Catching Up

My last post on this Sonderjourneys blog was in the middle of my wonderful Oregon vacation. I didn’t even blog yet about the fabulous wedding, which ALL of my brothers and sisters attended.

The vacation came at the perfect time for me. I was able to sleep most mornings, and get going for the afternoons, which was perfect at that stage in my healing.

One thing the stroke did for me — I’m getting more sleep. Because I have to! One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to get 50 hours of sleep per week, so I was keeping track. Well, most weeks I wasn’t quite making it — until the stroke hit. Now I’m exceeding that goal. Not getting too much else done, but you can’t have everything, right?

I did manage recently to catch up on writing reviews for all the books I’ve read. So now I have 45 reviews to post. And since then, I’ve read more books that I want to review.

All this is to say that life is full these days — so full, I don’t have time to write about it. Let’s see, I still haven’t written about the rest of my vacation, my trip to Seattle for KidLitCon, the SCBWI Conference, a gloriously beautiful drive to West Virginia to track down my murdering great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, another trip to the ER, and some other Autumn walks.

Anyway, I’ll see what I can do. Just thought I’d post about the fact that I don’t have time to post! Now I’ll hit the bed and hope for a longer entry tomorrow….

Journeying On

I had a lot of uncertainty at the end of 2009.  It started with headaches that lasted for weeks.  Then came news that I would probably lose my job.  My husband was to retire from the military soon, and I didn’t know what that would mean for him paying child support.  My Dad had a heart attack.

Well, life goes on.  And we get through!  And God is faithful.

First, my Dad is up and around and recovering.  I got to see him over Christmas, because he bought my son and me a plane ticket to California.  What a treat to see my family!

I had a neurology follow-up appointment on Friday and got to report that I haven’t had one headache to speak of in the month of January!  It’s amazing how much freedom from pain helps my outlook!  I went back on a preventative that I used for about a year three years ago — and it’s working beautifully.  I am so pleased.

As for my marriage, I was right.  My husband’s retirement does mean he’s planning to cut child support.  And it turns out I can’t get half the marital portion of his retirement unless there is a court order, which I can only get in a divorce.

So — I’ve decided to file for divorce.  It was a hard decision to come to, but I feel better and better about it, that the time is right.

Part of what made it difficult is that I truly believe that God has told me that my marriage with my husband will be restored some day.  That I am not supposed to look for a replacement man.  It’s a matter of obedience, for my specific situation, from the specific guidance God gave me.

However, I also believe that God has told me that I need to let my husband go.  That when he comes back to God it will be because of God’s work in his heart, and not anything I have done.

I also have to let go of my fantasy that he will come back because of his loving, forgiving wife who puts up with anything.  There are many laws protecting women in my situation — but only if I invoke them by filing for divorce.  If I just put up with getting along with what my husband sees fit to give me, it doesn’t increase his respect for me.  He concludes that he is right, that that is all I deserve.  It is time to respect myself enough to say that’s enough, that our 23 years of marriage deserve some respect.

Though I admit I wish it hadn’t come to this.

That leaves the job situation.  And this week, I applied for a promotion, for a Librarian III position.  I hadn’t thought I’d be eligible, since I am only a Librarian I, but my boss encouraged me to apply, and when I looked into it, sure enough, I do qualify.  And Librarian III’s are not going to be cut if the proposed budget cuts go through, so that would mean I’d keep my job, get to stay in the public library, and get a pay raise.

I brushed up my resume on Wednesday to get my application in before it closed on Friday.  In the process of doing that, I convinced myself I can do the job, which is the first step!  Although I only have two years experience as a full-fledged librarian, I maintain that my eight years at Sembach gave me a wonderful variety of experience that would apply.  And my ten years teaching math, while not exactly supervising, is still that same type of experience.  So we will see if I can convince them!

But either way, the experience interviewing will be a great thing.  It was also wonderfully therapeutic to focus on my good points and my abilities!  Gave me something to think about that was not the divorce!

It also reminded me how many times God has brought my way the perfect job at the perfect time.  I have been very blessed.  I do not need to be afraid of what the future will hold.

MRI Report

Yesterday I had an MRI done of my brain.  I’ll find out the results some time next week.

I was looking again at the brochure they give you ahead of time, and I had to laugh.  The brochure says, “You may feel some vibrations.  You will hear a loud, rhythmic tapping from the machine during your study.”  Talk about an understatement!

Getting ready for the exam is rather cozy.  I put on a cotton gown that was quite modest.  They had me lie down on a table and put a pillow under my knees, like how I’d get comfortable in yoga class.  They gave me earplugs because the machine is loud.  They put pillows on either side of my head, which is how I like to sleep (or at least one side of my head) when I’m on my back, anyway.  They gave me a blanket.  To be honest, I’d been wanting to lie down all day!  (In fact, I’d done it a couple times in the break room at work.)  So it felt very good to have someone solicitously telling me to do so and making sure I was comfortable.

I only wish they’d given me pillows for my arms.  My elbows were on the table — and the part of the table that didn’t move, so they kind of hunched up when the table slid me into the machine.  He’d told me to be perfectly still, so I was worried about adjusting them, and my shoulders were tense — and then what seemed like loud alarms went off!  Like Star Trek red alert warnings or perhaps prison break alarms.  Had I moved too much?  Did that mean I shouldn’t breathe?

I kept thinking of the line from Galaxy Quest:  “I know that sound:  That’s a really BAD sound!”  At least it made me laugh — in my head only, because I was still a little afraid to breathe!  Surely they didn’t mean me to be so still I couldn’t breathe, did they?

It took awhile, but I finally figured out that these ominous loud throbbing pulses were the “rhythmic tapping” the brochure had referred to.  They would switch from a high pitched red alert type to a lower pitched more ominous clear for the nuclear warhead sort of sound.

Anyway, I figured out a better way to adjust my hands, and I was almost able to go to sleep.  The pulses were kind of mesmerizing, once you refused to let them alarm you.  With one set, it almost seemed like I could feel the molecules in my brain realigning, which was rather freaky, too.  I tried to sing in my head to go with the beat, and that really helped, especially to make me stop thinking so much about breathing.

They really do need to reword their brochure, though, at least for people whose head is going in the machine.  Let’s see, it could say something like this:

You may feel some violent shaking.  Do not be alarmed.  You will hear loud, ominous pulses through your earplugs, similar to alarms as in a prison break, air raid sirens, or red alert signals on a starship.  Do not worry, and try to breathe normally.  This is all part of aligning the molecules in your brain through the mighty power of magnetic resonance.

Hmm.  I have a feeling I know why they go for understatement.

Yesterday was the 23rd straight day of my headache.  I woke up with it real sharp, but on the opposite side.  That actually encouraged me, because my old migraines had a habit of switching sides right before they were ready to finally leave.  So this was acting more like a “normal” migraine for me.

Then I took an Indomethacin (a strong NSAID) and two Topamax (a new preventative the neurologist prescribed), and had breakfast and rested before work.  The headache pain really let up, but I felt dizzy and sick.

So — at work I looked up Topamax to see if dizziness was a side effect, and, well, I ran across another side effect and combined with something else I’d been experiencing, it dawned on me that the Topamax is completely negating the other medication I am taking to regulate my hormone levels.

So — what this means is:

1)  Topamax is NOT a good preventative for me.

2)  It could actually explain this extra long 24-day headache, because my headaches have always been hormonally related.  The Topamax may have made it worse instead of better.  So I don’t have to be puzzled if the MRI comes back clear, as I hope it does.

3)  It explains why my emotions have been all over the place these past couple of weeks — and especially why I’ve been crying at the drop of a hat.  Whew!  I was starting to think I was just a basket case!

So — I called my neurologist to ask her to take me off the Topamax and put me on something else.  We had discussed the preventative I was on two years ago, which had worked so well, I stopped using it.  I am definitely leaning toward going back to that.  It also happens to be an antidepressant, and with everything else I am facing, I think that would be a nice migraine preventative to use!

However, she is out of the office for a “couple of days”.  Supposedly she had someone else filling in for her, but no one did call me back on Friday.  On my own, I decided to cut back the Topamax to one pill a day on Saturday.  Since they had me start out gradually, they will probably want me to stop gradually, too.

And today, it snowed!  I woke up feeling much better than I did on Friday, and the world is so beautiful!  But I only have three Indomethacin left, so I decided to save them for days when I have to work.  I took the one Topamax and some Naproxen instead, and ended up pretty wiped out with a headache.

I had hoped to go to our Open House at the Library and then do the grocery shopping and then go to a friend’s book launch.  But I ended up doing none of the above.  If I had only had the bad headache, or if it had only been snowing, I might have done some of those things.  But I knew that driving in the snow would have made the headache pretty intense.

Oh and a new weird symptom is a sore neck, particularly when I swallow.  Lymph nodes?  I’m super tired, and it was all I could do to do the laundry and sweep the snow off the steps.  (I knew I should have bought a snow shovel!)

Tomorrow I don’t think I will make it to church, or to the book club I hoped to go to for the first time or to the prayer meeting in the evening.  My big goal for the weekend will be to buy groceries — I will have Tim with me to push the cart, so I think I can pull it off.

I’m developing a new fear that I will use up all my sick leave — which is partly why I’m rationing the last Indomethacin.  I need to use it on days when I work.  I’m still praying and trying to trust.  Whatever in the world is going on, God will get me through.  “When you pass through the waters [or the headaches], I will be with you.”

On the lighter side, I just got this big sense of well-being at the MRI yesterday.  I know people were praying for me; that must have been involved.  I got this nice sense of here is this big huge hospital full of people whose job is to care about how people feel.  And after a day of trying to work while feeling crummy, there was a nice man telling me to lie down and get comfortable and asking me how I was feeling.  It was very nice.  I had a nice meal at the almost empty cafe when I finished, and rush hour had almost finished when I drove home.

Today, too, it’s so nice that the first snow of the year hit a day when I don’t have to work.  I can get some things done, then lie down.  I was up in my room, with the windows open watching it snow, reading the delightful book, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and I even got to the place where it explains why they call it that.  The roads are supposed to be clear by Monday, so it’s simply snow to make things beautiful for a few days.

All that is to say, hey, I’m not feeling well; I’m actually feeling pretty lousy.  But I’ve got a chance to take care of myself, and that does feel good.

School Schedules

It was easier to have a kid in school when I wasn’t working.

Tonight I got the school schedule for my son starting 8th grade.  In the first month, there are already four days where I will have to move around my work hours to accommodate school stuff.  Urghh!

Math Counts is the only after school activity which I have the faintest hope of getting my son to participate in.  Fortunately, this year the Math Counts coach knows about him–so I’m hoping she can keep him from skipping it and saying, “I forgot.”  🙂  He’s completed Geometry and is good at Math, so I think he could enjoy this.  But they start September 19th–and the late buses don’t start until October–so there are 2 times I will need to reschedule my work hours.

Back to School Night is held at 7 pm, so working parents should be able to go.  Unfortunately, they picked Thursday night, which is the one night per week that I work.

Then, the first Wednesday in October, they’ve scheduled a parent information meeting about the local magnet high school.  It’s supposed to be strong in science and technology, and so might be just the thing for my Nerdfighter son.  The meeting’s from 3 to 4:30, however.

Still, I only work half-time, and my boss is very supportive and accommodating.

And the truth is, when I think back to last year, even though I wasn’t working, things were a whole lot more stressful.  We weren’t in our apartment yet and didn’t have our household goods, but were living in my friend’s basement–so we had to register as Homeless!  We had to buy all new school supplies.  I was trying to get my older son ready to start college in Florida.  I was trying to get myself ready to start online graduate school.

Yeah, okay, I’d rather be settled in and working!

The Latest

Here’s what I sent in an e-mail to my friends, just what’s going on in my life these days:

It’s now been almost a year since I came to Virginia with Timothy and Josh.  I’ve been very blessed this year.
We spent the first few months living in Darlene’s basement–so generous of them to let us stay there!  I especially enjoyed the chance to get to know Darlene’s brilliant and adorable kids, Ryan & Michelle.  But by far the hugest blessing of living here has been the chance to interact so frequently with two such wonderful friends–Darlene and Kathe.
And they go to a wonderful church, Gateway Community.  I joined the home group that Kathe and Darlene attend, and that group helped me tackle the daunting job of moving in when my furniture came in October–completely dissassembled.  I still haven’t completely finished the job of unpacking and moving in, but it’s getting close, and these dear people pitching in to help, right at the start, made an enormous difference.
Josh left in October to attend Full Sail Real World Education in Orlando, Florida.  He’s studying film, and is already only a year away from getting his Bachelor’s degree.  (It’s an accelerated, intensified program that goes year-round.)  He has already directed his first short film, and he loves it!  I’m thrilled to see him enjoying it so much, and excelling.
Timothy attends the school where our church meets on Sundays.  I can’t say that he enjoys it, but I can tell it’s a great school–You know it’s a good sign when every teacher at Back-to-School Night says how glad they are to get to teach there.  Timothy did have a rough year, but at his lowest, I was impressed at how his teachers noticed and cared and helped him get back on track.
Though his biggest boost came when he got to visit his Dad in Japan over Spring Break.  And he’s thoroughly enjoying having the summer off.  In this year, he became a teenager and shot past me in height, and seems to be still growing.  He completed Geometry in 7th grade, and at this school that’s not even unusual, so he will smoothly go into a computerized Algebra II class next year.
I’ve been taking online classes with Drexel University to get my Master’s in Library and Information Science.  I’m now on my 4th quarter.  I’ve loved my classes, and only have two classes left–I’ll finish in December.  It worked out nicely that I was able to be a full-time student until this summer.
And I got a great job!  I was starting to feel desperate, applying for jobs that didn’t show any interest.  I had started looking at jobs in DC, even though that would be an awful commute.  Before Spring Break, I hated the thought of spending so much less time with Timothy, as well.
And then, at just the right time, when Timothy was doing better, and I had almost finished my 3rd full-time quarter, a job came up at the local library my friend Kathe uses, and I got it!  It’s a half-time Library Assistant position in the Children’s Department–perfect for me.  On a good day, I can get to work in 7 minutes, which is fabulous as well.  Sometimes I get to see my friends at the library, or get to have lunch with them.  It’s a real treat to work there.
And they are very supportive of my classes, and very encouraging about the possibility of getting a promotion to a librarian job after I finish my degree.  So that’s tremendously encouraging.
Lately, I’ve gotten my website of book reviews revised and I’m posting again:  I’m also enjoying writing a couple of other blogs.  To keep an attitude of thankfulness, I’m trying to post every day something I’m thankful for at  And I’m also collecting inspiring quotations at  For just “ordinary” blogging, and pictures, I’m using  They all have links to each other, so you can go to one and be able to access the others.
I guess using these blogs, I’m not feeling as much need to send out general e-mail newsletters.  With the blogs, people will only read it who want to read it, and I don’t feel like I’m clogging anyone’s inbox.  But I did get to thinking that I should let people know they are there!  So now I’m telling my friends and family:  take a look at my blogs now and then!  🙂  Life is good, and I’d like to share it with you.
God has been very faithful this past year.  I feel very loved and cared for by my friends and the people at church.
I got to go to the American Library Association Annual Conference in Washington, DC, this past June and got to meet lots of authors and got very excited about becoming a librarian.
This month, Steve will move from Japan to Langley AFB, in the Southeast corner of Virginia.  It’s about 3 to 4 hours away.  We are still married, and I am still praying with all my heart for our marriage to be restored.  In the meantime, it’s a distance where it will be much easier for Timothy to spend time more regularly with his Dad.
On August 26, Steve will arrive, and on August 27, I’m going to drive Timothy down so he can spend a week with his Dad before school starts the day after Labor Day.  My own summer quarter ends at midnight the night of Labor Day, so Timothy and I don’t have any overlapping vacation left–but at least I can do most of the hard work on projects during that week when Timothy’s with Steve.
Timothy and I didn’t really do a summer vacation this year.  Josh came to spend a week with us around Independence Day, but with my classes, we’re mainly just hanging out at home–which is what Timothy prefers, anyway.  Next year, I should have some vacation time built up, so maybe we can begin seeing America.  (Oh, and next year, ALA Conference is happening in Anaheim–sounds like a great reason to visit family!)
So–that’s the latest with us!  I love hearing from you all–and will do my best to answer.  Please forgive me if I’m too scatter-brained to do it–just e-mail to me again!  Right now I really should be working on my class projects, but it was nice to take a break!

My New Blog

I’ve decided to move my blog from to my own site space.  If all goes well, I will set up a feed back to the blogger page, but do the original posting here.

This blog started as a travel blog, but now it’s transforming to all kinds of thoughts about life, especially what God is teaching me.  I will try to put a category title on each post in order to organize the posts.