Sunday, November 30, 2008


I am so happy! It was a rough month without adding this to my plate, but I'm so glad I did it. I'm very proud of myself. I wrote a novel- start to finish- no outline or anything- in 30 days. It's a rough first draft, but it's halfway decent.

Now maybe I'll get some motivation to continue working on the other novels I've been working on forever!

Joe and I also saved a lot of money in November for that challenge as well. We don't have the final tally yet, but it was close to or over $1000. here are some things we did to save money:

Sold the entry bench & LoveSac
Sold some DVDs
Worked LOTS of overtime
Didn't eat out as much

And with that money we saved, we found we had enough money to purchase some big-item things we'd been wanting. Within the next week or two, we will get a new couch, love seat, chair, and ottoman. We purchased a free-standing mirror for the bedroom and a bar set for our kitchen. It's great!

In addition, on Friday night, Joe and I went to his mom & step-dad's house so I could interview his mother for the National Day of Listening. It was a great experience, and we took turns interviewing each other until all four of us had been interviewed. Then we had a good conversation before calling it a (late) night.

It has been a stressful month and I've complained a lot, but I made it through. Most of my Christmas shopping is done already, and we're not getting a tree this year since we'll be out of town (we may buy a fake tree after Christmas to keep for future years), but we put up some lights outside and did a little decorating inside (very little, but better than none). We are looking forward to our trip to Utah to see family!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The kittens

My sister-in-law and her family are here.

They brought their dog, Maggie.

My kittens have never been around a dog.

They were not happy to see Maggie.

I was holding one of my kittens when she saw Maggie.

I have a bruise and puncture wound where the kitten responded when she saw Maggie.

They are going to be declawed soon.

At least they're not running away and scratching as much when the dog comes in the room now.

They're getting so big. Joe calls them each "The Kitty," instead of their real names, and I often call them each "My Baby," so we probably really confuse them sometimes.
Inspector Cassandra Cuddle Bunny (or Sandy for short) seems to know her name and often comes when called, like a dog. Not always, because she likes to do what she wants to do. She does seem to understand the word "no" also. That doesn't keep her from scratching our couch up and returning to the scene of the crime to scratch more of it shortly after she stops when being told "no" anyway.Ashley (or Ash for short) usually is the more rambunctious of the two. She is stubborn, often trying to get up on the countertops and bites and scratches more. She loves to play.

Here's the vicious monster-dog, Maggie:


November 28th is the first National Day of Listening. Click here for more information. I think it's a good idea, and I plan on participating. Of course, I listen every day, as part of my job and counseling skills, but this is much more than that. I'm thinking maybe my MIL or my husband or maybe even a neighbor.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

And... "relax"

At work, I have the opportunity to participate in a trial for group stress calls. Stress is probably something I hear in over 90% of my calls as something that makes it difficult for someone to quit smoking or to stay quit once they've stopped. When getting background information and I ask them what brought them back to smoking when they've tried to quit, stress is the #1 answer I hear. So, the idea of this is pretty fun for me.

Plus, I figured that I could personally use some stress-management techniques. Well, what I've "learned" really isn't anything new, but it is a good reminder. I've been trying to put those ideas into action. So far, they haven't really helped me lower my stress levels, but they have helped me to calm down briefly in the moment instead of being so reactionary.

It's been a very busy couple of weeks for me. In addition to planning for the holiday dinner and then the quilting event, I also had to do some visiting teaching on 3 separate(!) days this week. Yes, I was busy with something church-related outside of the home 4 days other than Sunday this week. Plus, if I was actually fulfilling my other calling, I think I would've had things to do related to that Thursday night, Friday night, and tonight (I already had things going on Thursday and Friday). Joe apparently told someone at church in the bishopric a couple weeks ago that these 2 callings may be too much for me, and it's his opinion that they haven't set me apart yet because maybe they're trying to find someone else to be the Young Women's Athletic Director. My other calling is more than enough work in and of itself!

Well, I guess we'll see. I didn't go to the Regional Volleyball Tournament, but there wouldn't have been anything for me to do since they already have a coach and I haven't been involved in their volleyball season, but if I was supposed to be involved, no one told me. In fact, I only spoke briefly with the Young Women's President once about the calling, and she said something about getting me prepped for basketball in January. Apparently she thinks I'm supposed to coach the girls. Ha! Just because I watch basketball (and very infrequently now) doesn't mean I know a THING about coaching or even various positions.

So, it'd be nice to think I get a break now after such hard work, but I'm afraid that break might only be a week or two, because there are already other things coming down the pipeline for December.

But, I'm feeling better. Just some deep breaths and now "relax."

Friday, November 21, 2008

You're rich!

If you don't think so, check out this website.

Sometimes a little perspective helps me feel better/more grateful/spoiled.

We extended opportunities to the women at church to help out with needs in our area. One of those opportunities was for quilting (and all you had to do was tie quilts- even I was able to do that, and I'm craft-retarded). I went mostly because I was basically told it had to be done and no one else was willing to do it (good old church callings!). Well, I found someone who actually knew something about quilting who was willing to kind of take over the night of, because I really didn't know what I was doing. And I found someone else who also enjoys quilting who was planning on coming. I was feeling pretty good about it.

And then they were the only 2 people who showed up. Pathetic. Infuriating. Disappointing. Angering. Loathing. Agitating.

Where the *expletive deleted* were all the other women who have so much? Is an hour of their time too precious to help out a suffering human being? They don't have enough themselves to be able to help others? Not even when all it takes is TYING A FREAKING BABY QUILT?

Well, I took the 3 baby quilts that were tied Wednesday night to the house of an older woman in church who volunteered to sew up the edges with her machine just yesterday afternoon. She called back just a couple hours later with them done. Not a big sacrifice for her, but at least she was willing to help and opened her yapper to volunteer when I said, "Hey, there's this big need. I'll even call or email you with reminders and there will be treats. There's a sign-up sheet going around. Please sign up."

I can't even get the women at church to fill out a stupid, simple, basic survey to let me know what they're WILLING and ABLE to do. Are they too concerned that they'll actually have to commit to helping someone else out if they admit a talent/ability? Are they too lazy/rude/disinterested/self-serving/selfish/etc to even take that little effort to complete the survey and expect me to telepathically know everything about them, their wants, their needs, their skills?

This is a big reason why I've been so frustrated.

At least I had some help. And we had a lovely time chatting and munching on the snacks I so generously provided.

I am still pissed just thinking about it. I don't want to be a part of this group of women if this is how they conduct themselves. Those 3 women who ended up helping (and those who can honestly say in their heart that they would've if they could've, but for whatever reason couldn't) excluded.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

The end of my rope

Lord, please bless me with patience. Lord, please give me the strength to endure when I feel like quitting, like giving up. Please help me not to reach through this phone and strangle this person because I'm already frustrated. Please help me get through this minute, this hour, this work shift, this day, this week, this month, this year. I need your help. I can't do this on my own. I'm ready to give up. I WANT to give up. I want to quit this job. I want to quit my callings. I want to roll up in a ball and go back to bed. I want to cry. I want to be held. I want to feel supported by someone other than my husband.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

If you were in my shoes, what would you do?

I seriously want to know. Yes, it's about women issues, but men can respond too, if you so choose.

Let's say that you had a fairly regular cycle. Then when things start to get super stressful in your life (the last year of a masters program, for example), you skip a period here & there (let's say 2-4 skipped periods in approx 1 year-14 months). You know it's not normal, so you try to follow up with doctors, and they basically blow you off, saying it's probably stress related and not to worry, blah, blah, blah.

Then let's say that you think things are starting to get normal again and stress levels should be coming down. In fact, it feels like they're coming down, so you are starting to get confident that cycle would be returning to normal. But it doesn't. In fact, you seem to be skipping every other period now. Worried?

You go to the doctor more, get more blood tests and fun stuff like that run. You take pregnancy test after pregnancy test and they all come up negative, so it's not that. You are told you have PCOS and need to lose weight. You TRY to lose weight-- you try HARD. Nothing is happening. You continue to seek for answers and find none, but you take the pill the doctor prescribed, trusting in his confidence that it will make everything better.

You take the pill for over a month. No results. In fact, instead of it making things better, you start to wonder if it's making things worse. You notice occasional spotting (they say that's normal, apparently), and you notice some signs that indicate your period should be coming in a certain time frame, but it doesn't.

Two and a half months have now gone by and still nothing. You were starting to wonder if the 60-day cycle was becoming normal, but it's well past that 60 days now. You took another pregnancy test, but it's negative.

Do you go to the doctor for more tests? Do you wait until the 90 day without a period mark and see if one comes then (like you skipped 2 periods instead of just skipping one)? Do you assume you're just going through menopause early or something like that? Do you self-diagnose? Do you eat a bunch of chocolate, gain a bunch of weight, and say, "screw it all!" in hopes that there will at least be some relief with that? Or do you do something else?

Of course, part of me says I'm just overreacting and to wait it out. After all, my doctors haven't been worried. And I've been to a LOT of them since this started. Do I really want to go through more tests and spend that extra time & money trying to figure out what's wrong only to hear the equivalent of, "Nothing is wrong" or "The cause for your misery is still unknown" or something like that?

My husband says it's a case for Dr. House. I WISH I were so lucky to get help like that. Then again, I might have to practically die before a solution is found, and I don't know if i want to go through that.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Piece of cake and a big plum.

I just parted with my LoveSac. I'm not quite sure when I bought it, but I know that it was when I was in Florida with my younger sister, Erin, who was meeting with someone for modeling. She had never flown before, and she wanted me to go with her, so I obliged. It was a horrible trip. We arrived in hurricane season, and if I remember correctly, came not too long after a hurricane had caused some noticeable and still unrepaired damage to nearby areas. Then, while we were there, we heard of a hurricane warning. We ended up having to end the trip early so we wouldn't get stuck in Florida with some crazy hurricane. We got some of the last seats on a flight back to Phoenix- for the price of what our round-trip tickets had originally cost us. Messed up, huh?

Anyway, the one good thing about that trip was my LoveSac. I bought it at some mall that was near our hotel. It was shipped to me, and the UPS lady had to roll it up the stairs to get it to my second-floor apartment's front door, because of the weight. It came in an oversized bag (kind of looking like an oversized duffle bag), and I could never get it anywhere NEAR that size when trying to move it after that.

I have some good memories with that LoveSac. Many of those memories include trying to move it from one residence of mine to another, but it has been a nice place to cuddle while watching movies. I remember chatting with Joe on the phone after we met while sitting on the LoveSac and watching him via my webcam. Yeah, I'm a dork. Anyway, it seems that I grew out of it and it didn't really fit in our house anymore. It has found a new home. (Although, I must say it did seem to fit in nicely with my Mesa home. It was nice having a large enough space to put it where it didn't get in the way or look out of place. I just wish I had a picture that captured that a little better.)

So, with the sale of the LoveSac and our old entry bench, we have now gotten more than 1/2 way to the $1000 savings challenge this month. We have saved $696.10. Yay! When I work overtime the day after Thanksgiving, that'll give us almost an extra $200, putting us very close to reaching our goal. Granted, some of the stuff we did to earn/save some of that money aren't things we could do all the time, but it hasn't been all that hard to get that savings.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Irregularity and other such blatherings

So, maybe I just have an irregular cycle now. Maybe I have a fallopian tube issue. It seems like the have-a-period, skip-a-period cycle is here to stay. Every month is frustrating. How many times do I have to take pregnancy tests "just in case" anyway? I'm pretty sure I'm not pregnant right now, yet I haven't had my period since September (like you care, right? lol). Ever since I started tracking them online at My Monthly Cycles, I'm seeing a pattern emerging. Maybe this is the new norm for me. It'd be nice to figure out what all this is about, though. For about a month now, I've been weighing myself almost daily, at the same time each day. When I gained about 5 pounds from one day to the next, I figured it must be water-weight and that'd mean my period was coming. That was about a week ago. Ugh. Not ever knowing when I might start really sucks.

So, last night was the Enrichment Holiday Dinner. I received a call about an hour before I was supposed to head to the church to start setting up. It was the Relief Society President. She had asked me when we were setting up and said she'd be there to help. She also told me that the Enrichment Counselor in the presidency wouldn't be able to make it because she was sick. That was the woman who was planning on decorating, bringing the food, etc. I heard she would send her husband with everything, but I didn't know how to take over. I'm NOT good at either of those things.

I drove to her house to get the green beans so I could get them ready for the night. She handed me canned green beans (I have always preferred frozen, but after tasting them last night, I might have to change my ways-- they were yummy! Maybe I just did a great job adding salt and butter, lol), and I figured, 'Okay, I shouldn't have any problems with this.' I called my mom just to verify how to prepare canned green beans, since I've never done that before. Quit laughing at me. There were no directions on the can, and I didn't want to ruin the only vegetable we'd be having.

Joe, bless his heart, was trying hard to be very supportive. He was asking what he could do to help. You see, I had to take the bus to Seattle for work yesterday. And the buses don't run early enough to get me to work for 5:00 am, which is when my shift starts. So I had to flex my shift (start later, end later), plus add on the time on the bus and to-and-from the transit center, so I got home around 4:00 with a few details to iron out still. And I wanted the chance to relax just a little bit. Anyway, I got a little help from Joe (he printed directions for the place I was to pick up the green beans and then turned my flat-iron on while I drove to pick them up, plus he made some phone calls for me as I tried to track down a microphone) and lots of other help (THANK GOODNESS!). The Enrichment Counselor did show up to help set up and ended up staying.

The program was nice. There was lots of participation from people who attended, everyone loved the food, and we had everything clean well before 9:00 (past my bedtime). This was all good, since I had been getting a headache all day that I was worried was turning into a migraine. Well, it got a little better, but it's back (and worse) today. Why I'm writing this right now instead of trying to get some rest, I don't know.

Time to lie down. I was in the office yesterday to attend a training having to do with stress. And I've come to the conclusion that I'm sick today because my body has been in a chronic stress state. Now that the threat/alarm/stress has been managed (for now, until next week, I think), my immune system is kaput. I wouldn't be surprised if that has also at times played a role in my period mystery.

Oops. Sorry about the lack of warning there. :P

Monday, November 10, 2008

Find a penny, pick it up...

I was just informed of this website by my husband. He heard about it on the news and found his name on it. Apparently if your name is on there, you have some money owed to you. Check it out, and let me know if you find your name on the list. I've looked up several people on there, and I have found a few that I know, and some that may possibly be someone I know.

It's worth a shot.

Click here

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Words and Frustration Beyond Words

I slacked on my writing a couple days this week. It's hard to spend a full 8 hours in front of a computer while working and then get back on the computer to write for an hour or two, especially when my husband tempts me with going out to eat or watching some TV and cuddling together or there's cleaning to do and I'm so worn out physically and mentally and emotionally. Because of my exhaustion, I've been sleeping 9 or more hours a night for several days. So add all that together, and it's been rough. Today I woke up quite early (after going to bed early again last night and getting 9+ hours of sleep), and I got over 3,000 words written during the course of the day. I'm about where I want to be right now in my word count, but I'm starting to wonder where the heck I'm going with this story.

Part of me wants to stop this nonsensical writing and pick back up with one of the books I have in progress. Those books are my babies. This book I'm writing now is like a doll. It's like my practice for something that matters more to me. But it'll sure be nice to have it written, and I believe it'll give me a sense of accomplishment.

I really dislike my church callings (Relief Society Enrichment Leader and Young Women Athletic Director). In fact, part of me wants to say I hate my callings. Yes, they're voluntary, but I was asked to do them for a reason (I'm still trying to figure out what that reason is, because I don't think God wants me to have a nervous breakdown, but that's where I'm headed), and I just feel like I NEED to accept callings when they are extended to me for my own good or something. So many things that I want and so many things I expect (in relation to how I want to fulfill those callings) just make it tough for me to really feel satisfied because of how things are turning out so far. I found out a week ago that I had until this Wednesday, the 12th, to prepare for our holiday dinner for the women at church. Geez, no pressure at all there. I am supposed to have a board/committee anyway, so I should get some support, right? Well, so far I'm really worried about how it'll turn out, because I'm not really getting enough support (at least I'm getting some, I guess). How can someone fulfill their calling if they won't even communicate with me? How can I tell them what they can do to help if they don't show up to meetings, return my phone calls or stay at church the entire time so I can get a chance to talk to them? I feel like asking to have the slackers released and get some people doing this who will actually DO their part.

I have been trying to get the word out for a book club. I have been instructed by the Relief Society President not to give up on it, even though I've been to two book club meetings since joining the ward, and I was one of 3 people at the first meeting and one of 2 people at the second meeting. (I was called to be Enrichment Leader before the second book meeting. The book had been picked out at the first book club meeting I attended. The only person who came to that second book club was someone who was not at the first book club meeting I'd been to.) So, I figured I had to do more to get the word out and get it organized. I had everything set up. Then last Sunday, due to some very large disconnect between me and the Relief Society Presidency (meaning, they plan things and schedule things and have opinions about when I should and shouldn't schedule activities, but then they don't communicate such decisions with me in a timely fashion, if at all), I find out that we can't have the book club on that night because it's now the same night as this dinner (which we'd had planned for a different night that I found out last Sunday was no longer a good night for the dinner). So, I tried to let everyone know that the book club would be postponed, only to learn that it appears about 2/3 of the women at church were never informed of the book club meeting anyway (I had given someone sign-up sheets that were supposed to go in each of the binders that are passed around in the different meetings, but when I went to pull out those sign-up sheets today, they weren't even in there).

I created a survey when I was first called to Enrichment Leader. The survey was for the women to take to help me in my calling so I could learn their talents and interests and create groups and activities accordingly. I even had the survey emailed out so those who wanted to complete it that way could do so easily. I've only received 4 back. FOUR! I've announced it several times and requested people to fill them out, but no one is doing it. If you raise your hand and say you are going to support someone in their calling, when they practically BEG you to fill out a survey, YOU TAKE THE FIVE MINUTES IT WOULD TAKE TO DO IT, AND YOU DO IT! If you don't, you're not supporting them!

I was told that my callings are all about delegating. I can't delegate when I have no one to delegate to. Then I was told last week I was supposed to be in one meeting I hadn't ever attended because I had never heard anything to that effect before. How can I be in two places at once? I also learned that the Young Women President's expectations of me included my being an athletic coach (volleyball, basketball, etc). I don't have those skills. I told the person who asked me if I would take on that second calling that I'm not athletic at all. He said it wouldn't be a problem, because that was not what the calling was about. Sounds like more disconnect, and I don't know what to do about all this. The frustration is overwhelming!

So today I decided I want to quit. I know I won't, but I want to. And I think that made Joe sad to hear from me. I'm so stressed over all this that it's breaking me.

Then, just like that, I started getting a teeny bit of support today. Here a little, there a little. Maybe there's some hope after all.

(I really don't know how to explain my frustration without long, drawn-out explanations other than to say that I feel completely unsupported by 98% of the people at church when I NEED their support. Perhaps my expectations are too high, but I don't think they are. And I will be GLAD in about 12 days when 2 different nights of activities I have to organize for one of my callings and a 3-day tournament I have to help out with for my other calling have all been taken care of. Five extra days of church in 2 weeks, not to mention a 6th extra day for a stake conference? And each of those nights will mean getting less than 8 hours of sleep for me- possibly even less than 7 hours of sleep. Yeah... I'm working WAY too hard!)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


We're still waiting for the window to get fixed. I had to call several companies, and I found out that many of them only make "custom" windows that could take weeks to get installed, or they only deal with auto windows, or they charge an arm & a leg. I mean, someone actually thought I'd spend $650 for a window to be replaced in my garage? Do they think I'm high or dumb?

Joe told the men at church the story of what happened (or at least a shortened version of it) as he was hoping to find out that someone might know someone who could fix a window for cheaper. He heard back from someone tonight and it sounded like the window could be replaced for about $200- and that's a double-pane storm window (which we don't need but Joe would prefer).

In the meantime, we are getting a new alarm system. I say new because they are going to replace the alarm system we have right now (which is approximately 15 years old and can use some updating). It's worth a few hundred dollars plus a monthly fee for me to feel safe. We're even paying for some sort of cellular connection, meaning the alarm company would still be contacted in the case of someone cutting the phone line. I normally would've considered talking myself out of this feature thinking it was unnecessary, but considering the circumstances of just a week ago, I decided this was a very necessary feature, and I will be glad to pay for it!

I'm not thinking too much about the incident except for when the kittens make noise when I'm upstairs and they are downstairs, which has been happening more frequently (and loudly) over the past week.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Heaven in my mouth

I tried out the peanut butter cup cocoa yesterday and it was awesome. There was a little bit of peanut butter chunks in the bottom, but it was so delicious it was all I could do to stop myself with one cup. I had one more today. I couldn't resist.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

It's hard to hold a candle in the cold November Rain

November is already shaping up to be a busy month for me. It is my own doings, and I hope I like the results.

Not only have I decided to write a novel with the National Novel Writing Month motivating me, but I've also decided to step up my gym attendance and focus a little more on healthy eating (excepting Thanksgiving day where I WILL indulge). Plus, I'm working on adding to food storage in case of emergencies and also planning for a dinner at church in a few weeks and reading a book for a book club meeting in a couple weeks. I also need to step up my walking, but with the weather turning to the rainy season, I may have to drive to a nearby mall to walk around or something. I did find a co-worker who wants to walk together, so I'm going to have to send her an email and see if she has any suggestions.

Meanwhile, we have to save up money for our December trip (we've already bought most of our Christmas gifts, and we probably won't do much decorating this year since we will be gone and the kittens are in their super-curious mode lately, making messes everywhere). And I read about a challenge to save $1000 in 30 days, so we are going to try that this month also, so we can use that money for the aforementioned (for more information about the challenge, click here).

I have the opportunity to work overtime (up to 10 hours extra each week) as work goes into the busy season. And we have a couple items that we're going to sell (our LoveSac and our entry bench), so between those things, we could get quite close. But instead of spending $35 or more going out to eat, we're going to eat in and count those savings. We're going to be frugal with our spending, and we're going to keep track of where we've saved money and how much. We've already cut back expenses by combining our cell phones into a family plan (and then reducing minutes when we realized we weren't using nearly as many as we were paying for). Plus we still have our DVR and cable TV, but we've cut back expenses there by shopping around and trying to leave our current service provider (it's amazing how much money they'll knock off your bill if you just threaten to go to a competitor). We will probably have additional expenses coming up now that we're going to be sure we have an activated alarm system and we have to pay to replace the broken window, but I think we can still manage it.

So while it is getting chilly out, maybe I'll adjust the thermostat a couple more degrees and use the "I'm cold" excuse to cuddle and bundle up a bit more. I have some of Stephen's Gourmet Peanut Butter Cup Cocoa to help keep me warm. Yum!