Cautiously Hopeful (peeking out from under my bed)

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The fear is constant.

It’s not a big feeling. Not like hearing your doorknob rattle in the middle of the night no matter how old you are and no matter how many times it happens and no matter how much your brain really knows it’s one of the kids trying to get in because they had a nightmare. My lizard brain always knows for sure that whatever is on the other side of the door is going to kill me. Which makes getting out of bed to help the poor half-asleep child open the door and carry them to the bed one hell of a moment of cognitive dissidence.

It’s a little feeling. Little like the feeling of someone breathing on your arm. Which, if you have someone who manages to breathe on your arm – making your little arm hairs sway just a little every time – starts to drive you insane after a while. I will occasionally find myself covering my arm protectively and snapping, “Stop. Breathing. On. My. Arm. You are driving me insane!”

Of course he responds in the only way I would expect. He looks at me like I’m insane. Who yells about breathing and arm hairs? That’s right. Me.

He’s so lucky.

Job Update Finally My Goodness That Took Forever

Mr. Brickie is at the job today.

Let’s all take a deep breath and have a moment.

MR. BRICKIE IS ON A JOB SITE WORKING RIGHT THIS MINUTE.

*rapture collapse*

I told you about needing paystubs right? How we have to be able to prove income with paystubs in order to move? If things got really sketchy we could also do a letter from a friend or other professional person saaaaaying how much we had made working for them during the course of the year but the woman we really want to be our landlady? Yeah, Mr. Brickie talked to her when he thought he’d be back working in a minute. When our timeline was longer and the house we bought for a steal at $125,000 wasn’t sold for $35,000 last week.

Isn’t it amazing and wonderful and horrifying how fast things can change?

So we can’t go back to this landlady with a different story without looking shady as hell and no one rents to people who seem shady as hell. I haven’t looked on Craigslist to see if the four bedroom is still available. If it was it would still be two weeks until I could apply to rent the property so it wouldn’t make me feel better. I’m going to wait and when he has a second paystub we are going to call the nice lady and tell her we have paystubs and an application and we would love to move thank you so very much.

He will get his second paycheck on November 12th. I’m not sure if we’re still aiming for a December 1st move date.

Court Update

The same paperwork that let us know how much the house sold for at auction (and convinced us this is the only way to buy a house ever from now on) let us know our next court date is 12/30/14. It’s the date where the court finalizes the sale of the house to the investor. The one that starts our last 30-day “time to move now right now” alarm clock ticking. It’s possible if Mr. Brickie goes into the court he can get that date extended a month to 2/28/14 but here’s the catch….

Paystubs for renting a house must be the last two most recent.

So we could decide we weren’t moving until the last possible minute but if weather stopped cooperating and Mr. Brickie was out of work for two weeks due to a blizzard we wouldn’t be able to move.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice? No way, not going to happen. This paystub thing is going to be a problem ONCE. That’s it.

Our proposed moving date is still December 1st, but it might be earlier. It depends on the deal and the potential landlord/lady, and everything else. Each deal is unique and even though I will sigh wistfully over four bedrooms I’m not married to a house I’ve never stepped in.

I just wish I could give my daughters each a bedroom. It seems it would be an amazing way to take the sting out of having to leave everything familiar. Having one’s own room would be such an upgrade, wouldn’t it?

But even if we have to move somewhere cramped and small for a year, that’s okay.

Changing Web Hosting When I Figure Out How to Not Be Stupid

I’m going to switch to A Simple Orange but I’m trying to figure out the actual switching. I keep reading about ftp and blah blah and I used to be able to work with files but I’m not in that place right now. The breathing on my skin that is the thoughts in my head won’t let me focus like that. I try, trust me, I try and fail many times a day. I get mad and tell myself I WILL get this or that done. I cajole, order, make promises…I’m more stubborn than even I thought.

What I really want to do is just start the new blog and rename this one temporarily so the other one can have the blog name and backdate old entries into the new blog with this name. It seems like it would create a very clean database with no extraneous media or other things and bits that it could live without forever.

A Different Kind of Job Update

A family friend talked to someone at her job who is a bricklayer. He’s a specific kind called a refractory worker. They travel a lot and work a lot.

Today’s downtown job started first so that’s what’s happening now, but Mr. Brickie is still giving the guy a call that the refractory friend of a friend told Mr. Brickie to call for a lead on a job. No one in this house would love it if Mr. Brickie traveled but we are all very good at sucking it up and moving forward. We will give him all the love and support and Skype calls he needs to feel we haven’t forgotten him and we miss him terribly.

That is in the future, however, no need to borrow trouble. A quick story about borrowing trouble would be good here. The way the information was conveyed to us this guy our family friend knows just came back from Williston, ND (the oil boom town) and he was talking about ten guys to a single-wide trailer and other horror stories of the need for workers and the lack of space.

First, HOW have I not heard about this place prior to this?? I read news sites in addition to blogs and games. Lots of them. More than anything else. News is my bread and butter. It is what gets me through the day. Boom town? Nowhere on my radar.

So this whole refractory thing? It’s more of a long term goal after his apprenticeship is over. He is going to ask them if he can work weekends for them in the meantime. It probably won’t happen but they’ll be amazed he asked and that will help them remember him. To get your 80% raise and your 100% raise you have to pass a bricklaying test. If he just went and did refractory work he wouldn’t be learning the skills he needs to pass those tests and become a journeyman.

But we aren’t saying, “No.” for sure and forever to anything. One of the most important things about this part of the journey is being flexible.

Like olympic gymnast flexible.

I am – mostly sometimes every-third-wednesday – up for the challenge!

Is This What Pear Shaped Looks Like?

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I hear people say, “Things are going pear shaped” and I know that means something bad but how bad, exactly, does something have to be in order for the term pear-shaped to actually be used?

For example: Mr. B had an interview for this new gig, it’s going to be great, so much work. A third-party scaffolding company doesn’t come when they’re supposed to and my Mister’s start date is now Monday if we are lucky.

A secondary gig had Mr. B painting a house this weekend for a lot of cash (more than $400 less than $1000 I don’t post cash money in hand until it exists because I’m a bit superstitious) and something happened to the floor of the house and so he can’t work on that project until tomorrow. If it goes past Sunday they will work on it in the weekday evenings, but that means he won’t get paid on Sunday night when the job is done like they originally planned.

I’m doing my best to be an optimist but it’s getting difficult.

The fundraiser money is still tucked away in PayPal for the move, but we can’t even apply for places until we have a pay stub so Mr. B needs to start working because a cash painting project (if nothing else goes wrong, of course) doesn’t count. So getting a rental just became a bit more difficult than we thought it would be. Which stinks because we found a great place at a great price right where we want to be in the town we are moving to. Again, I’m not sharing yet because I’m feeling superstitious. I will say it’s a nudge over a thousand square feet, four bedrooms, and eight fifty a month. Can you imagine decent rent and my kids each having their own room? That would take the sting out of moving.

I have had multiple conversations with the kids about leaving their friends and having to make new friends. There have been tears and hugs and fear. I have done my best to make it better but how do you cushion a blow like this? How do you explain to the kids that this move might not matter at all in twenty years or it might be the moment they remember forever as the best/worst moment that ever happened and caused everything that came after?

One of the surprising things for me through this process is watching as we move the hands of fate. What happens after this is a direct result of this choice. It’s a lot of pressure because you can’t identify if it’s a good idea or a bad idea but it’s this thing that is happening and in retrospect it will be the best/worst decision for all of us and Mr. B and I will have to shoulder that burden if it culminates in something horrible years from now.

The newest job update is that Mr. B should be working on Monday. Trust me, you’ll know as soon as he is on the job because I’ll be hollering it from the rooftops.

He showed up to the job site every morning this week so even though he didn’t work he did get to bond with the foreman on the job and the guy knows Mr. B really wants to work and is ready to hustle. When there is work it will be his to do. The third party company just needs to get the stuff where it needs to be so he can climb on up and get that steeple fixed!

Here at home, I fluctuate from feeling detached and distant from everything to being way too close and feeling too much all at once. The balance in between is difficult to find. I really believe in my deep-down heart that everything is going to work out but the voices in my head tell me that I’m an idiot that needs to get a grip and deal with reality. Then the other voices in my head argue with those voices about benefits and how this is the life we signed up for and once he’s a journeyman it will all be okay. The voices argue with each other a lot.

Every day I mentally pat myself on the back for not taking my stress out on the kids. Mr. B isn’t always so lucky but even then I’m not being loud or rageful, just snappy now and then. I’m doing my best to keep myself in check because I know we are all hurting and scared right now. Even those of us *cough cough Mr. B cough cough* who don’t show it.

My only refuge is sleep. I am so lucky my sleep is not affected too often by all the noise in my head. I’ve even tried meditating but getting my mind completely empty right now is a losing battle that takes more energy than I have to give.

Tomorrow morning I’m having a guest over! A friend I have not seen in person since 2005. So long ago! I’m a person old enough to not see someone in almost ten years and we met when we were adults. It makes me feel very grown up. I’m sure at my age a lot more things should make me feel grown up but they really don’t. The fear and the uncertainty make me feel very young because adults have all this financial stuff sorted out, right? I know that’s not really true but I always believed it was when I was young so I can’t quite shake the feeling that I am not really grown until I have my finances sorted.

For now we are broke and in limbo. I hope to have a better, more positive update soon. Like I said, this is the part the blog was created for. The dark part. So even though I don’t have a lot of stuff to report and what I have isn’t great, I still need to share it so I can look back once I’ve forgotten how painful this is and remember. I want to show my kids what was going on when they were young. I want an accurate before picture for the beautiful after that I know is coming someday.

Deciding to change our lives from the ground up was a dangerous, scary decision but we did it the best way we knew how and it’s odd to be blogging during the part that I’m praying is really the darkest before the dawn.

All storms pass.

 

The Pendulum Swings Both Ways

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a thousand kisses deep

Mr. B starts work again on Monday.

I get so excited when he starts on a new job site. The optimist in me blooms and I start making plans for how we are going to get ourselves closer to financial security.

The fundraiser I’m currently running will help with that for sure, because the uncertainty of all the ways the next few months could unfold is beyond even my most optimistic projections.

If this blog exited to give advice, it wouldn’t be super helpful because I’m pretty sure not everyone could start a fundraiser. I mean, maybe they could, but again, this was never about advice. This is just documenting a journey so some people can feel less alone and others can feel better about themselves for not being where I am and still others maybe can learn from what I’ve done (successes and/or mistakes) but that’s certainly not what I’m setting out to do.

I’ve always felt we have our own journeys and for me to take my experiences and try to lay those on someone else to tell them what to do in their life would be akin to making random people wear my clothing. They are great for me and I love them, but they will fit few others the way I do and even if they do fit someone else that doesn’t mean it’s a style they enjoy.

….and I think that’s okay. Different styles are what make us all unique and interesting. There are a lot of people who have made far worse decisions than I have and a bunch of folks who have made better decisions. I could have made millions of other decisions than the ones I did in my life. I can’t pick apart my life and think if I had done one thing differently everything would be better because that is something we can’ t know. There are too many variables.

So, back to Mr. B. He is going to be doing restoration work. The interview was amazing and they talked for a long time about the kind of company it was and the hours and how reliable the work is. A reliable job site that you go back to regularly is the brass ring. Every job site Mr. B has been on he has given his best and he has a great reference from every place he has worked so far. At first, we thought he was going to go to training next week M-Th and then start at the new job on Friday, but he got a call from the training center this morning and they told him they were giving him an exemption from this training and he could take the next one (which happens in winter, I think) and he told Mr. B to go to the job site and let the Foreman know he could start Friday or Monday. He did and they were thrilled to bring him on earlier.

Thank goodness.

Mr. B works so hard and always does his best. I always feel like I’m the loose link in the chain because I sometimes get confused or frustrated and I don’t have the stamina he does. I needed to take a break from all things fundraising today – only three or four days in – because I was making myself physically sick thinking about it non-stop and wondering if it was a horrible idea and if I’d somehow sold my kids out. I’m very bad at being a consistent optimist.

So he starts again on Monday and we will have a regular paycheck barring adverse weather conditions until, well, we’re not sure. According to the guy on the job site they work longer into the season than most companies and start earlier in the season than most companies. It would be a dream job in terms of steady work. Steady work means he gets his promotions faster. If we are looking at the Mr. B Promotion Tracker that had a promotion date of 12/8 last time we checked it’s changed because of him being out of work those couple of weeks and is now slated for 12/26.

Not bloody likely. So he will either promote to the next apprentice level at the end of this season or the very beginning of the next season. He’s progressing slowly than I would like but hey, we all know I’m impatient! You have to have hustle to succeed as a bricklayer. Okay, maybe if you have relative it’s easier, but from what I’ve seen everyone is willing to help Mr. B because he works hard and does his part to help wherever he can. It’s comforting to know you can succeed even if you don’t have a relative or some other “in” with the Union. You can make your own way.

It just takes some round robin action going through companies while they have jobs until you find one that sticks for good.

I really hope this one sticks for good. Not worrying about his job would be a huge load off my mind.

It would let me get back to worrying about where we’re going to live.

Sometimes I wish I could just hibernate until we get to the part where I get to go on shopping days with my girls and we can hang out in the bookstore and have coffee together and they can gossip about their lives and tell me fabulous stories about school and we can all just enjoy each other’s company. Heck, maybe Mr. B can even be there with us.

That will happen someday, right?

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Poor Little Sick Girl and Running A Fundraiser

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If you are looking for the original fundraising request post
please click here.


 

feelin-betterThank goodness.

It turns out Big Sister had a wicked-bad bronchial infection.

I hate my husband being out of work (he should be on his next bricklaying job by Monday at the latest) but I’m glad he was available to take her to the Urgent Care facility to get a chest x-ray, a strep swab, and make sure she didn’t have that horrible virus that’s going around and putting kids in the hospital. Her breathing was affected terribly because her throat was so inflamed it was partially swollen shut so she sounded terrible and sad and so, so tiny. I cuddled with her on the couch for much of yesterday because how can you not cuddle a listless child who just wants love?

He actually started his day waiting in the half hour line at public aid to make sure our medical insurance was in place before taking her to the doctor. The last thing we could even bear right now is a slew of medical bills on top of everything else. We have enough fear of financial collapse on our hands without one more thing. If we could just say, “No more right now, thank you.” to the things happening that would be so refreshing. Since we can’t, we are doing the best we can with what we’ve got and asking for help from the good citizens of the Internet.

I have tried to make sure my routine with the girls isn’t affected by this constant laundry list in my head. Who can I ask to boost the signal? Do I know anyone on Tumblr? Who is going to care about my family’s story?

Running a fundraiser online is so much more than just putting it up and hoping for the best. I knew that going in, but even knowing what you are getting yourself into there are always the worries. Was that thank you email long enough? Was it too over the top? Will they think I’m insincere when I tell them how beyond grateful I am for the $5 donation? (Spoiler: I really am that grateful.)

As a person not accustomed to asking for help at all, the response and support have been absolutely overwhelming. It is a testament to my belief that we all end up in these horrible places every now and then. Maybe it’s not a house, maybe it’s a medical bill or a sick pet. My friend Jessica said it best that most people would go to their families in times like this. If only that were an option it is where I would have gone first.

I have cried a lot. Mr. Brickie has cried a couple times, too. The relief you feel when you get validation for something you were so scared about is very overwhelming.

Back to Big Sister. She has to miss her choir rehearsal after school tomorrow. She is very sad, but there is no way her voice is going to be able to sing tomorrow when she can barely talk today. She understands and her response is classic for a child somewhat accustomed to disappointment. She is resigned and slightly detached with just a hint of hope that nothing awful will happen before next week’s rehearsal. As long as my girls don’t lose that hope I have faith they will get through life beautifully.

Me? I’m overwhelmed at the love that’s been shown over the last few days. I don’t mean the money, I mean the emails and the requests for my children’s sizes and preferences and offers to adopt them for Christmas. I still need to put as much effort as I can into sharing my story and getting those donations because that is critical, but the other things? They are what keep my heart from drowning.

Please click here to go to the fundraising page and share the link.

If enough people see it and donate? I’m already so grateful for what we have received but I need to keep boosting that signal.

Now I’m off to fill wish lists and write up sizing and preference lists. It’s been exhausting with one of my daughters so sick she can barely walk to the bathroom by herself but knowing she will be on the mend when the antibiotics kick in has me feeling like a second wind might be on the horizon! Heck, maybe we can go for the gold and I will be able to sleep through the night! WooHoo! :)

If you have any suggestions for where I could get my message out, please let me know. I was hoping to contact Mike Rowe, because he’s always talking about blue collar jobs but I think there needs to be more education for when a grown person with a family decides what is best for their family is that blue collar job. The transition is hell. It will be worth it in the end but this system is set up for a kid who is living alone to survive for the first few years. There should be a better way to transition into these rewarding professions! So…if you know anyone who knows Mike Rowe and if you think he might care about our situation, let me know.

Thank you for being my readers. I love you guys.

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A Desperate Cry For Help

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Asking for help is the scariest thing I have ever done.

At this point (the point where you have to ask for help because you’re between a rock and hard place) you go back to sixth grade in your mind and wonder if you had just studied a little harder for that spelling bee and gone to nationals, would your life be that much different?

I love my family. They’re my people and I couldn’t have hand picked a better group. But I still wonder at 2am if I’m really the best person for them. If my husband had found a better second wife would he be happier? Was he just blinded by depression and the grief of losing his first wife and now he’s stuck with me forever and this is all my fault?

Did I fail my family? Should I have told my husband he should stay depressed and not change to a blue collar job that makes him happy? Should I have crushed his dreams to stay in a house made of brick and cement? Is a house more important than a man’s self worth?

I don’t think so, but then I put up a cry for help online and you don’t know from there, do you? You cry and you throw up and you want people to love you enough to give a dollar, you hope they can spare more but you don’t know what someone’s life is like beyond the screen no matter how many nice pictures they post. You do the mental math of if this many people or that many people  just gave one dollar how you would be able to stop being scared all the time. You could stop waking up in the middle of the night screaming because you had another nightmare where your children starved to death. You could feel safe for the first time in so long.

If I have ever helped you, listened to you, or made you laugh, please help me. Even when I’ve only had a few dollars I have almost always been able to donate a dollar to a friend or stranger in need. I give a dollar because everyone would rather have one dollar toward their need than no dollars. I do not judge a dollar. A dollar is an Internet hug from far away saying, “Hey girl, I feel your pain. You are not alone.”

This is a one-time 30 day fundraising campaign. I don’t think I could go through the stress of this again. I’m riddled with doubt and I’m sure everyone hates me (I am also sure that everyone does not hate me and know I’m overreacting but going back and forth between the dark feelings and the logic is exhausting.)

The donation button will be removed at the end of the campaign and I will either cry tears of joy and thanks or I will slink back to my corner of the Internet to lick my wounds and rebuild my heart.

The choice is yours.

click-here-to-help-decki

How A Decision is Born

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click-here-to-help-decki


 

cannot-solve-same-thinking

Who has ten fingers, ten toes, and stayed up far too late on the Internet?

I’ll give you a hint. The same woman who ran through about a hundred potential outcome scenarios based on different decisions we could make and their potential outcomes. While it may be pointless to live in the future, sometimes when there is a big decision it does not hurt to schedule a few hours to travel there and make your best estimates for most likely decision outcomes.

Big thanks to Annaleah because without her encouraging words I would not have had my “A-ha!” moment. She mentioned people being understanding of our circumstances and that made me think how understanding the man on the phone must have sounded and I asked Mr. B about it and he said that the man sounded more like a caricture of a used car salesman – pushy and excited – and not calm and reassuring at all. This led us to a conversation about what he said and we broke down what we thought it meant.

For those of you that have taken a moment to wonder how I slog my way through all these horribly emotional decisions, I present to you, “How Jenny deals with horrible decisions!”

First, you pick your top contenders. Because life is kinder that many people think, there are usually only three major things to choose from. This is one of those cases.

Scenario 1 – Chapter 13 and Refinance

In a perfect world, this would be our solution. File the Chapter 13 to buy some time, come up with the $2400 to restart the refinance process, begin paying the new $700 mortgage payment, and live happily ever after! Of course, the mortgage is probably 40 years and there’s a $30k balloon payment at the end of the 40 years and we are in a house we have come to hate because we wish we could go back in time and rent something instead.

Conclusion: It is a bad idea. We will end up paying almost $200k in principal and goodness knows how much in interest over the life of the loan. A monster debt that we just don’t want to be saddled with. Going through all that to sell it is also a possibility, but it would be sold for so much less than we owed we would be trapped again. The Chapter 13 would make us seem even more financially irresponsible and renting would be that much more difficult unless we were sure to find a place where people wanted to hear your story and not just see how you look on paper.

Scenario 2 – Chapter 13 with New Foreclosure

The “extra shady and morally bankrupt” version of the plan is to go through with the Chapter 13, get a modified mortgage, pay on it for a while and go through this whole thing again, buying us another two years of no payments while this goes through the motions for a second time.

Conclusion: Financially this might actually be the best decision. By the time we got through a second foreclosure Mr. B would be a Journeyman making twice as much as he does right now. We could easily pay rent and save money. Decisions, however, are more than just dollar signs and decimal points and it would be immoral and best and illegal at worst. I want to teach my children to make wise financial decisions and getting charged with fraud is not a good way to start that process. My foreclosure now was not an intended outcome of buying the house, I certainly won’t go into another two years of freefall and sacrifice what morality I do have for the sake of money.

Scenario 3 – Current Plan Continues

The current plan – wait out the foreclosure until the last minute while getting rid of every unnecessary item we own – still seems to be the clear winner. We are taking care of the house and the yard, the interior of the house is in good shape, and the house will be resold fairly easily once we are out. The six month eviction timeframe will allow us to get through Taxmas and have money ready to spend on a new place.

Other Warning Signs

Upon further inspection, the language in the letter we received was similar to the law advertisements. Once Mr. B talked to the man and he revealed he was an attorney with NACA, we realized it may be the case they don’t have to disclose the advertisement because they are not-for-profit and thus it is not an advertisement for profit.

2. The man would not further discuss the class action lawsuit with Mr. B on the phone even though he brought it up and asked for the criteria for plaintiffs multiple times. He did, however, whip Mr. B into a lather with the urgency of needing to get to the federal courthouse first thing in the morning to file the Chapter 13 and call him with the case number right away so he could stop the auction.

3. A Chapter 13 is a restructuring of debt that involves payments. The lawyer made it sound like they would take all the arrears and put them at the end of the modified loan in order to make our payment $700. This now adds a balloon payment at the end of the loan, which is an offer I already turned down because it is not feasable to pay a mortgage another 30 years from this point in order to have a $25k balloon payment on the end.

4. The only way this is actually a good deal is if we get the remodification, pay some payments, stop, and go through another two year foreclosure process. I may be a little hither and thither in the moral compass area but that’s really, really fraudulent stuff.

We have come to the conclusion that the letter was an option but not one in our best long-term interest. I don’t like solutions that only work if I’m emotionally desperate to keep a physical object. Financially it’s a bad deal, but it’s being presented like a Christmas present wrapped in golden paper. I don’t know what the company we would be working with gets or how they benefit but the pressure Mr. B felt says to me there is something beyond helpful people wanting to use their helpful organization to be helpful. While I can’t put my finger on it, I know there’s something wrong.

I keep thinking of that lawyer at the legal aid place. When I asked if she ever saw a circumstance when keeping the house was in the best financial interest of the client and she reluctantly said, “No. Not in my experience.” When a woman who sees hundreds (thousands?) of people doesn’t see one who is making a smart financial decision, it’s my responsibility to make extra sure I don’t make the same mistake if I want my family to thrive.

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Bankruptcy and a Citimortgage Class Action Lawsuit?

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house-with-hearts

I receive a LOT of junk mail.

Most of it is advertisements from law firms who want me to call RIGHT AWAY to SAVE MY HOUSE. I sigh, because wouldn’t it be nice to actually be able to make a phone call and have something of substance happen? Going through this process has been awful. Even before foreclosure was looming or processing there was the FHA streamline refinance that we tried to do. We couldn’t because there was a HUD partial claim from a 2005 refinance and Citimortgage denied ever helping to process that and did not have the paperwork.

Bummer for us, we have only become people that save things in the last seven or so years, so we didn’t have that paperwork to prove anything.

Our FHA streamline refinance that would have kept this whole foreclosure thing from happening by lowering our payment by almost half? It didn’t happen because we didn’t have the paperwork AND we had no way of getting the paperwork from Citi. It was a bad deal all around, really. I didn’t talk about it too much because it’s a thing that happened and I tried not to focus on it too much since it was water under the bridge and I try to deal with the now, not the then, in order to stay sane and not spend my whole life second-guessing myself.

So when I got this green sheet of paper in the mail it kind of felt like junk mail but it didn’t say anything about advertising on it. The law states you have to state communication from a lawyer is an advertisement on the envelope, I think, because if not I’m sure these law firms would use all the shady tactics in the world. They still manage to imply all kinds of things even when you know it’s an ad.

I handed it to Mr. B and asked him to give them a call and see if it was just another paper for the round file and he asked me if I remembered the number you type in to block yourself on caller ID. (It’s *67 in case you’ve forgotten.) He talked to a lawyer from NACA for almost a half hour and the man gave us advice he said, “…would cost $2000 if you went to one of those places that promise they can stop your auction before it’s too late.”

The advice? File Chapter 13 bankruptcy. I had heard of this technique but thought it was too late for us to do it. I thought it had to be filed before the official foreclosure process started.

Filing Chapter 13 would buy us two more months for NACA to work with Citi and get a modification worked out. They would need two months of the previous mortgage ($2400) at the end of the two months, but if we did that we would be current on the mortgage and our new payment would be $700. A far more manageable sum of money to come up with every month than the $1200 we were paying. (Yes, the $700 includes taxes and insurance and yes, I’m pretty sure it’s too good to be true.)

I’m not sure if it’s the right thing to do. I’m not sure if we could even come up with $2400 in two months. I don’t know how much it costs to file a Chapter 13 in my county. Okay, I looked it up. It will cost $281 to file the Chapter 13 at the courthouse.

So, worst case scenario, we buy two more months by filing the Chapter 13 and it costs us $281. Other case scenario, we come up with the $281 to file and the $2400 for the bank and we get a refinance that keeps us here for the low, low price of $700 a month. (It’s not really a “low, low” price. It just sounded good when I said it out loud as I typed.)

Also, we pretty much qualify to be part of the class action lawsuit. So we’ll get a couple grand and a lawyer will get a shiny new private jet because tort law.

What the hell am I going to do?

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How We Spent It! (car edition)

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This has been a difficult week.

Mr. Brickie’s last day of work was last Tuesday so we are at a week of no work. I received a super helpful phone call from someone I adore alerting me to the Public Notice Illinois website to verify the 11/13/2014 auction date. Even when you’re expecting the ax to fall there is a certain horror/relief cycle that plays out once you know and that cycle is exhausting.

So our goal date for the move is six months from that November date. The six months is based on a six-and-a-half-month timeframe a friend of mine is at the end of. I have no reason to think it is inaccurate. Also, it fits with the original timeline the lawyer gave us. “You will have at least nine months from the date the judge approves the foreclosure.” Okay, that date was 7/11/2014 so there were 90 days until an auction (which is the 10/13/2014 date) and then the six months until eviction. It comforts me to have the same timeline from two places because it raises the chance of my timeline being accurate which is very important in this case.

If you read my last sad post you might remember we are looking for a car in the $500 or less price range.  Since Saturday we have been looking on Craigslist whenever we were not cleaning, planning, donating, and decluttering. We finally found the unicorn on Monday night. I shouldn’t really say finally…we weren’t looking forever and a day. We went an hour-ish away to pick it up last night. I was so scared. Craigslist can be so hit-or-miss and a great story is just as likely to be a con as a genuine kindness. I’m 98% certain the car we have now is a true diamond in the rough and the guy who sold it to us did us a true favor giving it to us for $300 less than his CL asking price.

Part of their conversation was the seller telling Mr. Brickie he could afford to drop the price and pay a kindness forward because they became debt free a few months back. They talked about Dave Ramsey. For real. When I met him he seemed very normal/regular/dude-about-town and I didn’t get any hinky feelings. That doesn’t mean much right now because at a certain stress point my hinky-meter becomes not so great. We will know for sure after we get the car checked out by Mr. Brickie’s friend who knows about cars.

This means my kids don’t have to be pulled from activities.

This means I will be able to drive them to school if we move before the academic year is over.

As long as the car checks out, this means everything is better than it was a day ago.

I did take it for a drive and it seems very, very solid. I was the one who identified the broken frame in the Ford Taurus that turned out to be a death trap. I am the one who knew there was a rotor issue beyond the brake pads in the car that we were loaned. I’m good a hearing things that are wrong in a vehicle. I’m as certain as I can be on my own without a mechanic that we did good.

I really hope it checks out with the mechanic.

The Numbers

After last week we had $626 on hold at the bank as well as $150 I transferred to savings to go toward the car payment. We used $500 of this to pay for the Craigslist car and the rest ($276) was notched out by the cell phone payments ($88.96) and putting gas in both cars ($45) and putting more money on the iPass ($20). His last check for $289 is on hold, probably until next Wednesday.  That leaves us about $120 until next Wednesday.

It’s enough money if Mr. Brickie is not working but for the love of all that is good and holy I really want him to start working ASAP!

Job Troubles

Mr. Brickie talked to the apprentice coordinator who talked to a guy who said he’d put Mr. B (I have become too lazy to type out Brickie. Consider me a winner!) on a job. He has been waiting for a callback with a start date and address for a week. I know this happens but it’s not easy and it’s very scary every time. When he is a journeyman I will be happy to save enough money for these weeks to not be the drama, but for now when every penny counts and we have to move soon it is overwhelming and scary.

The Bottom Line

I know things are going to work out okay. I have friends and family looking out and I trust them to help us get to our next place with as little drama and fear as possible. This is a hard time for my family, but we know the only way to get there is to be here and keep on keeping on.

I’ll let you know if the car tuns out to be as much of a peach as we think it is!

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So Many Words, Then There Were None

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I have a few drafts written.

One is about how throwing out all the food in my pantry – all the things I cook with from the room I spend the most time in – caused a loss of identity that made me feel completely lost in and worthless.

There is another one that’s about the bare minimums a person who likes to bake and cook needs to buy in order to have a functional kitchen.

I wish there were more half-written drafts so I could feel like I was about to be terribly productive. Unfortunately there was a lot of research into hosting and when I have the hundred dollars to spare I’m going to drop it on three months of hosting from WHGeeks. As long as I can figure out which database in my current backend is the one for this blog.

Then the second car that was loaned to us by a very, very kind friend needed to be returned. This creates a problem where I’m not going to be able to get my kids home from activities and I might have to pull them from after school activities. Again. That’s right, we did this to them last year when our second car we purchased from a family member broke down completely. I pulled them from Girls on the Run and Spanish Club. This year I might have to pull them from Choir and Chess Club.

It will break my heart if I can’t take these poor kids to free activities after school. I have considered walking but the viaduct in between my house and the school scares me deeply because it’s pretty unsafe. Plus I can’t figure out how to get a child and a preschooler three miles to pick up a third. It would involve buying bikes, teaching them to ride the bikes, and then safely getting them under a viaduct with low visibility.

So Mr. Brickie has been scouring Craigslist for the last days looking for cars in the $500 price range (It’s what we can come up with on our own, I know it’s not a good number but it’s what we have available) and going to check them out. So far we’ve said no to a broken frame, a missing motor that wasn’t mentioned in the ad, a leaking transmission, and a car that had to be towed home. He has one more to check out in about fifteen minutes. I’m hoping it will go well but I fear it won’t because it’s Craigslist.

It’s a mess.

Today I decided to open a piece of junk mail from a lawyer. Dumb idea, for sure. I figured it might have some publicly available information about the auction date for the house that I did not have access to. It did have a date, but one I could not confirm anywhere else. The date is 10/13/14, so right around the corner and completely panic inducing. I dove right into those panic feelings and kind of wallowed in them for a while. Wondering how fast I would have to pack up my things, where I would store them, where I would stay, where I would get first and last month’s rent. So many questions swirling in my mind. Okay, maybe not swirling so much as slicing and cutting and poking and stabbing. It was much less gentle than poking.

I’m really scared.

Mr. Brickie left a message with the Cook County Sheriff’s office to verify the information. I’m sure this is one of those stories where if I heard that it happened to someone else (10 or so years ago when I was less understanding of bad decisions) I might have judged the person. People who listen to junk mail are stupid, right?

The thing is, when you’re desperate for information and you’re searching for the light of knowledge anywhere sometimes you’re going to find an oncoming train where you think you see a bright beacon of hope. You are going to read something and be completely torn on whether it’s true or not but no one is immune from seriously considering acting on the information.

I’m not going to call the shifty lawyer sending me the fear-mail, but I’m going to use the date as a potential timeline.

Mr. Brickie’s last job ended last Wednesday and he is supposed to be hearing from a guy today about starting tomorrow but so far he’s called the guy once on Friday, once on Saturday, and twice today and hasn’t gotten a firm answer and has mostly gotten voicemail. It’s not looking good for him going to work tomorrow.

On the bright side Little Sister’s birthday party was a hit and everyone had a lot of fun. We went apple picking on Sunday and the girls were well-behaved, happy, and had a wonderful time. I’m so proud of my girls. They are bright and loving and caring. I might have been a good mommy blogger if I felt their stories were mine to tell.

I’m going to go watch a movie with them and try to distract myself long enough that the nausea goes away. Even if I get some relief for a little bit that will be a start.

How We Spent It!

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It has been a rough week.

I have this long winded, half written post about moths, flour, and a temporary loss of identity. Yeah, it sounds like mush in my drafts section, too, but I feel like there’s something important in there so I keep pounding the keys and trying to find the lesson in losing food and myself and how tenuous our identities are and how to find an anchor that is not external.

It will be so deep you’ll want your hip waders, for sure.

We’ve been having some issues with checks depositing in a timely manner at the bank. The bank likes to keep the photo-deposited physical checks for 5 business days if the amount on the front of that check is over $500. That means even though Mr. Brickie got paid today yesterday the funds will be available next Wednesday. This means budgeting for the week with money leftover from last week. (You can see that update here.)

Due to having a bleached all-to-hell-and-back kitchen that reduced me to tears every time I went in, Mr. Brickie took it upon himself to decide we were going to eat out for a few days. Just some local take-out. Nothing fancy. Nothing expensive.

I did forget to add in my Internet bill last week. It was being charged automatically to the credit card (because I kept forgetting to pay that one bill and got really tired of late fees, ugh) but then my credit card expired and I couldn’t find the “very super secret safe place” I put the new cards so I had to order new ones.

I recommend getting a new credit card number every few years. I might start getting one every year. It’s another layer of protection that doesn’t cost anything.

As of this morning I started with $350 in my checking account.

$350.00 In Bank
- $2.00 Macys Payoff
- $198.00 Living (&40.00 tolls)
$150.00 Savings (toward car pmt)

Living expenses is for gas, extras like toilet paper or whatever, and if there is any left over it gets rolled into next weeks living money and that’s more to go toward savings/bills.

I’ve switched into full-on Christmas paranoia mode. Even though most people know they’re getting banana bread there is no way I’m going to cancel Christmas for the kids. It’s my line in the sand. Lucky for me we have never done the, “Santa brings big gifts” thing. Santa brings the stockings and a couple little things and the big stuff is provided by the parents. I did this because I’m a selfish person who wants my kids to know I splurge on them for the holiday, but it’s coming in really handy to explain the ebb and flow of present quality based on our current financial situation.

So I’m swinging between wanting to get the brakes fixed on a borrowed car for $150 or keep hoarding money until the holidays.

When the $626 that’s currently on hold is released next Wednesday I’ll use it to pay the car payment. If that money (via some miracle) becomes available sooner, same plan applies.

Next week Mr. Brickie has training so instead of a work paycheck he will get a stipend from the training center for M-Th.

I’m still all over the place in my head. I am confused and want to bake something now that I have flour/sugar/baking powder in my house. I can’t make banana bread because I don’t have baking soda. Guess I need to add it to the list.

At least I have bananas.

That’s my bright side.

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