Monday, January 19, 2015

A year in review: 2014

Being inspired by my brother-in-law's most recent blog post, I decided to make a year in review. I think this is especially fitting because admittedly, I wasn't the best about blogging in 2014. I hope you don't mind me copying you, Alex :)

January

  • Stephan's brother Alex came home from his mission in Pennsylvania and finally got to meet Kate for the first time, since he left just a month before she was born. She called him "daddy" for a while because he and Stephan look a lot alike.
  • I reluctantly decided to have my antidepressant dosage upped to a mid level rather than the really low dose I had been taking.

February

  • Stephan caught the flu for the second year in a row. Kate and I did not because we had flu shots. 
  • Kate turned two years old. At her two-year checkup, she had gone from being in the 90th percentile for height to the 95th percentile. Pediatrician astounded at her verbal abilities.


March

  • Ummm....family pictures with Stephan's family? I don't remember much from this month.

April
  • General Conference
  • Easter...I think.
  • I believe it was around this time that I started doing DNMS therapy with my therapist. 
  • Aiden's mom found out she had a tumor on her pituitary gland.
May
  • Spent many afternoons at the Thanksgiving Point Gardens
  • I wrote to MANY local newspapers and news stations to promote ICP Awareness. Finally got a response from Good4Utah and had an interview with them. I was on TV.
  • Started working on organizing the first ever ICP Care event in Utah. ICP Care events were being put on all over the country too.
June
  • Hosted first-ever ICP Awareness event in Utah and got to meet fellow Itchy Moms. 
  • Niece was baptized.
  • Aiden's mom had surgery to have her tumor removed.
  • I found out I was pregnant on June 30.
July
  • Because of some bleeding issues in addition to the pregnancy, I went to the doctor and we found out I had an ectopic pregnancy. I was early enough that I got methotrexate shots rather than surgery.
  • The night I started miscarrying, our air conditioner died. During a 100 degree heat wave. It was a horrible, horrible time.
  • Stephan was given a really tough assignment at work. 
  • Stephan's 27th birthday at the end of the month.
  • He also got a raise. Things were looking up.
August
  • Our five-year anniversary. We celebrated by going for a couple's massage...ahhhh.
  • I temporarily had a work-from-home job and found out that 20 hours of work a week isn't the most compatible with being a mom to a toddler. 
  • Watched a friend's two girls so she could teach an LSAT class.
  • Went up to Logan for a family gathering on Stephan's side of the family.
  • My grandfather's birthday celebration (even though his birthday was at the end of July).
  • Stephan was called to be the ward clerk. 
  • We went to Houston to visit my family.
September
  • Stephan got laid off. 
October
  • Stephan applying for jobs and having interviews. 
  • Trying to stay sane.
  • Halloween
November
  • Interviews continue, and two of the companies look VERY promising.
  • One company had Stephan do training with its team. He was a top candidate with anotehr company.
  • First company rejects him most unceremoniously. Other company promises an offer, only to rescind it.
  • We spend a weekend watching three children (plus our own). It was an adventure to say the least.
  • Oh, and Thanksgiving.
December
  • People are generous and give us presents to give to Kate. 
  • General Christmas preparations
  • Went to Temple Square for the Christmas lights
  • Flew to Houston for Christmas.
  • I turned 28.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Kate's little ruby: a lesson in embracing imperfection


If you look closely at this picture of Kate, you will see a small pinkish-red birthmark on the right side of her forehead.

It was much more noticeable when she was a baby, and people would often say (after commenting on how cute she is), "Oooooh, do you have an owie?" 


Her birthmark has never bothered me, since it hasn't caused problems, but the questions about her being hurt got old. Even a friend who saw Kate frequently blurted out one day, "Is that scab ever going to heal?!" I more or less yelled at her, "IT'S A BIRTHMARK!"



Stephan and I have affectionately called her birthmark her "little ruby." Kate has recently become more aware of her physical features, and one day while looking in the mirror she pointed to her birthmark and asked, "What's that?" 

I told her, "That's your little ruby. You were born with it."

She smiled and exclaimed, "My little wooby! It's pwetty!"

Every so often, she'll point to her birthmark and proudly say that she has a "little wooby."

I think we can learn a lesson in embracing perceived physical imperfections.

Today, we are bombarded by images of what the media thinks is perfection, and the images we see are more often than not photoshopped, and therefore unrealistic. Nevertheless, these images fuel a lot of insecurity in both men and women. Thankfully, there is a movement challenging the unrealistic beauty ideals that the media promotes, like the Kite sisters at Beauty Redefined

Since Kate's birthmark has faded a lot overtime, most people don't even notice it now. However, I still want to teach my daughter to love herself for who she is, physical "imperfections" and all. I think referring to her birthmark as her "little ruby" is a step in the right direction.

I think we can learn a lot about embracing ourselves for who we are, despite what society might think, from a little girl who has a "little ruby" and is proud of it.


So....let go of your insecurities about a physical flaw. Let it go!

video


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Nearer to thee

Honestly, if I had been updating more regularly the last few months, there may have been a lot of gnashing of teeth. While I do like to keep things real, I think that would have been too much. Plus, I was having major writer's block and a serious lack of motivation.

Things are finally looking up now--Stephan has a job offer with a company that does government accounting software. The pay is good, as are the benefits. The only downside is that it isn't nearly as close as his old job was, so we're going to be taking turns with the car until we (a) move closer to his job or (b) get a second car.

That's the short version of this story. If you want to hear about the roller coaster we were on for the last few months, read on.

Stephan started getting ready for the job hunt very soon after he got laid off. We had some friends help him with his resume, and it paid off because he got a lot of interviews over the next few months. It wasn't until we were nearing the end (though we didn't know it at the time) things got really crazy.

First, there was a company (Company #1) that he interviewed with sometime during October that had turned him down for the position he interviewed for, but when another position opened in another department, they invited him to attend a software training with the team the week before Thanksgiving. Of course, he took them up on it! We thought it would turn into an amazing job offer at the end of that week, when he was told that he would be taking a test to get certified in that software program.

Well, the end of the week came, and the instructor told the team that the test would not be administered during the training, but they had to register for it at a later date using an account that Stephan was never given. He contacted the company's HR guy with this information, and the HR guy promised to get back to him in a few days.

In the meantime, he had another promising interview (Company #2).Very promising. In fact, the team leader who interviewed him called the day after (the day before Thanksgiving) to tell him that he was the top candidate, but the department was facing a possibility of a shakedown. The team leader said he would call back the next Monday (after Thanksgiving) with the decision.

We prayed very, very hard that Thanksgiving weekend.

Monday came, and we were on pins and needles. The team leader called that evening with the promise of an offer! Not an official offer, but the offer would come in a few days! Oh how excited we were! Well, mostly me. Stephan couldn't let himself be happy, but I thought it was because he tends to make things complicated for himself.

The next day, Company #1 called Stephan back. Not only was it a rejection, but the HR guy detailed WHY he didn't get the job. The reason why? He wasn't social enough with the team. Seriously? Seriously! Stephan tends to be reserved around people he doesn't know well. I mean, come on, he barely spoke on our first date. But, we didn't let it bother us because he had the promise of an offer from Company #2!

He had another interview that day with Company #3--we thought it pointless because of the offer promise, but he still went to it.

That evening, everything changed. Again. Company #2 called, but not with good news. The higher ups decided to restructure the department rather than hire someone on. There was much weeping, wailing, and kicking of doors (by me, not Stephan). It was not a happy night at our house. We had come SO CLOSE to being done with this unemployment crap, and now we were right back to where we started.

Two rejections in one day really, really stinks. Company #1 is a company I actually purchase from, but since they screwed Stephan over big time, they are not getting my business anymore.

The next day, we just got up on got on with our day as normally as possible. When evening came, Company #3 called him: they wanted to give him an offer. We were floored, and I felt absolutely guilty about my immature, reactive behavior of the night before.

While the night before was full of anguish and discouragement, this evening was full of joy!

Of course, we had our fears that this offer would get rescinded like the one from company #2, but now that papers have been signed and a start date given, we are not so fearful.

In the grand scheme of things, being out of work for a few months isn't much, but my goodness did it feel like forever. Now that we are coming out of this trial, we are realizing the lessons we learned and the blessings and tender mercies that were rendered unto us. For one, it was a really good thing I wasn't pregnant when the layoff happened. That would have made things so much more stressful than they already were. We got to experience the kindness and generosity of family and friends--relatives who sent money because they had a feeling we needed it. The referrals, prayers, resume help, and listening ears to my much complaining (thanks guys).

I am also very grateful for Thanksgiving Point memberships, for we used ours A LOT the last few months, even if only to get ourselves out of the house and not have to spend lots of money on tickets.

And mercifully, we all stayed pretty healthy during the last few months. No serious illnesses that required a lot of medical attention.

There were times I started feeling like if there was a God and if He was so loving, why would He let us suffer so much? I really started doubting him. He had ways of letting me know that yes, he was there, and yes he was aware of us.

One of these ways was through The Piano Guys. As part of Kate's bedtime routine, we turn on some music to help her wind down. We always turn it on shuffle, so we don't know what's going to play first.

There was one week that when we pushed that shuffle button, and their rendition of "Nearer My God to Thee" would be the first song to play. It was through that song I got my answer.

Part of God's plan for us is for there to be opposition in all things. If there was no opposition, we would never know the good from the bad, and we would not truly appreciate the good. How could we appreciate good health if we've never experienced illness?

It is also through trials and tribulations that we draw closer to God. If there were no trials and tribulations, why would we need a God?

My faith is not perfect--I am still learning to have greater faith, but it is stronger now than before the last several months happened.

But I know this: Heavenly Father has a plan for us. We cannot comprehend it with our limited understanding, and often we don't realize why the hard times happen until we've gotten through them. He is always there, and He loves us.

I will close with The Piano Guys' music video for "Nearer My God to Thee"


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hang in there

Oh, here I am again. It HAS been a while. I haven't really known what to write about and unfortunately, I do not have good news on the job front.

Stephan has been applying and interviewing, but instead of job offers, he gets messages saying, "Thanks but no thanks."

It's starting to get old.

Sure, there are some nice things about having Stephan home these past nearly two months, but the fact we don't have money coming in (well, we will once the unemployment stuff kicks in) is very stressful. 

Stress is not good for my depression and anxiety, so of course I've had a flare-up of those. Unfortunately we no longer have health insurance and since we don't have money coming in, I can't go see my therapist. Ugh.

Then there's the question of what to do to occupy ourselves in the meantime. I've read some articles on the web that give advice on what to do during unemployment, and ironically most of the tips include, "Take a trip! Do fun things!" Problem with these ideas: they all cost money. Money we need to guard with our lives. 

We try to do some fun things, all the while feeling guilty that more money has gone down the drain and we don't know when it will be coming back. 

Have we prayed? Mightily. Let's just say I'm not happy with God right now. I want some answers to my prayers, dang it. 

Yes, this post has been depressing and I'm sorry. I wish I could be the bearer of good news, but good news has yet to be found over here.

Maybe next time there will be good news. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Layoff: venturing into the unknown

You may or may not have been wondering why my posts have been sporadic and vague recently, but then again, they're usually sporadic anyway.

If you are my friend on Facebook, then you know that my husband was laid off a few weeks ago because of budget cuts out of his company's control. Stephan didn't feel comfortable with me sharing that until this last week, and I wanted to respect his wishes.

As far as layoffs go, it could be worse. It happened right after he got paid and we will be paid for this month, though if we don't have a job with benefits by October, we'll be without health insurance. Yeah, got to get on that, though I have no idea how we're going to pay for it. Health insurance: can't afford to not have it, can't afford to actually get it.

We've been doing well, all things considered. I just hate venturing into the unknown: will we have to move? What if he's out of work for several months? Do I need to start looking for a job myself?

It's questions like that that trigger my anxiety and make me question the utility of actually getting up in the morning. I still get up, if only to take care of my family.

We are trying to use our time and money wisely. Stephan and I have started exercising together in the mornings, which helps us keep stress at bay. He helps around the house and Kate loves having her daddy home during the day.

Stephan has been looking high and low for work, and thanks to some leads from friends, he has an interview lined up this week and a programming test for another company this week. He had a phone interview this last week as well. Other friends have asked for his resume to pass on to their bosses. Seriously, the kindness people have shown us has been humbling. Sometimes I feel like people don't really care, but it's times like these that I am reminded that people really do care for our welfare. So, thank you guys for helping me see the good :)

Other tender mercies during this hard time have included a relative sending us a check just because she thought we needed it; a friend paying me to watch her daughters so she could teach a class; friends offering to look over Stephan's resume; the fact we split Bountiful Baskets with another family so we can still have fruits and veggies for not too much money....I could go on.

I suppose it's also a good thing that I'm not pregnant right now--that would have added even more anxiety to the mix. I'm still dealing with progesterone issues...bah humbug.

It really does feel good to open up about this. If you are wanting to help us in some way, prayers and good employment thoughts are most welcome. Leads for software engineer positions will also be happily accepted :)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Menu Plan Monday: 9/15-9/21

I used to do this way back when and stopped doing it because of life. Now I want to start this again--partially as a way to post more often and so I can be accountable for cooking regularly. We're trying to make our dollars stretch out a little more, so my goal is to make breakfasts at least a few times a week so I'm not buying so much cereal.

So, here are the meals I'm planning for the week:

Monday

Breakfast: Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: Shepherd's pie, rolls, and fruit

Tuesday:

Breakfast: French Toast
Lunch: leftovers/sandwiches
Dinner: Birthday pizza party

Wednesday:

Breakfast: muffins
Lunch: leftovers/sandwiches
Dinner: Chicken katsu, stir-fried vegetables, sliced nashi (or Asian Pears for the uninitiated)


Thursday:
Breakfast: Leftover muffins/baked oatmeal
Lunch: leftovers/sandwiches
Dinner: Alfredo


Friday:
Breakfast: breakfast burritos
Lunch: leftovers/sandwiches
Dinner: leftovers


Saturday:

Breakfast: cereal/breakfast leftovers
Lunch: leftovers/sandwiches
Dinner:Homemade pizza

Sunday:

Breakfast: cereal
Lunch: leftovers (possibly)
Dinner: with friends

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ups and downs

To be honest, I don't know exactly what to write.

This summer has been filled with many ups and downs

Ups:

Being interviewed by Good4Utah about ICP.
Hosting the ICP Awareness Day event and meeting other Itchy Moms
Family party in Logan
My grandfather's birthday
Going to Houston


Downs:

Ectopic pregnancy
Broken air conditioning
Stressful work projects
Friends moving
Getting sick

Oh, and a blessing that also brings some more stress: Stephan got called to be the ward clerk. For my non-Mormon readers, the ward clerk helps the bishopric (leadership of our congregation) keep track of records (financial and membership) and goes to meetings with them. He also has to wake up extra early on Sundays to attend meetings. 

I don't have much more to add. 


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