Wednesday, October 27, 2010
So, while we've been scrambling to find a house and not overstay our welcome, I'm STILL trying to secure a job in one of the so-called 'hottest job markets' in the country. I think the hype here is highly over-rated. Jobs are scarce wherever you go. The odds are against me, even with a Masters degree and international experience. But, I digress. What is really irking me right now is the Home Loan Process. Foreclosures are decreasing. This is a good thing. Yes, trends show a slow, sluggish shift. Nonetheless, it's a shift towards the housing market pulling itself up. And, I understand-truly I do-the need for banks not to repeat their mistakes and make sure that buyers can afford a home loan. However, banks and FHA have been hyping up their eagerness to sell homes and help get families back into homes but, that's not the feeling I'm getting. In fact, I have never had such a difficult time buying a home nor had to jump through so many ridiculous hoops just to have a roof over my head. Their actions speak for themselves, which say, "We don't care that you have excellent credit or never missed a payment. We REALLY don't want to sell you this house or give you any money and we will find every reason to deny you. Go away." Their treatment of us has left me feeling like Dennis the Menace knocking on Mr. Wilson's door. Seriously?! Is it so ANNOYING to you that I might actually want to buy your HUD home? A home YOU can't get off your books and are losing money.
So, to sum up, I apologize for my absence but I've been fighting with Big Money and Uncle Sam. On a different note, does anyone have suggestions on companies or employers that might be hiring in the Greater Houston Area? If so, please forward my profile to them (http://www.linkedin.com/in/caseylaycock).
Okay, enough plugging and onto more exciting prospects. I have to get a Houston Citypass. Instead of paying the full fee to see any of the places listed below, you can get a Citypass and save up to 50% on e-tickets for them. It's really the only economical and logical way to see Houston on a budget.
Space Center Houston, Downtown Aquarium, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Houston Zoo, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Children's Museum of Houston, George Ranch Historical Park, The Health Museum
Looking for farm-fresh, locally grown foods? Check out Canino's Farmer's Market for amazing deals and homemade tortillas that would make your momma cry. No, seriously. She's in tears right now. They're THAT good.
Enjoy and Happy Halloween!
Thursday, September 9, 2010
And, to top it all off, it is FINALLY hitting home for me! My house is packed up, the movers come tomorrow, and I was doing SO good about moving and uprooting our lives until my awesome neighbor (who has baby-sat Coraline since she was only 2 months old) came over with a beautiful, card (with pictures of her family with Coral and it played her voice singing to Coral) and she and I just cried. It was so simple and sincere a gesture of love and kindness from someone we had only known briefly that it broke my heart. It's bittersweet to realize too late that you are so blessed by the people right in front of you.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Saturday, August 14, 2010
At least I have to be thankful that it is a relatively common procedure with only a 1% risk of complications for someone of my age (though the complications are pretty severe). I can't really complain though. There are so many others in the world that have it much worse than I do, but I'm not ready to put on my 'big girl panties' and deal with this just yet. As a family friend and RN told my mother-in-law, "they do this procedure all the time but, it's nothing to sneeze at."
I'm only 31, I'm the picture of health. So, why do I need to have surgery? I was diagnosed (after 10 yrs. of misdiagnosis, by the way) with Supraventricular Tachycardia. What the heck is that, I asked. Basically, I've got a super-enthusiastic heart that has a short-circuit and gets so excited that it misfires by accident sending my heartbeat racing from 60 beats a minute to 220 beats a minute. Yipee! It's a heart arrhythmia and it's one of the few (if only) heart disorders with an approximately 97% cure rate. Lucky me.
The plus side, I finally have an explanation for why I've passed out twice for no explainable reason - ending up being medically evacuated from Peace Corps back to the states for the first episode and scaring a bus-load of passengers on their way to work from Union Station in Denver and freaking out my doctor (and myself) who thought I was having a heart-attack for the second episode. And, it explains why my heart suddenly races for no reason like getting up from a chair or picking up a box and just as quickly as it comes on... it stops!
The down-side, I really REALLY don't want surgery. The idea of any surgery especially one that messes with my heart is particularly unnerving, even if it is 'common'. So, my request to you: well-wishes for me and my family who are just as nervous about this as I am. Thanks!
This has definitely been a lesson in patience and appreciation of others. Never take those you love for granted. I know I have and this is especially true with friends. I have been of the mind that my friends were only being kind in saying they loved our house and trying to reassure us that it would sell. It never crossed my mind that they might actually be interested. How rude is that of me?! This has also been a great lesson in marketing. NEVER assume that friends, family or acquaintances might not be interested in what you're selling. Yes, invariably there are those situations where it doesn't pan out or relationships go sour due to a bad transaction. However, most often than not, your friends and family also are the first to know how much time, effort and money you've put into something to make it shine. And, no random buyer or agent is going to understand or appreciate what you've really done to a place to make it not just livable but a 'home'.
To all my friends and family, readers and fans: THANK YOU!
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Holyoke Home: Let's Start At The Very Beginning: "After many tours of many Holyoke row houses (basically every one that has come on the market in the past three years), we found the one. ..."
Regardless, we had a blast and with shows like the Washing Well Wenches to cool us down and keep us laughing till it hurt, we barely noticed the heat. One of the things I like best about this Faire is the array of yummy goodies too. There's something for everyone. It's no longer the place where one can only find turkey legs and beer. If you're a vegetarian they have delicious portabello mushroom sandwiches. If you're a more picky eater there's chicken chipotle empanadas among a feast of other goodies that the Faire has to offer.
And, the shows. Well, the shows really DO make the Faire. Yes, there are a ton of amazing vendors and colorful things to buy but the shows are what we come back for, year after year. New shows like Charming and Dashing, Hey, Nunnie, Nunnie, and old favorites like The Ded Bob Show, The King's Piper Extraordinare, and Cast in Bronze, are what really make reinassance festivals so entertaining and worth coming back to every year.(Check it out: www.coloradorenaissance.com).
One more reason we're so excited to move to Houston is its proximity to one of the nation's largest Rein Faires: The Texas Renaissance Festival (for details: www.texrenfest.com). And, we will certainly be there too this year, all decked out in full pirate regalia. No, we were doing this LONG before stupid Jack Sparrow came on the scene (around 12 years). We take much pride in making our 'fleet' unique and avoiding as many Jack Sparrow wanna-be's as possible. If you happen to be there you can't miss us- we're the gi-normous band of pirates numbering around 60-70 pirates total that camp out every single year. Come by our camp, introduce yourself to Admiral Cricket and Firstmate Casey Longknickers (don't ask) and join in the fun!
Thursday, July 22, 2010
In my line of work I review all kinds of random information on local governments throughout Colorado and gleen what is important for financial analysis but, I digress. In my search for more facts on the Town of Swink I came across a random fact about how the Town got its name and couldn't help but laugh at the absurdity and simplicity of it. So enjoy:
On January 17, 1900, the people at Fairmont made an application for the establishment of a post office in their community. The reply from Washington came, and with it the information that they would have to change the name of their town as there were already too many Fairmonts in the country and another would complicate the distribution of mail.
The people called a meeting to decide a new name for their town. George Swink was late in arriving, and as he entered the room the idea of Swink for the name of their settlement swept the audience. The name was approved in Washington, and thus George W. Swink was honored as the leading benefactor of the town.
Now, imagine you're in the early 1900s. It's bitterly cold outside. You're a simple rancher and you're LATE to a Town Hall meeting when this is really the only important thing to do in town. You walk in from the cold and all the heads of everyone you know turn in unison toward you, acknowledging how rude you are for being late and suddenly, someone calls out from the front...."THAT'S IT! We'll call ourselves SWINK!"
I can imagine the dumb-founded look on this poor guys face. He's thinking, man I hope they don't make a big fuss about me being late. And, suddenly you're now the Town hero?! And, the future Postmaster of the town?! Wow. I couldn't help but laugh. Some stories are just worth sharing. I wanna go to the town where I'm a hero!
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
I know that I should be focusing on all the positives in life (and I do) but I realize that so many of my friends and myself have grappled at least once in our lives with understanding ‘God’s Will’. In some form or fashion we have been mad, upset with or struggled with our faith, this is especially the case with the loss of a loved one and even more so when it’s the loss of a child. In a recent discussion by our beloved pastor, we addressed this concern. We all wanted to know…What IS God’s will? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why would God allow this to happen? Why would he take my child or loved one away so prematurely? It was quite the daunting task for any minister to provide an answer that could satisfy such a needy congregation. It is the Ultimate question. One which we will never understand,… or so we’re always told. But, he instead, with courage and empathy began to offer a simple answer. One which I’ll never forget, for it was the first time that someone has addressed my own personal pain, loss and anger with so simple and comforting of an answer.
Many parents of a deceased child, stillbirth or miscarriage hear the well-meaning but hurtful words from sympathetic persons, “God sometimes picks the brightest flowers for his bouquet,” or “He just loved your baby so much he wanted to keep her with him.” These are meant to provide comfort but instead they only fill us with hurt and anger. Why on Earth would God take my child from me? Why give me temporary joy only to rip it away and leave me and my family broken, alone and hurting? How can my God be a ‘loving’ God if he chooses to hurt me this way? When we watch our loved ones suffer or experience the loss of a wife or husband, mother or father, we ask…Why me, Why her? Why him? Why now? These are all questions we’ve grappled with in our own painful, private way. And, here below are the very poignant and illuminating words of Pastor Michael Dent:
“We ask why because we want some logical explanation, reason, or greater cause to be in play. So someone says, “Everything happens for a reason” or “It was God’s will” or “It was meant to be" or ""It was her time to die; his time was up.” Such well-intended statements may comfort our heads in some way, but hurt the hearts of others. I do not find them comforting at all and believe they are unsustainable, unhelpful, and unbiblical.
Some suffering we bring on ourselves by our behaviors – our use or abuse of tobacco, alcohol or other drugs; our reckless driving; and or careless relationship choices. Some suffering is random – rockslides, earthquakes, and tornadoes.
If we want to say that it is God’s will in some way, perhaps we are connecting that pious proclamation to the wisdom of systematic theologian Paul Tillich’s explanation of the presence of evil and suffering in creation. Tillich said,
God made the world finite and free.
Physical evil – such as earthquakes and cancer – is the natural implication of a finite world.
Moral evil – such as murder and child abuse – is the tragic implication of a free world.
It is not the intentional will of God that 230,000 people die in an earthquake, or that our loved one dies of cancer or AIDS, that our best friend was killed in car crash. Pastor James Howell strongly expresses in his chapter on When Bad Things Happen, “God hates, God despises every act of evil, all human suffering. God will lead the celebration when cancer is finally cured. God champions car safety. God wants us to get away from storms. God does good and only good.”
What does Jesus have to say about the will of God and suffering? Here again his summary of the parable of the lost sheep from today’s reading, “So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.”
Suffering is a part of life. Bad things happen. Evil is real. Sin is real. C.S. Lewis once estimated that 80% of humanity’s suffering is inflicted by our fellow human beings. That may be a little high, but wars, crime, drug abuse, pollution, family violence, and addictions are global self-inflicted behaviors that bring untold suffering and death to the human family.
This world is God’s creation – diverse, spectacular, and breath-taking in beauty. Last Saturday I stood with some of our youth and their adult leaders at the top of the world. We were at 13,000 feet on the Continental Divide at
But this world – so bathed in beauty – also dances with danger. Coming down the ski runs from top of the mountain can be hazardous to one’s health – even as getting off the lift at the top of the mountain can be, as one of your pastors discovered 8 days ago!
Accidents, diseases, and natural catastrophes, war, IEDs and terrorism are all a part of our fallen world. Suffering will touch us all.
Novelist Reynolds Price says he never asked, in his terrible sickness and pain, “Why did this happen to me?” He is a brilliant observer of the human condition and knew what the answer would be, “Well, why not you?”
To be human is to suffer from time to time, deserved or not. Pain is a part of the package. Death is a part of the deal. Sometimes bad things happen to good people.
One critical question remains as we wrestle with the reality of suffering in our human lives. Where is God in our suffering? Does God care that we hurt? Some of you have lost children. You know the incredibly deep pain, as well as the intense desire of friends to comfort. Sometimes we have said things to grieving parents that we should not have said: “God needed one more flower for his bouquet…God needed her more than you...”
In a sermon preached after his 19-year-old son Alex died when his car plummeted into the
The night after Alex died, a woman came by carrying quiches. She shook her head, saying sadly, “I just don’t understand the will of God.”
Instantly I swarmed all over her. “I’ll say you don’t, lady! Do you think it was the will of God that Alex never fixed that lousy windshield wiper, that he was probably driving too fast in a storm? Do you think it was God’s will that there are no streetlights along that stretch of road?”
Nothing so infuriates me as the incapacity of intelligent people to get it through their heads that God doesn’t go around with his finger on triggers, his fist around knives, his hands on steering wheels. God is dead set against all unnatural deaths.
The one thing that should never be said when someone dies is, “It is the will of God.” My own consolation lies in knowing that it was NOT the will of God that Alex die; that when the waves closed over the sinking car, God’s heart was the first of all our hearts to break.”
Monday, March 8, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
I remember thinking, how surreal it was to be sitting on the doctor’s cold table as the doctor’s words “possible miscarriage” echoed in my head. I was numb. But, I kept foolishly clinging to hope. I don’t know why. If nothing progressed in the following weeks then we’d know it was real.
I remember the hollowness, emptiness that followed as the next visit only confirmed my fears.
I remember my body refusing to give up the pregnancy as if my brain just couldn’t convince my body that the baby was gone…let go. So, they had to perform a D&C in the doctor’s office.
I remember thinking, how surreal it was to watch my own tears falling in slow motion, beautiful little drops splashing onto the cold, sterile, linoleum floor of the doctor’s office after it was all done. The nurses cleaning the table. My head in my hands. Empty, hollow, broken. So many words and none of them truly describe the feelings you have after it happens.
Even if it’s only for a day, you become attached to this person, this miracle inside you. Others think that because you couldn’t see it, then the pain will subside more easily because it was never really there, right?!
The only way I can describe it is like ‘faith’ as ludicrous as that sounds. Being pregnant is like faith itself, in its full embodiment. You can’t see the spiritual deity that you have faith in but you know it’s there. You have faith, which allows you to feel it move through, in and around you. It is the same from the very moment you learn you are pregnant. You cannot see the blessing inside you but you know it’s there. You feel it through other ways, especially during the early months. And, the joy of knowing it and the hope that one day you will meet it, sustains you through the aches, and pains, and trial of pregnancy and labor.
And, to have that hope ripped away leaves a void like nothing you can describe. To lose your faith - that emptiness, confusion, anger, pain, and immense grief- is the only thing I can find akin to such a moment. For those many women who have experienced this, my heart goes out to you. For those women who never have, I pray you never do.
This originally was written as a means to help with healing after the miscarriage of what would have been our first child. It was never meant to be made public but friends encouraged me to post it in the hope that many other women who have experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth might find solace or comfort in reading it and knowing that there are several of us out there that understand and empathize.