Back to Waiting

Ever since my husband’s day off moved to Monday, I had started creating a routine for myself that almost made me feel busy again.  Since Mondays are now fun days for my husband and me, that meant I only had three lonely days of the week.  With errands, a weekly appointment, meeting a friend for coffee, and several trips to the mechanic to fix a finicky windshield wiper, these three days (actually 2.5 days if I take off for the morning I spend cleaning my boss’s house) have made me feel less lonely and more productive than I did trying to clean the entire house on a weekly basis.  Then there were Fridays–the one day a week that I felt  productive because I worked with the kids.  Things were starting to look good again, or at least manageable.

Then my boss told me last week that due to circumstances beyond his control, my hours are being cut this week–possibly permanently.  Instead of working Fridays every week, I may now only work every other week.  The job that I initially started with 25+ hours a week has already been whittled down to 13-15 hours, and now I might be down to 13-15 hours one week and 3 hours the other week.  I’m not angry at my boss; he feels bad that my hours keep getting cut.  I’m just so frustrated that after months of patiently hoping that I might gain hours, I get a cut in my hours instead.

I’m a little uncertain what to do now.  I don’t plan on quitting my current job–I like the kids, I like my boss.  With a move looming in July, it doesn’t seem reasonable to find another job.  I’ve tried to volunteer at several places–none of them worked out.*  What do I do to fill the empty hours?  What do I do so I can look at myself in the mirror and see an individual who is productive and worthwhile instead of someone who is only waiting, waiting, waiting for this year to end?

*I asked about volunteering at the elementary school when we first moved here; I was more or less told that background checks for volunteers are really expensive.  I tried volunteering at the Human Society; I liked the animals but the people acted like I was a big annoyance every time I tried to ask them a question.  I tried volunteering at the crisis pregnancy center; they never returned my inquiry.  I’m beginning to think that all that talk about agencies always wanting volunteers might be a bunch of B.S. 


The Baby Question

One of the ways our vicarage congregation supports the seminary is by providing financial assistance to a seminarian from Ghana.  The congregation adores their adoptive seminarian and are thrilled whenever he visits.  This quarter, their seminarian graduated and will now return to Ghana to serve as a professor and pastor.  Happily for the congregation, last weekend he was able to visit one last time before heading back to Africa.  Even more exciting for the congregation, he was able to introduce his wife to them for the first time.

During Bible study time last Sunday, the congregation had an opportunity to ask their seminarian and his wife questions.  There were some work focused questions like “How many students will you have?” and “How long will it take for you to complete your well?” when one of congregation members bluntly asked, “So, when are you two going to start having kids?”  Their seminarian took a moment to compose himself and made a lovely answer about how God already knows their future children and how he and his wife already pray for their children.

Meanwhile, I’m in the back of the room laughing because it’s nice to see that other young couples get asked the Baby Question at incredibly awkward times.  Really, my laughter was only out of solidarity (mostly).

This Winter’s Game

One of the downsides of being a nanny is that I still have to work when the kids are sick.  There is no luxury of sending the child home, I get to stay with the little harbinger of germs until a parent returns from work.  Likewise, I don’t get a day off if I am sick (okay, admittedly I haven’t been deathly ill yet, so I could probably pull off a sick day if I was hospitalized or something), so catching an illness while caring for a sick child is a valid concern.

However, I have now decided that I’m playing a game of “How Many Germs Can I Expose Myself to Without Getting Sick.”  Since I don’t work full time this year, I’ve also decided the game includes any direct contact with someone who becomes ill.  So far this winter I’ve been exposed to some sort of virus that causes a fever, stomach flu, influenza, strep throat, pink eye, and various colds.  I’ve only contracted the stomach flu.  Illnesses: 1  Me: 5

I’m winning!

Social Anxiety: Good for an Occasional Laugh

Yesterday was my husband’s day off, so we drove over to the bigger town to do some errands.  One of those errands included going to the bank so my husband could deposit his pay check and we could transfer some money between accounts.  Since the closest branch of our bank is a thirty minute drive, I do most of the in-person banking.  At this point, I’m fairly used to the tellers and some even recognize me.  Since I’m used to the bank now, it doesn’t fall in the category of “Difficult Social Situations.”  However, my husband hardly ever goes to the bank (he often mails in his checks) and has rarely talked to one of the tellers here.  He also doesn’t realize that I often deposit my checks in person, not through the ATM.

On our way into the bank, my husband asked, “Do they have an ATM inside?”

“Um, yeah, I think so,” I replied.

“Good.  I don’t want to interact with people, so I’ll deposit my check there!”

I paused, looked up at him, and sweetly asked, “Why do I have to go talk to the teller?  I’m the one with a medical condition making social interaction difficult.”  My husband looked sheepish, sighed, and started walking towards the lobby.  That’s when I started laughing. 

Okay, not one of my nicer moments, but I figure if I have to struggle in many social situations (*cough* Church *cough, cough*), I might as well have some fun with it.

Newest Bit of Happiness on the Internet

A couple of weeks ago, one of my high school/college friend/college roommate (what does it say about me if I have three people that fit into that category?) recommended that I watch a video blog (vlog) called “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.”  The idea behind the vlog is to make a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice.  Since I am a fan of Pride and Prejudice, I watched the first video.

It was AWESOME and I have been trying to catch up the last week and a half.  I’m about halfway through right now and I must admit, the vlog stays surprisingly true to the book.  So, if you are a fan of Pride and Prejudice or you enjoy a good romantic comedy, I highly recommend “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.”*

*My high school/college friend/college roommate did have a disclaimer about Lydia’s behavior at towards the end.  Knowing what I know about Lydia from the book, one can only imagine what she might do in a modern setting. 

Why Trying to Make a Financial Plan is Hard

Since my husband and I have hit the 18-months-before-ordination-God-willing point in his studies, I have been trying to make a long-term financial plan. *blerg*  In 18 months, we’ll no longer be bouncing place to place and will have some stability in our life.  I would like our finances to reflect that new found stability.  However, seminary life makes it difficult to plan long term for almost everything, including finances.  Why is it so difficult?  Here are some reasons:

1.  How much will my husband’s schooling cost next year?  While the seminary does provide a cost of attendance (COA) estimate, it’s not a guarantee of how much his final year will actually cost us.  Plus, for some odd reason the COA estimate for room and board only calculates the cost for him.  Apparently only my husband needs a roof over his head and food in his belly.

2.  How much will I earn next year?  I am very blessed to be able to return to last year’s nanny job this coming school year, so I have a general idea how much I will be earning on a monthly basis.  However, I get paid an hourly wage.  I also work inconsistent hours–some weeks I’m only there for 35 hours, other weeks I put in 45 hours.  Add in unpaid vacation days and my monthly wage is extremely difficult to predict.

3.  What will be the cost of living?  As of right now, we have no idea where we will go when my husband gets a call.  We could go west.  We could go east.  We could go south.  We could even go north, although I hope not too much more north than we are now.  We could live in a rural area.  We could live in a megalopolis.  This unknown place that we will eventually reside has an equally unknown cost of living.  How much will food cost?  What will the gas prices be like?  Will house prices be cheap or outrageous?  Which leads to one of the biggest questions. . .

4.  Will we need to buy a house?  We could get a parsonage.  We could have to find our own place to live.  We won’t know until call night, but this makes a significant difference in our financial plans.

5.  How does a pastor’s salary actually work?  I’m still really, really unclear what is covered in a pastor’s salary.  Health insurance?  Housing allowance?  Mileage reimbursement?  It’s doesn’t help much that often the answer to this question is that it varies from congregation to congregation.  However, the good news is that I will have better access to this information once we’re back at the sem.   

Valentine’s Day Means I Get Lots of Candy. . .From My Parents

The first Valentine’s Day that my husband and I were dating, my cat died the night before.  In case you don’t remember when our kittens disappeared, I love animals.  Consequently, the death of my beloved childhood pet meant I went home for the weekend to mourn.  Happy Valentine’s Day to us.

The second Valentine’s Day that my husband and I were dating (technically we were engaged), we were trying to handle our year of having a long distance relationship.  We saw each other about once a month when our schedules could allow it.  Consequently, we spent Valentine’s Day 350 miles apart.  Happy Valentine’s Day to us.
By the third Valentine’s Day, my husband and I were married.  My husband’s birthday is five days before Valentine’s Day, which meant I had just bought him a present.  Likewise, we had already gone out to eat once that week because of his birthday.  Consequently, I said, “Screw this coupley Valentine’s Day stuff, I’m too lazy to buy another present for my husband and we’re too broke to go out to eat again!”  Thus we established our Valentine’s Day tradition.
But I’m not anti-Valentine’s Day.  I still very much look forward to the Valentine’s care package from home. What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than digging through a box of goodies?  Plus, I’ve been promised candy hearts from my mom, which is a good thing because I already ate the bag I bought yesterday.  Or maybe getting the candy hearts isn’t such a good thing because I already ate the bag I bought yesterday. . .

My (Sort Of) Pregnancy Scare

To fully understand this story, you first need to know that I have red hair that my grandfather used to describe as, “Bright as a copper penny.”  As far as my physical features go, my hair stands out the most.  Seriously, sometimes it looks like my head has burst into flames.

On Saturday night, my husband and I sat with Pastor and Pastor’s Wife at the youth group’s Sweetheart Dinner.  While chatting with Pastor and Pastor’s Wife is enjoyable, sometimes it is a bit difficult to follow their train of thought–they have a tendency to rapidly jump from topic to topic.  Anyway, after we had finished our dinner, Pastor left our table to socialize with other members of the congregation.  My husband and I were conversing nicely with Pastor’s Wife when we reached a natural lull in the conversation.  However, the lull began to extend to an awkward silence and I tried to think of something to say.

Suddenly, Pastor’s Wife says, “I can’t wait to see pictures of your babies.”  I stared at her and my thoughts started running rapidly through my head.  First thought: I’m pregnant?!  When did that happen?  Wait, why does Pastor’s Wife know I’m pregnant before I do?  That doesn’t make any sense.  Oh, okay, I’m not pregnant.  Then I started thinking, Wait, does she think I’m pregnant?  Why would she think that?  Did I say something to make her think I’m pregnant?  How do I tactfully tell her that we’re not having a baby right now?  Or is she implying that I should be pregnant?  Is this one of those ticking biological clock lectures?  By this time only a few seconds had passed but I had started to open and close my mouth like a fish at her and my husband.

Pastor’s Wife then said, “Your kids will have the prettiest red hair.”  My husband burst into laughter

Apparently her thought was simply that there was a good chance that our future children would have red hair.  No thoughts about me being pregnant, no thoughts that I should be pregnant.  A harmless comment.

We then steered the conversation toward red beards and genetics.  After we returned home, my husband laughed again and said, “I haven’t seen you so flabbergasted by a baby comment before!”

What Goes Around, Comes Around

When I was in high school, my youth group put on a Sweetheart Dinner every year for the adults in the congregation.  We set up tables in the basement of the church, decorated the place with Valentine’s Day decor, prepared a meal, and provided entertainment for our guests with skits, jokes, and music.  It was always a busy day full of hard work, but I remember working the Sweetheart Dinner with fondness.

This weekend the youth group here is doing their Sweetheart Dinner.  Since their dinner is done in three shifts, my husband is able to duck out of a shift so he can dine with me.  Oddly enough, I’m actually a little bit excited to attend the dinner.  This will be the first church activity I attend as an adult that I can say, “Hey, I used to be on the other side of this event!”  I’m looking forward to being the adult!

And This Is What We Consider "Exciting" When It’s Too Cold To Go Outside

Today my husband and I were sitting on opposite ends of the couch eating Jelly Bellies when I opened my mouth and indicated that he should try to toss a bean in.  We play this game sometimes, but it usually ends with food falling into the couch cushions.  Not today!  He tossed a Jelly Belly into the air and it landed perfectly inside my mouth.  Surprised at my success, I tossed my arms into the air to form the victory “V” and exclaimed, “Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what we consider exciting when it’s February in the North.