Thursday, September 28, 2006

Puppy Love

I don't have any children yet, but I do have a boxer (Jazzy) who will be 3 years old later this fall. I love her so much! I actually heard her laugh yesterday when we were playing. I have heard of dogs laughing but had never heard her do it. I love that she wants to play with me. I LOVE that I'm home with her now. She and I are good buddies and I'm just totally in love with our pooch at the moment.

This morning, while I was typing away at the computer, I could hear Jazzy crying. I figured she lost a toy under the couch or something. Finally, I walked over to rescue her from her despair. She totally just wanted to play with me. She was laying upside down, looking in my direction, wiggling her little tail, and just wimpering. As I started to crouch down and tickle her, she was so excited and wiggled all over the place.

Jazzy, with a bad case of the up-side-down doggie sillies.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Dinnertime gourmet

Hub's and I had an at-home date last night and it truly was a highlight of success in my new domestic life.

We were at a church conference all day, so although it was long, was a refreshing time of spiritual togetherness. Then came dinner... when I did my grocery shopping earlier in the week, there was a coupon in the paper for $5 of a purchase of $5 or more of steak (a premium line of steak at a local store). I like that kind of math! I bought two cuts of steak that came to about $7... only $2 with the coupon. Hubs grilled the steak, and we enjoyed some red potatoes roasted roasted in dry onion soup mix, sauted zucchini and red onion, and a glass of merlot. We watched a movie, with which we enjoyed single serving containers of Ben & Jerrys' ice cream (each our own favorite flavor) which hubs got on sale a couple weeks ago for $1 each (by the way, those little containers of ice cream are SO cute!).

While all date nights shouldn't center around the food, this one did, and it was delectable. It was better than we could have paid a LOT more for. Success!

Now... if only they would put one of those steak coupons on the paper every week.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

New Home

Sunday marked yet another milestone in our life. We finally officially became members of our church. We've been there about a year and a half, have taken the membership class, were interviewed by the elders, then finally had our Sunday where we went up front and were made official. I think joining a church is a little scary, but also an exciting thing to be celebrated.

I didn't grow up as a church member. I was a military kid; we moved frequently. As such, my parents didn't want to become members and affect the church's financial decisions with their voting rights, and then move again 2-3 years later. It didn't stop them from being involved and building bonds. The speed at which they became deeply involved in a new church was amazing. That requires a bravery that I don't have yet. Perhaps it grows from necessity. They led Bible studies, sang in choir, taught Sunday School, led the kids choir, etc. They made an impact. They let themselves be known, knew others, and built relationships for themselves and their two girls. That was a wonderful example for me as to how to dive into a church.

However, one the of scars of my military childhood is that I lean a little too heavily on my autonomy. I lose contact with friends too easily. I say goodbye too easily. I have lots of surface-friends, but struggle to go deep with people. Yet, God calls us to give up our autonomy. We are not singular, we are part of a body. We have no strength or sufficiency in ourselves; we need Him, and on earth, we need His family.

So, this weekend, we made it official. We need to strive to be less autonomous, to be part of this specific church body and be accountable to its leadership. I'm officially a Presbyterian; our church is part of the Presbyterian Church in America. I'm loving our covenant theology and reformed teaching.

This reminds me of when you are in a dating relationship and first say "I love you." It's exciting to know that you are going to develop a more intimate relationship with someone and know each other more deeply than anyone else. But it's scary to open yourself and give of yourself to another. What if you are hurt? What if you regret it? You are passing a threshold. That's where we're at. The Church is God's way of expressing His body on earth and to His children. It is how he works in our world. I know I have nothing to fear. He is the God of peace and this is His house. Church is His plan.

At least if I have to be passing over a threshold, it's straight into the Lord's house!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Daytime World

I have entered a new world, one that I like to call Daytime World.

In Daytime World, there are many more women and elderly couples. I have seen moms with their kids, and the moms actually don't look exhausted. When I go to stores in Daytime World, there is much less tension in the air. People move slower. The customers are friendlier and not so rude. The workers are friendly. They smile, make small-talk, and compliment my purse (no, this was not a man hitting on me). I love worlds where I get purse compliments. The starbucks in my grocery stores gives out free frappacino samples in Daytime World for the women and elderly couples to enjoy. Everything is much more relaxed. There are people in the grocery store behind the meat and bakery counter. They are friendly too, and they come out into the aisle to ask if you need help. Then, if you need help, they actually walk you over to the product you are looking for. Then, and this is really shocking, they SMILE at you and ask if you need anything else. AND it really seems like they are being genuine. This is a really crazy place, and I like it.

In Daytime world, I'm learning a lot of new things, as any recent immigrant would. Now, I haven't been completely undomestic in the past. Not nearly as bad as Samantha, from Sophie Kinsella's The Undomestic Goddess, a book near and dear to my heart (I don't want to be one who doesn't look out the window!). Unlike Samantha, I at least have always had a desire to posses some domestic acumen, and I do have vague recollections of winning blue-ribbons for such efforts during my 4H days. However, my current efforts remind me just how many summers ago that was. The outfit I sewed for the fair and fashion show (a knit fabric, so I made the whole thing with the surger! That's a real promotion in 4H Sewing World.) had a big applique Garfield on the front - it was that many summers ago. This week I jumped two feet first into the domestication swimming pool, and boy am I getting wet! I'm learning lessons that probably sound stupid to someone from another world, yet they are real and true stresses and lessons, none the less.

Lessons for today:
  • When menu planning, don't plan three meals in which meat must be purchased. All meats are (generally) purchased in quantities that would feed my small family for several meals, so if I'm also buying several kinds of meat, I've really just bought enough meat for about a month. This is expensive (for the current week) and unnecessary, unless I live in the middle of Montana and have to drive an hour and a half for grocery shopping. I don't live in the middle of Montana and my freezer is tiny. Today I decided that instead of BBQing pork ribs later in the week, we would be just fine BBQing the extra pork chops, chicken, hot dogs, or hamburger that I already have. I really don't need a full butcher shop in my tiny freezer.
  • Even if I need to do some of my shopping at Target (where my cereal and face wash are much cheaper), it is worth the extra few minutes of driving to go to the bigger Safeway and fruit stand. I spent 20 extra minutes a the little Safeway looking for things that were in strange places, since it's a small store. The small fruit stand glows red, since it's in a red tent, rather than a building like the big fruit stand. The produce isn't as good either. The efficient driving did NOT make up for the frustration and wasted time.
  • Going to Safeway when they are giving away frappacino samples is a very good thing.

My first couple of days has been rather humbling. For some reason, I think many of us expect domestic tasks to be easy. Where did we get that idea? It's not that the tasks themselves are hard, but the coordination is. I'd love to make breakfast for us both, prepare hub's lunch, clean, run, eat my lunch, do chores and errands, get 6 hours of desk work done, and make dinner - ready at 5:45. Somehow, this doesn't all fit into my day. I will get faster, and learn to be more efficient, but I still don't think it will ALL fit in. That's ok. Except for the desk work, all the rest of it is 100% more than I was doing before. The hardest part of the coordination, as many well know, is the magic of getting all the dinner components ready at the same time. That's really a trick.

Yesterday, hubs got home from work, and we sat down for dinner. He looked at his watch and just grinned at me. I couldn't figure out what was wrong, or if he was teasing me - why. He just smiled at said, "It's 6:10." Just smiled. Then it dawned on me. I don't think we have ever, EVER, been eating dinner (that we cooked, on a week night) that early. Ever. It was still nice and warm out. Still sunny. We had a nice dinner and then had to talk about what we wanted to do with our evening. Normally, if we actually made dinner at home, we wouldn't finish until 8:30, and then would still need to clean up. Not much evening left, and we'd be exhausted. Not last night. We still had several hours (I can't believe it - HOURS) of evening left and we both had lots of energy.

We really like this world. I think I'll stay.

Monday, September 04, 2006

New Day

Well, it is here. Today begins a new phase in my life. A new job, and acceptance of a job I haven't been doing well. This has been a long time coming.

I remember crying to my husband, waiting in the ferry line, about 13 months ago. I was dreading going back to work; work was overwhelming to me, especially when also trying to do anything at home. The home stuff always lost. I had realized recently that our marriage (and my assumption was that it was true of most marriages, although highly controversial) would theoretically work better if I were a home-maker. This was all in theory - I wasn't asking to quit. I saw it as a wife's gift to her husband. She (meaning I) would manage our home, feed the family nutritious meals, manage the budget... which would mean that in their time together she would not be in an overwhelmed coma, would not be choosing between cleaning and fun, would not be eating out. The home-time could be filled with relationship building chosen activities. It sounded peaceful to me. That would be the wife's gift to the husband - making it so that when they were together, they could actually do things together and be happy. It was my vision.

Back to my car in the ferry line... Unfortunately, husband had never heard of a stay-at-home wife, without kids. He knows lots of stay-at-home moms, but none without kids. He had never heard of it. He thought it was weird and that others would think it was weird. He didn't understand my vision (before explanation of the vision). I was crushed that he didn't immediately value what I valued. To me, it's not about being home to raise kids. It's about being home to manage the home, and care for all that goes through it's doors. Even once we have kids, I would want to take care of the kids and home-things during the day for HIM so that when he gets home from work, we can enjoy each other as a family and do family-things, rather than chores and errands. To me, it's a needed and valued arrangement with and without kids. I cried because of his rejection, not because of the pending Monday.

That was 13 very long months ago. God has been gracious and loving this year, as always, of course. He's given me clarity. He's brought husband a long way and given him and open mind... and He's been so gracious and gentle in this journey.

After a journey of learning last year, I learned that I have not been in obedience to God's plan for me. God has given me a job to do: to manage my home and be a support to my husband. Of course, this doesn't mean I can't work elsewhere, but this must be secondary. While I've been very successful at work, I've been completely failing at the two things God HAS given me to do. Thankfully, He brought husband to a place this year where he could see this and appreciate it. Husband has been wonderful. We agreed we needed to change something. Since there aren't kids at home, I really don't need to be home full-time, just at home more. We decided I needed to change to a part-time job, even if it meant losing my job in the meantime.

While God doesn't promise material blessing, and we certainly not counting on it, we WERE overwhelmed with God's blessings upon us. Abundance.

Starting today, I have a new job. FIRST, my job is to manage my home and support my husband. SECONDLY, I work part-time (30 hrs a week) from home (go to the cubicles about 1 day a week), doing analysis/marketing strategy for the non-profit I've been working for. Even better, I start my new job with a holiday where I'll be with my husband all day. Fitting. =)

Today I am going to go jogging, buy groceries to start making lunches at home, and then we are going for a hike, then eating dinner at home.

So, today - more than any other day so far, my blog name is really appropriate. Today is a new day. It will be hard; I've seen that and anticipating more of it. It's a lot of change. I'm changing to something I want and know is right, but something I really don't know how to do. I have to learn to make dinner now?!?! Every night. Eek! BUT... I know that God will carry me through this because it is HIS plan, not mine.

This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118: 24