Craigslist to the Rescue (I Hope)

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Mr. Brickie was breaking down (uninstalling? unbuilding?) the beds as we tried to figure out a new date to ask everyone to come by and help us move. We also went over moving truck options like U-Haul or renting a big truck from Enterprise and using that to move things.

The biggest issue was the immediate (or near-immediate) need for my king-size mattress so I can sleep in our new place.

After going back and forth I asked Mr. Brickie if I could look on Craigslist and he was all grumpy and grunty and NO about the whole thing. He didn’t want to pick up random strangers and have them touch our things and know where we live. So I went looking for a business that had a website. While you and I might know that a website does not a reputable company make, he’s more easily swayed and I figured I could use that to get a couple quotes anyway.

Side Note: He tried to get a quote from Two guys and a Truck and they still haven’t gotten back to him with a quote but since we’re moving over state lines that causes a whole heap of mess with being insured in both IL & IN. So I sent him the website all, “Look what I found!” style and he called and the guy couldn’t help us because of the licensing thing. (He’ll be licensed in two weeks and could help then! Gah!)

So I found another one that specifically listed Chicagoland AND Northwest Indiana and looked for a website on the listing but….yeah…no website.

I had to come clean and tell Mr. B that I found the first one on Craigslist and this one, too, and he didn’t really care anymore so he called and the guy and his buddy are going to come by Sunday morning at 9am with a 27′ box truck and move ALL our stuff to our new place.

So now we’ve switched from a U-Haul and a few friends and a few things moved to ALL OUR STUFF IN ONE BIG TRUCK IN ONE TRIP and while I know I should feel thrilled I can’t quite manage it.

The closest thing I am to relieved is probably cautiously hopeful.

Because there are too many horror stories to ever feel not a little bit worried about Craigslist. (I did a search for the company name and the dude’s name that runs the company and nothing bad comes up so that’s a start. Yea for due diligence.)

So instead of Saturday being our first night sleeping in the new place it will be Sunday night.

Since my Internet is getting hooked up on Saturday night (between 5pm and 7pm if I’m suuuper lucky) the bright spot here is not having to move in to a place before it gets Internet.

In the meantime it’s piles of boxes and Rubbermaid bins and separating and labeling and getting everything into the living room so on Sunday morning we can move everything as quickly as possible. The movers are hourly, so being prepared is going to save us money.

Prepared? Oh yeah, I can work with that.

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A Wrench In The Works

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We were totally planning on moving this Saturday and all we have done to this point has been to prepare for that and we were sad Mr. Brickie hasn’t worked this week but it was also kind of a blessing in disguise because he’s been able to paint and move things every day and gotten us a giant head start.

When he called tonight from the apartment it was to let me know the painting in the kitchen was almost finished (the last room!) and that he received a text from his foreman that the crew was working on Saturday.

He called because he was unsure if he should go in. The union can’t mandate weekends even if it’s a make-up day and he wanted to run it by me before he decided not to go in.

I’ll give you one guess what my response was.

Have you guessed yet?

How about now?

Okay….

I told him the reason we’re going through this hell is because he found a job he is good at that he loves and our commitment to his career has us moving across state lines and changing the kids’ schools and flipping everything we’ve known for the last eleven years into the air and hoping it falls in some kind of order.

There is no way he’s not going in to work.

It might not make any difference to the company or the foreman that he goes in on Saturday … but it could make a difference if he doesn’t. Not legally or by the book but the kind of guy he is might be called into question. If he’s really the kind of worker that can be relied on for the long haul.

Maybe not. But we aren’t going to risk it after coming so far.

He agreed immediately. I knew as soon as he agreed that he was only asking me for a backup opinion. I get the feeling he was hoping I was going to say go in.

I’m really proud of him. Not only did he really want to go in, he knows how anxious I’ve been so he made me part of the decision and didn’t just drop it on me like a little bomb or horrible surprise.

It was a really kind thing for him to do.

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The Girls’ Room – Painted!

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It’s a good day.

The bathroom got a second coat of white paint so it looks brighter in there and the girls’ room is painted.

I had a chance to show Middle Sister the video and her eyes lit up, “It’s the same color as our room now!” We told the kids we were going to paint the rooms the same colors (not just because we had leftover paint from all the rooms but, let’s be honest, it’s free and they already like the color, we weren’t going to give them an option for a new color so we could buy more paint) and they were very excited. I guess it’s because they are kids that she didn’t really hold on to that information. Or maybe she’s scared the things we have promised them won’t come true.

kids-room-purple

That last one might be me projecting that fear because man, I’ve been having nightmares and last night’s was a doozy that had me tossing and turning so much I ended up with a tweaked muscle or pinched nerve in my back under where your wing would be if you had wings. Everyone calls those muscles wing-bones, don’t they? Probably not but I do.  It hurts like the dickens.

Here is the video I showed Middle Sister. The single twin bed will be what you see when you are standing where the video starts (to the left of the closet) and the bunk beds will be put in that recess to the right of the closet.

We have kind of a weird thing where we would rather the girls use the bedroom for sleeping as much as possible and then play or do things in other parts of the apartment/house/wherever. I think it leads to better sleep and a better nighttime routine. Your mileage may vary. Hell, my mileage varies on any given night because kids are kids and they can only be so consistent.


I think that video plays through flash so if you’re on an iOS device you might not be able to see it. If you can’t you can see it on the jennydecki page on Facebook directly. If I had known it was going to show the whole status along with the video I would have at least tried to be a little more witty than OH HAI HERE’S MY VIDEO FB. I’m going to just call it a win I got it up there and up here at all.

I know it doesn’t matter but that purple dries darker. It’s not a pastel. I think you can see it better at the bottom edges where it’s already begun to dry. I think I’m providing unnecessary levels of detail because my brain is melting.

Mr. Brickie wants to go have dinner at the new place tonight. Just some frozen pizzas, TV trays, and a blanket on the floor for the girls to have a picnic-style dinner but I’m firmly freaking out. It sounds like such a good idea but I’m just so nervous. I feel like if I don’t look at it I won’t have to deal with moving everything over there and organizing the kitchen and the next few days which will be all the transition in the world and I don’t mind change it’s the part where you’re actually changing I hate. I just want to go to sleep in my bed here and wake up there and be done.

I need to tell you about the new school and he’s almost home and we have to figure out this whole dinner thing. That will have to be the next post.
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We Got The Apartment!

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lease-and-key

It was brought to my attention I never wrote an actual post stating we got the actual apartment.

Whoops.

I can only blame being half crazy with lists trying to get everything done. I feel silly, though, because I should have been like I’M GOING TO BLOG THIS RIGHT NOW when we signed the lease.

So, here is our new place.

my-new-place-2

The “Our New Home” graphic is off center because I needed to hide the “For Rent” sign with the phone number on it and that’s where it was. We are on the main floor and the length of the apartment goes straight to the back of the house and there’s a little deck off the back.

This is not the apartment I talked about in this post. This is a different one that was never on Craigslist and Mr. Brickie only found during a drive-by search of For Rent signs in the neighborhood. When he called the landlord said there was already someone about to sign a lease. Lucky for us they fell through and we were able to secure a much larger, brighter apartment for only $25 more per month than the other place we were hoping for but didn’t get.

This place is really perfect for us. We are going to set it up the same way we are set up here. Living room becomes dining room/computer room with turtle tank. The third bedroom becomes a TV/Playroom with room for the tv, couch, and even the chair and a half for reading or lounging. The girls’ bedroom will fit the beds and a large dresser without any trouble. It’s not a giant room, but bedrooms are for sleeping, not playing or doing stuff, so they won’t be missing out since they have a playroom/tv room/reading room to take care of all that kind of stuff.

The kitchen is a decent size with decent counter space. Past the kitchen is a mudroom leading to the back door where there is an 8×10(ish) nice wooden porch and then parking in the back. A place for boots and shoes and these little benches I was afraid we would have to leave behind.

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I’ll take more pictures when we actually move this weekend.

The kids should be able to start school Monday, no problem.

If I get a declaration page from Geico tomorrow in my email, I can print it and that plus the lease will be enough to prove we live at the residence and we can get the driver’s license portion of the show on the road.

I think we’re starting our renter’s policy tomorrow (picked State Farm because it was the least expensive) and the declaration page for that will also be sufficient to prove residency. Basically, I’ll get a license (or at least apply for one) this week sometime no problem. Everything is getting done nice and quickly.

Really I just want to hurry up and be done so I can just be in the new place and have it be my place and know that we don’t have to leave. The low-grade constant stress is driving me bonkers and keeping me from being able to form coherent thoughts at times. I mean incoherent way beyond my normal quirky “what was I trying to say because I just realized I’m talking about black holes” shenanigans.

Also, my hand is in pain from all the school forms I filled out tonight. It seems in the new school 4th grade gets, you know. grades. They’re still getting meets, progressing toward goal, and exceeds ratings at the current school so I’m excited they’ll get a better gauge of performance than M/E/P on every piece of homework. It might help Big Sister actually remember to bring home her homework, too. It’s like a constant battle. I have to tell you, though, her interest was definitely piqued when she heard of this magical Honor Roll and asked me what she had to do to be on it.

I’m so glad they’re exited.

As for the public aid office, it was deserted. Like, no people except the employees. When you go to my poor folk office there are literally two hundred people all being loud and impatient and if you accidentally make eye contact it’s an instant glaring contest which is like a staring contest and I always lose because I’m not getting into some “who can be more angry and impatient” contest of wills at the public aid office. Here? The lady at the information desk was polite and smiled and volunteered information and it was like I’d traveled to the land where Mr. Rogers was in charge of the public aid office. She asked where Mr. Brickie was moving from and he said Cook County. She smiled kindly and said, “Welcome to Indiana.”

Welcome, indeed.

AfterStory Note: I don’t think the woman at the public aid office was implying anything beyond just being kind and welcoming. As a person not used to kind and welcoming from government agency workers it was hard not to think there had to be something else at play but I don’t think there was. The people at the school were also really kind. Mr. Brickie even got laughed at (kindly) when he asked the clerk at City Hall if he had to buy a City Sticker. The clerk asked him where he was moving from and when Mr. Brickie said Cook County the clerk smiled and said, “Welcome to Indiana” too. So far the moving experience has been really bizarre in the absolute best way possible. Part of me is waiting for it to turn into some kind of Twilight Zone episode. It’s actually reminding me of a movie but I can’t put my finger on which one.

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The Moving Order of Operations {Part 1}

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I’m trying to figure out what order to do everything in.

Mr. Brickie (who couldn’t work today because of the temperature) went in to the school and got the transfer forms. I received a call from a very nice lady making sure I knew we could leave them in their current school for the rest of the year but I had to tell her as much as I’d like to do that, driving 30-ish minutes to and from the school twice a day was out of the budget in terms of gas. She was very understanding and kind.

We need to get our assistance switched over to Indiana so the kids can get fee waivers for public school as well as get signed up for the free lunch program. There is a preschool there that we might qualify for a scholarship for as well so poor Little Sister could stop dying with jealousy every day and get into a school for the second half of the year! My fingers are crossed.

So first he’s talking to public aid.

Then he’s going to talk to the school district now and find out about how the transfer will work.

A driver’s license would be a first choice except they do this SecureID thing and mail your driver’s license to you within 10 days of applying. My kids need to be in the new school in ten days, not waiting on the mail carrier. I have nothing against the more secure procedure, I’m just trying to figure out how to get everything done when I know there’s going to be a period of time where I might not have proof of anything. That is a scary thought.

After those stops it’s off to the Indiana Farm Bureau and State Farm for quotes on renters insurance (as well as a renters/auto combo, of course) and we will see what the best option is for insurance. I changed our online policy to reflect the new address and the six month price dropped by about a hundred dollars (yay!) but the policy starts over with a new address so in December I have to pay $187 to pay the policy through May. It’s a good deal to pay that much for an extra three months of insurance for sure, but every time I see another bill added to the pile I cringe. I’m being really careful with the moving fund money. I guard it. It’s the safety net to get us to the tax return.

If Mr. Brickie isn’t working by the time we have all this stuff taken care of (hopefully he is) he’s going to start making calls for painting jobs or get a seasonal job somewhere. We aren’t going to just hang out and lament the poor weather. He is going to get out there and hustle. That’s just who he is and I love him for it.

Oh, Comcast has already been scheduled to show up next Saturday for the Internet. (Only the Internet.)

I can’t change the bank account yet because I’m not sure how that works with the employer address on the check matching the bank and those records matching the union records. Direct Deposit is the jam, for sure, but I don’t want to mess everything up by changing the address prematurely or changing the wrong address first. We’re going to try and change them on the same day and see how that works out. I don’t know if it’s even possible but I’m going to give it a shot.

I have a list that’s a whole page long with two columns of everything I have to change the address on and I’m sure I’m missing a bunch more things. I’ve been paying attention to the mail but I’m just sure I’m missing something important. That’s what the post office change of address form is for, I guess, but even ten years later I still get stuff here that’s from the previous owners of the house so I know that’s not 100% accurate.

It still feels surreal that we thought we were going to move between Thanksgiving and Christmas and now the kids are going to be in a new school next Monday if we can manage all the proving and the form-filling-outing and everything else.

What a whirlwind.

As for stuff, we have moved a bench, the board games, and all the pictures to the new place. It’s a start.

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Paint Is Magic & Helps Make A Transition Easier

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We didn’t paint anything in the current house for the first five years we lived here.

I just wasn’t into that kind of thing. I don’t know why.

When we finally did paint, I picked a color that most people probably wouldn’t have. A rich teal.

Then we got an IKEA bedframe and it looked like this:

teal-kid-bed-03-31-2012

After some picture accents the room looked really, really nice and I was happy. Really happy. My bedroom became a refuge and sleep came easily. Everything in my bedroom is calculated to make me feel comforted, special, and loved. I know talking about a bedframe making me feel loved is super weird but bear with me. The person I feel like I am when I see that bedframe is the kind of person that owns that bedframe. I like that person. I want to be friends with her. I think she’s a super cool chick.

This is why I feel paint is magic. That bedframe in a white room would be fine. In a neutral colored beige room it would be fine. In my deep teal room? It’s magic.

So, when we looked at the new place we were fine with the walls being painted a neutral shade and, in fact, appreciated there was a well-done fresh coat of paint on everything.

But.

I want MY bedroom. Realizing I could transport that feeling of comfort anywhere was a really big deal for me. The color of my room was a big part of that comfort. So, when Mr. Brickie texted me this picture of our new bedroom.

bedroom-before-after-2

I’m not ashamed to admit I got a little misty. It doesn’t matter where we are geographically and I have no pride connected to owning vs. renting because I don’t have much pride left about anything after the last couple years, but I have my bedroom. My bedroom that’s going to look the way my heart wants a bedroom to look.

….and my bedroom is going to look magnificent.

 

Waiting & Wondering & Picking a Moving Date

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The conversation between The Landlord™ and Mr. Brickie had all the word cues of a done deal. The Landlord saying “your keys” “when you sign the lease” “after the first year you can…” and other things that show where his mind is at. Things he did not say the first go round. (Feel a little bad for poor Mr. Brickie who has been trained over the last 10+ years to remember the exact words people say and then parrot them back to me so I can analyze them. I’m awful. Really.)

It turns out the reason they needed to meet in a Cabela’s parking lot is NOT “because Indiana” but because the landlord does not live in the same town as his building. Luckily he was really happy to hear from Mr. Brickie and was amazed at how clearly and neatly the application was filled out. I take care in filling out applications because a person might not judge bad handwriting but they’ll always appreciate not having to make an effort to read your name.

The next step in the process is the background check. They use a company. He put in the information last night so – sometime this morning – I should receive an email letting me know someone requested a background check and to “click here” if I approve of these strangers having my most personal information.

Yes, I’m hitting refresh on my email every five minutes.

When the background comes back clean (it will) and the credit check comes back not great but not bad (I honestly don’t know how to find out a legit credit score because yeah my Walmart credit card and Credit Sesame tell me my credit score every month but those aren’t the reports that get run by actual people, are they? I thought I read somewhere that getting your own credit score was relatively inaccurate) we will have to decide on a move-in date.

Because the landlord would really, really like us to move in sooner than December 1st.

Mr. Brickie was sent home today because it’s too cold to work (the mortar that hold the blocks together won’t set) and next week looks bad too, so we’re about to miss the “we have paystubs” window.

I think this one is going to go through, though. I really have a feeling about it. The fact that I had the feeling before knowing the rooms are pretty much the same size as our bedrooms here at the house? I think that’s a good sign and isn’t driven solely by a desire to not live in a shoebox. Although, I have to be honest here, it would be really nice to live in this place because it’s definitely bigger than shoebox. The last place we looked at the conversation was, “Well, we could get a full size bed and just be cramped for a couple years.” This place? The king size bed fits with room to spare for nightstands and a dresser. So we wouldn’t have to replace anything.

Wouldn’t that be nice? I could just sell or get rid of everything we didn’t need and not have to get anything new.

When we move, I assure you, I am not cluttering up the new place. If it doesn’t have a place in the new apartment it doesn’t have a place in my life. Period.

I’ll let you know as soon as I get the email. After that, it should be 24-ish hours until the get a response and we get a final decision.

So the question is…when do we move in? We can pick any date we want and the rent will just be due on that date every month. We could pick this Saturday or next Saturday or try and hold firm on December 1st. Are there any pros/cons you can think of when it comes to a move-in date?

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Second Application – Movin’ on Up

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Yesterday Mr. Brickie went to see another apartment.

I knew when he called me he wanted this one.

Bad.

So…while we were able to be (and continue to be – we haven’t been turned down yet) ambivalent yet accepting about the first apartment we saw, this one we both are kind of holding our breath over. He took videos and every one I saw I knew – just knew – where all our STUFF was going to go. We could do the same setup we have here with the living room as computer/dining room. It has a little room as you come in that would be a great room for the little benches we have and coat hooks and purse hooks and shoes and boots. It has a little basement all its own with hookups for a washer and a dryer and a countertop for laundry and shelves and drawers for laundry stuff. The kitchen is totally average in a good way with a little space under a window for a rolling island table thing.

I didn’t have to exert one ounce of mental effort, I just knew where stuff was going to go.

So, obviously, I’m completely losing my mind going between being sure we’re going to get it because I have a feeling (and when I want something I become super-psychic, of course) and being sure that my feeling is nothing but me riling myself up for disappointment.

I know these things happen how they happen and I even had a friend who prayed for me get a message that I really believe is true. I’ve had great advice to not get too attached which I also believe.

But the text from my husband telling me the guy seemed really happy we got back to him with the application tonight so fast just makes me feel so much hope and man, when you sit around just waiting to get kicked out of your house and trying to save your money and pay bills and constantly fall behind while the pressure gets greater and greater and the date you have to move gets closer and closer?

The worry that my husband went to the town with the application and then called the guy and the guy told him to meet him where he was at – shopping – because he didn’t give him any lead time. That scares the crap out of me because I don’t know if that makes us look responsible, quick, and eager or just weird like we have no social skills.

The voice that used to be there to give you hope tells you that you’re coming across all wrong. No one is going to like you. You are not an acceptable risk.

Hope gets lost in the shuffle and you become something that looks a lot like a hollow shell because the alternative is the voice that should be hopeful telling you how awful you are and detailing all your mistakes.

But you’re not even bothered by the mean voice right now because you’re nowhere.

We are in the middle ground. On the fence. That moment when the elevator you’re in reaches your floor and does that weird stop and for just a moment you feel weightless. No longer moving but not still. The in-between place where you haven’t succeeded or failed. Where anything is possible both good and bad.

I really hope we get this apartment.

I would love to start writing posts about moving and how we decide what to take and what to get rid of. You know, fun stuff moving toward something new.

An adventure.

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The Long Term Career Plan (a refresher)

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Someone asked me yesterday, “Why do you keep doing this when he keeps being out of work and you keep having to scrape and scramble? Can’t he go back to school and get a career that pays better, sooner?”

I thought hey, if one person is wondering maybe more than one person is wondering. If you aren’t wondering this might be a boring update. My apologies.

Also, as we struggle through another year of “sometimes working sometimes not but probably not come February” I would like to remind my dear readers and myself why this job is not the worst idea I have ever had. You are not the only one who needs reminders. I do. I probably need them more than anyone else, since it’s my job to save during the boom times and pinch pennies during the lean times.

Apprenticeships & Raises

When Mr. Brickie was first out of training and unleashed upon the world as a 40% apprentice he was making about $17/hr. At the beginning of the season this year he was bumped up to 50% and given a raise that reflects that percentage (about $4/hr.) Inflation and time will make the dollar numbers obsolete but not the percentages. It’s a smart system.

At the beginning of 2015 (if this job lasts that long and it should) the Mr. will have worked enough hours to be bumped up to the next level, a 60% apprentice and receive another raise of about the same amount as the last one. I’m sure you’re picking up on the pattern, so I’ll just stop walking through every ten percent increase. It keeps going like that until he reaches 100% and becomes a Journeyman.

But those are the apprenticeship bumps. The union’s way of “working up from the mail room” and paying you according to your skills. At 80% and 100% there is a skills test you have to pass to get the promotion/raise. Everyone does not get a ribbon and not every bricklayer becomes a journeyman.

As for run-of-the-mill job salary payment raises? Those are written into the multi-year contracts signed by the union and those raises go into effect during the summer sometime. So, on top of the apprentice bumps he also gets a raise every year. The raise happens at the same time for everyone and the apprentice promotions happen when you have worked enough hours, been to enough union meetings, and attended your mandatory training sessions.

So while things are super tough right now (that fundraiser money is only for moving so when I talk about finances being tight that’s because that money isn’t spendable)  but I’ll be fine with a partial paycheck in two years. I like to kind of just mention it now and then because I don’t actually plan on raising a family of five on $21/hr. long term. My calculations show that we will have some financial breathing room when he hits the 70% level.

Overtime

Usually, sometime after the season really kicks into gear, there is overtime. This is far more likely to be the case if you are working with a company that works on schools. Schools have to get all their work done in summer and have it finished before school starts.

Mr. Brickie has worked with a local, well-respected company the past two summers and both times he ended up working overtime. Overtime is a beautiful thing financially, but it turns Mr. Brickie into a crabby bear that I want to lock behind a brick wall to muffle the complaints. Instead I smile and I say, “It’s okay dear, you’re just exhausted, what can I get you?” and hope no one is recording video of me being so Donna Reed it would make me sick if I saw it.

We use overtime money to pad the savings account or pay off bills that need paying. Saved overtime money is what got us the second car.

Benefits

One of the big reasons we chose the profession he’s in is retirement. The retirement package of a union bricklayer in our county is insanely good. The few (painful, overwhelming) years Mr. Brickie was a (licensed!) financial advisor taught us that far too many people in this country are unprepared for being old and retired. We have found the solution to our family’s financial problems but it doesn’t happen overnight and we know we are getting a very late start compared to someone who did everything “right” and got that first job right out of college or started in a trade right out of high school, so the retirement package is huge for us. It allows us to know that in addition to regular retirement savings there is this other stuff he’s been paying into since the first day he started working on a job site.

When you start on the life you have always wanted as late as we have, you have to have to take that into consideration when you’re finding your dream job. Sure, things go wrong and retirement packages go bust, but so do stock markets and everything else. We have to plan with the information we have available and two pensions and an annuity (among other things) are an amazing perk. Sure, we pay into those things, but it’s nice to know we’re paying into something toward retirement.

Timing, Luck, and Hustle

Mr. Brickie started with the bricklayers during their worst year since they began. It was the tail end of the recession and there was no work. Then, he started working and we had the wettest spring ever since Jesus walked on water or something so there was really, really no work when work was supposed to start.

In theory, this is great because that means he started at the very, very beginning of what will turn out to be the next boom cycle (economically speaking) and that should last around ten years with a few years on each end of revving up and revving down. With the jobs not being there, neither are other bricklayers (at the meetings, at training, at follow up classes) and Mr. Brickie is standing out as someone that works hard, can be relied on, and someone smart. He is making a reputation by being a big fish of doing good stuff in a very small pond.

At least, I hope that’s how this is happening because I know he is working his tail feathers off, I know he’s smart, and I know when he tells me the things people tell him he is telling the truth. All that to say I know Mr. Brickie wants to do more with the union itself in the farther off future and this early exposure and his work ethic and attitude – that would have stood out anyway – have an even easier time standing out during a time of less competition.

Luck also comes into play in him getting the job in the first place. He applied and was tested for more than one union. The millwrights were also hiring and we were almost positive he would be a millwright for almost a year before the bricklayers called him in for training. He is still on the list at the union hall (as far as we know) to be called when the hiring freeze is over.

Double Awesome Luck™ would have it that Mr. Brickie loves his job and is good at it. Two things you cannot predict until you’re actually out there working. So he makes sure everyone he works with remembers his name and he has a list (backed up in the cloud) of phone numbers and names of the foremen, schedulers, and supervisors he’s worked with. The list gets longer every year and it’s the list he turns to when winter is over and it’s time to get back into the swing of things at work again.

There are other apprentices who are still working at the same company they were with when they got out of training. There are apprentices who haven’t had a month off here and two months off there since they got out of training. There is a lot of luck at play in what companies get what contracts and how long/often they work. We have gotten a much rockier start than we anticipated but we are rolling with it the only way we know how.

The last luck feather in our caps is the car we bought from craigslist. It’s still putting along just fine with a strong engine and amazing gas mileage. Having two cars has made everything so much easier and allows my girls to be in after school activities. Since we don’t spend money on vacations or voice lessons or gymnastics or anything else you can enroll in? At least they have something extra and special to look forward to. I’m excited about moving because we’ll be less than five minutes away from the YMCA and I have it on good authority the Y is amazing. I’ll be able to go there on my own as well as with my family and participate in programs, pretty much like a park district, I guess.

The Y has a program for low income folks, so I’ll be able to join up almost right when we get there because the membership will be affordable even for my family during our transition from insanely poor to middle class.

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We looked at an apartment on Saturday

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The town we are looking to move to seems to have a really small assortment of available rentals. There are even fewer listed on Craigslist, which is what I have access to during the day and so I know that even if I hit the refresh button every twenty minutes for nine hours the same eight houses are going to pop up over and over again.

Mr. Brickie did look at a bunch of other houses and apartments for rent last month but they all wanted November 1st move in dates and we weren’t in a place where we could do that because everyone wanted paystubs which we didn’t have until last Wednesday. It’s been stressful, but Wednesday we were finally able to start looking on Craigslist in earnest. (Why is moving your entire life something you have to do at the last minute? This is insane.)

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes an apartment building pops up. Sometimes a house that was up last week but was taken down pops up. There are one bedroom apartments and houses that come and go like tumbleweeds across the plains.

But housing that accommodates my family? Few and far between. See, it seems there is a town law/ordinance that you can only have two people per room. So I can’t look for a roomy two bedroom I can throw a bunk bed and twin into for three girls. Nope. I have to go for the cramped three bedrooms or get a fine.

I don’t know who issues the fine. I don’t know how much it is. I could risk going to a different town but we’ve kind of decided on this one so figure that unless a better option presents itself through divine intervention we’re going to suck it up and get a three bedroom for a year or two.

This one apartment Mr. Brickie saw the day he toured seven available houses and apartments for rent in the area was still available as of last week. Saturday morning I saw the listing update and it was offering a $15/mo. reduction on the rent for a two year lease. I was all, “Divine intervention!” (because we all know discounts and sales are the work of a loving, divine presence in the world) and had randy call for the whole family to check the place out.

We got there ten minutes late because there was an accident on the expressway, so I was nervous. I told Mr. Brickie I wasn’t going to go in all super friendly and was going to keep it calm. I told the girls they had to have on their best manners because they needed to act like kids who would never in a million years have a fistfight screaming match while playing Uno. Basically I told them not to act feral, they asked what feral was, I gave examples, and they seemed to understand. (This is not foreshadowing, they did fine, I don’t want to make it sound like a cliffhanger.)

The guy showing us the place was nice. I toured all the rooms and was unsure if our king size bed would fit in any of the rooms. Mr. Brickie (who forgot his tape measure, of course) swears it will. I don’t believe him but figure that having an argument or making him lie on the floor were both weird options that would look bad, so I let it go and checked out the bathroom. I sat on the toilet and mimed wiping my butt. (So gross, I know, but seriously I’m going to be using that toilet for two years and the sink was kind of close and I wanted to make sure my elbow wasn’t going to get dislocated whacking it on the edge of the sink.) Every room was small but not tiny. The ceiling was a drop ceiling but not so dropped it was claustrophobic.

It was a passable apartment I could see us living in for two years while we get through the rest of Mr. Brickie’s internship and move him on to the world of being a journeyman with double the paycheck of what he makes now. You know, a pit stop on the race of life or some other deep analogy that makes it sound romantic.

I handed over the application I had filled out here at home already just in case this place was passable and decent and when I asked Mr. Brickie to pull out the checkbook to write the check for the criminal background check he said they would need and mentioned during the tour in the form of asking us if we were married because then it would only be one payment instead of if we were not married where they would have to do separate checks or something … but he told Mr. Brickie to put his checkbook away because that’s the NEXT step in the process. First his Mrs. has to go over the regular application and decide if she even wants to do the background check.

I asked him if he wanted the copy of the paystub or the printout of the savings account.

He said no.

I asked him what information she would get from the two page application that asked where we banked and the names of our employers and he shrugged saying, “I don’t know what she does to decide.”

He said that his wife had already turned down a bunch of people for the apartment. The apartment has been on craigslist for probably at least a month, it’s true, but on that Saturday morning it had just been edited with the new lower rent price for a two year lease. So I’m thinking you don’t really offer a discount if people are knocking your door down trying to rent your place.

But I’ve never understood landlord logic (and I used to date one) so I didn’t question what he said and figured if we were going to get to the next step it would happen. In the meantime, I’ve been hitting refresh on Craigslist every twenty minutes or so since just in case something pops up.

When we were in the town, we stopped by the realtor that has a rental listing for the town as a courtesy, but they closed early on Saturday so we weren’t able to pick one up. I think that is where most of the local listings show up first, because it’s a small town and they all kind of have this word-of-mouth mentality where they’re trying to keep a small town vibe or something. Honestly I’m not sure.

When we told the girls it was time to leave they went through the apartment and shut off all the lights. The potential new landlord noticed and said, “I wish my kids had done that at that age.” I said, “They’re good kids.” He said, “I can see that.”

So hopefully my non-feral kids sold the deal for me. We will see.

I’m really nervous about looking for a place during winter. Like, no one moves in winter. Everyone in the  midwest is going to be on cold weather lockdown soon. We need to get into a place and be done with this transition stuff. It’s too stressful.

In addition, the polar vortex or whatever is going to start messing with paystubs soon, so having an almost 40 hour check (minus the two-ish hours he missed when the cement truck backed into the main power line last week that one day and he came home early because no power = no work) is kind of imperative to these places that want a paystub as proof we can afford to live there.

We are not so set on this place that we will all perish of disappointment if we don’t get it, but I would really like it if we could just get it and I didn’t have to think about it anymore. If I could stop hitting refresh on craigslist. If I could know what comes next for sure.

The fact that it’s a block and a half away from a park with a stocked fishing lake, a block and a half from the library, and a block and a half from a $3 movie theatre sure as hell don’t hurt, either. Oh, it’s also in the school district we really want to be in. So I would be lying if I said I wasn’t spending my time hoping we get it. We are hoping we get it. For sure. But I’m also trying to be realistic and mature. Or whatever the word is for not letting myself get my hopes up too, too much.

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