House of Lords

Usually, our dogs are just called Gracie and Gryffon.

Sometimes they have nicknames like Gryffie-dog and Gracie-girl.  Or Sweetie-pee and Sweetie-poo.  Or when they are in trouble, sometimes we call them by their full names, Gracie Capella and Gryffon Arcturus.

But in the fall, they become Lord and Lady Leafbottom.

Want to know why?

Take a look:


Crazy Eights: XI

1. I really miss running.  Especially now that the weather is nice and cool, I get pretty envious when I see people in my town out for a run.  *sigh*

2. I’m fully back into my Pilates classes now, so that’s helping me to be more satisfied with my level of fitness.  It’s not a cardiovascular workout, though.  Last week I rode a stationary bike at the YMCA.  It was nice to do something to get my heart rate up a bit, even though I was kind of sore later.  I’m also considering using the elliptical machine because I think that will put less pressure on my foot than walking does.

3. Christmas is just over two months away.  Have you started shopping?  My knitted gifts are nearing completion; I have two started and one more to start, and then some small finishing up to do on several.  I think I’ll get done in time.  Gifts for Chef are a whole different topic.  I have ideas, but I haven’t begun shopping yet.  I’m starting to feel the pressure.

4. Oh, gosh.  One of my dogs just flatulated.  It is a far more horrible smell than when humans do it.  Dog gas is horrendous.  Chef and I have been known to bury our heads under the covers when it happens at night.  Or pull our shirts up over our noses if it happens while we’re watching television.  The dogs don’t seem to notice, though.  Or when they do, they flatulate next to us, and then leave the room.  RUDE!

5.  I recently bought three pairs of pants.  They are all the same brand, same style, and the same size.  The army green ones fit.  The gray ones fit.  The khaki ones are too big.

6. I’ve been thinking more and more about trying to start a small business of my own.  I am not sure what it would be, though.  I have ideas, but I don’t know if I have the motivation and dedication to make them work.

7.  The other day, I had this random phrase flit through my head: “Walking through the world in a corduroy suit.”  I don’t know why.  Did I hear it somewhere?  Is it in a song?  Did my brain just randomly put those words together?  It has been puzzling me ever since.

8. You know my husband?  Chef?  Well, I like him.

Great Things About Being Self-Employed

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve written about the difficulties and drawbacks of being self-employed, including dealing with health insurance and getting payment from clients.  But I don’t want you to think that owning a business is all bad.  If it were, we wouldn’t be doing it.  So in this post, I wanted to talk about the things that are great about being self-employed.

1. Being your own boss. This is one of the biggest reasons that Chef wanted to have his own business.  He’s a hard worker, but he doesn’t do so well when someone else is telling him what to do.  He’s headstrong and stubborn sometimes, and those qualities sometimes don’t mesh well with a corporate environment where sometimes staff members don’t have the liberty to act on what they think is best.  I know that in my own job, I sometimes disagree with the way the bosses are managing the company, but I can’t often do anything about it, which is frustrating.

2. Flexibility of schedule. To some degree, this one depends on what kind of industry you’re in.  Some businesses need to be open from 8am to 5pm, five or six days a week.  Restaurants and retail might be more limited in what their hours are.  Even in those instances, though, the owner could choose to be closed on Mondays, or to open later or close earlier on certain days.  There used to be a toy store in my town, and the owner would go to a merchandising conference every February.  She’d make it into a vacation, and be closed for one week each February.  It was a slow month for her anyway, so closing the store and taking some time off worked out okay for her.  With Chef’s business, he has to be available to deliver sculptures when the events are taking place (usually weekends and some weekday evenings), but since almost all of his communication with clients is done via telephone or email, he can do that any time of day, from any location (thanks to internet access on his phone).  If he wants, he can go to the shop late at night to get the designing and carving done.  A friend of ours is a photographer (and she’s really good, by the way), and while she has to shoot her photos at the client’s requested times, she can do all her editing at home while the kids are at preschool or late at night after everyone else is asleep.

3. Doing what you really love. I’m sure that there are people who work for large companies who love their jobs.  Teachers and nurses and accountants and architects and mechanics and sales reps — I’m sure there are lots of people who are perfectly happy with their positions and don’t mind one bit working for someone else who will take the responsibility of paying the corporate taxes and dealing with profit and loss statements and managing staff and inventory.  But in other cases, having a small business might be the only way to really do what your heart calls you to do.  For example, it’s not easy to be an ice carver and work for someone else, because ice carving isn’t typically a corporate-type industry.  There aren’t too many ice carving companies in the U.S. that hire more than a couple of people.  So if you want to do that, it’s probably best to have your own business.  I don’t know many photographers who work for someone else, unless they are doing something rather un-artistic like school photos, which I would think would be less fulfilling than wedding photography, for instance.  Even in industries where it’s easier to find a job for another company (like accounting or hospitality or construction, for example), going out on your own allows you to specialize in a way that you might not be able to do working for someone else.

4. Having something that is your own. Sure, there are lots of ways to accomplish that.  There are lots of hobbies you can have that allow you to create, and you can say, “I did this!”  But having a business is a big deal, and being able to make it successful is an amazing accomplishment.  There’s a lot of pride in saying, “I built this company from the bottom up, and it is successful and financially sound.”

Making a decision to start your own business is something that should be carefully considered.  People like to spout statistics about how many small businesses fail each year.  And it’s true — lots of them do fail.  But lots of them succeed, too.  It’s not a venture to tackle lightly or without lots of forethought.  But it’s something great for people who like adventure and want all the benefits listed above.

Small business owners, what things do you love about having your own business?  Do any readers have ideas for a business that they just haven’t had to nerve (or capital) to start up yet?  Anybody out there working for The Man who just can’t wait to get out?  Or do you love working for someone else?

He’s Got Me Right Where He Wants Me

As you probably know by now, I wrote a book.  The reason I was able to write this book is because Chef and I can’t have children.

I was emailing back and forth with someone who had read the book, and she said something like, “I really like your book.  I just wish you didn’t have to have the experience that led you to write it.”

And I replied, “You know, I think God has us exactly where he wants us.”

About a week ago, my friend Thelma wrote a post about the emotions that come with being infertile, even when you think you’ve made peace with being infertile.  You can read her thoughts here.  It was really interesting for me to read her post because the very day she posted it, I had been having the very same feelings.  Well, not so much about the donuts, but about everything else.

Chef and I, like Thelma and Len, consider ourselves happy and content where we are, which is a family of two people.  (I’d like to insert here a pet peeve I have: When couples decide to start trying to have a baby, they always say they are “starting a family.”  Well, Chef and I are a family.  Just because there are only two of us, and just because we don’t have children, does not mean we are not a family.  Okay, I’m done with my rant.)

Some days are still hard, even though I can state truthfully that 99% of the time, I’m completely content with where we are.  But some days, I think “If we had children, we wouldn’t have to do X.”  Or “If we had children, we’d be able to do Y.”  And just last Friday as I watched Chef’s soccer game alongside the other players’ wives, I thought that if we had children, maybe I wouldn’t feel so out of place in what felt very much like The Mommy Club.

At the same time, I am convinced that God has us exactly where he wants us.

Chef and I have a teenager living with us while she finishes her senior year of high school.  It’s a long story about how this all came about, but the bottom line is that if we had children, we would not be able to minister to her in this way.  In fact, while we were praying about whether to invite her to live in our home, Esther 4:14 kept coming to mind, which reads, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” The phrase “for such a time as this” just kept continually rolling through my head.  And I think that God was telling me that one reason we have not been able to have children is so that we could step into this ministry opportunity.  It’s not always easy or fun to live with an emotional teenager whom we did not raise from birth, but it is where we are supposed to be right now.  I’m certain that if we had children, we would not even have entertained the thought of her living with us.

This is not the path I would have chosen.  But it doesn’t seem very often that God chooses the things we would have chosen.

Perhaps after this time of ministry is over, God will miraculously allow me to get pregnant.  (I very seriously doubt that.)  But whether he does cause that to happen or not, I’m happy knowing that God has us on a particular path for a particular reason, even if I don’t know that reason now.

I look forward to Heaven when I can see the whole picture.

Silly Eddie

This is Eddie.

Eddie sits on our bed.

Eddie is very silly.  Sometimes, when I come home from work, Eddie is standing on his head…

or wearing my pajamas…

or trying on Chef’s hat.

Recently, he had his right foot wrapped up and he was sitting in my GameReady, imitating me.

Sometimes, being silly wears Eddie out, and he sleeps all day.

Silly Eddie.

Please pass the tacos. And the cookies. And the running shoes. And a double helping of serenity.

On Thursday, I was an emotional eater.

I got to work, and it was just one of those days when I just didn’t want to be there.  I was feeling grouchy.  Then one of my co-workers gave me some information about a higher-up, and what this higher-up did made me angry and frustrated because it was a stupid thing to do.  Later, one of our nurse practitioners came to my office to see me.  She had a problem she hoped I could help her out with.  I didn’t think I could do what she wanted, but I told her I’d try and then get back with her.  I made a phone call, found out what I needed, and not 10 minutes after she left my office, I went to find her to tell her the news.  When I asked others if they knew where she was, three people said, “She’s not here today.”  Hello?!  She was just in my office.  After that, I had what felt like a bazillion phone calls regarding patients not wanting to pay their medical bills, and these calls were topped off by emails asking me to make a bunch of decisions that I’m not really equipped to make.

And this was all before ten in the morning.

So I went to the break room.  A pharmaceutical rep had brought coffee and bagels.  I didn’t need a bagel.  I wasn’t hungry.  In spite of that fact, I slathered a giant blueberry bagel with cream cheese and I ate it.

The late morning didn’t really go much better, and at lunch (which was brought in by another pharmaceutical rep) I filled my plate fuller than I really needed to.  After my mid-morning snack, I didn’t need to eat much for lunch, but the food was from one of my favorite restaurants, and it smelled sooooo good.  Oh, and I was still feeling grumpy.  The fact that my skirt was feeling a little bit snug unfortunately didn’t seem to make a bit of difference.

The afternoon continued to be not so great.  Then I got home and had a fight with Chef.  I was upset and angry and frustrated and I really really needed to go for a run.

I put on my shoes and headed to the park with the plan to run three miles.  The first half mile, I ran really fast because I was mad.  Then I started to pray that God would just help me to release my anger and my frustration.  Have you seen the movie The Green Mile?  And the one guy sucks evil or sickness out of a person and then breathes it out and it looks like flies coming out of his mouth?  I was imagning that each breath I blew out was all the anger and frustration I had in me.  Then I imagined that the breeze I was running into was blowing layers of grumpiness away.

By the end of the third mile, I was in a much better frame of mind.  I decided to just sit for a while in the park, enjoying the beautiful weather and the shade of a giant tree.  I ran back home, making a small detour to check out the progress of the Chinese buffet that is going into the old Dairy Queen in town.  Then I ran back home.

My run was good therapy for my frustrations.  And hopefully it burned off a bit of that bagel, too.

Indiana Dunes

A couple of weeks ago, I got to escape the grind of the same old, same old, to go on vacation with Chef, his parents and niece, and some friends.  The Indiana Dunes were calling, and we answered!

We camped at the Indiana Dunes State Park Campground from Tuesday night through Friday afternoon.  It’s a really nice campground, especially if you’re going with a large group.  When it’s just Chef and me, I like the campsites to be more secluded, but since we had three sites, it was nice that it was easy to get from one to the other, and it felt like a nice little camping community.  A water spigot was right next to us, and the trash facility and the bathrooms & showers were a very short walk away.

The beach, of course, was our main attraction.  Normally it’s an easy walk, according to friends who have camped there regularly over the years, but the beach trail was under construction so we had to go around… and going around was long and arduous.

Okay, maybe not arduous, but it was sandy and hot and hilly — and have you ever tried to climb up hills on hot sand?  It’s not very easy.  So usually, since we had lots of people going with all their stuff (towels, beach bags, chairs, umbrellas, etc) we drove.

The sun was shining, the weather warm, and the water perfect.

We all took turns preparing meals, and this was a brilliant idea.  The adults were assigned two meals each, and it was so wonderful to know that we were responsible for these specific meals and no others.  It made it a more relaxing time for everyone, I think.

The one problem we had was lack of appropriate signage.  It was hard to know how to get to the beach, and once you were there (especially if you had walked the long and arduous, hot and hilly trail) how to get back to the campground.  Once when we went to the beach, we found that we were in a no-swimming zone, but we didn’t know that because there were no signs.  (“If we put signs way out here,” one staff member told us, “they’ll just get stolen.”  That seemed like a stupid excuse to me.)  We also learned that swimming is permitted only in chest-deep water or less (one friend was swimming out to a buoy and got sent back), but I don’t recall seeing any signs to that effect, either.  It’s very easy to get around if you already know where you are going, but if you’re not familiar with the park, it’s not terribly evident.

Still, it was a really good camping experience.  The sharing of meal responsibilities, the fun games, the beach, and the showers which were really nice for camp showers all made it a very fun time from which I was not quite ready to return.

I’d definitely recommend it.

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