Monday, July 18, 2011

Hello, Old Friend

It’s been a while!  I think I say that every time I update the blog, as I should, since my best intentions to regularly update don’t seem to happen.  Well…  Here we are.  It’s July.  July.  JULY!?  Jeez!  I can’t hardly believe it ;0D

So much has changed since the last post.  Penny is gone.  She has returned to Thailand.  She misses us, doubtless, and we miss her too.  It was an extremely challenging year for all of us, and I’m glad it’s over, but also quite proud of our family and how we pushed through.  The last month was a whirlwind—we did a lot of sightseeing and traveling.  She got to go to Luray to see the caverns, we took her up to Baltimore, and of course the big NYC trip.  It was a blast.  We had a good-bye party for her the last weekend she was here and at least she got to see everyone one last time and know that so many people cared about her, whether she accepted their love and care or not.

I’ve busily put my grad school career back on track.  I did everything on the checklist pre-departure, and the class went live last week, so I’ve been busting my @ss, doing readings and homework and tons of writing.  The message board is all abuzz with travelers and locals swapping tips, and last night I sat down and printed out maps and bus schedules and watched a video about the dorm I’ll be staying in.  It has free laundry facilities, and is right next door to a student union with a convenience store, so at least I can run over and get about 5000000000000 gallons of water every day.  I also participated in an on-line advisement session and “met” my advisor, Tom, who seems like a nice guy.  I hope he’s a nice grader.  Haha  I’m learning new words like crazy, and am committed to doing as much as I can in terms of getting the readings done and being prepared.  With this type of kamikaze class, 2 weeks reading, 1 week in Tucson, and 1 week post-class busting my @ss to finish projects and whatnot, I’m so glad that I’ll be on a semester schedule afterwards.  Mike and I splurged and got a new laptop to take with me, although he isn’t yet done perfecting it, so I’ve only touched it to take it out of the box and not been able to use it since.  Supposedly tonight he and Andy will finish it up, and hopefully I’ll be able to use it!  I stole the desk from Penny’s room and have set up what I call the LIS Command Center in the empty corner of our bedroom, and would like to have the laptop up there, since there are far fewer distractions.

But I’m basically very excited about going and learning and meeting all these new people.  My dad will be here minding Leah and taking orders from Mike, so while I’m not sure exactly how this battle of wills is going to turn out, I’m pleased I won’t be here to witness it!  The three of them are so stubborn and they all like to have things their own way immediately, so it should be interesting.

On the Leah front, things are going very well.  She is in and out of potty training, does it when she feels like and not when she doesn’t.  She knows WHAT to do, but doesn’t always feel like it, and often says, “Potty!” just because she enjoys watching us jump around and get her on the toilet, only to find out she doesn’t actually have to go.  She seems especially fond of this little trick when she either doesn’t want to do something (sit at the dinner table) or is bored of her current endeavor (going to the grocery store) and wants to mix it up a bit.  Her favorite movies at the moment are Tangled and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the Johnny Depp version) and she is obsessed with her cousin Dot Dot.

On the horizon is meeting up with a fellow AFS family and trans-racial adoptive family (weird I met someone on Facebook who hosted a girl from Thailand AND adopted an AA baby too!  Go figure!) from this past year in early August, AFS host moms camp out in Las Vegas in the fall (Hooray!  Can’t wait to go back to Vegas and to meet these awesome ladies!), my dad’s 60th birthday coming up in September, starting my work as an AFS liaison this fall (I will be sponsoring girls from Italy and Turkey), and continuing my many writing projects.  I recently wrote a guest mini-series for my friend Elizabeth’s adoption blog Adoptivity, I’ve been hired by my choir to write a regular column in the newsletter, and I am still busily busting out articles for Yahoo News as the occasion permits.  I am really enjoying all of the writing—it’s given me a focus for my brain that doesn’t involve Oompah-Loompahs or giant purple dinosaurs.  I’ve got a book club that I’ve been going to here in Fredericksburg and of course the NoVa one, so that keeps me busy.  I took the summer off for the chorus, but will go back to it in October—I’m happy to say 3 choir members have let me know they miss me.  Hooray!  I’m loved and missed. :)

Mike and I have been busily tightening up our budgets some.  The last couple months from March to June were a total drain on our finances, and so we’ve been taking little opportunities as they come to make some changes.  We dropped a big chunk of our cable, saving us $300 per year.  The young lady who cut our grass decided not to do it this year, so we spent $15 on parts, got our lawn mower repaired, and I am now mowing, saving us roughly $200 per year.  I no longer have a cell phone, saving us $600 per year.  We switched to a different trash service, saving us $120 per year.  We bought an electric clipper so I can buzz Mike’s hair, saving us $150 per year.  On their own, these things might not seem like a big deal, but add it up and it comes to a total savings per year of over $1300.  We’ve also totally quit going out for meals unless there’s a really, really, really good reason (laziness is not a good reason), which is a huge savings.

I’ve also instituted “Not going anywhere one day a week” in which I am totally car-free.  It’s been Sundays, although that will have to change because I will have choir practice on Sundays this fall, but one day per week, I flatly refuse to get in the car for any reason.  It has been a success.  We spend a good bit more family time together, I am forced to make good decisions about how to schedule my time during the week to accomplish our goal, and I really do feel my blood pressure going down as I stop running around so much.  This past Saturday, I was at Giant and the car’s battery died.  Getting stranded SUCKED, getting stranded without a phone SUCKED HARD, but we survived, fortunately we had a friend visiting who came and jumped the car for us, got a new battery, and all’s well.  As a bonus:  if that had happened a month ago, I’d have been raiding the savings account and panicking.  Now I can afford to take it in stride a bit!

Well, ok, I’ll probably see you in a couple of months. I would like to think I’ll be able to blog from Arizona, but our professor said we should get some sleep before we come, which does not bode well!  So if not, I’ll update with how it was.  Wish me luck!  TTFN!