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Thursday.

It was not a good day.

Already feeling behind when I walked into my classroom makes for a bad start.  Unprepared students with a host of excuses piled frustration higher.  A terribly planned, waste-of-time convocation took away part of my instructional time and added to my irritation.  Then an end-of-the-day email notifying me that testing would eat into yet another class period (despite my best efforts to avoid that) brought me to my growling point.

By the end of the school day, it looked like a tree exploded on my desk, leaving the debris of a hundred sheets of paper scattered everywhere.  Resources for upcoming lessons.  Parent-teacher conference forms.  Seating charts.  To-do lists.  Rubrics.  I made myself stay after school until my workspace was at least tidy.

I brought grading home, but I was too aggravated to work on it.  Lessons weren’t fully planned for the next day, but I couldn’t muster the brain power to think about it.  Even figuring out what to make for dinner taxed my intellectual resources and left me defrosting meat int he microwave while I stared blankly at the cookbook, silently begging Betty Crocker for inspiration.

I snapped at my husband, without meaning to or even realizing I’d done it.  So he got frustrated with me.

At least he took over dinner preparation.

I kicked off my shoes, flopped onto the couch, lamented the filthy state of my house, and sighed.

The day was not a good one.

I am embarrassed by the state of my home.  A thorough cleaning occurred here sometime in the last year, I think, but I can’t be more specific.  Dog fuzz collects in the corners and dust blankets the furniture.  I hate it.  But I have no energy.

Then, into the living room came my Darlin’, bearing pecan-encrusted pollack and sauteed vegetables, with a banana-peach smoothie.

The love of a good man and a full belly improved my outlook.

Still, it was not a good day, and I could only hope the next day would be better.

Whiny / Thankful

I’ve been feeling kind of whiny the past couple of days, and I’m trying to remind myself that I have a choice to be whiny or thankful.  I still feel whiny, but I’m inching toward thankful.

I’m whiny because I’ve had an earache the last couple of days.  I’m thankful that I have my hearing, and that I have access to good medical care if needed.

I’m whiny because all the other schools in the county got a two hour delay today for the windchill advisory and my school didn’t.  I’m thankful that I have a full time job with benefits.

I’m whiny because it’s cold out and the rabbits’ water keeps freezing and I have to keep thawing and changing it.  I’m thankful that I have easy access to clean, potable water in my home.

I’m whiny because it’s ice carving competition season, which means my husband is away a lot.  I’m thankful that I have a wonderful husband who loves me and is faithful to me and is earning money.

All in all, I know I’ve got a pretty good life.  I just have to remind myself of that every now and then.

One More to Go!

On Saturday, I was at Stephan’s shop, putting all the business and personal receipts into QuickBooks.  I go in every couple of weeks or so to do the books.  Stephan and I work out the personal budget together, and then he pays the bills and I put it all in the computer.  The business stuff is all his, though.  All I do with it is data entry.  That way, though, I still know the financial status of the business, so I’m okay with that.

Stephan was at the shop at the time, and he showed me a check he’d just written.  It was for the final amount on our Citibank credit card.  Hooray!  It’s probably not totally paid off yet, as I’m sure there will be a few dollars in finance charges left to pay, but we’ve pretty much knocked that one out — finally!  I did a small happy dance, but I’ll save my big one until I know there is a zero balance.

We have just one more credit card to go — Frontier World Mastercard or something like that.  It’s hard to say how long that one will take us to pay off.  This is Stephan’s busy season, so he may be getting paid enough in the next couple of months that we can get rid of it quickly.  On the other hand, you never know when other expenses might come up.  We recently had a $400 plumbing repair and a $300 car repair that needed to be done.  (I’m so thankful we had savings for those things!)

And then… once that’s done, we’ll keep following the Dave Ramsey plan.  We’ll make sure we’ve got six months of expenses saved up (which, since we built up our savings account a lot when I quite my Terrible Job, shouldn’t take us too long to do), and then work on contributing to our retirement accounts and paying off the house.

It’s very exciting!

Crazy Eights: 21

1. Life has been absolutely insane, hence the lack of blogging.  In fact, things are so crazy that I’m not even sure I punctuated that first sentence correctly and I’m not going to take the time to figure it out.  I started my new job on September 12, so I have officially been employed there for two and a half weeks.  I know almost all the kids’ names (those quiet ones are hard to learn), I have dealt with angry parents in person and via email, I’ve sent some nice friendly emails home to a couple of parents, and I’ve gotten my furniture and supplies somewhat organized.  But there were absolutely no resources for me — no files of reading guides or quizzes or tests, no list of things 7th graders or 8th graders should read, not even enough textbooks or novels for all my students.  And getting things purchased is harder at this school than any other I’ve taught at because everything has to go through the university’s accounting department (I guess) and it’s absolutely insane.  So while I’ve been learning kids’ names and dealing with their parents, I’ve also been creating everything from scratch and learning how to navigate procedures like getting a box of chalk and making photocopies and reserving a computer lab.

2. This school is not at all what I’d imagined.  I had the idea that since this is a university-run school, it would be like an educator’s utopia.  Instead, I find it is completely disorganized (communication is terrible and there is no set curriculum because the culture is that teachers have a lot of freedom to teach how they want… hence the lack of resources for a newbie.)  The student behavior problems, I admit, are mostly minor.  The teachers, however, are completely stressed out because they are now having to implement all the state requirements for teachers just like everyone else in public schools, but they have had so much freedom over the years that this is like putting a noose around their necks — not to mention that the previous administrators didn’t do anything to prepare them for what was coming.  The new administrators are doing their best, and no one seems to begrudge them personally, but the teachers are constantly stressed out and complaining and overall are pretty unhelpful to me because they are so overwhelmed themselves.

3. Stephan has been absolutely amazing during all of this.  He has cooked almost all the meals, he has done the shopping, he has held me and prayed for me when I cried out of complete frustration.  He lets me vent and bounce ideas off of him, and he seems okay with me asking for six dozen hugs a day.  I honestly don’t know how I would get through this if it weren’t for him.

4. I had issues about the last school where I worked.  I was discouraged that they didn’t hire me full time, and I was frustrated that I didn’t have a lot of guidance going into the position I did take.  But the teachers there were extremely helpful and friendly and seemed to have much better attitudes than where I am now.  In fact, when I emailed them begging for any resources on Animal Farm, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Giver that they would be willing to spare, one teacher emailed me thirty-nine attachments of stuff.  Another said to let her know when I could drop by the school and she’d have items for me.  I am so blessed by these women.  The school in general is more organized, and I like an organized environment.  What I wonder is whether God has me at my current, disorganized school so that I can make a difference there, or so that I can see that where I had been before really wasn’t so bad after all.  I think there will be another opening at my last school next year.  Will I apply for it?  I don’t know, and I’m not making any decisions about that until a position actually posts.  But it’s in the back of my head.  There is a little pros and cons list in my brain.

5. I think our rabbit, Licorice, is about to give birth.  Based on when we bred her to Bear, she should be due roughly next weekend, I think.  She is starting to pull out her fur to make a nest, and Stephan put a nest box in her cage.  Her urine smells really strong, too, and I wonder if that is a symptom of pregnancy.

6. Remember when I had bunion surgery a couple of years ago?  Well, I found I had a bump in my foot just under the incision, and my shoes would rub it and it was kind of uncomfortable.  I thought it was scar tissue and tried to break it up myself, but that didn’t work.  I went to a physical therapist, and she said it felt like bone or hardware, so I was afraid the screw was working its way out.  I went to the doctor and he said it is bone — I guess a little bump grew on the bone when it grew back together.  He said it won’t hurt anything, but if it bothers me, he can shave it off.  I’m not going to do that now; I’ll wait to see if it gets worse.

7. Our garden is overrun with weeds and we have very little time to tend to it now.  Stephan still goes out to get tomatoes now and then (we’ve got several gallons of stewed tomatoes frozen, and about a gallon and a half of tomato juice in the freezer as well) and he just picked two little pumpkins from our backyard garden.  Our freezer is packed full, and we need to rearrange things before it’s time to put deer and rabbit meat in there.

8. I make no promises that this is the beginning of regular blogging again.  Things are just too crazy right now.

Opposites

As I write this (a few days in advance of its posting), it’s snowing outside.  It’s a lovely, slow snowfall with fluffy flakes, and it’s so pretty to look at.

Yesterday when I got home from work, I took the dogs for a brisk walk.  Brisk because 1) all three of us needed some exercise after being cooped up indoors for several rainy days and 2) it gets dark early these days and it’s nearly impossible to get even two miles in before the light is gone.  But I didn’t even walk two miles; I only went one.  I have this circulation problem in my fingers that causes them, when cold, to turn bluish and either go numb at the tips or become really painful.  (It used to be more numbness, but recently I’ve had pain more often than numbness.)  And after a mile, my fingers were hurting and I wanted to warm up.

So, while I don’t dislike winter the way I used to, it does cause me some problems.  I certainly prefer the warmer months.  I like the sunshine in spring and summer (cloudy days are the usual in this part of Indiana during winter), and I like for my fingers not to hurt.

Chef, on the other hand, loves winter.  It’s his favorite season.  And, being an ice carver and all, that’s perhaps to be expected.  But it’s more than that.  See, in the summer, bugs bite him.  A lot.  And he itches and scratches and is generally a little bit miserable with all the skin problems.  In the winter, he doesn’t have those problems, so he’s happier.

I’m happier in summer.  He’s happier in winter.

At least I’m glad we live in a place where we have seasons so that we can both be happy sometimes.

And we are happy when we’re together, which is the most important.

Boys and Girls

The other night, Chef came home from work right as Kayla and I were about to retire for the night.  He hugged me, and I said, “Will you take a shower before you come to bed?  You smell like rubber.”

Now, I don’t know why he smelled like rubber.  Maybe it was from gloves he had worn while he was carving.  But it wasn’t a very nice smell.

Chef rolled his eyes.  “Kayla,” he said to our niece, “she’s always telling me I smell like weird stuff when I come home.  Rubber, motors, all kinds of stuff.”

“Well, you do,” I replied.  “It’s just the stuff you work with.  And it’s fine, but I’d rather you cleaned up before you came to bed so it doesn’t seem like I’m sleeping next to an engine.”

“Well, you girls smell like flowers,” he said, joking that this disgusted him.  “It makes me feel like I’m sleeping in a field of flowers!

“I’d rather sleep in a field of flowers than a munitions factory,” I responded.

He scoffed.  “Well, that’s you.”

I rolled my eyes and said to Kayla, “Boys are weird.”

Here’s What Happens

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Here’s what happens when the husband’s income gets unexpectedly reduced and the wife feels like her job is an ever-tightening noose around her neck but the couple is still in debt:

The wife starts to panic a little bit.  She starts to question every purchase that is made because not only is her job not her ideal (which may be the biggest understatement of the year), there are changes at the workplace that make her position uncertain and while she wants to get out she doesn’t really feel like she can but she might be forced out by circumstance anyway.

She starts to look for other jobs.  She applies for her dream job and doesn’t get it, so she lowers her standards.  She considers things she never would have considered before, like working night shift, just to get out of where she is, because she knows she has to keep working in order to just pay the bills, not to mention help pay down the debt.

The husband also considers other work and starts to meet with people to get started on an idea.  And luckily, this idea is something that sounds fun to him.  He’s entrepreneurial (a word the wife has to use spell check on because she can never spell it on her own) and he has mad skillz that people want so this might turn out to be a good thing.

The wife tries not to nag the husband about working more on sales in his current entrepreneurial endeavor, even though she thinks that might make a difference in the number of gigs he gets.

She tries not to feel irritated that he’s got these jobs (or at least one job and another possibility) doing what he loves while she’s in a job she hates, and oh by the way, she isn’t sure what she wants to do as a career anyway except that it isn’t what she’s doing.  And by the way again, the thing she really wants to do (which is be a homemaker) doesn’t pay at all, and she feels kind of guilty about wanting that because then she wouldn’t be making a financial contribution to the household.

The wife starts to think crazy stuff, like adding a part time job to her existing no-good full time job, just to rebuild the emergency fund (which got decimated with plumbing issues) and knock out more debt more quickly so that hopefully she won’t have to work full time for much longer.  She wonders if she could actually physically handle working two jobs, but she hears Dave Ramsey saying “Live like no one else so that someday you can live like no one else” except that she hears it not in the nice, encouraging way he actually says it, but in some crazy maniacal way that is a little bit frightening.

So even though they’ve been budgeting for new shoes which she needs because she’s just had foot surgery, she’s hesitant to drop that kind of coin on shoes (because she has high standards for shoes because she doesn’t want to ruin her new-and-improved feet) when maybe that money could be going toward debt.  And even though the garden is a joy and the fresh food is wonderful when it’s harvested, she wonders about the money spent on all the preparations.  And although the extended family is talking about a camping trip this summer, she thinks probably she and the husband won’t get to go because a: she used up a bunch of her time off for surgery, the flu, and an ice storm, 2: she might have a new job by then and probably wouldn’t be able to take time off, and also: who can afford a trip right now anyway?

So the wife gets tired and a bit overwhelmed and worried and she tries to pray about it all but she’s so exhausted after work that she’s barely cracked open her Bible in a couple of weeks and then she really does wonder whether she could handle two jobs but how else are she and the husband going to pay off all this stupid debt?

At least, that’s the story I’ve heard.