Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tap, Tap, "Is This Thing Still On?"

Hi, remember me? I used to have a blog? Everything is okay here - I'm feeling better and actually attempting to be productive with my days - plus take naps every afternoon. One must have ones priorities in order, after all. We survived the drive to Maine and back, and are now gearing up for our trip to Kansas and then on to Tennessee (yes, I know that's more backtracking than 'on to,' but whatever) for Christmas. We leave in a week and a half - we're practically nomadic. Let's just hope our almost ten year old car with 137,000 miles feels really nomadic too.

I'm really going to write a real post someday. When I don't have Elisheva in my lap. And laundry to fold. And when I can correlate my thoughts in to cogent sentances that form topical paragraphs. So...maybe when I'm forty. No, I really do want to blog again soon - I have lots of blog posts that never get written, but then I mentally dictate out while showering, or driving, or falling asleep. If I could find a way to directly import these into my computer, while bypassing the whole physical typing business (or even sitting at the computer and having it on), I would be a millionaire. I'd also have a blog that doesn't have a picture heading that's a whole season behind the times.

Some quick stories/updates. Avram is almost done with his finals - he's finishing his second take home final downstairs as I write. Then he just has to grade the finals for the class he taught, and he's all done with this quarter. We've been having some difficult times with his funding. He has had full funding thus far (which for those not neck deep in academia, means that he has a tuition waiver, subsidized health insurance and fees, and a monthly stipend which along with my baby sitting covers our budget nicely.) and because of the fellowship he received his first year, which strongly encourages his department to give full funding for a full five years, we were not really worried about his funding for the long term either.

But then the stock market crashed, and the recession started (hey, the recession is over - did you know that? I know lots of people that know that, but they all live in NPR land.), and Avram and I figure the old department secretary, who left after that year, must have taken all the department's funds and either invested them all in the stock market a week before the crash or ran to Vegas, and at least got free cocktails while she lost all the money. Regardless of where the money went, after the recession his department went dead broke. Avram went from having a sure class he would be teaching for this whole year to not having anything at all. The department voted to not have any more classes than had been taught the previous year, nor to increase the number of student teachers at all. Avram's wonderful advisor managed to dig up a teaching job for Avram this fall, but all he could get for the winter was as a T.A. for a class the advisor is teaching.

We are grateful for anything, but it is sad to go from full funding to not much funding at all. This T.A. job doesn't give a tuition waiver, and although it does subsidize health insurance and fees, its stipend is half what Avram receives now. And Avram is currently an out of state citizen, and unless they let him become an Ohio citizen (we are filling out the paperwork currently), then he'll have to pay $8,000 tuition for next quarter, which is three months long. As a citizen he would pay $2,500.

Oh, and as of now the Department has absolutely nothing for Avram, or anyone else, for Spring Quarter.

We've worked so hard this last year to pay off student loan debt, and have really done quite well. It's so discouraging to think that in one fell swoop, if Avram can't get in state tuition, we'll lose at least half of what we've paid off. It's like we've been digging ourselves out of debt with a shovel, and along comes a backhoe that can cover us under in five minutes or less. I know that he's still a student, and many people don't pay off student loans at all while being students, but I don't want to be many people - I want to be debt free.

I think between his Nibley Fellowship (thank you Neal A. Maxwell Institute! We love you!) and our tax refund we won't need to go into debt at all if he can get in state tuition, and if Spring funding works out, so that's what I'm praying for now. There is one possible catch - if 60 students don't sign up for the course, he won't even have the T.A. position. When last checked, there were 58 registered.

It's funny - when we decided to have another kid, his funding was looking pretty bright. Now I feel almost irresponsible having another child when we have such financial difficulties, but I suppose that one can never know the future perfectly. And in the long run we'll have enough money. I hope.

It is nice that the largest trials Avram and I have had since marriage have been financial, because really, finances are not ultimately that important. Sure, we need to be good stewards of what the Lord has given us, but no one was ever kept out of the Celestial Kingdom because of student loans (obviously this is doctrine according to Thora, and not in any way an official LDS position).

Someday Avram will graduate, and then he'll get a job, and even if, God forbid, he does not get an Academic position, he'll still make more than he does now, and he can always fall back on his Arabic and get a job with the government. And then we'll pay off all our debt, and we won't look white trash, and it will all be okay. Plus, there is a silver lining, because we just found out that forty credits from Avram's master's degree in England transferred, which means that he'll be done with coursework a lot sooner, which means he'll graduate sooner, which under all the circumstances is very exciting indeed.

Hmm, maybe I never blog because this has all been unfolding recently, and has clearly been at the top of my mind, and starting writing caused it to all spill out onto the page. In summary, though, we're doing okay, and Lydia and Elisheva have so many relatives who are starved to give presents to small girls that they won't know what to do with themselves and all their Christmas presents, and thank goodness for lots of free money coming to us via BYU and the government, because then we shouldn't need to go into more debt.

So if you feel inclined to pray for us, pray that two more students, at least, sign up for the class Avram needs to T.A., and that we get full funding for the Spring (and the rest of our lives, while you're at it).

Back to the regularly scheduled blog - updates to our lives. That was Avram (plus Thora's anxieties).

As for me, I'm twelve weeks along, and have my first midwife appointment tomorrow. It's with the only group my insurance covers, and I'm not too excited about it, but maybe I'll like them after all. I'm wearing my first all-maternity clothes outfit today, not because I look pregnant, but because my regular pants don't fit very well, and if I'm wearing maternity pants it's hard to not wear a maternity shirt, so it's long enough to cover the stretchy fabric.

Lydia is still obsessed with princesses. She spends the better part of every day wearing dress up clothing, which is usually pink. Lydia is convinced we're having a girl, so we can have three girls. (I think we're having a boy, just because the morning sickness was so different). Elisheva is obsessed mainly with Cheerios, and eats about three bowls full every morning. She also is saying more words, but usually just echoing you. She also loves to go places, and often brings you her shoes or coat so we can go on a trip.

And that's the family. If I follow recent trends, you won't hear from me again until the next decade, but I hope to be better at recording, so maybe you will.


  1. Goodness, that's a lot to have on your mind alright!

  2. That's scary! I hope you guys get all the funding you need. We're still paying off lots of student loans because we were stupid. It's not fun.
    I guess I've always felt blessed to have family too through those financially sketchy times. It's nice to have people that genuinely care about your children (and provide some sort of Christmas some years!), who want you to come visit, and just provide the moral support you need. I sometimes wonder how people make it who don't have the support of a huge extended family.

  3. That is alot to have on your mind. Don't regret the decision to have another baby - they really come with their own bread and butter. You guys have always come through. I will pray for your two students

  4. My goodness, that's a lot for one little family to be experiencing. I'll be keeping you in my prayers.

    I hope you end up loving your midwives.

  5. Good luck. Having recently gotten in state tuition, I ohmigoodness understand at least that stressor. May Ohio be an easier state to become a resident than NC.

  6. Wowsa. I will most certainly keep your family in my prayers. You can keep us in yours too! I totally understand funding issues. Aaron is in his first full-time teaching position and we still qualify for government aid because he doesn't make enough and his job is fully or partially funded by stimulus money, so whether or not we'll have a job next fall, nobody knows! I suppose this is what faith is for. Best wishes for you and yours. I'm sure it will all work out. You and Avram are amazing people and deserve the best!

  7. But other than that you don't have a financial care in the world, right? Sheesh! I hope (and I'm sure) it will all work out.

    Glad you're feeling better Thora! We're almost on opposite ends of the spectrum. I literally only have one pair of maternity pants that stays up. I have NEVER been uncomfortable in my maternity stuff before this pregnancy (for the last month or so). HUGE.

  8. Wow, such a lot going on! My blog always gets quiet when my life gets hectic, too. But thanks for taking the time to catch us up and letting us know what to pray for.