Category: Budget & Finance

Mondays Are For B@#ching – Come Play in May

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I feel for people on Monday. I truly do.

Mostly I feel for my kids on Monday. They’ve just had this fabulous weekend and suddenly they’re back at the school grind. No matter how they love it I generally find myself singing this while getting them ready on Monday mornings.

Also, when I get 80’s jamz stuck in my head I’m more bouncy and less crabby, so I don’t actively discourage that song being in my head on Monday mornings.

I know, you’re like, where is the bitching? It’s coming. Oh, it’s coming. 

So I have a To Do list I make over the weekend with things that I have to do and things Mr. Brickie has to do and general “someone gotta get this done” stuff as well.

When I wake up this morning the kids are at school and I walk into the living room – still half asleep and groggy – and before I’ve even had a drop of coffee I croak out, “Have you called your people yet?”

We decided (or I told … sometimes the lines are blurry) he would get in contact with everyone jobby today and check up on what the prospects are like out in the big bad bricklaying world. So when he responded with, “No, I haven’t had a chance yet.” I was like, “Whatever, get it done.”

So he did, and lo and behold there was a list that came out this morning. A list of 20 new jobs that started today with an unknown number of bricklayers on each job. Apprentice needs? Unknown.

My bitching here is twofold. 

1) Sometimes I get tired being the woman behind the man doing the thing. I get tired of having to remind, schedule, cajole, wheedle, nudge, push, kick, coddle, and remind. Oh, I’m sorry, did I say remind twice? It wasn’t a mistake.

2) My husband loves his job but the way you actually get a job is a damn mess. Since he’s still so low on the totem pole he only knows so many people and only has so many contacts. So he can get recommendations but these companies do not have websites, they do not have facebook pages, you cannot find public phone numbers in most cases.

So between making sure he gets OUT of the house and starts meeting people on job sites and making sure he’s milked information on where those job sites are from the right people this is the difficult part.

It was similar last year – which is cold comfort – but this part? The part where he drove and drove and filled out application after application? It reminds me of the part of childbirth where you are so tired and just want to give up but that means you’re almost done.

It’s the transition period of this industry.

For those of you who think maybe he should just get into another industry, let me remind you of the BLS numbers.

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So I’ll keep bitching and moaning because I know, eventually, he’ll be working damn-near constantly because a huge part of that growth percentage is going to be in urban areas and we’re by a huge one. Huge, huge, huge. I gotta tell you though, I just want to scream sometimes. I get really frustrated sometimes, and once in a while I will look at my husband whom I love more than I love myself and the chorus of this song runs through my head.

Usually I don’t complain or bitch too much on this blog because I’m trying to be a different kind of person. Even when I do bitch you can hear the strained hope trying to bust through the cracks. It’s the person I want to be forcing its way through the crunchy coating that is my negativity.

I want this. I want him to be working and happy and the closer it gets the crazier I feel.

Lucky for me I have a new therapist.

Maybe I should bitch about how many times she used the word schizophrenic in our intake meeting? Naw. I’ll save that for later. After the next meeting, perhaps, when it’s less intake meeting and more Me & My Clinical Neuropsychologist. (That could totally be a buddy-cop movie. Couldn’t it?)

It’s been an hour and he’s still not out of the house getting his job hustle on. I don’t CARE that it’s because he’s getting dressed in his work clothes and getting his tools together in case he can just hop on the job or just because he wants to look ready to work. (Kind of like wearing a suit to an interview, I guess?) I just want him to be out of the house making things happen already. I want to force the magic of being in the right place at the right time.

I think I might stab him with the power of my mind out of sheer frustration.

Axis of Ineptitude

Looking for the whole list of prompts? They are in text form and image so you can Come Play In May!

Old Work Dog – New Work Tricks

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I’m getting nervous enough about Mr. Brickie starting to work again I’m turning to the metaphysical. Prayer and throwing salt over my shoulder just isn’t cutting it, so I thought I’d do a tarot reading and see what it had to say.

If you don’t believe in tarot readings or any kind of divination, that’s fine. It calms my nerves and I’m all about calm nerves and at least the illusion of control over the future. I believe in and support the placebo effect 100%! My cousin was kind enough to read my cards for me. The overall message was, “Relax, everything is going to be fine.”

Which, surprisingly, did not make me feel a whole lot better.

Then today I decided to break out my new Steampunk Tarot (so pretty!)  and give myself a quick, three-card reading. All three cards were pentacles (money) and basically represented that everything is going to be okay.

So…CAN THINGS BE OKAY ALREADY?

Mr. Brickie Changes Up His Plans

The thing we’ve been wondering daily is when will Mr. Brickie go back to work. We were so sure there was a job in the next town over. We were so sure this company was going back to work any minute now. We have been so sure, but the surety and hope has waned, being slowly and methodically scratched at until the soft underneath of fear and desperation was revealed.

I know you have heard me say – almost as a chant – that he will be going back to work any day now.

It starting ringing hollow even to my ears. I apologized for putting hope out publicly. I knew something was amiss but couldn’t put my finger on what.

Today Mr. Brickie called the owner of the company he worked for last season. He heard – yet again – that he’s their guy and the owner of the company told him that the project next to our town is on hold for now and while there may be many bids out, none have come back  yet.

The owner recommended Mr. Brickie call his liaison over at the District Council Training Center and get him working on another gig in the meantime.

So, with the owner’s blessing (and a promise that they would call him the minute they have work) Mr. Brickie made the call to the liaison at the DCTC and was immediately given the name of another company. He called the company and – after dropping the liaison’s name – they were super-friendly and told him to come in before 5pm and fill out a quick application. This company is hiring hundreds of bricklayers right now and it’s a good way to get him in and working.

He even got a chance to talk to the owner of the new company and detail the experience he’s had. The owner of Company B (his last company we love will be Company A … for Awesome, naturally) said they had stuff coming up really soon and they’d call him the day before to make sure he was ready to go.

So he’s still not working but irons are officially in multiple fires.

He mentioned he might show up at a work site that’s local to us tomorrow morning to find out if they have any apprentices.

SNAP Update

I got a renewal form in the mail. It’s a thing where they give you a number and a username and password. You call in and enter your information and apply over the automated system.

At the time I was filling it out it asked if there was any other income we needed to declare. Since Mr. Brickie gets unemployment I said, “Yes.” It said I would have to provide paperwork and we would get another letter in ten days. I told Mr. Brickie about this and he immediately snapped, “It’s not.”

Well in the paperwork I have it specifically calls unemployment “other income” so:

A) I’m not sure why he snapped at me.
B) I’m not sure why he wouldn’t have just asked me why I considered it income and I would have happily told him what the thought process was behind my answer.
C) I wish I would have waited for him to come home and do the dumb thing himself. I was trying to be helpful and now I just feel stupid for trying.

So now that’s all up in the air and I have no idea what’s going to happen. At this point, I honestly don’t care. I’m tired of waiting, I’m tired of everyone being so positive but Mr. Brickie isn’t going in to work in the morning. I’m tired of knowing he’s going to his Union Meeting tomorrow night to have fun and hang with his dudes and I’ll be here kicking myself for filling out a stupid phone interview thing wrong because I was trying to be honest.

Easter Was Pretty Spectacular

We had a great time at Easter. We spent it with family and they had multiple Easter egg hunts and lots of baskets and so much candy they are pretty much ignoring it right now. I think it was just totally overwhelming. They got to go to the playground and hang out with their cousins and even though they don’t get invited to the birthday parties these small connections make me really happy.

I mean, it’s enough for them to be distant and occasional, especially since we might be moving soon and that would make it just that much more difficult to see them as often as we could from where we are at now.

It’s a place we’ve been in pretty much almost forever. We aren’t really owned by either side of the family but we’ve managed to find our place somewhere in the middle and it works well for us. I’m lucky I have close friends that have kids who do see my kids more often and they’re pretty darn good influences.

Family is what you make it, right?

As always, I’ll keep you updated on job stuff, SNAP stuff, and everything else as we limp our way toward a summer filled with full time work, crafts, and a spotless house. (No lie!)

3 Reasons Poor People Don’t Like Fruits and Vegetables You Might Not Know!

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I’m so tired of people acting like being poor automatically makes you a frozen pizza eating, Twinkie-huffing heifer that bathes in melted semi-sweet chocolate chips.

At that psychological test my kids did a while back my 4 year old couldn’t identify a cartoon picture of a kiwi. I can assure you, that girl has eaten and enjoyed kiwi on several occasions. I think there is nothing deficient with the parenting of a child that can’t immediately identify an artichoke. He or she may think a rutabaga is a grapefruit because maybe the kid has never had a rutabaga…but I cook a lot and only started cooking with rutabaga regularly when they became a regular thing at the food pantry. To be completely honest, when I got the first one I had to do a Google image search to figure out what it was, so there’s that.

Yes, there are poor kids who don’t know what veggies are what. My biggest pet peeve, however is shock value b.s. like this:

Take a bunch of six year olds and ask them what the bright, shiny red thing is. BE AMAZED when they don’t know. Act like it’s a countrywide epidemic. (No, I haven’t gotten to the reasons yet, I’m just complaining. Sorry about that.)

Okay, so about not liking fruits and veggies. At the psychological testing for my kids, we were the lucky recipients of a fruit and vegetable delivery once a week for a month from a local grocery store! So far we have had two deliveries and my excitement has turned to disgust and I’m having trouble feeling thankful for the free food we are receiving. If you know me, you know it takes a lot before I’m not thankful for free stuff. Let me tell you what I discovered.

They Look or Taste Like Crap

Picture a peach in your mind. We received three peaches a week from a grocery store. They were brown and yellow. Not brown-spots because they were bad, just brownish colored instead of, you know, peach colored. I washed and took a bite and the whole thing was kind of brownish inside. Like a tan or taupe color instead of anything resembling a peach.

The texture was mealy and almost meaty in a way. It did not have juiciness so much as it kind of just squished in your mouth. The taste? Nothing like a peach. I mean, seriously, I do not know what it tasted like but it did not taste like any fruit I have ever eaten.

If these were the only peaches I was exposed to you’re darn right I would say I don’t like peaches. Which, of course, blows my mind because you know and I know I love me some peaches. I made a peach pie this year for goodness sake. From peaches we picked ourselves in Michigan (which we were able to drive to in our car that works with the gas we were able to afford which is why everyone can’t just go pick some peaches) and the difference could not have been more stark.

People who are getting gross food aren’t eating it. They come to believe they don’t like it. That has nothing to do with how tasty Cheetos are.

You Have to Have Everything Else to Cook Them With & You Have to Shop More Than Once A Week

Consider these 2a and 2b because they are both about access. To cook with veggies you need spices or butter or salt or pepper or limes or lemons or something. Even sliced tomato tastes a little perkier with a dash of salt on top. If you’re a vegetarian with access to super-tasty fruits and veg in your house then you know you don’t need a thing with your veg because it tastes amazing.

This is not the kid of vegetables poor people have access to. The stuff we have access to needs spices at the very least. Trust me. Most of it either tastes wrong (see above) or tastes flavorless (see the Problem with Walmart section below). Maybe in some other areas of the country this is not the case but here in the Midwest it is an experience I’ve heard about from many other people besides just my family here outside of Chicago.

Even if you have a computer and Internet access at home, you have find a recipe you have all the stuff for. There are so many ingredients in recipes I sometimes feel people are adding extra just because they can. It took years of cooking before I developed a sense for what goes with what. Sure, I can go into my kitchen today and throw a meal together, but five years ago? I didn’t know my Basil from my Oregano. You have to have the time to get comfortable with flavors. You have to be able to make mistakes while you’re learning. If ruining dinner means your kids won’t eat? You are not going to experiment in the kitchen.

They’re Already Almost Bad

The avocados and broccoli were the root of the problem here. I cut open an avocado straight out of the box delivered Saturday morning at 8am and it was half brown-spotted on the inside. Mushy and a day away from being inedible.

One of the avocados I poked on Sunday squirted. I kid you not. Squirted brown goo at me. I sure as heck wasn’t putting that into my food. I know I sound awful because I’m complaining about free food, but if I had bought that I would be a LOT more angry.

We already had some broccoli because we eat that stuff like it’s going out of style here at Chez Decki and in the two days it took for me to go, “Hey! Let’s have more broccoli!” there was mold on the top of the broccoli. I don’t know if broccoli is like cheese where you can just cut off the moldy bit and dig in, but I wasn’t about to find out because when vegetables go bad really nasty bacteria can happen.

Just to be safe, I’m not recommending you eat cheese that had mold on it. I’m doing that at my own risk. Don’t do things I do, because sometimes I don’t think things through properly and this might be one of those things.

If I had gone to the grocery store these vegetables came from I would have gotten the same quality (I know, I checked) and in some other grocery stores that aren’t Walmart the same problem kept popping up. I think I should be relatively safe in assuming my veg will stay good for three days.

Maybe I’m just being overly optimistic.

Bonus: The Problem With Walmart

Walmart produce is PRETTY. It looks just how produce is supposed to look. No blemishes, bright colors, it’s like a produce candyland in that store. The lights make everything seem just beautiful. That’s actually the problem. There is a sacrifice made when your tomatoes are perfect and your pears are totally smooth.

There sacrifice is flavor. 

Sure the produce is more affordable at Walmart and you can even get organic but most of the things you eat are hinting at an original flavor rather than giving you something that tastes amazing. One notable exception is colored peppers.

For the love of all that is good and holy if you are only buying green peppers PLEASE consider switching to red/yellow/orange peppers. Green peppers (also known lovingly as bell peppers) are awful things I will never eat again after having switched to the rainbow of love.

You can also get them for a decent price if you live near an Aldi. (My love for Aldi is a big, big love.) My kids are really picky about too much onion in a dish and I love a lot of flavor so many times I’ll do half onion and half “whatever colored pepper I have in the fridge” and it works out well. Again, your results may vary.

So, the three reasons are basically taste, freshness, and usefulness.

My Point! (I know, you might be shocked by now there *is* one.)

Shock TV like Jamie Oliver up at the top there makes it look like parents aren’t doing their jobs teaching children. Commercials talking about food deserts are only covering one tiny aspect of the problem. What poor people need are choices for food that don’t taste gross. That are as good as anyone else’s food. They need enough money to buy food they can experiment and cook with.

Yes, some people will buy candy and microwave meals. Yes, some people won’t buy the food you think they should. That does not mean the people who want the chance shouldn’t have it. Why should one person ruin accessibility to food for another? Why is it okay for any one of us to think we can dictate what another person buys at the store?

The children that eat that food might be someone you need help from someday. A hungry child doesn’t learn as well.

So the powers that be like the government and Jamie Oliver and everyone who judges someone else in line at the grocery store wants poor people to buy fruit and vegetables. But if the fruit & veg is flavorless, why not pick something in a box that’s more tasty? If the fruit & veg is going to go bad in three days and shopping is being done right before someone is working three double shifts, what’s the point? If you don’t have enough staples in your pantry (or don’t have a pantry at all) how can anyone expect someone to just pick up some things to pop in the fridge for a quick meal later in the week?

It’s something I don’t have a solution for, but I really think it’s time everyone stopped looking at poor people as the problem.

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Housing Counselors Are Confusing

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Yesterday we went downtown with the youngest to visit the housing counselors that are supposed to be helping us get through this house stuff. For anyone who doesn’t know what that means, I’ll give you a quick catch-up.

We are behind on our mortgage. The mortgage company offered us a HAMP modification but refused to tell us the terms of the modification, saying it would be on the paperwork. The paperwork had three payments listed but no overall plan. I called back and was told they could not give out that information. I told them I could not sign a contract I was not allowed to read. (Making the payments is, in effect, signing the contract that you agree to the HAMP terms.) One time on the phone I got the guy to tell me the payments would be “about the same” as they were previously and that there would be a balloon payment of “about $23k” at the end of the loan.

Basically a bad, bad plan. (I may have blogged about this before with more solid numbers that were given over the phone. I tried to search for it. It was written on an envelope since phone conversations mean jack-all it was not considered an important piece of paper to keep in the files.)

So, today we talked to the counselors and they told us they had almost entered our information incorrectly into the system but would fix it while we were there. Even though we were told over the phone we would meet with a lawyer after we met with the counselors, the counselors told us that would not be happening. We spent two and a half hours giving them information and paperwork they already had.

The first counselor told us that the best thing we could do would be to make a “dignified exit” where we do a deed in leiu or short sale so our neighbors don’t know we were foreclosed on. Of course, that’s only if the modification doesn’t work which it still could. It’s, like, never too late to modify a mortgage it seems.

They told us the best way to see a lawyer was to go to Chancery Court and there are free lawyers there that can help you file an answer to a motion. That’s what we need to do. There was something in their answer to our answer to the original motion that’s incorrect. We want to file an answer that states we require corrected information. That will mean they have to file another motion and that will probably take another three months. Those months will see paychecks coming in that can prove income that can make a modification possible. (Making regular unemployment income of $544/mo. is pretty much the opposite of coming to the table with something useful.) I can’t prove any regular income and if I file a profit and loss statement for writing and other things I do to make money online it has to be done by a CPA and I’m not paying for that.

Once the first counselor left the room, the other counselor told us his story. Basically he’s staying in his house as long as possible until he is foreclosed on. He thinks it’s the best possible option because you will pretty much be shackled to your house for an extra 40 years and not see a dime of equity for at least 20 because when they do your modification they add in all the lawyer fees, too.

I’d love to stay in this neighborhood, and I love the familiarity I have in this house. I have lots of memories here. Heck, I had one of my kids in this house. But I’m far too pragmatic to let some memories get in the way of making a smart financial decision.

I looked into doing a short sale, but then I found out that’s just as bad on your credit as a foreclosure. In fact, according to the Washington Post in an article titled What’s worse for credit score — foreclosure, short sale or deed in lieu? there is a quote that sums it up perfectly:

… turns out there’s no significant difference in FICO score impact among foreclosures, short sales or deeds in lieu of foreclosure, said Bradley Graham, senior director of scores product management at FICO, which is the trademark credit scoring model created by Fair Isaac Corp. It’s the most widely used scoring system in the country.

“All of those events represent a loan default and as such are highly predictive of future credit risk,”

So, it sounds to me like the only thing dignified about a dignified exit is not letting the neighbors have something to talk about. Which I think we can all agree is something that bothers me pretty much not at all.

Logically, it seems like sitting back and just going through this, making the process as long as possible is going to benefit us the most in the long run. When people with law practices who write for Forbes that I greatly respect write pieces like 11 Reasons Why I Never Want to Own A House Again you have to stop and think about it more carefully. Sure, the first thoughts that jump to mind when you think of foreclosure are being a deadbeat who can’t do the right thing. A lot of people look down on people who rent as people who can’t get a house.

I don’t think that’s so cut and dry anymore.

I was raised that owning a house was the sign of success. Over the last 11 years, I would say owning a house is an exercise in marrying well. I didn’t know Mr. Brickie could do drywall or plumbing or paint or do the million other things he has had to do since we have moved in here, but I thank the good lord every day he can.

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These may not look all that impressive, but I wish you could see before and after pictures. Most of the rooms in my house look vastly different than they did when we moved in. From new toilets to amazing paint jobs, he has made our house into a home.

Tomorrow he goes downtown to get help. Help from a lawyer so we can file an answer to a motion.

There are no words for how tired I am. I keep reminding myself of the seventy-thousand things I am thankful for. Remembering to be thankful helps me hold on to some kind of small grace in my life.

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Image Credit: hazelong

 

April Net Worth & Budget Update (a twofer!)

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I know last time I made this two posts, but really that’s just kind of delaying the inevitable.

This month is a weird one. I sound like a stupid broken doll saying, “He could go back to work this week…” has really just started rubbing me the wrong way. I haven’t lost hope, far from it, I’ve just lost the stamina to care as much. Maybe that’s for the best.

I’ve been taking more anti-anxiety medication lately. Not more than prescribed, but usually I take it once every few months when something stressful is going on. Now it’s becoming “just a thing I do at about 10am” and I’m not sure I particularly like that.

That being said, I’m crazy-grateful I have it. It took a long time to find a doctor that didn’t try and push an SSRI on me. They’re great for people that can take them, but they give me migraines. Besides, I’m not depressed. I’m unhappy with very specific life situations. When the situation changes, I’m fine. That is pretty much the opposite of depression.

Anxiety, however, is when I’m doing dishes and I can’t breathe and I drop a bowl because I’m frozen in fear and forget I was holding a bowl. My muscles tense and my mind races and my hands shake. I try to take deep breaths but it sounds more like I’m mocking people who do Lamaze breathing before childbirth.

Fun times.

I haven’t actually crunched the numbers from this month. I had a couple side jobs that netted me $500. Unemployment will net us a total of $816 this month (if he doesn’t go back to work) because it’s a three-check month. I guess I’m going to plan for him not working all of April just so I have a plan in place.

I’ve already paid the electric bill, the Internet bill, the cell phone bill (because we switched to Net10 and I have my iPhone back. Rejoice!) I paid a few bills on the credit card. One was a doctor bill (had to be paid before my appointment on the 21st) one was the cell phone bill because it’s autopay like that.

Honestly, I just can’t even look at it right now. I know that between unemployment this week and the house painting money we can pay the car payment. All the important stuff is taken care of.

Mama Needed A New Pair of Shoes

In the meantime, I’ve had the same pair of sneakers for over two years. I love them. I’ve never had a pair that fit so beautifully and worn so well. I could walk miles in these shoes and never had a problem. Unfortunately, while those two years passed so did the version numbers. Updates happened.

I did my best to check the New Balance website to find the sizing types for the shoe I had. It’s a natural PL-1 (I have no idea what that means) and the only one available on the website that was the same number was a tie-dye number. I like loud shoes as much as the next girl but wasn’t completely sold.

So I ventured out into other style numbers that had the natural PL-1 fit and tried to keep the other things about the shoe the same.

I found this:

my-new-shoes

Of course, like all New Balance shoes they were a hundred bucks. So I gathered my mTurk side money ($47) and checked my Amazon.com gift card balance ($10) and realized I was still uncomfortable with the rest of the money I would have to pony up.

I searched the Internet for a couple hours until I found a deal where you sign up for fashion emails from Amazon.com and they send you a 20% off code. The code was sent immediately via email. It was painless.

Original Price $99.99
20% off Coupon -$19.99
Gift Card Balance -$10.00
mTurk Balance -$47.00
TOTAL PRICE $23.00

So, obviously, I’m totally stoked at my $23 shoes. *happy dance* If you want to check my shoes or others out on Amazon you can see them here (it’s not an affiliate link, I am just a huge fan of New Balance shoes).

Net Worth Calculator Plugin

I got this plugin a few months ago but it seemed silly to use it until I had a few data points because it’s a graph, you know? The biggest issue is that the value of the house keeps dropping. I know that Zillow is not the be all end all of determining your house value, but it’s a way to keep something consistent. Kind of like when you weigh yourself it doesn’t matter if your scale is always five pounds off, you still know if you’re gaining/losing the way you want to overall even if the bottom line number is off a bit.

Net worth for April 2014: $-109513


As you can tell, I used the credit card. It was for Easter shopping and buying work pants and boots for Mr. Brickie. Trust me, I haven’t gone crazy with the plastic.

Upcoming Stuff

Now that I’m not burned or nerve-pinched I have a bunch of ideas of blog posts this week. The one I’m working on right now is how we are transitioning off of food stamps. This is our last month on Link (as far as I can tell based on the information I’m finding online.) Of course this assumes Mr. Brickie goes back to work and me not sounding like a broken record anymore. In the meantime, we are basically using a lot of coupons.

Yesterday we saved $40 at Target using coupons. It was pretty amazing. (Not like when  you save money at Kohl’s and still walk out trying to figure out what, exactly, was so expensive. I hate Kohl’s.)

What I’m trying to say is PLEASE stick around and tell other people I’m here so I’m not existing in a vacuum. I promise I’ll kick it up a notch and keep on blogging.

Also, if you have a FitBit (I got one for this past Christmas – another way poor people end up with nice things) and would like to be friends, you can find me on there as jennydecki. I’m not an overachiever with the steps but I’m doing my best. I’d love to connect.

Have a great night!

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Playing Hooky From School to Go Shopping and Other Things

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Oh, y’all, that last blog post I wrote when I had a pinched nerve in my shoulder kept me down for the rest of the day.

It was awful.

Sunday night I was taking a shower and went to dump my homemade shampoo on my hair and felt this little twinge and by morning I was crying because of the pain. I tried to sleep in a chair for another hour and lo and behold something twinged in my side and thus ensued a week+ of twitching, muscle spasms, eating ibuprofen like candy* and yelping at random times during the day from unexpected pain.

So, of course, I decided to pound out a quick blog post during the week because I was totally inspired and pain be damned! Which was a huge mistake.

Then we come to the day I started writing this post – we’ll call it Wednesday – I had only experienced some minor aches and was down to taking ibuprofen in the morning and at night instead of the minute the alarm goes off after six hours (but mostly after five hours when the pain would flare up).

Then in the middle of writing this very post I went into the kitchen and grabbed the handle of the stainless steel frying pan that had just come out of the 450 degree oven.

So now it’s Saturday and we’re going to try and regroup. I can’t promise anything amazing. I mean, I’ve been down for the count for over two weeks if I’m counting correctly. I missed blogging a lot. I’m taking that as a good sign.

It was a terrible couple weeks.

Shopping Instead of School

Thursday I made an executive decision. I wanted to take my girls shopping. Having an anxiety disorder makes it difficult to shop because all the people bother me and then people aren’t polite and it short circuits my brain pretty quickly. Kohl’s is the worst. I hate shopping there, plus I usually hate the dumb games you have to play to get decent prices.

Lucky for me I had a 30% coupon and an additional $10 off coupon and figured I wasn’t going to do much better than that.

We got to Kohl’s at 8am (when they opened) and were greeted with a magical wonderland of emptiness. No one but us and the few early store workers. We shopped fast and hard. Each girl got an Easter dress, a swimsuit, dress shoes, and an accessory. I got a new non-stick frying pan.

I put all of it on the Kohl’s charge card (you have to if you want the 30% off anyway) so I’m officially spending money I don’t have. I honestly don’t care. (More on that in the Why I Don’t Care section below!)

Work Update (or not)

As soon as Mr. Brickie’s company goes to work, he does. I don’t know how long it takes to pour a foundation, so all I know is that it will be any day now. I am doing everything I can to stay calm. To stay strong and happy so Mr. Brickie doesn’t get discouraged.

I’m not good at having faith in things, but I have faith in this. I cannot wait to scream from the rooftops when my faith turns out to be warranted.

House Update

We have another court date!

Paperwork came. It was the things we requested three months ago. There is a piece of paperwork (a signed and notarized affidavit) that is wrong. Completely wrong. Lucky me, I have the paperwork to prove what that person said was wrong. Hopefully that is enough to at least send it back for another round of fixes.

We have a Legal Aid appointment next week. They will let us know what to do.

Also, we are working with NACA. Well, what I mean to say is we are going to be working with NACA as soon as we talk to someone at our mortgage company on Monday and resubmit paperwork that gives them permission to work with NACA. They received it three weeks ago but just sent us notification that they would not accept the paperwork because it was on two sheets. You can only submit a one-page request.

This whole house saga is a bunch of i dotting and t crossing. It might be offensive if it wasn’t so completely ludicrous.

It’s just another thing that’s up in the air.

I am starting to think I’m a Zen master because I’m not freaking out all the time.

Why I Don’t Care About Money

Okay, I’m overstating it. I do care.

But the coupons were going to expire, the sale was on, Easter is next week and I just wanted to get them some nice things for once. My girls are so amazing and never complain about hand me downs or thrift store clothes.

They’re troopers. I want to make sure they have just one nice dress and the things they need to get through summer. I didn’t get expensive things, I just got new things. On sale. With coupons.

I also bought Mr. Brickie a couple new pairs of jeans and a new pair of work boots for the work he’s going to have any day now. Really. Any day.

I put it all on credit cards. Even better? I don’t feel bad about it at all. Not one little bit. If I’m counting my chickens before they’re hatched, I just truly don’t care right now.

I’ll try and be more upbeat next time, I promise!

* like candy = 800mg every six hours. 

bird-end-fin

My Husband. My Love. My Bricklayer.

into-the-woods-hope

Let me warn you right off the bat, this one gets sappy.

The main point I’m trying to get across is that if someone does not feel fulfilled (male or female, it just happens to be my husband in this post) thinking outside the box can mean many things. Some people are wonderful entrepreneurs, but when you have people telling you the only way to be fulfilled is to become an entrepreneur….they’re lying. There is no “ONE TRUE WAY” to happiness. I’ll be the first one to tell you most everything bright and beautiful in my life came from tragedy and luck. Enough of my esoteric messages….

On To Our Post!

The soundtrack for today’s post.

I am pretty sure about a million couples feel this way. So do we. I’m not trying to have the most original marriage, I just never want it to end. (If you’re reading this and you had a marriage end, I’m not judging you. What I say about what I want doesn’t mean I think anyone else in the world should want the same thing. This is just where I am at. Everyone else’s mileage will surely vary.) 

Mr. Brickie is at training today. It’s his last day of Year 1 training and I’m really happy for him. Every step is one step closer to journeyman and he’s gotten some very positive feedback from the trainers about how he’s been doing in the field and they agree he should not go looking for other pastures to graze in because if his company is working, he will be working. The new estimated job start date is 2-3 weeks.

In the meantime he has a painting side job he is very excited about. I love when he gets to paint because he’s really good at it and he loves the big reveal of a painted room that looks like it just magically changed color because you can’t tell someone painted the damn thing. He’s good.

New/Old iPhones Are A Go!!

He called last night and got our phones changed over. Unfortunately, they closed before we could call back and port the phone numbers over, so that’s happening tonight.

By morning, we will have iPhones again!! Carrying around two phones has been inconvenient and embarrassing. Oh this phone? This is the one I call people on. It’s unreliable and eats calls and texts on the regular. It also holds three apps because I don’t know why. This iPhone? Oh, I tether the Internet from the bad phone to this so I can actually use the Internet at a speed faster than “should have just walked to the library and looked it up.”

$85/mo. for both phones. Unlimited text/talk/data (Up to 2.5g data before throttling sets in but have not heard of anyone actually being throttled yet. It’s more of a “we reserve the right” thing at this point.) The best part? It uses AT&T towers!! AT&T worked great where I live. I’m so happy to be on their towers for a QUARTER of the price!! I heart Net10 so much!! (Not sponsored. LOL)

EDITED BECAUSE OMG PROBLEMS! The Net10 rep should not have billed our card last night. You have to activate with an activation card from a store if you want to port numbers. So you buy the SIM cards, make sure the phones are unlocked, buy a card for what you want (we bought a $90 two-phone card and it had two PIN numbers on the back for activation) put the SIM cards into the phones and THEN call and get your numbers ported over while they activate the phones on the family plan.

They should be ported in the next couple of hours. Tomorrow I’ll be using one phone. Finally.

The Other Reason I Love Mr. Brickie Training

It’s great that Mr. Brickie is learning about grout. It’s wonderful he gets to hang out at the Laborer’s Union Hall and help them learn how to be a great laborer for a bricklayer. I love that he goes in and knows laborers already (Don’t let the name fool you, it’s more difficult to get into the Laborer’s Union than it is any other union. I don’t know if it’s the same everywhere but here you have to be sponsored by a company AND brought into the Union by someone already in the Union. It’s some secret squirrel stuff, man.) These are the things that happen at training. Building walls, taking classes, and going to the Laborer’s Hall.

The secret benefit to him going to training has become crazy-obvious when he gets home. He has the same amazing attitude that he has when he’s working on the regular. I always love my husband, don’t get me wrong, but when he’s working he beams with fulfilled potential for awesomeness. He feels worthy of the devotion and love his family give him. His solid self-worth manifests in so many ways.

He is not defensive at all. If he makes a mistake he just fixes it. He reaches out and wraps his arm around my waist and pulls me in to hug him when I’m walking by. He takes charge in a million little ways.

It’s like if I squint I can see the 1950’s.

Except he helps with dishes. Helps with dinner. Helps the girls set the table. He talks to his daughters about video games (or whatever they want to talk about).

He winks at me from across the room.

He is everything I love about him and nothing I don’t. His pessimism is gone because he feels fulfilled. His mopey defensiveness is replaced by an air of authority that demands respect. Not some macho bullshit, either. Just a quiet power that everyone responds to in a loving, positive way.

He makes me feel safe. Protected. Cared for. Adored.

I have referred to this job as our Second Honeymoon. He just laughs and pulls me down on his lap to tell me some cheesy line about the first one having never ended. (I know, I told you he’s bold when he feels happy. I’m always worried I’m going to snap his thin little legs right in half but know better than to argue. He has eyes and knows how big I am!)  

Why This Is Important

We are THE SAME COUPLE who participated in The Taco Incident less than a month ago. I shrieked like a harpy on fire and he showed me his belly like a submissive dog. It was not good. I felt out of control and unsafe. He felt unsure if he could really provide. We were our not-best selves that day. We have been our not-best selves many days when I felt scared and he felt powerless. I wrote the article last month with an eye to my problems and what I did wrong because this is my blog and it’s not really my place to muse on another human being no matter how close to me they are. Also, I’m generally not into trash-talking my husband because when does that ever end well?

The only thing different from me having to give him the benefit of the doubt and so many extra hugs because he’s going to act all mopey that I yelled at him is WORKING. That’s the only difference. (Training consists of building walls and doin’ stuff so it’s the same as working. He also gets a small stipend at the end of the week so he’s being paid for the work.) Having a job fulfills him in some special secret way I do not personally understand but it is so obvious that’s the change I’d be an idiot not to see it.

Which is why I’m more likely to blame myself when we argue, because I know he’s only being the way he is because of not working. I’m the big picture person in the relationship so it’s my responsibility to know the annoying parts of my husband are going to disappear as soon as he gets a hard hat on his head.

It’s taken me kind of a long time to figure all this out about us being the same couple when everything changes and becomes like a friggin’ fairy tale around here. Want to know why?

  • He wasn’t secure and fulfilled when he owned his own business.
  • He wasn’t secure and fulfilled when he worked as a marketer.
  • He wasn’t secure and fulfilled when he managed the coffee shop.
  • He wasn’t secure and fulfilled when he was a financial advisor.
  • He wasn’t secure and fulfilled with any other job he’s had since I’ve known him.

So I’m willing to forgive myself for not connecting him being all old-school manly but modern-day awesome with becoming a bricklayer.

How could I have ever guessed my gentle husband that loves to talk and laugh and watch romantic comedies needed to be a tradesman to feel fulfilled? That he would excel at every task he was given? That he would be made for this journey?

How could I have known?

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Happy Week Ahead Even If I Hate Sunday Night

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I’m starting out a little mopey tonight. If you don’t want to hear about it just skip to the next heading. I won’t be offended. 

Sunday nights have always been weird for me.

Not every Sunday night. I’m not nearly that predictable. It’s a feeling that, whenever it happens, always happens on Sunday evening. I don’t feel depressed, exactly. I don’t feel sad, exactly.

It’s a hollow feeling. Like fear if you take away all the energy and are left with an effortless lack of all safe and good feelings. Mediocre and begin feelings persist. It’s not all negative, it’s just the complete lack of positive.

I haven’t felt like this in a long time and it’s bothering me. I never figured out what causes it or what it means and so there’s also a sense of failure in the feeling. A reminder that it’s here and I’ve never understood it and, sometimes, that leads to feeling like I’ll never understand anything.

Like most bad feelings I’ll let it stick around and just kind of hang out with it until it has passed.

Work Update!

On to happier news. This week is Mr. Brickie’s final 1st year training week of his apprenticeship program. *wild applause* I’m really proud of him. Sometimes it feels like the training is another example of the Marshmallow Experiment. Most of the guys from Mr. Brickie’s class who are working don’t want to take the four days off to go to training. You get a stipend, but it is much less than working four full days.

However, you cannot advance in your apprenticeship level if you don’t have the required training. So staying at work will hold you back in the long-term. I really don’t understand why anyone would choose not to take the training, but I understand it happens so often there has to be a reason that is fairly commonly understood.

So he will be gone from the crack of dawn until dinnertime Monday through Thursday. It will be a nice change and I look forward to him coming home with that attitude he has when he’s worked. He is more present and with us when he comes home after work. Even though training isn’t technically work, it still makes him feel great doing something for the benefit of his long-term success.

It makes me happy, too, because I feel so grateful for him after a day of work in a different sort of way than I feel grateful in the middle of a Tuesday for no reason. I never take him for granted but seriously he needs to get out of my house before I go crazy.

We cruised the town his next job is going to be in, but couldn’t find the job site. We were hoping to find it so we could tell when the foundation is poured. It would give us a decent timeline for when he will be back to work. This week will give us a break from worrying and wondering because he can’t work when he’s in training.

Maybe the weather/foundation gods will smile down upon us and he can start work this Friday. Stranger things have happened but you won’t see me holding my breath over it.

It will happen when it happens and it’s out of my hands.

Stuff You Gotta See

Have you seen any of the videos from Regular Ordinary Swedish Mealtime? You should. It’s funny and I’m not sure if you actually learn how to cook anything but it’s awesome. So far, the Sidepork Pandemonium episode is my favorite.

Want to cook like you’re in the depression? The Great Depression Meals by Clara channel is a great place to start. We made the Poorman’s Meal tonight (with ground beef instead of hot dogs, you use what you have, right?) and I am going to use her Italian Ice recipe this summer. Her Depression Bread recipe is insane. A whole bag of flour, yeast, and water makes a lot of bread, man.

Poor as Folk keeps the hits coming with a linked up share to a series of blog posts on How to Eat for 40 Cents a Day. I haven’t gotten through the posts yet but it’s on my, “To read” list, for sure.

 

Charter Schools, Shoes, Backpacks, and iPhones with Net10

psych-tests-for-shoes

We have a charter school in my area.

It didn’t exist with my oldest, but I tried to get my two youngest in when they were old enough. Since it’s based on a lottery system I knew there was no chance, but we still tried because it’s better to have tried than failed than to just give up completely and not even try.

So, obviously, neither kid got into the program. I’m not sad about this, I’m just not sure why I have the most abhorrent luck when it comes to drawings and the like. I just expect to lose, but in this case it wasn’t a complete loss.

Kids who don’t get into the school get into the control group. Because the charter school is an experiment. I like my kids being in the charter school, because I want them to be able to throw off the data. They take low-income kids, put some in a posh environment with great resources and bright and shiny teachers and they excel. DUH. It’s kind of a point of pride that my kids didn’t make it into the posh charter school but can still answer all the questions right at every follow up test.

One of the things they do to make sure the control group keeps participating is pay for the time we spend doing the activities that help them benchmark the kids against the charter school kids.

This is the point where you probably realize I don’t think school testing is a big deal. Get your stickers and candy, kids, and let’s just assume you have your mother’s gift for taking tests. It’s actually been quite helpful because #2 did have some test-anxiety issues but we worked through those and taking these “fun” tests for stickers helps reinforce that tests aren’t bad and you don’t have to go as fast as you possibly can. She’s learning to pace herself. I think it’s a good lesson to learn so when she gets to the tests that matter later on she’s an old pro.

Both my kids were invited to today’s event, which means Mr. Brickie is going to get $30 per child for showing up and having them tested. Which is awesome, because the 8yo needs a new backpack and the 9yo needs a new pair of shoes. I think she wore the shoes we bought her twice. They don’t fit right in the heel, so I guess this is the end of my “buy the shoes off the Internet” gravy train.

Net10 and our iPhones

We also received notification a FedEx package is arriving at our door today with 2 micro sim cards inside! This is where we switch from the unreliable, horrible, easily-broken HTC One V (never get that phone) to our iPhones! We have been using them for a couple years now as wifi-only iPods and it’s been working out well. Sometimes we would tether the Cricket Internet to the iPhone and it would run so fast. If you’re in the Chicagoland area Cricket is good service, we just have awful phones and I’m not going to buy new phones when I have two iPhones in my house.

The only place we can take our unlocked AT&T iPhones is Net10 (from what I’ve seen in my research) but it’s worth a try because it would be nice to only carry around one phone again. They have an unlimited everything plan (with throttled data after 2.5g) for $85 for two phones with auto-pay. So stick your bill on your credit/debit and you’re looking at paying $42.50/phone/month. Nice, right? I figure it’s worth a try.

How to do BYOP (bring your own phone) with an AT&T iPhone

  1. Make sure your phone is unlocked.
  2. Do an Internet search to make sure you know what kind of sim card you need. The iPhone 4s uses a micro sim card. There are charts online for all the iPhones.
  3. Call Net10 and order your sim cards. (we got free FedEx shipping).
  4. When sim cards arrive, put them in the phones and call Net10.
  5. If you are transferring your phone number, make sure to have your username/password to login to the other account. Also make sure you buy your activation card from a store before you call! You have to have the activation code from the back of the card from the store to do a number port from another company!!
  6. Wait a couple hours (up to two days for landlines, blah, blah, blah) for the magic to happen.
  7. Rejoice.

I’m putting that there because I had a heck of a time finding it on the website, so maybe that will help someone else someday. Paying it forward but without money.

Also, you really and truly can get to a live person from the Net10 phone number. When it insists on your Net10 phone number just keep saying, “I don’t have one.” It will get you to a person eventually.

I don’t know how the service is going to be, so I’m not endorsing it just yet. I am excited to try it because I’ll be back on my iPhone. I’m not an Apple fangirl, but the iPhone was my first real smartphone and I know how everything works and if it doesn’t cost any more than what I pay now I want it back!

No one paid me or gave me anything to post about Net10. It’s a subsidiary of TracPhone and uses AT&T towers so if you got horrible reception and dropped calls with AT&T this will probably not work well for you.

I’ll let you know how it works out.

Not Because We Are Poor

I have always loved a bargain, but I don’t know that I ever would have made the switch from a contract plan to a pay-as-you-go plan if it wasn’t for our financial situation. I am so thankful I did, because even though my Cricket phone is horrible it is still totally usable and is such a total WIN considering we used to pay over a hundred dollars a month for AT&T service with our iPhones. Now we pay $85/month for service that is just as fast and reliable. I was honestly spending $50+ dollars a month extra for no reason.

Oh, wait. I know the reason! We pay $50+ dollars a month extra to get super-great deals on the newest smartphone every two years. Yep, every two years. Which means we put over $1200 into the system for a $400 discount.

It makes me want to go back in time and smack myself for wasting so much money.

I’ll happily pay sticker price on my next new $600 phone (that I’m going to buy in 2025, lol)  and pocket the $600 difference. It just makes financial sense.

If I’m missing something that makes being under contract a good thing, please let me know. I’m not closed minded about stuff and would love to hear your opinion.

Free Vegetable Bonus (and a psych test)

One of the main things they do with the kids and parents in the control group of this multi-year educational study (*ahem* I mean charter school) is test everyone repeatedly on a variation of, “Would you like one dollar now or two dollars tomorrow.” The kid test today was, “Here are ten pieces of candy. How many would you like to give to a phantom child who likes candy, too?” and, “Here are ten stickers. How many would you like to give to a phantom child who likes stickers, too?” and then they did a bunch of jumping jacks.

I’m thrilled to say my kids split the candy 50/50 and they both went 60/40 on the stickers. So, whatever parenting I’m actually accomplishing here at Chez Decki, it’s consistent and already ingrained by the time they’re 4 years old.  I’m pretty happy with those outcomes. I don’t want kids who give too much, but I also don’t want little hoarders who have no empathy. Even if it is for a kid that isn’t even real.

The parent activity that Mr. Brickie participated in was a $20 event where you picked fruits and vegetables based on some pricing formula. Since he does all the grocery shopping (almost) he was the perfect person to know which prices were good and which were not. He picked the ten things he was allowed and he was satisfied with his purchases.

Then they did a thing where they asked you if you were given a coupon, how much would you pay for this service. Mr. Brickie, who has learned from my gambling philosophy, “Spend what you intend.” Decided he would pay the $20 they were going to give him for his time but no more. Long story short, it turned out it was $20 to get the veggies.

So instead of the $20 we are going to get a delivery of vegetables/fruits he chose every Saturday for the next four weeks! Free! Avocados, celery, broccoli, plums and more! I’m very excited because y’all know my stamps were reduced and this will make up for a chunk of that “lower benefit + longer time until renewal” thing we were so worried about.

I’m really proud of him for making such a great decision. Those psych tests are something he’s not nearly as used to as I am and I love hearing the choices of my kids and my husband knowing the deeper meanings behind them. Sure, they could be statistical anomalies and not follow what the tests “usually” predict. I understand that. It is still comforting and you know me, I will take my comfort where I can get it!

shoe-backpack-collage

 

I Am A Thrift Store Savant

lorde-thrift-shoppingI can say savant, right? That’s not an insult? I’m never sure. There are so many groups lobbying for so many things. I know the obvious things NOT to say but some are more subtle. So if it’s offensive, let me know, it’s not intentional. 

Pretty much everyone who knows me knows I hate thrift stores. I hate the smell of them, the feel of them, the lighting and the dust. They smell like a mixture of Febreeze, sadness, and something else I can never quite put my finger on but that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and my anxiety flare like burning-hot hives.

It is not good times.

Unfortunately, one of the things you do when you’re frugal is suck it up and take your kids to the thrift store to buy more jeans because they refuse to stop growing. (I know, buckle in, I’m talking about the kids. Madness!) While their shirts are a mix of thrift store and not-thrift-store their jeans are almost 100% thrifted because they’re JEANS. I know how to tell a good pair of distressed flares from the straight leg light denim that has been on the rack since 1993. I’ve made it a point to keep up with kid style enough that my kids aren’t going to school in things that will make them look like idiots.

It’s almost like I spent my childhood getting made fun of for my bad fashion choices (among several thousand other things) and am making sure my children don’t fall into that trap. Of course, if I had an income that allowed me to shop at Justice it’s not like I would be happy because have you SEEN the things they sell there? I’m not putting my kids in neon unless God comes down from heaven to tell me it’s really okay. Unless it’s a swimsuit. I could be okay with a neon swimsuit. (Mostly because I’d be able to easily pick them out when we go to the beach in summer. Safety first, for sure.)

Tonight was a rare occasion where Mr. Brickie and I took the kids with us. Tomorrow is pajama day for one of the kids’ spirit days and she wanted a new pair and I was like, “If they have it at the thrift store, that’s cool.” She found the most obnoxious black satin with neon (I know, it’s everywhere) leopard spots pajama top and some kind of weird purple polyester harem pants with embroidery that sort of match in that “don’t match on purpose” way. It looked kind of awful apart but when she got it home and tried it on it looked pretty cute. The best part is she found the pants herself. I would like for them to all be experienced thrifters when they grow up because you can get great stuff there.

Back to my expertise. Even though I’ve avoided thrift stores, my eye for fashion (I’m not even kidding. I actually am good at this stuff. I don’t know why.) lets me get through the entire jeans rack in about five minutes. I’ll buy every pair of jeans that meet the three required criteria:

  1. The right size. One of my girls is a 6x or a 7 depending on the jeans. The other one is a 7 or an 8 depending on the jeans. I will buy everything that’s a 6x/7 or 7 or 7/8 or 8. I do not make the kids try them on because it’s a thrift store and they’re $2 a pair.
  2. The right style. My kids like bootcut and flare jeans. I don’t slip skinny jeans or straight legs into the pile. They won’t wear them. Only regular denim through indigo are acceptable. No black jeans and no light jeans. I don’t like them. (Your needs may vary, I don’t know if black denim is cool in a different town/state/county I’m just doing what’s right for me. I’m not judging anyone else’s jeans choices.) Embellishments are okay if they are hearts or peace signs. Flowers need to be double-checked with the kids because they have a really complicated system for deciding if flowers are cool or awful. I haven’t cracked it and by the time I do I’m sure all flowers will be horribly uncool.
  3. The right condition. I’m checking waist, button, zipper, knees, and the butt-seam for signs of wear, overuse, or staining. They have to look like they’re in like-new or “meant to look a little distressed” condition.

I will break the rules for a couple things. My 9yo has this THING for camo. She will go around chanting “Army Strong!” whenever she even sees camo. Don’t ask me, because I don’t have an answer for it. I picked up a pair of camo cargo pants for her tonight and she was delighted. I also picked up a pair of black pants that were kind of like cargo pants but a little softer. It was like yoga pants and cargo pants had a baby or something. The kids loved them.

While I am taking the jeans chore seriously the girls go pick out some shirts for me to go through. My 9yo – who really is developing a strong personal style – picked out this t-shirt :

number-1-pencil

She just thought it was the funniest thing.

I had to agree. Mostly I was impressed she got the joke so fast. It took Mr. Brickie a hot minute and he’s no slouch in the brain department. Maybe it’s a sense of humor thing rather than a “fast thinking” thing. Who knows.

The 4yo is running around like a total jerk because she’s going through a phase (I call it the, “This is why parents use leashes” phase) and we kept making sure she stayed by us but it was exhausting and annoying and we were finally done picking things out and she looked at me and said, “We can’t go. I need three things before we go. It has to be three because I want them.”

I debated selling her but then thought about it and figured the other girls had gotten stuff so why not her? It’s a thrift store, right? Why be overly picky. Also, I was tired and didn’t feel like arguing. So I told her, “You can have two things.” She was okay with that and picked out two really cute tshirts.

Then she said, “Now we need my two pants.”

I looked at her and said, “None pants.” (It’s an inside joke with a friend. Normally I speak to the kids in full sentences that are at least mostly grammatically correct.) She started to quiver her bottom lip and I said, “None pants and none crying or none shirts.” Because the older girls don’t run around wild and they would stay by Mr. Brickie and if she started a meltdown because she didn’t get pants at 4yo you can be sure I would just take her to the car to scream because man, you have to be kidding me. That little girl has about 50 pairs of pants. There was no way I was getting her any more. Plus, the whole, “Wherever we go, you’re getting me something” thing has run its course and I’m over it. It’s one thing to haggle me for shirts, fine, I can accept that and even be proud she started with three to get happily to two. But pants you don’t need? Oh no. Not even at the thrift store.

She reconsidered her quivering lip and flipped right back into being fine and asking to take her shirts to the cashier. I was not surprised.

We managed to get out spending $35. At the thrift store. There were about 8 pairs of pants/jeans, 8 t-shirts, and pajama bottoms and a top. So even though I don’t like dropping more than $20 at a second-hand store, when the per-piece average comes out to $2.50 I can’t complain. Especially since everything was in great condition.

It’s all in the washing machine now so we can get the smell off. I really can’t stand thrift store smell. Even nice vintage shops have it. I don’t know what it is. I could sit in an attic full of books for the rest of my life inhaling that scent but clothing? Gross.

The last step is to let them try everything on tomorrow after school so they can divide up the pants by who they fit better. The pants that fit both of them they just know to share. The shirts are communal property except for a few that are “special” to each kid. I’m all about everyone sharing but I also think it’s important to let each kid have things that they don’t have to share because, well, I don’t know exactly but I feel like it’s the right thing to do for them to be adults that can both give and not give when appropriate.

Sometimes I think it’s weird that I love hand-me downs from friends but I hate second-hand shops. Maybe when I know where the clothing came from it’s less weird or maybe it’s just the general fluorescent-lights and dusty-shelves malaise of the thrift shop that make me sad and anxious. If I didn’t keep finding such cute stuff at these places I would happily leave them behind, but I’m just too frugal and would rather be skeeved out for a half hour and get great deals on awesome clothes than spend 10x as much for the same shirt at the mall.

Thank goodness my kids “get” that vintage is cool. Thank goodness they aren’t old enough or their school doesn’t care enough for them to get made fun of for wearing second-hand clothing. Or maybe just thank-goodness I know how to pick things that are cute and good quality and don’t get them things from the thrift-store that LOOK like they came from a thrift-store. Whatever it is, let me tell you, I am thankful all day long even if it rains.

I’ll also keep doing it as long as we find cute stuff no matter how much money we make. I might hate it but it’s just too practical to say no to.

A couple days ago I got almost a full set of dishes at a different thrift store with a friend for less than ten dollars. That includes the four cup teapot that we actually need because my kids are super-into tea right now. (Lipton with a splash of milk because you know I wish I was British.) Tonight at dinner my daughter looked up from her teacup and said,

“You know mommy…I think tea is really my jam right now.”
“Honey,” I said,”Tea is a lifelong jam. It never has to go away.”
She smiled, sighed, and said, “Oh good. I want it to be one of my forever jams.”

Whatever you say, sweetheart.

bird-end-fin