Grateful // remember these things

New, clean, fresh cloth diapers. Definitely the best they will ever look/smell!


I’ve been feeling down the last few days.  Pregnancy has been getting harder on my body – I’m past the point of “cute baby bump” and into the “are you sure there’s only one in there?”-swollen feet-waddle-walk phase where everyone thinks I’ll go into labor at the drop of a pin (sidebar: why do random strangers think it’s ever okay to comment on how large a pregnant woman’s belly is!?).  Additionally, we still have not closed on our house which we were supposed to close on over a month ago.  As a ticking time bomb, so to speak, this has been very frustrating to me and my nesting urges are misplaced in this apartment which is too small, but we may still be living in primarily when Baby Girl makes her appearance.

Yesterday was especially rough – I have been pushing myself harder at work because of the impending leave to be more productive.  I’ve been working extra hours before and after trying to get ahead and be prepared for the baby whenever she shows up.  And we’ve had a lot of shows and events lately that have kept me on my feet on the weekends when I could normally be resting.  So yesterday, I had the day off and I had this mental list of things I wanted to do to prepare the apartment in case the baby arrives early, but I had absolutely no energy to do those things.

I did not communicate this well to my husband, who went to visit his family yesterday after work.  I was particularly and inappropriately cranky with him when he got home because I couldn’t do the things I wanted to and he hadn’t been home to help me.  I knew there was a lot of exhaustion and hormones behind what I was expressing, and so did he, but that doesn’t make it easier on the receiving end.

So this morning when I woke up, several of the items I had listed off to him were done.  When I went to bed at 9:45 last night, he stayed up until 1 am pre-washing cloth diapers and other baby items, doing our laundry, and cleaning up our house.  I woke up so refreshed and thankful for such a caring husband who understood my heart and was so willing to take the load off of me.  I bragged on him all day.

A friend from college had her baby shower today about 45 minutes away from where we live, so my bestie and I spent the afternoon out there and I just walked back into my house.  It was wildly therapeutic to have a little girl time away from the house with her, and in the company of a bunch of other young mommas and soon-to-be-mommas, where I didn’t feel the looming pressure of “where on earth are we going to put this kid” every time I looked around our apartment.

When I walked in the door I noticed some of the furniture boxes were missing out of the living room, so I walked up to the second bedroom which as been the hoarding/storage area for baby stuff.  My sweet, kind, wonderful man spent this day off putting together baby furniture and putting together a make-do nursery to ease my heart.  I don’t even have words for how much this means to me.  The last 24 hours needs to replay in my memory anytime I’m feeling down.  I am so hugely blessed by how well my husband loves me, what a wonderful parent he is already, and how hard he works to settle my heart.  Truly, our daughter will have a very high standard for any man who would ever entertain the thought of being her husband, because she has an incredible dad.

We’re Moving!

OHIO!This week’s lesson: Your entire life can change on a dime.

On Friday, one of my best friends told me about a job at a place I’ve been hoping to work for someday.  So, I put my application materials in that day, and here we are, it’s Wednesday and after a crazy 14 hour round trip to Ohio…

I got the job!

I will be the new Assistant Director of Development at the BEAUTIFUL Renaissance Theatre in Mansfield, Ohio.

I’ve long been a fan of this place, having attended several performances there, and have frequently joked with Mike that if they ever offered me a job, we’d drop everything and move home.  For those readers that don’t know, Mike grew up in Mansfield, we met in the town right next to it, Ashland, when we were both in college there, and it’s where the Cooks all live and the Fieldings are only about 90 minutes down the road. 

It’s home.

This job is very much what I hoped to be doing, and I had expected it to take several years to work my way up the ranks and pay my dues before a job like this would come along… yet God provides for our hopes, our dreams, our wants, and our needs.  We have been praying for the opportunity to move to Mansfield for quite awhile, and expecting that could happen as soon as a year from now, but never guessed so soon.  This is a HUGE answer to prayers for our long-term.  While we hadn’t at all expected to move quite so soon, this is a huge opportunity for us and we’re very excited.  I will change some of my plans for school, but still plan to finish my master’s degree in Arts Management in spring of 2013.

It’s going to be incredibly hard to leave all the people we love and care about here in Virginia.  We have said a million times how ridiculously lucky we’ve been to have such a wonderful group of friends, a church we love, and a school that has been so outstanding… it will be very hard to say goodbye to all of this.  I don’t know how to begin to thank you all for the wonderful memories, laughs and tears, and the deep friendships we’ve formed.

If you’re one of those people we’re going to be saying goodbye to very soon, or saying hello again to soon, and I haven’t had a chance to call you yet to tell you what’s going on- please forgive me.  This has all happened extremely quickly, and I am doing my best, but I know there are several people I hoped to talk to personally before posting online…  We’ll talk soon.

{{Can you help us?}}

If you’re not busy on Saturday, July 28th, live in either the Winchester or Ashland area and would be willing to help us load/unload the truck… we can desperately use your help and will provide food and beverage!  Or, if you’re around the Winchester area in the next few weeks and would be game to help us pack, we’d really love that.  (We’re going to definitely need some boxes ASAP!) If you’re available, please shoot me a quick email and let me know if you’re free.  Or if you hate helping people move, and just want to be sure to see us before we go, we’ll plan some sort of large gathering soon.

Taking the Wheel

My husband Mike and I are working on regaining control of our finances.

I am in graduate school.  After the first semester of studying voice pedagogy, we decided that I should seize the opportunity of being in school full-time and take on a second master’s degree in arts management.  So now, I am working on both degrees and will graduate next spring.

Being a graduate student is not financially lucrative.  Money has been tight the entire time we’ve been here, and while I’ve been incredibly lucky to have a full assistantship, living in Northern VA on one income with school expenses has not been easy.  That said, we haven’t always been completely responsible with our finances, either.  We like to travel, spend time with those we love, and seize opportunities, even if they’re not the best choices for our budget.

As I finish this second year of school with one year to go, we both feel burdened to take control of our finances: live within our means, pay off debt, put money away for the future.  [ENTER LIFESTYLE CHANGES HERE]

Today was spent reviewing our spending over the past few months and creating a budget that balanced within one income.  This was an emotional process for both of us, and we’re not balanced yet.  But, this initial step and recognizing areas where we’ve been lax in our spending (like, dining out) is the first step in becoming FINANCIALLY FREE.  And, as frustrating as it can be, it gets better from here.

{do tell!}

What has been the most effective strategy for taking control of your finances?  What have your struggles been?