A VERY Belated New Year's Post

It's January 27, so I'm a bit behind schedule.  Seeing as how I went to bed at about 7:45 PM on New Year's Eve with chills and a fever, and then spent all of New Year's Day feeling like death warmed over, I'm sure you can see why. It took us all quite a while to get healthy again.
Whew.  2012 had a rough finish.  The world didn't end, but our world definitely got rocked, and not in a fun way.  But let me start with the highlights of the year, like the wedding of these two lovebirds in January (their first anniversary was on the 7th!)
Andy and Alishia, 1/7/12

or the arrival of Max-Pascal James Cook, who decided to come fashionably early and totally sideways, resulting in an emergency C-section (only about 10 days after we had moved into a new house, natch)
Lil' smush nose, 3/25/12 (two weeks ahead of schedule)
or some good times in the very full house with all of our roomies and their critters:
Dinky and Paul-kitty

Presented without comment...

Alishia, taking a break from farm labor; Andy, on the computer

Whitney at her birthday dinner
And then there was Ruby's 2nd birthday, which featured her very first party with friends over:
Party hat!

Liam and Addison 
Sarah, me, and our little sweeties
My sister came to visit for a while, as did my mom...

Sarah with Ruby at OMSI (That's our science museum)

The kids aren't looking the right direction, but at least the adults are dutifully smiling at the camera

And in August, for our third anniversary, Allen and I went on a very wonderful overnight trip to Sisters, Oregon while Andy and Alishia watched the kiddos (and cleaned the house!)
Our awesome cabin. Seriously, if you live anywhere near Oregon, you must visit Five Pine Lodge.  It is awesome!
Allen surprised me with a special breakfast, complete with engraved fruit.  Does YOUR MAN do fruit engraving? 

Eating at the local brewpub

Taking a dip in the pool
We also got a visit to St. Louis in at the tail-end of 2012, and were able to reunite all the Lowe children under one (crowded) roof.  Here are some pictures from Christmas morning (when, unfortunately, both Chris and Allen were attacked by the 24 stomach bug that had gotten everyone previously):
Merry First Christmas, Max!

So festive

This is Ruby's 3rd go at Christmas, and she's finally starting to get the hang of the whole "presents" thing

Uncle Chris and Daddy, post-puking
Also in the plus side of the 2012 ledger: after being not at all sure (and in fact, quite unsure) of there being another part-time place for me at Molalla River Academy, where I've been teaching since 2009, thanks to friends and colleagues speaking up for me I secured another year of part-time work, this time as a librarian and 8th grade project coordinator.  I work Tuesdays and Wednesdays, which were Allen's days off, so we didn't have to hire any babysitters and saved some pennies that way.  Toby also started working at MRA as a K/1st aide, so it's been fun to carpool with him and work in the same place. 

We've also been very blessed to live in a state with generous and progressive healthcare that covers both of our children and has paid for Ruby to see the eye doctor and spend several months on a patching regimen.  

You can see here (besides my atrocious attempt at cutting bangs) that Ruby's eye is amblyopic (wandering to the outside)
So then, she wore a patch 4-6 hours a day for several months. It wasn't fun for her (or me, trying to keep them on her) but it did its work...her eyes now both look the way they are supposed to.
Max to get a helmet for plagiocephaly (i.e. flat spots on his head) and physical therapy visits for his torticollis (i.e. crooked/twisted neck).  Aside from seasonal sicknesses we have all been pretty healthy, and that's a big blessing.
At 6 months, you can really see how tilted Max's head is.  It took a few more months for all the doctors and insurance to get coordinated, but he's been in physical therapy with an awesome lady for a few months now and we are seeing improvement!

Max got his helmet in November and already by the end of December his orthotist said he was seeing huge improvement.  We have another check up tomorrow, but it looks like he won't have to wear it for too much longer.  

Awww, our special kids!
Allen played another season of soccer with North End United (he has been on the team since 2009) and got a lot of playing time.  

Lots of positive stuff went on, to be sure.  I guess the lows felt pretty low. Here are some of the lowlights:
1.) Moving twice in one year: 
Anyone who knows me knows that I don't really enjoy the whole moving process.  Boxing everything up, schlepping it around, and unpacking it just doesn't float my boat a whole lot.  We've moved a lot in the past few years.  Ruby is not yet three years old, but she's already lived in five different homes/apartments.  Max is not yet one, but he came pretty close to having lived in three, and if you count his time in utero, he has lived in four dwellings before his first birthday!  When we first got married, Allen used to love moving and always got a kick out of looking around for apartments on Craigslist, "just for fun."  Ha.  That was also when he could move all of his possessions in two or three trips in my Toyota Echo.  Not anymore!  Now it takes a UHaul, and then some.  I'm trying not to think about the fact that we only signed a 6 month lease for the place we're in now...la la la.  
2.) The reason for moving twice in one year:
The move in March of 2009 was planned and accounted for.  The move out at the end of December was a scramble, and for a very unpleasant reason.  It's a long story, but the short version is that when we moved in, our landlords mentioned that there was a slight possibility that there might be "some minor flooding" in one part of the basement.  Since we were planning to have three people living in the basement, that was a concern, but they allayed our fears by saying how very rarely it happened and how it was very minor and only happened in the storage room, yada yada.  I should have known there would be trouble by the strange way the lease was written, excusing the landlords from any water damage that happened to our stuff.  I should have known from the fact that there was a puddle in the room that was to be Toby's room the day we moved in (and by the way, that was not the room that was "supposed" to "minorly flood on occasion.") But we didn't exactly have an easy plan B place to live, so we made do.  For most of the year, it was really only Toby's problem with puddles on the floor.  At one point it got bad enough that Allen had to cut channels into the concrete floor to divert the water flow into the drain (with the landlord's permission).  But it got really bad at the beginning of December, when water was actively gurgling up from the floor drain and seeping in through window seals and cracks in the foundation.  In one evening, we moved everything from the basement to higher ground.  Andy and Alishia made the living room their new temporary bedroom and Toby went to Ruby's room, and Ruby came into our room.  Only about a week of that arrangement convinced me that this was not how I wanted to finish out the last few months of our lease there.  There was nowhere for Ruby to play but in our room, since her room and the living room were now out of commission.  And this is Oregon, so it was raining all the time.  Meanwhile, the landlords refused to do anything about the water in the basement, which had covered the whole floor.  "We told you it could happen," they said.  Yeah, but not to this extent!  We spent many hours calling Legal Aid, our city's building code inspector, and anyone we could think of who might help, but the best advice we got was just to get out and sue later.  Well, it's not exactly easy for that many people to up and leave, especially when there are horses and pets who need places to stay.  In the end, Toby and Allen and the kids and I found a three bedroom place nearby; Andy, Alishia, and Whitney stayed behind and are waiting out the lease, which ends in March. It has been a stretch, paying on two places, but our health and sanity is definitely better in a place without standing water in the basement (of course, there is mold everywhere now and quite a bit of our stuff that was in the basement got water/mold damage) and where our kids can have the run of the house, since both are very active and mobile.  There are many more frustrating tales to tell about the landlords, so we will all be glad when this is behind us.  
3.) Allen getting laid off
We hurried home the day after Christmas from St. Louis so that Allen could return to work the next day.  Little did we all realize that he was returning to being laid off, effective immediately.  That was a shock to the system, for sure.  My job is very part-time and makes very part-time money, not even enough to pay rent.  And we had just moved into a new place and were still paying on the old one.  It was definitely one of those, "God, I know Your ways and thoughts are higher than ours, but what are You thinking???" moments.  Thankfully, we had many friends and relatives who helped us in myriad ways: helping pay bills, praying for us, buying Creative Memories products from me to generate a little extra income, giving us diapers and formula, helping us move, watching the kids for free when needed, and most of all, praying (yes, I know I already said it, but it bears repeating).  Allen was unemployed for about three weeks, but since he was a student he was unable to claim unemployment benefits.  But thankfully, after looking earnestly, he found a new job working for a small family-owned company that does custom canvas and upholstery for boats, golf carts, cars, etc.  It is very small, just a husband and wife team who want to train Allen to be a shop manager so they can leave the shop in his hands and focus more on marketing and sales.  There is definitely room for advancement and learning a niche trade (upholstery) could come in very handy later on for Allen; and the shop is only about 10 minutes away and even located on a bus line, so I can have the car more often during the days that I'm home with the kids.  The only down side is that he now works on the same days that I do, but we have found a lady at our church who can help us with babysitting for the time being, and we'll just have to play it by ear and see how it goes.  It's amazing how expensive childcare is!  It was a real blow to be laid off so unexpectedly, but in many ways we are happy to say "good riddance" to the company where he worked.  It had a very toxic work environment, with lots of backstabbing, malice, stress, and long days with a 40-60 minutes commute each way.  Allen did learn some valuable skills there in the almost 2 years he was there, but never got a raise and wasn't likely to get one for years to come.  It was your basic dead-end job.  We're very glad for the new job! Thank you God!

Well, it's late and it won't be long before the kids are up and at 'em.  Ruby learned to open her door, the front door, our door, the refrigerator door, etc.  so that's been, um, fun.  We put childproof doorknob thingies on, so we'll see how long it takes her to figure those out.  Hopefully it stymies her for a while.  She is most definitely independent, spirited, and all those other nice words teachers tend to use when they mean a strong willed little so-and-so.  I can hardly believe how close she's getting to being three.  And Max is going to be one soon!  He's cruising on furniture and his helmet doubles nicely as crash protection for his noggin with his many falls.  He adores Ruby and Ruby loves being the bossy big sister, who at one moment will snatch toys from him or even pull the chair he was leaning on out from under him, and then the next moment will rush to his defense when we are doing his neck stretches (which he fusses about).  The other day I caught her trying to ride him and calling him her "hee-haw."  It's rough being the baby brother.  Someday he'll have his revenge, I'm sure.  

Thanks for reading, and although it is a bit late to say it, Happy New Year and may God bless you in 2013!


  1. Jenny, you are a real trooper! I hope that all the things that need to fall into place do. I am sending positive thoughts and prayers your way! ❤

  2. My man doesn't do engraving, but he does do carving!

    Also, the "hee-haw" thing cracked me up. :)

    1. Oh, I bet Andy could engrave the heck out of some fruit if he felt like it. :)


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