Monday, December 29, 2008

2008 is Winding Down

Yesterday I decideded I had to get back to being me. I have been really down for too long. I need to have some fun, be creative, enjoy life.

I spent a lot of time working on photos. Not necessarily the ones I needed to work on, but it is getting me back into the swing. I did work on the yearbook- not the actual yearbook - the things I have to do as the teacher. TodayI will work on the photos I need to work on.

I have been writing this week, too. Pretty fun. I am actually making some progress here. I need to finish it so I can read it straight through and see if it is worth polishing.

I was really hoping my mom would be able to come this week, but I don't think she will. It makes me really sad. She says she'll visit us on Spring Break. I have no idea where we will be then.

What a Difference a Year Makes

When I wrote last year’s Christmas/New Year letter, I was snug in my almost finished newly remodeled home in Longview and teaching that wonderful bunch of kids at New Life. Eric was planning a trip across the country, Joy Anna was in Europe with Dean’s mom, and Dean was content in his nice job. This year is a totally different story.
January and February of 2008 saw us finishing up the remodel and adopting two adorable puppies we named Razzle and Dazzle. March is when things started to change. Dean and I came to El Paso for a meeting/retreat for a committee he was on. At that time we were offered a partnership in a company here. After much prayer and thought, we took the job. Dean had to be here May 1 to start a project. Joy Anna and I would stay in Longview to sell the house, pack up, and photograph a couple of weddings.
Dean left the last week of April to move here. He stayed with his aunt and uncle. Eric came out the end of May before he left for his trip. Joy Anna and I flew out in June to find a house to rent. We made the big move on June 22. We arrived to a wind/dust storm so strong we virtually crawled into town. The next day when we unpacked the wind had died down only to be replaced with an unbearable heat. The remainder of June and July saw us settling in to the rental. The beginning of August, we were really struggling. Dean’s partnership had turned into a job and the pay had not been as promised. We had to rent the house in Longview and hoped for a turnaround at the job.
During this time, Eric had been making his way across the USA. He was due to arrive in Seattle on Aug. 11. Dean and I had planned to go, but the move had really hurt us financially. Finally, a couple of weeks before his arrival, we decided we would do it anyway. We got the cheapest flights and a really cheap hotel near the beach where they would arrive and the church where they would stay. We were on a shoestring budget, but it was worth it to get to see him. We surprised him, and he was so excited. He stayed in Seattle a couple of extra days with Dustin, his roommate from Tech, and a friend from the trip. I was really glad when he made it to El Paso to visit a few days.
While we were in Seattle, Joy Anna had gone to Charlotte to visit my dad. When Eric and Dustin drove back to Tech, Joy Anna went with them. She visited Dean’s mom and my mom before flying back to El Paso. While she was gone, we had an exchange student from Thailand move in with us. It was supposed to be temporary- probably a month- it turned into more than two months. It was quite an experience. He was a nice young man, but we were just not set up for another person who was not really related. Plus, we were hoping Eric would move back in March. During the time he was here, Dean’s mom came and stayed three weeks.
Joy Anna is homeschooling. We enjoy being together, and she likes looking at the mountain while she does her school work. We have met some other homeschoolers and she has made some great new friends. I am the yearbook sponsor and she is on the yearbook staff. We are really having fun with that.
In November, Dean decided to go to my mom’s with us. I wanted to go spend some time with my family and visit some friends in Longview, too. We ended up spending most of the time with my mom in Lufkin. My grandmother was living with her. She had become completely bedfast. I was able to spend a lot of time with her. We had so much fun talking and singing. I fed her lots of her meals. She could do it, she just liked the company. I was so thankful for that time, because she passed away a week before Christmas. I didn’t go home for the funeral. I had said my goodbyes. When they had the funeral, I went to the mountains here and had my own memorial service. She loved the mountains. I think she would have liked to have known I did that.
In November, I started writing again. I participated in National Novel Writing Month. I wrote 57,000 words of a novel. Joy Anna and Alycia keep asking me finish it, so I plan to do that soon.
I won’t go into details, but Dean’s job didn’t get better. It deteriorated rapidly from mid-September on. He started job hunting. He gave his notice in December without knowing what he was going to do next. The job was supposed to end on December 31, but ended on the 15th instead. He currently has a temporary job through the end of February. This is very difficult not knowing what we will be doing. We will have to move to Corpus if he stays with this job. He has applied for so many others, but in this economy so many people are applying. We are in limbo.
Because we don’t know what we are doing, Eric is not moving back in March. He will graduate from Tech on March 7. He will begin his Master’s program there. After he graduates from his Master’s, he’ll begin a Physical Therapy Doctorate program. If we are still here, maybe he can come to EP. It would be great to have him closer to us.
I had planned to really start a photography business here. Not just word of mouth, but some inexpensive changes like a new website, new business cards, etc. I had made enough money from some graphic design work to be able to do that, but because of Dean’s job not paying, that money had to go into the household fund for regular stuff. Because we don’t know where we are going, we are sort of in a holding pattern. I don’t want to spend money on drumming up business here if we leave.
Living in limbo is not easy. We are not sure why we came to El Paso at all. We know God moved us out of our comfort zone for some reason. We are trying to be positive about the situation. Maybe God used this job as a stepping stone to something better – we are waiting to see what that is going to be. We know had we not come here, there are so many people who would not have touched our lives. We have made some good friends. We have grown close to relatives we only barely knew. We know that there is a reason for it.
It will be interesting to see what 2009 brings. Hopefully a new job for Dean, photo business for me, maybe a new house if our old one sells, new friends and new opportunities. Whatever it is, we’re going to be okay. We are certainly learning to trust God in a whole new way.
We hope you are all blessed, and that you, too, are trusting God for your 2009.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

We had a full day yesterday. Dean had to go to work. The kids and I got up and went to Marshall's. Eric had bought a pair of ski pants and really needed a smaller size. We were able to get him a really nice pair that matched the jacket he bought earlier in the week. He got an entire ski suit for 150 - retail price: 450! He takes after his mom on bargain shopping.

We then headed to target for me to get some shopping done for stockings. I had some coupons including some for free things, so I stuffed them as best I could with minimal amount of cash. JoyAnna likes the stuff from the dollar jewelry store. That made stuffing her stocking easy.

We headed home and made some lasagna and yummy cheese bread. As soon as we got it in the oven, we started on the gumbo for supper. We went to the relatives and helped out with lighting the lumanaries. We took gumbo and enjoyed gumbo with tamales and queso. We are international:)

We headed home after it was pretty dark. We had to wrap the stocking stuffers and finish making a couple of small things. Dean and Eric headed to bed, but JoyAnna and I met our friends at church for the 11 pm service. It was just what I needed. We have attended the methodist church two times now. I will talk later about the similarities and differences, but last night was so good. I needed it. We did communion. That was really great. I needed to clear the air between me and God. Funny thing - despite how slim the material part of Christmas was today- I didn't think of that jerk boss until just now. I had a delightful day. The serevice lasted til after midnight. When we got home, I wasn't sleepy, so I did a few things around the house. I got to bed about one thirty.

We got up bright and early and started on the house and the food. Dean's mom had sent us a gift card to buy a griddle - we miss the one we had in longview and it is not a weekend with Eric without french toast. French toast is much nicer when I can make 8 at a time. We opened gifts and adn then had a nice breakfast.

Eric is traveling, so he didnt get big gifts. He mainly got gift cards. Much easier to pack. He did get a Bible from my sister and a shirt. We got him a fleece along with a few stocking stuffers that were easy to pack.

JoyAnna got curtains for her room. We took advantage of the going out of business sale at Linens N things. She also got a treasure necklace. She had been wanting one since she say them a few months ago. She kept talking about them. Dean went alone and picked it out. He did a really good job.

After breakfast, we got really busy on the lunch. We had ham, dressing, twice stuffed potatoes, rolls, pecan pie and pumpkin pie. Marie broght cranberry salad and apple pie. We had plenty of food and I think everyone enjoyed it. It was really nice being together today. It really kept me from being upset.

After lunch, we played the wii and talked and had fun. Now, Eric is packed and ready to go. We have to take him to the airport at 4:30, so I am headed to bed.

Merry Christmas to all- and to all a good night!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Eve Eve

This is certainly turning into a different kind of Christmas. First off, we are in El Paso, not in Longview getting ready to head to Lufkin on Christmas Day. Because of working here for a giant jerk, there was no Christmas bonus which means no Christmas shopping money. We have gotten the kids a couple of small things. Tomorrow we go get some stocking stuffers. That'll be it. We're looking at the big picture of Christmas and being together - not on getting gifts.

We are looking forward to having Dean's great uncle and aunt over on Christmas. We are also having Marie, Megan, and Kali over. It will be fun to have a little one. Megan's husband is station in Japan, so this is an odd Christmas for them, too.

Thankfully, Eric was able to come home. My mom bought his ticket for all of us a Christmas gift. I must say it was a pretty awesome gift.

We thought about going to the mountain today to see the snow. We decided not to spend the money, so we just hung out here. JoyAnna is making more fudge for Christmas gifts tonight.

I was thinking today how much of my everyday as well as my holidays I have gotten from my Nanny. I was buying groceries this week and got the ingredients for dressing. I have made it a lot with Nanny not at my house when I did it, but this will be the first time since she passed away. It made me sad to think about it. So many things make me think about her. this will only be the 2nd Christmas in life that I will not have seen her. Okay, I am stopping now before I start really crying. I have to help JoyAnna and salty fudge will not be good.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Once again I am stunned

Beyond words- Doesn't happen often.
Today Dean goes to the office to get the rest of his belongings and deliver things that belong to the company.

The jerk is there. He tells Dean he has been trying to call him- really? Doubtful, because until 10:45 today Dean has had his Iphone on and has answered numerous calls.

Dean presents him with the letter and statement of monies owed- only to be told that Dean owes him much more than he owes Dean. What?!?!?

Supposedly since the office cost more to build than he wanted to pay, it is Dean's responsibility. I can't even begin to tell you how offbase that is. What a joke. Dean worked up there tons of hours, he did schedules that were scoffed at, the list just goes on and on.

It got so deep in there. The man has no sense what so ever. I am just stunned. He said it was Dean that insisted he be here on May 1- not him. He said Dean was pushing him to do the project that was supposed to start May 1- not sure how that happened since he told Dean in March he would send him the plans so he could be ready to start the project on May 1.

I heard all this- we rode around in a car and talked to him for several hours. I am just amazed that anyone can be like this.

I think what really hurts so much is we liked him so much before this.


Since I did not go to the funeral, I decided to have my own personal goodbye this morning. I stopped and picked up a sausage and biscuit and a diet coke before going to the state park. Nanny loved sausage biscuits. She liked diet coke, but she loved diet pepsi. As much as I loved her, I just couldn't bring myself ot have a diet pepsi.

I tried my best to sing some of the songs we used to sing when we took our road trips. I finally just gave up - the cracking and squeeking was driving me nuts. I finally just started humming them and singing the words in my mind. It was much better that way.

I decided to park at the entrance of the state park on my side of the mountain. There is a really nice view of the mountains. I prayed a little bit and said my goodbyes. Then I sang Papa's favorite song - Unclouded Day. Then I sang Broken Pieces that Nanny liked so much. Then there was Just a little talk with Jesus and Shall we gather at the River. I saved the best for last- it just seemed so appropriate- I'll fly away. It just seemed so right- "Some Glad Morning, when I fly away, I'll fly away."

I missed being there at the funeral only a little bit. More than anything I missed seeing my family. In a way, I thought this was pretty special like this. There was nothing I liked better than just me and Nanny sitting together. Well, there was always this dream I Had about all of us spending the night in one room. But, I loved to just be with Nanny. Today, I really felt like that. Sat right there on the base of mountain and had breakfast and talked and sang with her.

I am at peace and I know for sure she is.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Nanny

Nanny, I am going to miss you so much.

This was the day of JoyAnna's dedication

My Nanny and my Papa with JoyAnna

Four Generations

Easter so many years ago- we were at the "Easter Park" Nanny and Papa had a huge old cedar tree in the front yard. The Easter bunny always left our gifts there. After church we all went to the park to hunt eggs and eat.

My Nanny - Edith Gray

I am going to copy a few things here. First the email I wrote after mom called.

My Nanny woke up in heaven this morning. She'd been wanting to do just that for a very long time. We were selfish to want her here with us, even though she knew it was time.

When I saw her in June, she was unhappy and let everyone know about it. I hated for that to be the last time I saw her and selfishly prayed I would get to see her again. I was so thankful I got that opportunity. In November, I went to see her for ten days. I was with her so much of the time. I cooked her things she wanted, we told stories, we laughed and we sang. We had so much fun. We decorated her Christmas tree. For those ten days she was the Nanny I remembered.

She told me then how much she would like to come see me in El Paso. She always did love a road trip. We both knew it was not likely, but it was fun to talk about it.

In my heart I knew I was actually telling her goodbye. I have such a peace about it now.

I don't think I am going to go home for the funeral. I have said my goodbyes to her. I am so glad I had that time to do that.

For a long time now, she thought she saw Papa, or Aunt Edna, or Aunt Jewell in the room with her. How exciting for her to actually be with them today.

I'll miss her. There is a place in my heart that is just her's, but I know she is no longer and pain and she is singing with the angels.

Now what Dean wrote:
In December 28 years ago I feel head over heels in love with Nanny's oldest Granddaughter Pam and was immediately received by the warmest and closest, ever growing family, anyone to ever wish for. Not only are many wonderful memories kept deep in my heart, but also there are many imaginations, one of which I would like to share:

I have always pictured this family bound together by the four loving arms of Nanny and Papa wrapped tightly around each of us.

Just imagine with me – "Papa and Nanny standing face to face with their arms stretched out, holding hands. In the middle are Gary, LaNell, Glenda, Wanda, Pam, Gary Jr., Carolyn, Steve and Kristen; here I come and they squeeze closer to make room for me into this tightly bound family. Over the years, we have continued to be even more tightly squeezed by adding many more; Ed, Jody, Troy, Becky, John, Heather, Eric, Holli, Zach, Heath, JoyAnna, Josh, Justin, Anna, Wes, Jamie and many, many more friends. Nanny and Papa have and will always have room for family".

Some of this family never knew Papa here on earth, but believe me; he has always remained on the other end of Nanny's two hands. Papa has now pulled Nanny to heaven with him. We are not left behind; we are still a family, still tightly bound by the loving arms of our Nanny and Papa. Let's continue to build wonderful family memories, which Nanny and Papa expect from us.

We all sometime wonder why God will allow situation to happen in our life, not only affecting us, but so many others. In May, of this year, Pam and I relocated our family to El Paso, more than 850 miles away from both sides of our family. We also left Eric at Louisiana Tech, even further away. God will answer your questions – the week prior to Thanksgiving, at the very last minute, I decided to take all my vacation time off and visit family in East Texas, we then pretty much packed up and left. Eric was out of school on Fall Break, so we decided to meet in him in Lufkin and spend some time together. God gave our family eight days to close our earthly time with Nanny. No doubt, if we had remained in Longview we would have spent less than four hours Thanksgiving Day with her, then we would have gone on our merry way. This is now a Thanksgiving that I can thank God for the rest of my life.

And now me again
When I left Nanny in November, I knew in my heart I wouldn’t see her again this side of heaven. We talked about that during my stay. She said she sure did wish she could get strong enough to visit me in El Paso, but we both knew that was not likely. She sang one of her favorite songs about crossing the River, and we talked about seeing each other there if she didn’t make to El Paso or I didn’t make it back to Lufkin before she made that final trip.
So many of my memories of Nanny include a trip. She surely did love a road trip. Most of my life I lived away from Nanny. That meant many, many road trips to Lufkin to see her. There were lots of trips where she would drive us home.
I remember seeing deserted houses along the way. She was always game to stop and rummage through them. We didn’t take anything, but it was fun to walk through and imagine the kind of lives their former inhabitants lived.
On those road trips, Nanny always sang songs. Many of these songs told stories, and they were not always happy stories. I think she knew every sad song ever written. We’d sing those, and then we’d sing those good old gospel songs. She tried her best to teach me to sing the parts, but I just never seemed to manage anything but the melody lines – even if it was the bass part. She’d just laugh and sing it the right way for me again.
When I was young, she and Papa took us to Arkansas on a vacation. It was so much fun. We had one of those little reel to reel recorders and a microphone. We did play by play of everything we saw and did – just like a newscaster. It got pretty silly, but it surely was fun.
When I was six and had my tonsils out, she and Aunt Edna took a road trip to Orange to see me. I probably hurt my mom’s feelings unintentionally, but I didn’t want her to stay with me at the hospital, I wanted Nanny and Aunt Edna. The took turns staying in the room with me. They sang me those songs and told me stories.
When I was in college, money was really tight. I would go to the mail box on campus and find an occasional card from Nanny. Sometimes there would be a dollar or two in the card. Knowing she was taking care of me even from so far away always made me smile.
There are too many memories for me to list, but each one is held in my heart. Not many people have the opportunity to know their grandmother for 45 years. I can say I was truly blessed by having mine for that long.
Since I said my goodbyes to her a few weeks ago, I am not going to go home for the funeral. Instead, I am going to take a road trip. I no longer have to go far to visit the mountains – but, I’m going to go to the mountain – on the way, I’ll sing some songs that tell a story. Then, I’ll sing those songs about crossing the River – and I’ll think about her standing there waiting for me as I cross that River.
I love you, Nanny.

Its me again

I have been a horrible blogger of late. Partially, I can't find anything positive to say. I will try though.

My last post was on the 3rd- Things got progressively worse at Dean's job the rest of that week. Over that weekend, we spent a great deal of time working on his resignation letter.

He had to leave it with the office manager since his boss/partner didn't come in before Dean had to leave to get to the job site. When he got back to the office very late in the day, he was told that every claim Dean made could be disputed with proof. Dean asked to see the proof, but he said he would show him later. Right.

It was very, very scary to give notice and not have any idea what you are going to do. Yes, there are some possiblities but nothing set in stone. We have spent hours and hours typing and sending reusmes and applications for jobs all over everywhere.

Last Thursday, I got a call from him saying it had worked out that he would have a job in January and February with an architect in Corpus- the job would be here finishing up a job he had been working on. After that we really don't know what is going to happen. We keep filling out applications. IN fact, we did it again tonight for several hours.

Today, I got a call that left me speechless- you know it must be big, huh? Today is the 18th, right? Last night his boss/partner/jerk/whatever called the architect from Corpus and told him it would be better for Dean to start working for him effective on the 15th- that was 3 days ago.

Poor Dean- he said he feels like a mortgage - no one wants and he keeps getting passed around. So now, he is working for another architect- we don't know for how much. As of Jan 1, or maybe as of this past Monday, we dont have health insurance. We are living in limbo. It is really making for some interesting feelings.

Just keep praying for us.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Good Grief

Well, what a day. I had to get a plumber for the house in longview. It was supposed to be about 200.00 BUT because the jerks who did the remodel did not cover the sewer drain and filled it full of octagonal pink tile, it was $450.00. What a way to make my day.

I had to go back to the doctor today. Blood pressure was still way too high. My Cholestorl was high, too. So, I have to go tomorrow for another test. I also have to start on blood pressure medicine. He also gave me something for anxiety. It seems that he believes me that it is a lot related to stress. However, he is concerned because the tests have not been good. After the next test, I may be on a medicine for cholestrol, too. Joy joy.

Now, I am trying to find Eric a ticket to El Paso. The cost of the ticket doubles from Thursday when he cant leave until Friday when he can. one more joy joy.

Dean is trying to tie up some lose ends so he can make a job chnage without being accused of being unethical. Hopefully a change is coming soon.

Tonight I went to walk for 30 minutes. I am not on a diet to get healthier. Since it is 'have to' maybe I will do better at it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I have been a bad blogger

But I have writen over 50,000 words in a novel this month. I did not finish the novel, but I did write over 50,000 words. I will be finishing the novel as quickly as I can. I like the story and the characters so much.

I have some photography things to do, so I will be working on this this week instead of the novel at least for the week.

So, since I haven't posted anything since the 17th, I have tons to tell you about. Since I am so negative at the moment, I will not bore you with my whining. You know it is same song second verse.

We did go to my mom's and really enjoyed being with the family for over a week. My grandmother lives with her now. I really enjoyed getting to spend so much time with her. We talked about the old days. She even sang songs one night. When she was in the nursing home, she quit eating. She was way too thin. She is still way too thin, but she is looking so much better. She is really eating well.

While we were gone I really felt so much better. I didn't feel stressed. The day before we started home, it hit me. Once again the stress of Dean's job has my blood pressure sky high.

I had some fun photo shoots while we were gone. Some beautiful children. I think I am going to have to learn to shoot in the sports mode because so many kids are in constant motion.

We came home by way of Longvire. It was great to eat at Pizza King and to see some of our friends. We drove to Abeline and found a hotel. It was cheap and allowed dogs- that was about the best you could say about it. We did get a little sleep before we started home.

Just keep praying for Dean. We are overwhelmed.