended whiskey, amaretto, and sweet vermouth. Ick. Maybe throw in a sprig of exotic herbs to sweeten it up. Actually…ick.

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What I Wore Sunday: April 14

Linking up with everyone over at Fine Linen and Purple!

100_1582Today I’m rocking another fabulous dress I found at Savers. O Savers, what will I do without you when I move to Ohio?

Okay, so this dress has absolutely no tags in it anywhere. I see a wisp of thread at the back neck line, so there used to be a tag, but some sketchy people must cut out the tags of their clothes before donating them. They must have a sick fanaticism about depriving the new garment owners of laundering and care instructions. Curse you, weirdos! Or they just find the tags to be scratchy so they cut them out. One or the other.

Also, notice the many fine features of this dress.

a) It may actually be a really truly maternity dress. Notice the hem in front continues to hang even with the hem in back, despite being hoisted over a baby bump.

b) Miraculously, this maternity dress has a modest neck line already built in. No camisole undercover for me today!

c) Again, miraculously, this maternity dress has sleeves. And at that, LONG SLEEVES. Unheard of.

d) I may be living in this dress when I get close to delivery. It is still a bit roomy and the fabric is very swishy and comfortable. Plus I just love a long dress when my baby bump gets huge. Skirts and pants slide down and really bug the heck out me. Dresses are much more easy-wearing in late pregnancy. Except at the weekly prenatal doctor visits.

e) Although the sleeves:

100_1585They are neat because they’re kind of like kimono sleeves and they flap open at the elbows. However, they do get in the way when I’m doing careful things like washing my hands or making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

As for my other accessories, the new veil pinning method is officially a success. It feels really secure and allows the lace to attractively frame my face. And the Minnetonka Moccasins are wonderful. My favorites.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After lunch today we started packing! Woohoo! We did knick-knack type things and the books. It was a good start.

Some of the boxes full of books.

Some of the boxes full of books.

The rest of the boxes full of books. We have a lot of books.

The rest of the boxes full of books.

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What I Will and Will Not Miss

Since we’re down to about one week before departure, I figured it was time to do a list of what I will and will not miss about living in Rio Rancho, NM. I don’t think it will be any big surprise to those of you who know me personally when I say that we did not like it here. I mean that with all charity because I know plenty of people choose to live here, like the location, and enjoy their lives in the Land of Enchantment. We just aren’t some of those people. On the other hand, there are a number of things I really did enjoy about living here. So in the spirit of equality and fair treatment of all parties involved, here is a one-for-one list of what I will and will not miss about living in Rio Rancho.

1. I will not miss the extremely dry climate with winds that push dust through the cracks in my closed windows. I can count on one hand the number of times it’s really rained since we moved here seven months ago. I want it to rain, I want grass to grow, and I don’t want to be sand-blasted every time I step outside. And what is up with the plastic grass people put in their yards? I agree that throwing a pile of gravel out back isn’t my idea of landscaping, but fake grass is almost just as bad. Too bad it’s necessary if you want a lawn in this desert.

a. I will miss the sunshine and mild temperatures. Where we are going in Ohio, it is cloudy more often than not. And here, there were a couple cold cold months, but we’re already dressing Stephen in shorts whereas Montana and Minnesota (two other places we’ve lived in the recent past) just got lovely April snowstorms. Plus, as Jeremy pointed out to me, this weather is pretty much ideal for riding a motorcycle. You can almost ride all year, with a few exceptions for extreme cold or wind.

2. I will not miss the exorbitant cost of housing. It cost us more to pay rent and utilities for our two-bedroom apartment built less than 20 years ago in a mild climate than it did to pay a mortgage and utilities on our three-bedroom, two-story house built in 1911 in Montana. And that house still had all original windows. In one or two places, you could look through the gap in the window frame and see outside. Come on, Rio Rancho, surely a town incorporated in the 1980’s can do better than that.

b.  I will miss the great deals available on grocery shopping. There must be more competition here or something, because the deals in the weekly ads are out of this world compared to deals in Billings. I didn’t even bother reading the ads most weeks in Montana. But here, Albertsons frequently has a “buy one get two free” deal on cuts of meat, and that is just awesome. Plus produce has been really fun to shop for. The quality is much better than I was used to getting in Billings. I don’t know what it will be like in Ohio, but I hope the grocery shopping continues to be so fun. I have really enjoyed hunting for the best deals and getting the most food for my grocery money.

3. I will not miss being so isolated from our families. My entire family is in Ohio. Jeremy’s entire family is in California or Idaho. We are not geographically close to anyone we are related to. It kind of sucks, especially now that Stephen is a little older and we want him to know his grandparents and aunts, uncles, and cousins.

c. I will miss all the wonderful friends we’ve made here. We’ve gotten close to a few families and we will be sad to leave so soon after meeting these lovely people and just really getting close. I just can’t express how blessed we are to have met such beautiful folk, especially at this time in our journey when we are really struggling and so many people have stepped up to offer support and encouragement. We are so, so blessed by the friends we have made here. And I really hate saying goodbye.

4. I will not miss the blatant disregard for posted speed limits and other traffic control signage. I know bad drivers are a plague affecting most locations, but here more than anywhere else I’ve lived, we’ve really had to keep alert to avoid getting creamed. Even in our own parking lot, people zip around the corners like they’re in a race, regardless of pedestrians and cars pulling in or out of parking spaces. I’ve almost been hit on at least two occasions by cars pulling into or out of the driveway of our complex. Not to mention the frequent speeding of up to 20 miles over posted limits, the cars running stop signs, and turning against red lights. The ones that really kill me are the double right turn lanes when the car in the middle lane turns right against a red light into the left lane with oncoming traffic. That’s just crazy.

balloons in the streetd. I will miss the hot air balloons. I’ve never seen a hot air balloon in person before living here (I don’t think…) and here they are super common. In fact, we often see several balloons out our living room window in the morning. And during the International Balloon Festival back in the fall, dozens of balloons filled the sky every morning. One morning they even landed in the parking lot of our church just as we were arriving for me to drop off Jeremy at the office! It was so neat to see all the balloons trying to do precision landing between the houses of the neighborhood, with the ground crews driving frantically up and down the streets to find a way close to the landing location of their balloon.

5. I will not miss having to drive everywhere. I really enjoyed walking around Billings and around my neighborhood there. Here, there isn’t anything close to where I live, and to get to any retail area, driving is absolutely essential. We spend so much money on gas compared to Billings since Jeremy had to drive to work here rather than ride his bicycle. Plus we can’t walk to church here, which I really really liked in Billings. Our church was literally five blocks away. Even when the streets were covered with a foot of fresh snow, we could make it to daily mass on foot. So cool.

e. I will miss living near locations with cool history. Before we moved here, we never lived anywhere that had history going back further than a couple hundred years. But here there is all sorts of neat history with the Native Americans and Spanish and Mexican settlers, going back almost six hundred years or maybe more in some places. I guess my one biggest regret is that we didn’t explore the history of this place more thoroughly while we were here. We did get up to visit Santa Fe a time or two, and we went to Chimayo, and of course the Old Town part of Albuquerque. But I never really delved into the history of the Spanish missionaries and how the towns developed and the events that occurred along the way through the years.

So there you have it. Next week Jeremy and I will be busy packing. We haven’t packed even one fork or framed photo yet, so it should be quite a whirlwind. I’ll try not to bore all y’all by writing about packing every day next week. Then the week after that, we will be on our road trip! I will try to post a few times each week we’re on the road, but with only a dinky little netbook and uncertain internet availability, I won’t make any guarantees. At the absolute very least, I’ll do a few road trip posts once we reach our destination, if I’m not able to do much on the road.

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Seven Quick Takes Friday: April 12

Quick Takes are being hosted by Grace over at Camp Patton this week since Jennifer just had a baby!

100_15761. Today while Jeremy was out riding his motorcycle around town, he found a crazy house. This house looks like it’s straight out of Star Wars or something. I said, “I expected Luke Skywalker to walk out at any moment. You know, before he was a Jedi. When he was just a sand farmer.” Jeremy said, “I think he was a moisture farmer.” Whatever, this house looks like a space station. It doesn’t look anything like the other houses in the neighborhood or even in the whole city.

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2. Stephen is obsessed with motorcycles. Pretty much the highlight of his day is when he gets to see Jeremy ride out on his bike. Stephen makes a “bzzzz” sound with his lips and waves his finger around in a circle any time someone says the word “motorcycle,” or if he’s just thinking of motorcycles, or if he hears a sound that is like a motorcycle. His favorite thing to do is read Jeremy’s motorcycle owners handbook and look at the pictures and say “bzzzz” and wave his finger around. Sometimes when he wakes up in the morning, the first thing I hear over the monitor is “bzzzz. Da-Da. Da-Da. bzzzzz.” It’s pretty much the cutest, and it almost makes me not mind that I’m hearing this little gem before 6 in the morning.

3. Speaking of motorcycles, we took a sock monkey with us as Stephen’s toy in the car this evening, and Jeremy and Stephen thought it would be fun for the monkey to ride the motorcycle. “bzzzz. bzzzzz.” (waves his finger).100_1567

4. There are lilac bushes right by my apartment building! I had no idea those bushes were lilac since we didn’t move here until after the flowers were done and then it was winter. But this week the flowers came in, and they are just now starting to get really fragrant. I love lilacs. They’re one of my favorite flowers along with daffodils and sunflowers.

5. I heard from my friend in St. Cloud. Apparently she was just very very busy and didn’t have a chance to write back before now. I hope she’s not too embarrassed that I called her out on my blog… At least she’s still fairly anonymous to all y’all.

6. We spent a good portion of the afternoon cleaning the apartment a bit. We figure it won’t be so hard to clean after we move out if we do a little pre-cleaning now. We did the bathrooms and started to wash the insides of the windows. We also plan to dust and wipe the kitchen surfaces and vacuum a couple more times before we get down and dirty right at the end. We’ll do a nice, thorough clean after we get all our stuff moved out. One of our friends here generously offered to come over and help us, and she’s a professional! So it shouldn’t be too painful.

7. Jeremy took Sashimi the Cat for a “fit to fly” physical this morning to prepare for his cross-country plane flight to Ohio next weekend. The vet said Sashimi is actually probably a Ragdoll breed cat, not the Chocolate-Point Himalayan we had thought before. He has the exact coloring of the “Mitted” Point Ragdoll. And his temperament, coat quality, and personality are all in line with a Ragdoll’s specifications. That’s pretty exciting for me. Ever since I was a young girl, I’ve always liked the sound of a Ragdoll cat and wished I could have one. And here, these past couple years we’ve actually had one! Sashimi is actually on the small side for Ragdoll, weighing only 10 or 11 pounds. Also I think he might be bulimic, which is not generally common for Ragdolls (or any breed). He throws up after eating all. the. time. I had to clean up four puke piles today. That is more than usual and I don’t know what’s going on. Maybe it’s a flare-up of his bulimia. It comes in spurts. Heh. Heh heh. I think you know what I mean.

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