Sunday, May 7, 2017

May Sucks

Katie's tribute to Holly for her funeral.


Our dog Holly died.....she lived a long life.  We had her for eleven years and adopted her from a West Virginia animal shelter when she was approximately three years old....but anyways, everyone here has shed some tears this weekend.  Plus, there is a reason why "burying the dead" is a Corporal work of Mercy.....a 80-100 pound golden lab required a very large hole to be dug for a proper burial.

And I just realized that I somehow never managed to take any pictures of her in the past two years that weren't blurry due to her moving closer to me as I was snapping the picture.  Since I have never made "albums" on Facebook, I am having problems finding any pictures there as well.

(Remember I lost all of my pictures from 2013-2015 when all electronic devises were turned over for the investigation.)

So, the first two weeks of May now officially suck emotionally.  It will be fifteen years ago tomorrow that my Christopher died and I still miss him so much.  Some years are easier than others.  This year's anniversary is rough....fifteen years is such a big number.  I often question myself, wondering what he would advise regarding raising the kids, or the business, or other life events.....but every memory of Chris is surrounded by running, family, work and church.....so, outside of running, I just push myself to do "the family, work and church" thing.....and turn some music on and have a dance party at home since singing and dancing is my thing....and try to squeeze in a half hour here or a half hour there for reading time.....I really just try to pay what bills I can pay and keep going.  Some days it is easier to be positive than others.  Today is a rougher one since I am fighting a cold.  Even though I know I will probably be back to my normal positive self after we get through Mother's Day, it still doesn't make these first two weeks any easier.  (The Mother's Day negativity comes from the fact that Chris' plane crashed just prior to Mother's Day weekend in 2002.  I always connect Mother's Day with the plane collision.)

I wonder what Chris' thoughts would be regarding the man who almost broke the 2 hour marathon time this past weekend.  I pray for Chris' intercession with our two teenage children who are struggling to find their way in this crazy mixed up world.....yet, who today got out of bed and took their younger siblings to church while I tried to sleep off my third day with a cold and fever.  For these teenagers who helped to dig a dog hole for their dog without complaint and while trying not to cry until they could hide in their room with a new shelter dog that we crazily adopted six weeks ago after rescuing it from a busy street/McDonalds parking lot at 10:30pm.

Lucky, our new dog that was adopted 6 weeks ago.


My son Joey taught his younger sisters how to play chess this past winter  (totally NOT my thing.)  My teenage son and daughter continually choose family over being gone from home all the time.  They went to see a movie together last night and I caught them jumping on the trampoline together as well.  Joey teaching the littles to play chess led to these moments where the three littles took turns playing chess while they took their Sunday baths today.  So, when I focus on these things then I hope and pray that overall I am doing a good job.  I have one child really struggling to find their way....but pray that these are all signs that things are slowly going well.

Katie and Libby playing chess

Then Anna and Libby playing chess as well.


Please pray for the refinancing of the store.  I am suppose to officially sign a renewal contract with UPS Store corporate later this year which includes remodeling and equipment upgrades.  I will admit that signing another ten year contract after the past two years has created anxiety....along with the anxiety about being able to obtain financing......but then again, the thought of walking away from it all creates even more anxiety....what complex creatures we humans are.

Since it is still officially the Easter season in the Catholic Church I wish you all a Happy Belated Easter from our house to yours,

Easter 2017: Back Row: Jessie, Stephanie (Me), and Joey
Front Row: Katie, Libby holding the bunny, and Anna

Happy early Memorial day from our family to yours.  We have extra special plans this year that we are very excited about.  Thank you to all our Veterans and those who continue to serve to protect us from harm!!  May God bless you and protect you now and always!

Wishing you all lots of spring flowers and cherished memories,

Stephanie


P.S. This picture was taken of Chris and I back in 1999 when we moved into our first apartment in San Diego.....How young we once were......Chris, my love, please pray for us.

Chris and I, March 1999, San Diego, CA, our first apartment.



Thursday, February 2, 2017

A New Way to Support Us Plus: My Year of Silence

I have started several blog posts since May, but none of them seemed right to post.

Katie, Anna and Libby at Christmas


Jessie and Joey this past Christmas


Some great news for the new year:  We have a new website for our store where you can order any promotional products you may need for work, non-profit organizations, etc., and it will be delivered straight to your door!  This is great way that you can help support our family right from your own laptop!  There are thousands of products available: magnets, notepads, shirts, water bottles, etc....Almost anything you would want to put a logo on is there!

http://theupsstore6036.espwebsite.com



My silence was not intentional, but just happened by default since I was trying NOT to broadcast all the traveling that I completed this past summer.  (Trying to protect my store and house and family from anyone that may decide to try to steal from us.)  I was gone for six weeks between May and September, completing UPS Store corporate required training as well as making sure that the kids saw our family in Wisconsin.  My last trip ended up being a personal one where I went away for five days without my children and visited a friend.  I actually had one day during that trip where I just stayed in bed: no television, no writing, no reading, with very limited cell phone interaction between the store and my kids.  Just rest-which never happens unless I get so sick that I can't get out of bed.  I finished the day by attending Mass at one of my favorite churches and getting my rosary prayed plus confession.  The "rest day" happened because my friend looked at me at breakfast and said, "You are asleep with your eyes open.  We are NOT going to the beach.  You are going back to bed."  That trip must have been what my soul needed since so many people have told me over the last few months that I look happier and at peace.  I think I really did need to "get out of Dodge" and it NOT be work or driving twelve hours one way to see my family that I desperately love....but to just try to be with a friend and not worry about everything that I worry about.  I sat on the beach and watched the waves roll in and went to church twice plus I met a bunch of "new friends" who were friends of my friend for dinner three times.

Unfortunately I was not able to go away for Christmas to really visit my family due to an unexpected work crisis.  We were able to work out meeting half way for the kids to still get to go visit some of our family, but I spent forty hours of driving in six days to make that happen.  I'm not complaining....I am the one still living in Steubenville instead of closer to our extended family....and family is one of the most important part of our lives so I drive to keep those family bonds strong.  It's just our reality for now....and I pray my kids remember these trips if they grow up and move far away-that they make it a priority to make those family visits happen.....that maybe someday they will realize, "Wow.  I can't believe my mom drank 5 hour energy drinks and drove 12 hours through the night to get us to Wisconsin (or 18 hours to get to Iowa or Kansas City)......Thank you Mom.  I'm driving to come see you."  (See, one can dream.)


But my writing silence is also because I am trying very hard to complete my annulment paperwork......and IT. IS. HARD.  I remember in my past when I found out that other Catholics had left the Church and gotten remarried in Protestant churches that I would think, "How hard can it really be?  Just do the paperwork already and get married 'right'!"......Yeah.....mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.  I understand and I will NEVER ever judge someone again if they walk away from the church over this process.....Because this annulment process SUCKS!!!  It is painful and hard and 85 FREAKING short answer questions that have to be answered plus a final essay/argument for why your marriage should be annulled.  I have had my final essay written for five months now, but the 85 FREAKING QUESTIONS are standing in my way.  If I try to complete the paperwork after the kids get to sleep then I can't fall asleep at night and I am not my best at work the next day.  My weekends are the only time I can just focus on my kids so I don't want to hire a sitter or lock myself in my bedroom to answer questions during that time.  So that leaves me either getting up early (which still sucks for not being tired at work) OR actually paying extra payroll to leave work during the day....and that hasn't happened.  On days I plan to leave God seems to send extra business our way, or some other work mini-crisis happens and I don't get any "personal stuff" complete that day.  Most of the time I read a question and just want to type, "See the final essay" OR "See the 1600 pages of evidence that the prosecutor has."  Anything, but ripping off the "bandaid healing" that has already taken place on my heart and soul.  I know that many people seem to find the annulment process healing, but I am one of those people who find it incredibly painful and hard.....and while it is something that I need to do morally for myself long term wise, it is a new suffering that I wasn't expecting in my life.  I meant to have it completed by Labor Day, but obviously that has come and gone by another five months.  The final document-ON JUST MY PART-will be larger than the final divorce papers that included our personal life, our store, rental duplex, farm, etc.  That doesn't include Jason's response that we will have to wait for OR the research completed by the Church tribunal.  And the fact that I have to wait for Jason to respond to the same 85 questions while living the schedule he has in the state prison does not give me much hope for a speedy annulment.

I also completed a state tax audit, which I knew would be coming.  I am just thankful that it didn't get started in 2015 while I was trying desperately to get through the legal process of Jason's trial and obtaining a loan to help save the store.  I once read a quote from a saint whose name I don't remember right now that said, "If you have too much to do with God's help you will get it done."  I have been trying to cling to that mantra.

It's hard to answer when people ask me how things are going.  My response from May when I told people, "It is still going to be very 'tight' financially for another year or two" seems to be ringing true.  The store is "out of surgery, but in intensive care" right now.  We are still susceptible to bad shipping weeks (or months in this case due to the past election.)  We are praying that each week we get the money to pay the basic bills (UPS shipping bill, payroll, rent, utilities, etc).  It will still be several months to finish paying off past due vendor debt that I got stuck with.  Then hopefully we can start applying half of those debt payments to the back taxes and I can begin taking a paycheck to start getting caught up on personal bills so that we can refinance by next fall which will help cut our debt payments in half again.  I also need to start paying back the several people who gave us emergency loans over the past two years.

The start of each school year creates different crisis whenever you have kids.  Then all the stress has added health issues to several of us in the family so we just keep plugging away at focusing on whichever emotional or physical crisis is at hand.  A few family members have also understandably been fighting depression as well.  My prayer in the end is that my children end up healthy, happy and still living their Catholic faith.

At the time of Jason's arrest I was enrolled in the second semester of a national online class focusing on Laura Ingalls Wilder and her writings.  In one of the class discussion boards, people were going on and on wanting to know, "What was Laura 'doing' during her silent years before she published the Little House on the Prairie series?"  The answer is simple:  she was living her life with all the daily duties she had to perform:  she raised a daughter and helped Almanzo run their farm with several hired hands.  She cooked from scratch three meals a day for their family and farm workers on a wood cook stove...no microwave, no running into town to eat at a restaurant....she lived with lanterns and candles for light....she belonged to several organizations in town and did do some writing for farming publications since she was known within her state as an expert in raising laying hens.  She wrote in her journal almost daily and wrote letters to all her loved ones before telephones were invented-and still wrote letters even after the telephone was invented.....Anyways, she was busy living her life and began fiction writing as her "life slowed down" due to Rose growing up and her then old age.

 I say all this so that if I am "silent" on the blog for the next year or so....not posting very much....you know why....I am "living my life."  I just worked six days a week for over two months to get us through the blessed holiday shipping season.  Even during non-peak season I average working approximately 50 hours a week.  I worked approximately 70 hours a week for the past two months.  Then I head off to whichever kid activit(ies) are on the schedule for the night.  Head home, maybe get some chores done and usually get up between 4am-5:30am to repeat that schedule every single day.   There is no "off" when you are a single mother and definitely no "off" when you own your own business.  Everything depends on God's blessings and grace to provide for the family and then showing up for work each and every day.  The annulment process is also taking away from any other personal writing that I want to do.

Just know that all is well.  We did survive 2016, though at times it was really scary financially.
We are looking forward to hopefully a more peaceful 2017.  Praying for continued healing emotionally, physically and financially.  Praying for all of you and your prayer intentions as well.  If I am "silent" writing wise, please know that it is not intentional.  I am just taking care of "the business of life."  Focusing on the five miracles of my life, my children,....and extended family as well.

Thank you for your continued prayer support for my family and I!

Please bookmark this new website in case my store can help provide any promotional products you may need for your business or personal life!  Please also let your family and friends know that there is an easy way to help support a single mom of five kids:

http://theupsstore6036.espwebsite.com

May God bless you and keep you in the palm of His hand now and always!!!

Wishing you the sweetness of truly living your life from our family to yours,

Stephanie