Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 At The Clays'

Well, it’s been quite a year. If you would have asked me 6 months ago, I would have told you that 2013 was shaping up to be pretty craptastic. But thanks to all kinds of crazy acts of God, it turned out to be quite spectacular.

Let’s start at the beginning. January 1, 2013. Oh hey, I’m pregnant. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing. Unexpected, but not bad. What was bad was the fact that I didn’t exactly have insurance. When I started working part time after Eliza was born, I had switched to a cheap private insurance plan since the family plan through Scott’s work was painfully expensive. Unfortunately, my cheapo private plan didn’t cover maternity insurance. Fabulous.

Thanks to a little grace from Scott’s employer, they allowed us to hop onto their family insurance a couple days late of their January 1 open enrollment deadline. This was great, except that we couldn’t exactly afford it. Nonetheless, we determined that paying extra for the insurance would still come out cheaper than paying hospital bills!

We went a few months like this--gradually dipping into our savings to pay for our crazy insurance, as I was working fewer and fewer hours at work. Then, not surprisingly, in March, I was informed that my current position at work was going to be phased out. But my employer graciously offered me a different job. Full time, with two days at home and three in the office.

At first I was reluctant to work full time, mostly because it meant I would have to find childcare for Eliza. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized this job would solve multiple issues--it would mean extra money, cheaper insurance, and would give me a maternity leave that I wouldn’t have gotten if I was part time. And when my cousin told me she’d been praying for another kid to watch during the day, I figured God had it all worked out and I took the full time job.

Things went very well for about a month. I was happy to leave Eliza with my cousin. The only problem was that my cousin was going to be adopting her third child in May and wouldn’t be able to sit anymore. So I thought I better start looking into some other options.

As I looked more into childcare, I started feeling icky about it. The more I thought about it and planned for it, the stronger I felt that I was supposed to be home with my kids. I prayed for a solution, but I didn’t know what it could possibly be.

Then God revealed his genius plan. One morning--the morning I was planning (dreading) making calls to some childcare prospects--Scott told me he was laid off and was coming home. Problem solved!

While Scott getting laid off was upsetting, deep down inside, I was almost happy. Almost. First of all, it did solve the childcare problem. Secondly, his employer had been getting less and less work and felt generally unstable. The lay-off wasn’t exactly a shock, and I’d already been encouraging Scott to look for other jobs. I guess God agreed with me. Ha!
We were now exceedingly grateful for my full time job and my insurance which started on the exact day that Scott’s would end. Between my job, cheaper insurance, and Scott’s unemployment money we weren’t doing too bad, though occasionally still dipping into our savings.

In the midst of all that, we’d started a Bible study at church that focused on learning to know God’s will and trusting him to do things we see as impossible. As I went through the study and was encouraged to think about what I needed to trust God with, the thing that kept coming to mind was childcare. I felt a strong conviction that I should stay home with my kids, especially with another one on the way. It seemed impossible in our current situation, and even if Scott got a new job, it would likely not pay enough to allow me to stay home. But I felt God was telling me to trust him with this and so I decided I would. I just started to assume that God would work out a way for me to be at home once Scott went back to work, and it felt great to stop trying to figure it out myself and give it to God. If this was what he wanted, then he’d have to work it out. Good luck with that, God!

We cruised along through the summer months trying not to spend much too while Eliza and Scott got to spend some quality time together. Scott had an interview here and there, but nothing spectacular. The job prospects weren’t amazing.

Meanwhile, other depressing things were going on. In the spring, my mom’s cat, who we’d had since I was in high school, died. Then in July my grandma passed away. It was feeling like a year of loss, but we tried to focus on the excitement of our new baby in just a couple months.

The new baby thing was exciting, but also added extra pressure to Scott’s job situation. Yes, I had the occasional freak-out moment, but when I wasn’t freaking out, I was learning valuable lessons in trusting God and growing in my relationship with him. A real blessing!

Finally, just a couple weeks after my grandma died, a fresh batch of job openings came through and Scott sent out a number of resumes. There was one job I thought looked particularly appealing and I told Scott it was “the one.” The location was great and the work looked interesting. And when they called Scott in for an interview, I was totally sure that I was right about this one.

Scott felt pretty good about the interview and soon after they called to tell him they’d be sending him a job offer. Woo!! Job!! And at the company I’d determined was perfect for him. I’m such a genius!

Then God showed me who’s boss. About an hour after he got the phone call, another company called him. This job had been a little more of a mystery. The listed salary was a bit higher than we’d expected for Scott’s level, but the job description seemed well suited to him. It was also at a contractor firm instead of an architectural firm. Scott didn’t get his hopes up, figuring he may not be well suited to it, but he figured he better talk to them.

He set up a phone interview with Company #2 the day after receiving the offer from Company #1. The phone interview went surprisingly well. The job and company seemed pretty interesting and the fellow that he interviewed with turned out to be a Christian. They chatted about their involvement in church and found they had some interesting things in common. Now Scott was in a bit of a pickle. Company 2 wanted to do an in person interview the following week, but Company 1 was waiting for an answer to their job offer.

Scott tried to hold off Company 1 for a few days until his interview with Company 2. Interview day came and the job was looking even better. They were looking for specific skills that Scott enjoyed and was great at. It seemed to be the right job, but he still didn’t have an offer. We waited and prayed that things would work out. Company 2 told Scott they would call him shortly after his interview with as much info they could give him. They called a few hours later to tell him they would send him an offer the next morning. While he was on the phone with them, Company 1 called and left a message saying they were rescinding their offer since they hadn’t heard from him.

Things were down to the wire, and we prayed that Company 2 would come through with their offer since Company 1 was now out of the picture. Thankfully, the next morning, Scott received a very nice offer from Company 2. There was no doubt this was from God. The salary was quite a bit better than Company 1’s offer, and way better than what he was making at his old job. Better than we ever expected. He was also going to be able to do work that he really enjoyed and have more freedom to work and make decisions on his own. And the house that we had bought the year before was in a really nice location for this new job. We were very grateful that we didn’t base our house location on his old job!

Scott accepted the offer and was set to start on August 26th. Since this was getting close to Harrison’s due date (September 7th), I had a little chat with God about when the best time would be for Harrison to come. I’d decided that September 1 was best. Scott would have worked a full week before taking a few days off for baby, but we wouldn’t have too much trouble lining up child care for Eliza during Scott’s first week at work.

I thought that God and I were really on the same page with this. But then somewhere around 2am on August 25th my water broke. Later that afternoon we had our sweet baby boy! Scott’s new employer allowed him to just start a few days later and, though I hate to admit it, I suppose that was a better solution than my original plan. Whatever.

I enjoyed my maternity leave while Scott got settled into his new job, but next we had to decide what to do about my job. While Scott was making more money, it still wasn’t quite  enough for me to stay at home completely. And with the job being so new, I wasn’t ready to commit to a different job situation myself. But as time went on and Scott was happy with his new job, I decided it was time to figure this out. I didn’t want to put my kids in childcare, and it hardly would have been worth working just to pay for it anyway.

I talked to my boss about switching to part time. And maybe I could work from home too. Just a suggestion. My boss and I went over some options and came up with a great plan. We divided my job in two so I could work part time from home and they could hire someone to pick up the other half of my job.

They weren’t able to hire someone before my maternity leave ended, so I worked full time from home for a couple months. It was stressful at times, but it also provided some extra income and the chance to replenish the savings that we had used up over the last year. As usual, God worked it out better than we ever could have planned.

Now as I write this in December, I’m transitioned to part time at work, Scott’s job is going great, and we’ve received a number of unexpected financial blessings. Amazingly, we’re better off in every way than we were a year ago thanks to God’s amazing provision and clever plans. I’m beyond blessed to be able to be at home with my crazy kiddos. Whether or not they’re blessed to be at home with me all day is up for debate :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pay Attention to ME!

I've never been the most extroverted person. I don't stop and talk to random people on the street. I don't like pesky sales people. I regularly avoid the greeters at church (Not that they're not great people or they're not doing a great service for the church. I just don't want to talk to them).

Ever since I've had a baby, though, I've been forced get comfortable with these sorts of interactions. Given the fact that my child is the cutest ever (just my opinion), people regularly stop and talk to her, or me. This happens so often that one day at the zoo, so many people were looking at her in the stroller that my mom thought something was wrong with her. I told her it's pretty normal.

I didn't realize the effect this was having on me until one day when I had the chance to go to Aldi by myself. Grocery shopping without baby is pretty exciting--I'm extremely efficient, not having to constantly try to keep the baby quiet or stop her from pulling tampons out of my purse.

So there I was at Aldi, enjoying my time alone, and I had this strange feeling. Something just wasn't right. I wasn't as happy as I thought I should be during my solo shopping trip. Then it hit me: No one is paying attention to me! I'm walking around, trying to make eye contact and smiling at people, but they're not even looking at me. It's like I'm invisible.I guess I'm just a big nobody without my child!

This revelation left me a little disgusted with myself--I'm dependent on the attention my child gets! I'm such a loser. I never imagined that I'd be looking for regular interaction with strangers. I used to be so confident and happy to keep to myself. Now I'm just plain needy. I guess it's true that having a baby will change you in many ways. But I'm still going to avoid the greeters at church.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Lyrics By YouTube

So I decided it was time to introduce Eliza to the wonderful world of Annie, and, being too lazy to actually put the movie in, I just looked up some of the songs on YouTube.

While we were enjoying them, I started poking around and discovered a way to make the video infinitely more entertaining. It's called "Interactive Transcript" and you should check for it any time you ever watch a YouTube video. Unfortunately, it's not available on many of them. Here's a sampling of it's goodness (click on the picture to make it bigger):

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Remember how I said we were infested by flies? And remember how I thought they were disabled? Well, it seems I grossly underestimated them.

It all started when my lovely Aunt Nancy bought me an over-sized fly swatter. She'd read my blog post and my pathetic cry for help regarding our lack of fly swatter. She came through with the most gigantic fly swatter I've ever seen. It's like 3 feet long. And it's pretty awesome.

So today, I was lounging on the couch and low and behold, a fly landed on my foot. Luckily, my new three foot long fly swatter was right next to me. So I grabbed it and whacked the fly, and I didn't even have to move. On account of the three foot long fly swatter. I whacked the fly once and he bounced off my foot and onto the couch. But he was still moving. So I whacked him again. Still moving. Whack! Whack! How many whacks was it going to take? He may have been slipping through the giant holes in the giant fly swatter.

Finally, he seemed to be dead. So I took a picture of him with the gigantic fly swatter.

I decided to leave him there on the floor so that Scott could see it when he got home. A few hours later, I happened to walk by and notice that the fly was now standing up right and had moved a few inches. He wasn't dead!! He was just sitting there, moving his legs slightly, probably slowly dying in agony.

Another few hours later, I came by and he'd managed to move himself off of the fly swatter and onto the floor next to it where he lay on his back, finally accepting his defeat.

So it turns out these flies I believed to be disabled were actually super flies. In all honesty, Scott told me this after his run in with them the other night, but I didn't believe him. They fly so stinkin' slow! There's still one flying around out there, but he's wisely laying low. Perhaps he's witnessed the horror of the past few days. And no doubt he's spotted the giant fly swatter, a literally massive deterrent for any pests who dare to show their faces.

I took a picture of the giant fly swatter with my foot so you could see how huge it is.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Lord of the Flies

We have an infestation. A fly infestation. Somehow (when I say "somehow," I mean, "because I left the door open all day and there are holes in our screen"), a bunch of flies got into our house yesterday. I noticed them around lunch time, just sitting on our screen door. I didn't do anything about it. I figured I'd wait and see how it all played out.

Later on I shut the door and they were inside. Flying around. I thought they were flying rather slowly. I think they may have a disease or are disabled. Scott thought they were normal. We'll disagree about this till the day we die.

Anyway, Scott and I have very different approaches to how we deal with bugs in our house. If the bug is harmless and uncreepy, I'm fairly passive. If they're not bothering me too much, I figure we can all live in harmony. If they're creepy, then I run away and have Scott take care of it.

Scott, on the other hand, makes it his life's work to kill every single bug he sees--harmless or not. I think it's really just a game to him. When I was a kid, we had a Super Nintendo. The only game my mother would buy me was this Mario Paint game that wasn't even actually a game, just a bunch of "activities" of an artistic nature. It came with this mouse and the closest thing it had to a game was this fly swatter exercise to help you get used to the mouse. I imagine that this is what it's like for Scott killing flies. Ironically, we do not own a fly swatter.

Back to my story. Scott came home and we went about our business, ate dinner, watched LOST obsessively on Netflix. All the while, Scott was planning his attack.

Finally, while I was putting the baby down for bed, he had his chance. Free reign over the house. Total destruction for the flies. After a few minutes of rocking the baby, I hear a whack. Then another one. Soon they become more frequent and more intense. I knew what was going on out there. Those poor flies. They'd been living in our house in peace all day, assuming they were in the clear. After all, if they were going to be killed, it would have happened right away.

When I came out of the baby's room, Scott presented me with his killings. 8 dead flies. It was like when your cat is all proud to bring you a dead mouse. I congratulated him and he told me there were still a couple more, but this was the best he could do with the piece of junk mail he was using to kill them.

We went to bed in peace, knowing we wouldn't be attacked by a band of disabled flies. But now what's Scott going to do with his free time? I may just have to leave the door open again today.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Maternity Madness

Well, I haven't written in awhile and for that I apologize. I've been busy being pregnant, amongst other things.

If you read this blog at all, you know that I very much enjoy swimming (and not just because of the weird people I see at the pool). Well this whole pregnancy thing has started to present a problem for my bathing suit, leading me to visit a local maternity store. Little did I know that I'd be entering a creepy club (kind of like the wedding industry!) where I'm told that if I don't have the proper maternity apparel and products, my pregnancy is likely to be a huge embarrassment.

Up to this point, the only maternity shopping I'd done was in the four racks of maternity clothes at Old Navy, where I was left to fend for myself, something I now very much appreciate.

Anyway, off I went to the real maternity store with my mother. The moment we entered, the salespeople stalked. They wanted to give me a lesson on how to buy maternity clothes, (You buy your normal size. Thank heavens I had professional guidance on that one.) and inform me that there's a pillow with straps in the dressing room that I can wear to give myself 3 more months of tummy. Really, I can't dis the pillow thing, it was awesome but kinda lumpy.

So I found my bathing suit and tried it on (with lumpy pillow). All was good and I headed to the checkout, blissfully unaware of what I was about to encounter.

The lady at the register was abnormally happy. I can only assume this is a result of having to deal with hormonal pregnant women all day who need to be handled with caution. I handed her my bathing suit, ignorantly assuming my single item purchase would be quick and easy. Not so, friends.

First, checkout lady asked me, in a much too happy tone, if I was covered on panties. Uhhhh. This question surprised me to say the least. Do I need maternity panties? Aren't my regular panties good enough? Why is this lady asking about my panties?? I gave her a blank stare for a few seconds, but that didn't dampen her happy demeanor. Finally, I mumbled something about being ok and we moved on.

Next, she asked if I had some cream they're peddling that's sure to prevent stretch marks and itching. I said no, and she said I should really start now to get the full benefit. We talked about this for way too long before she finally accepted that I wasn't going to buy any.

Next, she wanted all my personal information. I refused to give my phone number first, which sent her into a detailed explanation about how beneficial it is to register with them. Unfortunately, I fell for the $400 worth of coupons they offered and conceded in giving my address, but rest assured, they did not need my phone number!

Finally, after ten minutes of maternity talk and sales pitches, my swimsuit was rung up and purchased and the whole ordeal was over. Needless to say, I'm going to try to avoid maternity stores from now on. I'm confident that the selection of maternity clothes at Old Navy and Gap (devoid of maternity panties and pregnancy pillows) will do the job for the time being.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Pool Fun: Back from the Grave

Back when the oldies at my mom's pool died or moved on to an old folks' home, I thought my days of pool entertainment were over. Luckily, I joined this pool near my work and though it started out slow, it now provides all the mystery, intrigue, and colorful characters I could ask for.

First, there's Hot Tub Playboy. He sits in the hot tub every day waiting for his women to show up. Hot Tub Playboy has two main women: Cell Phone Girl and The Quiet One. Cell Phone Girl periodically gets out of the hot tub to yell into her phone for 10 minutes. The Quiet One is, as one would expect, pretty quiet, but one time I saw Hot Tub Playboy pinch her butt.

Then there's Over-achieving High School Girl and her parents, Passive and Aggressive. She showed up in the fall with her Passive father who was attempting to teach her how to swim without creating small tidal waves by way of loving encouragement and plenty of joking around. She's gotten kind of better and joined the school swim team. Enter Aggressive mother. Aggressive mother, it seems, has been trained as a drill sergeant and can often be found holding a clipboard and yelling things like, "You're slowing down!" and, "10 laps left! Hurry up!!" I fear Over-achieving High School Girl takes after her mother as she now meticulously times her laps and yells at her father to keep careful track of them. I can hear her stop watch beeping beneath the water.

And finally there's snorkel guy, who was apparently never taught how to take breaths while swimming so he swims with a snorkel, never lifting his head out of the water. He could likely swim for years straight using this technique.

I'm thankful for all these characters, bringing my joy me with their weirdness and flirting. Without them I'd just be swimming back and forth, thinking only of my next lap. Instead I get to witness tiny pieces of their lives and entertain myself by giving them mildly insulting nicknames. I wonder what they nickname me.