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The Spring Thaw

28 Apr

There is big news in our household: after what can only be described as one of the hardest years of my life, full of health breakdowns and terrible scares, ambulance rides and unexpected surgery, unimaginable loss, and financial instability, the ship seems to be righting itself and finally heading to calmer waters. It’s been almost a year since the company Anthony worked for eliminated 100 positions – including his – and he has made great use of his time. In addition to taking care of some much-needed surgery, ending our infertility streak, and helping me through a difficult pregnancy, he’s been researching alternate career paths. We live in one of the hardest-hit areas of the country for unemployment and although he applied for every job in his same field he’s found, competition is fierce, so we investigated starting over in a few related and new fields, too. He never gave up on the search for a viable career within our rural-suburban hometown where we could remain where many of our friends and the bulk of our family live. All the work he’s put in over the last year has paid off and Anthony was hired by a local company that makes use of his talents and the classes he’s taken during this time. It is a fantastic opportunity. In addition to this, there are a couple of other opportunities presented to us, and within the next month or so we’ll be called on to make some big decisions.

I still have lingering anxiety about our situation. Part of me has a hard time trusting that things are improving and part of me is weighed down by the gravity of the decisions we will have to make. Sometimes change, even good change, is scary. We are just going to have to make the best decision we can with the information we have. We each have the resources to deal with life if things don’t go as planned, something I know now to a degree I wouldn’t have thought possible a year ago. If there’s anything this experience has taught me is that Anthony and I can rely on each other through anything. Stress like this can often tear a relationship apart, but we’ve used it to grow stronger. And we never would have made it this far without the support and love of our families and a vast network of friends who are there for us should we need them.

Now that Anthony’s started working again, I’m officially back to the solo parenting grind. Today hasn’t been ideal because I have a fever and feel extra terrible, but other than that it’s going really well. Check in with me in about a week, and we’ll see if I’m still smiling and relax or if I’ve become the stereotypical harried mother with bags under my eyes and a short temper.

Things are improving but change doesn’t come overnight. We expect things will still be difficult for awhile until we figure things out and build momentum in this new direction. Spring has arrived in seemingly unending winter of our life, and its sweet breath feels like relief.


Life List Update 2014

23 Jan

Each year, instead of making a resolution I like to go through my Life List, remove items I no longer care about, cross off things I accomplished, and add new things I want to do. Life isn’t static and neither are we: we change we grow and I’m not interested in being chained to a list I made once and never altered.

I’ve noticed a change in me as I thought about the things I wanted to add this year. They are less grandiose and more personal. I think this might have something to do with the fact that someone I knew, young and in the prime of his life, died suddenly almost exactly a year ago. The things that were truly important to him became instantly clear and he was thankfully able to make some of those things happen before he passed. I remember talking with his wife, my dear friend Valerie, and in that time those things became clear to her, too. The hardship I’ve faced in the last year, between my friend’s husband’s death, multiple medical emergencies within my family, my husband’s layoff, his injury and subsequent surgery, a narrowing of our options due to unemployment, and other things, has affected me greatly and has definitely changed the way I view my Life List. I view a lot of the items on here as fun things, or goals to work on, or fantastic ideas I’d love to see come into fruition, but only a few are items that are truly important to my life. And that’s okay, because hardship has taught me what’s important, and that’s something I’m aware of everyday.

That said, keeping a Life List is a great way of having on hand a list of fun things to do when the opportunity arises, a list of goals to work on when you feel like you might need purpose or motivation, and is, overall, a good brainstorming exercise to breed enthusiasm for life and living.


First, the fun stuff: things I accomplished from my list during the last year and since my list began.

  • Write an eBook
  • Decorate Elias’ nursery
  • Make pickles
  • Own backyard chickens
  • Teach Elias to cook
  • Take a thrifting roadtrip with friends
  • Sing with Stefalynda
  • The the kids to Bodie


  • Pimp my closet
  • Learn to make his grandma’s black beans & chile mole
  • Learn to make my grandma’s fudge sauce & carrots and wine sauce
  • Create a Family of Isobel book
  • Create a Book of Seasons
  • Visit a local you-pick farm
  • Participate in Family Kite Day in the mountains
  • Host a food swap
  • Bike the Virginia Corridor Trail with family
  • Xerescape my front yard
  • Visit the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve
  • Get business cards
  • Get my business license
  • Swim in a turquoise sea
  • Participate in a drum circle
  • Tour a European castle
  • Teach Isobel to cook
  • Turn a wall into a photo gallery
  • Visit all the state parks & reserves in my area
  • Learn to edit video
  • Speak basic Spanish
  • Walk the English moors
  • Research our family tree
  • Have a family snow day with sledding
  • Visit the UC Davis arboretum
  • Have a campfire at the beach
  • Plan a getaway to the cabin with my friends
  • Try on wedding dresses since I missed my opportunity
  • Grow my own mushrooms
  • Help a needy family have a bountiful holiday
  • Cook a food for a homeless shelter
  • Bathe in a hot spring
  • See the Northern Lights
  • Taste ice wine
  • Tasting party for cheeses I’ve never tried before
  • Go camping
  • Try Geocacheing
  • Learn to work my GD sewing machine
  • Have an English-style tea
  • Walk on the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Knit a fancy scarf
  • Make homemade bagels
  • Fly First Class
  • Take family photos at the beach
  • Grow vegetables in the backyard
  • Create a coloring book for Isobel with my friends
  • Sing a karaoke duet of the accursed song, Time Of My Life, with Stefanie
  • Craft family Christmas stockings
  • Learn to bake truly excellent bread
  • Perfect my punch
  • Prepare for the apocalypse
  • Eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant
  • Take a trip to NYC
  • Record my Grandma’s life story
  • Record Anthony’s Grandma’s life story
  • Create a car emergency kit
  • Explore the Tikal ruins in Guatemala
  • Cook a campfire meal
  • Become proficient at building a fire
  • Learn basic and advanced embroidery techniques
  • Crochet an amigurumi animal
  • Plant a dwarf orchard in the backyard
  • Learn to make preserves
  • Get a meaningful tattoo
  • Make homemade ice cream
  • Set up a compost bin and a rain barrel in our yard
  • Visit the SF MOMA
  • Hike Vernal Falls in the Spring with family
  • Visit a Japan
  • Meet as many of my online friends in real life as possible
  • Start a movement for backyard herb gardens
  • Learn to make a delicious cocktail
  • Stay in a woodland cabin
  • Explore the Badlands
  • Visit a Viking museum in Sweden
  • Visit a natural history museum
  • Visit the Rosicrucian Museum
  • Photograph my favorite local sites
  • Throw my parents an anniversary party
  • Renew our wedding vows
  • Spend a summer devoted with day trips for the kids
  • Witness a huge lightning and thunder storm
  • Host a dance party for Isobel
  • Watch a caterpillar turn into a butterfly
  • Grow a fabulous herb garden on my patio
  • Visit San Juan Bautista Yard Sale Festival
  • Fondue party!
  • See Rifftrax live
  • Contribute financially to our family
  • Help Anthony get his game published
  • Carve our initials into a tree
  • Display my photography in a gallery show
  • Visit a giant planetarium
  • Look through Lick Observatory’s telescope
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