Movin' on up...

        Let's just start with the big news first, shall we?    Everybody ready?  Here we go.....



    Okay, sorry for shouting but I'm just a teensy, eensy bit excited!  Details: as I explained in the last post, hubby had taken a job with a huge paycut just to get away from the Place From H***.   There were no other leads on the horizon, and we figured we were just staying here.   But a job posting popped up in Michigan that seemed like a really great fit, so we sent off an application and waited (without much hope, honestly).  A few days later (mid-September) they called and wanted him to interview later that week.  He came home from the interview lit up like a Christmas tree, talking non-stop and just completely blown away by the whole deal.  A couple days after that we got an email asking for some more information, and then.....nothing.  Silence.  The Void.  We spent a couple weeks trying to be optimistic, but finally admitted that it just wasn't going to happen.   We were pretty bummed.  

    Fast-forward to mid-October, 4+ weeks after the interview.  Jon was walking in the door from work one evening and got a call on his cell from an unfamiliar number, so he didn't answer.  A minute later he got a voicemail notification, though, so he decided to listen to it  (he gets TONS of spam-type calls, for some reason).  Next thing I know, he says, "It's Michigan, I have to go call this guy!" and disappears into the bedroom.   A few minutes later he came out with a shocked look on his face and said, "They're making me an offer!"   And then total chaos erupted!

    We're still not sure why it took so long, and we'll probably never know.  Frankly, we don't care.  The company is good, the offer is good, we'll be able to go back to an area we're familiar with and go to our old's all good.  Things are moving pretty fast - in fact Jon starts Monday.  The rest of us will be here until the house sells (eeeeeek!).  We're hoping that happens quickly.  Then we find a house in Michigan, and voila!  We're Yankees!   We're all really, really happy about this.   I will admit that moving to Michigan in the winter is going to be ....ah....challenging, perhaps?  That's okay, we'll just have a reason to pull out those flannel sheets again!  

    In other news, my mom is selling her house to move in with my sister.  It's been coming for a while, but when she finally decided to do it, WOW did she roll!  She told Melinda the last weekend in September that she was finally ready to sell, and today the moving trucks took her stuff to Melinda's.  We all think it's going to be a good thing for Mom, but it is definitely a huge change.  Mom and Dad bought that house 50 years ago this month, when I was just a little over 1 year old, and they've been there ever since.   That's a lot of memories.   So if you could, spare a thought for Mom as she's dealing with this.  Even though it's the reasonable/sensible/"right" thing to do, it's still hard.  But we'll only be about 3 hours away, which is the closest we've been in over 25 years!  Yeah!  

    So lots of changes in the works right now, but they're all good.  Maybe we'll even get lucky and be moved before Christmas!  


And then there was more!

        My last post was pretty much one big belly-ache session....and while I'm sure it didn't do anyone else any good, it did help me.  There've been a few changes  (updates?) since then, and I'm still not 100% sure how I feel about most of them.

        Hubby accepted the job with the drastic pay cut.  Yesterday was his first day.  It was quite different - he's been in the auto industry for most of the past 30 years, but this place makes something completely unrelated to cars, and it's kind of blowing his mind.  Good or bad?  Don't know yet, but it's a change.  However, apart from the really big pay cut, the job is also 60 miles away, so we're prepping to sell our house and  move somewhere closer.  Yep, moving again, and not in the direction I want.  :-/

      In fact, right now it looks like going north isn't even a possibility.   A company in MI talked to him last week, but we've heard nothing since.  I admit to being extremely discouraged and disappointed with the whole situation, but I'm praying hard and trying to work on my attitude.  Maybe God is trying to teach me contentment.   (Ugh.)

        Dobby (the little Chinese crested mix) lasted just over a week at his new home and then came back to us.  It seems he doesn't get along with little kids very well.   I was simultaneously happy to have him back and disappointed that it hadn't worked out.  However, the very next day a retired couple showed up to meet him and fell in love.  When they left Dobby was cuddled up to the woman with his little head on her shoulder, and they were both beaming.  The last update I had was positive, so I'm glad he's settled and doing well.  I will say that it's quieter without his stressed-out barking all the time! 

        In early June one of the kids' friends came to stay with us.  The family situation there is - well, not good is the kindest way to put it.  He's had a rough time.  Initially we weren't sure how long he'd be with us, but at this point I think it's safe to say we now have four kids.  :-)   He's 18 and out of school, so there are no legal issues to handle.  He just needed a safe place to stay and some "normal" family interaction.  (Yes, I know there are people who will ask why he's staying with us if he wants "normal", but that IS a relative term!)   He's  integrating well and seems happy to be here - he assures me it's "never boring!"

        A few weeks ago Jon tweaked his back working on cars, and it's been giving him problems ever since.  Last weekend, though, he worked on cars Friday  evening and then went to his brother's house in VA on Saturday (about a 5 hour round trip).  By the time he got home he was in severe pain, and Sunday morning found us in the ER.  After 3 hours of very little action, he was given a couple shots, some pain meds and sent home.  We followed up with our doctor on Monday, who sent him for physical therapy.  Tuesday morning, though, the pain was so much worse that he was beside himself.  He literally was trembling and couldn't hold still,  nor could he walk normally or bear weight on his right leg for more than a few seconds.  I was scared - the only other time I've personally seen someone in that much pain was when my mom had hiatal hernia repair surgery.  It was terrible.  We went to a different ER where he was treated much more quickly and effectively, and given stronger meds.  The doctor there diagnosed him with sciatica. The pain began to increase again throughout Wednesday and Thursday morning, but Thursday afternoon we had another appointment with our doctor who gave him a shot that seemed to finally help him turn the corner.  Since then he's still having some minor pain, but he can move normally and he's able to sleep (the pain was waking him up/keeping him awake).   Last week was his final week at the old job, and he was only able to go to work half a day on Friday.  We were pretty worried he wouldn't be up to starting the new job, but he handled it just fine.  Now I have to watch him like a hawk to make sure he doesn't "forget" and do something silly that will aggravate things again. 

        So that's where we stand.  Kind of a mixed bag, I think, which is how life seems to be.  Like I said, I'm trying to let God adjust my attitude.  He'd probably have an easier time of it if I wasn't kicking and screaming!  :-) 




I just don't know right now

        I've started and stopped this post about a dozen times because I can't decide what to say or how to say it, but now I'm aggravated with myself so it's just going to be what it will be.   There are so many things buzzing around in my brain right now that I can't think straight, so if you're reading this, brace yourself.  It ain't gonna be pretty.

        Hubby has been really, really unhappy with his workplace for a while now.  He's a person who likes order and structure and clearly defined goals, and those things just aren't there.  What he deals with instead is lack of focus, unrealistic expectations, poor planning, and decidedly unethical behavior at every level.   This does not make for a positive work environment, obviously.   The problem is that we've had almost zero success finding anything else.  The one solid lead he has will only offer a salary that's significantly (as in HUGELY) reduced from his current pay.  Not good.

        In addition to hubby's job woes, I finally came to the realization that I really, really want to move back up north.  I've thought about it off and on for 5 years, but in early June - after housesitting for my sister and spending time with my best friend - it hit me hard.  I didn't want to leave.  I came home and moped around for a few days and then the dam broke and I had a Category 5 meltdown, complete with wailing, wheezing and copious consumption of tissues.  It was not pleasant.  Jon and I talked, a lot, and we agreed that we would begin working towards moving back up north.   However, please see preceding paragraph.  No job leads = no moving.   My in-laws also moved to North Carolina in May, which means that if we go north we'll be leaving them here on their own.    That's a lot of guilt that I'm not sure I could handle.  I love them to bits, and if something happened because we weren't here, well.....

        As a secondary issue, my wee Chinese crested mix, Dobby, never learned to get along with our big guy Clive.  After over a year of trying, I finally agreed that it would be in everyone's best interests to rehome him, and last Thursday he went to a new family.  I managed to hold it together until the woman was headed down the drive with him, then I completely fell apart and sobbed until I couldn't breathe.  She's let me know that he's doing fine, and I know he'll be better off not being stressed by the big dogs, but I miss him so much.  He had a way of curling up against my ribs when I was in our big recliner and resting his little head on my arm that I just loved.  So that's been tough, too.

        Sooooo, my brain hurts right now.  I'm having a tremendously difficult time trying to understand where all this is going, and why.  Jon's never had this much trouble finding a job, which is very discouraging.  Coupled with his frustrations at his current job, he's really beginning to doubt himself and his abilities.  The current job is somewhat at risk right now, too, which means he's getting a bit panicky about finding something else.....even if it's a huge pay cut.  But a huge pay cut will produce a different kind of stress, even if the job itself is good.   I feel like I'm stuck in the south now with no escape, but I feel selfish and guilty for wanting to go back up north. Maybe we need to be here?  I don't know.  Neither one of us is happy with the situation as it stands, but nothing truly positive seems to be in the wings.  Right now we could really use a "burning bush"-type sign from God.  "Go here, do this", etc.  Somehow I doubt that's going to happen, though.  I guess we just keep muddling along. 

Well, that explains a lot...

       Over the past few years, hubby has been experiencing more and more health problems.  It seemed like he'd barely recover from one cold or sinus infection before he was down with another.  His blood pressure went up, he was constantly tired and increasingly moody....clearly something was wrong, but we couldn't figure out what it was.  Our family doctor sent him to several different specialists, but the only answer we got was, "Well, at your age you have to begin to expect some of these things."   That is not the answer you give an engineer, folks!   So after considerable frustration, Jon found a holistic medical practice and was able to get an appointment. 

        We weren't sure what to expect, having never seen a holistic practitioner, but the sheer amount of information they wanted even before his appointment gave us a pretty good sense that they would be thorough.  And boy, were they ever!  His first appointment was 90 minutes long  (and when does that ever happen?), and he came home with all sorts of information about possible causes, etc.  They'd also taken blood for a lot of lab work, and about a week later we got those results.   Jon has Hashimoto's disease.   It's an autoimmune disease that seems to primarily attack the thyroid.  It also seems to be tied to food allergies/dietary choices, which means that a large part of the treatment involves a total dietary overhaul.  That's where things get tricky.

        The doctor recommended a gluten-free/dairy-free diet for Jon, as that seems to be very helpful for most Hashimoto's patients.  Jon's bloodwork also revealed that he's allergic to a number of foods, including chicken, peanuts, honey, bananas, apples, blueberries, garlic, and almost all types of dairy.   Obviously this makes feeding the poor guy interesting!  We normally do a LOT of chicken, and our whole family loves cheese, but those are out for him.  It's incredible how many things have gluten or dairy products in them that you just wouldn't expect.   Friends keep suggesting various recipes to me, only to realize they have cheese, or milk, or wheat, get the picture! I'm really changing how I grocery-shop and how I cook.  It's going to take a while for us to get the hang of all this, and figure out how to keep Jon healthy without totally depriving the rest of the family of things like cheese and ice cream.  :-/  

        While this has definitely been a bit of a shock, it's actually been good for Jon in a couple ways.  For one thing, he now knows what's going on with his body, and that it's something treatable.  Hashimoto's explains almost all of the symptoms he's been experiencing, and it's a relief to know that it's not just because he's over 50 (or worse, that it's "all in his head").  Having a concrete treatment plan is very helpful, and takes away that feeling of helplessness.  And in just a couple weeks Jon's already feeling much better and has lost some weight as well.  So even though it sounded kind of scary at first, finding out he has Hashimoto's has actually been a relief overall.  Now I just have to learn a different style of cooking.  Recipes, anyone?


        Today my daughter celebrates her 22nd birthday.  How is that even possible?  I swear I just blinked and she went from an adorably pudgy, curly-haired toddler to the amazing young woman she is today. 

        Faith, there are so many things I love about you....your (sometimes bizarre!) sense of humor, your creativity, your fierce loyalty to the people you love, your unwavering sense of responsibility, your huge are the best.  I feel sorry for all the other moms who don't have you for a daughter.   God did me a massive favor when He let me be your mom.  Thanks for being you.  Happy Birthday, sweetie.

It bends

        Yesterday, March 19th, Jon and I celebrated our 28th anniversary.  We had a pretty low-key day (thanks in part to a migraine for me and septic problems for our house), went to dinner in the evening, and sat around listening to music and chatting with youngest son last night.  Nothing dramatic, but we enjoyed it.  

        Of course part of any anniversary is reminiscing, right?  And we did - talked about things we've done in the past, stuff that happened when our kids were little, and so on.  One thing that we agree is kind of strange is our perception of time, specifically the length of our marriage.  On one hand, it feels like we've  been together forever.  Not in a bad way, just - we've been together a lot longer than we were single, you know?  When we look back, it's mostly "us" instead of "me" and "you".   So how is it that it simultaneously feels like no time at all?   There are days when I find myself still a little surprised at the number of years we've shared.

        I will grant that those 28 years have been pretty full.  Lots of moves, three kids born and raised, all sorts of experiences (good and bad) have combined to make time fly.  My theory is a bit more complicated, though.  I think time bends. 

        When you buy a new tv, or lamp, or whatever, you know how the electrical cord comes neatly folded accordion-style?  And then you stretch it out and whoa, it's 8 ft. long!  How did they fit all that cord in that tiny cardboard sleeve?   I think time is like that cord.  No matter what configuration you see, the cord is always the same...just sometimes it looks like there's more of it, and sometimes less.  Some days I look back and see the long stretch of life spread out, and some days I just see the bends and curves, but really it's all the same. 

        I suppose it doesn't really matter, how long it seems to have been.  What matters is that it's been a good - really good - 28 years.  We've had a blast, and we're looking forward to as many more years as God will give us.  Hopefully we'll still be horrifying the kids with our antics in another 20-plus years, chasing each other around with our walkers and having a grand old time.  However time bends, we're going through it together.  I love you, Jon!

A large helping of random

        Hello world!  I've been all over the place the last few weeks  (literally and figuratively) and I decided it was time to write it out.   It's been an interesting time!  Events both good and not-so-good, meeting new people, getting smacked with new realizations....yeah, interesting works.  :-)

        Let's see, I was here last in early February.  So!  I was planning to go to Ohio on the 16th, because my mom was scheduled to have a toe amputated on the 18th.  However, ice storms through the region on the night of the 15th caused me to decide to wait a day, so I wouldn't risk running into nasty roads going through Virginia and West Virginia.   I'm glad I waited, because one of my kids' best buddies had a nasty car accident the morning of the 16th, and I was able to take his mom to the hospital and stay with them through the day.  Thankfully Matt is okay, although let me tell you - talk about God's protection!  He hit a little patch of ice and lost control, spun out and hit a tree head-on.  His car is totaled.  TOTALED.  As in, the wrecker driver told Matt's mom that he was confident the driver of the car was dead.  Matt walked away with a bunch of cuts and scrapes, a few stitches by one eye and a sprained ankle.  We're all still amazed by that.

        The next day I drove to Ohio  (being extra cautious, by the way!) and spent a few days at my sister's place, helping take care of Mom after her surgery and doing some odd jobs around the house.  The surgery went very well, hallelujah, and now we're all making horrible jokes about Mom and her nine toes.  Yes, my family has a strange way of dealing with things like this.  Hospital staff are never quite sure what to think.   Also, my sister has a beautifully painted kitchen now, thankyouverymuch.  :-)

        We found a church a few months ago, and Jon and I finally decided to take the plunge and join a small group Bible study.  We've been going for a couple weeks and I think it's going to be good.  The study is on transformation and I gotta tell you, it's hitting me hard.  We're only on the third week of seven and already I've realized that some of what I thought about certain areas was, if not wrong, certainly incomplete.   It's been eye-opening to say the least.   Funny how God will poke holes in our complacency if we let Him do His thing!   I'm pretty uncomfortable right now, and that's good.  

        Luke (oldest child) is almost through his first year of college, and he is kickin' butt!  I am so incredibly proud of him.  He started later than most because he wasn't sure what he wanted to do, and he just didn't feel ready.  Since he has started, though, he's been doing a fantastic job.  His first semester was a 4.0, and he's on track to do the same thing this semester.  I've been so impressed with how he's just buckled down and really gone after this new experience.  Since we were fairly relaxed homeschoolers, I was a little concerned about how he'd react to lots of deadlines and such, but he's on top of everything.   Plus he's making friends and getting involved with campus student ministry, which is great.  Go Luke!

        Hmmm....I think that covers the highlights.  Spring is coming - there are already daffodils in bloom - so soon the round of yardwork will start again.  Oddly enough I actually like mowing, so I'm ready.  Jon's sister and her daughter and granddaughter are coming for a visit this weekend, which will be awesome (baby snuggles!).  Life is  pretty good right now!


Things I learned this week

        Thing the first: I am, in fact, capable of making myself exercise.  Not only that, but it's kind of fun, and I'm feeling very proud of myself for having a plan and sticking to it.

        Thing the second: Root canals are not particularly fun, but they're also not the worst thing I've ever had done.  However, I'm guessing that a lot of people would disagree with me, and they probably have good reason.   Still, if I have to have another one (and I probably will, I have horrible teeth), I will be less worried. 

        Thing the third:  I would make an excellent sloth. 

        Have a great weekend, everyone!

Baby steps

        I can't believe it's already February.  I swear the months are getting shorter or something!  There's been a lot of snotting around  (unfortunately I mean that literally) at Grouchy House this past month or so, but for the most part it's settling down.  Youngest son still has a horrible upper respiratory thing going on, but I'm pretty sure he'll survive. 

        Early on this year I said that I wanted to make some changes.  Some of those things are purely physical - exercise, improve my diet, etc.  Some are more management-oriented, like becoming more disciplined with our spending and such.  And some are mental and/or spiritual areas that will be harder to measure, but just as important.   None of this is easy for me  (duh, if it was easy I'd already be doing it!) but I'm determined to make progress this year.  Not necessarily big things, either.  I'm learning to be pleased with small changes that stick. My natural inclination is to go for the big gesture, dive in the deep end;  problem is, that's hard to sustain.  Better to make two or three small changes that are lasting and go from there. 

        So with that in mind, I started exercising.  (Yay!)  I did not join a gym, or start some regimented routine that takes an hour a day, or decide to climb a mountain this weekend.  Instead, I plopped myself down on our rowing machine and did 5  minutes.  Next day, 6 minutes.  And so on, and so it impressive?  I suppose not.  But you know, I'd a lot rather do 5 minutes every day and keep it up, than to do 50 minutes and then give up.  I can make myself stick with this, and I know that soon enough I'll be able - and willing - to do more.  Baby steps, folks, it's all about the baby steps.  


        Yesterday my youngest child celebrated his 20th birthday.  TWENTIETH.   My youngest child  is TWENTY.

......give me a minute, I need to catch my breath......

        Yep, true story.  Seth turned 20 yesterday, and it is the weirdest thing.  It really doesn't feel like it's been that long since he was a chubby, happy, curly-headed baby.  Or an ornery toddler.  Or even an awkward pre-teen, worried about ever finding a girlfriend and losing his "puppy fat".   That adorable little guy is now a tall, handsome, awesome man with a huge heart, a wicked sense of humor and more talent and intelligence than any one person needs.  (Oh, and a really cute girlfriend too!)   It just blows my mind. 

        Of course you see it coming.  It's hard to miss the shifts in attitude and perspective that come as they mature  (not to mention the facial hair :-/ ).   Still, every now and then you look at your kid and think, when did this happen?  When did my little boy or girl become this fantastic adult?  The reality of their adulthood just sort of smacks you sideways, and you realize that all the changes haven't been in your kids.  You change too.

        Hubby and I will always be Dad and Mom.  That's a fact.  But Mom and Dad are different now, and they need us in different ways.  Our kids are all intelligent, resourceful, competent people; they can take care of themselves.  Now our roles are more about guidance and support.  They're making their own decisions about their lives, and that's exactly as it should be, but they still come to us for advice and suggestions and general cheerleading....and that is also as it should be.   One thing Jon and I really enjoy is having big family discussions with the kids about all sorts of things - they're all so dang smart and funny, and they really have tremendous insight in a lot of areas.  It is so much fun to listen to them and watch them interact with each other, and see how they've grown and changed.  We've been blessed with our kids, and that blessing  grows as they do.

        So even though it's very strange to realize that we no longer have a teenager in the house, it's also very good.  We're proud of you, Seth, and the wonderful man you're becoming.  We love you!!