Category: Family & Friends

From spouses to spit-up

Why My Family is Like A Poorly Run Small Business

I was talking with Mr. Brickie this morning and we were going over our normal morning stuff. What we’re doing this weekend, where we are going, vague plans for next week that will be firmed up by Sunday night.

All over morning coffee.

Then I looked at him and said, “I wish we could have less meetings. They’re so unproductive.”

We both laughed because anyone who’s been in meetings knows exactly what this conversation sounded like now. Going over things we both already knew, making vague plans that could change at a moment’s notice, and the knowledge that all we really need to be doing today is cleaning because our house is messy.

Everything else was just filler.

Filler that was wasting our beautiful morning with each other while the kids played Portal 2 happily in the TV room. We had this amazing, rare time alone with no one asking us for anything and we wasted it with a work meeting!

He said, “Yeah, I’d like more happy hour and less nine to five when we chill out.” (He’s a poet, that one.)

I agree. I want more happy hour moments with my husband. The after work hang-outs where we aren’t going over profit and loss statements and business plans for where our family will be in five years. I have a thing for five and ten year plans that would make a lesser man cry.

So here’s the big list of how my family is like a bad small business:

  1. Too many meetings.
  2. Too much micromanaging.
  3. Too many plans.
  4. Not enough delegation.
  5. Too many unspoken expectations.
  6. Too many direct orders, not enough freedom to get to set goals.
  7. Not enough positive feedback.

I’m a natural micro-manager. I manage my family like a well-oiled department in a Fortune 500 company. Sure, we are constantly improving and the kids are still young-ish so nothing is perfect every time (like chores) but hey, if they were perfect now that would not bode well for later, right?

I started talking about starting a micro-farm recently. I know we’ve only had the chickens for 18 days now (almost three weeks!) but taking care of them has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I love them so much. They are so sweet and they communicate well and I find them beyond adorable.

But you know what? I also have always wanted a goat. A fainting goat would be my preference, but a goat that could be milked so I could make my own goat cheese? NOW we’re talking! If I could have one of each so I could have my entertainment with one goat and my cheese with the other? Holy crap, I’d be in heaven!

Of course, I don’t know if I’m allergic to goats, so I’ll have to figure that out, first. A micro-farm might not be in the cards if we can only have animals I’m highly allergic to. That being said, I’m also pretty sure I’m not allergic to pigs.

My point is: Find a project. Find a dream. Make a plan you can work on so that you can use that extra energy ON something instead of just spinning your wheels with your significant other or friends. Spinning your brain-wheels doesn’t do you any good and is just wasted energy. You deserve better.

Advance Planning is Good but You Have to Allow for Spontaneity

I use my plans to make sure everyone is on track to what they need to do.

In the mornings before school? Exactly the same routine every day.

  1. Wake up.
  2. Get dressed.
  3. Have breakfast.
  4. Brush teeth.
  5. Brush hair.
  6. Put a snack in your backpack.
  7. Go to bus stop.

When they get home from school? Same routine every day. Again.

  1. Unpack backpack.
  2. Give assignment book and folder to mom or dad.
  3. Grab a snack.
  4. Sit at dining room table and do homework.
  5. Have mom/dad check homework and sign assignment book.
  6. 20 minutes of reading.
  7. Have dinner.
  8. Play.
  9. Shower.
  10. Go to bed.

Weekends we get all crazy. (Ha Ha Not Really)

Saturdays tend to be a free day where the kids can decompress doing whatever they want as long as they’re not fighting. Scooter riding, bike riding, playing in the yard, occasionally going to the park (not very occasionally) and a whole lot of video game time because my kids love Minecraft. They also love watching YouTube videos about Minecraft. I check my account often to make sure they’re watching approved non-cussing-filled sources.

Sunday might involve a trip to Michigan or a craft or more free time. I cut off screens at about 5pm and they have to switch to drawing, books, or imagination play. Sunday nights each child picks out their five outfits for the week. (I used to just do one outfit the night before, but Mr. Brickie felt it would be more expeditious to have them pick out five until such time as they decide what to wear based on “how they’re feeling that day” if that ever happens.)

This summer we would like to visit more parks and do other fun stuff. I have the tourist guides for both Illinois and Michigan (and have Liked both Facebook pages) in order to have clear choices I can look into.

I can only imagine how our weekdays would look if the kids were in extra-curricular activities. I mean, where does the time come from?

While I try to be spontaneous and will occasionally put on music in the morning there’s not a whole lot of spontaneous activities happening. I don’t know if that’s because we’re poor, I’m tired, or some other reason I’m not entirely sure of.

It just seems like everything is on auto pilot right now and I’d like my kids to have memories that are a little more interesting than the assembly line I currently have them on. Maybe it’s just that I can’t wait for the fun that Summer brings. The fruit picking and pie making and running through orchards that I miss so much from last year.

So we need less meetings and more fun. Less micromanaging and more freedom. Less planning and more doing. Maybe I’ll start reading some books on running a small business and see how I can integrate those into my family routines. Of course, maybe that will backfire horribly. What do you think?

Does your family work like a clunky small business? How do you keep the fun in your day? How on earth do you keep a normal schedule when your kids are in activities? 

bird-end-fin

 

 

Breathe – Find Your Zen (A Come Play in May Post)

I have a problem.

My problem destroys my zen and literally takes my breath away.

I overexplain.

Where an “Okay” would be a perfect answer, I will say, “Okay but don’t feel obligated or anything I wasn’t thinking you had to do this or that but if you want to I’d enjoy it a lot.”

For every one necessary word, I will say seventy-thousand. That may be a bit of an exaggeration but … DID YOU SEE WHAT I JUST DID THERE. I didn’t even do that on purpose. I started to overexplain. As if you didn’t realize seventy-thousand was an exaggeration!

It’s a sickness.

I’m not sure how I’m supposed to fix it. Maybe my brand-spankin’ new therapist will help me with that.

Because, aw yeah, I have a therapist. Is that still a cool thing to have? It used to be you were, like, totally cool if you had a therapist because it meant you could afford a therapist in addition to being someone who was totally being self-aware. I think. Honestly I’m not sure why therapy was such a huge fad back in the day.

I’m just going to assume it’s trendy because if it’s not I don’t wanna know about it.

So using less words will give me more time to breathe. Hopefully, that will help me find my zen.

Also, it means I have faith in the people I’m communicating with to understand me and put the responsibility on them to ask for clarity if they do not understand. I haven’t told my husband that part yet. He hates asking for clarity in normal, boring, everyday marital conversations.

Maybe I don’t need to tell my husband that part. Would that be overexplaining? 

Axis of Ineptitude

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

Vague – Come Play In May

vague-quote

I am guessing the key to this prompt is to be vague enough that none of you have any idea what I’m talking about.

Which is difficult because different people know different things and gosh if everyone I knew got together that would be the end of me. Because I have a secret.

Some of my friends are in my life because they replace other friends I have lost.

There was this one friend I had a long time ago and she was really cool. I’ve always been awful at communication and she was really bossy so I kind of got led around by the nose the entire friendship. I started to get a little annoyed, then resentful, and then downright angry.

When I finally vented my grievances the other person never saw it coming and it came across as a waterfall of anger and accusations and it was, by any stretch of the imagination, COMPLETE OVERKILL.

They felt horribly wronged because I turned on them like an angry terrier for what they felt was no good reason. I felt wronged because how could this person – supposedly my friend – not know they were walking all over me like a damn bathmat?

Thus ended a friendship.

….and now there are probably ten people who think this post is about them, but you know what, it’s not. Because this is about the first person I did this to. They don’t even remember my name. Sorry if that’s breaking the “vague” rule but I don’t want all y’all to think it’s about you when it’s not. Because I’ve probably done this to more than ten of you. So embarrassing. 

Axis of Ineptitude

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

Art & Creating Beauty – Come Play In May

Uh….I suck at art.

Except picmonkey. Well, I have photoshop but I’m lazy and PicMonkey gives me the ability to be lazy and still make fun memes because dude a picture and a one liner never goes out of style.

Today I created:

coffee-chick

Because I gotta tell you I was tired this morning. Bone-weary tired. But then I got it together and started my morning and had a shower and had buckets of coffee and uploaded chicken videos to YouTube and they will be on the ChickenCam page in about ten minutes and I felt like this:

flowing-hair-horse-mane-coffee-shower

Isn’t it fun to create simple art that communicates easily to others exactly how you are feeling?

It’s not going to end up in the Met but whatever, I was never going to end up in the Met for anything so it’s not like I’m missing out on my dreams.

 

Axis of Ineptitude

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

The Ball I Dropped

the-ball-i-dropped

If you haven’t caught on by now, this is not one of the most upbeat blog thingies to link up with.

But it’s so much more real than “Cinco de Mayo” with pictures of mayonnaise in sinks and guffaws from people who haven’t seen that picture seventy-five times in the last five years. Or some upbeat, uplifting post suggestions. I like being a little dark because I – as a person – am a little dark. I would love to be 100% full of love and light but since I haven’t managed that yet, you get to learn about one of the many ways I’ve dropped the ball in my life.

One of the things I want more than anything is friends. I love having friends. I love talking to people about my life and listening to people talk about theirs.

The people in this town I live in that I adore own businesses and get things done. They are women that I respect and think are absolutely fantastic. I wanted to be friends with them.

Come to find out there was an open board position for a local park district and one of the people thought I would be perfect for it. I was very sick at the end of last year (two emergency room visits, one urgent care visit, I was messed up physically) but still showed up and got elected to the board.

I was ecstatic. I felt so happy to be part of something. Unfortunately, between being sick and the board position putting me in charge of social media (which spikes my anxiety disorder like you wouldn’t believe) I completely failed in participating at all and ended up curled in bed, unable to do anything, and had to have my husband call to say I would not be able to participate.

Really, I was absolutely pathetic. I couldn’t make myself move. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think.

I finally slinked away from the Facebook page of the organization just yesterday. It was with shame and a heavy heart I removed myself as an admin. As I realized how badly I had failed these people I had hoped would become my friends. Or at least acquaintances. Or at least just get to know. These were people I wanted to help.

It was like I finally got my chance at being a fabulous board member of a fabulous organization and be THAT MOM … the one who does things and volunteers and is part of something. The housewife who is on a committee and does things for the community. The person I’ve always dreamed of being. Well, one of the versions of the person I’ve always dreamed of being, anyway.

Instead I completely blew it and I’m embarrassed to show my face at the Farmer’s Market because I am such an utter failure.

I sabotaged myself. Not on purpose…I mean who sabotages themselves on purpose, right? I just can’t live right. I can’t be the person I want to be. I can’t interact and make things happen and just follow through. I can’t breathe and want to hide under the bed. I want so badly to smile and participate and be …. human…normal….average.

I wish I could do it all over again and not botch it all up so horribly.

But that’s the thing about dropping the ball. You don’t always get a chance to pick it back up and give it another try. Sometimes you drop it and it’s lost in the tall grass and you have no idea where to find it again.

Even worse, what if you did get a chance to do it again? Would you just make the same mistakes again?

Axis of Ineptitude

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

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

mondays-are-for-bitching

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.

top-ten-fastest-growing-bls

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!

Coop Dreams (or, The Chicken Town Diaries)

We have been scouring Craigslist since April 23rd for wood.

That is because a long-waited-for ordinance was passed that we can have hens in the town I live in. I had nothing to do with the passing of the ordinance because I’m pretty much the opposite of an activist. If an activist needs a hug and a shoulder to cry on or someone to yell to, that’s me. Actual activism? That’s not me. Appreciation? Oh, that’s SO me.

We have a rough coop design already, thanks to hours of searching on Backyard Chicken and then changing the design based on personal whims and preferences. Also, you know I want it to look like a little barn, let’s not even play I don’t have a huge streak of country in me. (I hide it well, but it’s there. Especially when chickens are involved.)

Why Chickens? That Seems Weird.

If you have never owned a chicken before or had a chicken as a pet it’s going to seem weird to have livestock for a pet. I get that. No judgement from me. Also, if you have had a chicken as a pet or friend you can totally skip to the next section because I’m going to explain it for the uninitiated.

When I was young (I don’t know how young, but we lived in California in a beautiful house with a built in pool and a very nice guy and it’s where I learned to swim, so “learned to swim” age.) I had a pet chicken. I don’t know how I got her or why she became my pet.

Red-Chicken
New Hampshire Red via mypetchicken.com

Her name was Penelope and she was probably a New Hampshire Red based on pictures I have seen online of what different chickens look like. I have very fond memories of holding her and carrying her around with me and talking to her and that one time I got a lollipop stuck on her feathers (no lie) and she was a real pet.

I couldn’t have cats or a dog because I was highly allergic. I still am. When we had dogs and I would pet them my forearms would break out in hives. Cats mess me up even worse.

But chickens by and large are awesome and I’m not allergic and …

Benefits of Chickens as Pets

Most animals you own you just give and give and have to be content with love in return. Vet bills, food, and for what? Love. Don’t get me wrong, love is awesome and I have a turtle that doesn’t give me anything but enjoyment so I am not judging you dog and cat lovers.

But when you have a pet that gives you FOOD? Daaaaang….that’s just taking the whole relationship to the next level, now, isn’t it? You give them food and they give you food back. It’s like some kind of quid pro quo magic land where pets show you they care with eggs.

I know that’s not really what’s happening, but honestly, I don’t care. It makes me happy that I will give to them and they will give to me and we can have a symbiotic relationship like that.

Second, the next time we have a spider, ant, other-bug infestation in this house? You’re damn right I’m letting a chicken in my house. They’ll eat those insects up like nobody’s business! ”

Oh…but I don’t want them pooping all over my house while they are eating all the ants!” I hear ONE of you saying right now. I hear it in my mind. It’s okay, it’s a good question. Well let me introduce you to the solution….

The Chicken Diaper!

chicken-diaper
Chicken Diaper vis mypetchicken.com

Oh yes, this is a thing. A real thing. I could not be more excited.

So fashion.

I really love the idea of a chicken diaper and you can probably find chicken diapers on Etsy because someone has to be making these in their kitchen as a home business. HAS TO BE.

So not only do chicken diapers exist, you can get them from multiple places. Consider this your fun fact of the day. Whip this fact out at a cocktail party and you’ll seriously be known for the best small talk in the world.

So when I see ants I’ll skip the Borax, skip the white chalk, skip the vinegar, and just let a chicken do the job for me and be terribly thankful I gave her such a nice treat!

What We Have to Do Before We Get the Chickens

There is kind of a weird, backward process to this.

1. Get a building permit for the coop. (It’s the same as a shed permit.)

2. An inspector comes out and inspects the coop. If it passes you get a pat on the back. I guess. We’re not there yet.

3. You apply for and receive a poultry license. (This is free. Allows for up to 6 hens. NO roosters!)

4. You are now allowed to get your little bundles of chicken joy.

It’s weird because if you plan on having loving, well-socialized chicks they have to spend about two months indoors from birth being taken care of and fed and loved and watered and whatnot. Sure, you can buy a 10-12 week old chicken and put it right into the coop, but part of the joy of the whole thing is having the little baby chicks and raising them and naming them and learning their personalities. (I mean, I’m not pretending they’re people with feathers, but they do have different personalities. That’s a thing. I didn’t just make it up.)

But as good, caring, law-abiding citizens we will wait because that’s what good people do.

*ahem* where was I?

Want to See My Coop Design?

Well, I don’t know where Mr. Brickie’s actual graph paper drawings are, and they’re really more ideas anyway as we scour Craigslist for materials in the “Free” section we can use to make our chickens their new mansion. We probably have about fifty percent of what we need so far. (We work fast.)

Here is the basic design we are working with because OMG it’s so perfect. (Our code allows for 24sqft for the coop itself and 32sqft for the “chicken run” around the totally enclosed “keep those coyotes away from my girls” coop.) I found it on BackyardChickens.com where they have a whole bunch of coop designs you can be inspired by. Some include full plans and all of them include pictures!

basic-coop-design

Our design has to be modified because this coop is 5′ x 10′ overall and we can only have 32sqft. The little enclosed coop part is 5′ x 4′ and we can actually have 24sqft so we could make it a little bigger. (Maybe we won’t. It depends on the wood and how everything fits together.)

Probably the best advice I’ve gotten is DO NOT USE CHICKEN WIRE. Use galvanized hardware cloth. It’s like mesh and it keeps predators out. Chicken wire will keep your chicken in, but won’t stop a raccoon or coyote or big dog.

So this is my little homesteading hill I’m going to fight for.

I have become a chicken lady, and I couldn’t be happier.

Other Interesting Things About Chickens

Chickens can be recognized as emotional therapy animals.

Chickens are smart and have bi-lateral right/left brain thinking! (this article is long, amazing, and has scientific sources)

Here is a link to a chart on cost of ownership for one person. (I like that he has with and without coop because our coop certainly isn’t going to cost $400!!) His breakdown shows $3.50 per dozen eggs is the overall cost if you were JUST using your chickens for eggs. Considering they’re organic and free-range and you know exactly where your eggs are coming from… $3.50 is about what they are at Whole Foods, aren’t they?

Stick With Me and There Will Be Pictures!

mr-brickie-and-coop-woodSo far all we have this this one of Mr. Brickie with a piece of reclaimed wood that is going to be the second layer of cover for the coop. We are going to paint it and give the coop a rustic look but the underneath layer is going to be solid.

As you can see this is his, “Are you seriously taking a picture of me right now?” face. I have to give him credit because if it was me and he tried to take a picture I’d probably shriek at him.

He’s a good guy.

Our chicken coop is going to be so cool.

If you have any questions or recommendations or want to tell me something you think is critical to know about raising chickens or building a coop, don’t hesitate to leave a comment! I’m all about learning and want to do this as well as I can from start to finish.

I have wanted a chicken like a little girl wants a pony for years. I could not be more excited about actually getting to make that dream happen.

bird-end-fin

 

 

 

The Bell Curve of Success (or Look How Far We’ve Come)

One of the first periods in my life I remember is Junior High. Sure, there were some memories here and there before that, but Junior High is where I remember riding my bike to school every day (A Schwinn Beach Cruiser) and I remember the corner store, and the airport, and the house, and our neighbors, and my first boyfriend.

In case you’re curious, I moved a lot as a kid so most of my childhood memories look like a montage. Not one of those cool action montages from a movie, but more like when you go to YouTube.com and are excited to see a mash-up video and then it turns out to be one of those totally bogus slideshows with music behind it. My memories are like the dumb slideshow someone made in Powerpoint and sometimes it really bothers me. Most of the time I don’t think about it.

So here is my very first corner store, where I would buy Boston Baked Beans and Lemonheads.

Mission-Market-Collage

In case you’re wondering, it looked pretty much exactly like that when I went there, too. The neighborhood around it has newer sidewalks and has been repaved and I think there’s a Walgreens being built across the street, but the Mission Market remains.

I probably spent an hour on Google Maps this morning “riding” down the streets I rode when I was younger. The drug house that burned down when I lived in town has a really cute house built there now. The yard where the angry dogs and sad children lived was one I couldn’t pick out from all the houses on the block, even though I knew the approximate location.

The house I lived in? Sadly, I couldn’t get Google to show it to me. It was in a cul-de-sac that wasn’t actually a street so the Google car didn’t drive down and get a good shot. I can see it from above on Google Earth but it doesn’t show anything worth sharing. It’s just a roof and a small yard and a tree in front.

The neighborhood looks a lot nicer now. Houses are selling for upwards of $200k on the street. Considering when we lived there our neighbors were heroin addicts with a SERIOUS roach infestation, well, either real estate is just expensive there or it’s been gentrified.

I don’t know anyone I could ask. I’m also okay not knowing.

The point here is that everyone we lived around was poor. My parents might have been the only ones on the block that weren’t over 80 years old or drug addicts. I rode my bike to and from school every day and it didn’t dawn on me it was a “bad” neighborhood. It was just where I lived.

There was the one time the guy in the van asked me to get in and I rode away, but it didn’t dawn on me until years later how pivotal that moment may have been in my life. Maybe it was just a nice guy who wanted to take me and my bike home. I’m okay not knowing that, too.

I’m not sure why we got the same “you can be anything you want to be” speech that the kids in a nicer neighborhood did. Really, no one ever gave us a heads up how much longer and fraught with potential trauma our paths were. I can’t imagine someone in a nice Junior High getting asked by the Spanish teacher out loud in front of the whole class why my last name was different from my mother’s. I mean, what was he expecting? Why did that question matter? Wasn’t I already looked down on enough?

Oh hey! I found a picture of my Junior High!

mission-middle-school

My saving grace was probably getting moved to Illinois to a little suburb outside of Chicago after my Junior High graduation. No one at my High School cared what my last name was. Sure, I had drama coming out of my ears, but it was a different kind of drama.

As a housewife (I’ve started saying housewife because I don’t want some 9-5 expectation to descend upon me just because my kids reach some magical age) I feel like I’ve traveled so far to get here. I mean, we all have traveled so far to get wherever we are. Some paths are more normal or expected than others. I know mine has been a twisting, turning adventure that has spanned from California to New York and even detoured south that one time I almost ended up living in Tennessee with the guy who loved Jimmy Buffet almost as much me.

That I’m able to wake up every morning safe is a blessing I recognize so clearly sometimes. That my biggest fear when my kids ride up and down the block on their bikes is that a police officer might hassle me for not paying enough attention “because bad things happen everywhere.”  That the worst anyone in this town can do is look down on me. I mean, hell, that doesn’t even hurt. I know I have a personality that is not universally loved and adored. I come by it naturally. Wives whining about not having enough control over their husbands is just too petty for me to even register and it’s probably the biggest complaint I’ve heard so far in this town.

The odds of someone coming from where I came from having a stable marriage, not having any illegal substance problems, and having children who are kind and polite? I may as well be president of the United States for the rare air I breathe up here.

I think the best part is I’m able to see it clearly and so will  never, ever take it for granted.

bird-end-fin

24 Hour Job Blitz (Or, How to Find a Job As A Bricklayer or Maybe Anything Else)

mr-brickie-news

I haven’t seen a plethora of bricklaying blogs on the Internet. There’s one in Australia last I checked but that was a while ago. Is there a place online for BAC members and their spouses and other people to hang out? I’d love to have one because we all go through similar things and I think we could all learn from each other.

This isn’t going to turn into a bricklaying blog by any means, but I will tell you there are a few things that we are learning along the way I wish we had known right out of the gate. For example:

  1. If you want a job you have to keep calling people and telling them so. You have to do this politely, not too often, but often enough. You also have to keep in contact with your liaison and if it takes more than two weeks to get a job, expect to drive to the DCTC and practice. If the liaison is working to get you a job you better be working on your skills. Prove you want it.
  2. If your regular company doesn’t have a job for you then  you have to get your hustle on and get something somewhere. Mr. Brickie went to Company B yesterday and filled out an application and talked to the owner of the company and it was a great interview. Company B says they should have something for him by next week at the latest. But you know what next week isn’t? That’s right! This week.
  3. This morning, Mr. Brickie is going to “crash a worksite” which is the practice of rolling up in your work clothes with your tools in the back of your car. You find the foreman and say, “Hey, y’all need an apprentice?” (This has mixed reactions. Be polite and don’t get snotty about it by citing rules like the journeyman/apprentice ratio needed to be Union compliant. They’ll just send you away.)

So, the liaison is looking for something else. The BA (Business Agent) is checking his stuff and if Mr. Brickie doesn’t hear from him he’s supposed to call back Friday. His Company A is going to call him the minute they have work and Company B should have something for him next week.

All this action is comforting.

Oh! If a bricklayer apprentice is reading this I need them to know the reason they’re doing all this and going the extra mile to help Mr. Brickie get a gig this season is because since day ONE:

  • He has been doing his best every day.
  • He shows up on time every day.
  • He attends every Union meeting.
  • He turns in all his time sheets on time and when they’re late he apologizes and tries to do better next time.
  • He goes in to practice.
  • He participated in the bricklaying competition for 1st year apprentices.
  • He went to the Christmas Party and introduced his kids to the people who make things happen. They don’t just know he has a family to feed, they know what all of us look like and we were all on our best behavior and all smiles when we met him.

Most of what he’s done is have manners, say please and thank you, and be appreciative. He does what he says he’s going to do. Don’t take anything for granted.

The usual stuff, really.

I’m not sure if this is how things go at every BAC Local, but man, you have to participate. The Union is something beyond your wages and your benefits. It’s a group working as a team. It feels like a lot of the team aspect is something people want to benefit from without putting anything in. There are people Mr. Brickie hasn’t seen at ONE Union meeting since he graduated last April from his training. Why would you join something and then not participate? It’s no surprise that these people are either not working, or working sporadically.

The sad part is I’ve never known a company/organization as easy to get your non-money “dues” in with. They even serve beer and hot dogs at the meetings. They feed you, beverage you, and all you have to do is spend two hours once a month getting to know the people who want to get you jobs.

I am amazed by what people take for granted.

In the meantime my hope feels less forced today. Action is so much better than waiting for a phone call. Plans are better than languishing in doubt and uncertainty. I truly don’t feel like a fool when I say, “He’s going to be working any day now.”

It’s going to be a good day.

bird-end-fin

 

Old Work Dog – New Work Tricks

April-21-2014-daily-reading

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!)