Feb 25, 2009

Rock bottom

A couple of months ago I started a second blog. It was all about how Patrick and I are trying to claw our way out of some serious debt. I was keeping up with it because a) I was motivated to get out of debt and b) I actually saw a light at the end of the tunnel. Things grew quite hectic over the past two months since we met with the counselors - the holidays and the unexpected death of my father-in-law. It has been difficult to keep up with that blog, so the stress of everyday life and my recent "screw it" attitude have forced me to just be open about this situation here.

Now that things have settled down some, we pulled out the paperwork and looked at things again. We had some questions and were a bit uncomfortable with some of the details of the plan, so we decided to do some more research. However, the financial situation is even more dire at this point. The bottom line is that we don't have any money. Seriously. I know I'm prone to exaggeration, but I'm not kidding.

While I bring in a steady paycheck every other week, Patrick's checks have been more...hit-and-miss. His small company (of which he is part owner) hit some rough patches last fall. Of course, this happened just as I was on those three weeks of unpaid maternity leave (when we decided it would be OK and we would make it through just fine).

Things are bad. We've drained our savings (which we always had for one of those "just in case" situations). I just never thought we'd run out. I got paid last week and Patrick didn't. Nothing. Not even a portion of a paycheck. We can't survive like this. I don't know what we're going to do.

I had to buy some medicine tonight - I went to the doctor this morning and I've got bronchitis again. I need an antibiotic and my inhalers. The bill was $43. I had a $20 in my purse, so I paid with that and the rest went on a credit card. We only have a little bit left in checking until Friday when I get paid again (and I pray that Patrick gets paid, too). Our phone was cut this afternoon and I paid by phone (cell phone, which I'm contemplating getting rid of) and took the money out of checking. The only reason I paid the bill was because I was afraid someone would call the house and find out that our phone was disconnected. I'm embarrassed by this whole situation. I'm depressed.

Oh...and a couple of weeks ago when things were looking up? I bought some Girl Scout cookies from our neighbors. We don't even have money to pay for those. How pathetic is that?

I do this all the time...

I found this at Post Secret, and while I didn't actually submit this...I could have because I do it all the time.


Feb 24, 2009


I've been sick and I'm taking a hiatus from blogging. I've been swamped at work (three grants due on Friday), so I haven't had much time to write. I need to get healthy and stay healthy. Griffin was sick last week and I am doing my best not to pass it back to him.

I'll be back in a few days (you know I've got tons to say!)...

Feb 20, 2009

This is why I fell in love with him...

[caption id="attachment_547" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Patrick and Duncan (July 2000)"]Patrick and Duncan (July 2000)[/caption]

Feb 18, 2009


{In reference to the last post}

As a young girl my family travelled each summer. We stayed in the US and we drove to each destination, stopping along the way to see various historic sites and monuments. My parents believed that travelling (especially by car) was one of the best ways to educate yourself. We visited obscure places that most of my friends had never been - Lititz, PA (the home of the first commercial pretzel bakery in the US), the Cumberland Gap, the Appomattox Courthouse, and so on.

Some of my favorite memories were of us driving to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. There was something about that drive that spoke to me. The Blue Ridge and Appalachian Mountains. The green hills. The rural towns. One afternoon, we pulled off into a small town in Virgina (small as in a population of only about 1200)  so we could fill up the car with gas and get out to stretch our legs after a long drive. Everything seemed so small. So simple. One gas station. One grocery store. Every home had a front porch, and every porch had someone sitting on it. I was 16 years old at the time, and in that stage in life when I wondered about my future. What would I do for a living? Would I get married? Have children? Where would I live? I envisioned life in this small town. It wasn't the quaint town with a bustling Main Street. It wasn't the small town where people hang their American flags and celebrate the Fourth of July with a big parade and picnic. Norman Rockwell it wasn't. It was just...small. The men worked and the women raised the children. People drove rusted pick-up trucks and shopped at the nearby K-Mart. There was no mall. No fancy clothes. No upscale restaurants. It was the epitome of a rural, southern community.

As we waited for my dad to finish up at the gas station, I rolled down the window to get some air. In the distance, I heard a train roll through town. I imagine people heard that on a regular basis as they went to work or played with their children in their front yards.

I don't know why this image - this town - stuck with me for all these years. It has remained a symbol of a simple life, a life that I don't lead right now. Yes, my life is a lot simpler than it could be, but I still deal with the daily stress of work, parenting, and financial obligations that have gone off track. The competition with neighbors about who has the nicest lawn or cleanest garage. The competition with friends about who has the nicest clothes or car. I know I shouldn't feel that way, but I do.

When I heard the train early this morning, I closed my eyes and imagined that small town in Virginia. I imagined a simpler life - rocking Griffin to sleep on the front porch, in the early dusk of a warm summer night. For that brief moment I forgot about bills and grants. I forgot about the mess in my kitchen and that we once again don't have enough money to pay our mortgage. Instead, I imagined living in that town and listening to the train pass through as we sleep with the windows open, a light breeze blowing the curtains. Babies safe and asleep. No worries. A simple life.

Completely random

While feeding and rocking Griffin at 2 AM, I realized that there is something so comforting about the distant sound of a train whistling in the middle of the night. I can't even begin to explain why I think that, nor can I explain how it makes me feel (aside from using the word "comforting" which is really vague and overused, but seemed to fit).

If I had the time I would explain where my mind wanders when I hear that in the middle of the night, but I don't have the time and I know that no one would understand, so I'll just keep that to myself.

Feb 17, 2009

PB & J with the crusts cut off...

I'm supposed to be working right now, but I seem to have lost all motivation sometime around, oh, let's say...9 AM. I will have to do some work this evening, but this totally makes me not care.

On the move

Once again, I'm swamped at work, so just a brief post with some recent pictures of Griffin. He has been rolling and scooting backwards a lot lately and we think he might be crawling any day now (he has been "rocking" at day care!).

[caption id="attachment_517" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Getting on all fours..."]Getting on all fours... [/caption]


[caption id="attachment_522" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="I really, really want to crawl..."]I really, really want to crawl...[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_523" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="In my spare time I like to flirt..."]In my spare time I like to flirt...[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_524" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Sometimes mom lets me feed myself..."]Sometimes mom lets me feed myself...[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_525" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Being shy - OK, so he's really just wiping his face with his bib..."]Being shy - OK, so he's really just wiping his face with his bib...[/caption]

Feb 15, 2009

Livin' the high life

It's no secret that I get migraines. I have for years {ten to be exact}. And they can be bad...awful...excruciating. They've sent me to the ER on numerous occasions and at times, when Patrick asks if there's anything he can do, I will tell him that if he really loved me, he'd take a baseball bat to my head. He has yet to take me up on that request.

I see a neurologist and I've been on lots of different meds - Maxalt, Relpax, Amerge, Frova, and Imitrex (pill and nasal spray) just to name a few. I've also been on a low-dose, old-school anti-depressant that apparently can help prevent migraines. No such luck. The only good thing that came from that medicine was that I got lots of good sleep.

The other medication I take is a really strong painkiller. When I wake up with a horrible migraine - like I did this morning - I take one Relpax and one painkiller (because it can take up to two hours for the Relpax to kick in). This morning I didn't get enough relief from that combo, so I was forced to take a second painkiller. Unfortunately, my body has grown used to these meds, so I usually can take them without too many side effects..but every once in a while...

So today I had to go grocery shopping, and let me tell you, I definitely put the "high" in Hy-Vee. I've written about this before, and it is a truly bizarre experience. In a nutshell, I overcompensate. Kind of like when you answer the phone out of a deep sleep and try to convince the person on the other end that you weren't sleeping. It's like that, but funnier.

Anyway, I managed to get everything on my list {aside from tomato soup, but I blame that on a crowded grocery store and not on the drugs}.

Feb 12, 2009

Hide 'n seek...

No matter where I live, the courts seem to track me down for jury duty. When I lived in Chicago, I got summoned more times than I like to remember. When I lived in Sycamore, Cook County still tried to summon me (I even called them and told them I had moved and would be willing to fax them a copy of the lease from my apartment, but I was NOT going back to Chicago to appear for jury duty). When I moved to Davenport I got summoned, and just a few weeks ago I received another summons. Patrick has lived here his entire life and I don't think he has ever been summoned. What is it about me?

The last time I went to court for jury duty, I had numerous people tell me to bring a book and be prepared for a long, boring day. Not three pages into my book and I got called into the first panel of potential jurors. I then spent the next seven hours in the courtroom listening to people trying to explain themselves out of jury duty. Unfortunately, I was seated in the Juror #11 seat, so I had to wait all day until they finally got to me. After three brief questions from the judge, I was dismissed (much to the dismay of the defense attorney who wanted me there because of my extensive background in psychology). I was handed a check for $17, which barely covered my train fare back home and prayed that I would never get called again.

I'm scheduled to appear for duty on Monday (yep, Scott County is open on the holiday). I'm swamped at work - three grants due by the 27th, a special event that I am in charge of coordinating, and two huge United Way presentations. They don't consider workload a reason to be excused, so I really hope they take one look at my sleep-deprived face (or make that listen to my sleep-deprived rambling) and kick me right out of there. Any chance they'll have sympathy for a new mom who hasn't hit a REM-cycle in about 7 months?

Feb 10, 2009

You and me both, Griffin...


A different perspective

Ever since my father-in-law became ill, I've been trying to put myself in Patrick's situation as a way to understand what he was experiencing - a difficult task since both of my parents are alive and healthy. I just tried to imagine how sad, how lost, how hollow I would feel knowing that my mom or dad was just days from death. I imagine the sense of panic would be overwhelming. I know I would feel sick to my stomach. I would feel desperate, wishing we could share just one more conversation...just one more laugh.

A couple of weeks ago something happened that changed my view on what was going on in our lives. It happened again last night. I saw Patrick holding Griffin in his arms and I began to see things not through the eyes of a child losing a parent, but through the eyes of a mother. There they were - both peaceful and asleep. Patrick and Griffin. Father and son. Daddy and baby. It was then that I realized that my mother-in-law, while mourning the loss of her husband of 45 years, was also mourning the loss of her babies' father. And yes, I know that her "babies" are 38 and 41 years old, but I don't think age changes those motherly emotions. So I stood there last night watching the two of them and I began to realize how sad I would be, how completely empty I would be to see Griffin lose his father. I desperately wanted to take a picture - to capture that image of pure love - but I didn't. I knew they would both wake up and I didn't want to ruin that moment. Instead, I soaked it in, trying to burn that moment and that image into my brain. Daddy and Griffin...

Feb 9, 2009

A possible reason to sell my soul


Anyone who knows me knows that I live and die for the Cubs. I'm a third generation Cubs fan and I start anticipating the new baseball season as soon as the Cubs are eliminated {Jason, this is no time to crack a joke}.

I have always dreamed about taking a mini-vacation and heading to Spring Training in Arizona. A few days, a few games, and lots of sun. I just checked the spring schedule and see that the Cubs play the Sox March 4th and 5th and they're playing in Las Vegas. Seriously. Las Vegas + a Cubs/Sox matchup = Heaven.

Someone's playing the lottery this week...

Feb 7, 2009

I hate Saturdays

I don't really hate Saturdays. In fact, I love them. They're the perfect in between day - no residual stress from a long work week and no stressing about the upcoming week. For me, Saturday is the day to clean, do laundry, go for a walk, enjoy my family, etc. I like when Duncan has friends over and I can hear them playing outside or when the neighbor kids come over and ask if he can ride his bike with them to the park near our house.

Patrick used to love Saturdays, too, until last week. His typical Saturday always included an afternoon at his dad's shop (he used to restore antique Indy race cars). He'd spend a few hours there every Saturday helping his dad. He enjoyed it and he looked forward to it each week. This afternoon Patrick seemed particularly annoyed and I ran through all the possible options - did I say something wrong? Was Duncan acting up? Did he not get enough sleep? But it wasn't anything like that. It was the one thing I never thought of. It was Saturday. When I asked him what was wrong, he just shook his head and muttered, "I hate Saturdays."

I feel stuck. When he cries, I know what to do - a hug, some understanding words (as understanding as one can be when she hasn't lost her parents). It's when he gets angry and snaps that I feel lost. It's human nature to want to snap back, but I have to step back and realize where it's coming from. I try not to say, "I understand" because there is no way I can - I have no idea how he is feeling. I can only imagine how lost he must feel right now. I spend my time tiptoeing around, trying to say and do the right things. I don't know how to love someone through such a monumental loss. I feel so awkward and cumbersome with my words and motions.

I wish I could change everything. I wish I could bring his dad back. I wish I could at least take away Patrick's pain.

Feb 4, 2009

To friend or not to friend?

Let's just get it out in the open, people. I'm addicted to Facebook. Who isn't? OK, so maybe that's just my way of justifying this nasty habit of mine. I joined a long time ago, but never used it because I really didn't know what I was supposed to do. Then my friend suggested we play a game of Scrabulous (remember that, Ceci?). I was hooked!! I didn't care about getting in touch with anyone, I just wanted to play Scrabulous while I was on my lunch break...and when I was supposed to be writing a grant or doing some research, but I digress.

Then I got a friend request...and life as I knew it came to a screeching halt as I realized the true purpose of Facebook. In the months since my epiphany, I've become friends with quite a few people. Of course, there are the friends I talk to or e-mail on a daily basis. There's my sister who I see as often as possible, and whose business I know inside and out. But then there are those with whom I've lost touch over the years - people I've thought about from time to time. So here's a sample of my list of new-old friends:

  • A former superviser with whom things ended badly when I resigned from my job.

  • My high school crush for all four years.

  • Two friends I've known since kindergarten.

  • The girl that lived across the street from me when we were kids (we used to play Twister on my parents' driveway).

  • The first boy I ever kissed

  • My best friend in high school who went out with me the night we got our drivers' licenses.

  • My absolutely adorable cousin who I rarely see.

  • A dear friend from graduate school who suffered through stats class with me.

  • An ex-boyfriend.

  • My brother-in-law...and his sister!

The funny thing is that there are a ton of people I would "friend" but don't because I think they would never remember me. That's the weird thing about Facebook - it transports me back to those awkward days in high school when I couldn't look a guy in the eyes because I just knew he could tell I liked him. I was so afraid of being rejected that I never did anything about my crushes. And now, at the ripe old age of 36, I feel the same about being Facebook friends with these same people - will they remember me? Will they just accept my friendship because they feel obligated, or because they want to increase their number of Facebook friends? I'm seriously in my mid-30's and am thinking like a teenager. Sad but true.

And another thing...Patrick joined Facebook on Sunday night. I asked him to be my friend and he has yet to accept. Should I be worried???

Feb 3, 2009

I've moved...

...to WordPress. You can find me at http://unencumberedlife.wordpress.com

The look of love

Here is my father-in-law admiring Griffin in his Halloween costume (and I like to think that Griffin was admiring him right back). Grandpa loved his Griffin...and Griffin loved his Grandpa. I ache thinking that they only knew each other for 6 short months...


I've never liked country music, but...

At my father-in-law's funeral everyone expected to hear the typical somber music you usually find - maybe Ava Maria or some religious music. So when Vince Gill's voice started to be piped throughout the funeral home, most people were a bit surprised. I never have been a fan of country music, but this song made me cry. OK, so maybe it had something to do with being at the funeral of someone I loved, but those lyrics just got to me. I looked over at my mother-in-law who looked like she couldn't decide between crying and laughing as they played their song. So here's the song and its lyrics (and let's see how long you can go without tearing up):

\"Look At Us\" - Vince Gill

Look at us
After all these years together
Look at us
After all that we've been through
Look at us
Still leaning on each other

If you want to see
How true love should be
then just look at us

Look at you
Still pretty as a picture
look at me
Still crazy over you
Look at us
Still believin' in forever

Look at us
After all these years together
Look at us
After all that we've been through
Look at us
Still leaning on each other

In a hundred years from now
I know without a doubt
They'll all look back and wonder how
We made it all work out

Chances are
We'll go down in history
When they want to see
How true love should be
They'll just look at us