Saturday, December 31, 2011


Its hard to believe its been a year. The year began with a bang--just a few days after our holiday guests went home and as I was putting away the Christmas decorations and cleaning up after the tree, Doug came home late in the morning, angry tears fresh on his cheeks, and told me he didn't have a job. Part of me wanted to freak out, but mostly I felt relieved. I had been half-expecting it for months, and mentally preparing myself for that possibility on a daily basis for weeks. I didn't know what would happen, where to go from that moment, but at least one type of uncertainty was over, and the nature of the uncertainty changed.

That was 361 days ago.

We took a trip to Cal Poly to see what it would take to get Doug's master degree completely, officially finished. It looked to be just in time, and as we pursued that avenue, things kept falling into place just right. While we were over at the coast, we stopped in to visit Doug's dad. The kids had only met him once before, as had I, so we sat and visited with him for several hours and started to get acquainted. Several necessary trips to Cal Poly throughout the quarter gave Doug the opportunity to spend some time with his father, something he hadn't done in a long time.

In the spring we welcomed our little St Patrick's Day baby. I put off the induction in order to make it a little easier for my mom to come for the birth and so that Keira (or Ciara, if you prefer the proper Gaelic) could be a St. Patty's baby, and that almost didn't work. The hospital called 15 minutes before I was about to leave and told me they were slammed and I'd have to wait. I didn't make it to the hospital until lunch time, and the induction seemed to be going as slow as the rest did, and I was pretty sure I would have a March 18th baby. But, at the last minute (or hour, as the case was here), things started to move along quickly and she made it with 50 minutes to spare.

Just before Easter, Doug's grandmother (Katy's mother) passed away. It was not a surprise, as she'd been sick for some time and in that sense it was a relief. Though she has been missed, it was wonderful to have the opportunity to spend some more time with Doug's sisters and their husbands, and listen to them all tell wonderfully funny stories about their grandma's spunky personality.

The kids finished their school year in Lindsay, just as Doug was getting near the end of his time line for school, and it became apparent that he was not going to finish his project by the end of the quarter. Thanks to an understanding and very, very encouraging professor, the project was finished, but most of our summer was eaten up by it.

In the mean time, I was hunting for jobs for Doug, and he applied for quite a few. Nothing. No interviews. No call backs. Fewer and fewer options. School started for the kids, and we started trying to identify what our options were--it was obvious they were getting fewer and fewer. By the fall, we knew something had to give. Our savings dwindling rapidly, no offers forthcoming, we made the decision to move.

Its good to be home.

We spent the month of October cleaning and painting the house, packing and arranging and prioritizing, and then, the first week of November, with all that we could fit into two Dodge Caravans and a Honda Accord, we drove to Montana.

Its nice to be here a couple of months and realize that I wasn't romanticizing Montana and the freedom of the lifestyle--it really is that wonderful. Its nice to realize that I wasn't romanticizing my family because of the distance--I really do like them that much. Lindsay was so good to me, and my in-laws have been such a wonderful blessing, that I didn't realize until I came home just how much I was still living outside my comfort zone the past 7 years. When we left Hawaii, Doug went back to California, but I went to a whole other completely new and unfamiliar place, to a family I barely knew. I feel so much more at ease in so many ways than I have in a long, long time. I've spent a third of my life now somewhere besides here, but its always been home in my heart. Its good to have it again, if only for a little while.

That being said, I do miss my in-laws and my friends. I'm so glad to be with my sisters again, and yet a part of me feels like I'm a few sisters short. Emotionally and socially, my sisters function a lot more like I do than my in-laws do, and that familiarity is comforting, but I also missed the way being so close to my in-laws made me live outside my comfort zone so much--I'm a better person for it, and I'm grateful to have people in my life who push me to be better, who help me to understand and love people so different from myself, and love me even when I fall short.

I've learned a lot this year, and often in uncomfortable ways, but I can't say that I'm unhappy to have learned the lessons. I wish that I hadn't been so terribly disappointed. I wish the disappointment was a surprise. I wish that my friends, some of the people I love, admire and respect the most, hadn't been hurt. But even if we're bruised and tattered a bit, I think we're all standing a little taller for it, and I can't think of better people to have standing at my side. Three years ago when we considered making this move, we very much felt the answer was "Not yet" rather than "No". I now understand some of the reasons we needed to be in Lindsay the last three years, especially this one. Every rough tumble is so completely worth it, feeling so tremendously loved by people that good and decent and likable.

So here we are, a year later, totally broke and still jobless. Still hopeful. We may have a long term plan, if only we can figure out how to live in the short term. We're seriously considering putting Doug back in school one last time, for a Master's Degree in architecture. It would be a long and expensive process. But five years of expense and times (and 20 years of student loan payments) seem a small price to pay in the long run if it means doing what you love, what you're passionate about, for 30 year after that. Am I nuts? I think with time and practice added to his natural abilities and his drive, he could be one hell of an architect. But even if he's only ever average, at least he'll love what he does. He'll be happy. That's what I want for my kids: a daddy who comes home happy because he feels like he's doing something worthwhile and he's enjoying it.

So here's hoping that the lessons of 2012 will be a little less painfully learned than those of 2011. It has not been lost on me this year how many wonderful, amazing blessings we've received. I hope to see things come together for friends and relatives who are in similar circumstances to us. They deserve good things.

We're OK. We have each other, we have our marvelous children, we have amazing families, and we have the very, very best of friends. I thank the Lord for that--in the people he has placed in our lives, he has blessed us more than we deserve.

Happy new year.

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