Laughing, Weeping, Living

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

Escapades in our New Home

This week dawned bright and early Monday morning. The half-light was stealing beneath the shade, gradually softening the darkness in our room, accompanied by the dulcet tones of the cat throwing up under our bed while we were in it.

So that kind of sets the scene.

We also had the great joy and pleasure to witness water dripping in our kitchen. Not in a friendly and expected location, no. Water from inside the wall was dripping through the window frame and plopping onto the sill. Water that we can only presume has somehow broken free of the confining tile tub surround. So…does this mean no more showers until we get it fixed? I couldn’t say. We are thinking of hanging an extra plastic curtain on the inside wall of the surround to see if that stops the water, but there are actually a number of locations where a crack may have breeched the seal. We knew the bathroom tile was something we would have to do sooner rather than later, but we were not planning to do it this soon. Plus…the available evidence suggests leaking has been a longtime issue, so I’m afraid to think about what the condition of the interior walls may be. I’m sure whatever the case, their condition is going to be expensive.

100_2102100_2103100_2104But there have been lots of fun escapades, too! We went to an early-season yard sale over the weekend and bought a little plastic kids’ bowling set. We took it up to our finished attic that is currently empty since we haven’t decided what to do with it yet. Well, I guess we decided it should be a bowling alley!

We have also been unpacking boxes at a ferocious rate. I told a friend on the phone that we are “almost done” unpacking, except for four or five boxes of knick-knacks, five or six maybe seven boxes of books, oh and all those flat picture boxes that have who-knows-what in them. Yeah, almost done, indeed! Well, we sure are close to being all unpacked considering where we started not even two weeks ago! Our house looks more like a home every day. Our furniture looks really good in this house, almost as if we collected each chair and lamp with the mystical foreknowledge that we would end up in this very house. The wood tone of our bookcases matches the woodwork of the house. Our flower-print rugs coordinate with the existing color schemes. Our big brown sofa that I wanted to slipcover actually looks perfect in the cozy living room, just the way it is. Amazing.

Today Stephen and I had some fun in the neighborhood, too. We went to a local antique store to pick up some housewares that I decided I would rather not buy new. The store was wonderful, had a bit of everything, and I can definitely see myself popping over there any time I need a couple more wine glasses, or a large serving bowl, or some picture frames, or long-handled teaspoons, or a cool tablecloth, or a old-fashioned door handle, or, or, or…

Today I purchased a number of small glass jars and bottles to use for storing spices. Some additional forks, spoons, knives because we only have four of each. Some vintage linen cloth napkins. Four ceramic soup bowls since the only “soup” bowls we have are Christmas-y and melamine. You can’t put that stuff in the microwave. I already thought of some more items I would like to find at an antique store. I recently read a book about “being green” by recycling and reusing antique stuff. It creates waste to buy a new tablecloth, so it is “green” to buy a vintage tablecloth. I can see the truth in that, and I can honestly say I never thought about that aspect of antique/second-hand items. I’ve always just gravitated towards that market because it’s more interesting to me, but now I will do it more intentionally!

Finally, our escapades frequently take us to the local branch of the library, which is within easy walking distance. Even for Stephen! He knows the way, and he always assumes we’re going to the library if we go outside or go for a walk elsewhere around the neighborhood. He is such a cute little bibliophile. His current favorite library book is Wooby and Peep. I like it too. The illustrations are very interesting, and the animal characters are likable. The neighborhood animals appear to be nosy, looking over the fence, and they often have funny comments about the action. There is some subtle humor adults can appreciate, and broader comedy for the kids. I recommend it.

Hopefully our escapades continue more in this fun direction and less in the cat-puke direction. I would appreciate that. Kthxby

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Pascha Most Sacred!

“Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered. Pascha most sacred is revealed to us today; Pascha new and holy; Pascha so mystical; Pascha most ven’rable; Pascha which is Christ the Redeemer; Pascha so spotless; Pascha so very great; Pascha of the faithful; Pascha which opened for us the gates of Paradise; Pascha which sanctifies all the faithful.” (from the Paschal Hymns of Resurrection Matins)

Christ is risen! Indeed he is risen!

Dressed in our Easter finery.

Dressed in our Easter finery.

On Sunday my family celebrated Easter for the first time in the Byzantine tradition. It was beautiful, edifying, moving, and inspiring. I was able to attend liturgies on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning, and each was beautiful as part of the whole story of Great and Holy Week. On Friday, we processed around the outside of the church with a Holy Shroud, an ornately embroidered cloth with an icon of Jesus laying out as though in a tomb; the icon was made of fabric, I think. We processed then took the shroud back into the church where it was laid in a “tomb” surrounded by candles and flowers. Each parishioner then approached the shroud, crawling on our knees, to kiss the face, hands, and feet of Jesus. On Saturday, the liturgy focused on the theology of baptism as passing from death into new life. During one of the songs, the priest picked up the shroud and laid it across his shoulders. He carried it out of the “tomb” and put it on the altar where it always rests. The sacrament of Holy Eucharist takes place upon the icon of Christ at every liturgy. I never noticed that before this week.

On Sunday morning, we started with the Resurrection Matins, which are sung only on Easter morning each year. Matins begins with another procession around the outside of the church, this time with the icon of the Resurrection. During Matins we sang the refrain, “Christ is risen from the dead! By death He conquered Death, and to those in the grave He granted life.” When I say we sang that refrain, what I’m saying is we sang it about five million times. After Matins, we jumped right in to Divine Liturgy. It was a long morning, but so beautiful and joyful. At the end of liturgy, Fr. Sal suggested all the parishioners go out to the front steps of the church for an Easter morning group photo. All the parishioners. That is one of the wonderful things about belonging to a smaller parish.

Our traditional Easter foods, and my natural-dyed eggs.

Our traditional Easter foods, and my natural-dyed eggs.

Jeremy and I also participated in the Ukrainian traditional Easter foods. The tradition is to fill a basket with the foods you will eat after liturgy on Easter day. You bring the basket to church Saturday and the priest blesses the food. Then, you take it home and you have to eat all of it, because it’s blessed! If you don’t want to eat that last egg, you have to bury it in the ground; you can’t just throw it away! The traditional foods are ham and/or sausage, hard cooked eggs, pascha bread, butter molded into the shape of a lamb, cream cheese, and beet horseradish relish. It was not like Easter dinners I’ve eaten before, but it was delicious!

For our Easter eggs, I decided to try natural dyes. I used some of the juice from my purple sauerkraut, and turmeric. I added a bit of water and vinegar to both. The eggs turned out blue and yellow, which happen to be the national colors of Ukraine! I did not plan that at all, those were just the natural things I had around that I thought would work to dye eggs! It was really fun using the natural dyes. I would like to experiment with other things, and I don’t see why colored eggs should belong to Easter only. I’m going to do it any old time!

So, after a long break away from my blog, I am happy to be back! We moved to a new home last week, so for a few weeks we were working flat out to pack up at the old place, then we moved and didn’t have internet yet, and we were working flat out to unpack the essential items. Now things are calming as we have reached the point that whatever is in a box isn’t urgently needed, so we can work at a more reasonable pace. And we obviously have internet again!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holy day. Remember to keep the party going: Easter lasts for fifty days!

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Our “Old House”

93 Casterton photoStephen likes to read this book we found at the library called The Old House. It features an anthropomorphic, run-down house that looks so shabby, no one wants to buy it. In fact, most people think it should be demolished. Obviously this makes the house feel very sad. Then one day a family stops by and thinks they might want to buy the house and fix it up. They do that and the house ends up very happy. Stephen really likes this book and he calls the house we are going to buy “our old house, just like in the book.” We did go over and fix it up a little last weekend, so we’ve reinforced the idea. Stephen is very excited to finally arrive at the moment when we can go over to the old house and walk in without having to wait for someone to let us in. And then we can stay there. Sometimes we drive past the house when we are out and about, and it always makes Stephen sad that we can’t go in. We have to tell him that soon, soon we will be able to go in whenever we want.

And that day will be coming very soon now. The house has finally passed all its inspections and we are clear to organize the closing! Hopefully we can get it done next week, then we can move in to our “old house” and stay there. We went past the house today actually, to spy on the work we hired a contractor to do for the inspection. While we were in the neighborhood, I got excited about how ideal the location will be. We went to lunch at one of the local restaurants and since we had driven down, we had to maneuver the car around the postage stamp-sized parking lot only to discover it was full. When we live in our old house, we will be able to walk to that restaurant. Here is a list of all the things we will be able to walk to from our house:

Restaurants: chinese take out, middle eastern dine-in or take out, pizza by the slice, italian dine-in, subs, mexican, “american” take-out, wally waffle, ice cream, coffee shop. at least.
Services: movie theater, the bank, drug store, library, pet supplies, veterinarian, laundromat, music lessons, tax preparer, grocery store (coming soon!).
Other conveniences: bus stop a block away, park with playground, bar with frequent live music. at least.

The only things not within walking distance are our church and our family physician. We could bike to visit Agnes at Glendale Cemetery or take the bus. That bus stop is very convenient. The line that goes past our street can take us downtown where we can go to street festivals or the minor league baseball games, or the main library branch, or restaurants downtown. That route also goes the other way, out toward Fairlawn where it stops in front of our favorite wine bar where we like to go on dates, the main Acme grocery store, a couple major shopping centers, more and more restaurants and fun services. The only limitation would be the bus schedule, which from what I can see, the bus stops along that route at least every thirty minutes or less. It drove by at least two or three times while we were eating lunch.

We are looking forward to hoofing around much more, and enjoying our great new neighborhood. We have even met our neighbors on both sides and they all seem very nice. There is a young family on one side with a little boy to play with Stephen, and a group of girls who are university students on the other side. Maybe babysitters? Or maybe they’re too busy. We’ll see!

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My Blog is Not Dead, I Promise

I guess I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus with the blog since Agnes died. I’m not apologizing but I do feel as if I have been neglecting this page. So, this is my first entry back into the world wide web as a blogger.

We’ve been busy around home playing with Stephen and hosting Jeremy’s parents. It has been nice having them here to help out and Stephen is just over the moon to have “grandpa and grandma, and new grandpa and new grandma” around. He is getting lots of attention. We’ve taken him to the library a couple of times in the past week or two and that is pretty much the most awesome place ever! Stephen adores picking out a stack of books to bring home. We pulled out a special basket for library books, to keep them separate, and Stephen is excited about his stash of books.

We’ve also been busy stepping up our efforts to buy a house. Jeremy and I are poor so his parents are graciously lending us their credit credentials as “non-occupant co-borrowers” so we can qualify for a mortgage. We found a beautiful home in the perfect neighborhood, and we made an offer that was accepted! It will probably take a month or so to get everything worked out, but we are already very excited about our new house. It was built in 1918 and still has original woodwork in the whole house; it was painted over in only one of the bedrooms. There are gorgeous hardwood floors in most of the house, a full basement with a workroom, and a finished attic. There is a good mix of move-in ready with some projects we can complete as we wish. The kitchen needs updating and the back porch is not great, plus the usual cosmetic type things (wallpaper in a room or two, paint colors). We are excited!

We’ve also been busy diving into handiwork. Jeremy is back at the books studying for his nursing degree. Luckily he was able to work ahead before Agnes died, so he didn’t actually get that far behind in the past couple weeks. As for me, I am exploring the boundless wonders to be seen on Pinterest; I’ve even started a project! I’m braiding a rag rug. It will be so pretty when it’s finished!

We’ve also been busy talking about how we can improve our diet and lifestyle to be healthier and to better reflect our desires for our family’s life. We want to start making kefir and kombucha, and culturing vegetables, and I want to bake more bread. We want to eat more vegetables and less meat. We want to be more intentional about menu planning and grocery shopping. There is a lot to think about.

Salzburger Stiegl. Braukunst auf hocheter stufe. Es muss ein Steigl sein!

Salzburger Stiegl. Braukunst auf hocheter stufe. Es muss ein Steigl sein!

Two final small exciting things. First, last week we went to the Mustard Seed Market, which is an organic/whole foods type of place. I found bottles of Stiegl beer there! This is a beer I drank while I lived in Austria for three weeks one summer during college. I have never found in the U.S. Never. I was so surprised and excited to find it at Mustard Seed!

Second, one of Agnes’ nurses had a pretty necklace with a charm on it for each of her children and I mentioned that I liked it. Apparently a hospital employee makes the charms and the nurse offered to hook me up. Unfortunately Agnes died before my charms were finished, and I thought that was the end of it. But a couple days ago I got a nice letter in the mail from that nurse with the charms attached. It was so sweet.

So, we’ve been keeping busy and occupying our minds and hands. We still miss Agnes and it is difficult to adjust to being a family of three again, but we are staying busy to help. It is helping.

One charm for each of my children.

One charm for each of my children. The rings are for J.M. and Agnes, both in heaven.

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7 Quick Takes: September 20

Hi y’all. Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary.

1. I read Jen’s quick takes before coming here to write my own, and her take about Delena’s take about Myers-Briggs Theme songs is really interesting. Right now I’m listening to Jen’s chosen theme song for her personality type, INTP

It’s pretty interesting. My personality type is ISFJ, according to the super quick test I found online. I wonder what my theme song would be? I will strenuously consider this and report back when I figure it out.

2. So a couple days ago I wrote about Stephen refusing to eat, and taking pictures helped him forget his tantrum and eat his meal. It has worked a couple times since then, but I think the novelty is wearing thin.

stephen soup stephen sandwich

3. Last night Jeremy and I changed the sheets on our bed. Sashimi the Cat helped.

cat under blanketcat under blanket 2

4. I made a dish from the Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine again tonight, but this time it was one of her “30 Minute Meals” and I followed the recipe exactly. Maybe I’m not the first one to discover this, but for real, her idea of “30 minute” meals is totally wonky. I knew this as soon as I looked at the recipe, and I know I’ve thought this before on the other occasions I’ve contemplated making a dish from that section of the magazine. This one was Spaghetti with Cauliflower and Tuna. Early this afternoon I took almost an hour prepping some of the veggies: cutting up the cauliflower, separating the parsley leaves and stems, and dicing the pepper. Then when I got started this evening, it took about 45 minutes active cooking time. Granted the recipe says things like, “two shallots, finely chopped. Four garlic cloves, finely minced.” But still, the only way you could do this recipe in 30 minutes was if you cook it on a 30 minute Food Network program and have a sous chef prep all the veg before the show starts.

5. Also, that recipe above requires a “6 to 8 oz can of sustainable tuna.” What, will the recipe fail if you use unethically-farmed tuna cans in your dish?

6. Has anyone ever done a HomePath mortgage or HomePath Renovation Mortgage to get a house? Jeremy and I are looking into it because you can get a house for as little as 3% down, and the renovation mortgage allows you to borrow what you need to update a house as part of the whole mortgage package. There are a ton of houses “with potential” around the area, and we agree except we lack the capital to invest in a property that needs attention. And we like the low down payment!

7. We took the kids out on a short trip again today. Agnes really extremely hates riding in the car. She starts crying as soon as we put her in the car seat, and keeps going and going the whole time we’re driving. She does get tired and she has to take breaks, but when she feels rested she starts “screaming” again. She flails her arms, her hair gets really sweating, she kicks her feet, bubbles form at her mouth, she squeezes her eyes shut and turns pink. The pulse-oximeter beeps and beeps. It’s actually quite comical. It’s fortunate she makes very little sound when she cries because that would take the situation from comical to tragic and someone-please-for-the-love-of-god-make-the-baby-stop-crying! territory.

Go to Jen’s page for more quick takes. Thanks for reading!

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7 Quick Takes September 13: Dream Home Edition

Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary like you do on a Friday.

Jeremy and I have been getting in to long-term-planning mode for our family, which includes some concrete goals about our future home. We are planning our savings each month to bring us closer to the time when we can afford a home of our own and move out of my parents’ house. We are doing some hypothetical math to see how long this might take us, so we can set a deadline for ourselves. We are looking at real estate listings and dreaming about the day when we can go house-hunting with pre-approval from the bank, ready to make a serious offer if we see something we like.

Along those lines, here are some quick takes of qualities we are looking for in our dream home in Akron, Ohio.

1. Decent neighborhood. There are a lot of great little neighborhoods in Akron. We plan to ultimately home-school Stephen, so school systems are not much of a factor, but we are going to start being mindful of the schools since Agnes will transition into special education services through the public schools when she is three or four. All we’re really looking for is a street where we don’t feel like we need to install security bars on the windows, or lock the car doors when we drive up to our house at night. A street with a high ratio of occupied homes and reasonably kept up properties is all we want.

2. House with character. We lived in a house built in 1911 when we lived in Billings. It had lots of great little details and a historical feel, even though it had been updated recently. We want that again. Built-ins, a butler’s pantry, sloping ceilings on the top floor, deep front porch, that kind of thing.

Woodwork, hardwood floor, character, built ins! Asking price on listing is $79,000.

3. Mostly hard floors. I’ve lived in places with wall-to-wall carpet, and I have come to realize that I don’t prefer it. I would much prefer hardwood floors or even decent looking laminate or tile. It’s so much easier to keep clean, and I also love area rugs!

4. Cool woodwork. A lot of the houses in this area have thick wood frames on windows, doors, around entryways between rooms, and baseboards/crown molding. Some houses have this woodwork painted (how could you?!) and some have natural wood. Oh, it’s gorgeous.

5. At least 3 bed, 1.5 bath. We really need three bedrooms now that Agnes has to sleep in her own room. And I would prefer 1.5 baths to 2, because I don’t really like cleaning a tub and shower!

6. Close or at least convenient to Akron Children’s Hospital and our church, Holy Ghost. Honestly, these are the two places we go to the most often. You know, besides the grocery store.

7. Less than $80,000. It’s possible! Housing in Akron is exceedingly affordable, especially right now. And if you refer to my first take, the price all depends on the neighborhood. We’re looking at the Firestone Park neighborhood or the Highland Square neighborhood, both of which have many homes with our desired characteristics, and more! We are excited about house shopping in Akron!

Head over to Conversion Diary for more quick takes!

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Agnes’ Crib

100_1755First of all, I would just like to say, “Boom, Baby!” I assembled Agnes’ crib all by myself. Uh-huh, uh-huh. Uh-huh-uh-huh-uh-huh [name that movie quote].

When we found out that Agnes would come home with a tracheostomy, we learned that trach babies require attentive care around the clock. Therefore, we would be provided with 8 hours of nursing assistance each day. Since we are going to be sharing our home with a nurse every night, we had to think again about Agnes’ sleeping arrangements. She had been in a bassinet at the foot of our bed at night, napping in a bassinet in the living room during the day. With a night nurse, Agnes couldn’t be in our room any more. That left a few less-than-optimal choices.

1. We could cram Agnes’ crib and all her equipment into the guest room with a double bed already in place. An arm chair would also fit, but just barely. Plus it doesn’t have room for all the storage we would require for Agnes’ gear, as the closet is full of my sister’s things, and boxes of baby clothes for older babies. This would also put Agnes’ beeping alarms fairly close to Stephen thus endangering his sound sleep at night. This would also necessitate the nurse walking through the whole house over and over to get Agnes’ food in the kitchen, water and whatever in the bathroom, and just generally being very near to the entire sleeping family. Not ideal.

2. We could move our office out of the littlest bedroom and put Agnes in there. Then try to find other homes for all our bookcases and our computer table. This room is very small and would fit a crib and a dresser, but it would be tight for all of Agnes’ equipment as the closet is full of my mom’s winter wardrobe. It is also directly across the hall from Stephen’s room (see above). It is also very tight to expect an adult to be happy hanging out in there for eight hours straight. Not ideal.

3. We could move the guest room furniture out to a storage unit, or dismantle the bed and lean the pieces against the wall. We would have to set it all back up in December when my sister comes home from Japan to visit, and move Agnes to a different location for the duration of my sister’s stay. Then there is the possibility that my sister would land here for a period of time when she finishes her job in Japan and is transitioning back to life in the USA. Agnes would have to move then as well. Not ideal.

100_17584. Agnes can live in the living room. It is a nice room to spend time in (yay for the nurse), is close and convenient to the kitchen (yay for the nurse), and is a central location for the house. That way we can hear alarms if we are upstairs or in the basement. The down side is, the kitchen noise will be significant since the floor plan is open. For now Agnes might not be bothered, but as she gets older it might be more disruptive for her. Also we all like to hang out in the living room. Again, this might be disruptive for Agnes’ rest as she gets older and more particular about her sleeping routines. But, there will be adequate space for all her gear, her bed, a chair, etc. This is the arrangement we have decided to try for the time being.

We will set up her crib, a chest of drawers with a convenient wide top for diaper changes, and a storage unit for all her gear. I’m not sure if we will need a bigger table surface to manage all the stuff for trach care and g-tube care. We’ll have to see about that later. I like that the armchair in the “living room” part of the room can swivel to face the other seating or face Agnes’ part of the room. That will be convenient. There are even a few handy electrical outlets in that corner. I plan to get a surge protecting power strip to plug in Agnes’ pulse-oximeter, suction machine, humidifier, and feeding pump. We may also get a portable screen or two to help section off that area and reduce outside stimulation while she’s trying to rest.

I’m hoping this arrangement will work out. It should be okay for the present, I think. We have at least another week to fine tune before Agnes comes home. I plan to make it look real cute. I’ll definitely post pictures of the finished “room.”

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My Happy Goals

First I would just like to say, “Happy Two Month Birthday, Agnes!” Yep, Agnes is two months old today, and has spent a total of two weeks at home, the rest at the hospital. At least this time she has her own private room with a private bath that includes a shower, and a TV. The room includes a TV, not the private bath. I realize how that looked up there so I want to make it clear. Plus, Agnes can order room service from the cafeteria whenever she wants and the tray will come up in about 40 minutes. So, long story short, this hospital stay is pretty nice, except for the fact that it’s mostly 6 to 12 year olds on the floor and Agnes’ nurse is usually very busy with her other patients. Oh well. Hopefully Agnes will go to surgery on Monday or Tuesday to get the tracheostomy and the g-tube. Then she will hang out in the PICU (same as NICU but “pediatric” instead of “neonatal”) for a couple days before transferring up to the floor where all the trach kids pal around together.

Now that the shock of Agnes’ new news has had a chance to sink in, I think I can mentally move on to other thoughts. Thoughts along the lines of: I need to do something active to promote my own happiness because it ain’t gonna happen on it’s own. The first step I will take is tomorrow I am going to a fitness club to sign up as a member and I will start an exercise routine on Monday morning. My fitness goal is to tone my postpartum baby belly and fit into a new pair of jeans that have a regular old zipper fly and no elastic. I will buy these beautiful jeans when I believe my goal has been achieved. My other fitness goal is to lose at least 30 pounds, but preferably 40 pounds. I have a question for you fitness calculator type people. If I exercise hard 3 to 4 mornings a week for approximately 90 minutes each time, and find opportunities to move throughout the day and on the off days…and I observe a non-deprivation diet that is mostly portion control and snubbing high fat/calorie foods most of the time: how long can I expect this goal to take? This is just for my information so I can set a reasonable timeline for myself for motivation. You know, like, lose the weight by Christmas or something. Because if this plan is going to take a really long time, I will up my game so I see some results sooner.

The other step I am taking to actively promote my own happiness is I have joined the church choir. I am maybe overqualified to participate as a lowly member of the bunch, but that is what I want to do. There is a lovely lady who kind of leads the operation now and she is way more qualified than me to lead a Byzantine choir. I’m still finding my way around the worship book and I have no idea about the different tones. The choir is fairly informal now, and I’m not sure if they will do more once the summer ends. I hope there are some regular practices because that is the best time to learn the ins and outs, and to ask questions!

Finally, the third step I am taking to promote my own happiness is, starting in September, Jeremy and I will begin following a household budget again. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but we have just been floating and we feel kind of aimless. We are ready to start telling our money what to do. It will help us to feel more independent and give us some direction for the future. Jeremy has been keeping track of all his tips that he earns, and how much he spends on gas as a delivery driver. He is also saving his August paychecks so we can add up all the amounts and see what our true monthly income is; then we can plan for September with a fairly accurate figure. Hopefully we will be able to start saving so we can eventually restart our student loan payments and maybe even move into our place.

If you don’t mind, I will keep track of my happiness and fitness progress here on the blog. Well, I guess I don’t care if you mind! It’s my blog and I’ll write what I want! 😀

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Recap The Awful Year

Okay, I’m only going to do this once and get it off my chest. But geez louise could something good happen around here? We are due for something positive without even the slightest hint of double-edged swordiness.

Thank you, facebook.

I am going to recap this past year, and I’ll be totally honest with all y’all, it’s going to be a bit of a pity party. I know the people who are in my life already know the extent to which this year has totally sucked ass monkeys, but I’m hoping this exercise will be cathartic and help me to move forward.

May 2012: Our “year” started more than a year ago. We found out we were expecting a baby! A week after that news, we found out Jeremy’s job was being eliminated and we would have to leave Billings, MT. At least his boss gave him plenty of head’s up.

June 2012: Our baby miscarried. We named him Joseph Mary. The worst part was we had just made the Big Announcement that we were expecting so we had to be all like “just kidding.” It was bad.

July 2012: Despite numerous resumes sent all over the nation, no job offers yet. Around this time I started a good habit of walking approximately 2 miles every morning around the scenic neighborhoods of Billings, with Stephen tagging along in the stroller. That was nice.

August 2012: We sold our better car to help finance our upcoming move to a Place that was Yet to be Revealed to us.

September 2012: We put our perfect house on the market and moved away from Billings to Rio Rancho, NM for the sole reason that Rio Rancho was the only place to offer Jeremy a job. I wouldn’t recommend that strategy to anyone. Also in September we found out we were expecting a baby! Because of this, it becomes impossible for me to secure health insurance in New Mexico because insurance companies will not accept new clients with a “preexisting condition.” Such as pregnancy. We resorted to Medicaid and thank God we did. It was one of the better choices we made this past year.

October 2012: Our house wasn’t sold yet, so we were paying a mortgage payment plus rent on an apartment that turned out being more expensive than we had thought it would be. We made some great friends through our church, and that was really nice.

November 2012: Jeremy stoped receiving new assignments in the mail from Magnificat. It was clear that after 5 years as a solid employee, they were terminating his contract without offering any notice or reason. He supposed it must be related to internal company politics. At least they continued to send complimentary subscriptions to our home.

December 2012: We discover that for some reason, it is not possible for us to run the heat in our apartment if we also want to take a hot shower. We may have started noticing this in November, but now it’s really starting to get old. Also in December, we get a solid offer on our house in Billings! Things keep getting slowed down for one reason or another so we don’t actually close the sale.

January 2013: We sold the house in Billings! Whew, now it will slip onto 2013 tax year filings which is actually extremely fortunate. Also in January, Jeremy has a meeting with his boss during which his boss pretty much tells him he is doing a horrible job at work. Without offering any positive feedback or ways Jeremy can improve his performance. I think the complaint boiled down to Jeremy wasn’t kicking enough kids out of the church religious education program. Or something. Sorry folks, it’s the truth. Around this time we realize that we are deeply unhappy and we start seriously considering moving away from New Mexico, but we resolve to give it at least a full year before we decide. Also in January, Jeremy and I join a class at church that will walk us through the process to renew our consecration to Mary.

February 2013: We find out there is Something Wrong with our baby. The perinatologist outlines some stark possibilities and recommends for us to move before baby is born if moving is what we want to do. We reconsecrate our family to Mary. “To Jesus, through Mary!” We need all the graces we can get.

March 2013: Every time we go for a prenatal appointment there is more hard news. We also get all our papers together for filing taxes. At least we don’t have to file a house sale. We also decide definitively to move. Jeremy gives 30 days notice at work and his boss tells him to clear out immediately. I’m paraphrasing. Jeremy’s car needs an expensive repair to make it road trip worthy. We have to sell our piano because we can’t afford to move it again.

April 2013: Taxes are a bitch and a half. We have to break our lease contract to move out now, so we also get hit hard by the management company. They don’t consider losing your job and a medical hardship grounds for waiving fees. At least they agree to let us pay over 4 months and they don’t charge interest. Moving cleans out our bank account. Goodbye savings. Goodbye house sale profits. Goodbye all the generous gifts our amazing family and friends bestowed upon us. Thank God for our amazing family and friends who helped us in our need. We road tripped to Ohio and that was really nice.

May 2013: We moved in with my parents thanks to their generosity. Lots of prenatal appointments for Agnes, with bad news becoming the norm. U-haul over charges for our “u-boxes,” you know, like we can afford extra expenses. We place both our student loans in forbearance and I transfer the last $20 from savings into checking so our check to Costco doesn’t bounce. Thank God I did it in time. At least it wasn’t too difficult to get set up on Ohio Medicaid and they even gave us food assistance. Without those government programs, we would be done for. I don’t care what you think about “hand outs” but I am extremely grateful for those programs. I’m sorry I’m stealing your hard-earned paychecks. Also in May, Jeremy picks up a part time gig as a pizza delivery driver.

June 2013: Still paying off the apartment management company in Rio Rancho. Still banking frequent-visitor points at the hospital. Still trying to find things that are boxed up from the move. More bad news about Agnes. Whatevs, bring it. Agnes is born! Let the fun begin. We practically live at the hospital as Agnes endures surgeries and the complicated recovery. She is “chromosomally enhanced.” I like to think about it that way. I miss Stephen because I don’t get to spend much quality time with him right after Agnes’ birth.

July 2013: I’ve talked about all this stuff in depth elsewhere on the blog. We’re also still paying the Rio Rancho apartment managers $320.12 a month for 4 months. At least Agnes’ care is covered under Medicaid. Thank God for Medicaid. Agnes does start improving which is really nice. It must be because of all the wonderful prayers everyone sends up for her!

August 2013: Our year is still rolling. At least this month was our last payment to the Rio Rancho apartment. Now maybe we can start saving again. Jeremy’s car is broken again–the same thing that was supposedly fixed in March. Agnes just gets more and more complicated. Now she is getting a tracheostomy and a g-tube. The trach is going to necessitate around-the-clock vigilance which means a home health care professional will be spending the night here every night. For some reason, that upsets me more than the trach part. Jeremy has decided to go to nursing school himself, an idea that was maybe kicking around for a little while but finally decided when Agnes was in the NICU and we witnessed those nurses up-close.

I don’t know what the year will bring, but I’m hoping things will turn around. I’m also going to take real actions to make myself feel HAPPY again. Seriously, it’s been since May 2012 when I would say, “yes, I am generally a happy person and I like my life.” I’m going to join a gym, start following a household budget that includes savings again, try to make better eating choices, and join the church choir. Hopefully when I look back at this post in 3 or 4 months, I will wonder why I sounded so down.

Okay. I’m done. I got the complaining out of the way, now I’m going to go be positive. I’m positive. I’m positive.

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7 Quick Takes: August 2

Linking up with Jen over at Conversion Diary. Head over there for other awesome bloggers’ quick take round ups.

1. Jeremy and I discovered Parry Gripp several months ago and we just love some of his music. Imagine my surprise when I heard this song on the radio today:

I have no idea why this song was on the radio. But I am eternally grateful. “This party has like five different kinds of nachos!”

2. Speaking of Parry Gripp, I am reminded of how much I love this song:

I love this song so much that I listened to it over and over and transcribed the lyrics and chord changes. Then I had to transpose to a different key so it would fit in my voice range better. I can totally play this song on piano.

3. I’m going to make mohitos later this evening after Jeremy gets home from work. I was going to make mohitos yesterday; I even made some simple syrup and bought some mint at the grocery store. Then I couldn’t remember the exact proportions so I looked up a recipe. Mohitos require fresh lime. Oh snap. So I hung my head and resolved to buy limes today so I can have mohito tonight.

4. I think I mentioned last week how much I love me some coffee.

Remind me to never waste my time on that McDonald’s swill. btw, I wonder where my home recipe for coffee falls in that chart?

5. Stephen is a genius. He knows colors and shapes. He still sometimes mixes up blue and green, but he reliably knows red, yellow, purple, orange, and pink. He also can point out stars, triangles, squares, circles, and hearts. He can also ask politely for things, as in, “more pizza please.” Sniff. Tear. My baby boy.

6. Tonight I get to insert a new n/g tube for Agnes. My first one at home, with no medical staff supervision. I’m pretty excited to see if I remember how to do it right. I was hoping the tube would last until tomorrow so she would have a fresh one for church on Sunday, but she threw up all over her face this evening, and if that little piece of tape that holds it in place gets wet, it loses its sticky. So, here we go!

7. Today Jeremy and I prayed our family rosary. We used to pray a rosary every morning with our coffee in hand, and Stephen “praying” along with his own set of beads. But ever since Agnes was born, we’ve kind of forgotten about this routine. I think you know why. I really want to get back into praying a daily rosary as a family. I’m glad we did it this morning. I hope we can remember to do it tomorrow, and Sunday, and every day after that!

Thanks for reading!

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