Friday, November 26, 2010

Knitting, Leftovers, and Other Mishaps

It's been a very long day, one which started at around 6 this morning. Luckily, my father in law drove to Texas so I got to relax in the backseat with my knitting and my iPod. It was so nice. I like driving, but it's good to have a break once in awhile. We made good time, only coming into one traffic jam due to an accident in Fort Worth, and made it to the family by 1:00 pm where leftovers from yesterday were ready for lunch.

The day is as one would expect following the death of a loved one. There's alot of food, there's alot of family time. We got a hotel room at the Holiday Inn Express and are just now getting a chance to really sit back and relax before tomorrow. I've been knitting pretty much non-stop because it helps keep me calm. Even with my happy pills, this is a pretty anxiety inducing situation. I've finished two washcloths and decided to make a scarf to keep things fresh.

Tonight was the viewing. We survived, though it was heartbreaking to watch J's grandmother say goodbye to her husband. I cried, which lead to a nosebleed, which lead to big stain on the shirt I wore, so if anyone knows a good way to get out blood stains, please let me know. After that, it was back for more family time, more eating, and more knitting. For not thinking we were going to have a Thanksgiving dinner, we've now officially had one four times.

Tomorrow is going to be another long one, so I'm off to get some rest. Night all!


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

Besides being thankful for making it down to Wichita safe and sound, I spent some time thinking about all the things I'm thankful for. I realize this is something I should do every day, and I usually do, it's just rare that I write about it. But since it's Thanksgiving, here's my general list of happy thankfulness.

1. My husband - When I think about how J and I met, I have to believe that there's a God with a plan, because there's no way I could be that lucky. He's the sweetest, coolest guy I know. He's my best friend and we have so much fun together. I don't think a day hasn't gone by that he hasn't made me laugh for some reason or another, even when I'm in a horrible mood or completely depressed. Haters gonna hate, but we have never had a fight. We've had some arguments, and I've had some "mood swings," but even through those, he's always been patient and we don't usually let an hour pass before we talk and make up. Even our worst argument just brought us closer together.

2. My family - My family has given me so much to be grateful for. Even the hard times have their place in my gratitude because they made me the person I am today. I'm thankful to have a mom who's one of my closest friends, a dad who I can now talk to comfortably and be proud of, a brother and a sister who have turned out to be responsible young adults with amazing families, including my two nephews who are adorable and smart. They might never get to know their Aunt Mandy, but I love them just the same and feel blessed to have them. I'm thankful for all my aunts and uncles and my grandparents, all of who have taught me so much in my 32 years and have added to who I am today.

3. My friends - It doesn't matter if I talk to them everyday, occasionally comment on their Facebook, or have lost touch with them completely, I'm thankful for all the friends who've come in and out of my life. Everyone one of them has touched me in some way and I'd like to think that I've had a small positive impact  on their lives as well. They have given me so many experiences and memories, all of which make up my unique history. It's these memories that make me happy with who I am, despite all the "improvements" I could use.

And some more that don't need as much description...

4. My in-laws, who have welcomed me into their lives,
5. My job, because it pays my bills and makes me feel productive,
6. My pets, because they don't judge and have their own personalities (even if those personalities are a product of my imagination),
7. My computer (or in this case, computers as an entity), because it allows me to continue to keep in touch with so many great people.

Hope you all had a wonderful, full Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Time to Be Thankful, In Spite of a Great Loss

This long Thanksgiving weekend will not be spent as J and I and much of his family had planned. Tomorrow night we'll be heading to Wichita, and Friday morning we'll be heading down to Texas to both mourn the death and celebrate the life of J's grandfather who passed away Tuesday evening.

I only knew this man for a short time, but the little bit I knew was pretty amazing. He'd raised a family of great people with wonderful values who in turn gave him good grandchildren and great grandchildren. He loved alot and was loved in return. He survived cancer twice, and at 80 something years old had a head of hair that most men in their 30s would covet. He was always so nice to me, and I'd watch him with his family and I could always tell how much he loved just being with them. He was a quiet man, but there are things one can see even if they're not being said.  I only saw him a handful of times, but I never saw him get angry or upset about anything. I saw someone who was generous, who helped his grandkids even if they didn't admit to needing it. I watched him stay strong when J's mother passed away. More recently, J and I celebrated our marriage with him and the rest of the family, and I felt truly welcomed by him as a member of the family.

I don't know if there's actually a thing as a "good death," but there are natural deaths and there are tragic deaths. Papa Dan went naturally after living a good long life. There are so many good memories of him, memories that I wasn't around for but which I know I'll get to hear told, if not this weekend, then another time when I get together with my in-laws. Like the passing of my own grandfathers, this will leave it's mark on me, for better or worse. That mark might not be as strong as it is with the rest of his family, but it's no less significant.

The holidays can be lonely, but I encourage everyone thinking of their loved ones this season to be grateful for everything they gave you during their lifetime and the lessons they taught even after they left this world to move on to a better one.


Monday, November 22, 2010

The Quest to Be a Responsible Adult

In "I no longer have an excuse not to blog" news, J got his own computer. In the awesome tradition of frugal bartering, he traded his huge, not working laptop for a small, happy little Netbook that he can take wherever he goes. Sort of. The battery doesn't work well, so he needs to get that replaced, but the verdict on the whole trade is "Success." Have I mentioned how much I love Craigslist?

So now I have full use of my own laptop, which means the "I didn't blog because I was letting my husband use the computer" line won't stand. Having said that, I'm good at finding excuses, so there could be any other number of reasons for me being gone, but for now, I'm going to attempt to get my writing act together.

There really hasn't been anything huge to write about except for the fact that I've decided to try to be more responsible with my finances. I've been doing well for about three weeks now. My problem has always been twofold: Laziness at tracking my purchases and the need for instant gratification. Even when I thought I had it under control, I realized how half heartedly I was doing things and something would inevitably come back to bite me and cause huge issues in the accounts.

I was finally faced with an issue that I had to take care of, and the only way I'd be able to take care of it was to figure out my finances and get on a plan. So I set down with everything I had, bills, income, and my checkbook and figured out how things were going to work for the next few months. I think the "I really need to do this moment" came when I realized that if we're careful with our spending, we can be ahead as soon as January. Not hugely ahead, but enough so that all the bills are paid and I'm not scrambling to pay anything, nor am I letting my phone or internet get shut off.

So far so good. As long as I check and double check my work and not spend money on stupid stuff, things seem to be alright. We're still not 100% where we want to be, but then again, we're not even into December yet. What strikes me is how content I am not to be spending money and eating out all the time. I'm enjoying cooking meals at home and most of the time I realize I don't actually have to buy anything since I have pretty much everything I need at home to keep me busy, including my computer, enough stash yarn to keep me knitting for probably the next year, and a stack of books waiting to be read (plus a library card if I ever get through those).

My plan is to be able to travel more in 2011 and beyond. Already on our travel wishlist are trips to Omaha, Michigan, Texas, Oklahoma City, Indianapolis, and Colorado/Dodge City. If we save on our regular income, we can do it I think, and that's not counting extra money from writing and ChaCha. Overall, I'm feeling pretty darn good about our financial future. Who knows? Maybe I'm finally going to grow up.

Acting my age, though, is a whole other thing entirely.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Weekly Goals Recap (11/4)

I think the whole goal thing worked out this past week! I didn’t actually meet all my goals, but they did give me something to work towards and helped me stay focused when I was feeling overwhelmed. Here’s the recap:

Stay away from pop! - I didn’t completely cut pop out, but I did cut way back. In a week, I only purchased one can of soda from the work vending machine as opposed to the 3-5 I was drinking. I drank a little more over the weekend, but I also drank a lot of water and tea too, so I tried to make it even out. I consider this goal reached!

Use the food we have in the house for meals – With the exception of one night, we actually did this. Talk about getting creative. It helped though that we had friends who hooked us up with pizza or food at various parties and get togethers. Tuesday night we weren’t feeling really creative, so we took some of the leftover laundry money and bought hot dogs. Even with that one night, I’m considering this goal reached.

Take all my lunches and to get away from my desk for at least half of my lunch hour – I did this everyday and found that it really did help. I wasn’t as tired or stressed in the afternoon.

Finish unpacking and find a nook or cranny for everything I brought back from vacation - I sort of finished this. I think I have one bag of washrags and towels that haven't been put away, but I think they'll be collateral stuff during the bedroom cleaning.

Finish "Resident Evil 5" – I didn’t reach this goal, but I don’t feel too bad about it. The last fight was extremely annoying, and it bothered me that the rest of the game had been minimally challenging, and all of a sudden I can’t beat this final thing. I understand it was supposed to be harder, but after about forty times, I just gave up. I like finishing a game, but I like not being angry more.

Complete 2 scarves – Done! I finished the last drop stitch scarf in Homespun that I think I’m going to do for awhile and I finished a pink scarf for a friend’s little girl. It came out great, so I’m working on another for another friend’s little girl. Pink seems to be what the kids are into these days.

Finish "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" by Mark Haddon – I finally finished this. I found to be pretty boring though, so it seemed to take forever.

Not a bad week overall, so I’m going to do another set of goals for this coming week, but in a different post.