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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