Tuesday, January 31, 2012

In Sickness and in Health

I feel that I must dedicate this post to my husband Ken.

For the last week (though it has certainly felt like an eternity) I've been sick. I awoke last week with a scratchy throat which then mutated into a runny nose. By the end of day two I couldn't breathe out of one nostril and I felt like there was a 200 pound brick lodged inside my head. In this miserable state I continued for 4 days.

In general I am never sick. I can't really remember the last time I had any kind of cold or flu symptoms that lasted more than one day. I think I must have been in high school. That being said, I'm a terrible sick person. I'm unaccustomed to it, and therefore I react very very poorly.

So, for the 6 days now I've been lying about the house (for the most part), whining about my head hurting, or complaining that I don't feel well. And Ken, well, he has been waiting on me hand and foot the whole time. He has responded to all of the complaints with the appropriate level of sympathy and concern. He has refilled the hot tea when my cup was empty. He has cooked dinner, administered medicine, and pampered me through my illness.

Yesterday was by far the worst day. And as I have discovered, being self employed does not necessarily make me exempt from work when I am sick. After getting up and getting dressed I was feeling exhausted. After the 30 minute drive and a few hours at work I was barely functioning and my head felt like it was going to explode. My condition only got worse, and my complaining louder as the night went on. Hey, I said I was really bad at being sick. But still Ken put up with it. Following me to bed super early, and lulling me to sleep with a scalp massage and a back scratch (which are definitely two of my favorite things).

So this morning, as I feel better I thought I must post about my awesome husband. Who really stuck with me, through all of the whining, and nursed me back to health.


Thursday, January 26, 2012


I'm sure most people would be happier paying fewer taxes. Well in general, you'll not find me supporting this mantra. While I'm not a proponent of over taxation, I do understand the importance of paying taxes. Taxes fund important things like highways and the postal service. In addition, imagine what the National Debt would be if we eliminated taxes completely!

However, this month I find myself wishing that we, as Americans, had fewer taxes. I say this, not because I feel myself overburdened, but because this year I found myself preparing tax forms for some of my clients. I must say, I hate tax forms. Seriously.

In the past I have worked hard to limit my interaction with tax forms. Now, on my current hiatus from the real corporate world I find myself face-to-face with things I've never even heard of!

Forget W2s and W4s. In the last week I've found myself tackling K1s, 1099s, 1096s and a million things in between. I think here it's important to understand two things about me: 1. I'm smart but 2. I am NOT a tax accountant. I'm not even an accountant. I'm a financial analyst. If you need a budget, I'm your girl. If you need a profitability analysis I've got you covered. If you need basic bookkeeping or accounting process I can manage. If you need tax advice, I've got nothing.

But here I am all the same. My clients need my 'expertise' and so I find myself facing down the learning curve of tax forms. Actually, I've been facing down that learning curve all week. And today, I find myself at the top. :) I have conquered the tax forms and I now realize that in reality, it wasn't nearly as difficult as I had worked it up to be. Mind you I've not really taxes in general, which is why on Saturday I'll be meeting with my H&R Block specialist to complete my own personal taxes. But I do feel accomplished, and proud that I've at least learned how to issue all of the tax forms that small business owners need to be in compliance with the IRS.

At the end of this informative journey I am happy to have learned what I have learned. But as I said at the beginning of this post; if Americans had fewer tax forms, I wouldn't complain. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Spring is in the Air in January

The Midwest winter this year has been anything but winter-y. There has only been one snowfall thus far and we have had more days with a temperature above 50 degrees than we have had mornings with frost on the ground. Don't get me wrong, these temperatures aren't all bad, but I like Winter. I like the chill in the air, and the way the ground looks covered in a blanket of undisturbed snow. I also love the way Winter temperatures inspire a whole new menu for dinner. I mean who wants to eat chili when it's 60+ degrees outside?!?

I also find myself wondering at these seasonal swings. I mean last night we had tornado sirens at 3:00 in the morning. What is happening when a phenomenon that used to be 1. rare and 2. confined to summer months devastates an area all summer and then comes back for more in January. I don't have a fear of severe weather. I'm personally probably closer to being a storm chaser than hiding in fear. I love the awesome power that is displayed in tornadoes and lightening. But I am also sensible of the complete destruction that acts of God or natural disasters can leave behind. And really, the Midwest has had enough in the last year.

Of late I've found myself reading several articles aimed at explaining away the strange weather patterns over the past few years. As a result I only find myself wishing that meteorologists were ever close to being right about anything :). Some say global warming is to blame; others say La Nina. There are of course those who believe God is punishing the wicked; and still more who cite gravity, tectonic plates, and underground volcanoes.

I don't know what to believe. But I do know what I wish. I wish for four seasons, in a row, that exhibit the correct seasonal weather. A taste of Winter so we can appreciate the Spring. The rains of Spring so we can appreciate the dry, warm air of Summer. The blistering hot Midwest Summer so we can all breathe a sigh of relief at the change to Fall. And the falling leaves to ready us for another taste of Winter.

Let's not be in such a hurry to get back to Summer that we forget that each season has a purpose. And let's hope for a few inches of snow. For a snow-day home from school and an excuse to go sledding until we're numb and then thaw out with a bowl of soup and a cup of hot chocolate. Because really, that's what Winter is about.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Time Flies When You're...Busy!

I feel like this week has just flown by. I'm not sure where it went, but it sure got there in a hurry.

I'm hatching some pretty big plans for the upcoming weeks. We are trying to get a cruise planned for March, and if that happens I'm going to need to put some extra effort into getting bikini ready. * Le sigh. Other than that on the agenda is an attempt at finishing up my spring cleaning, trying to get the last few things done on the basement remodel (apparently other people won't use a bathroom with no door...go figure), introducing myself to my pasta maker, and keeping the regular cooking/cleaning/part-time work caught up. I know it's going to be a busy couple of weeks, and if this week was any indication they will be flying by.

I don't know why I thought life would just miraculously slow down after the holidays, but I did. So needless to say I'm a bit disappointed that it hasn't. Then again, I do love to be overly busy. So here's to new diets, new workouts, and new recipes interspersed with old routines. It's like a New Year's Resolution, just a bit delayed.

And for the record, the only things I actually resolved to do this year are turn 26 (which I am confident I can accomplish in the first quarter) and finish my Bestie's Christmas present from 2008. And, if I manage the second resolution I will be ecstatic and there will be pictures! :) So, here goes!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

This is Work!

I never really put much stock in full time stay-at-home moms. I was raised by two parents who, for as long as I can remember, always worked full time. From a young age I saw my mom balance a full time career and a home, and I assumed that anyone who only did one or the other had it easy.

When Ken and I moved in together my mom tried to warn me that keeping up a house was a lot of work. I didn't listen. Then, as I realized she was right, I was in denial. And so for two and a half years I did sporadic basic cleaning thinking it was sufficient. I also picked about 2,000,000 fights with Ken about whose responsibility it was to do the minimal sporadic cleaning. Obviously I didn't think it was solely mine. I was going to work all day every day just like he was.

Fast forward to: epiphany. For 4 months I've been working hard to get the sporadic cleaning up to routine cleaning. And I've added in more routine cleaning thinking that I could manage a sparkling home. Now, after 4 months of not working full time I am finding out that truly keeping a clean and orderly house is definitely a full time job. On Tuesday I got up at 8:00 to begin my 'spring cleaning'. I see no reason to keep putting it off until spring. So, I started in one corner of the house and started working my way out. Clean the bathroom, that's pretty standard. Clean under the sink, and inside the medicine cabinet. Clean off the baseboards, and the door. Check. Check. Check.

Next the bedroom. Change the sheets. Vacuum. Move the furniture to clean under and behind it. Ok. Now I'm starting to realize that some of this stuff is nasty. I can't believe I haven't moved my bedroom furniture in 3 years! Now clean the drapes. And the mini blinds. The mini blinds! They used to be white! And I thought they still were until I got up close to them. Again clean the baseboards, walls, and door. By 11:00 I had done two rooms and two loads of laundry, and was wondering if I was the only person not seeing a dent. At 12:30 reinforcements arrived. By 4:00 we had tackled the 3 bedrooms and kitchen and they were sparkling. But I was exhausted, and it was time to switch gears to the dog park and dinner.  I had a partner and we had barely gotten through half of the house! And I had ignored some of the major areas: the closets.

I'm still amazed at how much cleaner my house looks and feels. And I'm amazed that it can look and feel cleaner as I thought it was already pretty clean. Yesterday I tackled the dining room and living room for a good dusting and cleaning the floors, but the mini blinds and draperies are still to be done. And I've not even touched the basement yet.

So I would just like to say this: To all of you lifelong stay-at-home moms out there, wow! I am so sorry that I ever judged you as not working as hard as corporate moms. And to you corporate moms who balance two full time jobs I don't know how you do it. And finally to all of you children, regardless of your age, however your mom managed it please try to recognize now how hard she was working despite what you might have seen. Trust me, she was sweating up a storm!

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Dog Park

So recently the dogs have been making daily appearances at the dog park. It is a relatively new adventure for all of us, but since Artemis only views our short 4-foot chain-link fence as a challenge it seemed better than locking her inside the house at all times.

So after some Googling and some stereotypical government employee hassle we landed ourselves at a very nice very free park. For the past ten days the dogs have really been acclimating to the addition of so many other dogs. For the most part, they do well. Apollo struggles with being a bit of a bully, and between the two of them they bark more than all of the other dogs combined, but they seem to play well, and every day they are more relaxed. Until yesterday...

Ken and I were logging a particularly mild winter day with the dogs yesterday. And they were behaving extremely well. After about an hour they were looking fairly tired, but some of their favorite running mates had just showed up and we were going to stick around a while longer. Enter the problem: a hyper-excited bull terrier with it's owner dragging behind it.

This lady, who's name I do not care to ever know could barely keep her dog on the ground as she got out of the car. The dog was lunging and jumping and making this incredibly odd and abnormal sounding shrieking noise. Every dog in the park (about 15) was at the fence staring. We talked amongst ourselves about "Surely she's not going to bring that dog in here" and "I'm sure she will keep it on leash with it acting like that". And my wise husband suggested we should just leash up and leave then. But as the rest of us were sure this owner wouldn't release the dog, we stayed. Mistake #1. Before the dog was even inside the gate there was a fight. And not a playful, this is fun, get the ball kind of fight. So, bull terrier, owner, and very small toddler about to enter the big-dog dog park retreated a bit. As we tried to wrangle our dogs from the commotion, the bull terrier was again released into the park. She made a beeline for Darby, a 30ish pound collie mix. Now really, there's no strength comparison between the two, and everyone could already see the attitude of the bull terrier was not going to lead anywhere nice. Well almost everyone.

And so the bull terrier lunged at, and successfully pinned the resisting Darby. Amongst the snarling/growling/yelping/barking Ken managed (I have no idea how) to get a grip on the bull terrier. Darby ran for safety under a bench and I realized then that people were talking and yelling. I looked at Ken, who seemed whole, and heard from behind me "You need to get your dog under control! All that barking and chasing is what started this!" Clearly I anticipated someone to be letting the Bull's owner know that we all didn't appreciate her introducing her dog in that manner. But what?!?! No. The Bull's owner is busy yelling at Ken to let her dog go, while Unhelpful Bystander #1 is giving Darby and her owner the what-for! Are you serious! Meanwhile Darby is now leashed so Ken hands the bull over to her owner, who immediately lets her go.

And this time the target is Artemis.

Oh no you didn't. Honestly my first thought was 'If your dog hurts mine I'll kill it'. But then I didn't need to worry. Apparently Apollo lives by the code of "I'm the only one who picks on my sister". So begin fight # 3. After Artemis' second yelp God help me I was going to calm that Bull down. Again, somehow between Ken and I we got the fight broken up, Artemis out of the fray relatively unharmed, and the Bull back to her owner. By this point the Bull isn't even wearing her collar anymore because it was on so loose that when Ken grabbed at it it slipped right off. Wow Lady, just wow.

And now, Unhelpful Bystander #1 is ranting about how my dogs are just as bad as Darby, and how it's their barking that started all of this. Um excuse me? Thank God and my mom for teaching me and giving me the strength to hold my tongue. We leashed the dogs and left. As we were leaving I turned to see the park. Two dogs were left: the Bull, and Unhelpful Bystander #1. Ten dogs were cleared out of that park by one ill-behaved dog. And the best part the Bull was right back at it, lunging and snarling at Unhelpful Bystander #1's dog.

As I was discussing this with my mom yesterday she observed that the dog park is very much like life. There are always people who can work out their differences in peace. Always people who can all get along. And there is always someone who brings the fighting and trouble with them, and leaves wondering why everyone else is always fighting.

What I have learned from this: 1. When the Bull shows up next time we will be leaving pronto, 2. I  will protect my dogs from other people and other dogs without being afraid, 3. The people who are responsible will never see that they are to blame, and I will never convince them, 4. I pray that I am never that person.

So please, if you take your dog to an off leash park, don't ruin the experience for everyone else if your dog can't behave. You don't have to stay away from the park, just keep your dog on a leash.

What's My Destiny?

It is funny how something that is seemingly set in stone can change in an instant. I have always thought that my destiny was set. I'm a firm believer that God has already numbered my days, and that He knows them all. I've been a firm believer in that since a young age. I think it was spurred on by the copy of "Footprints" that hangs in my parents house. Each morning as I got ready for school I would brush my teeth and see the copy in the mirror. I bet I have read that thing 10,000 times. Anyway, if you had asked me 5, 10, or 15 years ago what I thought my destiny was you would have gotten three very different answers. And if you ask today what I know my destiny is you might wonder if the same person had answered all four times. But what I have come to realize it isn't that my destiny has changed, it is that I am in tune with the Master's plan now.

Finally God and I are on the same page, at least about this.

My destiny is not glamorous in the traditional sense. But to me today it seems the most amazing prospect on Earth. Four months ago I had an epiphany (in the literal sense). I was exceedingly unhappy at work, and my husband had been pushing and pushing for me to just find a new job. But I just couldn't do it. Over the course of a few weeks, God started to show me why I was so unhappy. In a nutshell: I was forcing myself into a destiny that I created, instead of the one He had prepared for me.

Let me tell you, that's not an easy epiphany to accept. My whole life I had envisioned myself doing exactly what I was doing four months ago. Working, having a career, balancing my corporate awesomeness with my family. Being just like my mom. So you can imagine that it hit me like a ton of bricks to find out that wasn't my destiny at all. No, my destiny is much greater. My destiny is to devote my life to my family. To become a stay-at-home mom, to have twice as many kids as I originally had planned. To do it with no corporate distractions, and with all my heart, soul, and mind.

Surprisingly for a girl who had fully intended to make good on her dreams of corporate grandeur I took the news quite well. I think. After several weeks of resisting, and asking myself and God how my destiny could have changed so drastically so quickly I began to think about what it might be like. And one morning I woke up and knew that God was right. And for the first time in as long as I can remember I felt at peace, and happy. Not a momentary kind of happiness, but a real, all-encompassing happiness. So, I quit my job and started acclimating myself to the stay-at-home life.

So that's what this blog is really about. It's about me, learning what it is to live out a real destiny, one day at a time. I don't really know what I'm doing, or how to do it. I'm just figuring it out as I go. And I hope one day, this blog will be a tool for me to look back and see where I started, and how far I've come.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

About the Author

I find that it is customary for me to share about myself in case by some miracle other people care to read this blog.

Let me start with the super boring first 20 years of my life. I'm the youngest of two children. I always behaved, followed the rules (I really hate breaking rules), got good grades etc. Golden child might be a good descriptor, but it really was more out of inherent nature than out of effort. From a young age I dreamed of being a lawyer; Abby Carmichael to be precise. From an older age I realized the time and money that law school would cost. *Shudder. Then I discovered that I truly have a love for corporate (and personal) finance, and a gift for accounting. I just like numbers. Not math mind you. Numbers. I guess it is no surprise though, as my life friend/confidant/mentor/role model/mom has had a career in finance for over 20 years. Although I must admit that I find the basic accounting rather mundane.

So, at the ripe old age of 18 I headed off to a tiny university in the Midwest to major in Finance. I joined a sorority, one of the best decisions I ever made in college. I suffered through 4 long years of grueling classes and survived thanks to an amazing Jr./Sr. year roommate and my sorority sisters. There was a great comfort in knowing they were all suffering too. By the end of my senior year I was convinced that law school wasn't for me (there was no way I was suffering for another 3 years) and I was eager to graduate and start my glamorous career in finance.

Enter the first hints of my destiny: Ken. Here I should rewind to that young age when watching Law & Order was like watching a window into my future life. Between that time and age 22 I went on exactly ONE date. And even that was a friend in high school who decided my high school experience wouldn't be complete without dinner and a movie with a boy. I'm not sure that even really counts. Dating and boys were never really my thing. I was always more focused on other things to think boys were worth the trouble. And I wanted to save myself for marriage. And the biggest reason: I thought boys were complete idiots. That's right. Right up until I met Ken, and even after I met Ken I thought all guys were dumb.

The story of our first meeting we will have to save for another day. In hindsight it really is all of the things a fairytale introduction should be. Suffice it to say that we met in March 2008 and got hitched in October 2010. Relatively speaking it was all quite rapid for a girl who had never been on a date before. Even my brother, who has never to my knowledge commented on my life, voted we were moving too fast. At one point he told my mom to tell me to slow down. Ha. Thanks bro.

In September 2008 I found my first adult job. I must admit, it was severely lacking in the glamor I had been dreaming about. But, my parents stopped hounding me to get a job, so it's not like there were no benefits. It was good for me though. I had more work than any one person would ever want, and I attacked it every day. I was so eager to improve, do better, do more, and be the best. In July of 2010 I got promoted from my first position to a better, more 'me' position within the same company. The second position was by definition my dream job (at least at age 24). I was an analyst. Tasked with the complex mission of ferreting out sales opportunities and underused resources. I was ecstatic. But after a time I realized that the job on paper and the job in reality were not the same. I'm sure that's true with every job.

I became more and more dissatisfied with my position and I started asking myself why. Then I found the answer to that question, and it has led me here. And really, if you're reading this it has led you here as well.

So now friends, if you're out there, we will be embarking on this destiny together. Well together in a sense that is. Hold on tight.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

So Blogging...

I'm not sure even really what blogging is.

Is it a journal? If it is a journal then I should be writing to myself. In which case it's really just a physical representation of hindsight. And in that case I'm not so sure I want to record all of my failures along with my successes. I'd much just rather look back and see that I was completely perfect. Then again, if it is a journal it is most likely private. And if it is private then I can air as much dirty laundry as I please. And venting some of that may, in the end, mean a happier marriage for me and my husband. But to take that further, I hardly think something private would be intentionally posted on the internet...

So then, is it a story? Is it just a story of life? Just a non-fiction mundane depiction of all of my activities? I think it must be something more than that. I mean, no one says "Boy I just can't wait to read a mundane story". So to avoid the label of mundane it needs excitement. It needs adventure. It needs mystery. Well my life has little of those things to offer. I'm just an average girl after all. Now we're entering the world of fiction. All fiction has at least one of those elements to intrigue the reader. But personally I've never had the imagination for fiction; nor the stomach for it. I much prefer the truth, whatever it comes out to be.

I guess a blog is just that: a blog. A public record of the not-so-private daily dealings of life. So hold on. Because you're about to experience the not-so-private dealings of my life. Get out your 5-hour energy, you're going to need it. There's no above-average excitement here. Not mystery or intrigue. Just a girl - well I guess technically a woman - learning how to live her destiny.