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LOVE, beautiful and perfect!

Today,  Candied Jansen and I celebrated our second anniversary in a big way.  We made it our official anniversary by getting married.  YEP, we are now legally married!  Yay!!  The day was beautiful and the ceremony was perfect!  I love her so very much and feel so lucky to be able to call her my wife!  us official

The lovely Reverend Karen Cary and her wife, Tootie, were the only witnesses which is exactly how we planned it.  We thought about having the kids come, but we decided that we didn’t want a big thing or to have to coordinate schedules.  We asked Karen to meet us at a park, and we absolutely loved that she showed up in a Texans jersey! She had her official collar in her car, but we preferred the casual look!

I can’t stop smiling!

Not my home sweet home!

I am no longer a home owner!!!  Finally!

I blogged on January 10th about my house still being on the market after 6 months.  It was so frustrating!  Then on January 12, I got an offer that was too good to pass up!  It was less than what I planned to sell the house for, but it was a cash offer and they wanted to close in 14 days.  WHAT??  We were expecting no less than a 45 day wait for closing! After crunching some numbers we decided that the profit was still fairly significant and closing in January meant that I wouldn’t have a February house payment to make.  Cue birds chirping and choirs singing!  Hallelujah!  We closed on January 26th, and I happily handed the keys over!

This weekend Candied Jansen spent time working on the budget and setting up a couple of retirement/investment accounts for me.  Every penny I made on the house has been or will be put into these accounts. She was giddy as she played with different mutual funds and Roth IRAs.  It was fun to watch!

She was also super sweet and told me that she would pay the February rent payment since she had originally budgeted it from her account and that I could take what would have been my house payment and celebrate.  I absolutely don’t need that much money for any kind of celebration but I did decide to take about half of it to do a few things.  This weekend I got the car washed, took the dog to the groomers, and shopped (unsuccessfully) for a pair of shoes.  I plan to get a couple of pairs of shoes and maybe a couple of pairs of pants, but that might be all the celebrating I do!  I know…lame…but I would rather save it and have it to spend on a fun trip over spring break or in the summer.

One of the things I love most about the house finally selling is that now we can look forward.  We had talked about moving back into that house if it was still for sale when summer rolled around, and while it would have been a huge money saver, I couldn’t stomach the thought of us moving backwards.  I enjoyed my house, but it wasn’t ever THE house for me.  There were so many things I would have changed about it if I had built it from the ground up.  I felt somewhat rushed into buying it when I did, and I love that it sold in the same rushed way.  Wham bam and it was gone!

I’m looking forward to all the best that 2016 has to offer!  So far, I’m not complaining!



Counting Pennies

I’ve been thinking a lot about our finances lately.  I talked about my house being on the market and how it was definitely a financial stressor, but I actually kind of love that we are going through this time.  Sure, it would be nice to be putting extra money away in savings, but I love what this time period is showing us.

First of all, we aren’t poor.  Not even close.  Candied Jansen is the master budget manipulator.  Honestly…better than anyone I’ve ever seen.  She has categories set up and money being put aside for vacations, clothing, graduations, birthdays, and every conceivable possibility that could present itself.   When we need to cut the budget, there are always areas we can cut from.  We were talking about which categories to cut money from because of a decision to hold off selling some stock that she had expected to add to the budget this month.  One of the areas we decided we could cut a little money from is the grocery budget.  We buy groceries.  Usually lots of them.  She is a big meat eater so we have a FULLY stocked freezer of meat.  We can actually cut the grocery budget some because we honestly have enough meat to last for quite a while!  We just have to be good and pass on the awesome meat sales that might come up between now and when we decide we need to buy meat again.  I LOVE the idea of challenging ourselves to not buy meat for a while.

And while I love that we are going through the areas we can cut some of the budget on, I also LOVE that season tickets to the Texan games are on her budget and aren’t something that she has even considered cutting.  She’s had the tickets since 2002…the Texans’ first season and they are important to her.

I LOVE that she has a category for eating out on the budget every month.  We don’t always use it all so it gets put back into the general fund and rebudgeted (which spell check tells me isn’t a real word) at the end of each month, but I appreciate the option.

I LOVE that she has a plan for wedding money, and Cancun money, and trips to Ohio in 2017 if we decide we still want to do that.  I love that we can find money in some of these areas if necessary.

I LOVE that we know that when the house does eventually sell, we have a full house payment plus utilities that we can save each month if we want to keep living the way we live now for a bit.

And most of all, I LOVE that Candied Jansen loves to play with the budget.  She gets giddy when she has to make changes and work it all out.  I LOVE how she has it all in a spreadsheet that is color coordinated to the point that I can barely understand it and printed in such tiny print that I can’t actually read it anyway without putting on my glasses AND squinting.

I know 2016 is going to be an awesome year for our budget!



For Christmas this year, Candied Jansen got me a Raclette Grill.  This one to be exact.

I had heard mention of a Raclette Grill once on twitter several years ago and googled it because I had no idea what it was.  I loved the idea behind it and have wanted one ever since.  Basically, everyone gathers around a table with an electric grill on it.  There are bowls of raw meat and veggies as well as potatoes, pickles, cheese, olives, and other yummy treats.  The cheese is supposed to be a special Swiss cheese called Raclette cheese which is a semi-hard, easy-melting cheese.  Everyone chooses what they want to eat and puts it on the grill to cook while they sit around and talk.  The little trays that slide under the grill are designed to melt the cheese or cook other things.  Basically you share a meal and the cooking all at the same time!

Last night, for my oldest daughter’s unexpected surprise birthday party we broke it out for the first time.  (The surprise party was unexpected since it hadn’t been in any of our plans until about 4:30 that afternoon when my daughter and her boyfriend had car trouble on their way out of town and spent the night while his car was being fixed.)  After a quick trip to the store, we had all the fixings for a mostly authentic Raclette party including Raclette cheese!  We didn’t boil any potatoes which goes against all the Swiss Raclette ideas, but we had plenty of other things.  The only downside was that even though my Raclette is considered an 8 person grill, the grill top wasn’t quite big enough to cook all the things we wanted to cook at the same time.  I’m sure that’s why they have potatoes and other sides that don’t have to be cooked.  We had peppers, mushrooms, and grape tomatoes that could have been eaten raw, but it was way more fun putting them on the grill!  Everyone agreed that it was a fun way to share a meal!

A big shout out to Candied Jansen for looking back at this blog post from last year to see if there was anything she could surprise me with for Christmas!  She got me the Kitchenaid mixer for Christmas last year, the iPod for Valentine’s Day, and the Raclette this year!  My parents got me the tool set last year and I bought myself the planner so there’s not much left on my list that I don’t own!  I guess I need to come up with another gift guide!!

Redefining Family

And so a new year begins.  I am so looking forward to everything 2016 has to offer.  As I look back on the year and especially the last month of 2015, I am so thankful for so many things!  The main word that comes to mind is family.

First and foremost…Candied Jansen!  She has been amazing…my rock and the one I am so lucky to share life with!  When we decided to postpone our wedding until 2016, it was because things were stressful around our house.  Mostly I was stressed.  She said I wasn’t being my normal happy self.  She didn’t want us to get married just because we said we were if it wasn’t going to be a happy time.  I love that she was honest with me and helped me to see how I was letting the normal school stresses affect me so much that I was bringing them home.  I love my school and the people I work with most of the time.  I even love the kids I teach most of the time.  I tend to be the one that can get even the hard kids to work for me.  As soon as Candied Jansen said something to me, I realized that I was letting the crazy parts of a normal day ruin the whole day.  I vowed to change the way I was reacting and I did…almost instantaneously!  All it took was her loving me enough to say something.  I am so grateful!

So we didn’t get married on November 21st like originally planned, but we did take the honeymoon trip to Florida!  It was nice to get away and destress and reconnect.  We also decided to start wearing the rings we bought back in the spring.  Instead of wedding rings, they are engagement/wedding rings!  We’ve decided on a new date…one we had actually considered before.  Originally, we thought we would just do a small courthouse kind of thing, but now we are thinking we might want the kids to attend…make it a family affair.

And speaking of kids…my oldest son got married.  It was beautiful!  Even though I was doing great at not bringing stress home from work, I had to fight being stressed about the wedding!  My parents aren’t accepting of my relationship with Candied Jansen.  That hasn’t been that big of a deal, but the wedding was going to be something new.  It would be the first time that they were in the same room together.  My son and his bride wanted me and Candied Jansen to walk down the aisle together in the ceremony.  I wasn’t so sure about that and neither was Candied Jansen!  We both felt like it was enough that she was there and sitting in the front row with the family.  It seemed almost disrespectful to participate in the wedding ceremony when grandparents weren’t participating.  When it came time for pictures though, the bride and groom insisted that she was in them.  I loved how they respected her and how she respected my family.  She was able to meet and talk to both of my brothers and their wives, and was introduced to my mom by my ex-husbands new wife.  Everything went fairly well considering the circumstances, and I am hopeful that one day she will be an accepted part of the family.

This year the kids and I were invited to spend Christmas with my parents and family on Christmas Eve.  I haven’t had a ton of contact with my family this year, but when we did talk, everything seemed mostly normal.  Because we hadn’t seen each other much and because they knew I was now living with my girlfriend, I was somewhat surprised at the invite.  I was a little nervous when I responded to decline their invitation.  I explained that I was so thankful they invited me, but that since I knew Candied Jansen and her son weren’t welcome, I didn’t think it would be the right thing for me to do.  I said that I hoped they had a merry Christmas and that I had some gifts I wanted to bring by their place at some point.  They took it well and were fine when I showed up at their house on Christmas Day to deliver presents.  Candied Jansen and I did our own Christmas Eve celebration exchanging gifts with her family early in the day and then having Christmas dinner with all the kids!  There were 9 of us around the table…my oldest and her boyfriend, my oldest son and his new wife, and my other two kids as well as Candied Jansen’s son.  The kids laughed and joked and had a fabulous time!  I looked at Candied Jansen at one point and apologized for the crazy that was my family and she just smiled.  Her son, her only child, was right in the middle of it and held his own quite well, I must add!

The day after Christmas, we took a quick trip to Candied Jansen’s holiday family reunion.  It was time to introduce me to the whole family!  I met her oldest brother and his wife and kids for the first time!  I loved how he hugged me like I was already family!  Everyone else was super nice and her aunt and uncle made sure to tell me to come back and see them.  I loved how natural it all felt!

We also celebrated her college best friend’s birthday while we were “back home”.  Getting to spend time with her people was a great way to end the year.

And now it is New Year’s Day, 2016.  I have no doubt it will be the best year yet!  I wish for all of you health, happiness, and blessings!

Facing my fears

This past weekend I was able to see a friend from Turkey for the first time since 2008.  I must admit I was pretty nervous about the whole thing. Since coming out and leaving my husband, I haven’t really seen very many people from that past life.  It scares me some.  I know I disappointed people.  I hate that!  It has been easier to avoid them and just think back on that time in my life with fond memories than to actually face people who were part of that life.

This particular friend came to Turkey as a single guy right out of college.  He quickly became an uncle to my kids and a little brother to me.  He spent countless days and nights hanging out at our house sharing life with us.  He was my go to guy for any Apple computer question, and he spent hours playing video games with my ex and boys.  At first it seemed like every time he came over we were having pancakes for dinner so it became a running joke that if we were having pancakes, we had to make sure to invite him.  He became family.  When he and his wife were long distance dating and planning their wedding, we were part of it.  When they got married, I helped her get ready.  When my ex and I went out of the country for a week, he stayed with my boys.  He made sure they got to school and were fed and clothed.  Family.

After I left my husband, I got an email from his wife that wasn’t particularly nice.  She expressed her anger and frustration over the whole situation.  And while I knew her, I didn’t have the relationship with her that I did with her husband.  He had been around a lot longer.  I was somewhat surprised that she had been bold enough to send me an email about it.  I never did respond, because at that point, it made more sense to just let people get over it.

Over the last 7 years, my ex has seen our friend and his wife and kids a few times.  All of those times have been in other places…not here at home.  When I heard they were coming for a visit, I just assumed I’d stay away.  I assumed they wouldn’t want to see me.

On Saturday, my youngest asked me to pick her up from work.  She needed to stop by her dad’s to get a few things before coming to my place.  She said I needed to go by to say hi to our friend as well.  I told her I didn’t think he would be interested in seeing me, and she said he was.  That when he thought I might be picking her up the night before, he mentioned that he’d like to see me.  I was a little surprised to say the least.  I worried about what his wife might say to me.  The last communication we’d had was a pretty scathing email from her.

I pulled up to my ex’s house and told my daughter I’d wait in the car.  I figured if my friends  wanted to see me, they would come outside.  As soon as the door to the house opened, I heard my ex’s wife ask where I was.  She has always been a positive influence on people’s ideas about and responses to me.  I am so thankful for her!  She came out and invited me in.  My old friend’s wife also came out and gave me a big hug.  His two girls ran over to me like they’d known me their whole lives.  And my friend gave me a huge hug as well.  It all felt great.  Natural.  There was no anger over the divorce anymore.  I was relieved.  We stood in my ex’s living room and chatted about various things for a bit before I excused myself and headed home.  I’ve thought about our encounter a lot over the last few days.  I know their positive response had a lot to do with my ex’s new wife.  Seeing my ex happy and loved makes people happy for him.  Seeing her accepting of me helps others be more accepting.

I don’t know who this story is about.  My old friend from Turkey or my ex-husband’s new wife.  I guess it doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that I was able to face my fears…the fear of disappointing someone and the fear of rejection.  I know that even if I had experienced rejection or disappointment from them, I would be ok.  But I currently feel so much better than ok.



I said in a recent blog post that Candied Jansen and I planned to get married in November.  That was the plan.  That is no longer the plan.  Things have been so stressful around here that it didn’t feel like the right time to get married.  Lately my job has really stressed me out to the point that there are moments that I can’t imagine continuing to teach after this year.  The thought of me not having a defined career path stressed Candied Jansen out.  I get it.  She is a planner.  She has a plan for her future as far as money and saving goes.  Me not having a job doesn’t really fit well with that plan.  My unhappiness at school has filtered into our home life and I haven’t been very happy or encouraging at home either.  My depression or frustration or stress wasn’t how she wanted to start a marriage.  It made sense to me.  We are still very much in love and plan to get married, but we both want it to be a happy occasion…not something we do at a particular time because we said we were going to do it.  It does make me sad that we’ve postponed it, because I am 100% sure that Candied Jansen is my perfect match but I do want it to be a happy, joyful thing.  Also, it makes sense, financially, for us to wait until 2016 to get married as well.  My house hasn’t sold despite being on the market since mid-July and that financial burden has been an added stress!  Being able to file as single instead of married on my taxes will help ease that burden some.

It’s crazy I think.  I am with the person I am meant to be with and crying all the time.  I should be so happy that I’ve found her and I am, but still I cry.  It drives me insane how easily the tears come!  I love her so much.  I am so thankful for her.


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