Category: Hodgepodge

I Don’t Know What Day It Is #NightShift

At Mr. Brickie’s last union meeting he was unemployed and looking for work. A nice member told him that US Steel was hiring for refractory work.

A little history. Before Mr. Brickie started his apprenticeship he randomly met someone who did refractory work. This guy described it as very lucrative but difficult.

Everyone he has talked about it with since has also called it very demanding or difficult or some other negative term.

So Mr. Brickie was hesitant to sign up for the gig, knowing that bricklayers are working like the dickens everywhere and another job would surely come up.

That’s where his greedy wife (that’s ME!) comes in and says, “Babe…maybe think about it a little. Talk to some other people you know. The nice man at your union meeting wouldn’t have suggested it if he didn’t think you could do it.

He called and found out more and decided to give it a try. After a couple nights of putting in insulation brick, clay brick, and fire brick he’s come to the conclusion that not only is it not the worst job he’s ever been on….it’s actually kind of enjoyable and he *gasp* likes it.

The hours, however, are hell.

Because all this brick goes on very hot things. The very hot thing is shut down (which means less productivity for the plant) and they have to very quickly replace the brick so the line can get back up and running.

I’m being vague here because I don’t need homeland security thinking I’m giving away national secrets about steel production. Even though this is probably the coolest job ever there will be NO pictures of any kind, even for me to see in the privacy of our home. Mr. Brickie is a smart guy and I appreciate him not getting in trouble.

He volunteered for the night shift because you get a $2/hr. differential. He works 12 hours a day until the job is done.

Wait. I literally just got a text. Starting tomorrow it will be 10 hour days. Still no days off until the job is done.

Here’s where it’s lucrative. First he makes scale (he’s in Indiana again so that’s $6/hr. less than Illinois but he’s on overnights so that’s $2/hr. more so the difference is negligible) the first 8 hours of every shift. Then time and a half for the remaining hours of the shift. On Saturday he makes time and a half the first 8 hours of the shift then double time the remainder of the shift. Sunday is double time the whole way through.

It adds up in a big, big way. Lots of hours, no days off, working straight through until the job is done makes for a hell of a paycheck.

I’m over here making sure to set my alarm so I’m awake when he gets home and we talk for about an hour so he can wind down and then he goes to bed. He wakes up an hour and a half before he has to leave, has coffee, wakes up a little and I feed him something before he packs his lunch and goes back to work.

I miss him very, very much.

The intimacy of that hour after he gets off work in the morning is really nice, though.

On days when the kids go to school he’s getting home right when I’m taking the youngest to school. When he moves to 10 hour days he will be home an hour before I wake the kids up, I think.

So I’ll be getting up at 5am to hang out with him until he goes to bed and I get the kids up to start their day.

I’ve become a master of napping.

Also, I shop now. Someone has to and like I said on the social media, “I am not a great every day wife. But give me a short amount of time where I have to be amazing and I will kick ass!”

So I’m being amazing and mopping and running the dishwasher and wiping the counters and sweeping the living room and doing all the things.

I think he’s going to be working until next Sunday morning. It sounds like there will be a week off and then another one of these jobs starts.

If he does this kind of work for a year? We could easily pay off all our credit card debt and start hacking away at the house principal.

Oh, yeah, the house. Or duplex. Whatever you want to call where I live. Last I heard from the mortgage guy he’ll have a date set for closing this week. When you don’t know what day it is, the stress of waiting on someone to tell you a closing date takes a backseat to everything else.

We’ll close when we close.

With the paychecks from the refractory gig we’ll first set aside money for winter just in case. Then I’ll put aside an emergency fund, then I’ll start knocking out credit cards from smallest to largest.

When I do taxes, my goal is to pay a year of the mortgage up front (or set aside the money in a savings account dedicated to paying the mortgage) so I can use all the income we get to pay down credit card debt.

I know that’s not very smart when that’s going to be 10k+ we could put toward debt but there’s a balance that has to be maintained for me to sleep at night. Part of that balance is knowing I do not have to worry about the home payment (whether it’s rent or a mortgage) being made no matter what Mr. Brickie’s work status is.

I don’t know. Maybe I’ll change my mind. I don’t think so, though. We’ll see.

Happy New Year! 2018 is going to be a blast!

Really, how is it going to be March tomorrow? I didn’t even manage a single post in January but at least I’m squeaking in before March officially hits. That makes me feel better about neglecting basically everything in my life including the blog. The problem is I’m very boring in the winter and I stop blogging because every other week would be a post along the lines of, “Hey, we got unemployment, tried to find temp work, paid minimums on credit cards, and are still making bad life decisions.” It would get tiring. I’m still here and the winter is almost over which always leads me to think about writing, planning posts, and tending to the word garden that is this blog.

Work Update (More like a participation update)

Mr. Brickie is at a protest today (I know, right? A protest!) and hopefully that will keep his reliability/visibility indicators high for his future job potential. Tomorrow he goes to a class on organizing. I’m not sure if it teaches him how to be the big bad wolf Walmart and Amazon warn against during job training, but I’m curious to know more.

Money Update

We did get our tax return and I’m not surprised to report it was down 2k from last year. It’s not because of anything political, Mr. Brickie made about 4k more during the year and, as such, our earned income credit was 2k less. I like that it scales down slowly like that so we don’t go from having a huge tax return to nothing in one year.

We racked up a lot of debt during the winter and paying it down will be our single-minded money focus once Mr. Brickie goes back to work. Every extra penny is going to go toward debt because it won’t take much to give our credit scores a healthy boost. We need them looking good within the next few months. As a secondary measure toward 2018 success, we set a little over half of our tax return into a savings account. I honestly waver on whether we should throw every penny toward debt or save some and put the rest toward debt. I’ll have to Google it and see what the Internet thinks.

I’ve already informed the girls they won’t be doing extended summer camps this year. One week each and that’s it. We need to scale back and use that money for debt. I’m lucky my kids still trust me (the oldest is thirteen, I was worried she was going to give me pushback but she still trusts me as of the moment I’m typing this, goodness knows things can still change but I remain hopeful) and understand we have a bigger plan for all of us that is worth sacrificing a couple extra weeks of summer camp

Health Update

My doctor and I spent most of last year cycling through medications for anxiety and they either didn’t work or the side effects made them not worth the trouble. We found a new dentist that didn’t do a hatchet job like the last one and I no longer have a giant chip in my front tooth. Hooray! Plus, they’re being super-cool about paying the balance we owe them in payments. We have wonderful insurance but we still have to pay 20% of services. I have a year-long payment plan for the vein surgeries I got in my legs last year before we went to Disneyland. Luckily, they’re being super cool as well. They’re cashing the checks, anyway, so even if they’re not being super cool, I don’t have to hear about it.

Budget Update

In order to track all the doctor bills we have payment plans on (vein doctor, dentist, hospital, physicians, and the opthamologist I saw recently for a giant floater in my right eye that obscures my vision) I started a Google Spreadsheet. It took me two weeks to decide how to set it up for easy access. I settled on using a tab (separate worksheet) for each place we owed money to and then did a column for each family member within that tab. It’s been working out really well so far. For convenience, I also added the girls’ school bills as a tab because I’m making payments on that as well. School is expensive here. Two kids in middle school and one in elementary cost me over $500 out of pocket and that’s WITH a discount off fees for the kids qualifying for free lunch last year. (Next year we might only qualify for reduced lunch, which is fine since my kitchen is in far less disarray than it was last year! Thank you IKEA and a Billy bookcase we use for storage in the kitchen and two Walmart bookcases we use in the back room as pantry space, we can finally not be entirely cramped.

We also bought a quarter cow! We have so much beef! I should take something out of the freezer now to thaw before dinnertime tonight. I totally slacked on making a meal plan this week. I’ve been slacking at most everything for the last month. I don’t want to do anything and feel totally lethargic. I even went to my doctor and got diet pills, but I found out they’re not basically speed anymore so they’re not even giving me a boost. This morning I started doing bed exercises to get myself more awake in the morning and it seemed to help a little but I have this fantasy where I’m a person who cleans and enjoys cleaning and I feel like I’m failing myself every day I’m not that person. I do like to keep things organized and somewhat tidy and just this morning I spilled a little coffee on the kitchen floor and wiped it up with a rag and followed that up with a Lysol wipe (not the actual brand but you know, that type of wipe) and ended up wiping down about 4 square feet of floor just to keep it clean so I’m not living in squalor or anything….I just…have this picture in my head and I don’t match it and I don’t like it one bit. Where is my cute apron and adorable attitude? Why am I not cleaning baseboards? Why am I such a human and not a cool robot person?

On the Horizon

Last but not least, I want to start incorporating video into this blog. I love doing videos, especially live FB videos because they’re fun! I’m guessing I just pop them on the FB page and then link them inside the blog. I’ll research that a bit more.

I hope your winter has been going well. I look forward to us talking more soon. Otherwise the next you’ll hear from me it will be that I’ve snapped and scattered Mr. Brickie’s body parts across fourteen states under the guise of a road trip. Closeness is wonderful but closeness with the anxiety of impending work that hasn’t materialized quite yet is suffocating for both of us.

Pouring > Raining

Sorry about this in advance but I’m going to whine about my health one more time.

I was supposed to have surgery tomorrow but I got a respiratory infection! I had a regular doctor appointment scheduled Wednesday and when she saw me she told me having surgery would be begging for complications and she texted the surgeon and they called me to reschedule.

I’ve been downright miserable, but let’s talk money.

We found out we can’t buy a place until February and it has really bummed both of us out because you’ll remember we signed our first apartment lease November 15th and the lady foreclosure court date was in December… but the deed change wasn’t recorded until Feb 15th, 2015.

We can’t apply for a mortgage until Feb 16th, 2018.

A bit of a setback, but I guess it could be way worse. We have spent those 3 years improving our credit scores and cleaning up our credit reports.

We will be ready come February.

In the meantime we are treading water, paying bills, and I’m on the couch whining and being sick. (Unless it’s time to drop off or pick up a kid, then I’m moving!)

Un%*!#ing the Budget

So if you read The Great Save 2017 you will know what I’m talking about here. If you didn’t you can read all about how I realized while writing my actual blog post I hadn’t accounted correctly for my rent payment which needs to be over double what I’ve been putting away. I’ve been diligently saving toward half my goal for the last four months. Uh oh.

This is mostly because federal income tax doesn’t get processed until February these days (thanks fraudulent small businesses!) and even though he knows he’s getting nine months of rent in one payment, my landlord will text us …often… if we haven’t made our nine month payment by February 15th EVEN THOUGH he owns multiple tax company franchises and KNOWS exactly when we get our refund because we generally get it the first day EITC returns go through.

Like, why are you hassling me when you know no one’s taxes have come in yet? It doesn’t even make sense.

Also our rent was raised this past November. Well it wasn’t raised so much as he “removed the pay in advance discount he didn’t have to give in the first place” to the tune of $25/mo. which, whatever, it’s fine, the discount was an unexpected boon when we moved in and I was thankful for it. But somewhere in between deciding to pay four months when our lease renews so he can maybe not forget we pay in a chunk with our tax refund and that extra $25/mo. I messed up the payment amount to put into savings the last four months and now I have to make up for that in a big way.

All while saving for a destination wedding in Disneyland.

And paying down debt.

I know these are first world problems but they’re MY first world problems and I still have to solve them.

First, we figure out our actual monthly expenses based on the new numbers:

Then we calculate Mr. Brickie’s take home pay and keep in mind that the entirety of last year he didn’t work a 40 hour week so we can’t actually RELY on the income numbers. A four week month of forty hour weeks right now is a beautiful $4,130/month … if he could really make that every month I’d have everything on autodraft and not even think about bills. It would be lovely. Back to reality! If everything goes perfectly we have a surplus of $680 to save or pay down debt or bathe in or make mixed media art with. Except not the last two because that would not help me reach my goals.

I’m not sure what the order of operations should be here. Save money, use it for Disney, pay down debt? Why save money when I’m just going to end up putting money on a credit card at Disney. So pay down credit card knowing more debt is coming?

jennydecki – a new chapter

 

Even when I’m not writing, this blog reminds me it is here, waiting.

It reminds me it’s waiting when Mr. Brickie deposited a $30k settlement we then used to pay off credit card debt. A settlement he received after being off work for five months this year. Five months of no work. It was devastating for our family, for his psyche, for my planning. He fell off a ladder (total freak accident) and shattered his wrist. There was surgery, physical therapy, and a whole lot of fear.

It reminds me it’s waiting while we charge up another $10k in debt while he continues to be off work for one reason or another. Plus summer camps. Plus new glasses because old ones broke. No, we didn’t need to charge summer camps, but I did because it’s important to me for my kids to have a week out of the house during the summer to figure out who they are without their loving but overbearing mother.

It tries to pull me back as I sign up for another MLM that I pretend is going to make money but I really just want to break even and walk away with a bunch of awesome product like I did last time. I joined in February because I honestly fell in love with the product. I did videos. It was awesome. I’m still technically doing it but I’m not going full-force like I was a few months ago. I discovered I absolutely LOVE doing live video. I discovered also I have no idea how to edit video.

It whispers in my ear at night while I try to figure out how we are ever, ever going to be able to afford to own a house and it comforts me when I fear we may rent this particular apartment forever. It’s not that the apartment is bad, it’s not. It is great for our finances because no matter how much I hate the kitchen I’m not going to upgrade it or do any construction on it because…it’s not mine.

I think when any financial blogger drops off the map it’s because things got out of control. They are actively engaged in not doing what they know they are supposed to and don’t want to talk about it. Okay, I’m sure that is not 100% true, someone had a real life emergency I’m sure, one that didn’t come with a bunch of new debt, I’m sure. I mean…it’s possible so I’m not going to pooh-pooh the idea. Our lives, however, were thrown into a raging garbage fire of desolation when he broke his wrist. We didn’t know if he would be able to go back to work at all.

I’ve had people tell me a family emergency like Mr. B’s broken wrist is a legitimate reason to stop writing. A time to circle the wagons and go private. While part of me knows I should believe that, I don’t. I’m terribly unforgiving when it comes to getting things done. I feel I should be able to do what needs to be done regardless of side effects. I generally look for any excuse to point at myself and say, “You could have done better.” I’m a sweetheart to myself, for sure. LOL

I was so distraught earlier this year I decided to try and get on some medication for my anxiety. It all felt like it was too darn much and I was constantly overwhelmed. The first pill was bliss but the side effects were pure hell. I still can’t sleep through the night and I’ve been OFF the pill for almost four months. The second pill I tried made my feet and calves swell up so much I thought I was going to burst. I stopped taking that one and the swelling went down but the texture of the skin on my feet is still strange. I’m not sure if I’m going to try anything else. I have an appointment with my doctor next week. I’ll ask her what I should do.

I wonder how much of my anxiety would go away if I treated myself like I do my kids when they get anxious. “It’s okay to have the feelings,” I say, “But you are so amazing and you’ve done so much already if you need to rest you should walk away.”

I tried to take a break and walk away from finances but that doesn’t really work. Bills don’t care you’re tired. Due dates don’t have a snooze button. The complete lack of money to budget and plan with won’t make the kids stop being hungry or wanting dinner.

As of two days ago Monday, however, Mr. Brickie is back on a job that should last a couple of years. This means somewhat predictable paychecks. That means I can make plans and those plans are based mostly in reality and not my imagination. This means I feel like I have something to write about besides “I used the credit card to buy groceries again!”

I’m back and I’m going to blog for better or for worse and not feel one bit bad about the better because it’s silly to only feel comfortable sharing your worst and not your best. Especially since I thought we were going gangbusters and then he breaks a wrist. Like, wow, that will teach me not to get too cocky about our life circumstances, right?

A small warning, however. Things are going to get worse again before they get better. We have a destination wedding coming up that I wouldn’t miss for all the world. That means we are going to fly to Disneyland this November and it is not going to be budget friendly. More about that in a future post, of course, but if you’re totally anti-credit-card I’m going to make you cringe at least fifty times by the end of the year.

I’m so glad to be back. I look forward to getting to the end of this debt-free journey. Let’s get it on!

Update on the Five Year Goal

When the five years started is up in the air. Is it when he started looking for union jobs? Is it when he got the interview? Is it when he started training? Is it when he started working? There’s almost a whole year between when he started to look and the day he started actually working. I guess that means our five year plan is more of a five-ish year plan.

It’s not about how many years the plan is. It’s having a real, long-term plan.

I thought, at first, it was all about the goal. I had this dream at the end of five years we would be in a different house, paying a mortgage, and living my vision of watching my kids play in our backyard. Mr. Brickie would be a full-fledged journeyman and in my wildest dreams he would be considered for transition into the actual union. After moving and deciding to ramp up the kids’ activities faster than originally intended and Mr. Brickie’s injury, the only part of the five year plan resembling the original is the job front. My estimate (which are always wrong) for when he will be journeyman will be around a year and a half from now. It’s definitely past the five year magic mark but stuff happens.

The point of the long term plan is to help make all the little decisions every day. Will buying this or that bring me closer or farther away from my goal?

Now that I don’t have a goal and home ownership has dropped down on the priority list like a boulder in the water things become more hazy and I think that has contributed to those less-than-ideal financial decisions (steam cleaner, chest freezer) that are really great for the now but I bought them because I don’t have a dream of having a home and I’m not thinking about my stuff in terms of moving it somewhere. We are going to buy a shed and put it up in behind our apartment so we can store bikes and other things that don’t need to be indoors. Right now our basement is jam packed and there’s just no need for that. As much as I love minimalism, I’m not getting rid of my kids’ bikes. We are in a position where minimalism is great but our problem is lack of storage space for things we really and truly use pretty darn often as well as seasonal items. I don’t have a bunch of decorations for the holidays but I have a few and I’m not getting rid of them because they make me happy.

I was hoping I would discover my new goal as I wrote this. The dream of having another house and the picture of our life I had in my head was strong and kept me going during some dark times. I don’t know what our lives will look like in five years. I don’t mean I’m not sure, I mean I honestly have NO idea.  I could be applying for my oldest to go to boarding school for her last two years of high school (A real possibility.) I could be dealing with my middle daughter being a volleyball prodigy and travelling all around the place for games. My youngest joined the swim team this year and in five years she may have five years of competitive swimming under her belt and be the best darn 11 year old swimmer on earth.

Or I might be writing posts like this wondering what happened to my life, unsure of where we are going next. That’s a dark thought, huh?

I should have titled this one, “I need a new goal. No wonder I can’t focus on anything these days. I’m like a ship without a destination just bobbing along in the sea.” But that would have been too long for a title, wouldn’t it?

Where will you be in five years?

 

Unpredictable Checks Make Life More Unpredictable

When Mr. Brickie was injured we had to wait a week to get a workman’s comp check. I was thrilled because I had never heard of workman’s comp and was all, “Wait, we’re not going to be destitute and homeless from this injury? Hooray!”

It came the next Thursday and we deposited it and our five month saga began.

So far the check has some on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and one time Saturday.

When we get paid, and it’s just enough to live on for a week, having the check spaced out more than a week means stuff goes on a credit card. Then you get the check and plan it out for the week and viola, you never go back and pay what you put on the week before.

I ended up using the $140 in cash back I had sitting on the Discover to help with that problem recently. I had originally planned to save it until we were closer to paying it off but that was a dream that happened before Mr. B was injured. New rules applied now and it got used early.

The last check is due this week and I’m hoping it comes today. Really I was hoping it would come yesterday because Wednesday seemed to be the 90% of the time winner, but no dice.

I hate getting checks in the mail. Don’t you? It would be so easy for someone to just take the damn thing. Or for the mailman to drop it. I have to go through every page of the fliers and furniture ads in case it slipped in there by accident. Checks in the mail give me anxiety but there wasn’t a direct deposit option to be had.

There are so many reasons I’m happy Mr. Brickie is back to work and direct deposit on the same day every week is absolutely one of them. Regular pay makes regular planning so, so much easier.

You’re not going to believe what this post is about. Except you will because it’s about money and writing.

Socially, things are hopping here at Casa de Decki. That friend I talked about a couple weeks ago called me and we had a heart to heart so that’s an issue put to rest.

I had to distance myself from bus stop mom because she was lying about so much weird petty not-necessary stuff it seemed like she wanted to be called out on it. I’m not a fish, I don’t take bait. My neighbor took the bait and bus stop mom tried to explain away every lie one by one or call them misunderstandings until she turned it around and asked why my neighbor was focusing on such petty stuff.

Money-wise this is a blessing/curse week. It’s training for Mr. Brickie so he only gets a stipend check instead of a full paycheck. He does get paid today (or whenever his boss gets him his check) and that money goes toward next week’s budget to cover the hole not working this week will cause next Wednesday.

My abscess is still a tiny hole in my chest. I have a doctor appointment tomorrow morning and a professional will let me know it’s healing well. I think it’s healing well I wish I knew why that tiny hole won’t close. I’ll find out tomorrow.

I am going to try and do NaNoWriMo again. This time with short stories. I love writing short stories and haven’t because everyone says they’re so much more difficult to publish. Since I wasn’t getting anything published anyway I may as well write what I love and get the practice in. Maybe it comes from watching too much television. I love a succinct plot and a quick payoff. Or maybe my desire for fast outcomes is why I like watching television.

Or it could be that our current life plan is so long-term that the little fix of success I get from watching a good television show or reading a great short story fills the gap and allows me to stay strong while I’m living my real life.

Halfway through a five year plan is a boring place to be. Very little payoff and a whole lot of KEEP YOUR NOSE TO THE GRINDSTONE like we have for years now. I swear at the end of all this we are going to take a vacation. A good one, too. That day might never come but I dream about it. It’s one of the things that keeps me going.

Even though we aren’t where I want us to be financially there is a lot of comfort in having a life I like to wake up in. I get out of bed, take a half hour to make coffee and write up a blog post while the kids are sleeping and the house is quiet. I wake the girls up for school and continue writing. Once they are on the bus? I try to clean a thing, read a thing, and write a thing.

Mostly I enjoy the silence. This is the first time in so very long that I’ve been alone at all during the day I do not see a need to fill that space with something right away. I may not have a car but I still feel free. It’s pretty amazing.

——–FIVE HOUR DANCE BREAK——

You know, it dawns on me I haven’t told you I started drinking my Soylent again. I thought I smelled funny but it turns out that if you bathe regularly with CARDAMOM soap for a month you smell really …. weird. So I stopped the soap, forgot about the Soylent and started craving it about a week after my cipro wore off (anthrax-level antibiotic for the abscess which in some rare cases can cause death, AW YEAH)

I love the Soylent. It’s easy. I’m not hungry. It’s like baby formula for adults. You CAN eat it exclusively. You CAN eat meals. You CAN skip a day. Whatever. But it’s grown up nutrition from chemistry and I like it. I still eat dinner because it would be weird to bring a blender bottle to the dinner table. I’m not trying to give my daughters a complex, you know?

I also walked to my friend’s house a mile away. So I’m not totally sedentary yet. Good to know, right?

My husband has come home to me a glass of wine into life the last three days and hasn’t complained. I married well. He is tolerant and enjoys the extra attention.

What am I supposed to blog about when my finances are boring and predictable? I mean if you wanted to know about the blood in my stool from the antibiotic and how I had to spend $40 on probiotics because I don’t want to die I could tell you that but it’s a bit gross, right? Or how I had to google probiotics and wine to make sure I wasn’t going to kill the flora and fauna as soon as I took them…

Or I could tell you I’m going to write short stories for National Novel Writing Month.

They will be horror but not gory-horror.

I want to make people not be able to stop thinking.

Let’s see if I can do it!

On Food and Fooding and Always About Money

Now that we’re off the public assistance and I’ve been tracking our spending with that You Need A Budget program (happy birthday to me!) I’m able to tell you right now we are going to spend right around $1000 for food this month. Right now we are at $713.47 for groceries and $122.05 for eating out. For our family, $122.05 represents eating out four times this month. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. When I see it as once a week it seems both good and bad depending on how you decide to argue it. I’m not sure. According to the May 2015 USDA food cost guideline numbers we are still hitting on the low end of spending for a family of five.

While we were part of the SNAP program our benefits for a family of five ranged from $426/mo. to $892/mo. the changes did not really mesh with income changes so I have no idea about all that. When we moved to our new, more conservative state we received $19/mo. more in assistance than we had been getting in our former state. I was surprised.

Also, our income would have kicked us off the program in either state. It wasn’t because of the move. I feared that might happen before we moved here but it didn’t. Also, the people in the offices here are so nice and so helpful it was downright confusing.

Back to food spending. This month I have budgeted $150/wk. toward food. At the end of the month, the budget will let me know how much I should budget for next month. There is, however, a $255 sneak attack that’s made our grocery spending as high as it is.

The groceries are what they are. I don’t buy name brands and we are about to cut down a lot on breakfast stuff because one of our big expenses this month that will roll through to next month is Soylent.

Yes, Soylent.

You might remember the Kickstarter back in 2013 (I do! I do!) or may have read the book or seen the movie (Fun Fact: Soylent is named after the book, not the movie. It actually makes a difference.)

It’s a nutritionally-complete food replacement.

NOT a diet.

A way for Mr. Brickie to have a decent breakfast. I have been researching it online (especially in the /r/Soylent forum on Reddit) to make sure we do everything we can to make it a smooth transition. Mr. Brickie has been skipping breakfast (bad for someone who has a physical job, no doubt) and, well, I’ve literally dreamed about not having to eat since watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (what? that wasn’t the message of the movie?) so it has it’s uses for both of us.

We will wean on slowly, of course. No jumping in crazy-style. Mr. Brickie will start on Saturday morning in case there are any gastro side-effects he won’t deal with them while he’s at work. I can start Friday morning because the package arrives Thursday and you have to let it sit in the fridge overnight for best results.

I’m not doing it to lose weight, I have been getting out of the house to the park and the pool and playing with the kids to try and stay active and healthy. I want to stop worrying about food. There is not one food I can look at and feel completely good about eating anymore. There’s always some flaw that makes it not a good choice. It’s really stressful. I see it the way I see getting off of Facebook. Walk away completely for a little bit and when you come back you can see things from a better perspective. Get a little distance on the issue.

Plus science is fun. I’m not going to lie. I’m so excited.

I will still eat solid food. After that month I was vegan and then couldn’t drink milk anymore? I know doing something funky can have long-term ramifications. So I will still eat food. Heck, I can even put stuff IN the Soylent if I want to make sure I get some chewing in (to release those lovely digestive enzymes) because it’s not a diet.

I see our grocery bill dropping in the areas of breakfast and lunch, but especially breakfast. I’m terribly picky about breakfast and the whole “can’t drink milk” means cereal is a distant dream of my past. I was eating Costco croissants and muffins but those are too greasy. I just want to not eat but not be hungry. So, no we will buy less of those things and the kids can have cereal and fruit and if I want fruit I can still have fruit and it might just work out.

You will be the first to know.

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Useless In Times of Prosperity

There are people who are awesome in a crisis.

I am a person who is awesome in a crisis. Like a specialty tool, I can be brought out to solve things when other people can only sit on the couch with their hands over their faces wondering why they have been chosen for yet another round in the “Oh shit” hamster wheel of survival.

When awful things happen, I shrug and do what needs to be done. A breakdown won’t help. The more pressure there is, the calmer I am. The worse the situation, the more focused I am. I can find a pinpoint of hope and worry the edges and peel away at it over months – years if need be – to let the sunlight in.

Since childhood I have been praised for my ability to handle a crisis. I did not blink when I took a box of turtles to my mother in the beautiful rehab facility on the hill. I smiled and was friendly and everyone thought she had a lovely daughter. When I got that same box of turtles from my daughter for Christmas, however, I almost lost my shit. The smile plastered on my face barely stayed and if my daughters were more observant in that wary way I was as a child they would have seen the slip.

I am beginning to feel useless.

The budget is done through November. I spent about ten hours putting it together. Now? Once a week I change the projected paycheck number with the actual and the only thing that changes is how much leftover goes to the credit card paydown. It’s a whole system and it’s done unless an emergency happens.

My daughters are getting through their last two-ish weeks of school and then it will be summer. So I don’t have to balance all the reading log signatures and the historical walking field trips that need jackets and extra snacks and they are signed up for camps for the summer and they have softball through July and they’re doing well so they’re on auto-pilot, too.

Dinners are planned in advance and a pork roast is thawing in the kitchen. Everything taken care of.

At this point I could be totally replaced by someone not-smart, someone entirely not-me. I have this really scary “my work here is done” feeling that makes me feel not just useless but like an imposter in my own home. It’s not that I wanted to be poor forever, it’s just…it’s what I’m used to. It’s part of my identity.

What do you fight when the fight is over?

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