28 April 2011

Reconsidering

So after I blogged that last post on worrying, I felt a little bit better, but as the day wore on, I just started worrying more and more; I found a bunch more things to worry about before evening struck. By the time I went to bed, I was feeling downright sick. I started in on some impromptu evening prayers when it suddenly dawned on me: I wasn't trusting God. Somewhere along the way, I had unconsciously taken all the burdens I had given to God when this process started back into my own hands. Right then and there I gave them all back. I prayed for trust and that He would provide for us over the course of the summer. Then I thanked Him for all the ways He has already been providing for us and setting us up to be provided for this summer. I went to sleep feeling much more peaceful and I woke up this morning feeling the same way.

So, that is the solution to my problems, I guess: prayer. Who would have thunk it?

27 April 2011

Endless Worrying

I can't honestly say that I am looking forward to spending the summer in Michigan, to be completely blunt. I am a worrier and an organizer. If it can be stressed over and planned for, I will do it, whether I want to or not.

I am irrationally afraid of all various situations. I am worried that everyone will want to see us all the time and that we'll feel smothered. At the same time, I am worried that everyone will be so busy with their own lives that they won't even notice we're in town and that we'll feel abandoned. Aside from my random contradictory fears, I also have the following fears.

1. Claustrophobia. We are living in one bedroom and one bathroom in someone else's house with a new baby. We are used to having an entire apartment to ourselves. We have routines and schedules and habits. Now we won't even be able to walk from the bedroom to the bathroom without getting dressed.

2. There will be nothing familiar. I will have virtually none of my own possessions. Not my bed, not my dresser, not my kitchen, not my KitchenAid mixer. I am going to go through one of the biggest changes of my entire life and I won't even have my old, familiar sock drawer to rely on.

3. No money. The fact that we're spending money getting to Michigan, moving back to Florida, and paying doctor bills for what our insurance doesn't cover while our only dependable income is from student loans scares the shit out of me. No matter how much money we save while in Michigan, this summer is costing us more money than if we just stayed in Florida.

4. Judgement. Based on how I look and on how I take care of the baby. Let's face it, pregnant or not, I haven't seen these people in about a year and I will have a 35-week belly. I can't believe the things that immediate family will say to a pregnant woman, I am not really looking forward to getting an ear-full from a various extended relative who considers them-self an expert on appropriate belly size. I am also afraid of everyone telling me what I'm doing wrong, that I'm being overprotective, etc.

Everyone (sometimes even we do as well) acts like we're going home for the summer. Even though we do prefer Michigan, after two years, Florida is home. That is where everything we own is located, that is where we will return again at the end of the summer to set up shop. Very quickly it will become the three of us and we'll be our own little family. Of course it isn't possible to predict all the changes that will occur when we have the baby, but I am scared that life this summer isn't designed to support our transition.

26 April 2011

Inside One Week

I am leaving in one week from yesterday and Matt's finals start one week from today. Oi!

I took the weekend off from packing in order to enjoy spending time with Matt and also prepare for the holiday. Also, yesterday was our three year anniversary : ) Matt had the day off from class because religious schools like to allot plenty of time off for Easter. He arranged it so that he did homework on Easter (which isn't as hard when you don't have nearby family to visit) instead and could take the whole of Monday off.

Today I am back on the bandwagon and ready to go. I am feeling a little bit panicky about finishing everything in time, so today I am pretty busy trying to tie up a few things before I dive back into the serious packing. Tomorrow will begin the kitchen, which has scarcely been touched. Luckily there is nothing else on my calendar tomorrow except packing. The rest of the week, I do have some appointments scheduled, which are contributing to my concerns that I won't finish everything in time. Matt thinks those concerns are mostly in my head. He's probably right.

Well, it's back to planning out my day. I just finished my to-do list, now I need to figure out exactly when I need the car so I'll know if I should drive Matt to class. Ah, the joys of one car. Hey, at least we only have one insurance payment, one budget for maintenance, and one budget for gas!

19 April 2011

Small Victories

Phew, I have just packed up a storm! For the most part, the bedroom and the living room are done! Now, I have only half-done the closets and the study/dining room and I have hardly even touched the kitchen, but considering that I still have 1.5 weeks to go, I count today as a victory! I wanted to finish the bedroom, but then I started getting some dizzy spells, so I decided to call it a night. I ran out of packing tape anyway.

Small Victory #2: yesterday I finished the baby's baptism outfit! Finding a gender neutral newborn gown was impossible, so instead I crocheted a white hat and booties and trimmed them with white ribbon, then I bought a white onesie and sewed on some beads to outline two Christian ichthus fish. I wanted to do something to symbolize water, so I decided on the fish, which are very symbolic in their own right. I made two of them with their noses touching. Matt and I decided the bigger fish would symbolize God and the smaller fish the baby. They are almost touching, kind of like God's and Adam's hands in the Sistine Chapel. Anyway, lots of love went into it, even if it isn't covered in 5 yards of silk and lace. Let's just hope the baby comes in under 8 lbs, since that is the size all the garments are designed to fit.

Matt and I went to lunch together. At Taco Bell, so not the most romantic of all joints, but hey, it gave us time together. I also finally got him to go through his clothing to sort into piles for me to pack and it was actually a lot of fun sitting on the bed talking to him while he worked. (Of course as soon as he was done it was my turn and I packed up all his clothes). That is another small victory: us time!

I'm taking pleasure in the little things today.

16 April 2011

PS

My husband was formally elected Grand Knight (ie, the #1 guy) of the Knights of Columbus.

Preparing for 2L summer

We are just a little over two weeks away from departure day and a little over three weeks away from the end of 2L year. Matt is beginning the steps into full-fledged freak-out mode, but isn't quite there yet. His last gigantic paper is due the day after our anniversary, so we created a schedule for him with due dates for his research, his outline, draft 1 and draft 2. Draft 1 is due tomorrow at midnight. I expect that once the paper is turned in, then he will switch into freak-out study mode. I try to encourage him to study often and be disciplined with his breaks. Sometimes I do slip into nagging, but I try to avoid this by prodding him into making his own decisions, then helping them stay firm. For example, if he wants to take a break to do whatever, I'll ask him, "How long is this break going to be? When will you get back to work?" Now he is making the decisions, not me, but I can still help him stay accountable to himself. It's a narrow line between support and nagging.

The packing is continuing, slowly but surely. I never feel like we have that much stuff until we try to put it in a box. Our boxes are going in a lot of different directions and it is getting hard to keep them all straight. This pile the movers are taking to storage, that stack of boxes we'll take up next time we run up to the unit, the box in the bedroom and the stack of stuff next to it is getting shipped up to Michigan, the stuff on the laundry closet shelf is getting donated, the pile of boxes in the middle of the hallway...I'm going to have to plead pregnancy brain on that one. There are also stacks of stuff going with me in my suitcase to Michigan and stuff Matt is taking in the car to Michigan. Plus, it is incredibly difficult to adequately label boxes that are sitting on the floor when one is 8 months pregnant. Eventually I want to have items grouped together (the study/dining room has the stuff the movers are taking, the bedroom has stuff being shipped to Michigan, etc), but there is still too much stuff milling around to make that distinction just yet. PLUS the Borders near us is going out of business and yesterday while waiting for my cell phone at the Sprint store, I wandered next door and picked up 8 books for a total of $26.26, including tax. So now I have more books to pack.

Between all the stress of life right now, I am trying to count my blessings. Our car is amazing. It doesn't have any problems like the Contour had, it's finally starting to feel like ours. Plus I can drive it, always a bonus (it's a manual). Our water bill is finally manageable (I don't think I blogged about that one. Well, if your water bill is high, replace the flapper in the toilet, even if you don't hear any water running. It saved us about $75 a month. Yeah, that was fun). We can afford to use the a/c to keep up with my ever-rising body temperature. I'm in the process of getting kicked right now. That's a pretty big blessing. (The baby is still convinced that there is enough space to practice gymnastics). I'm not working, which is, in large part, a blessing. That I can not work, at least, for now. We have a place to live in Michigan, the baby's doctors (or at least their nurses) seem very competent, our doctor down here is very accommodating, seizure-kitty hasn't had many seizures in a very long time. So, yeah, things aren't all bad.

13 April 2011

A "Secret" to Stetching the Budget

Living on a budget is definitely a lot of hard work and almost always it means ruling out certain luxury items, such as fancy lingerie. Well, I discovered a few years ago that Victoria's Secret (VS) is the best upscale clothing store at which to buy bras and underwear when you're on a budget. What makes this store so great is the abundance with which they give out discounts to loyal shoppers and the ability to combine coupons.

The first step is to get an in-store credit card, which they call their Angels card. They give a LOT of rewards to store credit card holders. If you're budget system is like mine is geared almost entirely to using cash instead of credit, it does take some discipline. What I do is charge my purchase to my Angels card, then turn around and pay the card off with my clothing money in the very next transaction. VS regularly (maybe 4-6 times per year) sends me coupons to get free underwear, no purchase necessary. I have literally walked in there several times, just gotten my free pair of underwear (or 2 pairs at a time, depending on how many coupons I have), and walked out, easy breezy. And the free underwear is not their discount underwear. It is usually very lacy and sexy. Sometimes they restrict by color or by style, but usually the sales clerk just points to one of their display tables and says, "anything on that table." About 1/3 of my underwear drawer is free from VS and I live on a very tiny clothing budget.

The other coupon you'll receive often as a card holder is for a $10 off any bra. These coupons are great because there are no combination restrictions. You can use them very easily with on-sale bras. I really like to use them when their cotton bras go on sale for 2/$20. The coupon brings the $40 total down to $30, which divided in half is $15/bra, about the price of a bra at Target, and definitely higher quality.

The third key to shopping at VS is the coupon that comes on the bottom of the receipt. Every receipt I have gotten from them for the past year has a coupon to save $10 off a purchase of $50 or more when you take a short phone survey. I even get this coupon on the bottom of receipts for underwear I got for free. While you can only save $10 for each $50 you spend, if you wait until the end of this post, I'll show you how this coupon is amazingly awesome, even for a minimal spender.

If you're okay with the influx of spam, sign up for the VS email campaign. They don't sell your email address, but they certainly use it themselves. These emails occasionally include coupons for free lip gloss with any purchase (including free underwear "purchases"). After acquiring a few free bottles of lip gloss, I couldn't handle the daily junk mail and unsubscribed. But hey, I got what I wanted out of it!

Lastly, being in the store every other month or so will expose you to the in-store promotions that VS runs. Right now they are running a "secret cash" promotion. Last month they gave out cards guaranteed to be worth at least $10, valid any time in April.

So, let's say you've been an Angels cardholder for a few months now, and you've dutifully collected your coupons. So you head into the store at a time when the cotton bras are on sale 2/$20, normally $24.50 each. This is what is in your basket:
$40.00 = two bras at $20 each
$  8.50 = a pair of lacy VS underwear
$10.00 = a tube of red sparkly lip gloss
----------
$58.50 pre-tax total

First you hand the cashier your $10 off a $50 purchase coupon
$58.50-$10=$48.50
Then you pass over your $10 off a bra coupon
$48.50-$10=$38.50
Then you pass over your free underwear coupon
$38.50-$8.50=$30
Lastly, you slide over your free lip gloss coupon
$30-$10=$20

So you pay $20 (+ tax), and walk out with $67.50 worth of goods! That's almost $50 saved! $20 is about the price of one bra from JCPenney! And if you happen to have a cash card or two free underwear coupons, the number saved will be even larger. As you'll notice, one key to the max savings discount is in handing over the coupons in the right order. If you pass over your free lip gloss coupon first, then your $10 off a $50 purchase coupon will be invalid. But just take it one coupon at a time; you aren't breaking any fine-print rules, so there is no need to worry. Once when I hit a particularly big jackpot of savings, the manager standing behind my cashier just looked at my total saved and said, "You go girl!"

Even when living on a strict budget, where there is a will to feel sexy in your underwear, there is a way ; )

11 April 2011

Endurance

Not too much excitement in our neck of the woods lately; just chugging along. Still three weeks left until I leave and finals begin. I don't really feel the pressure of the studying yet, but I know that Matt has a paper due soon that he hasn't been putting very many hours in to. I need to remember to ask him how that is going. He has had a hard time focusing lately, getting burnt out, needing a break, I think.

I have been steadily packing, about 2 boxes 2-3 days/week; I think I am a little ahead of where I need to be, but oh well. The apartment is feeling very empty and the storage unit is filling up quickly. I am worried that it isn't going to be big enough. It's not ideal in terms of the packaging to move furniture in last, but we don't have much of a choice. Matt is confident that it will all fit. I think I will have to agree to stack boxes higher than I would prefer.

All quiet on the baby front. I probably won't have any more news until May 6, which is fine with me, because I've had all the baby news I can stand for now. As of last Thursday, I am officially 8 months/32 weeks along. Lots of kicking, lots of cravings for meat and juicy fruits. Now that Michigan and the storage unit are all squared away and there are no more specialist appointments, I have had a lot of spare time on my hands lately. I am knitting a baby sweater and then I will move on to the baby's baptismal outfit. Not really sure what I'm going to do for a gender neutral newborn baptism outfit, but I have a few ideas.

There is still one more book club meeting before I leave; I'll pick up the book from the library later today. There is another book club, this one is religious in nature and related to the law school, that I may join too, but the meeting is one week from today and I still don't have the book yet.

So, like I said, not too much excitement, but, as is most of life, law school is all about endurance, not sprinting.

07 April 2011

Date Day

Today Matt and I went out on a date! We didn't talk about the baby, or law school, or moving, or anything. We didn't do it intentionally, we didn't even intentionally go out on a date, it was just how everything ended up! It was a pretty nice day-time date and we definitely enjoyed ourselves. I do feel guilty that he didn't get any reading done this morning, but my goodness, it sure was nice to do something that didn't involved thinking about a congenital heart defect or moving 1300 miles again.

05 April 2011

Compromises and Tongue-Biting

Being married requires a lot of compromising, but most of the time, the compromises aren't very difficult because I genuinely want to see my husband happy and I feel guilty when I get my way all the time. But sometimes my control-freak nature rears its ugly head and I have a hard time compromising my position. So, what is this partiular law-school/baby-having stress in my marriage? Extracurriculars.

So, Matt is pretty involved, in my opinion, more so than most students. I'm going to break up his time commitments into three levels:
-Level 3 Commits
Matt is currently a member of several different organizations on campus that do not take up any time other than an occasional meeting during lunch. He spends none of his personal time on these commits.
-Level 2 Commits
Matt is apart of one level 2 commit this year, the school's orientation program, for which he volunteered to be a student ambassador for prospective students. It takes up time during the school day and some evenings for events, but he doesn't have to do any planning/prep on his personal time.
-Level 1 Commits
Finally come level 1 commits. Matt has two of these. He is the #2 guy at the Knights of Columbus (K of C) and he is also a member of Law Review (LR). These two commitments both require several hours per week for having meetings (K of C), or working on a paper (LR), then also require research/planning on his own time, and full (LR) or half days (K of C) away from home for special assignments/events.

Now that we are winding down this year, Matt is preparing his commits for next year. He is planning to keep all of the above commits and is interested in the #1 position at the Knights. He also would like to consider a work-study/externship for the school year, graduate summa cum laude, job hunt for post-graduation jobs, and we'll have the baby to consider, who will be requiring surgery most likely at the end of the first semester next year.

I am seriously concerned that this schedule will be too demanding and that something somewhere will give. We've already spoken several times about my concerns, but for the most part, he doesn't share them. It is really tough for me, a control freak, to stand by and let him make decisions I feel are bad. I have to remind that as much as I can voice concerns and opinions, I need to let Matt make the final decision as to what to do with his time. Then, it becomes my job to support him to the best of my ability. Of course whatever he does affects me, but if I truly want him to be the leader of our family, then I need to trust him to make the right decision. I can and do pray for him and with him, and I encourage him to pray on his own. This is a really hard position for me to take, as I am naturally controlling, and I also grew up in a house where the mom made the final decisions. I often have to remind myself that virtue isn't a disciplined person being disciplined, but a strong-willed person being disciplined. If I end up a patient, calm, disciplined person at some point in my life, then I'll know that I definitely picked up some virtues along the way : )

04 April 2011

Readjusting

Have I been posting too much lately? I feel like I've been posting everyday! It's very therapeutic though, so I hope you, as readers, don't feel overwhelmed by my ridiculous number of posts. Anyway, so the plane I wanted on Sunday the 1st sold out. The plane ticket has officially been purchased for Monday the 2nd in the afternoon. Oi.

Anyway, so how are we/Matt balancing classes and studying with all this? Well, we schedule the doctor's appointments around his class schedule, or on Thursdays, if possible, when he does not have class all day. He has so far made every single doctor's appointment, but has missed two classes. His professors have been very generous, and since he rarely ever misses a class, he is in no danger of running out of absences. There have been a few more late nights than usual, so that he can stay on top of his reading and get his papers in on time. As usual, I am supporting him as much as possible, making lunch and dinner and doing all of the packing. He does have to be the one to run the loads up to the storage unit, though, since I can't lift most of the boxes. But he has been cracking down on the to-do lists, helping him prioritize and waste less time on Facebook. He is a very good student, participates in class, and tries to stay on top of his work throughout the semester, plus he already has 1.5 years of law school experience under his belt, so he is balancing these new stresses very impressively.

My life has been settling down very nicely as well. Most of the planning and coordinating has been scheduled, so now I can get back into doing a little exercise and packing a few boxes each day. Combined with the normal chores and few design requests I still have coming in, this leaves me with a few hours each day to knit baby sweaters or read books. After several weeks of chaos, it feels nice to calm back down.

02 April 2011

Traveling

Travel plans approved! I will be flying up May 1st. Matt will drive up and arrive on May 10th. A few more days apart than I'd like, but way better than the initial 3 weeks! A bunch of various nurses from U of M Hospital called me yesterday to schedule all sorts of appointments for May 6th. I will be going from one doctor to another from 9am to 3pm! Luckily, they scheduled me a lunch break.

Let's see, other good news from my productive streak yesterday...All of U of M's Hospital is in-network for my insurance provider. The priest who married us agreed to baptize our baby while in the hospital. We ordered our 3 year anniversary gifts last night, our anniversary being the day after Easter. Matt and I like to do the traditional anniversary gifts and the 3 year gift is leather. So he came up with the brilliant idea to do leather bracelets with silver name plates and have the name plates engraved. We found a company online with a good selection and despite initial concerns that my name was too long, they assured us it would fit. We placed the order last night to ensure time for engraving and shipping.

The baby has been sooooo active lately, tons of kicking! It is a good reminder to me that everything will be okay.

I am wrapping up all these things that needed planning and it feels incredibly good to have them off my plate. Yesterday I was feeling so good that I kept working on the baby's sweater that I'm knitting. I just have to get this placed packed up, but I have an entire month to do it.

01 April 2011

Expelling Nervous Energies

So, I've had a few days now to digest and process things. I digested the information from the doctors, mourned the loss of the perfectly-healthy-baby-life and resigned myself to a series of open-heart surgeries over the course of the baby's life. I am still dealing with some nervous energies, but I am expelling them in preparing for the move. I also joined an online support group for parents of children with Tetralogy. I find significantly more support in that online community than I do looking things up online, which is full of useless and scary information. Normally, I love doing research on the Internet. I DO NOT trust doctors and usually research things to death on the Internet until I can find something that both sounds and feels right for my situation. I'm almost always right. But this time, as much as there are some things the doctor said that I don't quite believe, I can affirmatively say that nothing online is right. I think once the baby is born and they run whatever post-birth tests they plan on running, then we'll know for sure exactly what is going on with the heart. Plus having information calms me down. When we went to our OBGYN appointment yesterday, they hadn't received my medical records from the specialist yet, but I had brought along the papers he provided me with and told them everything he told us. At the end of the appointment, she told us that she felt like she was listening to the doctor when I was talking to her. That made me feel like a total bad-ass.

Anyway, I guess I am still in rambling mode...So I am still having a hard time knowing that I am going to give birth and leave my newborn at the hospital for up to a week. I am DEFINITELY planning to stay at the hotel that is connected to the hospital so that I can be with the baby as often as possible. Once we hear back about a Michigan doctor, I am planning to ask him a million questions, including if I can breastfeed and if the baby can wear clothing we provide during observation. I am determined to walk away from that hospital having done everything I could to keep a mother-infant bond.

I am also struggling with how we will get now and how our baby will get in the future health insurance. Who knows what is going to happen long-term, but one thing I can affirmatively tell you right now is that if you have a pre-existing condition you have two options: 1. Get rejected from every insurance company ever; or 2. Get insurance for everything except your condition. Considering that baby's condition requires open heart surgery, neither option will really work. Our baby will remain on our policy for 31 days after birth, at which point, we'll need to switch him/her to his/her own policy. Also, every year, we have to buy a new policy, not renew our previous one. So, I am very scared that the baby's condition will be rejected. I am planning to call them next week to discuss the details. If they only give me bad news, my secret back-up plan is to find a high-ranking male supervisor and burst into tears on the phone. I am banking on the hope that no guy would tell a sobbing pregnant woman "no."

Finally, we may have a travel itinerary, which also does much to soothe my anxiety. At it involves me flying, which we didn't think was possible. It is funny how you can spend an entire month mulling something over and not run across a solution that works. But one month later, we finally may have. We still have to run it by the Michigan doctor, but here goes:
May 1 - at 35 weeks pregnant, I fly up to Michigan. This would put us just in time for another doctor's appointment. (My nurse sister-in-law who works at the hospital has already generously offered to go with me to appointments so that I don't have to go alone). At this point, we also UPS up all of the stuff we want in MI that won't fit in the car (there won't be much). This is the Sunday before Matt's finals week.
May 7 - the movers arrive to take all the stuff that I have already pre-packed before I left. Matt supervises.
May 9 - Matt's last final exam. We would fly his mother or brother or someone down that morning before the exam. Matt runs up a final load to the storage unit of stuff he needed to survive from May 7-May 9 (sleeping bag, shower curtain, etc). He and the fly-down drive back up in the car with the cats.
May 10 - Happy family reunion. Because I wouldn't be stopping every 1-2 hours, Matt is confident they could make it up by the night of May 10.

Only 9 nights apart, I make it up early enough for the Michigan doctor to get established with our condition, I don't spend 3 days in a car, which the doctor's didn't like, and it's not too expensive. There are still some aspects I don't like, but significantly fewer with this route than any other. We'll see what the Michigan doctor says, but the Florida doctor thinks it'll work great.