Thursday, July 29, 2010

Stephen and I are currently living in a third story one-bedroom apartment which is purportedly 900 square feet, but I don't believe it for a second. Some college kids live in the building across from ours, and they frequently sit on their porch at 3am drinking, smoking, and arguing loudly enjoying college life. Our "home office" is spread across the apartment, at various times encompassing the couches, dining room table, porch, and bedroom. On top of that, we have a baby coming in January, who at the moment would probably have to live in our walk in closet. So, yeah. We're kind of looking for a new place.

Stephen is all over Craig's List looking for houses or condos to rent.  A few weeks ago, we found a great one.  In a really nice part of town.  Well within our budget.  Three bedrooms.  Fenced backyard.  Garage.  Excitement!  Could it be real?

Stephen emailed the lister, who wrote back right away.  She explained that she was currently working for the Red Cross, living in Western Africa, and really wanted renters that would take good care of her home.  Some of the phrasing made us wonder... it could have been written by someone who was in a hurry, or on a blackberry.  Or, it could have been written by someone who doesn't speak English as a first language... someone who might not necessarily feel compelled to be totally honest with us.  But that didn't occur to us until after we filled out the application and sent it back to her.

That night, we went with my family to drive by the place and check it out.  The lawn was trimmed, the flowers were tended, and there was a car parked in the driveway.  "I thought it was vacant?" we wondered aloud.  "Maybe she has current renters," my mom suggested.  Suspicious, Stephen went to the door to try and talk to the tenants.

Unsurprisingly, the "tenant" is actually the "owner" who is, in fact, considering renting it out... but hasn't listed it yet.  You can imagine her surprise when she found out she was living in West Africa and trying to rent her house for nearly a third of her actual mortgage.

If we hadn't figured it out by then, we would have after reading the next email from West Africa lady.  She was so excited to find some good renters for her home who would take wonderful care of it.  "Rest assured," she wrote, "I am the real owner of the house."  Oh, well then!  I feel better now.  Because I'm sure you wouldn't say that if it weren't true!  "Send me the deposit and first month's rent and I will mail you the paperwork and keys to the property."  That fast, huh?  Wow.  This process is so unbelievably easy!

Stephen decided to mess with her a little, writing her a response absolutely drenched in sarcasm.  He thanked her for reassuring us of her true identity and commented that she must have hired some landscapers as the lawn looked well-taken care of.  He said we were so appreciative of her flexibility that we wanted to send her two months of rent at once, and where is her nearest Western Union? He told her how impressed we are that she's devoting her time to the Red Cross, telling her "your heart must be as big as your lies."  We figured after that, we wouldn't hear from her again.  Wrong.

She wrote back gushing over how happy she was to have some great renters, and telling us how to send her the money.  Blah blah blah.  It seemed evident she had missed the acrimonious tone in the previous message, making further screwing less entertaining.  We were bored with the project and went back to looking for an actual homeowner to rent from.  We told her we'd send the money right away, and then promptly forgot about her.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I'm Going to Tri

My good friend Stephanie, who is also pregnant and due about a 6 weeks before me, invited me to do a mini triathlon with her.  I breathlessly accepted.  A co-worker of my dad's commented, "Most pregnant women get cravings... she's doing a triathlon?"  It's a 2 mile run, 5 mile bike, and 250 meter swim.  I've always wanted to do a triathlon... I grew up cycling, and I took up running a little over a year ago.  The only thing stopping me was swimming.  Dreaded swimming.

I was raised in Denver.  We don't have big lakes- at least not many that are warm enough or clean enough to swim in.  We don't have big rivers.  We definitely don't have an ocean.  The point is, Colorado kids don't really need to know how to swim any better than doing the doggie paddle at the local pool.  For most of us, swimming means splashing around in the shallows and jumping into/struggling awkwardly out of the deep end.

I was always jealous of my friends who lived in "planned developments" because they had sunny community pools that were accessed through a magical little card.  My parent's neighborhood isn't governed by an HOA and thus does not have a community pool, so if we wanted to swim, we had to go somewhere that cost actual money.  If you've ever met my dad you know that means that we didn't get to the pool much.

So, I could swim well enough to keep from drowning... but it's not pretty.  Ask me to swim from one end of a pool to the other, and ten minutes later you would have found me only half-way, clinging to the edge of the pool, coughing up water.

This is the same way I got into running.  After several pathetically failed attempts, I felt defeated... and needed vengeance.  Nothing motivates me so effectively as sweet, sweet retribution.  If you tell me I can't do something, I set off to do exactly that.

This triathlon has provided a perfect excuse for me to start training.  I agreed to do it around the middle of June, and the event is July 31st.  That means I've been training constantly to go from gurgling, choking, and gasping my way through half a lap to swimming ten laps.  With no breaks.  In about a month.  While pregnant.  I can totally do that.  What, you think I can't?  Because I am.

Now that I think about it, this swimming thing could have something to do with the fact that my body is shedding fat...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Pregnancy is Weird

I've been assured by medical professionals, experienced moms, and my husband (who isn't nearly as qualified to give pregnancy advice- but he's very reassuring) that what I'm going through is totally normal and nothing to worry about.  But, every day, I find a new thing that doesn't seem to fit in with what I expected pregnancy would be like.

  • I haven't gained a pound since getting pregnant.  In fact, I actually lost weight during my first trimester.  Over the last month, I've come back up to my pre-preggers weight, and I've been holding steady.  This is especially confusing considering the many changes to my (typically uber-healthy) eating habits, including but not limited to:
    • Switching from skim to full-fat milk
    • Switching to full-fat cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese, sour cream, etc.
    • Eating a LOT more dairy... like, a LOT
    • Consuming eggs like they're going out of style
    • Choosing red meat over chicken or fish whenever I have the chance
    • Eating like a hobbit; you will find me in the kitchen rummaging through the cupboards or refrigerator at least once an hour, stuffing food into my mouth.
    • The feeling that I am justified in eating an ice cream sunday every time I drive by Sonic.
    • The fact that I act on that feeling at least 50% of the time.
  • I've lost two inches around my waist.  I'm confounded by this.  Lately, when I look in the mirror, I have a hard time finding my waist.  But the numbers don't lie.  2 inches.  Gone.  What the what?
  • I've also lost two inches around my hips.  But I know for a fact that my pants are tighter around my hips than they were three months ago.  I'm mystified.
  • I've gained two inches around my tummy.  Yes, the baby bump is clearly visible and getting more obvious day by day.  Yet, I haven't gained weight.  Not. A. Single. Pound.
I've always thought of pregnancy as a time when you gain weight.  So far, most of my pregnancy has been different than what I expected- in the best ways- but I'm just befuddled by this.  I can't remember a time in my adult life when I felt better or healthier than I do now.  Is that normal?

Whatever it is, I like it.  But I'm still confused.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Employment is Overrated

I haven't talked about this much, but I feel like talking about it today.

A few months ago I wrote about our third wedding anniversary.  What I didn't share was that, on our anniversary, Stephen was laid off from his job.  I didn't talk about it because I wasn't worried about it- God will provide for our needs, and He has- and it was beside the point.  Although the event has had a major effect on our finances, it hasn't changed much else, except that Stephen is home during the day now.  Which means more hiking, biking, and making babies quality time together.

He's been looking for a new job since it happened.  In fact, he had been looking for work since December... the job sucked and he was ready for something new.  When his boss gave him the news, Stephen actually struggled to hide his smile.  Anyway, he's been on unemployment for a while, and we just applied for pregnancy medicaid.  Not a problem for me... I figure I've been giving my money to the government long enough that I might as well get some of it back.  For Stephen, as a conservative, these were challenging decisions to make, and he can't wait to get off government aid.

Anyway, the most amazing thing about the past few months has been our finances- things have been tight, but we've been able to pay every single bill.  God has provided for us every step of the way, and we haven't had a moment of doubt, thinking, "how will we pay for this?"  In fact, my business has been booming- I've been enjoying my best month ever since I started the business last year, and now Stephen is working with me until he finds a "regular" job.

Then, only a few months later we discovered I was pregnant (although, this was no surprise).  Our first thought was "God must be moving to do something incredible for us, because this would generally be considered horrendous timing."

Many Christians have this idea that God puts us in uncertain situations, delights in watching us squirm uncomfortably, and then dramatically comes through for us at the very last second.  But through this process God has shown me that this is not his heart for us.  Rather, he uses the uncertain situations in my life to draw me into Him.  What I'm supposed to be feeling is not doubt or discomfort, but excitement and hopeful expectation in the certainty of God's promises.

I've gotten to a point of not caring about the details, but knowing that God will provide for our material needs.  I'm not asking Him "how?" and "when?"  My heart is settled in His goodness, and I haven't worried about it.  Honestly, I haven't even thought about it outside of mere curiosity over what will happen next.

And I think this is exactly where God wants us; not dominated by doubt and anxiety and fear, we're free to live in genuine relationship with Him... not for what He can provide for us in a given circumstance, but for who He is.