Thursday, April 28, 2011

soup and fellowship for the crushed soul

The past two days have hardly been kind to me. I've broken down and cried at least four different times in less than 24 hours. I'm drained, by all accounts, and I just feel so crushed. The stay-in-bed-with-the-shades-drawn-all-day kind of crushed.

But then at lunch a kind friend had me over for grilled cheese and soup, and her sweet babe smiled away some of the crush. Gradually, my soul felt renewed and I was reminded that sometimes my problems aren't as bad as they seem to me at the time. That things will get better, temperatures will rise, school will end, delicious grilled cheese will be had, conversation will rejuvenate and babies will be born. Sweet, beautiful, happy babies that can't help but make you melt on the inside.

I just hope this lesson isn't short lived. I hope I am continually reminded of God's kindness and grace over the next two weeks as I struggle with the pressures of finishing my semester and rarely seeing Jon in the process. And in the meantime, I am so grateful for loving, hospitable friends that will drop everything to make me a bank grilled cheese sandwich at a moment's notice.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

things i did this week

It's been a very productive week (1). I went to the computer lab yesterday when my first class got cancelled and won a free computer (2)! In addition to hiring a housekeeper (3) and a personal chef (4), I found time to jog fifteen miles without warming up (5). My car has been running wonderfully (6), even remaining full on gas despite my 66-mile round-trip commute each day (7). I found out I got an A on my last tissue engineering exam (8) and my business paper is coming together fantastically (9). Work is running smoothly (10) and Jon and I get to spend all weekend together (11).

1. I've been so stressed about needing to be productive that in actuality I have barely accomplished a thing.
2. The computer wouldn't let me log on. Once it did, it shut down in the middle of my assignment.
3. Me
4. Leftovers from Easter and a husband who packs my lunch
5. I got an exercise-induced cramp from walking from my car to my business class.
6. The muffler is rattling. I have to take it in on Friday.
7. I fill up every 3 days.
8. Actually, I failed. Big time. Thus blowing the only buffer grade I have in graduate school.
9. I have to come up with 2 more years worth of income and cash flow statements still.
10. Everything I need to do feels like it's going wrong.
11. Jon works every day this weekend and next weekend.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

lacking inspiration

I think the title of this blog is pretty self-explanatory. This weekend sometime I will publish a post all about Easter (it will likely be more pictorial), but until I have time to download pictures from my camera I refuse to write about it.

I hope inspiration approaches me again soon. The 80-degree weather, budding trees, and aromatic daffodils sure are helping. Lately I've felt creativity creeping into my soul, only to be heartlessly crushed by the threat of finals, papers, and looming presentations. May 13 cannot come soon enough.

Friday, April 22, 2011

things i understand (that serve no purpose)

In honor of my last post and a bit of a writer's block on this one, my friend Lawrence suggested I write about things that I do understand but are essentially useless, at least in the majority of my life. Here we go:

#1 - elastomers in all of their polymeric glory (or at least their fundamentals)

#2 - lame humor and anything that can have "that's what she said" added after it

#3 - how to rock a side ponytail 
Tina Majorino as Danielle. Image Source: http://mklasing.wordpress.com
#4 - pickles, but not the sweet kind. Truth.

#5 - quantum physics in three languages*

#6 - Steve Carell's character in The Office

#7 - girls... except not at all

#8 - how to play a fierce game of Scrabble

#9 - the female menstrual cycle

#10 - the most efficient way to clean while doing the most minimal amount of work possible

*The author cannot provide substantial validation of this claim

Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

things i don't understand

There are a lot of things I don't understand in this world. As such, I've decided to begin a comprehensive list with a goal of enlightenment.

#1 - dashpots and viscoelasticity

#2 - why Jon still insists on placing his dirty socks next to the laundry basket on the floor

#3 - how Swings-N-Things makes their chocolate peanut butter cup ice cream so dang good 

#4 - how it's possible that every other day when I weigh myself, my new weight is 2 pounds different (in either direction) than my previous 

#5 - how people can still think Obama is doing a great job as president (okay, political jab)

#6 - why it's so much easier for me to spend money if it's in the form of cash

#7 - Heidi Montag:

Image Source: www.poponthepop.com - WHO DOES THIS TO THEIR FACE??
#8 - Jon's man-lust for the band Chromeo 

#9 - how to make decent-looking homemade pasta (ours was a disaster)

#10 - how I go through a tank of gas every 3-4 days

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

link love

Looking for a good laugh about the hilarious stuff children say and do? Then I highly recommend you head over to Kristen's blog (and allow yourself plenty of time there because you will be hooked).

Love everything weddings? My friend Nikki has been working on a project that chronicles "a little collection of everything we love about weddings" and it pulls at the heartstrings of the wedding dreamer in all of us.

Love arts and crafts (and clothes, in this particular post)? Then you need to click on over to Flower Patch Farmgirl (Mom, I think you would particularly enjoy her blog) and prepare yourself for oodles of great crafts, recipes, and an outlook on life.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

meltdown (revenge of the silent ugly cry)

Last night I had a huge tissue engineering exam. This was the exam I attempted to study for all day Sunday after spending the majority of the night hugging the toilet. As such, studying didn't go as well as it could have, but it was still relatively decent. I probably put a good 6-7 hours in.

Monday I studied an additional 2-3 hours. I felt pretty good walking in the door. But then I was given the exam.

Awful doesn't describe it. The worst part was that the 4 questions (doesn't seem like much, but it equates to 40 points out of 75) that were giving me trouble I had specifically focused a good chunk of my studying on!! Frustration, exhaustion, and anxiety set in. Then the unthinkable happened.

*The silent ugly cry* (said in a thunderous announcer-man voice)
Re-enactment of silent ugly cry starring Britney Spears as Danielle. Courtesy of  thisgirlscity.com
This bad boy is worse than the regular ugly cry because you are attempting to muffle your whimpers and discretely wipe away your tears in hopes of not causing a scene. Boogers will, more often than not, stream uncontrollably from your nose as you also try to stifle your sniffles. I literally spent the last 20 minutes of the exam trying to pull myself together.

And my poor, poor professor was visibly uncomfortable by the sobbing mess of a person that sat in front of him. With about 10 minutes left in the test, he announced to the class, "don't panic, even if you can't remember the formulas to solve the problems, just write down how you think you would solve it! But don't panic!"

Oh, the humanity. Here's to hoping the silent ugly cry fails to make an appearance at my polymer
 exam on Thursday...

Monday, April 18, 2011

bucket list

I was reading about a disabled man who was kicked off of a nude cruise that was on his "bucket list" and realized I don't have a bucket list of my own. So without further adieu:

Danielle's Bucket List - Rev A

[1] have a family
[2] travel to the Greek islands
[3] learn how to make delicious homemade pasta
[4] participate in some sort of bicycle marathon/race
[5] master the art of cannoli-making
[6] travel to a currently undetermined country and spend at least a month serving its people
[7] get my Master's degree
[8] stay up late enough to watch a meteor (or other space-related) shower
[9] travel to Quebec 
[10] rent a huge house with both sides of our family in Emerald Isle and spend a week together

Okay, I'll admit that I have a pretty pathetic bucket list. I'm not adventurous enough to backpack across Europe, nor do I have the guts to go skydiving or bungee jumping. I'm a simpleton who happens to enjoy staying in with a good movie and going to bed at 9 on weekends. But I promise, I will continue to ponder the meaning of my existence and search out the hidden dreams that I currently don't know reside in my psyche in an attempt to deliver a much more thrilling list. Maybe even one that involves a nude cruise. Any suggestions?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

bug

This post may not be for the faint of heart, but I assure you it's nothing too graphic. I think I have some sort of a stomach bug. Last night I couldn't fall asleep due to an awful stomach ache and then I finally got up.  As I stumbled through the dark (a precarious situation to be in with all the sharp corners in our room and my uncanny ability to bump into anything and everything) towards the bathroom Jon called out into the darkness, "Marc??" me: "No it's me and I think I'm gonna puke!!" Apparently, Jon was still in a deep sleep (and dreaming about his brother) because he didn't stir more than a second and left me to my own pathetic night on the bathroom floor.

I was 100% convinced I would throw up. Nay, I was praying I would throw up just so that I could have a momentary relief of the awful nausea I was experiencing. It got so bad, in fact, that I turned to my worst enemy... twice:


After the first swig I found temporary relief. I crawled back into bed around midnight only to awake 2 hours later with the same impending vomit-y feeling. After another desperate couple of hours on the floor I took dose numero dos. It eventually kicked in and I crawled my way back into bed.

I took my temperature several times throughout the night. It never crept up past that infamous boy band [98 degrees]. I felt clammy all night (and for the entirety of today). I was able to eat all necessary meals today and the nausea has somewhat subsided. I'm definitely not 100% yet though. And attempting to study for an exam all day under fatigued/nauseous circumstances was not easy. I'm praying for a miracle on this test tomorrow...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

broken

This week has been a particularly rough one for me. The funny part is that there was no particular 'breaking point'. I think some random, unexpected events coupled with work and school (and hormones due to being on my placebo birth control pills this week) just destroyed me on the inside.

I mentioned feeling so isolated in a previous post. Well, this week I also felt particularly homesick, which is random because both sets of our parents live within 30-40 minutes of us. However, schedules seem to disallow the visits that my spirit craves. I ended up taking a half day at work yesterday and it's a good thing I did because not long after I walked in the door I launched into a 2-hour session of the ugly cry. You know the ugly cry: face super scrunched up with mascara melting away and flushed cheeks. Not to mention the new formation of varying skin flaps and rolls that complement the whole process.

Anyway, Jon patiently and lovingly sat with me and was finally able to persuade me to crawl out of bed and face the world. And this morning he made me a delicious peanut butter, banana, & chocolate breakfast smoothie:

I'm hoping this week starts getting better. I know that there are much more pressing issues in this world than my raging hormone changes. But all I know if every 4 weeks I continue to experience these types of lows we may need to consider other contraception options because just the thought of this type of struggle that often is enough to break a person.

UPDATE: 2 hours after I wrote this post, this happened. Resulting in the ugly cry:
I need to never to dishes again. Then this wouldn't happen.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

needs

On any given day, I could be the world's most independent person or more needy than an infant. My moods fluctuate by the minute, often without any specific rhyme or reason.

Today has been one of those days. I think it's because the routine of working, going straight to school, then doing homework in the little spare time I find has finally caught up with me. Monday through Thursday I spend an average of probably 8 waking hours with Jon. Total. Now that he's working at Men's Wearhouse, I see him even less on weekends. This weekend, he works all three days. I will hardly get to see him. That's awful. That's isolating.

So when I got into work this morning I found myself on the brink of tears. Not because I had failed to meet a deadline or bombed a test. But because I just felt lonely. I needed something but I couldn't put my finger on it. Thankfully, today was Jon's day off of work AND school (a rarity) so he dropped everything to drive to Cleveland to have lunch with me.

My loving response? Anger. Frustration. Lots and lots of yelling at my fellow drivers (and the GPS). Cleveland can be a tricky city to navigate. And it wore down the little bit of patience I had left.

Luckily, Jon knows what a crabby pants I can be when my blood sugar is low, so he took it all in stride. We had lunch at this delicious (and adorable!) Thai restaurant called Banana Blossom. As soon as I had a couple of steamed dumplings in my belly I was a perfect lady. So loving and affectionate with my husband. Funny what a little bit of this:
 and this:
and this:
will do for the soul.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

plans

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" - Jeremiah 29:11

I've always been a planner. It all goes back to my inherent planner gene. (Thanks for that, Mom.) Parties, shopping lists, schedules, the future. You name it, I've probably planned it. I was subtly reminded this month that I can't always have plans. Shockingly, my plans aren't always the best plans, regardless of how fantastic I think they are or the sense of accomplishment I get when I sit back and look at list upon list that I've drawn up. And God has been holding true to His word with me. I am somehow scoring above average on all of my exams and quizzes in school (a truly miraculous feat). I'm not light-years behind on homework. I have a job, a roof over my head, and the most loving and supportive husband I could have ever dreamed of. We have family and friends who love us and bless us frequently. We have a precious cat that can often times be a handful but will occasionally redeem herself with a bite-free cuddle sesh. There's not much I can complain about.

But lately I feel like there's something missing. I have yet to put my finger on it. Fear not overprotective family & friends: the something missing is not a hint that we're going to take up trying for a baby. I think what's missing is church. We have yet to find a church near our new apartment. Admittedly, we only tried out one and it was awful. In fact, it was so bad that it left a dreadful cloud over the prospects of having to try out an additional church in fear that it might be equally as bad. That's a really horrible thing to say. But it's true. It left us feeling dark and desolate on the insides.

Thus our tough spot: we need a church family so desperately need to nurture our spirits. Our work and school routines have left little time for much else, which is no excuse. In a mound of despair we just want to go back to the church we were attending at our old apartment. However, it is so far from our new place and we feel strongly that we should go to a church in our community. I'm not sure what God's plan is for us on this one. And I don't like being unsure. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

procrastinators & learning grace

Jon is, by nature, a procrastinator. Maybe it's because he can pull off not studying for a test but for an hour before and get 100%. He's learned that there are no negative consequences for procrastination... until he married me. The anti-procrastinator.

For most things I am not a procrastinator. If I see something that needs done I find no rest until it is. This was a major source of contention in the early months of our marriage and was addressed with Pastor Dan back in January when we were having some deeper issues. But I'd be lying if I told you it was easy for me to bite my tongue when I see a sink full of dishes that were supposed to be done before I got home from work or a certain someone's dirty clothes on the floor adjacent to the laundry basket.

Last night was one of those "learn to have grace, Danielle" nights. Jon gets math homework through a computer program. His professor will assign them multiple (10-15) assignments that are all due at the same time. In this scenario, they were due last night by midnight. Keep in mind that on Friday I lovingly reminded pestered Jon about the impending due date and the lack of  his prior effort on this particular batch. He threw the "there's not that much to do" and "I don't feel like it right now" cards at me, so after the 5th try I gave up. This repeated Saturday and Sunday morning. Suddenly, Monday was upon us. That poor man did homework from 9-12 and 4-8, which is when I walked in the door. I was disappointed because he still wasn't done and I so desperately just wanted to crawl into his arms after a particularly rough Monday. On top of that, when I walked into the kitchen, I noticed this:

Image source: www.legaljuice.com
Okay, so that mess of dishes isn't ours. It may even be somewhat of a dramatization. But there were still heaps of dishes in the sink that I was told would be done by the time I got home from work. The words came far too close from slipping between my lips: "I'm sorry you didn't have time to do the dishes for me." I can be a total jerk. But it was by God's grace (and God's grace alone) that I was able to reel them back in: "I'm sorry you... are still doing homework so late." And it was sincere. He was being punished enough. But it was still exceedingly difficult for me to not get frustrated with him. I wanted to yell "I told you so!" Part of me felt it was justification for his exceptional exam scores on minimal studying and my minimal exam scores on exceptional amounts of studying. It felt like educational karma.

But then God brought me back to earth and showed me how not loving that was. And when I was able to take a step back, I realized that not only was Jon affected by this, but I was too. The longer he had to stay up working on these assignments the less sleep I'd get because I'd be worried that he was tired and/or upset. So we sat down together and worked through the remaining two assignments. I felt much closer to him and all those frustrated feelings melted away. I can only hope I continue to grow as a person and learn to control my words and frustration. And the dishes, you ask? They were taken care of.

Friday, April 8, 2011

rising gas prices and green energy (whine)

Readers note: the following post contains opinions that you will probably hate. I'm airing some of my dirty political laundry. Proceed at your own risk.

I'm just going to go on the record here and admit that I am far from green. Truthfully, I believe that the world is going to implode by our own volition (read: nuclear holocaust) before something like those characteristic buzzwords (read: global warming/flooded earth) were to ever take place. Therefore, I don't go out of my way to recycle or really take the time to consider "green" technologies. [Ensue gasps of horror.] I do certain characteristic things, such as cutting up those rings on milk jugs or soda packs so that cutesy little birds and sea life don't get their heads stuck in it and die. I do shop at secondhand stores for furniture-type items and I donate my old items to places such as Goodwill. And in places that green energy is being implemented (such as wind turbines), by all means, go ahead. I won't try to stop you. But I'd also like to go on the record that wind turbines creep me out. They just look eerie. Like something out of the Tom Cruise remake of War of the Worlds. Eek.

Photo Credit: Clemson University. I get the jeebies just looking at this.


Now, let's look at the rising gas prices. I know there are far greater problems in the world than my petty inability to be unable to afford to drive to work. I know that "green energy is the future." But seriously, in the meantime, I rely on oil. I need oil to get to work and school. I don't live in an urban location that provides mass transit. And the transit that is available costs $5 each way (or a 10 pass for $40) which at this point is pretty much exactly what gas costs me to commute each week, but maybe slightly less. But it doesn't run until the time of night that I'm at school and therefore, during the semester, it is not even an option. Therefore, I need the government to intervene. Truthfully, at the rate prices are rising, I may very well have to make the decision of whether my current salary can sustain my commute within the next couple of months. Some of you may tell me to move closer to downtown Cleveland and stop whining. This just isn't an option for our family. Others may tell me to buy a hybrid (in actuality, if forced to choose, we would much prefer diesel over hybrids... better gas mileage). Again, this just isn't an option for our family right now.

So where is the government in all of this? Who is advocating for me? I've paid into the tax system (especially this year, I was nailed in Illinois, Ohio, and RITA). I've never been on unemployment, disability, food stamps, etc. I'm not saying that any of those things are negative, but I'm saying I haven't directly benefited from my tax dollars. Admittedly, I'm not sure how this all works. But I do know that $3.85+ gas is quickly wearing down our financial stability. And that is worrisome to me because we hardly live an extravagant lifestyle. And I just don't see the rage about this in the news. I recall when gas prices were rising during Bush's term people were in a furor because Bush was "in bed with big oil." So where is the rage now? Where is the anger that those of us who are relatively just getting by each week are suddenly being hammered by gas prices, thus burdening an already burdened budget? I get that there is unrest in the middle east and natural disasters have occurred, but that doesn't change my need to pay rent, gas, water, electricity, buy groceries, etc. I believe we should stop relying on foreign oil and start drilling here. Why aren't we in Alaska? Why aren't we in the Gulf? (okay, I know the answers to these questions, but you know what I mean.) I truly believe the government (all political parties, not just one) are setting us up for failure by not letting us explore our own oil reserves. They're there. Sure, they should be better regulated than they were previously, but that doesn't mean don't drill at all. I understand that many of you have alternate views on this and I fully respect that. I do think green energy has potential. But the reality is the majority of Americans can't afford to "go green" in terms of vehicles right now. So in the meantime, where is our relief?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

settling & random blessings

We are finally settling into our new apartment. We even HUNG things over the weekend (blessing #1).

I stole Jon's desk for other purposes. Poor kid.
I managed to hang that one on the first try with no level/measuring tape.
I think this is my favourite part about our kitchen!
Blessing #2: Jon got the microwave cart from the most adorable little resale shop in North Royalton, OH. It's called The Red Geranium and is absolutely fabulous. We could spend hours in there.

Living room & dining room.
Blessing #3: I got those bird decals from my mom and I still can't get over how much I love them.
I've just recently discovered these bad boys thanks to my in-laws.
Blessing #4: York Peppermint Patties... mid-cycle. What? They make my ovaries feel delicious.

Blessing #5: Future (read: not yet conceived/attempted to be conceived) children that will hopefully look just like their daddy:
I melt.
And finally, one of the most important to me at this moment in time, blessing #6: less than 2 workdays until the weekend. Happy Thursday!

Monday, April 4, 2011

counting blessings & marital advice

Before we got married, we were very naive about the difficulties in marriage. Yes, we knew there would be fights and dark spots, but we never really understood the depth of some of the struggles we would face. I don't think anyone can understand until they've experienced it. And while we've been married less than a year, I believe we have faced some pretty intense problems (and will undoubtedly face many more awful ones in the years to come). We've had vicious fights. But we've worked through them. We were blessed in that we both had lived on our own and supported ourselves prior to getting married. That taught us what we needed to understand what it meant to pay bills (and a lot of them) and therefore to budget ourselves, even if that meant not always having the newest/most fashionable clothes or going out with our friends to the movies. It wasn't always fun, but we figured out how to take a monthly income of $850ish dollars and turn it into $600 rent, utilities, and groceries. Lots of Ramen and Ragu was consumed. Somehow Jon lost weight while I saw my waistline grow (naturally). But we were at least prepared for cohabitation in that we knew what sort of finances would be allotted for bills and what we desired to put into savings for (hopefully) an eventual down payment on a house. We still struggle with that, but we more often than not can talk ourselves out of that shiny new purchase we want, but don't need, to make. 

We were also blessed in that entering marriage, neither of us wanted children right away. Well, that changed pretty much once we said "I do" but reason was able to prevail above desire until my heart reverted to wanting to wait. We have desperately needed the past 10 months together as husband and wife without needing to worry about mom & dad titles. It's gotten to the point where we can wait to have kids simply because we love the way our relationship is now, just the 2 of us. We love being able to drop everything and run to the grocery store or go for a bike ride without thinking twice. We love the way we laugh together and relate to one another without the worries associated with raising a tiny human. And we love being able to sleep through the entire night. If my initial motherly desires had prevailed in the beginning of our marriage, I can assure you our relationship would be a complete and utter wreck right now. I am confident that while we would have overcome many obstacles eventually, we wouldn't have been able to grow in our marriage as we currently have because of the interference of an obviously needy baby would create. All our energy would have been focused on making our child's life better above making our marriage better. And while I so greatly look forward to the day that we try to and find out we're pregnant, I know that the past ten months (and hopefully several more to come) were for the best.

I just wish I could emphasize to engaged couples what a drastic change marriage is. Living together can be exceptionally rough. Heck, living on your own can be exceptionally rough. You need to fully address your concerns, desires, and expectations (including cooking, cleaning, laundry, sex, family, etc.) with your future spouse to even attempt to prepare for the inevitable future disagreements you will have. You need to feel comfortable communicating all of your feelings with one another, even if you risk hurting the other person (such as correcting them, in love, if you know that they were wrong about something). It really IS a learning process. And I could write blog after blog about the rough waters ahead and it still wouldn't sink in because it just can't. You will always have that naive "well, we know it will be hard but we're prepared for anything" stance until you find your fatigue and frustrations high and communication skills low and watch the trainwreck of an argument unfold in front of you. So the only advice I can give is to prepare yourself. Don't let your desires overrun your rationale. God gave us wonderful brainpower. Use it. If you know certain decisions could [significantly] negatively impact your marriage, make the ones that you know are in its best interest, regardless of whether or not that's what you want.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

decoration cat complex

Last weekend I asked Jon if we could hang pictures, the last necessary thing to make this apartment our "home". He wanted to wait until this weekend. He thought I'd forget...

We have to run to the store and buy nails, but to begin the wall decorating process, I hung up (stuck?) these cute bird decals my mom got me. I love birds, especially sparrow/finch silhouettes so this fit me perfectly. Jon... not so much.

Okay, in his defense, I'm not crazy about the sparrows.

We have a bird infestation now... and I think it's giving Marsala a complex.

Naturally, I missed the part where she actually stood up on hind legs to investigate.