Hipsters, Lumbersexuals, and Living Within Your Means

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There is an article over on The Atlantic about Lumbersexuals. Go ahead, read it if you haven’t and then come back. If you don’t want to read it, I’ll sum it up. Lumberjacks are the new cowboys, flannel is back in fashion, and certain groups of men are happier working with their bodies and their minds as opposed to just their minds.

One of the iconic things mentioned in this article is a man with a flannel and a can of PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, which is cheap and drinkable but definitely not a microbrew or what anyone would call artisanal) and I smiled because cheap beer has a place in my heart from the old college days of cheap drinking and loud singing in large groups for no good reason. The article then goes on to talk about men in crisis and how they try to recreate these things that they felt were “real” because their lives seem so “unreal” and about three quarters of the way through I realized this is the same problem in a different light.

If these men wanted to feel masculine and do something with their bodies they could join a union. Or they could join a trade and not join a union. The trades get a bad wrap sometimes as a bunch of lazy guys doing bad work and being dumb. They are not. My husband needs to be able to eyeball 1/8″ and do fraction math all day long in his head while he lays brick. He gets a sense of doing real work at the end of a day where he has worked on an elementary school or a retirement home. We have pointed out buildings to our girls and said, “Daddy helped build that.” He tells me it is an immensely satisfying feeling.

It also pays a living wage once you get past being an apprentice. A wage that is enough to properly feed and clothe a family of five….if you are willing to live within your means and don’t want to eat at a farm to table restaurant every week and don’t mind cheap beer.

Lumbersexuals and hipsters want the accouterments of a middle class life but do not want to make the sacrifices that come with one.

PBR is fine and dandy as a symbol to show that someone doesn’t require a microbrew to be happy. To show off that you don’t need name brand things.

It is a different personification of the rich not needing to show off with a bunch of branded items. You are well off enough you don’t have to prove it to anyone so you don’t care if your car is ten years old. You are not showing off. It’s the understanding that once you have truly arrived the only person who needs to see you there is you. You don’t need anyone else to notice what you’re wearing because you just. don’t. care. It’s what my great grandmother taught me rich was and, while she was talking about having enough money, I think I misinterpreted at the time and thought she meant enough money as in loads and piles of money, not enough money in the very real sense of not feeling fear anymore.

But the posturing? The overt symbolism this entails? When you are drinking cheap beer (but the RIGHT kind of cheap beer, for sure, otherwise people might think you’re poor or something) you are sending a message as much as someone who is wearing DG sunglasses while sporting a Louis Vuitton handbag and … I don’t even know … pick some clothing that has a brand all over it and you get my drift. There are people who need/want to be billboards and there are people who want to be the billboards that are the mirror image of those other “bad” billboards but in doing so are just as much of a billboard as the first people. I don’t want to buy the things to look like I’m from GQ they say….I want this cheap beer and this (probably not cheap) flannel and I will grow my beard and not be mainstream.

Sure, they are not mainstream anymore and I do love looking at guys with beards because beards are nifty, but trying to pretend you’re something you are not happens as much in a thousand dollar suit as it does in a hundred dollar flannel.

It’s a costume.

If these men (and hey, I’m sure women feel this way too…I know I miss my flannels from high school and college like crazy!) want to do something meaningful with their bodies as well as their minds in order to make a paycheck they don’t have to risk their lives the way actual lumberjacks did. There are safety regulations that help keep people alive and everything now! Ah, the future! My husband doesn’t go on a scaffold twenty stories up without safety gear (thank goodness!) so he doesn’t have to deal with the horrible conditions and he gets the joy of a job well done that will last at least a few generations before it’s turned into a parking lot. Hell, the law of numbers states that our grandkids’ grandkids (I’m just using it as an example) will be able to find at least one building in the Chicagoland area that their ancestor worked on.

The sacrifice for these bearded, lost men (the real sacrifice that would give them satisfaction instead of symbols) would mean they would have to drink PBR because that’s what was in the budget, not because they were slumming. It would be a choice, still, but a different kind of choice.

A choice to live a life with less money and more life.

It’s a simple shift that would probably make a lot of people happy. The symbols of a satisfied life will never make the person wearing them as satisfied as the life itself would, but maybe it’s the best they can do. Maybe they can’t let expectations of what life should be just … go.

Switching our lives around from being a white collar family to a blue collar family has been one of the most difficult things we have ever done individually or as a couple. A new state, a new living arrangement, new schools, new expectations, and a new budget have left us reeling but feeling satisfied and at home. I know that there is a Mary Engelbreit quote that says, “Bloom where you’re planted.”

Sometimes, though, you have to tear out your root structure and move to the sunlight so you can bloom your best.

Dumping cheap beer and old symbols on the problem isn’t going to solve anything.

Only a change in perspective can do that.

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The Fifteen Minutes My Daughter Went Missing

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Somehow, the communication wires got crossed.

Of course it happened the day we were late to pick up the kids because the DMV took *gasp* twenty minutes to get us our new licenses for our brand-new state. (That includes the time it took to take the actual written test, too.)

I called the school and they said that late pick-ups just needed to call the office when they got there and they would send the kids out to the same place. I called as we pulled up and was informed they only had one of my kids. I heard them paging the other one while I was still on the phone. The secretary put me on hold for a few moments and then asked if I could come around to the office.

Panic began to form a tight knot in my heart.

Mr. Brickie dropped me off and drove the path home to see if Big Sister had walked. I didn’t think that would happen because while Middle Sister is VERY excited by the prospect of walking home, Big  Sister is more unsure. It was a long shot, but better to split up and cover more ground as soon as possible.

Middle Sister was in the office waiting. She said that Big Sister was waiting in the car area with her and then she wasn’t there anymore. (We found out later that was incorrect.)  The principal, the teacher that is on car-rider pick-up watch, and the substitute teacher for Sadie’s class today (along with the school secretary) were all having a little get-together covering what they thought could have happened. They paged through the school several more times and asked Middle Sister and I questions about Sadie’s friends at school and if she was thinking about visiting someone’s house.

I started to get a little nervous thinking they were implying my child might have gotten plucked from the car-rider pick up line but the principal assured me that sometimes it happens because the kids make plans and the parents just go along with them sometimes. She was sure if Big Sister hadn’t walked home some other kind parent probably just gave her a ride. “It happens.”

“Oh. So I shouldn’t be worried just yet?”

“No. No. I’m sure she’s fine. ”

“This is not the reaction I was expecting. ”

*everyone laughs in a kind-hearted way that feels like I’m a big-city fool who just doesn’t understand how things work around these parts*

About this time, Mr. Brickie calls and – lo and behold – Big Sister HAD walked home. By herself. She was very angry because she thought that Middle Sister had left without her and she walked the whole way home thinking she was going to see Middle Sister any minute now until she got home and no one was home waiting for her. She was very sad and got very scared.

Mr. Brickie found her safe and watching for our car by a big tree near the house where she could see us coming from FIVE different directions. Smart kid. I was planning on giving both the girls a house key on a necklace this weekend, I guess this is a good example of why it’s a good idea!

As she opened the office door to come inside everyone smiled at her and said they were really glad she got found. When I wrapped my arms around her and said, “I was so worried. I’m so happy you’re safe.” her little angrysadscarednervous tears spilled over. I felt awful for her. Poor kid. She made a bad decision, but she got home safe and then waited for us to find her.

Thank goodness.

In the future, Big Sister will make sure not to make any walking or riding decisions without Middle Sister by her side.

Teamwork makes the dream work, y’all.

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It’s Like I Ran Away to Join the Circus

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I’m afraid to look and see how long it’s been since I’ve written.

Immunizations, the wrong math books, applying for a preschool lottery, and a scentsy party have all happened.

Later this week I’m going to a yoga(!) class and to coffee with a dear Illinois friend who is bringing her child over the border for a birthday party.

The long and short story of the immunizations is advice. If you can, have your medical records faxed to you instead of to a new doctor. It’s better to have your own copy than rely on two sets of people you don’t know to get something done that seems impossible every time I’ve personally tried to do it. Now I have a faxed copy of the girls records saved in the cloud forever. Or until the cloud implodes. Whichever. I also have a backup copy on my hard drive but come on, everyone knows hard drives are so 2000-and-late. Pfft.

The Math Textbook Story

The math textbook story is super simple but when I try to tell the story it turns into something that sounds more like a tall tale told drunk.

The old school had five tracks. Two levels of intervention the regular middle-of-the-road level and then two levels of enrichment learning. It seems genius. Five slots means everyone has a better chance of getting their personal, specific learning needs met. Big Sister was in accelerated math (same year, just faster, so a slightly advanced class they told me) and Middle Sister was in a very advanced class (she was working a grade higher than her own, they told me) and it seemed to work out because they both had “The Zebra Book” so the 4th grader working fast in her grade and the 3rd grader working a year ahead SHOULD have the same book. It made sense.

One of the first things the girls told me after they moved was about the new books they received. They were super excited at their beautiful science and social studies books and they oohed and aahed over their reading and writing workbooks. Then Middle Sister said she had the same math book as she did in the old school and again, that made sense to me, it even made sense when Big Sister said she got a different book because the new schools aren’t tracked and there is only one “High Ability” class per year in the new school. She’s working a year ahead too, I thought, I should get on some resources so she doesn’t fall behind if she’s going to get a slingshot to new math concepts.

I asked Big Sister what her new math book looked like. She said it had a peacock. I couldn’t find one with a peacock and asked her, “Does it have the poof on its butt or its head?” She replied, “It’s head.” I said, “Oh, that’s this book.”


The first thing I noticed was this book has a giant four on the cover.

For 4th grade.

The grade Big Sister is in.

Which then led me to try and figure out what grade the zebra textbook was. The book both my kids have been using from September to this point where nothing makes sense and Common Core is supposed to make this absolutely not happen when you move to a new state.

everyday-math-3You see that giant 3 there, right?

Yeah, this is when I looked around and realized I don’t have any wine in the new house and I was going to have to get through this without help. I looked and looked to see if there were different versions. I found the California version but then checked the girls’ workbooks they brought home and they don’t say Illinois version on them so that couldn’t be it.

But…but…how did my 4th grade daughter get a new 4th grade textbook that’s different from her old common core 4th grade textbook? Super simple. Both my kids had 3rd grade books last  year. I know because I went through the stuff the brought home from the old school and found their journals and opened them up to see a big ol’ THREE staring me in the face. Now, you might be thinking (I know I am) HOW did I miss that for half a year? HOW?

1.) When they said my child was in accellerated math they really meant she needed help and she was in a year behind text. I was blinded by my own mother’s heart.

2.) They brought home photocopies of pages in the workbooks almost exclusively. Rarely did I see a workbook in the house.

3.) I never thought to double check to make sure my 4th grader wasn’t using a 3rd grade textbook. I assumed my 4th grader was doing 4th grade math.

I still think I must have something mixed up. I’ve googled questions to get help with answers, I’ve done numerous searches to find answer keys for something I didn’t understand (I said I liked Common Core, I never said it was easy for me, lol) and never, ever, ever did it come to my attention my children were working out of 3rd grade textbooks.

Seriously. I don’t think I’ll ever get over it. When my memory is gone and I’m sitting in a chair staring out the window more gone than present I will still mutter about those damn Zebra books.

I wonder if this is happening anywhere else? I don’t see anything on Google for people’s children using the wrong grade of books and basically keeping it from all the parents on a mass scale. I’m not going to ask because I’m done with being the difficult parent. I’m certainly not going to become the difficult parent that isn’t even part of the school system anymore.

Maybe people are too busy fighting about common core to notice if their kids are using the right books for their grade. Common core is supposed to mean 4th graders across the country are all learning the same thing the same year. So even though my kids were using Common Core textbooks they might or might not have been learning what other students of the same grade are. On the bright side, at least they’re bringing home different homework sheets now. It was getting straight up boring last year when Middle Sister would bring home a worksheet and then Big Sister would bring home the same worksheet the next day.

I like a little variety in my homework helper duties.

Work Update

This week has been a training week for Mr. Brickie. Great because these classes are required to get his promotions, but bummer because instead of four days of work at over a hundred take home dollars a day he gets a stipend check for $250 at the end of the week. It’s a sacrifice but one we’re (mostly/somewhat/reluctantly) happy to make because it’s part of the overall plan.

The days before the move where we were sick and throwing up like crazy and barely able to walk? Those were the dark days. The very darkest. Since we first realized we were going to get foreclosed on and prayed the timing would work out that he was making enough to live on by the time we needed to leave the house. Originally we thought we would be in the house until April, 2015 until an investor bought it instead of the house going back to the bank. So that’s where that fundraiser came in.

There is still almost $500 left from that fundraiser. It was spent on first month’s rent and security deposit here at the new place, the movers, renters insurance, gas for moving that was not the movers, and that’s about it. My goal is to keep the $498.97 as the beginning of an emergency fund.

At the last union meeting, Mr. Brickie cashed out his HRA health savings account so we received that $260 in the mail yesterday. I deposited that lickety split.

Today he received $379.14 for a partial work week last week (he was moved to a new job site with the same company)
There was already $111.77 in the checking account.
The HRA check for $260.14 will fully clear in the bank account tomorrow. ($200 cleared today. My bank is funny.)
Thursday he will receive his $250 training stipend. (I’m not sure when that will clear in the bank account once it’s deposited.)
That all adds up to $1001.05

It might be enough. It will be enough if he works all next week. He’ll get paid for that work on Christmas Eve (I love direct deposit. It doesn’t care about the day before holidays.)

Of course the sticking point is he will only work at his job on Friday of this week which means next Wednesday he will get a paycheck for one day. About a hundred dollars. So I have to save a hundred from this week’s bounty to cover living expenses (gas, tolls) for next week. Planning ahead is important when you have a job like Mr. Brickie’s.

The bills this month I really have to watch out for are the rent ($775 due 12/15) and the car insurance ($187.37 due 12/18 ) … we haven’t seen a gas/electric bill yet. That will come sometime this month and be due in January. There is an Internet bill (and boy howdy does Comcast stink. I can’t stream a video and go on facebook at the same time, what the hell is that about? Even writing in the WordPress backend is laggy and stuttery! I’m sad.) that’s also due on 12/18.

It’s going to be close but it really looks like it’s going to be close on the right side of being able to leave that savings alone.

Right now it’s a race to Taxmas. We have had some serious conversations and right now it’s looking like we might use a giant chunk of the tax return to pay off the remainder of the lease through next November 15th.  It seems like absolutely the safest (smartest?) choice. We will cross that bridge when we come to it because a vague plan is good but counting chickens before they are hatched is bad.

I’m trying to walk the tightrope.

Overall, he thinks this company is going to keep him around and working much more than previous years. It will make a huge difference in our bottom line if that’s the case. My fingers are crossed, for sure, and he already has a job to go back to after training on Friday. He’s already heard that this job should go through January and there’s an indoor component which means weather won’t be a factor! He has also heard whispers about another winter job on the horizon.

Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

The Kids (but really all about me)

They love the new school, they love the activities in town. I think the #1 thing that has made the kids’ transition successful is me. I’m not tooting my own horn, I swear, it was just not this easy to get along with other people where we used to live. Everyone here being friendly helps me – as Indiana Jen – get out and do more things. My anxiety was directly linked to how my interactions with others went when I left the house. I’ve been here since November 23rd (the first night I slept here for real!) and the girls’ first day of school was November 24th. We have only been here EIGHTEEN DAYS and I’m more comfortable making phone calls, have taken all the kids to the doctor, picked up the kids from school, and talked to one of my neighbors. We have been to a Christmas event at the local high school. I have talked to the superintendent of the school district. My daughter participated in Hour of Code and wants to join the coding club that is starting at the elementary school.

Seriously, you guys, I moved to a neighborhood that cares about its residents. I’m sure there are groups and cliques, but it’s not clique-ish. Sure I’ll never be someone who remembers where everyone hung out in this town when they were in high school, but I won’t be not invited because of it. Each new person I meet here is like a reminder I wasn’t the problem. I feel like a Mom Butterfly who didn’t realize she was anything more than a Mom Caterpiller. Sluggish and crawling and so low here on the ground watching other moms soar with their children.

I wondered how they did it. Not anymore. I just get shit done now. It’s okay, if I make a mistake someone will be kind and help me. It makes all the difference in the world.

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A Week In The New Place

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I was telling my friend yesterday that I was so sure we would have to move into some awful sacrificial place because we were such failures I am having trouble getting comfortable in the new place.

The bedroom is bigger than at the house.

The kitchen has a better flow.

The windows are all normal and not kissing the ceiling with a narrow dare to find decent draperies.

There are blinds. Have I told you I’ve fallen in love with blinds? They’re so….easy.

Thanksgiving was uneventful in all the best possible ways. The food all turned out perfect and the company was great. My girls were talking about how nice it was for families to get together and have a nice holiday together where they could be in love and watch football and fun movies (we watched Despicable Me 2).

I keep feeling like it’s Sunday and I feel my brain and insides kind of bear down to get prepared for Monday where we have to find out about the school lunch issue…oh, I haven’t told you about that, have I?

We hit our first snag in the new school.

I sent Middle Sister with a dollar on Wednesday because they have snacks. When she got to the counter, the lunch lady took her money and didn’t give her the snacks because they haven’t been put into the system for the free lunch program yet. Middle Sister was so sad when she got home but said she didn’t cry at the school because the lunch lady looked like she felt really bad about taking her money and Middle Sister didn’t want to make it worse. So sweet, right? I told her I would replace her dollar and we would try again next week.

In the meantime I’ll find out Monday what’s going on and what I should do to make sure it won’t happen again.

She DID receive her lunch so I have no problem with what happened. They just didn’t let her have the bottle of water and the chips. 100% no big deal.

The night before last was the first night since we started sleeping here Sunday that we really slept. It was great.

It’s funny because when we were talking over whether we were aiming to rent a house or an apartment we never in a million years thought we would actually get the best of both worlds. The main floor of a house converted to apartments with an add-on bedroom and a little (clean, well-lit) basement to do laundry. No lawncare, no snow shoveling, no remembering what day trash day is. No water bill, no trash/sewer bill.

A private back door and a 90% private front door. Windows looking out onto the street where I can type and watch the cars pass and the kids ride bikes and walk.

Because did I tell you? There are kids everywhere. Walking, riding, moseying everywhere. No one will look at me funny if I let the girls walk to school (which I will when it’s not bitterly cold out) or let them bike to my cousin’s house a mile away. It’s a normal part of life here.

I feel like after having a fundraiser we should be in someplace made for serving time or doing penance for the wrongs of our choices. But we did look diligently and saw many places before this one opened up. I remember wanting the four bedroom we saw so much. I still would have liked to give each child their own room but that’s just decadent and unnecessary. Their bedroom is for sleeping and the third bedroom is for their toys and books and a friend is going to give us a futon so they have a place to sit. (Because of course the couch wouldn’t fit through the hallway. Nor would the chair and a half.)

We haven’t eaten out since we’ve been here, although we have had cup o’ noodles a couple times because the counters weren’t clear until the night before Thanksgiving.

We all gave thanks for this place.

It’s good here.

Thank you to my readers who shared links to LIHEAP in Indiana. We don’t have a utility bill yet so I think I may have been jumping the gun there. I have not put in the paperwork for Little Sister to go to Head Start yet because we can’t find it just yet. The refrigerator that would not fit is off our back porch and sold. We are still working on selling the stove and the dryer.  Mr. Brickie goes to the house every day to make sure we have the things we need as well as to make sure the house is safe and not broken into.

We are still very much in transition but we are more here than there and that is amazing and comforting for all of us.

Last but not least Mr. Brickie found out there is a job he is going to after the current one ends. Hallelujah!

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90% Done and Sick as Dogs

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All the big stuff and most of the smaller stuff is here at the new place.

There are some things that have to get picked up. That may happen tonight if Mr. Brickie can stop there in between work and his Union meeting tonight.

I told you about Saturday night and Mr. Brickie being so sick, right?

We’re still sick but it’s tolerable.

The problem with being sick is being forgetful.

Yesterday I took the kids in for their first day of school. Monday morning was hard because I felt awful and we weren’t sure how long it would take us to get ready and we knew the school had a breakfast program but somehow I forgot they were going into testing right away and I messed up and for the first time since my children started school they went to school without having breakfast.

I felt like a monster. Like I was setting them up to fail. It was awful.

We got there and as I was sitting in the parking lot about to turn off the car my phone rings. It’s the school secretary checking to see if we’re coming in and letting me know they were expecting us earlier. I apologized and let her know we were in the parking lot. After some talk about the parking lot I was supposed to go in (oops) she said she would come to meet me by the door we were at. We rushed out of the car as fast as we could and ran to the door in what was becoming really horrible wind.

The rushing would cost me later.

They had us wait in the office while the girls completed their testing and showed Little Sister a bin full of crayons and coloring sheets and toys to occupy her while we waited and she was a real champ. I read her a couple little books out of the bin, too. One of the kids books was about Alzheimer’s Disease and it made me cry but I didn’t know that before I started reading and it was a really sweet, sad book. (I highly recommend it when you’re not reading to your child in public about understanding how and why we deal with people living with us who are not working with their faculties at 100%. The one we read was called, “But Mama, How Come Grandpa Gets To?“)

After the testing I was informed both girls tested into the High Ability classrooms. I was so nervous one would and one wouldn’t based on the time of day, the phase of the moon, and just the general stress of moving the day prior that I was almost in tears with relief. The lady who performed the testing also told the principal in front of me that the kids were a delight and really great at following directions.

That’s probably the most you’ll ever hear me brag on my kids. I try not to talk to much about it in the blog because there are so many kids out there and the story of my children is mostly an easy one and thus, not really the kind of thing I like sharing. I’d rather find my financial grapplers in solidairty and we can lift each other up than find a group of parents with mostly doing fine kids and just kind of high five each other over how fine they are. Once we are out of the financial woods I hope to have tips and tricks for anyone to be able to do the same. For people to do better than they are now. My kids were born the way they are. I can’t tell any other parent on the face of the earth how to do that job. I’m pretty against most parents trying to tell other parents the “right” way to do things. It makes my skin crawl. One of them has a wicked anxiety problem that I’m trying to deal with but some other kid with anxiety? The same things won’t work because nature and nurture are different for almost every child.

After we got done with the tour and everything Little Sister and I went to the car though some magical sleet whipped hell she was screaming at having to walk through even though she had a hood on and refused to even let me carry her and we got into the car and I turned the key and …and it wouldn’t start. Rushing out of the car? I had left the lights on the entire time I was in the school. The car battery was dead as a doornail.

I felt so defeated in that moment. Realizing I had left the lights on when we went into the school made me feel better (car doesn’t have a mechanical problem!) and worse (I’m an idiot!) and it took a few minutes before I realized I had coverage on my insurance for roadside assistance.

Then Little Sister and I spent an hour sitting in the (cold) car waiting for the tow guy to show up and give us a jump start. Which was awful. I cried a lot. Little Sister slept because she refused to go outside in the sleet and sideways wind to go back into the school. Since the wind was the worst by far I figured being in the car would be cold but not dangerous. The guy showed up and jumped the car, super polite and pleasant and fast. Just what we needed to reboot and try to make the best of the rest of the day.

We had a few minutes at home and then went with a friend to the YMCA for an application and then to the Head Start where we thought we were picking up an applicaiton but were sat down and we went through the application right there. They were really kind and I have a list of what I have to bring back tomorrow if we want her to start on Monday. I’m not sure the times are going to work with the girls, though. The afternoon lets out at 3:15 and the kids get off school at 3:30 and on a good day it’s about 7 minutes between the two. If you take into consideration a kid getting her coat and gloves on at the end of school? That adds ten minutes and I’m not on time to pick the girls up from their school.

Eventually the older girls will walk to school but not until we can all walk together a couple of times to get them used to it. With the rain and cold it just hasn’t been an option and may not be until spring. I don’t know.

The current plan is to get through this week. I have a feeling if we can just get a few days of recuperation in we’ll all be ready to take our new lives by storm Monday.

Oh, as for poor folk stuff, Indiana public aid is really nice but I’m confused by the requirements to receive SNAP (formerly food stamps) because when Mr. Brickie told them he didn’t work a week they asked for a letter from his employer or they would have to put in the system he worked 40 hours. I guess that’s to deter fraud? Ah well, he ended up working on Saturday so we have a paycheck to give them as soon as he can get back in there or give it to me and I can get it in there.

Other snafu, I don’t remember signing up for TANF (cash assistance formerly known as welfare) but received letters in the mail today for both adults in the household that we have to go to some skills training job thing. Oh, a Job Search Appointment. Maybe that means they’ll help me find child care so I can get a job outside the home? I’m not entirely sure. If Mr. Brickie is working he won’t be able to go, so I’m not sure what to do about that. I’ll keep you updated on that. Maybe we can just tell them we weren’t looking for cash assistance because we’re not, I’m more than happy with food assistance.

Oh, and maybe LIHEAP. Do they even have that in Indiana? I wish I wasn’t so nauseous I could look it up. It has taken me since 9am to write this post because I have to step away to let the dizziness and nausea die down. So seven hours for this one post. Yeah, research isn’t happening just yet. I have to get better.

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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?


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.


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


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.


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.


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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