Friday, August 24, 2007

A new beginning...

I'm still adjusting to not having to get up at 4:30 AM every day. Wednesday night, I stayed up until midnight. Completely unheard of for the past 4 years. It was wonderful! And I got to sleep in until 7 AM the next day. Bliss! I did wake up at 4 AM and realized I didn't have to get up, so just went right on back to sleep. I do feel more rested than I have felt in a long while, but I'm not back to normal yet. I figure it will take a week or so to feel like myself again. And I'm wondering how long until the dark circles and bags under my eyes disappear for good...

Good thing I haven't been figuring DH's bonus next month into our finances...he found out yesterday that it won't be as big as last year's (which wasn't much) and he's NOT happy about it. Can't say that I blame him. But on the other hand, it's a bonus, and it's not guaranteed, and something is better than nothing. I'm trying to be optimistic about it, but I hate it for him. He works so hard, and he and his coworkers count on this - every time they have to work 60 hour weeks, they tell themselves, hey, the bonus will be worth it. And now it won't be...

I found out yesterday that our health insurance plan at work is not what it used to be. When I started four years ago, I knew exactly how much I'd have to pay out of pocket should I have surgery, and it was a very reasonable $1300, including my deductible. Yesterday I emailed someone in HR to confirm that, since surgery is 3 weeks from today, and found out that heck no, it's not anymore. Try $7000. Yep, $7000. HOW does an insurance plan change that much over four years, and no one bothers to tell us?? Granted, I could look it up on our ministry website, but who sits around looking up this information every year?

So now I'm back to crunching numbers again, trying to figure out how much I'm going to pay for this surgery. Generally, it will be 10% of the total cost, but I have no idea what that total cost is going to be. I have an HR person looking into it. The catch is that we are changing insurance plans in January, and I've been asking for a couple of months about what the specifics are on the new plan, so I can make an informed decision as to wait, or go ahead with surgery (which physically needs to be done yesterday). No one would tell me anything. So I did what I try not to do - I went over everyone's head and went to a guy in our president's office (where I work). He has connections and gets where I'm coming from, so he put me in touch with the right people and I've got some answers.
Our deductible will go up, and our out of pocket maximums will go down, and the percentage cost wise that the new health plan will cover will be better. But I've already met my deductible this year, so that has to be taken into account. Plus I don't want to wait! I already know that the cost of the surgery is just going to have to be paid out over time 'cause we don't have the cash to just pay for it, so I'll probably wind up going ahead with it. But all of this secrecy and confusion, combined with a pretty pitiful health plan, and the fact that I asked six months ago for a title change since I'm working two jobs and still nothing has been done about it...not to mention the gas prices I pay to drive to work here....are all making me wonder if its worth it to stay. And I hate that. I really love my job, like most of the people I work with. But I have to do what's best for me, and I'm not seeing much benefit to staying here right now.

Something else to pray about...

Knitting has been going on as much as possible - and lots more knitting time is had with no route! My Imogen pattern arrived Wednesday, so I've already cast on for that. I'm being pretty consistent with just Imogen and the Dolman pullover right now and letting everything else wait - I'd like to have the Dolman finished before surgery if possible so I have something to just hang around the house in. I'm using Araucania Nature Wool for Imogen and Cotton Ease for the Dolman. LOVE that I'll be able to just toss it in the washer when needed. I'm envisioning a nice sweatshirt type sweater...I hope I'm right.

The best knitting news I have really is that I'm now knitting continental for both of these projects. It's finally starting to click and I'm feeling more comfortable with it. I have to say it is much faster than English, at least for me, and I think I was a pretty fast knitter the other way. If I'd just finish more projects, I'd have something to prove my knitting speed. :-)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Life is about to begin again...

Today was the last day of the route! F.O.R.E.V.E.R. I know I said I'd planned to do it thru the end of the month, but I crunched numbers last night and doing it thru the 31st was going to clear me...

...wait for it...


So obviously, what's the point? I called my district manager this morning and told him today was it, and he was not happy. Which I DO get, but at the same time, this is the same guy who has always been "let me know if there's ANYTHING you need, ANYTHING I can do for you..." and now that he's going to have to do it himself or find someone to do it, he's all about what's best for him. You know, he makes more than I do, with both my full time job and the route combined, so I'd say he can just stuff it and deal with it - he's just earning his pay, in my opinion. God knows I've paid my dues.

So tonight is party time! Well, as much of a party as getting to stay up past 10 PM is going to be. I'm too excited about Friday night though - I can stay up all night if I want! Wa hoo!

In knitting news, I received my Webs order yesterday and I'm a little disappointed. The Araucania wool that I thought was a solid chocolate color is actually a variegated brown, taupe, and black. Not sure that's going to work for what I'd planned to use it for - the Dickinson pullover in the Fall IK. I'm swatching this week to see what it actually looks like. But the 2nd part of my order, Araucania wool chunky, was perfect - it's going to become Imogen.

Between these two projects, the one I started this weekend (Dolman pullover) and the other 20 or so projects on various needles throughout the house and in my knitting bag(s), I think I've got plenty to do while I'm off for surgery.

Life is good.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Happy, happy day

Today was the day - I gave notice on the route this morning!

(Happy dance, happy dance, jumping around and general hysterical happiness abounds)

My new district manager thanked me for giving him notice, and said that a guy was asking about a route yesterday, so he's probably going to be telling me next week not to come back. I won't be heartbroken, that's for sure.

Happy, happy day!

I'm committing to learning how to knit continental while I'm out for surgery next month. I've bought the yarn and have picked out the pattern - the Dolman Updated pattern from Interweave, in Cotton Ease, the charcoal colorway. I am too excited. I really want a sweatshirt type sweater that's as comfortable as a worn-in pair of jeans, and I think this is going to be just perfect. I'm swatching now, in continental style, and it's been.....interesting....I can't get the tension quite right and it sure isn't any faster than English knitting yet, that's for sure. I posted on Ravelry about learning to knit in the continental style, and so many knitters were kind enough to post - how they learned, what vidoes helped them, tips to start, how they hold their yarn, and just encouragement to hang in there until it "clicks."

Have I said how much I love Ravelry? Best knitting site ever, hands down. So very worth the wait if you're still on the waiting list. I can't go a day without should be my home page at this point!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

God showed up!

I have to tell you how God showed up in my life Tuesday...

For the past four years, I've had to do a paper route. Actually it's been more on and off for five years - I had a porch route for about 13 months when I first started (and porch routes are the WORST! Having to make sure the paper gets on the porch, having to get out of your car, trying to keep from hitting people's junk on their porches - ugh!), then I took almost a year off before going back again. This time I got another porch route in a rapidly growing subdivision that was very close to my house, so it was honestly pretty great (except for the above reference porch route problems) - I picked up my papers 3 minutes from my house, threw the route and was back home in 90 minutes. Did that one for a year and a half, then moved to a motor route. This was great, in that I didn't have to get out of the car, but it used a lot of gas and took almost two hours, start to finish. I've been doing this route since Dec. 05, with the idea that I'd keep doing it until we were debt free, which will be sometime next spring.

Now this route brings in money that we desperately needed, and couldn't make it without, but there are some very serious consequences with it. I'm exhausted all the time (have to pick up papers at 4:30 AM and be at work at 8 AM, with a 45 minute commute to work), the housework is so far behind it will take months of daily work to catch up, our marriage has suffered, church attendance has been almost nonexistent, and I rarely cook, which is one of my loves (and something DH surely appreciates!). I have been praying for a way to get rid of the route, whether it be extra income in another format, or less bills, or a raise, or what have you, and I have to honestly say I haven't prayed for it quite as often as I should. But God knows my heart, and knows how much I desire to be a good wife and homekeeper and He is honoring that desire.

This month will be the first month we do not absolutely have to have the route. One of our regular bills has decreased just enough for us to be able to get by each month. This month we each receive an extra check, also, as DH gets paid each week, and I get paid every other Friday. This is extremely beneficial because I'm having surgery next month, and will be off work for at least four weeks, most likely. Can you say terrified? I just knew I would have to keep doing the route until surgery, then go back to it as soon as I could drive, two weeks later. Plus DH has duck season this fall, starting in November and going thru January.

So DH and I discussed it, and we'd decided that I was going to do the route thru the end of the month, and that would be it. He's supposed to get a bonus the middle of September, and we'd just have to make do without the route. I have been very scared to just let go of it, and I'm the one who does it seven days a week - he only helps on Sunday mornings. In the last three years, I've had exactly five days off from the route, and three of them were because I had a kidney stone! So for me to be a little wary of letting this thing go, tells you I had some serious reservations about it. My fear (and let's call it what it is - FEAR) is that something will come up and we'll get behind somehow, and I'll have to either start doing it again, or borrow money from my dad, or something along those lines. And the problems my blazer is having with shifting every morning on the route aren't helping my confidence, either.

So yesterday on my way home from work, I had a heart to heart with God. I spilled my guts about how I wanted to stop the route, but that He knew what was ahead of us and I wanted to know what to do, once and for all. So I did what I've done in the past, but have never gotten a real response - I put out a fleece for God. I don't take doing that lightly, and I'm not saying that's an option in every situation, but I felt led to do it. And as stupid as it may sound to you, this was the fleece - I asked God to play a specific song on my MP3 player before I got home. Not sure why I chose this song, it just came to me, and keep in mind that my player is on a random playlist - there are hundreds of songs on it and any one of them could play at any time. My fleece was that if the song played, then I would stop the route at the end of the month, and trust God with the rest.

So I make this request about 20 minutes from home and as I'm driving, I'm expecting God to do something, but making plans in the back of my mind as to how I'm going to conjure up the energy to keep doing the route - you know how you want to believe and you try to believe, but you still make contingency plans. Or maybe I'm the only one who does that.

And two minutes away from my house, praise God, that song came on! I had to look down at the player and make sure it was really true, and there it was in black and white. God had answered my prayer! My silly little "please God play this song if we should quit the route" prayer! I can count on one hand the number of times in my life that I have literally felt His presence, when I have made requests and He's literally answered them in just minutes, and yesterday was one of those times!

I laughed and giggled and smiled all the way home, knowing God had shown up and shown off! Today I sat down and figured our bills and sure enough, there's enough to make it, barring any emergencies. And even if there is one, I want to trust God with the outcome this time. I want to go back to church, I want to be able to clean my house, cook dinner, and have energy for my husband. I want to get up early and spend time with God and not drag around every day, needing energy I can't get. And in 15 days, I can!

Praise God!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Back to blogging..

I hope to actually start blogging on a regular basis...but I'm not sure I'm going to do it here. I keep seeing all these great blogs designed by Swank Design, so I'm thinking about possibly having them design a blog for me. Of course, I have no readers, but I would like a pretty blog!
Most of the blogs they design use WordPress, so now i"m trying to figure out exactly what I want my blog to be called and an alternate email address, so I can figure out if a Wordpress addy is already taken. And of course a domain with the same name too. And this is HARD, especially for someone with absolutely no creative genes whatsoever!

On the knitting front, I'm in Ravelry, and my name there is knitobsssed. I so love that site, and especially the groups. I could stay there for hours...and sometimes do!

Due to Ravelry, I've been forced to stop casting on for new projects and to finish those I've started. I'm finished with the knitting for DH's Kangaroo Duo sweatshirt, so this weekend I'm planning to wash and block it, then start the seaming process. I've got a nice list going of projects on the needles and in what order I want to finish them, along with another list of what I want to start and in what order.

All this may be thrown by the wayside when my order from Knit2Purl2 arrives. She's going out of business, and I was able to get the yarn to make the Hedgerow coat from the Fall IK for half price! I also grabbed some Lorna's Laces in Black Purl and Baltic Sea, and some Malabrigo for a My So Called Scarf. Unfortunately, I was too late - all the Black Purl was gone. But Jody was nice enough to check stock for the amount I needed in some colorways I gave her, and I would up with enough to make the FiberTrends Bella shawl in Icehouse! Great customer service - I wish she wasn't going out of business.

Add to this a Webs order for yarn to make an Imogen jacket and the Dickinson pullover from the Fall IK, and I've got enough to last the rest of the winter! But I do have a cart open at Knit Picks and will probably place an order there for yarn to make the Minimalist Cardigan (Fall IK), KP's On Deck Pullover, and Serrano, along with a KP Lace 1-2-3 shawl and scarf.

All this yarn will actually be used, since I'll be having surgery for some ongoing health issues mid-September, and will be off work for four weeks. Definitely the most yarn I've ever purchased at one time and it will be some time next year before I buy more, I'm sure...but you can't pass up a good sale, can ya?