Please Forgive Me. I Am A Grad Student.

April 18, 2013 at 8:24 pm (A Little Fun, back to school, Studies, Time Off Together) (, , , , , )

Not that I really have anything interesting to post in the first place, but life has pretty much been put on hold for the last 2 semesters.  I have been totally immersed in my studies.  A master’s in statistics does not come easy, especially when your background is in Theology and social services.

Hopefully I will have something interesting to post soon.  It is going to be a busy summer, but hopefully a little pleasure will be mixed with business.  I have finally agreed to go backpacking with Josh.  He has been asking for quite some time and I finally took pity on him.  So a few weeks ago he plopped this ball of plastic down on in front of me and said,


“This is our tent”



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What I Do In My “Free” Time

March 22, 2013 at 12:17 pm (A Little Fun, A New Career, Employment, Job Satisfaction, Working from home) (, , , , , , , , , , )

You have seen from previous posts that I have a new Thirty-One business.  I didn’t want to take over this blog with my business (not that I have done much updating in the past couple of years!) so I started a new blog dedicated to growing my business.  Please jog on over there and follow if you like.  Among other things I will have fun with videos demonstrating products so customers who can touch and feel the products will have a better idea of what will work best for their needs.

Also, stop by my Facebook group.  I am required to make it a closed group so just request to join.

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Who Would Like to Be a (Thirty-One) Hostess of the Month?

March 7, 2013 at 1:41 am (A Little Fun, A New Career, Employment) (, , , )

All it takes is a commitment to placing a $35 order each month from April 2013 to September 2013 and YOU will receive the benefits of hosting YOUR OWN party one of those months!  That is, at least $35 in FREE products (YOUR CHOICE!), one half-priced item (YOUR CHOICE!) and one hostess exclusive (amazing products offered ONLY to hostesses!).  I will choose names randomly when I have the commitment from 6 people, so you will know ahead of time which is your month.  You can choose to host a party that month, either in home or online to boost sales for your party and in turn earning even MORE free products!

This $35 amount will also qualify you for the monthly customer special.  When everyone takes advantage of the specials, EVERYONE BENEFITS!  What a great way to start stashing away Christmas gifts or planning ahead for birthdays!  Win, Win!!

If you are interested and want more information, please join my facebook group What’s In Your Tote Today? or send me an email at 31 partyatzohodotcom.

cindy tote

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Take this survey for me?

March 4, 2013 at 3:55 pm (A New Career, Employment, Working from home) (, , , , , , )

I created a survey for my Thirty-One business.  Those who complete it will be entered for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate.  Winners must be located in the US.

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Introducing Thrifty Third Thursdays!

January 17, 2013 at 1:00 pm (A Little Fun, A New Career, Fun Photos) (, , , , , , , )

Drum roll, please!!! Now is the time for our first ever Thrify Third Thursday! And for the first ever TTT I am offering a deal on one of our brand new products which I think will be a favorite.

I am going to offer you our Inside-Out Bag PLUS a scarf to accessorize for just $31! (plus shipping and tax). That is a $19 savings! This bag is incredible. It is reversible and you can wear it as a cross-body or shoulder bag. Talk about versatile!

This will also qualify you for the January special, an item from the Your Way collection for 1/2 off. This is already very popular for organizing the home.

When you bundle my TTT deal with the January special today I will ALSO give you 10% off the total!

Here is an example: The original price of the new Room for Two Utility Tote is $60. When you purchase my TTT deal along with this tote you will only pay $54.90 (plush shipping and tax) for all three items, a $55 savings!! That is LESS than the original cost of just the tote! This is our most expensive tote in the line so that is the most you would pay for anything in this bundle.

There are 4 prints in the Inside-Out Bag and 5 prints in the scarves (plus 10 prints in the varsity scarves).

Jump on this deal right now. Only available today! Tell your friends and when they join the group they can get this offer, too!

Shipping is available to anyone in the US.

You must going my Facebook group to take advantage of this deal today.  What’s In Your Tote Today?

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Yes, I Own My Own Business!

January 11, 2013 at 12:27 am (A New Career, Employment, Job Satisfaction, Working from home) (, , , , , , , , , )

And here is where I do my shameless plug for my NEW BUSINESS!

Way back in June I saw something on Facebook about Thirty-One.  I was like, “What is that?”.  So I looked it up and it was love at first sight.  I new right away that I wanted to not just have a party, but be a CONSULTANT!  That was around the same time that my husband had been out of a job for a few months.  My work hours were pretty minimal since I am a student so I wanted some way to contribute a little more.  I also wanted a way to save up for vacations when we were back on our feet because we love to travel but haven’t had the expendable income to do so in several years.

So I had a Thirty-One party to see how things worked and I signed up the very next week to be a consultant!  I have been love, love, loving it!  Even as a full-time Master’s student (of statistics no less!) I can schedule parties when I have the time and make a little extra money.  It has also been a way for me to have forced breaks from my studies.  It was a great release during a very stressful semester.

What I love about being a consultant is I feel like I am a personal shopper for my customers.  They call and tell me what they want to order or ask for ideas and I help them with that.  I figure out ways to get them the best bargain using Thirty-One’s monthly specials (which are always amazing!).  I have everything shipped to me and it feels like Christmas every time a box comes in!  I get to take a look at the products I haven’t seen before and then when I present them to my customers they are so excited.

One other fun byproduct of being a Thirty-One consultant is that I have so many products at my disposal for my own use!  I obviously don’t use the products I show at parties on a daily basis, but I at least try them out so I can truthfully tell my customers how great this or that tote or purse is and give them more ideas on how to use them.  Before I became a consultant I carried the same purse for a year.  I loved it but it was getting holes in it.  Now I change my purse nearly every week it seems like!  I do have my favorites and the ones I will not go back to, but I have fun trying different things out.

If you are interested in becoming a consultant please go to my website and click on “Join My Team”.  Please feel free to ask me any questions.  You do not have to be local for me to sponsor you.

If you are interested in having a party please contact me and I can get you set up right away.  I do in-home parties in the NW Indiana region, but you do not have to be local to have a party!  I can get you set up with a catalog party and your guests can place their orders in the comfort of their own homes…all over the country!  You will have the same benefits as a hostess who parties in-home.  🙂

In January only hostesses get DOUBLE hostess credit when their party is $500 or more.  This means you can get $180 in free products at this level and it goes up from there!  Contact me immediately before this special expires!

This month’s special: For every $31 you spend you can get an item from our new “Your Way” collection for half price!


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December 29, 2012 at 6:30 pm (A New Career, back to school, Employment, Finances, Job Satisfaction, Memories, Social Services, Studies) (, , , , )

Last year I said that I was glad to say good-bye to 2011.  Many people agreed with me.  It was a tough year.  As was the year before that…and the year before that…and the year before that…and half of the year before that.  It felt like we were in a game of Whack-A-Mole.  When we were finally able to peek our head above ground  WHACK!  We were bopped back down.

2012 offered a lot of promise.  It started out rough, got a little…well…a LOT rougher, and I think it has ended better than many of the years before.

A few days ago Josh and I took a (very chilly!) walk along Lake Michigan reflecting on the highlights of 2012.


  • Despite being the slow months of winter, Josh saw a lot of success with his program.
  • I started my first semester as a graduate student.
  • Finally out of debt, after 4 years!
  • We picked up our first ever BRAND NEW vehicle (ordered on Black Friday, we had the sales guy so flustered he inverted a couple of numbers giving us a $2,000 savings)!  After 11 years Josh now only has one more broken down vehicle to work on!



  • More success in Josh’s program during the slow months of winter.  I think they saw some of the highest number of hours served in the history of the program during these months.  The program is expanding so much Josh is having a hard time hiring staff to keep up!


  • Day trip to South Bend.  We still don’t have money, but we wanted to get OUT!
  • Josh’s brother calls on a Wednesday to invite us to his wedding…Friday.  This was supposed to be the day Josh got terminated, but because of this call he had to push the appointment back.  Yes, they made an appointment with him to terminate him, but he was told they would be working out some issues with his boss.
  • We enjoy Chris and Katie’s wedding on the steps of the courthouse in Crown Point.
  • On March 9 I post this on FB: For the first time since shortly after our move back from Scotland we have money in the bank! After 4 years of working to get out of debt we did not ask for it feels SO good to have a few bucks that are not already claimed for bills.
  • On March 19 Josh was terminated (Josh’s comment at the beach: I didn’t have to work for my creepy boss anymore!).
  • I have no choice but to continue working at the same agency that chewed Josh up and spit him out.
  • Josh’s amazing staff came together and gave him a great going away party on their own time.  We are humbled by the love and support they show.



  • Classes end.
  • Josh is trying to get out of social services so not applying for those jobs, but he is not being considered for anything else because he does not have specific experience. I want to go up to those haughty HR people and tell them my husband is so ingenuitive he can make a Popsicle stand in the arctic successful and they are missing out!


  • Josh finally starts getting unemployment.  We watch our finances slip back to their previous state of debt.
  • Josh continues the job search, trying to get out of social services.  After countless emails saying he will not be considered for a labor or manufacturing position because he does not have the experience he goes back to applying for social services positions.
  • Camping!
  • I enjoy meeting with high school friends Tiph, Jil, and Steph at Steph’s production of Listen To Your Mother.


  • We celebrated my grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary in Michigan.


  • We enjoy our cousin Kristina’s wedding.
  • Josh is offered a job to start mid-June.  Neither of us feel good about it, but it is a job.  Josh tries to negotiate for more time off because of his experience, since they will not budge on the low pay, but they say no.
  • We take a road trip to visit a dear friend in North Carolina.  We love to travel but had not had the money to for the last 5 years.  We love nature and mountains and this was just what we needed.
  • Josh has an interview for another job the day we get back from NC.
  • I take my client on her vacation to Amish Acres where we see “State Fair”, eat out LOTS (I have the best ever root beer float, and I don’t like root beer!), shop at Shipshewana, and go on a horse a buggy ride.
  • I put in my two weeks!
  • Josh starts his new job, but is offered the other and quits after 4 days (He has yet to be paid for that one!).


  • Josh starts his NEW new job.
  • I become advocate for Verda, who was previously my client.
  • Blueberry picking!
  • I enjoy occasionally meeting with Verda and her staff for coffee/lunch/ice cream.
  • We enjoy the LaPorte County Fair.
  • Josh, Stacey, and I organize  help set up for Chris and Katie’s wedding (and party hard afterwards!).


  • We enjoy our summerly get together at our place for our lunch club.
  • We fly (for the first time since we moved back stateside!) to SF to visit Stacey.  We had a wonderful apartment in San Rafael, enjoyed many restaurants (YAY!), and got in lots of nature with hikes along the coast and a visit to Yosemite.
  • Classes begin.
  • Josh is working lots of hours.


  • Camping!
  • We join a great new small group.
  • I start my Thirty-One business!


  • We say good-bye to our Brazilian friends Eduardo and Natalia.  😦
  • I have my first Thirty-One party.
  • Josh is working lots of hours, but he gets his first raise.


  • We celebrate Josh’s birthday at his favorite place because he can get whatever seafood he wants (Red Lobster).
  • Camping!
  • I have several Thirty-One parties, but everything starts to become a blur because of classes.
  • Josh is working lots of hours.


  • We celebrate my birthday, but we had to squeeze it in quick because I didn’t really have time to celebrate.  We didn’t go out anywhere.  Josh surprised me with a beautiful lemon and raspberry cake he made and decorated.
  • Stevie had some of his artwork in ArtAbility.
  • Thanksgiving!
  • Josh is working lots of hours, but is caseload is changed to be more local.  He is allowed $300/mo for his expense report.  This was not even covering his mileage.


  • I feel like I am about to die as classes wind down.  I pulled 2 all-nighters in a row to complete a project.
  • Classes finally end!  I didn’t think I would make it!
  • Josh’s work finally starts to slow down and he is offered another raise.
  • Christmas!

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Thanksgiving 2006

November 21, 2012 at 11:56 pm (A Little Fun, Fun Photos, Memories) (, , )


As I was preparing my customary Thanksgiving dishes today I was thinking about what is probably my favorite Thanksgiving celebration.

We were oceans apart from family in a country that does not celebrate Thanksgiving (that’s right American friends, Thanksgiving is not celebrated across the pond).  We were dirt poor.  I was a supervisor at Starbucks and Josh was not working.

But we had so much to be thankful for.

We settled on 15 November as the deadline for Josh to get a job before we had to buy our tickets to move back home.

On 14 November Josh was hired!

I love sharing holidays with friends and this was special because many of our friends had heard of this crazy holiday of ours but never experienced it and the strange foods we concocted.

We squeezed 10 people into our 650 sq.ft. apartment (which actually was the most spacious we had had at that point!).  It was probably a Saturday evening since people obviously do not have the holiday off and it is just easiest to do it on the weekend.

This was actually the size of our kitchen.  Just a few inches behind us is the wall.

We had a tiny oven.  I didn’t even THINK about what a challenge it would be finding a pan for the turkey that would fit in the oven!  I think Sam came to the rescue on that one.

The refrigerator was also tiny, though not as tiny as our first one!  It was by far the most tricky time I have ever had planning a meal this big.

A living room/kitchen view.  I LOVED our doors.  Even though we didn’t have a balcony it was great to let in fresh air and it was crucial for this girl who was deeply affected by dark winters to have as many windows as possible.

The meal: Turkey (the first I had ever made), brown sugar ham, scalloped potatoes with chipotle, mashed potatoes (from scratch), gravy (from turkey drippings), Stove Top, cranberry relish, sweet potato casserole, salads, cheddar garlic biscuits (scones, not cookies!).  Imagine doing all this with just an apartment oven and a microwave!  On top of that is the challenge of actually finding the foods we need for this meal.  Pumpkin is pretty much non-existent unless you can find an American imports store and pay at least twice as much.  Turkeys are really not around until closer to Christmas.  Stove Top had to be shipped in.  Chipotle, again, imports store.  The cheddar cooks differently, the potatoes are different, everything is just…DIFFERENT!

I was pretty excited about the Bisquick (probably found at ASDA, owned by Walmart).  I was also thrilled that Stephanie sent me a care package with fall goodies including STOVE TOP!

Explaining to my Chinese friend exactly what these dishes are and how you eat them.




Countries represented that night: USA, Scotland, England, Nigeria (sort of), China, Australia, Spain.

The cook finally eats when everyone else is full.

Pudding (dessert): the most important part of the meal!  Friends were always so intrigued by pumpkin flavored desserts but when they tried the pumpkin cheesecake it was always a hit!

This memory is so fond to me because we had dear friends with us, we were able to share a special holiday with friends and other internationals, and could offer a place to go for other Americans who couldn’t be with family.

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De Dos Dias

August 27, 2012 at 9:00 am (A Little Fun, Fun Photos, Time Off Together) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

We first set out for wine country.  We just wanted some wine for the apartment so we just wanted to pop in and out of a couple of places.  One red for Josh, one white for me.  We also ended up with a really excellent Port which we brought back with us.

When Stacey got off work she took us to her favorite Indian place which happened to be in San Rafael.  They have a delicious all you can eat buffet for lunch.  I particularly loved the naan and tikka masala.  I wanted to eat more but I had no room left!

When we were done eating we headed out to the city.  I had wanted to take a picture similar to one we had done on our previous trip to San Francisco.   So we went to the Painted Ladies in Alamo Square.

Do you see any difference?

Maybe just a little.

It was a beautifully sunny 83 degrees when we left San Rafael, which is a mere 15 minutes from the bridge.  As we approached SF we watched (and felt!) the temperature drop.  On the bridge it was 56!.  Cold and blustery in SF!

Josh let Stacey use his ultra light backpacking jacket.  She needed four hands to fight the wind!

We could have flown her like a kite!

Josh looks like he is enjoying a warm summery day.

Josh needed help getting his jacket back on.  Like  a kite I tell you.

What a stud!

A gratuitous VW van shot for Andy.  There were PLENTY of these around!

Stacey took us to this lovely park that was plopped right down in the middle of the city.  In Buena Vista you almost forget you are in a city as you climb the steep hills, pick wild blackberries, and gaze up at the eucalyptus trees (not pictured, I know).  There is such a variety of flora in this park.

This is one of the lookout points in the park.  They say there is this big bridge and an ocean out there, but honestly I’m not sure they know what they are talking about.

The one place I REALLY wanted to try in the city was Humphry Slocombe.  Just a little before our trip I happened to pick up an ice cream recipe book from the library and guess where the shop was ?!  They had some really off the wall flavors that I wanted to try.

I could not make up my mind because what tasted best to me was just the ordinary strawberry ancho chili chocolate.  I really wanted something different so I chose pluot cardamom something or other.

Josh and Stacey both got the secret breakfast, which apparently is one of their best sellers.  It involves corn flakes and whiskey.  It really was tasty!

The Mission District reminds me a little of Pilsen, but a bit more hard core or edgy.

I really wish I would have taken pictures of some of the murals.  This was one of those places I really didn’t want to stick out like a tourist.  The picture above was taken at my hip.  😀

Once we were thoroughly chilled with our ice cream (did I mention it was 56 degrees?!) we, at least Stacey and I had to get our coffee fix at Philz.

I love this picture!  It seems like it should be in a newspaper article about Philz.  🙂

They brew your coffee up for you right there!  Fresh!  And you can mix beans, too.  Since it was evening but I knew we would be having a very late dinner and a late return I mixed decaf Ethiopian with the regular Silken Splendor.  It was quite good!  And a fun place to hang out, too.

It was finally time for dinner so Stacey took us to the place she volunteers.  Old Skool Cafe is a not for profit that gets at risk kids off the streets and trains them for jobs.  The cafe is not only a place to train the kids, but it is where they can be employed which offers them a legitimate place of employment and good reference for their resume.  I encourage you to click the link to their website and read about them.  And it is not your typical not for profit that just does what they do and expects pity and hand outs.  They really do what they do well.  The food is excellent and they offer live entertainment.  Yelp is proof that the general public really enjoys the food.

The jazzy/clubby music was superb.

And there was salsa dancing when the musicians cleared out.

We were the last customers out.

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August 22, 2012 at 8:49 pm (A Little Fun, Time Off Together) (, , , , )

Up bright and early at 3:30am.  We actually got to the airport later than we had hoped so Josh dropped me off so I could drop off our luggage and he could park in remote parking (later to find it was the wrong lot, $129 later.  ouch!).  We were already checked in so we just had to hope in the line to get through security.

Even though they asked who was flying Virgin to SF and they said we would be ok where we were in line, we were still almost late for our flight.  The lady at the desk said, “You didn’t hear my page?”.  I’m thinking, first of all how can you expect to understand ANY of these pages.  Secondly we were going through security and there is still 10 minutes to departure.  Why is the door already closed?

On the plane someone was sitting in one of our seats.  When we claimed the seat she looked a little upset and said, “Well, do you want to sit there?” and pointed to two seats across the isle.  Being a little frazzled I said fine.  When I sat I realized I had just given up my window seat.  😦  During the flight I couldn’t not help looking over at the girls who sat with the empty seat between them yacking it up, buying movies, ordering food, and thinking that these girls are spoiled.

All in all we made it to SFO and had time to kill before Stacey picked us up after work.


Little did we know that we would somehow bring fog with us that would not rise until just after our flight left for Chicago.  Our only view of the GGB was on our arrival.


Stacey took us to her stomping grounds and we got to see where she lives, view and all!


She took us to pick up our car (Josh’s mustang!) and we picked up some lunch at the Bay Cafe.  Cute place but nothing fancy.

Our home for the week was an apartment in a house in San Rafael.  It was a really beautiful apartment.  The owner’s had thought of every little detail, right down to the home baked cookies and little package of Peet’s coffee.  Mmm!  It was very much our style.




After we got a little settled Stacey took us to one of her spots off Muir Beach.  We had to walk through Slide Ranch to get there.  Such a beautiful place and probably one of my favorite views on the coast.

The drive was on what I think MUST be the most wind-y, curvy part of HWY 1.  The map says it will take 11 minutes to get there, but that is a lie.  It is more like one hour!


I LOVED the eucalyptus!!!!



Unfortunately we had to rush back because the parking lot was going to close at 6pm so we could only spend about 3 minutes looking for starfish.


There was a lookout point at the parking lot.




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August 9, 2012 at 12:21 am (A Little Fun, Fun Photos, Time Off Together) (, , , , , )

Summer is nearing an end and we have been wanting to take Stevie to a Railcats game.  So we did.

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International Friends

August 5, 2012 at 8:05 pm (Uncategorized)

It’s been a year since my last post.  Should I even keep this up?  I don’t feel like my life is interesting enough to post about anymore or I am just so busy I don’t have time to log onto ANOTHER website and give updates.

It has been 5 years almost to the day since we did this and we are approaching the day when we will say good bye to our friends from Brazil.  We met Eduardo and Natalia at our small group and we knew right away that we wanted to be friends with them.  I think we already felt a common bond because we know what it is like to be an expat.


With so many different things going on we really were not able to get together with them as often as we would have liked and I know September will be here too soon.

These friends of ours are city folk through and through and had never cooked over a fire.  Unfortunately we had a monsoon (practically) sweep through just before they were supposed to be here and I was all like “Oh, no!  What are we going to do?!”  Before the storm came Josh got the fire nice and hot so it would still be burning after it passed.  And it did.  We kept the fire TOO hot, though, and managed to burn about half a dozen pudgy pies.  I felt so bad for this first experience of theirs.

And with the rains brought the bugs.  And Natalia had a bug experience that I am sure she hopes she can forget.  🙂


Life has had so many twists and turns and so many hellos and goodbyes.  We are glad our paths have crossed

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Detox: Days 9-13

June 24, 2011 at 4:39 pm (Detox Diet) (, , , , , )

Oh, my GOODNESS!!  It has been such a whirlwind of a week and I have hardly had time to keep up!  Between work and class and housework and client vacation planning, and everything else…

I did cook some, but we also filled in the blanks with leftovers and salads.  Here is the salad dressing I have been using.  I still have some lettuce in the garden.  We like to put cukes and tomatoes of course, and sliced celery, diced red pepper and red onion, sprouts when we have them (can’t wait for my sprouter to come!!!), and we are allowed a tiny bit of feta.  On my salad I also mince some deli style pepperoncini slices.  NUM! NUM!

I must say, when I found this site earlier this week, I could not stop looking at it!!  I wished I had found it earlier so I could plan more meals with it. I do plan to try out several of these recipes even after the diet.  It will take me a while to acquire some of the more expensive and harder to find items.

I also made strawberry coconut ice cream from this recipe from their site.  Sweets are the one thing we have missed most on this diet and I didn’t really have a good solution for it.  This ice cream froze solid for me!  I had to take it out of the freezer about 30 minutes before I planned to have some.  But I think it hit the spot, even though it was not as rich and creamy as what we are used to.  It was definitely a great cool and refreshing alternative and very simple to make.

I don’t have a picture of the ice cream because I made the mistake of making it in the food processor and made a gigantic mess of it all.  Then it froze in my ice cream maker within about 5 minutes so I was all flustered about getting my mess cleaned up while wondering if I should put the whole ice cream maker in the freezer or try to scoop out the frozen mass into another container before I made an even bigger mess.

I remember what I made on Monday, because I actually remembered to write it down on my meal planner.  Every other day is kind of a blur.


I basically mix these ingredients in whatever quantities I so desire:


fresh parsley

green onions

fresh mint



olive oil

lemon juice


black pepper


feta cheese

I usually eat the salad in a pita or on its own.  Josh was craving carbs so I gave in and wrapped the salad in a whole wheat wrap.

I also made Sunny Corn Muffins!

I followed the recipe (using spelt flour and safflower oil), but when I tasted the batter, it seemed a little flat.  I thought it needed a sweetener and maple syrup was the first thing that popped into my head.  I also added corn kernels and a dash of cayenne to the second half of the batch.  While these muffins were in the oven, it smelled like someone was cooking up a yummy southern breakfast!  Not that I know what a southern breakfast smells like, but again, that was the first thing that popped into my head.  🙂

Green and White Bean Salad

green beans

navy beans (soaked overnight or cooked)

pear or cherry tomatoes

feta cheese

1 TB lemon juice

1 TB Balsamic vinegar

1 TB olive oil

1/4 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

1 TB chopped dill

I make this salad for my own lunches because Josh doesn’t care for it.  I like my green beans on the crunchy side so they add a nice bit of crunch to this salad.

(I think it was) Wednesday night I made this Black Bean and Quinoa with Raspberry Chipotle salad.  I love raspberry chipotle barbecue sauce and I knew I would love this salad.  I actually doubled the amount of raspberries just because I never feel like recipes with sauce make enough sauce.  It was very good, but lacked sweetness. I pulled out the maple syrup again and tipped some in.  Actually, it came out much faster than I expected, but it ended up being a perfect amount.

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Detox: Days 7&8

June 19, 2011 at 8:12 pm (Detox Diet) (, , , , )

One of the great things about this diet is that I find new things and try new recipes that I probably would not have thought of when my choices are a bit more limited.  I have never tried any kind of corn soup, but lately I have been on a sweet corn kick and I thought this might be a good choice.

Latin Corn Soup

From Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health

2 c thinly sliced onions

2 tsp olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

1 fresh chile, minced

2 tsp ground coriander

1 1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp salt

2 c water or vegetable broth

1/4 c thinly sliced radishes

2 c peeled and diced sweet potatoes

1 c diced red bell peppers

1 15-oz can hominy, drained

1 14-oz can diced tomatoes

1 1/2 c fresh or frozen corn kernels

2 TB lime juice

2 TB chopped fresh cilantro

avocado cubes (optional)

1.  In a soup pot on medium-high heat, cook onions in oil for about 5 minutes, until just beginning to soften.  Add the garlic, chiles, coriander, oregano, and salt and stir constantly for a minute.  Stir in 1 c of the water and the radishes, sweet potatoes, and bell peppers.  Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

2.  While the vegetables simmer, in a blender, puree the hominy with the remaining water and the coconut milk until smooth.  When the vegetables are tender, add the puree and the tomatoes and corn and bring back to a simmer, tirring occasionally.

3.  Stir in the lime juice and cilantro.  Top each serving with ripe avacado cubes, if you wish.

I will definitely add this to my soup list for winter!  Heck!  I will even make this in warm weather again!  It is not heavy so it doesn’t really make you that hot.  Or maybe it was refreshing to me because I am ALWAYS cold when the air conditioner is on!

I love cilantro, so I added tons extra.  You either love cilantro or you hate it, so leave it out if you don’t like it.  I also love lime, so I added a bit more.  I don’t like radishes, but I put them in anyways because there was a note in the book about being surprised about the flavor it adds.  I left all ingredients in (except the avocado, which I ONLY like in MY guacamole) and it was fabulous!  I did puree the hominy with the coconut milk, but I also suck my immersion blender into the whole pot of soup and blended it all up before I added the corn.  I did not puree it completely smooth.

I love the Moosewood Restaurant cookbooks.  I first had one in Scotland.  I picked it up at a charity shop, probably when I was on this same diet.  I had to leave that one behind, but I bought another one when we got here.  The one I got this recipe from in on loan from the library.

We loved the portobello sandwich so much, we wanted to do it again.  Why is it that when men grill, they think they are giving we ladies a break from cooking, while we are slaving away slicing and chopping in the kitchen, preparing what is about to be grilled, then doing the clean up afterwards?  And then when we ladies grill, it is all the MORE work, because not only are we grilling, but we are running in and out of the house trying to keep up with all of the slicing and chopping, etc?!

ANYWAYS, I also wanted to do a repeat of a recipe I had tried a while ago that Josh loved.  I am not a big asparagus fan, but I did enjoy this side dish.

Citrus Asparagus

1 lb asparagus

2 tsp olive oil

4 tsp fresh lemon juice

4 tsp orange juice

generous pinch of cayenne

salt and pepper to taste

Snap off the tough stem ends of the asparagus spears.  Rince the spears and cut them into 2- or 3-inch peices.  Steam the asparagus


in about an ince of water (or use a steamer basket) for about 7-10 monutes, or until just tender.

Meanwhile, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, orange juice, cayenne, and salt and pepper.  As soon as the asparagus is ready, remove it to a serving bowl or plate, pour the dressing over it, and serve warm.

I believe I also got this recipe from a Moosewood Restaurant book.  I just made a copy of it and didn’t write where it was from.

Since I had the grill going, I cooked the asparagus for a few minutes, then threw them on the grill until they were starting to show hints of brown.

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Detox: Days 5 and 6

June 17, 2011 at 9:20 pm (Detox Diet) (, , , )

Yesterday and today were pretty boring as far as food goes.  We just had leftovers yesterday since I had to study all day for an exam.  There were lots of leftovers left to be eaten, as well.  Josh often does not have time for lunch and when I work I just bring something like and snacky for lunches.  I did find time yesterday to make maple almond butter cookies.  I have made these cookies before and love them!  And Josh loves them, too, which is even more amazing!!

The recipe calls for whole wheat flour, but since we can’t have wheat, I used spelt.  I know, spelt is technically a wheat product.  That is why I felt guilty and mixed it with potato flour (just because that is what I happened to have on hand) and ground almonds.  Bad idea!  They really didn’t turn out that great.  I think I will make another batch and just stick with the spelt.

Today will be leftovers again, just so we can try to get stuff eaten up rather than having to throw anything out.  I had a recipe in mind for today, but hopefully I can do it tomorrow.

I did make some guacamole with my avocados that have been ripe in the fridge for a couple of days now.  That will go with our lentil tacos tonight.  Since the cookies didn’t turn out yesterday, we are in need of some sweetness to satisfy our sweet tooths (sweet teeth?), so I picked up a TON of fruit and made the best fruit salad ever!  Cantaloup, red grapes, pineapple, strawberries, nectarines, mango (the orange ones like what I had in the Philippines, not the red/green ones), and flaked coconut.  All of it fresh (except the flaked coconut).

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Detox: Day 4

June 16, 2011 at 12:59 pm (Detox Diet, Recipes) (, , )

We love, love, love bolognese, but my usual recipe has dairy, ground beef, pancetta, all the good stuff.  I actually make this once in a while for a change of pace.

As always, I altered my recipe to suit my needs and taste.  We cannot have regular semolina or wheat pasta.  I don’t like corn pasta, so I use brown rice pasta.  There certainly is a different texture and for a person (like me) who finds texture to be almost as important as taste, it is a little hard to get used to.  But the taste is not bad.  We had baby portobello mushrooms from Costco (yum!).  Rather than buying a jar of marinara, which usually has salt and sugar and hydrogenated stuff, I used a can of tomato puree and added Italian seasonings, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper, stuff I usually add to spaghetti sauce anyways.  I did not use the wine.  I’m not sure if we can have it for cooking since the alcohol cooks out anyways, but I knew if I opened a bottle of wine, Josh would want it with his dinner.  🙂

I was trying to do too many things at once and I let the mushrooms saute too long so they got very watery.  Rather than let the water boil out, greatly reducing my mushrooms, I added some TVP to thicken it up.  I also added some green bell pepper and zucchini (corgette).

My picture doesn’t look very yummy because I started eating it before I remembered to snap a shot.  You will have to believe me that this is delicious and worthy of even a non-detox diet.  🙂

Penne with Mushroom “Bolognese”

1 lb penne or other pasta

12 oz sliced mushrooms

2 lg cloves garlic

2 tsp olive oil

1 26oz jar marinara sauce

1/2 tsp crushed dried rosemary

2 Tb chopped fresh parsley

1/2 c dry white or red wine (optional)

Cook pasta as package directs.  Meanwhile, pulse mushrooms and garlic in food processor until finely chopped.  Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet.  Add mushrooms and garlic; saute over medium-high heat 3 minutes or until lightly browned.  Stir in wine (if using); boil 1 minute.  Stir in sauce and rosemary; bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes to blend flavors.  Stir in parsley.  Spoon over pasta.

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Detox: Day 3

June 14, 2011 at 9:48 pm (Uncategorized)

Today we are ships passing in the night.  Work and class are overlapping for us and I have NO time to prepare anything.  Good thing for leftovers!  Sloppy joes are great, if not better reheated.  I also have tons of lettuce (and fixin’s) in the fridge for us to make salads whenever we want.  Since prepared dressings  have lots of sugar, salt, and the wrong type of oil, I made this one up with olive oil.  Oops, I am doing pretty bad with the ‘we’re not supposed to have that’ foods.  We are not supposed to have olive oil but I have not been able to make a special trip out to look for rapeseed or other cold pressed oils.  Oh, no!  I have lost the link to the recipe I used, but it is something like this, but regular vinegar instead of wine vinegar.  And more mint.

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Detox: Day 2

June 14, 2011 at 1:57 am (Detox Diet, Healthcare) (, , , , , )

I really only knew of one vegan person in the past.  He was a co-worker who basically only ate potato chips and fries.  THEN when we were in Scotland we met Brett.  Actually, I knew him before Scotland from an American Expats in the UK forum.  The first time I did this diet he gave me this recipe and I’ve used it ever since.  Even Josh likes it!  🙂  This is what we had for lunch.

Brett’s Vegan Sloppy Joes

Sautee 1 large onion and 2 medium green peppers in 3 TB oil

Add:  1 1/2 c boiling water

2 1/2 c tomato sauce

1-2 TB chili powder

good pinch pepper

1 tsp salt

3 TB soy sauce

4 TB American mustard

2-3 TB sugar (or honey, maple syrup, etc)

1 1/2 c dry TVP

I served it on some super-duper whole grain bread from Costco (this stuff was HEAVY), even though we’re not supposed to have wheat.  But it was WHOLE GRAIN!

My friend Lara has made this fruity couscous salad a couple of times at gatherings.  When I asked her for the recipe she told me she had one, but doesn’t really follow it.  I made the mistake of ‘sort of’ following the recipe.  It’s not like me.  I tend to go on my instincts.  The recipe was much more savory than I remember Lara’s dish being, so I knew I should not have made the quinoa (which I always substitute for couscous) with broth, but I did.  Which made it taste salty (though the broth was salt-free).  I ended up making extra quinoa just to blend in and reduce the salty flavor.  Lara told me she puts in some orange juice and cinnamon and whatever fruit is around.  I adapted it still more to add coconut milk yoghurt, dehydrated lime and orange peel, lemon juice, and agave.  I added whatever fruit I had in the house, which is a lot because, did I tell you?  I’m on this detox diet right now.  Fruit I added: mandarin orange, blackberry, raspberry, frozen mango, frozen peaches, dried coconut.

THIS is what I was looking forward to all day!  Years ago when Josh and I worked downtown I had my first portobello sandwich and was in love!  I tried to replicate it at home without great success.  It was messy!  But even before we started this diet, Josh had told me that he would like to grill portobellos rather than beef burgers, so I just had to fit this into our repertoire.  And we were not disappointed!  I used this recipe, minus the mayo and cheese (I even grilled red pepper!), but I used instructions from Cook’s Illustrated for the grilling.  Basically, seal the mushrooms in foil.  Grill for about 10-15 minutes, then take them out of the foil and grill for a couple of minutes until you have grill marks.  I will definitely do this again and again!  I served this on the same bread from lunch.

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Detox: Day 1

June 13, 2011 at 3:04 pm (Detox Diet, Healthcare) (, , , , )

Some of you know I have done a detox diet a couple of times. The first time was in Scotland. For some reason it seemed so much easier to live a healthier lifestyle there. I find it much harder here to make healthy choices on this side of the pond. Or maybe it is just a Midwest thing.

All other times I have done this diet Josh has given me a hard time of it. He refused to join me or even support me! He took great fun of waving ice cream and cookies in front of me (I have such a sweet tooth!). Lately he has been talking about eating healthy and getting in better shape. Partly because of the backpacking trip he has planned in a couple of weeks. So I took this opportunity to ask if he would join me this time in my detox, and he conceded!

Here is a very, very brief description of the diet.  They left out the ‘no meat’ part.  The first time is meant to be 28 days, then 14 days every year after that.  It is not mean to be a lifestyle diet, but it does bring about some lifestyle changes.  At least for a while.  🙂  I have been menu planning for it for a couple of weeks.  It is not easy to just come home and whip something up off the top of your head, unless you are already used to a vegan lifestyle.  In the past I was also more purposeful about using household products that are chemical-free, but lately we have been less on the ‘environmentally friendly’ side of things and more on the ‘whatever I can get cheapest’ side, and we have no extra money to change that up right now.  But I do buy Ecos detergent for our clothes, which is what you keep close to your body all the time so I feel this is one of the most important things for us.




For a variety of reasons, we officially started the diet for dinner last night.  We these yummy Ancho Lentil Tacos.   I usually make cilantro lime rice (brown basmati) and black beans as a filler, and it went great with this meal!  I also made sour cream from some homemade soy yoghurt I had in the fridge (strain it through a coffee filter for a while to thicken it up) and chopped up some tomato and lettuce.  I served the filling on corn tortillas, but they fell apart and Josh ended up using the filling as a dip with blue corn chips (technically shouldn’t have the chips because of the salt, but if I don’t allow some things I will lose my husband in this diet!).  I made my special guacamole to top it all off!

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When You Think You’ve Seen It All

June 10, 2011 at 3:10 pm (Employment, Social Services) (, , )

We had some pretty strange conditions that we worked in.  I remember going with Josh to a site before I even started working with the agency.  I arranged to do my PCM (Practical Christian Ministry, required every semester at Moody) at one of their sites on the west side.  I don’t remember how we arranged this, but I visited once at a site on the southside, Englewood, the roughest place in the city.

It was a store front church.  Services were provided by our agency in the basement while the church was passing out bags of groceries upstairs.  I don’t remember much of that visit except the damp, dank, dark.  It was a basement that felt very much like a basement.  I could hear scufflings around in the corners.  There were stains on the underside of the floor above us.  Later when I was employed by the agency, I came to know the place well.  But we were moved upstairs in the ‘sanctuary’ with everyone else.  In a room next to us was where they kept the food before it was sorted and distributed.  I laugh now (and cringe and feel a little sick) as I remember one scene as clear as day like it was yesterday.  We had just set up shop at the tables they provided us in front of the stage, waiting for clients to sign up to talk to us.  My coworker next to me slammed her hand down, lowered her head to the table facing me, and said urgently, yet quietly, “I just saw a RAT shuffle across that floor!  It was THIS big!  It was just moseying along!”  And this was not a skiddish woman.

Summers at that site were brutal.  No air.  No circulation.  Sometimes the stench was more than one could bare.  That was when the cockroaches were worst.  We already knew better than to leave our bags on the floor.  One of our collegues had already taken a roach home with him.  This was a year-round problem.  Casually brushing roaches off paperwork without squealing was an art.  But in the summer?  That was when we had the FLYING roaches.  They were smaller, but they were pesky!  And the regular roaches were so bad they would just start dropping from the ceiling.  Once during the summer while we were used to roaches dropping from the ceiling, my collegue thought they were being particularly annoying dropping from one certain spot in the ceiling, only to look up and find that there was a dark stain from which liquid was dropping.

There was another site on the southside at a parachurch organization where we saw clients while lunch was being served.  After all the years we had been going, the workers never quite got a grasp on what we were there to do.  As we came in they announced (EVERY.SINGLE.TIME!) “Doctas is heya!”  This caused us incredible frustration because medical services was indeed something that was greatly needed on the southside, so everyone would quickly sign up thinking they were going to be seen by a nurse.

This site also seemed to be forever under construction.  It was just myself and my female collegue at this site.  The workers would usually forget that we were coming (yep, it’s Tuesday.  yep, we come every week.) and have to empty out a room that was completely filled with clothing and other donation.  This room was right next to the men’s restroom.  This room, as well as the men’s restroom also…did not have a ceiling.  And there were LOTS of homeless men eating lunch right down the hall.  Needless to say, it was a challenge creating a professional atmosphere for our clients.  Another scene I remember like it was yesterday:  my collegue on the cell phone trying to arrange services for her client, probably trying to find a bed in a shelter or treatment center.  She looked bored with her head in her hand, elbow resting on the table.  Probably having a hard time getting the right person on the line.  LOUD grunting begins in the room next to us.  My collegue instantly looks up at me, her eyes bulging, and she covers the mouthpiece on her phone.  We stare at eachother wide-eyed, not sure if we should laugh or be furious.  That must have been our first time there because it became old hat after that.

Our favorite site was at a fransiscan church in a gentrifying part of the west side.  We didn’t have to deal with these issues, we were supported by the church members, and we were able to see the most progress in our clients here.

Updated to say: As Josh and I were talking, I remember that it was not ROACHES that were dropping from the ceiling.  FHEW!  Thank goodness!  It was maggots.

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The Work I Did

May 23, 2011 at 9:55 pm (Employment) (, , , , , )

I rarely think about the work that I did in Chicago.  But when I do it stirs up a flood of emotions.  I feel amazed at the things that I saw, the things I did, the remarcable composure I had in difficult situations, the effect some clients had on me.  I feel pride that I was able to work in such a challenging field and do it well.  I also feel frustration that jobs that require less skill and cause less stress can pay so much more.  And sometimes I wish I could put employers and people who put me down in front of a screen and show them clips about what I did and what it was like. 

Josh and I worked together.  Sort of.  He did ‘street outreach’ twice a week with a partner.  That was truly front line work.  They want to scrap yards, parks, under bridges to find the hardest to reach homeless.  They gave them a lunch and in the winter some gloves, thermal underwear, etc. and told them about our services.  They would get a list of our sites and encourage them to see us.  On a rare occasion, someone did show up and the entire team celebrated that one more was reached by Outreach.  I went out with them once and saw the homes people had made for themselves under bridges under highways.  Mattresses, tables, clothes, you name it.  I stayed in the van as they approached prostitutes.  This was bad for business, so the women didn’t typically want to talk long, if at all.  Guys pushing carts full of metal, on their way to the scrap yard were offered a lunch for a few minutes of their time.

On the days Josh wasn’t doing outreach, he, his partner, I, and 2 others went to various scheduled sites in Englewood and on the west side.  Food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, clothing closets.  They were all affiliated with churches, though our organisation was just humanitarian.  We could talk about faith if we were asked for an opinion.  One store front church in Englewood used their worship area to pass out bags of groceries to the community members.  They could sign up to see us to do an assessment of their situation and figure out what services they needed.  Typically, the assessment of our clients was that they just needed a bus card, but our assessment usually included mental health, substance abuse, medical issues, etc.  Sometimes we could use the bus card as bait to start working on the other issues 

Our team was a hodge podge.  Josh and I were just out of college.   Young ,white, rural.  Our team members grew up in Chicago.  Some lived on the south side.  Some were formerly homeless.  Some where recovering addicts.  We were black and white, young and old, rural and urban.  Some huffed and puffed about Josh and I joining the team as fresh-faced kids who think they are going to change the world, only to burn out within a year.  But they grew to respect us and even turned to us with difficult cases.

Later I will share some of our stories.

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When Things Don’t Happen As Planned…

April 2, 2011 at 3:01 pm (back to school, Employment, Finances) (, , )

It was such a difficult decision.  So. Difficult.  I had so many emotions running through me and it was a dark weekend for me.

I had been doing poorly in my class.  My one and only class.  The one I had been working towards and had been so excited for for over a year.  At first it wasn’t so poor that I couldn’t bring it back up.  I was confident I would bring it up to a B on my mid-term.  I was confident about the mid-term.  I knew the material.

But the weekend after the mid-term I cried and was depressed and was angry.  My dream was falling apart.  I had one more week to decide if I should risk it.  Out of 250 points for the rest of the class I could only miss 20 to get a B for the semester.

That weekend I decided I needed to drop the class.  This was my ONLY class.  I couldn’t count on any others to bring up my GPA.  I HAD to have a B in order to be considered for grad school.  I was PLANNING to start grad school in the fall.  I would complete it in 3 semesters.  Then things would be better.  My life would change.  Our years of challenges and hard, hard work would come to an end.

I felt like a failure.

I felt stupid.

I felt like I should quit.  Everything.  EVERYTHING.

I didn’t understand what was going on.  I understood the material, despite the crummy textbook and despite the confusing teaching style of my professor.  I worked hard to find answers in other books and online.  I watched youtube videos of Berkeley lectures.

The next Tuesday I went to class, then I went to the peer tutoring I had been attending.  Rahm said he could tell I was understanding the material and doing well at it.  This made me sad and frustrated.  I DID know the material!  It was this horrid anxiety I felt during exams!  I blanked out.  I couldn’t remember things, despite having a formula sheet in front of me.  I even missed a WHOLE PAGE on the mid-term.

I talked to someone from the Department of Students with Disabilities.  They said if you have a diagnosis (what?!  I didn’t even know!) they will allow you to test in a private room and give you time-and-a-half for the exam.  I read up on test anxiety.   I thought about how I talked to my professor and she said there was plenty of time to get the exam done and that the formula sheet was meant to take the anxiety off.  Most students ironically don’t even need the extra time because the pressure it taken off.  One study said students with test anxiety score in the 12th percentile lower than their peers.  One article said test anxiety can start later in a student’s career.  It can start with one bad grade and spiral from there.

I thought about my surprise when I received my first homework assignment.  7.5/10; a C.  I panicked.  I needed the homework grade as a cushion.  She marked off for small computational errors and other minor issues, but I got the concepts correct.

Because of this, I couldn’t even make a case for myself that I was acing the homework, but panicing on the exams.

I realised I would not have time to figure out what is going on and to remedy it before the next quiz.  Nor did we have the money it would take to go through hours of therapy to come to some conclusion.

I HAD to drop the class.  And I waited until the day before the deadline.

So much money lost on the tuition, books, transportation, wages lost for not working.

I decided I would first work on the certificate at Purdue North Central.  I was never very impressed with their program, and now I am even less impressed.  I have been sending emails for 3 weeks to the math department and have heard nothing back.  I looked over the list of classes for the certificate and the list of classes offered last year and the coming semester.  Three out of five of those classes have not been and will not soon be offered.

If I am working on a certificate I do not qualify for FAFSA.

I have been looking at other colleges and universities nearby.  No one offers the program I need.

More frustration.


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A Walk

April 2, 2011 at 11:32 am (A Little Fun, Fun Photos) ()

I take the shuttle to and from campuses on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I have class.  We have a Watertower campus, which is right downtown, and we have a Lakeshore campus which is in the north of Chicago, in Roger’s Park.  My class is in the Lakeshore campus.  I have been wanting to walk to my train after class, rather than taking the shuttle.  I have just been waiting for better weather.  I was going to use the lakefront path and the winter winds sweeping off the lake is not fun!  So there was finally a good day with decent weather and nothing I had to rush back for.  So I walked the 8.6 miles down the path.  I took detours for pictures and including the mile I walk from my station to the shuttle in the morning, I walked a total of 10 miles that day!  With a 15# backpack!

So enough words.  Here are the pics:








There’s a story with the above building:

They advertised $888/mo mortgage, parking and storage incl. No fine print.

This was when we still had hope of buying in Chicago.

We always liked this building because all of the units have a view of the lake.

We figured it would be really tight, but if we pinched pennies we could make that kind of mortg, plus association fees.

When we looked at it we found out parking was tangent and the ‘storage’ was a 3X3X3 locker.

THEN they told us the $888 was for the first year only. Then went up to $1295.

Oh, and “The value of your property will go up because they are planning another construction right in front of this one!”

*blink* *blink*




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February 28, 2011 at 2:33 pm (Uncategorized) ()

Anyone have a good recipe?  I purchased Nutella (never used it before) for cookies I was going to make for Christmas but had to cut them out of my long (and growing) list.  Now I’m not sure what to do with all this Nutella in the pantry.

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My Morning Walk…

February 7, 2011 at 4:14 pm (back to school, Fun Photos, Studies) ()

Chicago, 6:45am 2 weeks ago…




Chicago, 7am last week…

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Campus (in January)

January 24, 2011 at 7:39 pm (Uncategorized)


So, when I said campus is on the Lake, I meant for real.  It’s on the Lake.  I love it.  I am only sad I will not have summer classes to enjoy it then.  It’s always ‘cooler on the lake’!  But this applies for January as well.  I nearly lost my fingers to the cold just to take this picture!  I could see the “Are you NUTS?!” look in people’s eyes as they rushed past me with their faces hidden in their scarves.  That building in the center of the picture is where I can go and sit in a comfy chair and read with an unobstructed view of the Lake.

Unfortunately, there is a bunch of this on campus right now:

I am still figuring out the detours around all of the construction as many of the walking paths are closed.  I plan to walk at least 5 miles each day I am in Chicago, so this just helps me reach my goal.  🙂  No, I don’t know what they’re building, either.

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First Day

January 18, 2011 at 9:49 pm (A Little Fun, A New Career, back to school, Studies) (, , )

Yesterday I automatically woke up at 4:30am.  Don’t know why.  I think this made it easier to get out of bed when the alarm went off at 4:45 this morning.

I waited 40 minutes at the train station for my train.  I was 10 minutes early.  The train was at least 30 minutes late.  South Shore was kind enough to make the announcement that the train would be 10-15 minutes late.  The radio reported the trains were on time.

As I stood in the rain listening over my music for the horn I debated whether it would be better to take the train and be late (I only have 5 minutes to get to class when the trains are on time) or to drive in the sleet, in the dark (my night vision is not the greatest), in bad traffic and be late.  I guess I made the right decision because as I was getting into my car I heard the ding signaling an announcement and shortly after the parking lot was suddenly flooded with others heading back to their vehicles.

It only took an hour and a half, traffic was not great.  I arrived in Evanston at the time my class was starting.  Now I had to find parking.  Parking in this area is difficult, to put it kindly.  I found a spot at a meter and prayed I had some quarters.  They were a staple in our car when we lived in Chicago, but not any more.  The meter said “1 1/2 hours for $1.50”, but I’m wondering what you got 1 1/2 of because the meter only gave me 60 minutes.  That was all I had.  I had to give up another little supplication that I didn’t get a ticket.

I made it to my class 10 minutes late, but fortunately someone save a seat for me.  Right in the front.  Middle.  About 3 feet away from the overhead screen.  I was frazzled, my hair was in my face, and I was doing what I could to avoid an embarrassing snot situation.  There at the front of the class.  I’m not sure I absorbed much.  Statistics, that is.

After making a mad dash out to my car to move it to a non-metered spot after class, I was happy NOT to see an orange envelope hanging from my window.  Now I have to pray I don’t get one in the mail.

I found a spot several blocks away and made my way back to campus to take care of some business.  I walked in circles around campus because there is construction and many paths are closed.  I got the ID.  I went to meet with an advisor who couldn’t help me and sent me to someone in the mathematics department.  On the other side of campus.  He couldn’t help with my specific question either.

I felt like I deserved a coffee after all of this and popped in to one of the many independent coffee shops in the area.  LOVE THIS!  There are so many different ethnicities in the area and I was getting so excited about all of the potentials for lunch.  Oh, wait.  I don’t have money to eat out.

I turned down the street I THOUGHT I had parked my car.  Then I went down next.  And the next.  This isn’t like me to lose my parking spot and it unnerved me a bit.  But I saw the Devon Market and went in to look around and this cheered me up.  Josh called to see how my day was going and as I was babbling and randomly walking down the streets I found my car.

Although I wanted to get home and get started on homework (I’m in a training all day tomorrow), I thought it would be great to drive through our old neighborhood since I didn’t plan to have my car any other time.  I saw some new buildings and couldn’t believe that one of the dilapidated apartment buildings that housed immigrants was gone and a Dominick’s in it’s place.  A stop at my favourite Middle Eastern Bakery was necessary and I got falafel for tonight’s dinner.  That makes me happy.

I wanted to take a picture of my first day on campus, but the sleet and the wind off the lake didn’t really make me want to linger long enough to take out my camera.  I do hope to have more time to post about my experience coming full circle and studying once again in Chicago.

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It’s always something

October 17, 2010 at 12:37 am (Healthcare, Time Off Together)

Josh and I were able to have a one-and-a-half-week vacation together.  We didn’t plan lots.  We just wanted really, really needed time off together.  The biggest excitement was camping with friends.  They plan a big camping do twice yearly and we try to go whenever our location and time off status allows.  It was great fun and we had fabulous weather.  Josh and I arrived a day early and stayed a day late so we were able to gear up for and wind down from all of the commotion.  We enjoy camping alone together as well as with friends.

On our last weekend together, well, we weren’t together.  I went to a northern suburb of Chicago to babysit the girls I nannied through college and beyond.  I first started when the oldest was 15 months and the middle was soon to be born.  Now they are 13 and 11 and the youngest is 6.  I just can’t believe where time goes.  When we moved to Scotland I had been with them 7 years and I felt as though I had raised my own beautiful girls.  I hadn’t seen them in 2 years and they were all shy when I arrived, but we quickly got comfortable and had a blast.  I brought one of my rabbits, Tattie, and they were enamored with her.  The youngest girl held on to my leg as I talked with their mom when I was about to leave.  When I gave hugs she wouldn’t let go.  It was great to see their personalities mature into what I had envisioned them to be before I left for Scotland.  *sigh*

I arrived home from that weekend late at night to find my husband sitting on the sofa nursing a wound to his abdomen.  He had been working on something for our kitchen on the table saw.  As he cut his last board the saw grabbed the edge of it and spun it back at him with such force that he fell to his knees.  At first I felt pity for him and began to play nurse getting him ice and such.  Then he brought up a concern about internal bleeding.  He thought the force of the blow could have been THAT hard.  His wound look nasty, but it wasn’t swelling or anything.  We don’t have insurance and did not want to go to the ER if it was nothing, yet we didn’t want to assume it was nothing.  When we dropped our insurance we became members of an urgent care facility but they are only open 12 hours during the day (why do these things ALWAYS happen late into the night?!)  I got online and began to look up symptoms of internal bleeding.  Weakness, nausea, vomiting, drop in blood pressure.  Josh normally has an elevated blood pressure and I thought this would be easy to monitor.  We took his BP and it was normal for him.  After much deliberation we decided that we would sleep, but set an alarm every hour to monitor his BP.  Throughout the night it was normal, but at 7am his BP plummeted to low for any person and he felt nauseous and weak.  I remembered that nausea and weakness was very typical for me when I was working midnights so I figured that could just be fatigue, but my BP never dropped, but always spiked.  I told Josh to get ready because we were going to urgent care.

On the drive over I began to think of how horrible it would be if we thought we were doing what we should and it went all wrong.  I regretted not getting ice for Josh on that last hour that was so difficult for us both to wake up for.  I was sure that if he did have some bleeding that the ice had slowed it down.

The LPN took one quick look at Josh’s wound and said, “You’re fine, but if you want some peace of mind we can price an x-ray for you.”  We she went to find out the price I told Josh that even though he is fine, if the x-ray cost a couple hundred that we should get it anyways.  So we did and the x-ray showed no bleeding.

It was also coming time for my once-yearly doctors appointment that I really dread.  Before I made the appointment with the doctor I had been to last year I asked for some prices for self-pay.  I was told it would be $75 for the office visit and the lab work would be anywhere from $100 to $300.  When it came time to check out and pay, I was given a $130 price.  When I questioned it she said, “Oh, that’s just for the regular office visit.  You had an annual.”  Huh?  Then after I paid that she said, “Oh, I forgot!  Since you don’t have insurance there is an additional $75 charge.”  Yes, my mind exploded.  And I said, “This is all on top of the lab work?”  Yes.   It stinks not to be able to afford insurance.  I told her that.  She shuffled some papers around and didn’t look me in the eye again.  Told me to have a nice day.  Hmph!

It stinks, but even with these medical bills, it would have cost us more money to have insurance.  And I don’t mean just the premiums.  If Josh had gone to the ER we would have been set back much, much further with the copays.

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Sometimes I Still Wonder…

August 5, 2010 at 6:07 pm (News) ()


This may be graphic or very sad for some

Early last week I was driving home down the road I ALWAYS take to and from ‘town’.  My friend had been tutoring me and I was headed to class in about 2 hours.  As I was approaching the railroad crossing I saw the dreaded lights flash on.  ARGH!!  Everyone hates getting stopped by these trains.  They are slooooow.  I realised I hadn’t switched on the radio so I began flipping through stations looking for a song to match the sunny day it was.

The train was finally gone and I was the first to cross the tracks.  About a mile down the road, I think, but I can’t really remember because it seemed like so far, yet so soon, I approached what looked like a semi pulled off on the side of the road.  I slowed down to get ready to pass.  Then I noticed a passenger van on the opposite side of the road, then the people moving about, then the mess in the middle of the road.  I realised I would not be able to pass, but there was a small road just before the accident where I could manouver around it. I didn’t really plan to go down that road because I felt right away that I should stop to see if I could help.  I pulled off and other vehicles started to pass me to turn off in front of me.

When I approached the accident on foot I noticed someone walking around in the middle of the road with a phone to his ear: he must be on the phone with the dispatcher.  I noticed a commercial van which I hadn’t seen before.  The front end was banged up and the driver was on the phone.  Then I approached the passenger van.  It looked like it did not even have an engine.

As I got close I smelled gasoline and oil very strongly.  I was concerned for the people nearby.  There were about 4 other people milling about, looking inside, talking to the passenger.  I heard the passenger say, “You don’t understand.  My husband is dead.” with little emotion.  She was in shock.  My first thought was, ‘no he’s not…he can’t be…he’ll be ok.’ and I went on to see if there was anyone who needed CPR.  I heard, “There is some gurgling noise….she is bleeding from her eye and mouth.”  They were talking about the girl in the back.  She was slumped over.  There was a man just standing there.  I asked, “What can I do?”  He walked away.

The back of the passenger van was smashed in and the window completely shattered.  That is where someone was looking in to talk to the girl in the back.  The sliding door opened.  The girl came to.  She began to moan.  Someone asked if anyone had something to put on her wounds.  I had blankets in the car but someone else’s car was much closer to mine so they ran to get some sheets.  The girl that got the sheets was about to lose it.  She was shaking and muttering, “Oh, my god!”  She began to talk more shrill and the guy on the phone yelled at her to get out of here.

The dispatcher must have asked if the passengers were accessible because he said that we could not get the passenger side door open.  Then someone yanked on it and it opened.  The woman started to step her foot out and another woman and I shouted, “STAY THERE!”  She could have who knows how many internal injuries.  I could see the air bags and it looked like they saved her life.  We could now better hear her wimpers, “My husband is dead, you’ve got to help him.  Help my daughter.”

I could see the girl in the back.  She was moaning and doubling over.  The bleeding on her face looked like it stopped and dried quickly in the heat.  She looked like she was 15.  “Please try to hold still, honey.  Try to hold your neck still.  The paramedics are coming.” was all we could say to her.  “It HUUUURTS, MOM!”

I felt so helpless.  What could I do?!  “Does someone have a phone?” the woman said.  I did, but I knew there was a guy on the phone with the paramedics and there was another guy that kept shouting, “Keep cell phones away from the vehicle!  There is gas.  It could start a fire!”  Apparently just as I was arriving someone was already putting out a fire with an extinguisher they had in their car.

I went around to the driver’s side.  Someone said something about CPR.  A woman said, “He’s bleeding out his nose and mouth.”  I said, “I have a mouth guard we can use.”  She lowered her voice and said, “This guy is beyond CPR.  There are no signs of life.  The engine is in his lap.  He is probably cut from the waist down.”  I looked up at him.  The engine, or what was left of it, was indeed where the driver’s seat should be.  I looked for a few seconds and saw no movement, no breathing.  I felt gutted like I had never felt before.

I went back to the passenger side to console the mother and daughter.  We assured them that the paramedics were coming (where, oh where were they?!)  I looked around and saw neighbors coming out of their homes on their phones.  I saw the semi driver and the other van driver at their respective vehicles on the phone.  Probably with their companies.  I saw the traffic backing up further and further.

Finally, FINALLY I hear sirens!  “They’re here” we tell them.  But it was the police.  “They will be here very soon now!” we tell them.  And sure enough, the paramedics arrive.  I stand back as they approach with boards.  They shoo us away and I head back to my car.  The whole event was probably over 5 or 10 minutes, but it felt like 100.

It was then that I started to lose it.  I felt the sobs welling up from the bottom of my soul.  I covered my face until I made it back to my car.  The police closed the road completely right in front of my car and I could not head down that turn off.  I had to turn around and head back the other way.  I just wanted to be home.  I just wanted to see Josh and hug him.  I don’t know if I ever sobbed so hard and deeply.

I could not stop crying for at least an hour.  So many things ran through my head.  I heard that the commercial van smashed into the back of the passenger van, pushing it into the path of the on-coming semi.  I wondered what if it had not been a semi?  What if the driver had been able to maneuver the van in the other direction?  What if the commercial van had been going slower?  What if I had not been stopped by that train?  Would I have gone through before the accident or would it have been ME they hit?  What if that happened to us?  What would it feel like to have my husband dead next to me?  Was there something else I could have done?  I should have gotten in the van and let the girl hold my hand.  I should have asked the woman if there was someone I could call for her.  I should have…

Should I have insisted that we try CPR?  This question keeps coming back to haunt me.  But there physically no way.

The papers said the husband died from multiple organ failure and blunt trauma.  The mother and daughter were both in critical condition and the daughter was flown to a Chicago hospital.  I hope they are ok and I am very sad for their loss and the trauma they had gone through.  This event was traumatic enough for me.  I still hear the sounds and smell the smells.  I have a bit of anxiety when I drive.  I various scenes flash before me multiple times a day.  I cannot imagine how people in war torn countries cope with so much trauma and death everywhere.

It makes me thankful.

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July 20, 2010 at 2:37 pm (back to school, Employment)

I am very near the point of exhaustion.  I have been running, running, running.  Sometimes I feel guilty for saying that because I am not actually moving all of the time.  Most of it is spent sitting at the computer doing homework.  But that is pretty much what I do all of the time I am not at work.  And I keep getting calls from people at work that want to meet with me outside of my working hours for various reasons they wont divulge to me.  This could not have come at a more terrible time and I am really tired of working a job that I cannot leave at work!

Yesterday I went against my better judgement and went blueberry picking.  I knew I would stress out about not studying and preparing for the time I would be tutoring with a friend, but I also felt like I needed something to relax.  I also NEEDED blueberries!  I have been SOOO looking forward to blueberry picking season and I usually go 3 or 4 times before the season ends.

Josh is super busy, too.  We have really been looking forward to the LaPorte County Fair, which is this week.  We usually have Thursdays off, so I was keeping that day open so we could go.  Last night Josh told me he has to work all day.  😦  He has worked every day for the last 2 weeks AT LEAST.  He is putting at least 60 hours in and can’t even recover any of that time because there are so many demands on him right now.

We are also finishing the kitchen.  It is going on 2 months and I had really hoped to be completely done by now.  We are having our small group to our house for a barbecue this Sunday, which we have been planning for a couple of months now.  Right now everything except our appliances (just delivered Sunday!!!) is in our living room and everything in our house is covered in dust.  We are going to be cutting it really close! 

In the mean time I am finishing Calculus.  We have one more lecture this Wednesday, then an exam Monday and our final next Wednesday.  I had high standards for myself and was hoping for an A, then just a couple of weeks into the class I was just hoping to pass.  I have recovered a small bit of confidence after the B- I got on my last exam (after he returned all of the exams and gave us 15 minutes to make corrections.  Only 3 others had marks higher than mine) and now I am hoping to squeak by with a B.  A friend who is a math professor and has been tutoring me this summer said that I am actually doing quite well for an 8 week calculus class.  Most in my class flunked the last exam.

So here I am spending time I shouldn’t be on keeping this blog alive when I should be studying.  I’m at a coffee shop and plan to spend the entire day here doing homework.

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Popping In

July 1, 2010 at 6:20 pm (Employment, Finances, Job Satisfaction, Studies) (, , )

Just thought I’d pop in to say, “I’m still here! (barely)”  Really, my life is not exciting enough to have a blog and I don’t know why I hang on to this thing, but I guess I use it as a ranting tool every so often.  Even when I do something fun like go to Chicago or camping or something I don’t have the motivation to upload my photos.  I do intend to get round to that.  Someday.  Maybe.

My life exploded into crazy craziness a few weeks ago.  I had already been working 45-50 hours a week and then…and then I started Calculus.  That right there says it all.  It is a summer class, so only 8 weeks.  I am in class 6 hours a week and spending around 15 hour a week on homework.  If you add it up, that can be around 70 of my waking hours taken up with work and class. 

And then at the same time my class started, we decided we could start with the construction on the kitchen.  That means everything that was in the kitchen  (all counters, cabinets, appliances, island, food, dishes, pots, pans…you get the idea) is in the living room.  Our entire living area consists of a half bath, living/dining room (about 350 sq ft), soon-to-be kitchen (about 150 sq ft), small corner of a utility room shared with my parents, and one bedroom (about 190 sq ft).  To get from the living area to the bedroom you have to walk through the kitchen.  Everything is covered in dust, despite putting up plastic.  The kitchen floor is covered in dust, so that is tracked throughout the entire house.  There is often power drills, nails, pipes, cords, etc. on the washing machine that have to be removed to wash a load.  There is insulation piled in front of the dryer and wires hanging from the ceiling.  Our dining table is wedged between our fireplace and coffee table.  I have to wipe down the dust every time I need to sit at it to do homework.  Food and dishes are sitting in open boxes so they are accessible, but good luck finding what you need at the time you need it.  The electric is off today so Josh can put in a new circuit box so I am doing my homework at a coffee shop.

And my class.  Well, my class meets Monday and Wednesday nights.  I have lots of homework due at each class and there were times when I was so stressed out because I wasn’t sure how I was going to get Wednesday nights’ assignment done while working all day Tuesday and Wednesday.  I found out at the very end of my Trig class that it was not the right class to have me ready for calc, even though I said when I registered I need the right class to be ready for calc.  So I went into class not even knowing what everyone else already knows.  I got a C on my first exam which shot any hopes of keeping an A and shooting for scholarships in the future.  Throughout Trig I taught myself a lot of what I couldn’t understand in class.  I thought I would be able to do this again, but I have just not had the time.

Work is stressing me out because I do not feel appreciated or compensated for my experience and hard work.  I just found out yesterday that today Chicago’s minimum wage goes up to a rate higher than what I started out with in this agency.  I hate being 33 years old, in an entry-level position with no appreciation for my experience or education and an inability to move around to a more appropriate position.  While I really enjoy working with some of my clients (some not so much), it is depressing and moral shattering.  If we were not in such great need for my income I would just quit and concentrate on my studies.

So since I can’t quit, I went down to part-time.  I have been talking about it for a long time and hoping we would be in a position to do so when I started my class, but we needed to do the kitchen.  It’s been over 1 1/2 years in the waiting.  Finances will definately be very tight again and we have to go back into debt to get this kitchen done and it will be longer getting out this time, but I am happy in my studies (and would LOVE to do this full-time!) and this week has proved that it was a much needed move for me to go part-time.  I spent a couple of hours Monday, all day Tuesday and Wednesday, and again today on homework and studying.  I am still working 32 hours, but it is all in 3 days over the weekend.  So much for any hope of a weekend with Josh!  But at least I have 4 whole days to concentrate on things-not-work-related and regain strength to get through a power work weekend.

I’m still looking for work in Chicago (or anything that will pay more and compensate for the time I am taking off).  I interviewed last week but have not heard anything yet.  I take that as bad news.  I am looking for almost ANYTHING that I can get to by train.  If anyone has any more ideas I will look into it!  I just found a place that does research and data analysis.  RIGHT UP MY ALLEY! though I don’t have the experience or education for it yet.  😦  I am going to try to spend some time on a cover letter and researching the agency and see if they might be willing to let me get my feet wet as an assistant or something.  It would be really awesome to get some on the job training but I know these days employers can be really picky and don’t want to have to train.  But I have my fingers crossed anyways.

I meant for this to be a quick post while I took a quick break from my homework.  Ah, well.  Back to derivatives of logarithmic functions…

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And the Job Search Goes On…

May 25, 2010 at 7:37 pm (A New Career, Employment, Finances, Job Satisfaction, Time Off Together, working midnights) (, , )

It has been a roller coaster ride.  When I talk about a job search I am asked, “What are you looking for?”  Well…almost anything right now.  Its sort of complicated.  I really want more responsibility.  I REALLY want to have normal hours.  I want to have a weekend again.  I want evenings off.  Time with my husband.  I want something that pays a livable wage.

It started last August when one of our group homes was in dire need of staff.  I went over there for three weeks to help out.  It was the most difficult as almost all of the clients require total care.  I was dreading it.  My first day was long and, just long.  At that point I was told I would only be there for one week.  On the first day I was told I would be there another week.  I cried the whole way home.

 Managers at the other group homes tease that they will send staff there as punishment.  That is how difficult it is.

But then I had a revelation.  This group home was in need.  They guys were great, despite having to feed them, change their undergarments, etc.  I COULD BE THE MANAGER!!!  I was so ready to take on the job and turn that house around.  There was a revolving door when it came to staff so there was absolutely no consistancy.  I was sure no one else within the agency would apply for that position.  It wasn’t even posted yet so I thought I had an advantage.  I typed up a VERY GOOD cover letter and turned in my letter of interest to HR.  Everyone that heard I was applying said I would be good in that position.  One week, Two weeks, Three weeks passed and I didn’t hear a word.  I sent out an email to the director.  He said, “Oh, thanks for your interest, but we are going to let another one of our managers run this house.”

Later I applied for a med assistant position.  Running appointments.  Not exactly what I had my heart set on, but it had different responsibilities and the hours were regular.  (After I applied for the manager position I was suddenly switched to midnights and it was making me physically and emotionally ill.)  I came in a close second.  It went to someone who knew a few more of the clients in the department than me.  But I was encouraged to apply for QMRP or staff supervisor if it became available.  The person who got the med assistant position?  She lasted one month and wanted to be transfered back to her old position.

Then a QMRP position because available.  Yay!  I interviewed.  Close second, AGAIN.   It went to someone the interviewee already worked with.  She was a staff supervisor.

I interviewed for the staff supervisor position.  Sounded like I was going to get it since she said, “I am looking for such-and-such qualities and you sound like that person.”  It went to someone who had worked at our agency previously.

THEN, Program Specialist became available.  This was the position I had been hopeing would become available for the last 6 months!  It was day hours, no on call, decent increase in pay.  Advocating for clients, setting and working on goals, training staff to work with clients.  Just what I wanted.  Again I was told I had great credentials and was encouraged to keep applying for positions.  This time I actually requested feedback on the interview.  I was absolutely gobsmacked by what she said.  She didn’t think I could be assertive when needed.  She didn’t think I could work with a diverse population.  She didn’t think I could handle difficult situations.  These are the things I had to do and deal with EVERY SINGLE DAY as a case manager for homeless clients.  I had the clients trying to come on to me.  I had clients trying to bully me for things they wanted.  I had to beg landlords not to kick my client whom I JUST got housed out.  I had to remain calm while I client was opening up to me as maggots were dropping onto the table from the ceiling and rats waddled by.  I worked with drug addicts, mentally ill, abused, young, old, black, white, former attorneys, you name it! 

I was rather upset that the things she mentioned were not things she asked about, but it was good feedback nonetheless.  I somehow have been coming across and timid and weak I guess.  That will have to change.

I am so tired of the interviewing though.  I am tired of getting paid little above minimum wage.  I am tired of  having to work overtime every week to get bills paid.  I am tired of working in an entry-level position and no one can see that I can do a darned good job with so much more responsibility.  I am tired of searching for jobs only to see ‘2 years experience required’ for things like front desk jobs and such (I can get paid 50% more as a clerk/secretary at Purdue and it would work out well for me as I am taking classes there now).

I came across an entry level position for a company in Chicago that does consulting for non-profits.  They preferred someone with experience in direct services.  I thought this would be an awesome job and it could possibly grow into something else as I get math and statistics classes under my belt.  I have not heard from them.  I am sure they are swamped with newly graduated applicants.  *sigh*

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The Christian Life as a Moral One

May 17, 2010 at 7:24 pm (Visiting Church) (, , )

Last night at THAT church I tried to quietly unwrap a chewy jolly rancher in efforts to keep awake.  I didn’t really need it though as every ten minutes the pastor would send a spike through my ears with his piercing shouts.

It made me really sad when the guy doing the announcing talked about some kind of rally they are having: “This is the last week of The Spring Push, so if you know someone that’s unsaved and want to get them saved, get them in here.”  The saved and unsaved terminology still makes me cringe, but the idea of gathering as many people together during a short period of time to focus efforts on getting them saved gave me made me feel so sorrowful.  I had a mental picture of overweight athletes pushing, pulling, shoving passersby onto the track and over the start line, only to abandon them as they dash off for their race, leaving a very confused ‘born again’ athlete at the starting line.  The new athlete gives up and takes a seat in the stands.  As he watches the race he says, “I’ve done that.  Yes, I am an athlete.”

Of course the sermon was completely moral and jumped around to passages all over Scripture that really had nothing to do with each other.  But what blew my mind was when he was lecturing about how TV, drinking, and smoking will send you one the path to hell.  “It will not only destroy you, but your children, too!  Look at Job!”  Here is where I said, “Whaaa!??  Huh?  Really?”  To his credit, if this deserves any, he didn’t actually say Job’s children were destroyed because of his own doing.  What he ended up saying was not even connected.  And that is just how the whole sermon goes down every Sunday I have been there.  A bunch of disconnected ideas to get a bunch of people to follow a certain moral path.

I just want to add, if we are going to preach the Christian life as a bunch of morals, why is gossip and slander never included in list of don’ts?

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May 13, 2010 at 12:41 pm (Raising Funds for J's Education) (, )

I am now going to shamelessly beg for you help.  I have to wire the money THIS WEEK and have absolutely no responses and I am not in a financial situation right now where I can cover this cost myself.  I really do not want to tell a little girl that she cannot continue the quality education she has been recieving these past few years and that she will have to return to the overcrowded, low quality education that is offered by the public system in her city where the drop-out rate is staggeringly high.  Even for those who graduate, the chance of getting a job that offers a sustainable wage, or any job at all, is next to none.  This opportunity is an opportunity not just for her future, but for her family.

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You Can Still Help!

May 11, 2010 at 6:05 pm (Uncategorized)

I am still in need of 100% of the funds for J’s education. Please help in any way you can.

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April 27, 2010 at 3:22 pm (A Little Fun, Fun Videos, Time Off Together) (, , )

I had such a lovely day yesterday.  It was my day off and I am normally pretty stressed on my days off.

The sun was shining.

I went to an interview and when I got home I got in comfy clothes, set up the bunny pen, got my homework, and sat out in my garden studying for my exam and watching the bunns have a wee run about the grass.  Mostly watching the bunns and looking at my garden.  I usually keep to my homework without a problem, but I guess there were too many distractions.

I have TONS of garlic coming up which was planted last fall.  I have some carrot and parsnip stragglers coming up that I planted to late last fall.  I’m not sure how they will do, but I will give them a chance.  Rhubarb, onions, strawberries, blueberries, cherry tree, raspberries, snow peas.  These are all my distractions right now.  And now I have a plum and pear tree and my mom got an espaliered apple tree with 6 different kinds of apples on it!

Late in the afternoon Josh called to set up an impromptu date.  He comes home for lunch whenever he can.  It’s not often, though, and many times it is late, like yesterday.  At 3:30 he came to pick me up to fetch some Subway in the neighboring town.  We laughed as we got back in the car with our subs that we have a wee bit of Kentucky in our backyard.  It felt like it took an hour just to get our subs.  We drove over to the wildlife preserve and backed the car in so we could have a lovely view of the fields in front of us.  Yes, our date consisted of Subway eaten in the car.  But it was lovely.  It was impromptu.  It was time to catch up together.  I had to get back to my studying and he to his work.  But I enjoyed the time we did have.

I just HAVE to share this video I found on a friend’s blog.  Blogger has not been letting me post comments of my friend’s blogs.  Erin, if you see this tell Eric I have watched this over and over and laughed so hard!

Alright, I can’t embed the video and I don’t have time to mess with it any longer.  Go to Eric’s blog and scroll down to the Japanese binocular soccer.

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Please Help As You Are Able

April 22, 2010 at 2:06 pm (Raising Funds for J's Education) (, )

Now is the time again for me to ask if any of you can help with the cost of the education of a friend’s daughter.  She is a very bright girl and we are all proud of her accomplishments.  We will need to raise about $700 this year.  Even more would be better as the family covers the cost of books, supplies, uniform, field trips, etc.  I wire the money to the family.  I cover the cost of the wiring and any of the tuition that I am not able to raise the funds for.  I would like to offer you the opportunity to help in any way you can.  Each dollar helps.

I have not been very good at keeping up the blog I set up for this purpose, but if you would like more info, please take a look.

Here is the latest message from dad.  Recently the school system changed how they would be grading students and added an emphasis on extracurricular activities.  This change occurred at the very end of the term.  This bumped J down from the third position in her class to the fifth.  Her grades are fabulous, but this was obviously a disappointment for the family.  They are now adding more activities to J’s repertoire.

I just got earlier J’s grades. Over-all she got a general average of 92.55%. In [ .] she got 91.5%;Math has 92%; Science is 91.5%; other shcool subjects got 93%; and the most impressive of all is English which is 95%. In her math early grade she got 92% / 88% / 92% in the first three quarters. Just made it better in the last quarter which is 96%. In her English it is all good higher grades especially the third and fourth quarters. Diction was her best grade that has 98% and second is Language which is 97%. Funny because when I was young I never got grades like this. These are all impressive for me. That is why i am not frustrated even if J was in the 5th position. Though i know in my heart J can even be better if she will really work more harder. But I just let it all for J. I don’t want to pressure her. We had a family talk before just targeting again the third position next school year. If this will happen we promise her a little surprise. We’ll see this coming June as the new school year begins.

Once again we use the summer for J’s extra trainings. Last year she learn singing in the church here. And this year she wants keyboard. Her training started last Monday and this will last for three weeks here in the same church where we usually attend the services. Janet and i just let J to learn and improve more her talents. We understand that her school are now adding points to some activities. Hopefully, her talents will be recognize and this means higher grades.

Here in our house, outside, I made a badminton court. I just think that by teaching her how to play this game would also add points if recognized. At the same time … this could a fun time for the family.

We know all these things are happening because many people are praying for us especially for J. Thanks!!!

Enrollment is now ongoing in her school her teacher informed me.

Send me a message if you are able to help.  You can send funds via paypal to jdbougie1(at)msn(dot)com.

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Respite House Article

April 18, 2010 at 2:59 pm (Job Satisfaction, News) (, , )

The local paper did an article on the Respite House Josh supervises (more began and manages, but he is a supervisor in title).  It is really great to be able to offer a break for caregivers.,new-vrespite0416.article

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One Blow After Another

April 13, 2010 at 2:00 pm (Studies) ()

What a day yesterday was!

In the morning I found out I didn’t get that job I didn’t think I would get anyways.  Still depressing though.

Later I sent an email to get some clarification on some things about the certificate programme I intend to begin this fall.  The person I sent the email to called me to talk through some things.  I found out I had received some misinformation.  What I thought was going to be 8 week evening classes is true for the OTHER certificates, but not mine.  It will be normal 16 week classes, meeting 2-3 times per week during the day.  This makes it impossible for me to work full-time, tricky for part-time, and it doubles or triples my commuting expenses.  ALSO all of the classes have to be taken sequentially.  Meaning what I thought would be a one-year programme, is really going to be 2 years.  I really didn’t want to take that long to receive a certificate.  This also means that since I would not be able to take more than one class at a time, I would not qualify for FAFSA.  I would have to get a private loan, which would mean I would be paying on the loans while I am studying on less income because I would not be able to work full-time.  *sigh*

After this I get to my homework.  I have lots to do for class that night because I could not get how to do it every other time I tried to tackle it.  Our instructor insisted she already taught us this stuff and merely went over it as review.  So homework was an incredible struggle for me and I even had difficulty working problems I should know.

After class I asked the instructor if we will be able to squeeze everything in before the end of the course.  We are on the syllabus to cover 3 more chapters and take 3 exams in 3 weeks.  We are 2 weeks behind.  She responds, “Definitely not.  There is no way.”  I ask if I will be ready for calculus after this class because that was my intent.  She screws up her face and says, “I can’t think of a single thing in this class that would have you ready for calculus!  This is more for physics!”  When I enrolled I told them I needed a class to have me ready for calculus and this is what they said I needed to take.  I’m not really sure if she has her facts straight because no one else thought it odd that I was taking Trig to be ready for calculus.  But anyways…*sigh*

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Just one of those days…take it with a grain of salt.

April 12, 2010 at 5:55 pm (Employment, Job Satisfaction) (, , )

Feeling a bit down today…

I had an interview last week.  Fourth in six weeks.  Didn’t get that one either.  I was pretty sure there was someone else they already had in mind for the position, but Josh got me psyched up to blow them away in my interview.  I was reminded of all the difficult work I did in Chicago as a case manager for homeless individuals.  It was TOUGH WORK!  And I did a great job at it.  I was respected.  Workers from outside agencies referred to me.

It reminded me yet again that my potential is not reached in this position.

I applied for this same position in another agency.  She sounded like she was going to hire me until at the end of the 2 hour interview she asked me about my future plans.  She didn’t want to spend the time training me if I wasn’t planning to be a lifer.

I don’t plan to be in this type of work forever.  I AM going for a degree in a completely different field (unless I want to try to work with a think tank making policy, which is one of my considerations).  But while I am here, I don’t want to feel stuck, but I do.  The pay is low.  The job is entry level.  The schedule is getting to me.  I cannot have weekends off.  I have only one day off at a time. 

I am just stinkin’ tired of putting all of that effort into interviewing.  I am tired of hearing about how difficult of a decision it was and how qualified I am for this or that position.

I was just encouraged to interview for the position that is now open since the other person got the job.  The schedule is more crazy.  On call all the time.  But I am pretty sure the person hiring is going to hire another favourite. 

I spend so much of my free time looking for jobs.  I feel like I have run out of places to look.

I think I could stick with the position I am in, despite the low pay, if I could have a normal 9-5, weekends off schedule.

Summer is coming.  Will it be another year that goes by and we say, “I hope we will be able to enjoy NEXT summer.”

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A “Real Housewife” Switches Places With a Real Woman

April 8, 2010 at 9:20 pm (A Little Fun, Fun Videos) (, , , )

Yes, I have actually watched the Real Housewives.  It was during one of those 12 hour Saturdays at the group home and there was nothing to do and nothing else to watch.  First instinct is “ICK” and quickly change the channel as I am rolling my eyes.  Then I come back to it and linger a bit longer, disgusted at how some people live.  And then, whadayaknow, I watched how-many-hours-of-this-Housewives-marathon (while doing my other duties, of course). 

If you’ve never seen it, it is about rich housewives and all of their petty bickering and their shopping, vacationing, condo buying, house redecorating, car buying for their kids after saying they don’t get a car because of their grades, and the token charity fundraising.  The show follows a small group of women in various cities and they have become celebrities.  There’s The Real Housewives of New York, The Real Housewives of Orange County, and I think another but I forget.

One of these Housewives was on Rachael Ray yesterday (watching it with my client) and they showed video of her changing places with a single mom who holds down 2 jobs.  It was funny yet sad to see the starke contrast in lifestyle.  I was looking for video of the whole segment, but this is all I could find.  They left out the part where Ramona stares up the stairs to the 350 square foot walk-up apartment and says, “I have never been to a walk-up before.”  And even better is when she is going out to do the laundry and she struggles down the flights of stairs with the bag in her mini dress and high heels and just kicks the bag down each flight.  She takes a cab to the laundromat, which I doubt a struggling mom would do (by the way, Ramona took a limo to the apartment.  The single mom walked the whole way to Ramona’s condo).  At the laundromat Ramona says, “It would just be easier to PAY them to wash and fold the laundry!”  Hmmm…

At the end of the segment Ramona gifts some of her jewelry from her True Faith line to the single mom.  I thought the sweetest thing was when the mom said, “I like my life how it is.  I wouldn’t trade it” or something to that effect.

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April 8, 2010 at 1:15 pm (Visiting Church)

I attended THAT CHURCH again with my client.  Still no ‘hellos’ or anything.  I was dressed a little nicer, but still wore jeans. 

The sermon wasn’t as morally damning as the last one, but I still rolled my eyes through half of it.  He went from I John to I Peter, to Philippians, to Jeremiah, to John, and back to I John.  I couldn’t figure out what his topic was until he said, “And THIS is how you get your prayers answered, my brothers.”

Some quotes:

“We are thankful for a good service today.  We had many people here and a few of them got saved.”

“If you are going to have that IDIOT BOX in your house, I GUARANTEE, IIIII GUAAAARAAAANTEEEE…(pause for effect) your kids will be GIVEN TO THE DEVIL!”

“It says to love ‘THE BRETHEREN’  Not the WORLD!” (meaning the people)

“If you have SCOUNDRELS for friends, you will bring yourself into CONDEMNATION!”

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April Fool’s!!

April 1, 2010 at 3:02 pm (A Little Fun) (, , )

A friend of mine from Scotland actually believed this!  Gives a little glimpse into their views on Americans and their portion sizes.  😀

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A Two and a Half Year Journey

March 28, 2010 at 2:21 pm (Employment, Finances, Job Satisfaction) (, , , , )

After two years in Scotland we abruptly cut our stay short.  Josh was planning to work another year, then get started on his PhD.  He wasn’t originally planning to do PhD work, but his advisor talked him into it.  He was accepted to continue at U of E.  During our years of marriage this was the happiest I had seen him.  Though he was incredibly intimidated by the bright young minds he would be studying with and wasn’t sure if he could do it after being out of school for 5 years, he did very well and graduated with distinction.  He was also excited to continue his studies and began informal research for his thesis (dissertation is done for masters and thesis is done for doctorate in the UK).

But a couple of strange phone calls from Josh’s mom had us worried.  She sounded confused.  She thought we had secretly moved back to Chicago and didn’t tell her, even though she had made the international phone call to us.  She would call and hang up.  She was mad and we didn’t know why and wouldn’t talk to us for a while.  We talked with Josh’s siblings.  Their stories collaborated with ours, but they told us to continue on in Scotland, not to come home.  But she asked us if we would come home.

In just a matter of one or two weeks we decided that we would pick up and leave.  Josh’s sister would be home for part of the summer and we wanted to be there shortly after she left, thinking this would bring her comfort.  We decided that we would not look for jobs, but help care for my FIL who was invalid and could not communicate.

Things did not go as planned.  I purposely did not share what was going on on my blog out of respect.  I hid everything except small illusions to those close.  I will not share details, but I will tell you it was like living a Dicken’s novel for 3 months.  Even longer, after we moved out.

We were treated bad.  We were not even welcomed when we arrived.  After 3 months we decided we could not handle it any more.  I began having mini panic attacks whenever we were on the road to get back home.  I still do.  By that time we were kicked out.  We had to find a car (we were dependent on hers) and a place to live without any income.  We had to set up house again.  Since we had been in Scotland we had no cleaning supplies, no condiments, we had given many things away so we didn’t have to store them.

It took 2 months for us both to find work and it was only seasonal and part-time.  I worked a horrible 6 weeks at Target and Josh was at UPS.  That ran out and it took another month to find work.  I was part-time at Chase in Hobart, a 45 minute drive from where we were living, and Josh found work through a temp agency.  He worked cleaning carpets and sucking up flood water, being on-call 24/7 for $9/hr.  We had no life and gas was reaching toward $5/gal that year. 

The vehicle we purchased needed a new gas tank right away.  We didn’t realise it was leaking.  A few months later it needed a new transmission.  We were incredibly grateful to friends who had given us their old car.  And one that got 35 miles to the gallon!  Otherwise there is no way we both could have worked.

At the worst point of it all we were $13,000 in credit card debt.  It is not that we lived frivolously.  That is what it took for us to have a subsistence living.  We had to put everything, EVERYTHING on the cards.  We had three cards, which we had gotten intermittently.  When the 0% APR ran out on one, we got another.  When I started work at Chase I applied for another.  Being an employee, this gave me 18mos no APR.

With Josh doing so much overtime we were able to start paying down some of the debt.  Little by little.  Something would always happen and push us back a bit.  It was such a sickening feeling that our wages were hardly livable and even though we put everything we had on those credit cards, they only went down hundreds a month.  I quit reading articles on saving money and cutting spending because they were absolutely ridiculous to me.  They talked about getting rid of certain cell phone packages.  We were only paying $10 each on my dad’s account!  They talked about going out to eat only once a week.  Are you kidding?  Going out to eat?  What was that?!  They said to get rid of certain cable or satellite TV packages.  We have never even had a TV.  The articles were useless to me.

We were so very thankful for my mom’s friend who had given us a temporary place to stay for VERY cheap!  There is no way we could have gotten an apartment with no jobs.  But that was just it.  It was temporary.  She had it on the market and every time they showed it we were nervous.   We ended up staying there 8 months and she decided to take it off the market, but they were going to let their son and his family live there.

So we had to move…again.  And we had to by furniture, because we had nowhere to sit.

At least we were both closer to work.  Just a 15 minute drive for me now and Josh walked.  I would sometimes walk with him.  It was a very good situation for us and we wished we had done it sooner.

But before we moved we had mentioned the idea to my parents about maybe buying a house together.  One with related living or something where we could live in a separate part of the house and we all could maintain our privacy.  We found a house and 3 months after our move to the apartment we moved..again.

Though we did not have our cards paid down, we still had excellent credit (mine was 810!).  We needed money to put down and for closing costs, so for a few months we only paid a little more than the minimum on the cards so we could have cash in the bank.  So that set us back a bit again.

When we moved in we thought the area that would be our bedroom would be ok for the time being.  But it was like being in a cave.  It was a dark hole and cold air gushed in from the tiny 3 foot closet.  It was November and SAD would be kicking in.  Josh was now a one hour drive from a job he absolutely hated and we were both depressed about him having to work it.  He was promised a promotion and it was given to a family member.  This being the last straw he asked me if he could quit, despite not having something else lined up.  I was happy for him to quit, but now we were just living on my part-time income.  We purchased our first house, but things were still depressing.

Josh put out resume after resume.  The only place that responded was a sandwich shop that had just opened.  He would be a delivery driver.  Problem was, there were 20 positions and they hired 55 people, thinking most would not show up.  All of them did.  Did they remember what kind of economy this was?  So he worked 10 hours a week.

In December I got a new job.  A full-time one.  Josh applied as well, but they didn’t want to hire him because he was over qualified.  He applied for another position that opened up during my orientation and got it.  The pay was still incredibly low, especially for someone who was going to be starting up a whole new program.  He was promised 2 raises within the first year.  He got one after a year. 

So back to the bedroom.  It was too dark and depressing for us and we didn’t even have room for our clothes.  There was no way to tidy because we had piles of clothes that had nowhere to go.  We already had plans for a new bedroom, a new kitchen (we don’t have one in our living area), and to make the half bath a full bath.  Josh’s brother does construction work and work was very slow for him.  So rather than saving up to begin the work, we wanted to give him some work.  We just did the bedroom and we are so glad we did.  We shifted it so now it had two windows rather than one.  We made the walls completely white and with a light tile.  It made a world of different as far as sunlight.  We also make a larger closet.  Still not huge, but we got rid of bags of clothes and can now fit ALL of our seasonal clothes in the closet.

So that was another thing that set us back.  And there are always car problems.  We have never had a car younger than 12 years until recently when my parents gave us their 2000 Impala.  (Yes, if you were counting we now have 3 cars.  But one is parked in the garage and is used for hauling and camping trips)  And now that we are home-owners there are problems that come up.  And of course, now that we have an acre of land I could no longer put off my dreams of having a garden.  As much as Josh practically begged me to wait a year, I could not and it brought me so much joy last year.

So that has been our journey and I shared all of this to say, we are now no longer slaves to the credit cards.  This last pay we were finally able to make the full payment on our last card.  It will still be a month before we can actually put money in the bank because I think our employer was not taking out what they were supposed to in taxes and we now owe $1000.  And I had to pay nearly $1000 for my heart issues but the bills keep coming.  I am hoping they have stopped.

It is such a relief to no longer be under that cloud.  We have denied so much to ourselves (though at times we have given in, too) so that we could get that paid off.  And we have not been able to make certain decisions about work because we have been so reliant on that income.  I have been wanting a Kitchen Aid or Cuisinart 11 cup  food processor since our early days of marriage and once we have a kitchen I may be able to get one!  🙂

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A Visit To A Church

March 22, 2010 at 6:48 pm (Visiting Church) (, )

When I arrived at my client’s apartment she informed me that she wanted to go to the evening service at her church.  I worked with her last Sunday.  I knew she went to church in the morning, but I didn’t know she liked to go in the evening.  I looked down at myself.  I was dressed in jeans which I had been outgrowing and a loose fitting button down top with a shabby sweater.  I was dressed to stay in for the night.  I knew which church she went to very well.  Not that I had ever visited, but I spent some of my early years in a similar tradition and my parents had friends in this tradition.  I remember being told to change into a skirt because one of these friends was coming over and they did not want to offend him.

My first thought was, “Oh, gosh.  I’m not even wearing dress pants, let alone a DRESS!”  Then I thought, “Well, we’ll see how they treat me.”  All they would know is that I am staff.  I was required to be there for work.

This church is a fairly large church.  I already knew that, but when I walked into the church I thought, “Where do all these people come from?  I mean, why do so many people CHOOSE to go here?”  It is a fundamentalist baptist church.  Very strong in their beliefs, I will give them that.  But I think it is safe to say that most of the time they do not actually think about WHY they believe what they do.

We walked through the church to find a place to sit.  I with my head held high looked people directly in the eye.  Or tried to.  If someone accidentally glanced in my direction I smiled, but they looked away.  At least the kids smiled at me.

When we were singing I was thinking about how it probably blew someone’s mind away to see a sinner like me wearingn jeans and lacking puffy bangs to be singing hymns.

The pastor began with the verse (not passage, just the verse) in Philippians that goes: He humbled Himself and made Himself obedient to death, even the death of the cross.  He pulled one word from this verse: obedience.  He chose to use this verse to talk about obedience.  The obedience of children to their parents, wife to her husband, husband to God.  When he began this I moaned from within and thought that there were so many more profound and deeply spiritual things he could have drawn out from this passage. 

He proceeded to jump around from verse to verse all over the Bible pulling out little phrases that worked for his message, screaming out a word or two hear and there just to make sure you are awake.

About 20 minutes into the sermon the pastor stopped and shouted out, “Will you stop looking over there?!  John is sick, but HE IS SAVED!  He has a heart problem and he got saved!  He was supposed to die one year later but he is still alive after 8 years!  You all need to stop looking over there and listen to this sermon!  You NEED to HEAR THIS SERMON!  You are RUINING your time in CHURCH TODAY!”  I had no idea what was going on.  I thought the pastor was the one ruining things.  All I could guess was that someone with a heart condition must have had to call an ambulance and people were concerned about what was going on outside the windows.  It ticked me off that the pastor was more concerned about his sermon than someone who could be scared and in pain and for the family who may lose a loved one that night.

The message proceeded and the pastor talked about how kids are supposed to obey their parents no matter one.  It is rebelious for them to ask ‘why’ and for a parent to answer the question only brought on more rebellion and disobedience to God.  I snickered at his examples of rebellious kids smoking and drinking.  I think these people live in a very small world.  And when I shared this with Josh his reaction was, “Right, cuz those are listed as some of the 7 deadliest sins, aren’t they?”  😉

Then he rants on about how wives need to be obedient to their husbands, even if their husbands ask them to do something immoral.

I did give him credit that he continued on to the husbands (appearantly his wife complained that he always finishes with the wives) and his responsibility to keep his house in order and to love his wife.

And then there was the alter call and the baptism for those who “got saved” while their church members were out “door to door soul winning” the day before.

And as we left not one person said hello to me.

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I just.don’

March 22, 2010 at 6:17 pm (Healthcare)

I am not one that likes to stir the waters or rock the boat, but healthcare is one thing that really gets my blood boiling.  I just cannot understand how it is fair for people who cannot afford the skyrocketing prices of healthcare to remain untreated or to die because they are poor.  Or to even be able to maintain or prevent issues from arising because they do not have the money to see a doctor.  Even a well built house will eventually turn into shambles when the owner cannnot affort upkeep.  In the end it will cost even more to repair the damage.

I cannot understand how people can be so heated against doing any kind of healthcare reform.  It really blows my mind away.  It seems incredibly small minded to me.  I am not trying to be insulting with that statement.  I just CANNOT understand it.  I personally knew a person who died because she did not see a doctor for pain she was having since they did not have health insurance.  Once her husband’s employer’s insurance kicked in she went to see the doctor and was diagnosed with cancer and died within weeks.  It would have been treatable had they caught it weeks earlier.

We have been working hard over the last 2 1/2 years to pay off a debt we incurred after moving back to the States.  We will finally for the first time in years have money to put in the bank next month.  We could have had this debt paid off more than six months ago if we didn’t have to pay what we do for insurance.  And our insurance isn’t even that good.  Now we are paying off expenses from the issue with my high blood pressure (which was work related but cannnot be a workman’s comp claim, but that is another post about labor law) and the bills keep coming in.

It just boggles my mind to see so much resistance and hostility.

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February 17, 2010 at 7:16 pm (Employment, Job Satisfaction, working midnights) ()

I had every intention of talking about our Chicago mini-vacation today (it was a good time!) as this is the only day I have the afternoon off, but I just got word that this is my last week (Friday) at the group home and there are no other positions at other group homes open.  I will be transfered to a department which would not be my first choice as a DSP.  Good news is I will not be working midnights, though they are always in need of midnight people and I might get asked to do them. 

So now instead of uploading pictures and such, I will be looking intently through job listings and trying to remember agencies I can look up.  If anyone has any suggestions for NW Indiana and Chicago, I will take them!

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February 8, 2010 at 9:12 pm (Healthcare, Job Satisfaction, working midnights) (, , , , )

After such an amazingly normal time off I went back to HR with my release note and the recommendation from the doctor that I not work midnights.  I was hopeful after the communication I had with HR last week that I could just be transfered to a position that only worked days.

Well, it didn’t work out that way.  I was told they did not have to accommodate the restriction and if I didn’t want to work midnights they MIGHT be able to transfer me to another group home or I would have to find another position available and apply for it.

I have spent the last week looking for other positions.  Right now I feel like I would take almost anything.  I am looking in Chicago because it seems like my chances would be better there, but to make the commute worth it I would have to require a higher wage than I am making now (which is pretty low, so it wouldn’t be too hard).  Anyone know of anything???

It would be a dream if I could find someone working in statistics that would be willing to hire someone aspiring to work in statistics, but doesn’t yet have the education or experience and let me shadow and train.  I would be willing to take a low pay for the experience and to just be able to get right into the field I am dying to get into.  But like I said, that would just be a dream.  People don’t do that anymore.

I’m looking at hospitals and universities.  But even secretary or clerk positions require experience and certifications.

I found a perfect fit as a resource specialist at a hospital, right in line with something I did in Chicago!  But I couldn’t even advance to the application because I don’t speak Spanish.  😦  I had hoped they would let me learn.

So I am technically released to work, but since I wasn’t on the schedule I am forced to use vacation time for today and probably tomorrow.  Wednesday we start our mini vacation!  The idea of our holiday is a little less thrilling to me now that I don’t know what kind of a job, IF I will have a job when I come back.

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To Feel Normal Again

February 7, 2010 at 3:10 am (Healthcare, Job Satisfaction, working midnights) (, , , )

Tuesday I saw the doctor about my blood pressure.  I had gotten off my midnight at 9am and had to stay up for the appointment at 10:45.  My BP was high, but not dangerous.  Still, the doctor was concerned enough to put me on medical leave until I had some tests and she re-evaluated the situation in a week.  I had an EKG in the office and had to schedule and echocardiogram and some lab work.  I will also have to wear a heart monitor for a month, but that has not come yet.  The hospital waited 2 days to phone my insurance about it and they have still not heard from my insurance company.  Sure would be easier if everything were centralized, but anyways…

After my appointment I went to HR to turn in my doctor’s note and phone my boss.  Then I spent an hour on the phone talking to 3 different departments at the hospital to set the appointment, pre-register for my heart monitor, and pre-register for the echo and lab work, each one separately, each one requiring my name, address, insurance info, work info, and Josh’s work info.  *sigh*

Then I had to run over to the hospital to turn in the order for my heart monitor (did I mention that has not arrived yet?).  As I was driving away from the hospital I was making a tight turn and ran into broken, jagged curb which I found out a day later had punctured the tire wall and we now need new tires.  *argh!*  Just one hour before I found the flat I recieved a call from the hospital stating that my portion of the echo would be $600 and would I be able to pay it tomorrow?  There go our hopes of paying off our debt this month.

I didn’t finally get to sleep until about 3pm.  I was up for longer than 24 hours on just a few hours of sleep after the previous midnight.

On the day I found the flat tire I was actually on my way to a mandatory staff meeting.  It was one hour and it wasn’t actual work.  It was mandatory so I thought I should still go.  At the meeting no one looked at me.  No one talked to me.  I felt like a peon.  After I got home I got a call from HR saying “You can’t do that!”  My boss had called HR (after the meeting) and said she just didn’t know what to do when I arrived, that she didn’t want to just send me home.  I think I would have preferred that she send me home.  Or she could have said, “I’m not sure you can be here on medical leave.  Let me phone someone.”  I didn’t care to be there anyways.  And I felt like an idiot.

So it was a rough week, but it has also been a wonderful week.  I feel like I have my life back.  I feel like a normal human being again.  I feel happiness and contentment and I have a desire to do the things I enjoy and I have energy to do household duties.  I hadn’t realised the extent of what these last 6 months had done to me.  In retrospect I was the frog in the pot of water as it got hotter and hotter, not fully realising it had been at boiling point for some time.  It was like I was in a cave with a candle, watching the flame grow dimmer and dimmer, not fully realising that my oxygen had been running out.  I now feel like a thick, heavy, dark cloud has been lifted from me.  I can see.  I can breathe.

and i DON’T WANT to go BACK!

I have spent hours scouring adds.  I filled in applications.  I feel desparate.

On Monday I will see the doctor again and she will be able to tell me if my BP problem is acute or if it has been going on longer than I thought.  I have be monitoring my BP and it has dropped way back down to normal since Tuesday.  I notified HR that my doctor may conclude that this is a work related issue and she may not clear me to work midnights (please, oh please!).  Later I recieved a call from HR saying that while the agency is required to accomodate the restriction, my boss is not willing to.  Though I was told when I was hired that I would not be working midnights and I worked my first 6 months only doing about 3 midnights, it would not be possible now.  But may be day positions available in our workshop.  I have also applied for a group home manager position and may interview for that next week.  We will see what happens.  But right now I feel like the stress and awfullness of the last 6 months has come fully to it’s head and I feel emotionally like I want to just lay flat on my back and stare at the ceiling, exhausted.  I don’t WANT to return to work.

We do start a mini vacation on Wednesday.  So I may be back to work 2 days (if they can fit me into the schedule) and then be off for another 5.  We really need it.

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One Side Effect of the Graveyard Shift

January 31, 2010 at 3:26 am (Healthcare, Job Satisfaction) (, )

Those of you who are my friends on Facebook have seen many status updates about my high blood pressure and have expressed your concern.  I have been concerned as well!  Let me say first that I do have an appointment to see a doctor this coming Tuesday. 

I feel that my high bp is related to my working midnights.  My normal bp is usually something like 112/74.  I began to be concerned a few weeks ago when I couldn’t sleep because my heart was racing while I was trying to sleep after a midnight.  After laying in bed for 2 hours I reached over for my phone and took my pulse.  It was 128 and my heart felt like it was going to jump out of my chest!  I started recording my bp before and after a midnight.  It was always around 130/85 after the midnight and I’ve noticed more recently that it has been a little more elevated than usual even on my non-midnight days.

A couple of weeks ago I went to get a refill on my contraceptives.  The appointment happened to be just after getting off a midnight.  The nurse took my bp 3 times.  It was something crazy like 180/88.  I just happened to have my log with me and showed her that it is always elevated after I work a midnight (though not that high).  She was going to withhold my prescription but because of the log she consulted the Dr. and she gave me a one month prescription for the medication I had one month previous with the understanding I would see a GP.  I had to switch my medication earlier to something I could get cheaper at Wal-Mart since my insurance doesn’t cover it (dang you health insurance!).

Since that insanely high bp I have been much more concerned, even afraid to get my heart rate up.  I have been concerned for years about my heart fluttering and now I have no idea what my heart is going to do.  To top it off I went to the Mayo website to look at possible issues with high bp and found things like heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and problems with memory and understanding.  And once a bp reaches 180/120 for your brain to swell, tearing in heart’s main artery, and fluid in lungs.

The last time I took my bp after a midnight it was 168/99.

I have a crazy schedule again this week, for the third week in a row.  I start a midnight Sunday, 10p-9am.  I can sleep for a few hours before I have to get up, shower, and study for my exam for class at 6pm.  I go straight to work, 9pm-9am.  I have a Dr appointment at 10:45am.  I’ll be able to sleep a little longer if I don’t want to see Josh for the second day in a row before I go to work 9pm-9am.  I get to sleep a little over 2 hrs before I have to go back to work for a mandatory meeting at 1pm.  Needless to say, my bp will be high for the appointment.

Some people can handle working midnights better than me, but most people who have done it for years say they have never gotten used to it.  It stinks!  And if you are an employer I strongly advise you to offer your midnight workers a shift differential because of the inconvenience and added health risks associated to working midnights.  I am gobsmacked that an agency such as ours does not offer a differential.

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