Category: Family & Friends

From spouses to spit-up

Surgery Day (After) – Part 2

Oh wow.

He’s in so much pain. They gave him norcos (Vicodin + acetaminophen) but they aren’t doing a damn thing. In conjunction with the top and bottom ice packs it feels like we’re reducing his pain by, like, 20%. He’s in SO MUCH PAIN.

I’m scared but trying to remain calm because:
A) No one else is going to remain calm.
B) The doctor sees him at 11am and maybe he can help.
C) I don’t have any more energy for freaking out.

So we are here and he is suffering and it sucks.

I slept last night but woke up every time he whimpered, called out, or moved in his sleep.

Thank goodness it’s Friday. The kids are going to go feral this weekend because we’re all just going to hunker down and get through it.

Or try.

Thank you for all your kind wishes. We will get through this.

Surgery Day – Part 1

Surgery Day!

I’m so nervous I could … oh, hey, I have pills for this. One sec.

Okay. I should feel better in about 15 minutes or so. I used to have a prescription for klonopin and I didn’t use it that often but kept refilling the scripts so even though they’re on lockdown now (I need to find a pain management specialist locally) I have backup pills to take in times of great anxiety.

You know, like when you’re afraid your husband won’t wake up from the general anesthetic. That kind of anxiety.

My kids are all optimists and seem fine with the situation. I’m obviously not freaking out in front of them but I have told them I’m worried because I’m trying to walk that line between honest and selfish. I can’t use them for comfort, they’re kids.

He is still asleep, which is good, because he can’t eat or drink anything (including water) before his surgery. I’m not going to nudge him until about five minutes before we have to leave if he can stay asleep.

We haven’t received the first worker’s comp check in the mail yet. It should get here today, I hope. We haven’t been spending a lot of money, either, except for going out yesterday together for dollar taco Wednesday at the local bar because the tacos are awesome and he wanted a beer and to get out of the house.

Having a broken wrist is making him cabin fever crazy. He’s a doer and this is not going well for him. But he’s not crabby, so I’m counting my blessings.

Good thoughts are appreciated. I’ll update later today after surgery.

On Broken Bones and Broken Finances

Finance-Small-CircleOh my friends. We have come so far. Financially we have struggled. Lately I’ve been feeling a little weird because all this normalcy and regular bill and debt payment made me feel shy and like maybe it was only interesting to write about things being bad. I was assured by many kind and loving folks that it’s okay to celebrate stability when you finally have it.

Well, I guess when I had stability would be the appropriate tense. I did enjoy those two months in the sun, though, I really did.

On Monday, Mr. Brickie fell off a ladder and broke his wrist. He was being super safe, the ladder was not rickety, and he was almost at the bottom after taking care of some bolt thing. The ladder kicked out from under him and he fell on his right side. He texted me before driving home, “Hurt my wrist at work, should be okay. On my way home.” I figured he sprained or tweaked it a little and made sure we had enough ice in the freezer to make an ice pack of some kind. No problem.

When he got home his arm was hanging by his side, he couldn’t move it, and it was very swollen. I told him he needed to go to the ER and he said, “Yes, I would at least like to get it checked out.” Neither of us thought it was broken. Him because he didn’t think it hurt enough to be broken and I was just wishing the break away with all my might because you can’t lay brick with a broken wrist and we just got to this place where we’re stable and boring and were even doing better than we have in years and it couldn’t be broken it would be too awful.

The x-ray confirmed it, however, and he got his temporary splint cast until we can get to the orthopedic surgeon for a full diagnosis and permanent cast.

First off, I’m thankful for worker’s compensation and knowing we don’t have to pay for his treatment. I’m less thankful for all the hoops I feel we’ve had to jump through the last couple days to get a claim filed. The company he is with is new and I think this might be their first worker’s comp claim and, as such, they aren’t a whole lot more sure of the procedure than I am after a Google information binge. We should have what we need this morning, I hope. Then we can get him a cast and on the road to mending for good.

As for the finances, I have a little over $200 in my Digit account I can withdraw if I have to. I have the $555 in the emergency fund (yes, I do wish I had prioritized the emergency fund over debt payoff right about now) and I have no idea what his worker’s comp payment will be or when it starts. I assume we will find that out when the adjuster calls today. From what I’ve read it’s 2/3 of your after tax income based on the last 52 weeks of work. With rain days and winter off and a couple pay raises there is no reliable way to calculate that number. I mean, I do have all the paystubs but that seems like some serious overkill. I took the number from our tax return ($33k) and did the calculation with that. It’s not after tax but it’s also not accounting for a raise so maybe it’s close? I don’t know.

I’m working with the assumption that it will be eight weeks before he’s back to work. I will update my assumption when more facts come in. Eight weeks seems like a safe, middle-of-the-road starter assumption so I can at least start making a plan. Having your bills written down or in a spreadsheet really helps when you need to know the bare-bones of what you have to have to survive. (Bare bones? Really? Now is so not the time for awful puns…and yet…here we are.)

Tomorrow he will receive a full paycheck and the rest of this month’s bills will be paid. The last check of the month (next Thursday) will only have one day of work on it, but the whole thing was slated to go into savings accounts (rent savings and insurance savings) so I can make those up with the emergency fund or by not paying into them until he’s back to work.

I hate to put off rent savings, but I know myself well enough to know we can prioritize it once he’s back at work. We have until November 15th to come up with that money so it’s not an immediate priority. Right now there’s $485 in that savings account so I’ll try and avoid using it but at the same time I’m not going to feel bad if I have to use it to keep the lights on.

I thank everything good and holy that this happened:

  1. In spring.
  2. On a job that’s going to be years long so he has something to go back to when he heals.
  3. On a crew that considers him a real part of the team.
  4. On a crew where several guys he works with have called to ask how he is and making him feel better with their own broken bone stories.
  5. On a crew where everyone tells him they look forward to having him back.
  6. With a company that has changed when and how ladders are used so this doesn’t happen to someone else. It’s a small thing but very telling because it shows they view this as something that can happen to anyone and aren’t “blaming” him for the accident.

I’m trying to find my comfort in knowing this is temporary and I’m trying very hard to be thankful it’s only his wrist. It could have been so much worse but it wasn’t because he prioritizes safety and always faces his ladder so if he does fall he doesn’t fall off the edge of a building…because this happened on the second story and if his ladder was positioned the other direction he would have fallen two stories instead of three feet. He could be dead.

So….yeah…I’m kind of a messy jumble of emotions and emergency planning.

What the Middle Class Looks Like: Dentistry

middle-class-monday-header


Disclaimer: I am not 100% sure if we are middle class, but I think we live like we are. We live in the Midwest (so we aren’t paying LA rent or Alaska milk prices) and my husband is in a union so health insurance is an included part of the package and not a deduction from his check or something we have to pay for separately. The “Middle Class Mondays” series covers things I’ve always felt would be different when we had what I consider “enough” money and how those experiences compare to how things used to be for us or how they compare to how things were when I was a child.


I have a great dental insurance plan. I know this because my dentist’s office keeps telling me so. It’s been years since I’ve seen a dentist because the last one was a public aid dentist in cook county and I was pretty sure she was trying to drown me in my own spit. (I had to sit up with the drill in my mouth because when I raised my hand she put it down and when I tried to shift she held my forehead.)

Needless to say, I’m a little bit freaked out by the dentist.

Yesterday I got a periodontal cleaning (that deep, under-the-gums cleaning you get when you’re old, not just the scraping off the front teeth one, they numb your whole mouth for this cleaning) and since I was in good shape the dentist decided to get the cavities on the left hand side of my mouth out of the way so she wouldn’t have to re-numb me later.

Eight cavities. Eight.

All the while I was praised by the dentist and the hygienist for how well I had cared for my teeth. I brush 2x a day and floss once – sometimes twice – a day. So while I was not surprised they praised me such consistent praise seemed almost overwhelming.

Then they focused on one another and started talking like colleagues do about kids, school, and life. I was much more comfortable when this started because I didn’t have to participate and could concentrate on being quiet and calm and not a person who freaks out at dental visits.

It all turned out fabulously. Sure, my copay (on an 80/20 PPO plan) was $555 but I had a new card I had opened with 0% APR for the first 21 months on new purchases. That means I have time to pay this off without paying interest. Great! I still need more work to the tune of 10 more cavities, a front tooth cap replacement, and probably some kind of whitening action. I’m getting the cavities finished this year. That means I need to start paying $125/mo. now in order to pay off the whole chunk in 20 months from now.

Almost 10 of my cavities are because my previous (public aid) dental work was shoddy and cavities were actually UNDER THE FILLINGS. So it’s not from lack of trying and lack of care that this happened. Which is frustrating.

So my overall total by the end of next month when all this is done (not including vanity procedures like whitening or tooth straightening which are total pipe dreams in my life still) I will end up owing a hair over $2,500 … for my teeth. With insurance. Very good insurance, according to the dental staff.

We could not have done this any sooner than this year. It wouldn’t have been even a little bit possible. It’s a shame, too, because I have to tell you I absolutely believe that dental should be part of all other medical and get covered like any other regular procedure at any regular doctor.

Mouths are important.

How We Spent It 3-31-2016

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Sometimes it makes me really sad that my plans get derailed by doing normal people things like taking my kids to the dentist.

We used to go to this amazing dentist with a circus atmosphere (yes, even balloon animals) but once we moved it took an hour to get there one way. Too much travel for three little kids. We found a local dentist through a referral who is also a unicorn (small hands with long, thin fingers) and we couldn’t be happier with the office.

X-rays, sealants, fluoride, and cleanings for all the kids (plus x-rays for me) – even with insurance – cost us $198 today. Well worth it, sure, but still painful. My mouth is going to be a years long process because of the deductible + coverage limit per year. I’m fine with that but pretty soon we’re going to have to take Mr. Brickie and his trench mouth in there and then all bets are off and we might look into getting care credit because once you go in there you need to just get it done because his teeth have this tendency to dissolve when things are put on them.

But he’s the one from the middle class family. He got braces and everything. Seriously, don’t judge people by their teeth. You can only control that stuff so much.

Maybe I’ll get veneers so I can have a perfect smile. I could do it. Be amazing in all my pictures from now on. Sounds right up my alley, doesn’t it? (If you ever want to see how *not* into selfies I am you can check me out on instagram. Surprise, my username is jennydecki.) Sadly, veneers aren’t even an option for Mr. Brickie. Ah well, I always tell him, “If they don’t hurt you’re doing better than you could be.” We do need to get him in that dentist’s office, though, and I know he’s scared even though he would refuse to the moon and back that he even cares.

When I was younger and rebellious and conservative and thought everyone could succeed if they just tried hard enough and weren’t lazy (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) I swore I’d never marry someone who had less-than-awesome teeth because I had great teeth and had a good dental routine and the ONLY way you would have janky teeth was OF COURSE if you were too lazy to brush.

I truly hope it does not surprise you to know I’m deeply ashamed I held those beliefs. I’ve talked to enough people living enough lives from top to bottom to know how wrong I was. I do, however, understand the thought process that leads someone to hold on to those beliefs. I’m not a “my way or the highway” woman when it comes to personal beliefs because there is value in understanding. I’m not sure exactly what the value is, sometimes, but maybe someday I’ll understand why I crave to know others and how they got where they are and why they believe the way they do.

This week was the “extra” check. I set aside $350 for groceries, gas, tolls, and one night of take out food. With the one day of no work last week his check was $758.19

2016-3-31

Walmart is work jeans for Mr. Brickie (4 pairs) because he doesn’t have a pair without holes in them and I was like, “What the what?? No. You do not wait until the last minute to tell me you need work clothing. That is a priority!!” I put it on the credit card so when it shows up on the card (it takes a few days) I can pay it off immediately.

The emergency fund was half drained to pay off a credit card so I’m trying to put a little back in there. I really was most comfortable when that was at $1000 but every time we have a dime I’m torn between the emergency fund and paying down Macy’s.

That dentist bill is a biggie, though, but I have to prioritize the kids health. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night otherwise.

So at this point I consider myself very, very lucky I was able to pull out a credit card this morning, have her charge $194 on the card, and then I was able to come home and set aside the same amount of cash from today’s paycheck so as soon as it goes on the card I can pay it right off.

It’s a whole new world, really.

Plus the hygienist told me I was awesome and my family was awesome which is always a great thing to hear first thing in the morning. It’s kept me smiling since she said it. A great bonus in addition to good dental care, for sure!

Here is where our credit card balances stand:

2016-3-31 ynab

It’s a lot but we’ll get there. Tomorrow I’m going to pull down the Chase Freedom $187.28 cash back into my checking account. ($150 for spending $500 in three months, $25 for adding an additional user, 5% cash back on gas.) We used this as our gas card until today because of the 5% back and we put this month’s bills that could be paid on a credit card on this card to hit that $500 limit. Tomorrow the Chase Freedom card will be back in the safe until the next time the 5% bonus category is one we want to participate in because it’s something we would have spent on anyway.

I’ll pull out the Chase Visa next (2% cash back on gas and groceries) and put a little post-it note on it that says “gas/groceries” so Mr. Brickie knows what the card is for and doesn’t have to think about it.

Can you believe tomorrow is already April??

Why Can’t I be **THAT** Mom?

You know the one. List in hand, she totes around town running errands and stopping in to help at her kid’s school. She is put together and wears just enough makeup that everyone knows she didn’t wake up at the last minute. Not too much makeup, though because that would mean she was trying too hard.

That mom who knows the perfect present for every birthday party. The mom who knows which teacher loves chocolate, which loves coffee, and which loves both. The parent who knew what camps to put the kids in and was completely certain her kids were emotionally ready for what she signed them up for.

A mom who made sure her kids could swim while they were still in utero. Safety first!

I’m supposed to volunteer at the school and I’m having a full blown “maybe I should go to the ER but I know I’m not dying my heart is playing tricks on me” panic attack. Why can’t I just show up and be awesome. I’m sure the teacher doesn’t even need me to be awesome. I could probably just stand there like a statue and it would be more helpful than not being there.

Since we bought the second car (aka Mr. Brickie’s car) I’ve changed a lot of things and it’s only been a month! I do 90% of the shopping now. I drive my youngest to school so her big sisters can walk to school. (Kindergarten is its own building in our town.)

I pick up prescriptions and I do actually run quite a few errands so Mr. B doesn’t have to.

I guess I thought the momentum from doing all these things would launch me into the realm of being able to volunteer at the school. It does not seem to be working. I feel I may have made a gross miscalculation of my own abilities.

Frantically, my brain scans for excuses that I won’t be caught in at a later date. “I really wanted to but I died” probably won’t cut it. The worst part is if I had just kept my mouth shut I wouldn’t have volunteered in the first place. I could have just stayed the silent majority of moms who don’t volunteer. I could still do it. I don’t know how.

I’ve managed to turn a bunch of wins (errands, shopping, etc.) into meaningless nothings next to this big letdown of being nothing more than a person who doesn’t keep my word.

Now that I have my very own daytime car I feel like I have to do all the things all at once all the time while the kids are in school or I’m wasting the gift of having a car with me during the day.

Time to Buy a Second Car

I was staring at the numbers on the paper in front of me. Sitting on the couch with my legs crossed under me and the yellow pad balanced on my knee. “What am I missing?” I mumbled over and over under my breath. There had to be something. There couldn’t be extra money.

There is never extra money.

Sure, I could put it in a savings account. I have one for rent and I have one for insurance. I could put it into the emergency fund and deal with it later. I could start paying down a credit card. The best answer was eluding me and I felt like maybe I was forgetting something entirely and it wasn’t really time to start paying anything down or putting anything away. I felt like I was forgetting something.

Naturally, Mr. Brickie sees my distress and says, “It’s time to get a second car.”

After I wiped my now-exploded brain off the floor I asked him, “Why now?” He said, “Because we have the money.” I said, “The money for what?” He said, “A second car.”

Of course when I said “The money for what?” I meant what kind of car. New/used/beater/decent/yours/mine/ours/big/small, etc. I was looking for a target … but my husband is a really literal kind of person so he thought I misheard. Actually, who knows what he was thinking but when he’s not sure what to say he’s known to repeat himself.

Plus, he’s not going to pick the car. Who are we kidding?

Now I do have to give him a heap of credit. He has been looking with me on Craigslist for months to learn the market and what brands sell for what and to learn how cars in our area are sold and what a normal price is vs. a too-good-to-be-true price that probably means something nefarious is going on with the vehicle.

He can tell you if a car is over or underpriced on Craigslist pretty accurately. So he does have his niche of knowledge to bring to the table which would be very helpful if we go the used car route.

Based on this knowledge, we started looking at used cars. Small ones that he would drive to work, not one that had to fit the whole family. I could go back to using the minivan for after-school activity pick ups and doctor appointments.

After checking umpteen listings, we decided it would cost between $4k and $7k for a truly reliable vehicle that would last a few years and not leave him stranded on a highway somewhere between his job site and home.

We are also looking at potentially getting a new car. I know people hate new cars and they drop in value blah blah blah but you know what, it’s nice to know that someone didn’t screw up the axle in the first ten thousand miles by hitting every curb known to man, too. As people who take oil changes and other routine maintenance very seriously there is a safety factor to consider with a new car. No one has screwed it up yet. If we were to go the new car route it would be something like a Nissan Versa for $12k. Nothing expensive or flashy is on our radar. We are focused on gas mileage and reliability.

The goal is a $2k down payment that will bring our payment to under $200/mo.Then all the extra will be paid toward the premium. I wouldn’t recommend this to someone else but I know from years of doing this we are not “minimum payment” types and I will absolutely budget to pay this car off. Hopefully in one year but certainly in no more than two.

We haven’t set a date to actually test drive anything, and we won’t buy the first day we go out because I’m not going to get trapped in some weird car dealership pressure drama. I want to make an informed, relaxed decision and I know the Mr. does, too.

This is part of the balance I was talking about the other day in my personal finance religion post. If we were really being intense, we wouldn’t buy a car. We would keep sacrificing. But at what point is sacrificing a poor decision? It’s not a contest to see who can sacrifice the most.

Maybe I’m hitting that same wall that I do in church when people talk about being Christ-like and I’m all, wait a minute…that’s a little extreme. I will take my financial advice from anyone as long as it’s based in logic but there is no need for me to feel like a horrible person and drag a financial wooden cross through the streets barefoot until I get my student loans paid off.

I’m not ashamed of that debt. Maybe I should be, but I’m not. I’m not ashamed of any of my debt.

Debt isn’t real. It’s a construct based on pieces of green paper or little electronic ones and zeros flying from one computer to another. It’s something we all agreed is a thing that exists to make it easier to get along in the world with one another.

We are going to get out of debt because it’s a good short- and long-term decision for the future of my family. But shame? Naw, you can keep it, brother. I have no use for it. It does not drive me. The last time I felt soul-sucking shame is when I made my youngest quit preschool because we could no longer drive her there because the second car died. Student loan debt has nothing on that moment. It never will.

You know what drives my financial journey? Hope. Comfort. Familiarity. Faith. Freedom. Love.

….but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

See what I did there? Oh yeah, I brought it all back around. I feel silly for doing it but in the moment it felt totally deep.

The Day I Changed Personal Finance Religions

There are several religions within personal finance.

  • You can’t take it with you when you go!
  • Build wealth, leave a legacy!
  • Think and Grow Rich!
  • Build a Business!
  • Leave Below Your Means!

There are different ways to get where you’re going and each way has rabid fans that will tell you their way is the only way.

  • Snowball Method
  • Avalanche Method
  • Invest single stocks / Invest in index funds / InvestInvestInvest
  • I’m sure there are a lot more I don’t know the name of!

When I started on my personal finance journey, all I did was write down our bills on a piece of paper and show it to my husband. “No wonder we’re constantly behind,” I said, “we don’t make enough to pay our bills.”

It was a light bulb moment in our lives. When I look back I think to myself, “How could we not know our bills? How could we not know our monthly income?” It seems so easy and elementary now, over ten years later.

I’ll never forget the shock of that moment, though.

Back then I was always anxious. Not “I feel a little nervous” anxious, but “long-tailed-cat in a room full of rocking chairs” anxious. I have prescribed medication for my anxiety disorder, but rarely use it. I find that my learned coping mechanisms work better and better the more money we have in the bank. (Shocker, right?)

Sometimes when things got really bad I would turn on Christian radio and listen to the way they talked. The lilt of the preaching was calming. (There has to be some kind of study on that. They all talk the same way, it has to be for a reason.) There was this guy talking on the radio about his book Financial Peace and I was like, “Woah. Those two words together are an oxymoron!” Yes, I literally said that in my car. I was parked in front of a friend’s house waiting for her to come downstairs so we could go to lunch together or something. I called the number and donated $10 to some clean water mission in some other country place and for my donation they sent me the book.

I still have the book. It changed everything.

I am not proud to admit this but I laughed most of the time while reading the book. Live on less than you make? Easy for this guy to say. What if I make no money? How do I live below zero? I kept the book and didn’t really commit to it for years but kept going back and reading it because I knew there was something to it, even if I couldn’t tell exactly what the something was.

I didn’t have Dave Ramsey on the radio yet and had never heard him say, “You don’t have a budget problem, you have an income problem!” which is absolutely what we had.

It took us a long time to figure out our income problem. When we did figure it out the solution was horrible. We would lose our house, have to move, uproot our children. We did all those things. We were so broke we had to be those people that had an online fundraiser.

I laugh when people say online friends aren’t real. My online friends saved my family. I’m not overstating it at all. They saved us.

We all sacrificed. We all sold things we would have rather kept (yes, including the children) and even though the kids were scared they kept a brave front because even though they trusted me, they also knew I couldn’t stay strong if they showed weakness. They comforted one another at night when they couldn’t sleep. They talked through the stress of moving with each other.

I feel both pride and shame when I think about that.

Since we have moved here we haven’t eaten out a lot, we haven’t done but a couple things that cost a dime. Most of our summer was spent at free events.

I don’t want a pat on the back or comfort, this is just how things have been. It’s how they had to be. We were in scorched earth survival mode. It was necessary. Now that Mr. Brickie is a 70% apprentice we have passed the magic invisible line between surviving and starting to thrive,

It leaves us at a crossroads.

We could continue on at this scorched earth level that has become our normal or we could start to incorporate some balance in our lives. I don’t want to be old, broke, and afraid but I also don’t want to be that old lady that has a bunch of money in the bank but never spends it on anything fun.

Balance. I’m not good at it by nature. I would, however, really like to try it on for a little while and see how it feels.

So we are turning away from scorched earth and the snowball method and the baby steps and blazing our own trail. One that includes investing in an index fund in a Roth IRA as well as going on vacation. One that allows for a second car, but one that gets paid off in two years or less.

Let’s see if I can do it. A new financial religion. One I haven’t read about online or seen talked about in a blog. Something new.

The only way to know if it works is to try it out.

I’m very nervous.

Avoiding Pitfalls: New, Bright and Shiny Things Don’t Make You More Betterer

Today I made a very difficult decision to not buy a flat iron. I’m 40 and my hair has seventeen inches of roots (that is an exaggeration) and greys shooting through and I’m tired of my hair not looking pretty. I want pretty hair.

My cousin and I went to see a movie today (The Boy – it was good) and after it was over we stopped at Sally Beauty Supply because she needed some hair dye and I found this straight iron on sale. It also came with a free matching brush and a high heel flat iron holder. No, I don’t need a brush or a high heel flat iron holder. I don’t even need a straight iron. I don’t use the curling iron I have now, why would I use a flat iron? It doesn’t matter because it’s on sale and it has polka dots and I just know if I buy this flat iron I’ll use it every day and be so happy with my new, smooth, lovely, pretty hair.

We both know that’s total bull, right?

My cousin offered to let me try her flat iron before I committed to the purchase and I wanted to say no because I wanted THIS flat iron. The one I was staring at. The one I was practically drooling on. The one with polka dots. The one that would make my hair pretty!

When I was young I thought having just the right pencils, paper, and folders would make me a super-student. I never had the right pencils, paper, and folders so obviously that’s why I was not a super-student already. Duh.

Getting a gym membership is not going to make me go work out.

Getting a budgeting program is not going to make you spend time budgeting and focus on your expenses.

My budget started on paper. It moved to excel. If I hadn’t had excel I would have kept writing it on paper. If I had never gotten You Need A Budget, I would have still budgeted on excel…or paper. If you want to do a thing the tools aren’t going to stop you.

If you try, I’m sure you can find a million exceptions to this but I’m making a general point that if you weren’t going to workout at home, you probably weren’t going to workout at a gym. Maybe that’s just how I’m wired and this isn’t some deep, universal truth.

Maybe you would have been a straight A student that became a Nobel Prize winning scientist that cured cancer if you just had a Pilot G2 instead of a sad little Bic pen. I’m not curing cancer even if I have a pen made of gold that uses melted platinum ink. I’m not a scientist. I never will be. No pen will change that fact.

So I put the straight iron back on the shelf. Trying my cousin’s is the best idea and costs zero dollars up front. It’s a good one too so I’ll know if it will work on my hair if I get one of my own. Most likely I will try it and not want super-straight hair and say thank you and not own a flat iron for the rest of my life.

Who knows. I do know that the worst outcome is I save a hundred bucks I didn’t have on a product I didn’t need.

It would be nice if just having a gym membership got me all toned up by itself but I know I have to put the work in. As I finally start to feel like a human again instead of a sick person I’ve tried to stretch more and move whenever I can. I don’t ask people to grab things from the kitchen, I get up and get them myself. I’m trying.

I would love to lift a kettlebell and put YouTube on the TV and do a workout, but instead I dusted my living room, did the dishes, and cleaned the doorframes (according to the dictionary this is one word, who knew?) Slowly but surely I’m creating a home I’m proud of.

Sometimes our passions choose us.

No, I don’t think I’ll be passionate about a clean house forever. I’ll stick with it as a priority until I get a system down that has a routine and doesn’t take effort and then I’ll move on…same as I did with the budget.

I’m excited to be not sick anymore. I think I can get a lot done this year if I can stay well. With the budget as well as with the house and hell maybe I’ll even get my kettlebell back out and work out. I hopped up and did squats yesterday just to show someone proper form so it’s possible.

Waiting for the Deposit to Hit

Listening To: Rizzle Kicks Radio on Pandora.
Thinking About: Paying bills tomorrow.

Last night we went on a date. I know going out to eat the day before Taxmas is probably not the most responsible decision but a friend offered to entertain the kids and we wanted to go out and be almost-well together just spending some time with each other.

I really didn’t know marriage could be like this. He’s a really great guy.

I know most of the time I try to keep this blog to the numbers but you know I have to tell you that most of what happens in this house is emotion. It’s the youngest asking for this, that, or the other thing. It’s the oldest asking for a Kindle book based on one of her favorite video games. It’s being me – the gatekeeper of the cash – and feeling that pang with every question. The pang of, “I don’t know, can we?”

The other day I told my three daughters that I always worry I’m not doing enough for them. After completely overreacting with fake shock and making me laugh they listed all the things I do for them and give them. It became a competition and the three of them were getting louder and talking over each other and trying to come up with the most things I do as a mom that made me the best.

After I got my fill of free self-esteem booster I brought them back around to being serious and said, “But really, on a serious note, I was very proud of how brave you were when you knew we had to move and none of us knew where we were moving to.”

Somber faces all around.

The oldest said, “Well we were nervous but we knew we would all be together and we can do anything because we’re Team Family so when we got scared at night we would try to come up with ideas for how we could help and we tried to be extra good and not fight so you and daddy could solve the problems.”

This is the part where I cried. Wow. These kids, man. They are the most supportive little people I could ask for in my life apart from my husband. They aren’t perfect by any means, they have their ups and downs and they fight and sometimes they get physical with one another and call names and don’t do their chores and aren’t helpful and forget to turn in work and get Fs but when they have these moments I can almost see what kind of grown people they will become and I am blown away.

I should do a whole series on kids and money and how my kids have accidentally become savers. We are going to open savings accounts for all of them this Saturday. One of my greatest achievements as a parent is not having stolen my children’s money no matter how poor I was. I have borrowed their money, don’t doubt it for a second, but even if they had to wait until Taxmas I’ve paid them back.

Now we can get it out of the piggy banks and into the local bank. Then they can actually keep their piggy banks in their bedroom and collect change like they used to before they had large bills in them and I hid them in my basement because I hate having cash hanging around the house.

Mr. Brickie is still on a side job. Probably until Wednesday. Then he’ll be home and next week he has another training class. It’s his Year 3 Quarter 2 training. It’s a three year program with one training per quarter so after this one he only has two left until he’s all done with apprentice training! He goes to all the meetings monthly so all he’s going to have after that is the hours requirement to get to Journeyman.

I don’t know if I told you his apprentice level flipped at the end of last season. He’s now a 70% apprentice. I’ve said since he started that 60% would be the most difficult level because we would lose food stamps (SNAP) but not be able to afford food. We went to the food pantry a lot in 2015.

At 60% we survive. At 70% we start to thrive.

I can’t wait for him to start this season because I want to feel it. Deep in my soul that feeling of enough. Not enough to go to Disney or hit Universal or visit Washington DC with the kids….but just having enough for everything we have right now. The feeling of being able to save money. The feeling of buying life insurance in case anything happens to Mr. Brickie so I’m protected from all this getting yanked away from us.

There is a family member we love dearly who was given a prescription she couldn’t afford. I offered to pay for it out of our emergency fund after Taxmas hits because she’s not in a position to do that right now and the timing couldn’t be better because Taxmas. .

In that moment I recognized myself. “There you are. The person you’ve wanted to be forever.”

It wasn’t a big moment. It wasn’t dramatic. It was just, like, oh…hey…there you are. You’ve been waiting to see the light of day for so damn long you wondered if you would ever make it but here you are. Thanks for not giving up on me.

I shouldn’t publish this. I should hold back and turn it into essays full of real, pinkies-up writing instead of posting this hodgepodge of thoughts but you know what, I don’t want to wait. I want to post it now because tomorrow is going to be a glorious day of paying bills and updating YNAB and waiting for everything to clear so I can do it again with the rest of the incoming funds for February.

My favorite time of year has arrived. The blissful few days I feel I’m taking care of my family’s future in a big enough way that it feels like it matters.

The feeling provided by the next few days keeps my soul fed through the rest of the year.

As always, credit for the term Taxmas goes to Jupiter from Poor as Folk