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Weekend! Cooking! Yum!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My oh my oh my I LOVE a weekend off! The bloom is off the rose of working at least one weekend day a week. It's going to be rough going back to it, but for now I am SAVORING two full days off in a row!

We were oh so very productive this weekend, but we totally had a great balance between chilling out and doing nothing, and getting what needed to be done, done. I went to Zumba on Saturday morning, and I was SORE from the Jillian Michael's tape I had done on Friday. In fact, I'm still feeing pretty darn sore today!

When I got home, I made Cream of Carrot Soup for lunch, which was so yummy and awesome for a winter lunch! M and I tackled the Christmas tree and decorations, and everything is safely stored away for next year now! M whipped up some more bread dough (we are NEVER buying bread from a store again! We're total addicts to this fresh bread!), and we worked together to make a yummy Swedish meatball, mashed potatoes, and sugar snap peas for dinner. More than anything else, I truly miss having the time to cook everything myself. I'm really glad to have an income and a purpose up here, but the time to workout, maintain a clean house, keep up with the laundry, and cook healthy meals for the two of us was pretty awesome. I think if I could, I would work part-time. That would give me the balance I really want from life! But alas, part-time work is not in my immediate future, so I should just make the best of the time I DO have, eh?

M and I spent a goodly amount of time working on writing out thank you notes for our wedding too. We are over half way done now, hooray! I'm hoping we can bang the rest of them out before the end of this month! We'll see! We haven't gotten into it again/yet, but there are tentative plans to attack more today!

Today we got to go to church... TOGETHER!!! for the first time in over a month! We've gone separately, but I've worked so many Sunday mornings that I eventually started to send M to represent us! After church we went on a shopping spree, and we are totally stocked on food again - so we better eat it! We threw a pork shoulder into the crock pot to make some pulled pork sandwiches tonight, and it it starting to smell pretty darn good in here! M made us a fresh loaf of bread (nothing better than HOT bread and homemade jam!), and we made a big batch of kale chips this afternoon too! OH WOW I'm so excited about these things - I think they are going to be a period time staple! They give me the salt and crunch that I crave, and were TOTALLY satisfying.

The ONLY down part of this whole weekend was that I got ATTACKED by my period last night. I woke up a little after three this morning in so much pain, took some Aleve (my go-to, and only thing they helps my cramps), and tried to get back to sleep. Within a half an hour, M was awake because I was crying and about to lose it! It doesn't happen very often, but when the cramps are that bad, it is CERTAINLY memorable! It took a while, but I eventually got back to sleep, but not well. I'm glad this happened while I was off work, since I don't actually have sick days as a sub and a part-time employee! I'm starting to feel a little more like myself, which is awesome. I'm also pretty impressed that I lost 1.5 pounds this week WITH my period! Woohoo! I am going to keep the ball rolling on this one!

Happy Chinese New Year, by the way! It's New Year's Eve today, so clean up your house to welcome your blessings! Wear a new outfit, and have a bag of rice and some oranges in your kitchen! Hope the Year of the Dragon is good to you all!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CM_GARDNER78 1/22/2012 7:12PM

    We're celebrating Chinese New Year tomorrow!! My kids are making dragons to hang all over the place! LOL

Glad to hear you enjoyed your weekend! :-)

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LETTINGGO85 1/22/2012 5:30PM

    I feel the same way about working part-time. If I could afford it I would so work part-time and give myself more time to focus on having time to relax, eat healthy and move more.

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Woah Fitness Level... (and of course, other ramblings!)

Friday, January 20, 2012

So, I've been active on Spark for about 10 days now, and although I was aware that I was essentially starting over, I had left my fitness goals where they were for the time being. I was testing the waters to see how I would do, and I have my answer! I went into my goals today and reset them to be more realistic for where I am at RIGHT NOW. Now I'm aiming for 40 minutes a day, 4 times a week. I'll increase it with time, just like I did before!

I've been increasing my dedicated fitness time, adding walks in (something I never used to have to add in when I didn't have a car and used public transit), I'm being as consistent as possible with attending Zumba, and I'm trying to add regular Curves and workout DVDs back into the mix as well. Today I did Level 1 of Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred, something I used to be able to rip through and feel energized from afterwards. Today I was struggling to keep up, and had to use the modified moves for a while. It really hits home just how far I've slipped from my old fitness level AND just how quickly it is lost! I was still sporadically working out during November and December, but obviously not even close to the level that I had been at.

Realistically, I accept and understand that when I did not have a job, I had very few excuses to keep me from at least thirty minutes of exercise a day. Once I adjusted to my new surroundings and got control of my anxiety from moving, I was able to increase my cooking, and my caloric intake was basically all quality. I was feeling physically good, and I WAS losing weight, but I still had a lot of stress in my life, and wasn't losing it by the boat-load! Now I look at how quickly I packed the pounds back on and I find I'm just frustrated with myself for losing control so completely. I'm really trying to be gentle with myself and forgive and learn from what has happened over the last roller coaster year. When I started working, it was crazy hours, non-traditional settings, stressful jobs, and being served food that I wouldn't have chosen to put in my body. I was tired, I was stressed, I was still planning a wedding, and I was really just trying to survive. December was worse! I am not going to beat myself up for doing the best I could AT THE TIME, and just try my best to DO BETTER now!

I've been noticing that my moods have been way less stable since my sleep schedule, food intake, and exercise regime scattered to the wind, and I want to get back to where I was. I hate feeling as cranky, moody, and unpredictable as I currently do. I think that I want to start adding in Vitamins D and B12 and make sure that I actually take my multivitamin everyday again. Gotta keep hydrated, no more excuses. Yes, it was easier with my delicious, cold, filtered water at my fingertips while I was home, but there are water bottles for a reason, right?! Right!

I got a call yesterday from one of my jobs asking if I would like to take Saturday off because so many of the kids will be gone for home visits. I immediately said yes, and I'm absolutely GIDDY to have a full weekend off - other than the weekend I got married and the weekend we were on our honeymoon, I have worked at least one, but often both weekend days. Regardless of the fact that we are on money watch again (until we see if M really IS going to continue to get paid), we are both perfectly willing to accept that this paycheck is going to be a rather small one. Between taking Monday off and having Saturday off, I'll have 17 less paid hours. But then I realized that even without those hours, I STILL worked 41 hours between the two jobs this week. That is a NORMAL, HEALTHY amount of work, and I'm so thankful that I didn't actually work 58 hours, I don't care how much money it could have brought in! I'm not as physically drained as I usually am, and I'm trying to remember this feeling. It's a good thing, and I know it.

M knows it too, and he is encouraging me to maintain my New Year's resolution to find balance and not work crazy amounts. I had a complete meltdown yesterday when I realized how terrified I am of going back to having no money, of feeling helpless, and of feeling like a failure. It's still pretty fresh, ya know?! I was feeling like I have to try to make up for any potential financial loss if M stops getting paid, and it terrified me. I feel so bad that M feels like he's failing me, that's he not providing for us. It's not his fault that this has been happening, and neither of us, nor his advisor, could have predicted that it would happen. M says that he wants to find a part-time job too, so that we are totally covered. Surprisingly, that bothered me a lot, because we already hardly see each other. The idea that even more time could be taken away pushed me over the edge! We're going to try really hard to NOT PANIC yet. We are going to wait and see if the paychecks actually do continue to come before he rushes out to get another job, and before I sign my life away to my jobs. Doesn't that sound reasonable? Haha.... it's amazing where the mind and fear will take you if you let it!

It's amazing to me how quickly you can move from what you THOUGHT you were going to write about in a blog to what you probably actually NEED to write about. I am so aware that the blogs I've been writing are rambling and long, long, long. I'm impressed that anyone bothers to read them at all, really! Every one I write reminds me just how powerful the tool of writings one's thoughts down actually is. The comments and support are awesome and very welcome, but the act itself is truly rewarding in itself!

Til next time! Spark on warriors!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CM_GARDNER78 1/21/2012 9:22PM

    Ha! Some of my best blogs are LOOOONG and rambling! Your thoughts are always concise! :-) I'm glad you got to have the whole weekend off!! Enjoy the rest of it!

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BCAVAIUOLO 1/20/2012 4:25PM

    I checked out your wedding pictures, and you were a very beautiful bride :) I just actually rejoined sparkpeople myself because I gained back 28 pounds in less than 3 months :( Enjoy your weekend off :)

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    OH man, I hear you on the moods with eating! It's insane that our brains now. Last night, I ate WENDY's, MY GOD! and i was bitchy the whole night. Today, healthy and quite happy.

Enjoy your weekend off! It's well deserved!

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Why I HATE M's School. And... Car Woes.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

OH MY LORD! When will the nonsense with M's job/funding/schooling END?! Yesterday I was muddling my way through what I hoped would be my last double shift day in a LONG time when I called M to see if he was around and wanted to meet up for dinner. It was the only time we were going to be able to get together, so imagine my surprise when he answers the phone with a cranky, "What?!" I asked him if he was okay, and he told me that yes, he is okay, but there is a lot of stuff going down at school and that he has been forced to become a part-time student for this semester! Color ME shocked! He said he would meet me for a quick bite and we could talk about it then.

Backstory: At the end of the 2011 spring semester, M was informed that money was a little tight and he would not be allowed to take a class over the summer. In July, M was told that the funding his advisor was waiting for had not come through and that he would not be getting any paychecks in August. Then he was told that because the US budget was not balanced yet, he would not be getting paid in September, and in addition, they had no funding for his classes and he had to drop them and take a one credit "internship" so that he would still be eligible for his PhD program. Next he was told that he would be getting emergency pay in November, which he didn't get. FINALLY in December he finally started to get some pay again, and though he was told all along that he would get backpay for the four months of work that he did for free, thus far there has been none. At that time M registered for his classes, happy enough to be back to being a student and getting paid, and wasn't going to worry about backpay just yet.

So on Monday, M stayed home with me rather than go in to work. We are just two months wed, and already we are VERY aware that we don't spend nearly enough time together. it was a very laid back and easy day, and we loved it! I was futzing on the computer when I saw that he had gotten an e-mail. I clicked over to that tab and saw it was from his department's administrative assistant with the title, "Please come see me in the office as soon as possible." Now, I don't know a lot of good that comes from e-mails like that! I told M, and he said he would talk to her tomorrow.

Tuesday I was in a super duper crabby mood. The infant/toddler center I was working at drove me to the brink! Two of the kids were in RARE moods and would not follow direction, clean up, stay on the ground, nap, or in general, BEHAVE at all! Another child was there who rarely comes, and he is severely developmentally delayed and is utterly non-communicative. I was supposed to work until 5:30, but due to bad weather, many kids were picked up early. I NEVER put my hand up to get out early, but I was practically begging to get out of there! I was released at 4 and M came to pick me up as we decided to drive to town together that morning. I was a crank pants the WHOLE time we were together, and while I noticed that M was also cranky, I was in no mood to find out why! What a terrible wife I am! I went to Zumba that night and started to feel a little better, but we were cranky together the rest of the night, wallowing in our own issues.

SO now we're meeting for dinner before I head to my other job. M was told on Tuesday that there was problems with funding again, but I was so wrapped up in my own dramas that I didn't pay attention to his. I felt awful! He said he knew how stressed I was and didn't want to worry me unless it became a big deal, but now it is a big deal. His GUARANTEED three year grant was unceremoniously taken back, with no explanation, and with the added insult that the agency is going to pretend that they never got the application and that they can resubmit it if they would like. This is a MAJOR problem. More than likely, the agency didn't actually have the money to fund the grant that they were awarding, and are trying to back out. This is leaving M's advisor in a very awkward place, but it is leaving M in a WAY worse place. He has been assured that no, they are not going to stop paying him. They have some magical source now that will ensure that he will be receiving paychecks (where was this when we were broke, I ask you?!), but they do not have funding for his classes again. He is now a part-time student, and as such, now his student loans are no longer in forbearance and will need to be paid monthly, this insurance will go up, and he has basically lost a full YEAR of study. Grrr. All I can say, is that if they do not continue to pay M, they will actually be seeing an advocate, and irate, not-taking-any-more-crap advocate, in the form of me.

Frustration abounds in our household! Our new-to-us car was just purchased a month ago, and already one of the front headlights had to be replaced (no big deal), and now, all of a sudden, the four wheel drive has been acting weird. The whole reason we bought this car was because of the four wheel drive and relatively low mileage! The day that the light blew, the four wheel drive was doing something weird, but when we brought it in the next day, it was acting fine, and we didn't mention it. Now we brought it in and there is something VERY wrong. There is some sort of a leak that is causing the car to lose transmission, which is shorting the four wheel drive. And apparently, all of a sudden, the shocks are not working well. We've been reorganizing our papers for taxes and neither of us can figure out where we put the extended warranty! I've put in a call to the dealership for a copy so that we can get the replacements started, and hopefully without costing us hundreds and hundreds of dollars. It irritates me to think that we might have been sold a lemon. But, honestly, nothing was wrong with it when we got it!

Poor M is going to have to go back to being my car service for a while. I work from 6:30-12 tonight, and if we are lucky the parts might come in tomorrow, but I wouldn't hold my breath on getting the car back until Monday. I have work on Friday and Saturday too, not to mention Monday! Oh bother. I woke up in a great mood, thinking, how wonderful that I didn't have to work until 6:30 and could do whatever I wanted for the majority of the day. Now it's like doom and gloom is trying to muscle in... I won't have it! Rant done!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

4AMAZINGME 1/21/2012 5:23AM

    Deep Breath in ------- Deep breath out--
Stress stinks. While I don't know what your DH and you are going through with the funding I do know about Murphy's law and "new to us" cars. Last year my brother-in-law informed us of a "great" used car and yelled and cursed at us that if we didn't buy it we would be fandangled stupid. Well that stupid car ended up costing us all the money I had saved before I lost my job..front and rear suspension, brakes, motor mounts, rear window motor, computer problem associated with lights, muffler,air conditioning compressor which shut down the whole engine and ....wait for it......there was a mouse nest in the cabin air filter that smoldered and smoked while we were on the highway. This is the saga of cars, new and used.

I pray that this will turn around and change for you.. it is too bad that the ones in charge at this moment are so non-commital but alas with the economy being what it is this is what is happening in NE ohio bridges and roads in the middle of construction are having the financing yanked out and the only answer that is being given is ..."sorry there is no money"

So I guess what I am trying to say is this __ Deep Breath in ------- Deep breath out-- repeat as needed!

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CM_GARDNER78 1/19/2012 1:34PM

    UGGGGGH! Add in the CRAPPY weather....and it's a DAY! Boo. I hope that the fix on your car is an easy one (if that's not considered an oxymoron!) Sorry that your DH's schooling is all messed up.....yuck! I would be in a BAD mood too!! Sorry this is all happening! I'll pray that everything becomes resolved.....relatively easily!

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Woot Woot Day Off!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Well I've been back at my jobs since last Wednesday, and I was called in to work on Thursday AND Friday, and I foolishly agreed to work tomorrow when I was cornered by one of my bosses in a grocery store.... long story short, I was staring down the barrel of eleven straight work days with at least two days working at both of my jobs. I couldn't blame anyone else for what I did, but I WAS pretty annoyed about being called in to work on 1) my day off and 2) after already working over 8 hours at my other job. I asked if it would be possible for the person who I covered for to work my shift today, and got super antsy waiting for my boss to get back to me! I e-mailed, I called, I got NO RESPONSE! I just needed to know that I was going to have a much needed mental health day, so I stepped around her and asked the oncall staff if he would approve the switch. Lucky for me, I was working with him on the two days that I got called in, and he promptly agreed that I needed a mental health day!

Considering the person who is covering for me today has been calling in left and right and is a breath away from being let go, I have to admit that I'm not QUITE believing that I won't be getting a call at 3:45 asking me to haul my booty in to work. But, I got verbal confirmation that she would be there yesterday, so I've been planning my day accordingly!

This morning I put together my first crock-pot dinner of Indiana Farmstand Chicken Corn Chowder. I got this slow cooker mix back in the summer before I even owned a slow cooker, and since I'm a total newbie, I decided that I would graciously accept help from this salf-free mix my first time out of the gate! That said, yesterday I went for a long (3 mile, in the snow!) walk with one of the boys I work with to the library just to find out that the library was closed! Should have done some research beforehand! So, we ducked into a bookstore along the main road in town to warm up and be with books. While I was there I found a Better Homes and Gardens special issue magazine called "Skinny Slow Cooker" over 125 recipes with reduces calories, fat, and sodium! I checked it out and decided I had to own it. I've been drooling ever since, haha!

M and I bought a 4-quart basic slow cooker when it was on sale for $8.88 impulsively, and for our wedding we got the bells and whistles slow cooker we had on our registry. Since I have Five more days of work coming up, we started looking through the cookbook to see if we see anything else that we would like to try our hand at today. M is at the local grocery store RIGHT NOW picking up some ingredients so that we can start round two of slow cooking glory!

We STILL haven't found the time to get a new dryer (though thankfully, we DO have the money to do so now!) so I'm washing all the laundry now, and plan to go into town around the start time of my shift to dry it at a laundromat JUST in case! I plan on going in to Curves for to do a traditional Curves work out for the first time in a LONNNNNGGGGG time while it dries, and then coming home to finish up the meal that is in crock pot number one!

We're also planning on taking down the Christmas tree and decorations, and hopefully finding homes for the mounds of presents that are still under the tree! This is the first time in a long time that I haven't been working in an urban school celebrating MLK day, but I think that by NOT working, I'm going to be able to remain more sane and promote more peace! I'll try to find a more concrete way to honor this fantastic American hero too!

Have a great one guys!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ABB698 1/16/2012 10:05PM

    Glad you got your much needed day off! I so love my crockpot! Last night we tried something new, and it was a big hit! Chicken thighs, black beans, corn, butternut squash, then made a broth of chicken broth, salsa, cumin, allspice, lime juice and fresh cilantro. It was fabulous served over brown rice with a dollop of sour cream on top! Yum!
Enjoy your Curves workout!!!

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CM_GARDNER78 1/16/2012 8:48PM

    I hope you had a good mental health day!! It kind of stinks that you couldn't just take the day OFF...but going to Curves, now that sounds good! :-) I wish you guys luck with your slow cooking...I LOVE mine! I have two 7 quart ones, and I use them ALL the time! :-)

Have a good night!
~ Christa

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Back to the Grind, and QUITE Nervous!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ok! I'm trying to be real with myself, and I have to admit I'm a little nervous about going back to work today! It is my first day back in ten days (thank you honeymoon!!!), and I can only say that it was a MUCH needed break! I work with at-risk teenagers that have been removed from their families, and even on the easy days, it's so draining to have to be "Mom" to these kids. Coupled with that, the week and a half before my vacation I was with them ALL. THE. TIME. I am the newest hire, and the low lady on the totem pole. All the other employees were able to get in their requests for Christmas off before I was even hired, so I might as well have brought a blanket with me and slept on the couch - that's how often I was there. Between my two jobs, I had one day off over a thirteen day span, and the line between following the program, and surviving my increasing exhaustion started to blur towards the end.

Now I am nervous that there may be some expectation that I will be more willing to bend the rules than before those days together. I am hopeful that the girls understood that since THEY were on break from school, it was bound to be more laid back than when the structure of the school week was upon them. I do NOT want my first day back to be a battle in any way, but I'm also quite prepared to lay down the law now, so that there is no mistake in the future.

I spent four years teaching on the west side of Chicago with students that were CHALLENGING. I do NOT have a problem with setting boundaries or dishing out consequences for actions when warranted, but this job is a little more complex than teaching was. I'm with them in the parenting hours, the hours when they are fully aware that they are NOT at home, that their parents have failed them, or that their own bad choices have caused them to be removed from their "normal" life. Boundaries are more fluid because they need more than just a strong authority figure, they also need a counselor, and someone who can help them work through their choices and learn new cooping skills. It's tricky to be black and white sometimes when you can see that they are picking a fight because they need to get something off their chest, but don't know how to do so in a respectful manner.

I do think it's ironic that this is the job that I finally found after months of fruitless searches... the ONE thing I declared when I left Chicago is that I did not want another high-stress job. Over the past few months, I have been regularly cussed at, disobeyed, and in one particularly terrible night, I was separating a physical altercation and one of the girls turned on me and started to punch, hit, and kick me. I've saved a girl's life when she was trying to take her life, and been a shoulder to cry on when one of the girls found out she is pregnant. I have grown to care deeply for these girls and in many ways I'm really glad that I DID land in this roll. It really does take someone special to stick it through with kids that are used to watching people give up or leave them. I constantly pray that I am doing the right thing with them, and that my influence is a positive one that will help them in the future when they are not in the program anymore.

Within two weeks of working here, I was asking M if he would consider becoming a foster parent with me sometime in 2012. It has absolutely broken my heart to see how terribly some of the kid's parents have failed them. I KNOW I can't save everyone, but I also know that we could make a real difference in some kid's life, even for a short time. If and when we decide to make that leap, I'll let you know! But for now I'll just say that I thank my lucky starts AND my parents that I was raised in a loving family, and hope that you will remember to be good to your kids!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IZADORA 1/12/2012 2:52AM

    Hang in there! I know how stressful teaching can be, and I can't imagine being in your shoes right now. But it sounds like you have got the willpower and the skills to handle the situations and really help these kids! emoticon

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ABB698 1/11/2012 10:57PM

    Linnea, you were given that job for a reason. They are blessed to have you and not only are you the teacher, you are being taught many things too. You are emoticon

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SCHNECKERL 1/11/2012 12:51PM

    Haha believe you me, I'm not angel, but that is so kind! Thanks for the encouragement! I'm pulling up my Big Girl panties and facing the day! Wish me luck! Haha!

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    I give you the MOST credit in the world for working in a high stress job like that and helping those girls! You definitely are an angel!!

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