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RIP Piper: March 8, 2006 – August 1, 2014.

Several weeks ago, Piper started acting ill. She was refusing to eat or drink, so we had to force feed it to her. I told Jim that I’d never seen a cat survive that and that I didn’t think she’d survive our upcoming move. But we took her to the vet, got her on meds, and hospitalized her. She came out looking not 100% but perkier. I thought I was wrong.

Fast forward to now. Still in the middle of the move, and Piper passed away during it. I really hate when I’m right about these things. Poor Gremlin sniffed her like crazy, then ran and hid. I feel so bad for him. All the other times I’ve lost a cat, there were two cats remaining, so they could rely on each other during the mourning period. Poor Gremlin is alone. There is an outside cat that we’ve claimed and are planning on bringing in eventually, but that still doesn’t help Gremlin.

I know he’ll miss her terribly.

Piper as a kitten.

Piper as a kitten.

Piper and Emmy a few years ago.

Piper and Emmy a few years ago.

RIP, Piper. It seems you were way too young. We hope that we gave you a good life, and we’ll miss you.

Another Sunday saga.

Once again, it’s quiet. Jim is at the house, working. Vincent is in bed, quiet. I’m thinking of all the packing I need to do but taking Jim’s advice to stay off my foot.

My foot has been hurting for the past two weeks, although I’ve no clue why. I had agreed with Jim that I needed to go in to see someone about it. Saturday morning, I told him. Instead of going to work for overtime, I will go to the walk-in clinic.

But Friday night, Jim texted me while I was on my way to his dad’s and step-mom’s. I checked it at a stop sign. Call me when you get to Dad’s, it said. What on earth? Turns out Jim had Big Life Event News of a very good friend, the not-so-good kind of news. Jim took the friend out to dinner, then they went to another friend’s, and then the Bad News friend brought Jim home (because I had the car and the van is in the shop) and accidentally snapped the key to his car in the lock of his trunk. Long story short, Jim ended up taking him home, didn’t get home until 2:30 am, then was back up at 5:30 am to drive back to town, pick up the friend, and take him to work.

Because Jim had so little sleep, I not only did not do overtime, but I did not go in to the walk-in clinic. I kept an eye on Vincent and left Jim to sleep past noon. It was the least I could do; Jim can drive me crazy sometimes, but I’m always in awe of how good he is to his friends when they need him most. In light of the Big Life Event News of the friend, my foot didn’t seem to matter anymore.

***

The weekend, instead, was full of Vincent, which is exactly how I like it. I hate when I work Saturday mornings because mornings are when Vincent is at his best. He smiles, babbles in a sing-song voice, spins around and dances to the openings of the kid shows on TV. And, if I’m really lucky–and I’m luckier more and more these days, it seems–he will crawl up in my lap, snuggle with me, and eat Cheerios.

It’s a ritual I only get twice a week if I’m lucky. I cannot lie: I’m so jealous that Jim gets this everyday. As I trudge upstairs to my office, I often think how much I would give to trade with Jim. Don’t get me wrong: watching Vincent is work. A lot. On the weekends when I take over, he wears me out and frustrates me. But I would trade everything in the world for that to be my full-time job. He’s growing up fast. Too fast. Both Jim’s mom and step-mom commented this weekend that it looked like Vincent had grown, and they just saw him a week ago. I agree. I had been thinking that he seemed taller as well. He seemed to be reaching for things this weekend that I don’t remember him being able to reach even a week ago.

He’s growing up so fast, and I’m missing it for a job.

Speaking of, a bunch of positions are opening up at work. A couple that I’m interested in are not eligible for work-from-home. A couple that I’m not nearly as interested in but would probably have an okay chance of getting are.

So I’m debating. Once upon a time, I would have thought I would have gone for whatever made the most money once I had kids. Admittedly, that is still the biggest factor, but I’m coming to discover that it’s really important that I don’t hate my job because, unlike some people, I cannot leave my job at the office. Literally,I can’t, since I work from home. That means in the middle of my work day, on my breaks, if I’m having a bad day, Jim and Vincent know because my breaks are often in our kitchen rather than a break room. In the new place, there will be even less separation, as I won’t have an office and will have to work out of our bedroom.

If you had told me a year ago that I would even be considering a different position, I wouldn’t have believed it. My actual job–written CA–is great. Even though they changed stuff to make the numbers we need harder to get, I still see it as a challenge. Frustrating at times, but I wouldn’t leave for that. However, because all of the insurance changes have made our call volumes go up, I’m on the phones half of the time, and then I get frustrated. What was point of working so hard and getting my numbers up and interviewing to get out of being a phone CA if I was just going to get shuffled back to the phones anyway?

Truthfully, the time we’re getting put on the phones is going down. Rumor has it, though, that it’s not going to go away. They don’t know when or even if we’re ever going back to just working inventory. Some of these new job postings they’re putting out, I would probably definitely be on the phones, but if I’m going to be on the phones anyway, why not get paid more for it?

But would I hate it? Would be it like the days when I’m stuck on the phone all day and Jim feels like he can’t go out because I’m so drained that keeping up with Vincent seems too much? I don’t mind calls here and there, but call center work–call after call after call–wears me out. The days I’m on the hotline all day, I feel like the quality of my family life suffers.

So you see where there’s more than money to consider.

***

I hate this time of night. I hate this time of week. Sunday evenings are always the worst, even worse than Mondays because at least on Monday evening, you know you’ve gotten Monday over with. Sunday, the week of drudgery spreads out before you, and you already wish it was Friday night again. What a waste, to live life wishing for the future. The future comes too fast as it is.

But I do have one thing to look forward to. My vacation was approved. Next week, I will have a week off. I’m so looking forward to it, although it’s looking more and more like it will be mostly a working vacation to move in and get settled into the new place. But it will be a week of Not Work, of All Vincent and Jim, a week of moving into our new home and starting a new chapter of our lives. OUR home. That’s so crazy.

Crazy awesome.

Spaces.

I can’t believe summer is half over.

Jim is at the new place, scrubbing carpet glue off the floors. I took the afternoon off spur-of-the-moment (thank goodness my work allows same day PTO, so it doesn’t count as sick time!), so I helped run errands. I’ve put a nice check in the bank that will pay off several bills, went with Jim to drop the van off at the mechanic, and verified that Mediacom services our new place and have scheduled a transfer date during my vacation in a couple of weeks.

Assuming that it gets approved, of course.

It will most likely be a working vacation of moving and getting stuff into the new place, but Jim and I are both hoping for a few days at least to possibly go up to Chicago and NOT go to a funeral.

(Oh, did I mention that? We were up in Chicago around the 4th of July because Jim’s step-mom’s mom died.)

Anyway, right now, I’m enjoying the solitude of Jim being gone and Vincent taking a nap. Our front yard butts right into the high school parking lot, which has is pros and cons, but right now, I’m enjoying whatever the maintenance guy out there is doing. Earlier, he painted the concrete divider thing in the parking lot; now he’s doing something with what looks like a blow torch, and it’s making the most wonderful, peaceful white noise. Couple that with the beautiful afternoon sun slanting through the leaves in our windows, and it almost makes me want to curl up and take a nap.

I know. Weird, right? The one thing I miss about all the alone time I used to have before I became a mother–hell, before I met Jim–is that I could just enough enjoy staring out windows, taking in the scenery, and spacing out. Even with Jim, I can’t really do that because he starts in with, What’s wrong? What are you thinking about? Are you mad? Oh, great, you’re mad.

Extroverts do not understand introverts need for other people to just shut the hell up so they can just enjoy the quiet.

So I’ll occasionally schedule for my “mental health” days. The plan is always to seek out a few hours alone. It never happens though. As soon as I see my PTO requests get approved, I think about things I need to get done or the time I could spend with Vincent or how I could surprise Jim by letting off Vincent-watching duty so he can go play Warhammer.

I do enjoy my guys, though.

Speaking of, Vincent’s up from his nap. Sorry this isn’t much of an update. It was just a way to keep me awake.

I hate money.

It happens: You try to remain cheerful about things going on, and you may even convince yourself, but then it catches up to you.

We just bought a house, so money is tight as it is. There are some things that most people probably wouldn’t have to pay for that we may–I won’t get into the details of that–but we’re looking at something like a grand. And then it occurs to us that the van might not even make the trip to the new place; it needs to be taken in. Who knows how much that will be? Oh, and did I mention that Piper became very sick, had to be hospitalized, and after all was said and done, that cost about $800?

Any money that we wanted to put into making the house nicer–to make it ours–is quickly dwindling away.

And as we all know, if there’s one thing I’m always worried about, it’s money. We’re a family of three living off my very modest income. It’s strange. I make so much more than I ever have in my entire life, but it seems like I have less money to show for it. Honestly, it’s because I have so many more bills than I used to. There’s just not much left after bills are paid. It’s difficult to have all this stewing in your head and feeling like you have to keep a lid on it.

Obviously, I don’t completely. On here, I pretty much never hold back, but in real life, I’ve been trying to curb how much I complain about money. I’m not doing a very good job, but in my defense, it’s pretty much all I think about. And for me, when I discuss it with other people, it’s just venting. In my family, money and bills are the things we complain about. It’s almost like a bonding thing. But I don’t think that’s how it is for other people.

I still remember the Monday after I found out I was pregnant with Vincent, we had been told overtime was being taken away. Keep in mind that up to that point, I was doing a ton of overtime because I needed to pay stuff (I know Jim broke the fridge in our apartment and I had to buy his college books, amongst other things), and I was working a ton to try to pay for everything, then I found out I was pregnant and unable to do overtime. I freaked out. How on earth was I going to afford a baby? Or move out of our one-bedroom apartment? I couldn’t even afford maternity clothes.

I fretted; my co-workers sympathized. I didn’t think much of my complaining. Isn’t that what friends do? Complain to each other, listen, sympathize? Then, one day, they gathered around me to give me a gift card of $100 so I could buy maternity clothes because they knew I was in a difficult spot. I was speechless. It was so generous of them. At the same time, I worried that maybe they felt compelled to do so because I was so open about my anxiety regarding our financial situation, especially given that I was also pregnant. I was just venting, though; I certainly didn’t intend for anyone to give me anything.

Something similar happened a few months ago, before my dad passed away. I made the mistake of openly worrying about money to Jim’s mom. Suddenly,she gave us a check out of the blue. I made Jim tear it up. I didn’t want her to feel like she needed to give us money; I was just sharing what’s on my mind (ALWAYS FREAKIN’ MONEY, ARGH)–I wasn’t trying to get anything from her.

Then my dad died. We didn’t have the money to go up north. We ended up having to borrow money from her anyway. It was not an easy thing on my pride, but what was I going to do? Miss saying goodbye to my dad just because I didn’t want to borrow money?

We paid it back within the month–my gain sharing came in not long afterward–but still. It stung.

***

Okay, so I need to quit fretting about money. In good news, our new house is coming along decently. We decided that while we will do renovations over time (when we have money, if ever), the 70′s smelly shag carpet HAD to go. I can handle a house with outdated stuff in it or stuff that just isn’t my style–hell, I’ve been renting so long, it’s pretty much all I know–but the smell of the carpet in the hallway and bedrooms made me want to gag. (The living room carpet is actually nice, so we’re keeping it for now.) So Jim and I have been ripping it out and praying for decent floor underneath.

Score! Beautiful wood floors. Oak, by the looks of it. And I bet if we refinish it, it will look amazing. One small problem: carpet glue.

I think with a lot of backbreaking sweat, elbow grease, and a good block of time, Jim and I could probably clear out the junk stuck to the floors in our bedroom. But Vincent’s room…that stuff is like tar. It just won’t come up. Goo Gone and Murphy Oil Soap, neither seem to be working very well. We’re scratching our heads and debating whether or not using a sander will actually work on it or just gum the sander up. We’re wondering if we’re ever going to get it completely taken off.

So we’ve come up with plan B: If we can’t get it off, then we’ll buy the wood flooring. You know, from Home Depot or something.

I’ll probably have to borrow money from my retirement for that.

It always comes back to money, doesn’t it?

 

 

Fuck.

I don’t even know how it started.

I was on Facebook. I could hear Vincent from time to time, making his settling-into-sleep noises in the next room. My sister Diana posted on Facebook: Mom’s late. I commented, Dad would be shaking his head right now, lol.

I was walking down the hallway, a million things on my mind. Work. New house. Kid who is a wonderful little boy but such a light sleeper. Stress, stress, stress.

What would Dad say about all this?

It’s a thought that creeps into my head frequently, but I push it out. I know what Dad would say. You bought a house! He’s not sleeping! Ooooh…I love you…well, I’m not good at talking on the phone, let me get your mother.

And then it hits me. Sunday is Father’s Day. I don’t have a father.

Fuck.

Literally, one minute I was happy and bouncing down the hall, and then next, I was bawling over the sink in the bathroom.

Fuck, fuck, fuck.

I don’t know where it came from. Maybe someone would say it’s been coming for months. I think about my dad a lot, but most of the time, I still feel numb about it. I don’t cry much. I think that if there’s anything after this, then he’s probably with Josh, and that makes me happy for Dad. Dad was never the same after Josh died.

If there’s anything after this, I imagine it’s peaceful. And I should be happy for them both.

But I’m selfish. I wish I could tell Dad about my new house. He knew how much I wanted my own place. I wish I could make plans with Josh to spend a week with me during the summer like he used to. I wish they could see Vincent, how he has Jim’s smile, but when he’s serious, he reminds me so much of a younger version of my dad. He’s even a light sleeper like my dad was.

I know what Dad would say to all these things. I know how he would say it. I can hear his voice in my head. He said the same things a million times in the same way, but I would give anything to hear it again.

I love you! I’m no good at this, let me get your mother…

Is this always going to be my memory of him? Me holding the phone, wondering why he couldn’t have held on a little longer?

Officially homeowners!

Today, after several false starts, Jim and I officially became homeowners! I cannot lie: The process was a headache. I bought one house before this, and I don’t remember it being this much of a pain. I’ve been told that the laws have changed since then, which is part of why it was so painful.

No pictures yet–and to be honest, we’ll probably be doing some work on the house before we move in, anyway–but Jim’s mom took some pictures of VIncent running up and down the hill that went from the driveway down to the backyard:

vincent_in_new_drives_060514-4 vincent_jim_new_yard_060514-2In all the pictures she took, Vincent looks so serious. It’s funny because, in actuality, the first thing he did when we plopped him down in his new backyard was lift his arms up, run a little ways, laugh, and then started babbling happily. After that, he discovered the hill going up from the backyard to the driveway and had fun running up and down it.

When we took him inside, he also ran back and forth happily, none of the usual cautiously looking around that he does when he first comes to a place.

“Oh, he knows,” Jim’s mom said. “He knows this is his house!”

Who knows? Maybe he does! Either way, I like to think of his reaction as a good sign. :)

 

Seize!

About a month or so ago, my friend Ryan suggested that Jim and I watch Vikings. I was like Eh, we’ll see, but I mentioned it to Jim because Ryan has similar tastes. Anyway, the weekend we celebrated our anniversary, we couldn’t find any movies in the theaters that we thought were worth their insanely-high prices, so we opted to buy a movie and watch it at home, except instead of a movie, we got the first season of Vikings.

We’re almost done with the first season, and it just keeps getting better. The more we get into it, the more we like Ragnar. And, no, it’s not because he’s “dreamy” (as Ryan suggested when I said I really liked Ragnar), although there is no denying that fact. I mean, look at this face:

Ragnar Lodbrok

Ragnar Lodbrok, played by Travis Fimmel

Okay, yeah, he’s easy on the eyes. No disputing that. But cute guys are a dime a dozen, and they tend to grow old and get beer guts like everyone else. (Except for my own husband, who’s still trim and as good-looking as when I met him, but let’s face it, the rest of us aren’t so lucky!) His looks aren’t what I like. It’s the character that I like. It’s the attitude. He’s generally upbeat, and even when he does get down, he doesn’t stay down for long. And he’s a doer. He’s definitely a “seize the moment” type of guy. One terrible thing that my husband and I have in common: We’re both indecisive as hell. Not Ragnar. He makes a decision quickly and then follows through unwaveringly.

So I’ve decided I need a little Ragnar in me. (Not in the dirty sense, get your minds out of the gutter.) Now I’m looking for something like a “What Would Ragnar Do?” poster to hang on the wall next to me while at work. That way, when things get stressful at work, I can be reminded of that air of confidence.

And if people piss me off, I can remind myself that the jerks’ fates have been decided. And grin.

My poster is going to need an ax. :D

 

Uncle Jim!

Jim and his new niece, Della!

Jim and his new niece, Della!

 

Jim’s sister Wendy had her baby girl on Saturday morning. It’s weird–I’m an aunt again, but for once, it isn’t my sibling having the baby. The situation is opposite for Jim. He was so cute with her. I thought it was funny how he tried to play it cool, but in the car once, his excitement got the best of him at one point, and he blurted, “Dammit, I want to see my niece!” Too cute.

Congratulations, Wendy and Nathan! You’re going to be awesome parents.

WHAZZUP.

Edit: Written on 5/5/14, but unfortunately, didn’t get a chance to post until this morning (5/9/14).

What’s up is that I took a day off. And it’s a nice day, too: I hear my wind chimes going, the breeze rustling the trees, birds singing…and right now, a quiet house, as both my husband and son are asleep.

That won’t last for long, though. Also, it sounds nice now, but keep in mind that Vincent woke up at 5:45 AM this morning, completely awake and ready to play. No, he doesn’t normally wake up that early. Seems like he only does in the the weekends or days that I take off–you know, the days where I usually field him most of the time so that Jim can get a break.

This has been a nice weekend. Jim and I celebrated our anniversary on Saturday–Saturday wasn’t our actual anniversary, just the day we celebrated it–so Jim’s mom took Vincent overnight. It’s not the first time she has taken him overnight. She’s done it twice before, I think. But I’m still not used to it. I tried to just enjoy being with Jim, but I missed Vincent. As much work as he is, I also genuinely enjoy being with him. He’s a fun kid.

But, wow, after we picked him up last night and he took a nap, he was FUSSY. Uncharacteristically so. A standard compliment that Vincent gets when we take him out is how good he is. Really, for a toddler who is so young, he behaves very well and doesn’t cry much at all. But last night, he was throwing fits left and right, and finally I realized that he had been outside a LOT with his Granny Lori. Perhaps he missed being outside? So Jim and I gathered him up, packed him in the car, open the windows, and took him for a drive.

And that was the ticket. He sang with delight as the wind hit his face. (He loves things blowing on him, whether it be the wind, fans, me blowing his hair, etc. He just thinks it’s great.) It calmed him down. We came back, put him to bed, and he slept THE WHOLE NIGHT.

Well, until 5:45, heh.

So, note to self: Vincent needs to be outside a lot more.

Anyway. Jim and I didn’t do much for our anniversary. We drove around, went to O’Charley’s to eat. I had a Mango Mai Tai, the first alcoholic drink I’ve had since…actually, since our honeymoon. And I think the time before that was two years. Anyway, Jim got a mojito, and we realized that we are not the drinkers we once were. Oh, we’ve always been kind of lightweights who got drunk pretty easily. But as soon as I took a sip of my mai tai, I could totally taste the alcohol. And I didn’t really like it, to be honest. I didn’t even finish it.

Next up: Movies. Except we weren’t really interested in anything out, so we bought¬†Vikings,¬†which was highly recommended by my friend/co-worker Ryan. We’re digging it so far.

Ooops. There’s Vincent. Gotta go. Will try to update more often.

Pushing on.

I keep trying to write this post.

A lot has been going on. My dad passed away and my son turned one. Two big events. How strange that just a week or so before my dad died, I was looking at Vincent, realizing that he reminds me of my dad when he was younger.

All of us kids have been calling my mom frequently. She ended up in the hospital herself a few weeks ago from cellulitis. And then she was struggling when she got out because her prescriptions were so expensive. One of them was over $600 for the generic! Keep in mind, my mother was in limbo because now without my dad’s social security, she had no income. She just finally got some money in the other day–almost 2 months after my dad passed away.

Meanwhile, I’m wondering what she’s going to do. I worry about it a lot. Diana and I have both offered to have her live with us. Mom seems pretty determined to stay in her house. I suspect it’s not so much as being attached to the house as she’s worried about burdening us. But I worry about her being by herself, how she’s going to get by. I live in a house with four bedrooms, Mom, I pointed out. If she could get rid of her house, she could come here where I could make sure that whatever her financial situation, she would have a roof over her head and food to eat and me and Jim to take care of her. Also, I would love for Vincent to have his Grandma Jenkins here.

But things are never that simple. About two weeks ago, Jim got a call from his dad. There’s this house down the street from his dad that’s for sale. It’s actually one that Jim and I had eyed before, thinking it would be nice to buy, not because it’s a fancy house, but because it was cute, looked like it had potential, and is on the street we wanted to live on. It’s the location that makes it so desirable for us: In the school district we want Vincent to be in, down the street from Jim’s dad and step-mom, and right across from Jim’s mom’s work. Also, it’s rural but just 5 or 10 minutes away from town.

To make it even better, they were selling it for half the appraised value. We checked out the house, and it’s exactly the type Jim and I had always talked about getting: A small house with a decent amount of land so we could build onto it. The “bones” are good, too. It looks as if the owner took good care of the house.

It’s a deal we can’t pass up. The sellers accepted our offer and we have the financial stuff in the works. Now, however, if Mom wanted to live with us, where would we put her? It’s only two bedrooms.

So I’m wondering if we’re going to have to add onto the house sooner rather than later. But I’m not going to worry about it for now. We don’t even know 100% if we’ll be moving in until we can confirm that the DSL there is fast enough for my work computer. (I had a friend who was burned by this, so I’m anxious about it.) I know, my mom is trying to stay in her own place, but I would like to have another room so she has options.

Speaking of work, as of last week, things started getting better. They started pulling us off the phones. I went from being on a minimum of 6 hours a day to only being on for 2 hours last week. I think I was only pulled on to cover lunches for a day. That’s really no big deal. Which is good because less time on the phones means less stress, and I find that I seem to do more overtime when I’m not so stressed. And, as you can see, I really need the overtime right now. We just have so much going on.

I think having so much going on, though, is what’s helping me cope. Jim keeps telling me that he’s impressed at how well I’m handling my dad’s death; truthfully, I don’t think it has sunk in. Or maybe keeping busy just keeps it at bay. But eventually, it will creep on you. I’m still having nightmares.