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  • Archive of "changes" Category

    Wondering what is next

    December 9, 2009 // 1 Comment »

    Posted in blogs, changes

    I spend a lot of time thinking the phrase “I should blog about this”.

    I should blog about my extended family’s Thanksgiving and how I’m not sure where I fit into everything. Or rather, how I’m not sure how I fit into the extended Bio-Fam or the extended Adopted-Fam, but at least I know where I fit in with my in-laws.

    I should blog about church planting and how it is much harder than I thought it would be and much easier than I thought it would be (but for different reasons).

    I should blog about the attempts to make Christmas at our house, now that Brian and I are finally on our own. I should blog about the important lessons I learned by not giving scathing commentary on Brian’s Christmas preferences during our Black Friday shopping excursion.

    Oh, and I should blog about why I decided to venture out on Black Friday (for the first time ever as a consumer).

    I should do a lot of blogging.

    But I’m out of the habit. Moving into our home through off my routines. Getting sick obliterated what was left of those routines. Usually it is insanely difficult for me to break any habit but in this case, it slipped away very quickly.

    So maybe I’m changing directions with where I’m taking this blog. Maybe it will be permanent, maybe just a passing transition. Because I do miss it, but I’m overwhelmed and scattered and I feel like I can make no promises at the moment of what my content will be in the future. I don’t want to create expectations that I cannot meet.

    How to name a cat

    September 21, 2009 // 9 Comments »

    Posted in adoption, changes, home life

    Over lunch at Panera a few weeks ago, my husband started questioning my ideal cat names. Usually, this is a topic he avoids like the plague because it ultimately ends with my relentless questioning of his ideal baby names but somehow, we plod through it without mocking each other too much.
    I like names with character, names that are quirky. I think a name shapes a creature’s identity – a generic name would therefore lead to a life with a generic creature. I lean towards names like Roark (from Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead) or Mercutio or Puck. I like names that make my well read friends smile and my other friends say “what an unusual name!” One of my suggestions with Pierpont, as in J. Pierpont Finch from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (one of my favorite musicals ever) but that was met with an embarrassing snort bursting out of my husband’s face so clearly, Pierpont was off the list.

    Naming a pet is a bizarre process. I guess it might be a little easier if you buy a kitty from a pet store or a breeder but Brian and I love the animal rescue route. Which means the newest addition to your family was recently the newest temporary addition to someone else’s family and that foster family has given your precious kitty a name.

    My parents recently adopted a kitten from the SPCA who had named the kitten “Fang”. Fang. As in “I’m a vampire and I have a Fang”. Weird. “Fang” was quickly changed to “Alex” but then there were questions about “Alex” so it became “Sir Alex Meowsalot”. Ultimately, it was decided that the whole naming process was just too hasty and after much thought and deliberation Fang/Alex/Sir Alex Meowsalot became Pippin and then normally patient vet realized that my parents were nuts as they kept calling to change the name for the appointment that was made via vet telemedicine software.

    The name you chose for your kitten says a lot about you as a person. Are you a crazy cat lady who names her kitten names like “Whiskers” or “Paws” or “Tiger”? Are you the person who is trying to meet your human needs with a cat so you name the cat something like “Pete” or “Sally” or “Ralph”? Maybe you are the sarcastic teenager who thinks it is very funny to name the cat “Cat” but in another language (FYI: Kissa is Finnish for cat). Ultimately, our cat name would reveal more about our hidden quirks and tendencies than the contents of our medicine cabinet.

    After our lunch, we made our way over to pet store to see who was up for adoption on a Sunday afternoon. In the car, my husband started telling me a secret trip he made the day before to the pet store where he saw a black behemoth of a kitten. The kind of kitten that you look at and realize that you’ll need to feed it a small dog each morning for breakfast because kitten food is just not going to cut it. The kind of kitten that is one part adorable and one part panther escaped from the wild. Of course, my husband instantly loved this cat until he saw the name on the cage. “Twilight”. Like “I’m in love with a sparkly vampire”.

    This was not the small dog eating kitty my husband dreamt of owning. Somewhere out there, a teenage girl desperately wanted a black cat named Twilight.

    As always, we kept our expectations low. Or my husband did. I was too busy falling in love with a black four month old kitten named Oliver.

    I just pretend I’m not a lunatic

    June 23, 2009 // 1 Comment »

    Posted in changes, Home Buying, home life, marriage

    In an older home, I expect there to be bugs. I’m not talking about a complete infestation but I try to remember that over time, things settle and cracks form and bugs find their way in. But that’s okay because for the most part they don’t harm anyone and it is good motivation to keep a clean home because it will keep the bugs away for the most part.

    They won’t stay if they cannot find food.

    Since we bought a home built over 90 years ago, I thought I’d be well prepared for what was to come. Every time Brian ripped out a piece of baseboard to replace it, I expected to see bugs scurrying away. But there were none.

    Never saw a single insect.

    I expected to find bugs in the basement. I expect to find nasty yucky creatures behind the oil tank when it was replaced. Once again, nothing.

    I was lucky. I was happy. Despite the volume of work my home required, I did not have bugs. This was the good life and this was my dream home.

    So we moved in and on our first night in our new home I’m about to climb into bed with my dear sweet husband who provided me with this glorious house. And then I notice something on the floor and I go to pick it up and throw it out. It is dark in color and about an inch long.

    It moves. And I fight the urge to scream my head off because we have friends staying with us and I don’t want them to think I’m a dirty person who lives in a bug infested house.

    Instead I leap on top of the bed with the force and speed of an Olympic athlete, grab a hold of a very confused Brian and whisper frantically “it’s a bug, BRIAN, it’s a bug”.

    Brian calmly gets out of bed and beats the insect with his sock until it scurries out of the room and through a crack in the wall in the hallway while I do the full body shudder like a small baby with a developing nervous system.

    Then panic sets in. Because the truth of the matter is that I can expect to find bugs in my home but that doesn’t change the fact that I am terrified of bugs.

    Suddenly my mind is racing and my mouth is struggling to keep up with the words spewing forth. “It must a cockroach. It has to be a cockroach. Of course we didn’t have any little bugs, the cockroach was eating the little bugs for survival. But I learned in my food and safety class that there is never just one…”

    “I don’t think it was a cockroach” Brian attempts to interject.

    “…cockroach. There are always multiple cockroaches. Multiple. Brian, I think our walls are filled with cockroaches and now we live in squalor. Do you think your dad will let us move back in with him?”

    “I really don’t think it was a cockroach…”

    “We’re now the dirty people, Brian. We’re living in my dream house and it’s filled with cockroaches and bugs and WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO? We don’t have money for an exterminator! We just bought a house! What were we thinking?!?!”

    “I’ll lay some traps tomorrow. I don’t think it was a cockroach. It’s going to be fine.”

    “I don’t think you understand the gravity of the situation.”

    “I’m going to bed now.”

    Moral of the story: Don’t have house guests the first night you sleep in your new place. You can’t scream your head off like the lunatic you actually are when a giant insect tries to escape your insanity.

    Specter: The Dems Can Have Him

    April 29, 2009 // 5 Comments »

    Posted in changes, politics

    I’m not a fan of Arlen Specter. He’s out of touch. He ignores his constituents. He sends the wrong form letters. He cares more about his corporate campaign contributors than the people who voted for him. He is unable to answer any questions about what he is doing to help his Gen Y constituents.

    I wasn’t one of them. He is my arch nemesis after all.

    Still, I was thrilled that he jumped the Republican Party ship yesterday. Good. Good riddance to bad rubbish. The Democrats can have him. (Please note: I am a registered Libertarian but there is a small part of me that hopes and dreams that one day, the Republican Party could return to what it really stands for and then we could have a three party system.)

    The only way this could possibly be better is if he didn’t get reelected.

    What Specter is doing now is a last ditch effort to stay in office. Pat Toomey is going to get that Republican nomination in the primary. Because no self respecting Republican would have voted for Specter. And after thirty years in the Senate, Specter had to have known the fat lady was singing his song.

    This had nothing to do with your best interests. That’s right. Nothing to do with you. You might his constituent. You might need your senator’s help. He does not care. This had everything to do with him desperately clinging to his political life as a feeble, 79 year old man.

    If I was the Democratic Party, I would turn him away. I would be raising questions about his ability to make strong, effective decisions in the Senate. I would be wondering if he would be able to understand the world around him and the long term impact of his decisions on others. I would be asking his doctor for proof that dementia isn’t setting in.

    But here’s the important part: Whether you are a Democrat, a Republican, a Libertarian or an Independent, you don’t have to vote for him.

    Just because he’s been around for a while does not mean that you have to participate in his ineffective politics any longer. Just because he has been in the Senate for 29 years does not mean that he has wisdom and insight. Just because he kept getting reelected before doesn’t mean you have to continue to vote for him now.

    The message Senator Specter needs to hear from us, from his constituents, is that we will continue to hold him to standards. We will continue to have expectations of what his performance should look like. We will hold him accountable for his actions. Changing parties will not liberate him from accountability.

    If anything, he needs to be held to a higher, more consistent standard. If anything, he needs to know that if he fails us, if he fails the voters, we will fire him. We will vote for Pat Toomey, not only in a primary but in the general election. We will seriously consider 3rd party candidates. We will no longer take what he says at face value. We will ask him tough questions and we will expect him to have honest answers.

    And at night, I dream we’ll elect politicians who haven’t penned garbage like the Magic Bullet Theory.

    10 weeks later: I cry

    April 27, 2009 // 4 Comments »

    Posted in challenges, changes, family life

    My grandfather once tried to teach me not to cry.

    “Doie”, using his childhood nickname for me, “when you are dead and gone, you are just that. Dead and gone. Crying won’t bring you back so don’t cry when I’m gone.”

    Of course, I cried when he was gone. And he was right. Crying did not raise him from the dead, nor did it further cement him in my mind.

    All crying did was make my eyes burn until I was all cried out. Or maybe I was just so dehydrated, my body found it to be physically impossible to cry any more.

    Either way, I didn’t really cry for six weeks even though I needed to cry. Sometimes a single sob would escape my mouth but I could not sustain it. There were no more tears to give.

    I couldn’t cry if my life depended on it. I wanted to cry, I just couldn’t remember how to do it.

    I didn’t cry when I read his obituary in the local newspaper and saw my name on the list of his survivors. And I didn’t feel like I was surviving.

    I didn’t cry when my fingers touched the laminated prayer card I kept in my purse that my mother gave me before the memorial service.

    I didn’t cry when we divided his belongings amongst us, looking like vultures but feeling like the desperate who needed to cling to a memory.

    Instead, I finally cried in a mall food court like a raving lunatic on a beautiful , sunny Saturday afternoon. I cried so hard, I freaked out a little boy in a Little League uniform at the table next to me. He, in turn, burst into tears and spilled his chocolate milk all over himself.

    No one else seemed to notice. No one else seemed to care.

    He still didn’t come back even though my mouth tasted like a peculiar form of grief I had not discovered earlier.

    Time had moved forward as time often does. While physically, I moved forward, emotionally, I stopped on February 19th. Since then, I merely went through the motions. It was all just make believe.

    Sitting in a consumer wasteland, the truth of the matter was realized.

    I am so over my commute

    April 17, 2009 // 2 Comments »

    Posted in changes, money, priorities, work life

    It wasn’t so bad when I first started this job. I was still living at home with my parents and my office was only 10 miles from home. Actually, it was a nice little ride to the office. I could rock out in the car to Say Anything or clear my mind and do some much needed thinking.

    I even planned most of my wedding during my commute home, catching up with vendors that I could not reach during the day.

    But then I moved in with my husband. Which was great because living with your spouse is always better than not living with your spouse. Until I realized I was now 16 miles from work. And 16 miles from work actually meant that I had a 45 to 60 minute commute to work.

    This meant that I was spending as much as 10 hours of my life each week getting to and from work.

    Now that we’ve moved to Bristol, I’m twenty miles from work. And now I spend more like 12 hours a week in the car commuting.

    Even writing about the commute makes my stress level go up. It gives me an overwhelming urge to only use run-on sentences, minimal punctuation but with additional exclamation points and a need to scream my head off and give someone the bird.

    Maybe driving isn’t as relaxing as it used to be.

    Commuting was kind of fun when I first started. In a weird way, it made me feel more like an adult. Sort of like it did when I paid the first health insurance bill. Except now, I’m very grateful for health insurance whereas I’m not so sure I’m grateful for my commute.

    When I get home from work at night, I like to walk around the Boro and fantasize about a life without a commute to work. At first that looked like me being a stay at home wife while Brian went out and obtained lots of Benjamin’s for us but then after a while, I started to imagine him in a suit and tie with briefcase in hand and that sort of destroyed everything I love about my husband. Now I fantasize about waking up and either walking or biking to work. I imagine going out my back door, getting my bike and heading down Spring Street to a job that does not have business casual as a description in its dress code.

    I have small town dreams these days.

    Jumping in without Swimmies

    March 13, 2009 // 4 Comments »

    Posted in blogs, changes, choices, community

    I think I was possessed on Sunday morning. I was chatting with Kathrin Ivanovic at The Well and for some reason, I burst out with “I think I’m ready to come back from my blogging break”.

    Really? Really, Dorie? After two and a half weeks of a break, you’re ready to come back?

    I must be possessed. Because I’m really not sure that I am ready. But I’m also not sure I’ll ever be completely ready. I still don’t know what the changes in my life mean for me or for my family.

    Now the question has become “Is not blogging still helping me figure things out and process this change?” Not so much.

    If anything it is just throwing me off.

    After my declaration to Kathrin, I panicked. Performance anxiety? Maybe. Maybe I had been secretly hoping for some big, profound return where I would write something that was earth shatteringly brilliant and then I could pat myself on the back for returning. But earth shatteringly brilliant ideas don’t come to me while I am on staycation and watching way too much DIY network.

    Earth shatteringly brilliant ideas come when I’m interacting, when I’m communicating, when I live somewhere outside of my own head. Those ideas happen in the midst of community.

    I spent a week on staycation and now I’m starting to get back into the swing of things. I’m trying to be a person again. My staycation didn’t quite go as planned. When I scheduled it, my plan was to have a one woman writing boot camp – I was going to flesh out the ideas on my personal post to do list and see where it takes me. I was going to be totally blissed out and learning and growing as a writer.

    Instead, I grieved. The extent of my writing was a much needed gratitude list. I took long baths. I listened to Patsy Cline. I baked favorite treats. I hid. I turned off the outside world (okay, I was still on twitter but the burst of 140 characters was not taxing). And while it was very good and very needed to do those things, I missed community by the end of it. I felt disconnected.

    It turned into a battle to not blog but when I verbally announced my return, I freaked out. Was I even ready for this? If someone left a negative comment for me, would I be able to take it in stride or would I turn to the comfort of homemade baked goods? If no one left a comment for me, would I take it as a personal rejection? Was I even in a place where I could be vulnerable and open again?

    So on Monday, I started looking at all of the blogging I missed. I caught up on a few favorites like a little kid sticking one big toe in the deep end of the pool, fearful but knowing I really wanted to be in the water. On Tuesday, I let my feet dangle in the water by responding to a few emails. On Wednesday and Thursday, I started commenting again, holding on to brief interaction with others like an inner tube. And today, I’m in the water. I’m kicking. I’m keeping my head up. I am not drowning.

    It’s a little scary coming back but soon my hair will be green like an over chlorinated kid on the last day of summer.

    Define Family

    February 26, 2009 // 2 Comments »

    Posted in adoption, changes, family life, marriage, relationships

    For the last few months, I’ve been thinking a lot about blended families. I grew up in a blended family. My father is not my bio father. My mother is my biological mother. I was raised by my grandparents. And then I was raised by my mom and dad but not bio dad. And then I was adopted.

    It gets confusing.

    But I’m not the only one in this situation.

    I would tell you that the face of a typical American family is changing but the truth of the matter is the face of the typical American family has not existed for years. I hope I am not telling you anything you had not heard or experienced before.

    As the composition of families change, many of us are going to have to reevaluate our definitions of families. Does a family consist solely of a husband, a wife and at least one child? How do adopted children fit into our ideas of family? Can step parents be included in our definition of family while excluding bio parents? Can grandparents realistically double as parents? Is there really such a thing as immediate family versus extended family? Can a couple constitute a family unit? Does gender or sexual orientation matter when we talk about family structure?

    As we struggle to answer these questions within the context of our own lives, we will also find that many companies will have to do the same thing. But, the upside is that as Gen X and Gen Y rise through the ranks of their organizations, their home life experience will have a large impact on how these definitions are shaped. We grew up in a world where these questions had to be asked. And while our Baby Boomer friends may have created that world, they never had to face the repercussions.

    And really, that benefits all of us.

    Passing On: my introduction to death and dying

    February 19, 2009 // 5 Comments »

    Posted in changes, faith, family life, love

    Dorie and Gampy
    Dorie and Gampy

    If you’ve been following along here for a while, you may have noticed that my grandfather has not been doing well. It’s been breaking my heart to see him suffer.

    As a loved one, it feels next to impossible to make difficult decisions during the end of life. Sometimes honoring their wishes means making insanely painful decisions. Sometimes it means watching and feeling helpless.
    After five years of struggle, my grandfather let go this morning and passed. I’m filled with a strange mixture of grief and relief. While I am so grateful that his suffering is over, I realize that I am now starting the next phase of my life and I do not have his wisdom next to me to directly guide me through this.
    I am so very, very grateful to have had 26 good years with my grandfather. He was more than a grandfather to me: he was my best friend, my mentor, my teacher. Grandfather became a term that was severely inadequate to describe all that he was in my life. At some point over the years, “Grandpa” was shortened to “Gampy” and that name somehow seems most fitting.
    I am grateful for a grandfather who helped me when I was small with my homework. He encouraged my curiousity about the world around me. He humored my experiments in making peanut butter in a blender when we ran out of Skippy (we never did perfect that recipe).  He took me bike riding at Core Creek Park after Summer Theatre in the afternoons. He never just told me “no” or “because I said so” – he explored the why with me and encouraged me to ask tough questions of my surroundings. I will always look back with fond memories of times when he taught me about physics while also teaching me about world history (he was a pilot in the Civil Air Patrol so it works better than most people realize). He taught me about the importance of being mindful of current events while always remembering the past (by the way, he was not a fan of the current economic stimulus plan). He gave me his car when I graduated from college to give me a head start in my adult life.
    My Gampy taught me about how to give and receive unconditional love. He instilled a strong Protestant work ethic in me. He gave me a dry sense of humor (not very useful in a small child but I wouldn’t trade it for anything now). He made Patsy Cline, Glenn Miller and Ella Fitzgerald into the sweetest lullabies. He offered forgiveness freely and unwavering faith in my abilities and place in the world.
    I was blessed to spend a quiet, undisturbed hour with him last night that I will always cherish. I know when he slipped away, it was peaceful and quiet. It was with dignity. It was with grace. While I ache now, I am grateful that in the end his wishes were honored.
    ‘ll be taking a little break from blogging. I’m not quite sure how long it will be. I need to take some time to be quiet with my family and process what this major change will be for us. I am looking forward to connecting with everyone again after I have a better sense of how my life has changed.
    Thank you for all of your support. It is appreciated deeply by myself, Brian and our family.

    We are the lucky ones

    February 12, 2009 // 1 Comment »

    Posted in challenges, changes, family life, husband, money, work life

    I usually don’t like to blog about the recession – it seems pointless to me. My husband and I aren’t really that special as far as an economic example. We both have jobs, we have no kids, I have student loans, and we just bought a house. Sure there are differences between our situation and our friends’ situations but in most cases the similarities are greater than the differences.

    And besides, usually the recession doesn’t hit too close to home.

    Brian and I are the lucky ones. I work in pharmaceuticals and while there have been some layoffs in the industry, I don’t need to worry about it too much. Brian has much less job security than I do though. Why? He is a finish carpenter. He doesn’t work unless you want to build or remodel.

    We’ve been lucky though. Most days there is work for him. Most of the time, he can bring home a full paycheck. And on the days there is no work available for him, we try to remember that we’ve been given the blessing of an extra day to work on our home.

    We’ve heard the horror stories. We had a friend who kept showing up at job sites and asking if there was any work available. He had great carpentry skills but was usually find work as a punch out guy or a paint and spackle bitch. We know another guy who took a huge pay cut just to stay with the home builder he had worked for. It helped him survive the layoff but it certainly didn’t help him pay child support.

    The faces at the job sites are changing. Everyone is just trying to get by and many of the builders are just trying to keep their doors open. Supervisors are doing the work usually reserved for day laborers.

    This past week, there were three horrible days when there was no work for Brian. The first day wasn’t so bad. The second day was concerning and annoying. The third day had my stomach in a knot: how were we going to pay the mortgage? What cuts can we make to our budget? Is the peanut butter I purchase for his lunch every day too expensive?

    I also knew I was being ridiculous.

    By Friday morning, I was a wreck. Was this a sign of things to come? Would I become the primary breadwinner in our family? Had the recession finally hit our home?

    Fortunately there was work for Brian. And my sanity quickly returned as I heard the news. I could have danced around the office in joy. Once again, we were blessed.

    When times are good, it can be so easy for this carpenter’s wife to forget what the bad looks like. When people are buying new homes or remodeling their old homes, my husband makes considerably more money than I do. He makes a family’s life better by changing the space they live in, transforming it into something truly beautiful.

    But when the economic climate changes, our lifestyle changes very quickly. Even when we are the lucky ones.

    This past week was a reminder, while we don’t have to make any major changes to the way we live right now, this is the time to start cutting back a bit. Do we really need to spend this much money on a gift? Why do I think I need new clothes? How can I save money at the grocery store? Why do we have so many online game accounts anyway?

    So far, the biggest changes we have had to make involve changing our remodeling schedule for the house. While we had hoped to put in new windows this spring (the current windows are ancient), we’ll have to wait until 2010. After all, there are 20 windows that need replacing. That could easily cost us four thousand dollars to do the job properly. We’re going to wait a little longer to build our master bedroom suite but that’s okay. Keeping a roof over our heads is far more important.

    We’ve also had to rethink about how we want to vacation. While we had been hoping that 2009 would be a big vacation year, we just can’t spend money that way right now. And if at the last minute, there was work available for Brian, we would have to take advantage of the available work. We’ll probably go camping this year (while I have separation anxiety from my laptop until it fully sinks in that I’ll be able to catch up on my reading list).

    Navigating a recession and keeping your sanity means you need to stay focused on what you have and what you can do. I have a husband who loves me. I have a roof over my head. I have a good life. I can feel grateful for what I have. I can make wise choices with the things entrusted to my care. I can keep my eyes on what is coming over the horizon.

    Change is always coming. What “this too shall pass” really means is cherish it while you have it. Even if it is unpleasant.