Monday, May 21, 2012

Two years in review

It has been a very long, full two years! We've been blessed so richly, and we have so much to be thankful for.

It's hard to believe that I'm really finished with my graduate degree, that we're moving so soon, and that we're expecting a baby. Here's a quick (as quick as I can) review of the past two years:

July 31, 2010 - moved here with no jobs, a little bit of savings, and lots of hopes. Feeling pretty stressed because of some miscommunications with the landlords, and trying to get settled in our new place.

August - started grad work. Hubby was unemployed, and we had stopped receiving benefits from my unemployment. His undergraduate loans had just come due, too.

September - still making it on savings and Angel Food, but things are tight! School is overwhelming, and I feel like I'm actually majoring in email, not Choral Conducting.

October - we see the bottom of our bank account, and can't buy groceries. We're thanking God for the gas in our cars, for the rent and utilities being paid, and we're living out of our pantry. The in-laws bring a surprise load of groceries, and we're beyond relieved. Money is still tight, and a surprise check arrives in the mail from an anonymous friend. I burst into tears when I open it, knowing only God could prompt someone to be so generous.

November - Hubby gets a job!! Yay! But it's in a city an hour and 15 minutes away, it's a temporary position, and the shift is 11am to 10pm. Hubby leaves home at 9:30am and isn't home until 11:30pm. We only see each other on weekends, but at least we're living in the same house, sleeping in the same bed, and counting it a blessing to have an income. School continues to be challenging, but I'm beginning to adjust. I've started praying with my friend, Nicki, every Thursday, and that helps so much! I've had the opportunity to be a part of conducting masterclasses and to step in for the College Choir director when he was gone. You can read more about my crazy month here.

December - Hubby has just Christmas Day off, so we try our best to see both families. We have car trouble with our little Nissan on Christmas morning, and we end up being late to see his family - frustrating! But we were safe. This is just one of many times we've had troubles with the electrical system in that car, even though it's three years newer and a lot nicer than our other vehicle.

January 2011 - Things are in full swing at school again, and I'm planning the final details of the Choir's tour to Florida and many of the states between NY and FL. I started a course called Theory Pedagogy, and the teacher doesn't think I'll do well - I feel taken aback by that! Hubby's temporary position has ended, and we're not sure we can afford the semester. We take a loan to be able to pay for my schooling. I still can't afford to take the conducting lessons I would love to have. We're still scraping the bottom of our bank account. But, God gives us another real-life miracle in a generous, anonymous friend. Near the middle of the month, he finds a new job with a computer repair shop. He loves it, it's closer to our house, normal hours, and he makes a pretty decent salary. My parents give us part of the pig they had purchased, and we're eventually able to pay them back for the meat.

February - The Choir goes on mini-tour, and I volunteer to drive four choir members to and from our run-out concert in a nearby city. On the way home, I hit two deer, totaling our Nissan. Everyone in the car was unharmed! AAA towed our car all the way to my in-laws, where my FIL realized it was beyond repair. After about a month with the computer repair shop, out of the blue, Hubby is let go. The boss' crazy mood swings and violent outbursts make it easy to leave, even though Hubby loved the work. Less than a week later, I left for Choir tour.

March - The insurance money from the car is more than we expected, and we put a lot of it into savings. Hubby applies for unemployment. I choose courses for the next semester, and friends take me to and from school for this month.

April - We still can't afford a new car, hubby doesn't have a job, and I'm trying to finish the semester well. Friends are still driving me to and from school, and I "pay" them in cookies. It's so hard to rely on other people. I got an A- in Theory Pedagogy, which I can only hope was a pleasant surprise to the teacher. We're living on the money from the car payment.

May - Friends of ours hear that we're in need of a car, and they offer us their Jeep, free of charge. A gift. We just need to go pick it up! We stand for my brother at his wedding. We begin the process of transferring our Jeep to NY state.

June - I take a three-week position at a music school in my parents' hometown, and enjoy teaching. Hubby keeps looking for work, and finally begins to receive unemployment benefits. We're both discouraged. We apply for Medicaid and start getting benefits. I switch to a new medication that makes me gain weight - so dumb. Hate it.

July - We celebrate my birthday at my parents' house, and hubby gives me flowers. When I come home, he has cleaned the house and put out a bottle of nice wine: the rest of my birthday/anniversary present. We celebrate our anniversary with a trip to a museum and use a gift card for a dinner out. Beautiful.

August - School is starting again, and hubby has a lead on a job. He interviews, and they call him for a second interview. We're nervous, but we're trusting that God will provide for us. We still have some money left from the car payment, the Jeep is finally on the road, and we have food to eat.

September - I count it a blessing that my textbooks this semester only cost $30. It has been so nice to be able to drive myself to and from school. Hubby has his second interview, and we're excited about it!

October - I have a couple opportunities to conduct the College Choir, and I'm loving my history of church music class. I feel like things are going pretty well. Hubby has his third interview, and is hired! We're excited and relieved. We figure the cost of commuting daily, and find out that it's more expensive for him to commute than to rent a room near his new workplace in a city an hour and a half away. We make the hard decision to rent a second place for him near work.

November - I have quite the emotional breakdown, and check myself into counseling. I can't deal with Hubby being gone all the time, and I feel pressured to take care of our whole house like we did together. I'm overwhelmed. I have serious upset stomachs, I cry all the time at home, and I can't motivate myself to do homework or housework. Hubby does well at his new job, and comes home on weekends. I try to be positive, but my emotional state is weighing on him. I finally get my medication switched, and I'm able to lose the weight I gained.

December - The Choir presents three concerts in a row, and I'm exhausted! The last week of the semester is tough, but I finish with (unbelievably) a 4.0. It's the first 4.0 I've ever had in my graduate schooling! It's a huge blessing. I'm beginning to adjust to our new normal, and look forward to some rest over Christmas break. I realize that my car needs to be inspected, so I take it in. Long story short, I was there six different times, and it still wouldn't pass inspection.

January 2012 - Hubby continues at his new job, we have good insurance now, and things are looking up. I start my final semester, and begin to plan my recital. I get to work with my own ensemble this semester, and I'm excited. Hubby takes the car to his dad, who takes it to his trusted mechanic. They can't figure out what's wrong. I ask friends to take me to and from school yet again. I have great friends, by the way.

February - We celebrate Valentine's Day early, and Hubby gives me the sweetest gift. We're excited! Not more than two days later, we finally get our car back with a temporary inspection sticker. I'm relieved to have the freedom to drive myself to and from school.

March - The Choir tours over Easter, and I wonder if I might be pregnant. When I get home, I know for sure, and surprise the hubby with an early "birthday" gift - he's a daddy!

April - This last month is crazy! I'm trying to fit in all the final work for my classes, writing a 25 page paper, rehearsing and preparing for my recital, trying to study, trying to fit in exercise - and I'm so exhausted. I have to eat six mini-meals a day, and I actually take naps at school. I feel overwhelmed! Hubby tries to help me to relax, and encourages me, reminding me that I can do this. I pray that God would work through me and complete this work well!

May - We're almost done with this separation thing! We find an apartment, sign a lease, and start packing. I have my recital, comprehensive oral exit exam, Choral Seminar exam, Music Listening exam, first baby appointment, and accompany for five juries, all in the space of five days. Then, I spend the weekend and all day Monday writing my paper - it's only 20 pages, but I'm turning it in. Graduation arrives, and I'm so relieved! Hubby and my parents were able to be there, and they're so proud of me. I can't believe I'm done!

To top it all off, I earned another 4.0, and my overall GPA is 3.88. Only God could have done that! I'm feeling so blessed.

We got to see Baby on a sonogram, and I heard Baby's heartbeat at my second appointment. We're almost ready to move, and we are so excited to start this second chapter of our lives. God has been so good to us!

We've been through so many difficult things, but I know that God is the one who carried us through. Our marriage continues to be strong, and we're excited for what God will do through us. We're so thankful for our Little One, and we're praying that God continues to meet our needs. When we move, I'll be looking for a job, and we're hoping it will be a decent income! It would be wonderful if we could bank most of one of our paychecks, using the other one to live on. We'll see how God decides to bless us - even hard times can be a blessing. He is the one who provides the opportunities for us, and He is the one who provides life for each day. We have so much to be thankful for!

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