My kids have four legs and fur

Our little guy is home! He is sore and tired, and he will be on antibiotics for a bit, but we are so happy he is home. We are confident he will make a full recovery. The other cat, my cat, on the other hand is quite displeased she is no longer Queen Bee. I’m sure she’ll get over herself soon enough, though.

But as I’ve been freaking out over our cat’s health and bladder problems, I started thinking how awkward I am. Maybe. Maybe awkward isn’t the right word. Out of place? Weird? Anyway. I started thinking: I have friends that are my age or a bit older than myself who are happily married and pregnant and about ready to have said small human. Then there’s me, over here crying about our cat’s emergency and how he cost us $1000. Crazy cat lady.

But our cats are our kids right now (and I’m trying to get us to get a puppy at some point!). Sure, someday we will have real (aka: human) children, but that won’t be for at least 5 years. We aren’t ready yet. And we plan things. And we have things we want to do, start, and finish before kids come along. And that’s okay. We have things between us we need to sort out first. Plus, it’s a lot easier to move with two cats, and I’m not quite ready to settle down entirely yet.

Pets are family, too.

Kitty Update

Today I took a few minutes to visit our kitty, Raptor, in the hospital. He has a catheter in, but he perked right up and wanted love when I came over to his kennel. The nurse said that, even though he is tired, this was definitely a good thing. Here’s the little boy:

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He doesn’t like the food the vet is feeding him, dry or wet. He only likes Fancy Feast wet food. The vet has approved me to bring by his regular food later this evening. He would only eat the dry food in his kennel if I held a few kibbles at a time, he got to lick it, and then I dropped it in his kennel. In other words, he is a picky kitty, but I suppose that is from us spoiling him.

Here he is enjoying the attention (a bit sleepily):

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They let me take his cone off because I was there with him and I could keep an eye on him. Raptor never once tried to lick at his catheter, so I was really proud of him.

The vet called me after I left to tell me that he is doing very well and they will take out the catheter tomorrow afternoon and see if he can urinate all on his own. She also said he has been a fantastic patient, and that if the excellent recovery continues and he doesn’t re-block, he can come home Wednesday!

It’s also snowing today, and Raptor loves the snow. I wish he were home so I could take him outside and let him roll around like he loves to do.

So, I am still praying for our little baby, but I have a feeling the worst is over. He is a young, healthy cat. I think he is just picky about litter.

Please keep him in your prayers with me. I know God works in marvelous ways, and I have faith He will be with us even for a cat health crisis.

Thank you for the positive thoughts and support, and goodbye for now from me and Raptor.

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One of my worst nightmares…

Today, on our return home from church, we found one sick kitty—our youngest, male cat, who is about 4. I called the vet to see their opinion, and they told us to bring him in.

It’s a good thing we did.

He has a blockage, which means he has been unable to pee. The said his swollen little bladder is smaller than others she has seen, but this is classified as an emergency. He is currently under anesthesia undergoing surgery (insertion of a urinary catheter) and tests. She also told us, when I asked, his odds of survival from this first round look to be in his favor since he is otherwise healthy.

However, if he cannot get unblocked after this, then we do it again.

I am hopeful that because he is young and active, and just picky about the texture of his litter, that we will only go through one round of this.

Regardless, I ask for your prayers. I know that this is a cat, but our cats are our children, and we love them very much. They are a big part of our family. So, please, set aside judgment of me in this request.

I have been crying for the past hour, and, even though my husband isn’t crying, I know he is upset too.

I am praying for a full and quick recovery for our little baby. If God can heal humans, surely He can heal cats too.

Revisiting a Story–To post or not to post?

I have decided to revisit a story I began in my undergraduate Creative Writing class. I have plenty of ideas, and I am fairly certain I know where I want it to go. It is just a matter of writing it all down.

I do, however, wish for feedback on it. Lots of feedback. I really want it to go somewhere.

That being said, it is not finished. Actually, it is not anywhere near being finished. But some is written. And, like I said, I have a decent idea of where it’s going. I just need to get the plot laid out.

I am thinking of posting pieces of it as those pieces are finished. Thoughts? Is it a good idea? A bad idea? Should a writer ever post unfinished work?

I am proud of this piece. It is my favorite. I am really excited to begin working on it again.

To thank you all..

With this separation finally coming to a close, I wanted to take some time to thank all of people who have been with me on this journey. Some are people I have known for years, others I have just met. But you each played a part in my emotional recovery.

Mom: Thank you for all you have done for me. You have listened to me cry, in person and on the phone; you have said “uh-huh” at all the right times; you have been supportive of both of us, especially when he didn’t think anyone supported him.

Dad: Even though it’s sometimes hard for you to hear me cry, you stayed on the phone and listened. You have agreed with me when I needed someone to agree with me. You made sure we were always okay. Most importantly, you let me know you cared.

Nana: Even though we do not always see eye-to-eye, you made sure I knew that I had someone behind me. You listened, and, as much as I didn’t like to hear it sometimes, you gave me the tough love I needed.

Jen: You may be far away, but you have always taken a little bit of time out of your day to check in with me and make sure I am okay. You let me talk (er, text) when I needed, and that has meant the world to me.

Madison: Even though I only got to see you for a day when I was in California, you let me talk…and talk…and talk. And check my phone nervously. You were there when I needed to relax and you helped me to take my mind off things, even if just for a little bit.

Mikaila: You were there with me, in wonderful Disneyland, when he called me to say goodbye for 9 weeks. You were there to see me cry as we stood in line for Pirates of the Caribbean. You let me talk about him a lot on that vacation, and you made sure I knew I had support. Even though I may have ruined a little of the Disney happiness, you helped me to look to the future and be in the moment.

Shelby and Cynthia: Even though you girls live a whole state away, and even though we don’t talk every day, you would like time to check on me. You answered questions and you supported me this whole time. You even asked how things were, and actually listened to the answer, even if the answer wasn’t pretty.

Erica: We have just “met,” but I think we have supported each other in ways that maybe other people could not. We both know what the other is going through, and that helps us relate and support each other. I am so glad we have been talking, and I am looking forward to officially meeting you in just a week.

Uncle Seth and Aunt Melissa: You have helped me to grow in my faith and really look to God for help. You are an inspiration.

I would also like to say a BIG thank you to my church family, Covenant Church Flagstaff. My pastors, especially Pastor Emily, have helped me to really let go of my anger at my husband and the situation and realize my wrongs and try to correct my course. You have all helped me to see that God is in control and that I have to trust in Him with my marriage. You have also taken me in to Women’s Ministry in a time when I was really struggling with who I am, my marriage, and not really having a lot of friends. For that, I cannot thank you enough. You have made me realize, even more, that I have to choose who I spend my time with for the good of my heart. You, especially the ladies, are all very wonderful, and I am so blessed to know you all. I am so thankful my husband and I found the church.

Without you all, I do not know what my heart would be like right now as I head into the home stretch. I do not know what my state of mind would be or what sort of emotions I would be dealing with. Without you, I honestly don’t know what he would have been coming home to. So thank you for all you have done; even if you didn’t think you did anything, you definitely did.

I am so blessed to have you all as family and friends. God really could not have provided me a better support system.

Just One More Week…

Today marks 1 week until Family Day, just one week until I see my husband again. Of course I am excited. I’m finishing up homework this week, grading, and I’m already starting to plan what I want to pack.

I have gotten a few letters from him since it was time to stop sending mail. He misses home.

I also got a phone call on Saturday. He passed his PT test, so he got a 10 minute phone call. We don’t talk much on the phone as it is, so there were brief moments where I wasn’t sure what to say. But it was great to hear his voice. He started to cry a bit, which made me tear up, and I joked with him that he couldn’t cry because I’ve been good the past week, and I don’t want to cry again. It got a chuckle out of him, so that made me happy.

This week has been a bit emotional, though. I misread the standards for when families are there, and I thought they said we can’t hold hands with our spouses while they are in uniform, so I cried for a little bit, just upset at the whole thing. But I went back and reread it, and we can hold our spouse’s hand, so that made it all better. I’m just looking forward to being back home and not having to obey anyone’s rules but our own.

It looks like it might rain when I am there, which sort of sucks. But I am confident I can still look grown up and pretty and impress my husband.

They are currently out in the field (until tomorrow). I am just hoping I get another letter (or a few) the next few days to get me through.

With only one week to go, I am anxious and ready. I even planned dinner reservations for the night we stay in Phoenix. The reservation is at the restaurant he wanted to go to, so I hope he is okay with it. I just can’t wait to see him and tell him the plans.

I’m praying that the time flies even quicker and that God gives me the strength to complete all my assignments and grading that need to be done before I leave.

There’s a lot more to say over the course of the next week, so I have many more things to jot down. I can guarantee you’ll hear from me again soon.

It’s Amazing What A Few Months Can Do

I would like to first apologize for not updating in so long. It has been a rough few months, and graduate school has made me crazy busy to the point that anytime I am on my computer, it is school related.

My husband has been at Basic Combat Training since January and will graduate in March. He is an officer candidate in the National Guard, so at least he gets to come home immediately after graduation.

The time apart, though, has given me an opportunity to examine myself in a variety of ways, from how I can be more devoted to school to how I can be more devoted to my faith and, in turn, him. I have been able to keep up more regularly with my coursework, especially my online classes, because I don’t have my (albeit, wonderful) husband to distract me. Sometimes I’m even ahead (on a good week)! I am planning out my assignments because I will be gone the second week of March to see him at his graduation, so I am trying to ensure I don’t have a lot of work to do then, which means I need to get ahead as much as possible now.

Delving into my faith is where the self-exploration comes in. I realized, with the help of my pastor, that I was holding on to far too much anger at him, and it was really affecting my relationship with him and with God. It was a constant black spot that I needed to clear away. I feel, through prayer and study, I have been doing well at removing that blackness. I don’t feel that way anymore, though. I’ve tried to let go. I have come a long way in just a week I think.

His letters help, actually, because I know he is still the same person I left December 29th. That isn’t to say it isn’t difficult, because it is. In fact, it hasn’t gotten easier. What has gotten easier, though, is loving him and forgiving him. I know now what I should have known all along: he loves me no matter what and God is in control. I am ashamed that it has taken me so long, but I am glad to have that bit of enlightenment now.

In the most recent letter, he told me he wanted to plan something to make up for not being home for Valentine’s Day and that he is trying to plan the entire first week he is back home. It definitely took me by surprise as he has never really done that before; it’s been all me. But I am happy he is thinking about it, and I am really excited to see what he plans.

Most importantly, I am really excited to see him. On Wednesday it will be 4 weeks until I see his handsome face again. His hair is still SUPER short (like, practically bald), which is, I have to admit, not something I’m looking forward to. But I am so beyond excited to see him and kiss him and hug him and spend time with him.

I will do my best to update more frequently, especially as the BIG DAY looms closer and after we are reunited. Let the countdown really begin. In fact, I would like to share some Bible verses here in the next few weeks that have truly helped me through this.

Smile. Keep the faith. And remember: God’s got it.

Underprepared?

I walked into a professor’s office to pick up my final paper during finals week my second semester at my second undergraduate college. “You are an excellent writer. I absolutely loved your analysis,” my Semantics professor told me. “You should seriously consider graduate school.”

I beamed at the compliment. “Oh, I already am,” I informed him proudly.

“Good. When you need recommendation letters, don’t hesitate to ask,” he told me.

I was proud of this professor’s comment on my ability. After all, I had worked hard on my assignment. I had never had a professor tell me they thought I was good enough to continue on after undergraduate, though I had a past professor from a different undergraduate university tell me they are proud of me recently. My Semantics professor’s comment helped give me a little more confidence as I moved forward; in fact, it was a comment that echoed in my mind constantly during my application process.

I am now two and a half months in to graduate school, and I am wondering why I decided to torture myself in this way. I love teaching, and I am actually enjoying my courses, but doing both is really hard, perhaps harder than I had anticipated.

There is a ton of reading. My two-and-a-half inch binder already can’t hold anymore paper. Yes, I have my B.A. in English, so I know what it’s like to have a lot of reading to do and a lot of papers to write. But my undergrad never required this much reading in such a short amount of time. No one prepared me for this difference

It is much harder to work and go to school while in graduate school because of this sheer amount of reading. Lucky for me, my work is my GTA, so I get a stipend, but they also pay for my tuition. I’m practically being paid to go to school. My paycheck is not just cash, but also benefits. I have no complaints about that; it’s brilliant. But GTAs are required to keep 9 credits a semester in order to keep their assistantship; 9 credits is considered full time status for graduate school.

But 9 credits in graduate school are nothing like 9 credits in undergraduate. Sure, each class is still 3 credits (all of my English courses in undergrad were 3 credits, and I took 12-14 a semester), but the 9 credits now are much harder. There’s more reading, more writing, more class time per credit. One of my classes is online, one is a hybrid (online/in person) so that one is an hour and a half one day a week, and my other class is two hours one day a week. Next semester, two of my classes will be online and my other class will be an hour two days a week. You may be thinking, “oh that doesn’t sound hard at all, suck it up.” It’s hard when your GTA position, which pays your tuition and gives you a paycheck, your job, is 20 hours a week. That includes two 50 minutes classes you teach, an hour of office hours each day you teach, and grading. It is very hard.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I love my program, I love my assistantship, my other GTAs are great, and so are my professors. I have had a wonderful experience so far. And, sure, it is only two years. But I was not prepared for how difficult and time consuming it would be. I had only my five years of undergraduate to compare it to, and no one told me what graduate school would be like. I only wish someone had.

I wish my college had offered graduate school preparation courses or graduate school advising. I wish they had had more opportunities for students who were interested in graduate school to prepare. Any “information sessions” offered were usually specifically through a specific department, but mainly Biology. So the only sessions I was ever aware of were for dental school, medical school, and the like. That was not, obviously, my interest. I wish the college itself, the president and the dean, had put on some events or information sessions for students interested in continuing their education. Because I feel bad for those students who are like me, who want to go to graduate school but who will be unprepared for what that means.

I wish colleges and universities, big and small, offered graduate school prep courses to better prepare those students who want to continue their education. Because it isn’t fair to have a student accepted, and be excited to go, and then be very anxious and unprepared for what that decision means.

Granted, my current university allows undergraduates to take graduate level courses on the basis that it is permitted by the instructor, the advisor, and other pertinent parties. However, the college I received by B.A. from was a strictly undergraduate college. So, while I enjoyed my experience there and do not regret transferring there, I feel they could have done something to help those who wanted to go further.

What do you think? Would it be beneficial for students to have the chance to take graduate school prep courses if they wish to continue their education? Or would it just be a waste of money for the college or university to provide the courses? What are your thoughts on this?

Nutshell of a Life

Well, school started last week. Not just any school, either. Graduate School. I began my 2-year long stint as a graduate student on August 25th. Not only am I a student with classes and homework to do, I am also teaching two one hundred level public speaking courses three days a week. Luckily my two face-to-face courses (the ones I am a student in) are each only one day a week, and I have one online course.

But that all means I have been quite busy, even for the beginning of the semester. Heck, even for the beginning of the second week. Thankfully, my university has 3-day weekends for holidays, so we had Labor Day off.

My birthday was Monday as well, so my mom flew in on Friday to visit. She helped us organize our apartment, and our place now looks amazing—organized, clean…big. I even have a small workspace now, which I have already used and am very happy to have.

The teaching is going well (I think), but I am at a loss as to how to get students to participate, ask or answer questions, or discuss in one of the classes. I work questions into my lecture, but I am not having too much luck. Any ideas? I really want my position to go well.

My volunteer work is going splendidly as well. I just wish I could get over to the cats more often, but it’s out of town and not feasible every weekend when I have homework to do and lectures to write. The last time my husband and I visited, it took him saying “no” multiple times and all my strength to not bring home a young long-haired tabby. He was so adorable, but we can’t have a third cat—we can’t afford it and our lease doesn’t allow it.

Things have settled down a bit in our lives, but we are still dealing with some personal matters. We have found a great church here, and we love going on Sundays. It is uplifting and fun and the music is loud and contemporary. We are also going to start going to their Men’s and Women’s small groups this weekend and possibly going to their Discover class to discover more about the church. We are very excited to grow in our faith together. It is a big step, but it is so important.

I am struggling with writing frequently, but I suppose that happens to a busy mind. I have been writing some free-form prose and poetry lately. I am not sure if it is blog appropriate, but I do want to post them. What do you think? Is free writing appropriate for a blog?

I should really work on keeping a theme or topic together, but my mind goes a thousand different directions. Any ideas for topics or themes? I am always open to ideas.

That is my life in a nutshell right now. I suppose it is time for me to get back to my homework and lecture creating.

Always stay positive.

The Busy Life of Starting a New Life

I am so very sorry I haven’t updated in so long! Things have been busy here lately. We have settled into our new apartment in Flagstaff and are getting things organized. With more space it’s been easy to unpack, but a little harder to figure out where things should go and how things should look. So we are looking into organization ideas for apartments. Any ideas?

Also, we recently got back from our vacation to Disney World. It was a joint graduation/anniversary present to us both from my mom. She also came back to Flagstaff with us after the trip to be with us for a few days so she could see the apartment and the area.

Our celebrated our second year anniversary at an amazing (and fancy!) restaraunt called Victoria and Albert’s in the Grand Floridian Resort. It was full 8 course meal, with each course small but satisfying.  You choose one thing from each section in the menu. In between, they bring you 3 types of fresh baked bread from the chef and butter created to go with that specific bread. Afterwards, they bring coffee if you desire. It is so hard to describe; I can relive it all in my head, but it is difficult to share every detail. Perhaps the best way to remember it is to keep it in my mind, though. All in all, it was absolutely lovely. Who would have ever thought you could find that experience in a place like Disney World?

It was nice being on vacation, especially in The Happiest Place on Earth (I absolutely LOVE Disney), and it was nice to have my mom visit for a few days (she even bought us groceries and patio furniture!). After the sun and rain in Florida, and my mom moving things my poor husband didn’t want her to move (as much as we appreciated all she had done), we needed a vacation from the vacation. So the last week has been about relaxing really.

Just before we left, I was offered a Graduate Teaching Assistantship teaching Public Speaking at my university, which I have accepted. I was pleasantly surprised to receive the offer since I was told the GTA positions had been given to the second year students. This position not only gives me a stipend and a paycheck every two weeks, but it also pays my tuition. This means I will have little to no Graduate School debt when I graduate. I could even get health insurance if I wanted to (although I declined because I am still on my mom’s). I will be working 20 hours a week, but the benefits far outweigh any reservations I have about teaching and keeping up with my own studies. The really cool things is: I am fairly certain I am the only first year in my program with a GTA. How cool would that look on my resume, eh?

On top of the GTA position, I have also been working as an inter with a partnership for a local watershed since June. It is a non-profit concerned with making the public concerned about the water resources in the Verde River. It is only for 3 months, but I am feeling confident about the work so far.

I didn’t get the original job I interviewed for, but I think this why. I think God had far bigger plans for me than a part-time desk job. He knows what is good for me and where I need to be. He provides all I need. I have to trust in Him. Sometimes that is the hardest part, especially when you can’t see into the future and you so desperately want to.

My husband is still waiting to hear back from interviews, but I know God has big plans for him too. I just have to remind my hubby that he has to have a bit of faith.

In addition to jobs, I have also taken on some volunteer work for a local cat shelter, The Ark Cat Sanctuary. I will be beginning some online media things (such as a blog) for it soon, so keep a look out if you love cats.

I really think things are looking up.  I have to remind myself to have faith that God will continue to do amazing things for both my husband and myself. I have to trust that He will help us make the right decisions for our small family. I have to trust that he will point us both in the directions He needs us to go.

I hope summer is treating everyone else well. I am going to make a (more) serious attempt to update more frequently, so I am sure you will hear from me again soon. Until then, stay safe and have faith.