Thursday, April 30, 2009

Moving Decisions

For those of you tracking our pre-move preparations, here is your basic update (upgrade to excruciating detail available via phone or in person):

The other day Aaron and I actually took some time to chat (imagine that) and I felt like we made more decisions in a half hour than we had in two months. I think I will probably end up freelancing (although I would still explore any good opportunity, so if you hear of something, please do pass on the tip). I felt like Aaron gave me permission, even though he didn't need to because he's always been supportive, when he said, "Why don't you keep freelancing? You're already doing it and it will make so many other things so much simpler." And it will.

I think I didn't realize how stressed I was at the thought of "having to" find a job, figure out child care, etc., especially from a distance. It was all a bit much to think about at this point. We can always reevaluate once we're settled, but realistically I wasn't going to be able to have it all lined out before then anyway, so it was a pointless stress to self-impose. (Of course I still don't know quite what we're doing about insurance, so the underlying source of stress is still there, but I'm accepting that trying to get covered by a new job by the time Aaron ends his is not the answer.)

Under the work-at-home scenario, we should be fine with one car, which means we'll sell our Suzuki rather than having to move it across the country. Then we'll take my dad's Ridiculously Imposingly Ginormous (RIG™) pickup off his hands, thereby allowing him to complete Phase One of his master "How can I get a new truck?" plan and me to look like a miniaturized King Kong scaling its towering sides to get up into it. I'm thinking of attaching a catapult to the running board so I can more ergonomically heave Anna up into her seat. But hey, at least I will be able to plow through snowdrifts.

Finally, we determined that we should set a target date for moving so we can get a truck rented. We are aiming at right around July 8. I can't believe I just wrote that.

Maybe God was watching for some sign of decisiveness down here, because today we had people look at our house who actually seem interested. We hope that they are rich and get loan approved--or are not rich but will get approved like they are anyway. You know, like us. O dear sweet homeless baby Jesus, save us from this mess and we'll never borrow subprime again...

Heretical kidding aside, we sure are praying and hoping we get an offer we wouldn't want to refuse. Join us, and watch this space for updates . . .

HOLY CRAP 8:45 UPDATE: We are getting an offer tomorrow! Sounds like it should be solid . . . Woo hoo!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sha-na-na-na-nah . . . Get a Job?

As I mentioned in my recent panicky post, we have less than three months till we put all our stuff in a truck and head east to become cemetery dwellers.

People ask me if I'm excited and I just don't know what to say. I was, and I think I am. I know I will be. But so much must be done first, and right now I don't quite know what I'm supposed to be looking forward to because so much is still unknown, particularly for me. Life in Michigan is in many ways a big, mitten-shaped, blank canvas.

We know where we're living (seminary townhouse), and I think being part of the seminary community will be interesting and good for us. But what does my actual day-to-day life look like? I do not know if I'm (a) getting up and editing two hours in my pajamas before taking my girl for a leisurely walk to the park to smell tulips before lunch, or (b) getting up and putting on stiff clothes I don't currently own and driving 45 minutes to spend 8 hours in a cube at some sort of Evil Spamway Corporation. There is a really big difference between the two.

Freelancing has its, ahem, prose and cons.

I would like to continue the freelance life, but I've never done it full time so I'm nervous about my ability to win enough bread (because health insurance/care will require a lot of extra bread). Yet a job would most likely have to have benefits to be worthwhile since it raises the issues of cars, commutes, clothes, and child care. But in our situation, with "preexisting" health issues, group health insurance is almost priceless, so I might have to take what I can find--if there are any jobs left in Michigan to find.

Another option would be for me move into a Starbucks and simply move from one side of the counter to the other depending on whether I'm working there or freelancing or sleeping. But I might build up an immunity to caffeine, and then I couldn't be a freelancer anymore. It's a rule. (Actually, though, I've heard Starbucks offers benefits and $4000 adoption grants. Hmmmm.)

There is some sort of break-even or tipping point between freelancing and a regular job. Freelancing is a better hourly rate, so a part-time job probably really doesn't make sense, although freelancing does require paying payroll taxes (which has never bothered me since we just had extra tax withheld from Aaron's pay to cover mine, but I'll have to pay quarterly again). But a job with benefits would be a different story. Maybe. Now we'd have child care and commuting costs to consider. So a lot depends on the particulars, but as I'm poking around online, I don't see any tailor-made publishing jobs just begging to be filled. Ten thousand new English major soon-to-be grads, plus half the auto industry, will probably see to that.

What do you think is the tipping point, dear readers? At what point is going back to a "real job" worth it--financially, emotionally, practically? What am I forgetting to consider?

Freelance and work-at-home friends in particular, what are your "wish I'd known that" secrets to making it work well enough to carry the financial load? If you've gone from job to freelance or vice versa, what have been the pros and cons for you?

Most importantly: which would make the best blog fodder?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

How's the Honolulu Blue Kool-Aid So Far?

I'm watching the NFL Draft (and working) without my man today because he's at a youth event until late tonight. So no party despite the Lions' dubious honor of picking #1. And no suspense either (until pick #20) since the Lions signed their #1 pick last night: quarterback Matthew Stafford.

And the fans' reaction? Let's just say they may have grown a tad cynical. Some quips from the message boards after the deal was announced:
  • The Detroit news is reporting that a 1,000 Lions fans have jumped off the Ambassador Bridge. They're doing all they can to save the people.
  • Stafford, let me introduce you to the wheel chair.
  • OK . . . well, welcome to Detroit, Matt! Now get rid of that damn curse and win us a super bowl . . . you have your hands full.
  • Congrats, Matt! If anyone knows how to lead a team to a championship that hasn't won since 1957, it's you.
  • Mr. Stafford, welcome to the Lion Nation. We are harsh, sometimes brutal, but loyal. Welcome to hell, rook!!!!
  • Congratulations, Matt. Now you have the time and money to take piano lessons.
  • Fan 1: "Hopefully now The Curse of Bobby Lane is officially over!" Fan 2: "For $78 million, something had better be over."
  • Stafford, welcome to the Lions--if you are a pro bowler and hall of famer, you won't get booed.
  • Can he be converted to a left tackle?
  • It's time for the rest of the league to prepare . . . for a Staff Infection!
And most disturbingly:
  • He will play in year one because I want to see my investment and my draft choice in action. Sincerely, William Clay Ford Sr.

But hey, it's spring. Hope springs delusional eternal in for Lions fans. Anna says, "More Kool-Aid please!"

Or if you're not drinking the Kool-Aid yet, add your own smart-aleck quip below!

Awaiting pick #20 . . .

"We're Lions fans. The draft is our Super Bowl."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What Shall We Do with a Sickly Toddler?

Anna's very "two" behavior has been much better since last weekend. Now I don't have to chase her down to feed her; I only have to chase her down with a tissue bucket to catch all the snot flowing out of her.

Wait--these kid things get sick too? And I'm supposed to do something? Sorry, I'm not that familiar with this part of the job description.

Whether it started with our germs or with allergies, what she has is now very much like what made Aaron and I miserable in succession over the past month: nasal congestion, runny nose, cough, general misery. And although I'd checked her temperature yesterday morning and it was okay, it didn't occur to me to check it again until her bedtime, when it was over 101.

At that moment I realized: My kid is really sick, and I have no idea what to do.

Anna has never really been sick. No fevers, ear infections, nothing. So I couldn't remember where the Fever Danger Zone starts. What's the rule on calling the doctor? If her fever is over 101? 102? Over 100 for 24 hours? Under 124 while watching 24?

Always nice to feel both helpless and clueless.

Fortunately it also occurred to me that hey, they probably make medicine for that, and I had some on hand that she can actually take now that she's over two. Gave her some and checked on her later--fever was down a bit by the time we went to bed and quite a bit when I checked her in the night. (I also got instant advice and assurance via Twitter--viva la connected world!)

Anna was pretty wilted and miserable again this morning but perked up a bit as the meds kicked in again and she got her fill of sweet, sweet mommy sympathy and Winnie the Pooh movies. Well, almost. She can never really get enough Pooh these days.

Perhaps I'll let her watch a little more while I read Mommying Your Sick Child for Dummies.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Referral Echoes

Anna with her referral picture
April 19, 2009

I think I'm going to take a picture of Anna with her referral picture every April 19 from now on to create a progression kind of like the school photos collection you have by graduation. Too bad I didn't think of this a year ago, huh? (Or before Sunday's post. Duh.) I think this would be a neat project with a first baby picture too.

Of course I couldn't get her to sit still and hold it up and smile all at once. But since there is a slightly different version of the photo on the back of the frame, she did eventually point at the baby for me. And kiss it. And try to eat it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Two years ago.

April 19, 2007

April 19, 2009

Happy referral anniversary, Anna Jubilee Yegetanesh.

Friday, April 17, 2009

As Bipolar as This Blog

First of all, could this blog swing any more wildly from cute smiley pictures to melodramatic bemoaning? I'm sure you're hoping not. Thanks for bearing with me through my e-published mood swings.

Speaking of mood swings, miss Anna is being extremely two this week. In the words of a Seinfeldian keychain, Ho-leeey COW!

This started Easter Sunday, the first day since our trip that we had any real goings-on. I don't know if her tiredness caught up to her and/or she thought we were leaving that evening (as most Sundays) or what, but after her nap she was like thirty inches of saran wrap--would not stop clinging to me and melting down into tears for no apparent reason. She was only really okay when I was holding her; even Aaron would not do.

Monday, again, she was a mess in the evening. The biggest meltdown was clearly a control battle: she put her baby doll and Pooh bear in her chair before dinner, which was all fine and adorable until it was time to eat and she would not accept them moving so she could eat. I can testify to the strength of the chair's 3-point harness. Then she decided that life and food were fine and dandy and was so cheerful I even let her baby sit next to her while she finished her chicken fajita with ketchup (blech); hence the photo.

I know toddlers want control in a world where so much is out of their tiny little hands. I try to give her choices, but frankly, she's not very good at it yet. She wants it all or doesn't know what she wants. Do you want this or that? This! NO, THAT. THAT! THAT! THIS! THAT! THWAAAAAAAAAAH! So sometimes choices helps and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes she blows a fuse before you can give her an opportunity to choose or do it herself. Looking for ways I can let her assert her independence harmlessly, though.

By the way, just how much cheese can a two-year-old eat before it ceases to be intestinally harmless?

I'm glad she seems to be settling down a bit here at the end of the week (knock on wood) because it is awfully tiring when every other meal, diaper change, step out of the room for five seconds yields a meltdown. Worse yet is when it can't even be traced to one of those things! She almost seems to just want to be held and even babied sometimes--a little regression going on. For example, she came along to Bible study with us Wednesday because I totally forgot to confirm a sitter, and she found a pacifier in the toys she dragged out from the nursery and sat on my lap sucking it for five or ten minutes. She didn't even use pacifiers as a baby but she knows what they are; her cousin we just visited uses one. So I held her and rocked her and told her she was my baby. You'll always be my baby.

I don't know that it has anything to do with this behavior (what would have triggered it in her right now, except maybe our trip away from dad, then back home away from grandma et al?) but this clingyness, plus coming up on two years since referral, reminds me that she is going to be becoming more and more aware of her adoption and we need to be talking about it and helping her understand it (as a two-year-old can). There are going to be times when she's feeling anxious or sad about it, though she might not know quite why, and needs those extra snuggles to feel secure that we will always be her family. That's a grace I hope I can always extend.

You'll always be a part of me
I'm part of you indefinitely
Girl don't you know you can't escape me
Ooh darling 'cause you'll always be my baby

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Raise Your Hopeful Voice

Today the song I needed came to me. Sometimes it is a gift to not be able to stop singing something. You may start believing. Or remembering you do.

We've still got time.


I don't know you
But I want you
All the more for that . . .

Falling slowly, eyes that know me
And I can't go back . . .

You have suffered enough
And warred with yourself
It's time that you won

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice, you
have a choice
You'll make it now

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice, you had a choice
You've made it now
Falling slowly sing your melody

I'll sing along

"Falling Slowly" by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová
(performed on American Idol by Kris Allen)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Finishing Strong

Winter is over. Lent is over. Spring break is over. My trip is over. Easter is over.

And thinking about this the other day, I proceeded to FREAK OUT for just a few minutes.

Why? Because regarding all the many things which must be done and figured out for this whole "move across the country for seminary" thing, I am in exactly the same place as just after Christmas. Or so it feels.

Yeah, we have the house on the market (but few lookers and no sign of offers). We applied for financial aid. And I just suckered my parents into agreeing to take our pets, unless of course one of you wants them.

Other than that? I haven't sorted and packed much of anything. I haven't done Anna's readoption. I don't have any money saved. I don't have a clue how we're going to find, let alone afford, health insurance. I don't have a job or lucrative new freelance leads. I don't know if we need one car or two. I don't know how we're moving all our stuff (and car--or are we selling it?). I don't know how to rent out our house or when to decide if that's what we have to do or if I'd better hurry up and refinance it while Aaron has a job. We don't have a pastor to make leaving seem okay. And I don't know how to say goodbye.

Nine weeks of school. A few more weeks of wrap-up. Boxes, a truck, a plane, a townhouse . . . and what? What am I doing with myself over there in Michigan anyway?

I don't actually have a clue, and I'm kind of freaked out when I think about it. But I don't want that to be the defining feature of my home stretch in this place. I don't want to rob our youth group and Young Life kids by being so infected with my own form of senioritis that I fail to be present as they wrestle with theirs. I don't want to be so obsessive about research and details for the future that the present morning's gone, and then the week, before I've let my daughter go outside and blow bubbles. I don't want to stop caring what happens next to our church. I don't want to stop loving this place.

I want to reach the finish line. I want to run through the tape. I want to finish strong.

But sometimes--like today when we got really disappointing news--I feel like the road is way longer and rockier than it's supposed to be and I wish there was a shortcut, but there isn't. I feel like just sitting down on the curb and saying I quit.

I really need to believe the phrase that sometimes runs through my head: Now is the time to be brave. I really need those marching orders: Walk on. I really need that Easter message: "Do not be afraid."

Crazy/brilliant satirical/thoughtful Steve Taylor wrote a song in the '90s called "The Finish Line" that is clanging around in my head and heart right now. The lyrics alone don't capture the emotional power the song carries, but here is the climax--my prayer for our kids and our church, my hope for me:

Off in the distance, bloodied but wise
As you squint with the light
Of the truth in your eyes

And I saw you, both hands were raised
And I saw your lips move in praise
And I saw you steady your gaze
For the finish line

Every idol like dust
A word scattered them all
And I rose to my feet
When you scaled the last wall

And I gasped
When I saw you fall
In his arms
At the finish line

Deep breath. Squint. Walk on. Finish strong.

Here goes.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Beauty, Joy, and a Little Ham

Easter beauty:

Easter joy!

Easter HAM.

Happy Easter from the Wetzels!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter: Courage and Joy

"Do not be afraid,
for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.
He is not here; he has risen, just as he said...."

So the women hurried away from the tomb,
afraid yet filled with joy,
and ran to tell his disciples.

Matthew 28:5-6, 8

"Do not be afraid" were Jesus' first words to them. The message attended his birth, his ministry, his death and Resurrection. And it comes to us today with the same gentle and compelling clarity with which it was offered on that first Easter morning.

There is much around us that is awesome and awful. We know too well the divisions and suffering that plague our world. We have seen that the authorities today use tactics similar to those employed 2,000 years ago, and many people scheme to play to our fear, destroy our hope, and seal off our joy.

But we have the confidence of our faith. We have seen the risen Lord!

Mary and Mary Magdalene loved with such a perfect love that they shed their fear....They were among the first to know the truth that John later put into words: "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18).

They challenge us to love and believe. To love Jesus with a perfect love and to believe in the power of his Resurrection.... Their testimony stands through the ages. It is a reminder to "rekindle the gift of God that is within you...for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love" (2 Timothy 1:6-7). With courage and joy, let us claim that same spirit that dwelt within our sisters, the first witnesses of the Resurrection.

From Joyce Hollyday, “An Invitation,” Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter

Photo: José M. Ruibérriz

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Day's Work (Box Braids and Beads)

My day's work:

In action:

In superfast action!

She likes them very much. (Or maybe she just likes getting dizzy.)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Post-Trip Accounting

Work projects waiting: 3
Unread emails: 54
Google Reader: 1000+
A week in the mountains with my girl and my fam: Priceless!

(Still, please be patient with me as I try to catch up on . . . everything!)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Westward Hack

When you read this I'll be hacking my way to the Wild West (which is actually east, but that just doesn't seem right) of Colorado. Hacking because I FREAKING GOT SICK THIS WEEK.

I am none too pleased that the first day of my vacation may consist of me napping in a hotel room by myself . . . wait, no, that sounds awesome actually. If only I can get rid of the coughing, sniffling, feeling blaaaaaaaah part.

And of course first I have to survive a three-hour drive, the airport, and a two-and-a-half-hour plane ride with little miss probably won't nap because I'll want to. I think it'll be fine, though. She's a good traveler and I'm packing about 47 kinds of snacks.

Here we come Rocky Mountain Hiiiiiiiiiiiiigh, Colorado!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009