Category: Family & Friends

From spouses to spit-up

A Desperate Cry For Help


Asking for help is the scariest thing I have ever done.

At this point (the point where you have to ask for help because you’re between a rock and hard place) you go back to sixth grade in your mind and wonder if you had just studied a little harder for that spelling bee and gone to nationals, would your life be that much different?

I love my family. They’re my people and I couldn’t have hand picked a better group. But I still wonder at 2am if I’m really the best person for them. If my husband had found a better second wife would he be happier? Was he just blinded by depression and the grief of losing his first wife and now he’s stuck with me forever and this is all my fault?

Did I fail my family? Should I have told my husband he should stay depressed and not change to a blue collar job that makes him happy? Should I have crushed his dreams to stay in a house made of brick and cement? Is a house more important than a man’s self worth?

I don’t think so, but then I put up a cry for help online and you don’t know from there, do you? You cry and you throw up and you want people to love you enough to give a dollar, you hope they can spare more but you don’t know what someone’s life is like beyond the screen no matter how many nice pictures they post. You do the mental math of if this many people or that many people  just gave one dollar how you would be able to stop being scared all the time. You could stop waking up in the middle of the night screaming because you had another nightmare where your children starved to death. You could feel safe for the first time in so long.

If I have ever helped you, listened to you, or made you laugh, please help me. Even when I’ve only had a few dollars I have almost always been able to donate a dollar to a friend or stranger in need. I give a dollar because everyone would rather have one dollar toward their need than no dollars. I do not judge a dollar. A dollar is an Internet hug from far away saying, “Hey girl, I feel your pain. You are not alone.”

This is a one-time 30 day fundraising campaign. I don’t think I could go through the stress of this again. I’m riddled with doubt and I’m sure everyone hates me (I am also sure that everyone does not hate me and know I’m overreacting but going back and forth between the dark feelings and the logic is exhausting.)

The donation button will be removed at the end of the campaign and I will either cry tears of joy and thanks or I will slink back to my corner of the Internet to lick my wounds and rebuild my heart.

[Edited to add: Tears of joy happened multiple times during the course of the fundraiser and it was absolutely a success.]


How We Spent It! (car edition)


This has been a difficult week.

Mr. Brickie’s last day of work was last Tuesday so we are at a week of no work. I received a super helpful phone call from someone I adore alerting me to the Public Notice Illinois website to verify the 11/13/2014 auction date. Even when you’re expecting the ax to fall there is a certain horror/relief cycle that plays out once you know and that cycle is exhausting.

So our goal date for the move is six months from that November date. The six months is based on a six-and-a-half-month timeframe a friend of mine is at the end of. I have no reason to think it is inaccurate. Also, it fits with the original timeline the lawyer gave us. “You will have at least nine months from the date the judge approves the foreclosure.” Okay, that date was 7/11/2014 so there were 90 days until an auction (which is the 10/13/2014 date) and then the six months until eviction. It comforts me to have the same timeline from two places because it raises the chance of my timeline being accurate which is very important in this case.

If you read my last sad post you might remember we are looking for a car in the $500 or less price range.  Since Saturday we have been looking on Craigslist whenever we were not cleaning, planning, donating, and decluttering. We finally found the unicorn on Monday night. I shouldn’t really say finally…we weren’t looking forever and a day. We went an hour-ish away to pick it up last night. I was so scared. Craigslist can be so hit-or-miss and a great story is just as likely to be a con as a genuine kindness. I’m 98% certain the car we have now is a true diamond in the rough and the guy who sold it to us did us a true favor giving it to us for $300 less than his CL asking price.

Part of their conversation was the seller telling Mr. Brickie he could afford to drop the price and pay a kindness forward because they became debt free a few months back. They talked about Dave Ramsey. For real. When I met him he seemed very normal/regular/dude-about-town and I didn’t get any hinky feelings. That doesn’t mean much right now because at a certain stress point my hinky-meter becomes not so great. We will know for sure after we get the car checked out by Mr. Brickie’s friend who knows about cars.

This means my kids don’t have to be pulled from activities.

This means I will be able to drive them to school if we move before the academic year is over.

As long as the car checks out, this means everything is better than it was a day ago.

I did take it for a drive and it seems very, very solid. I was the one who identified the broken frame in the Ford Taurus that turned out to be a death trap. I am the one who knew there was a rotor issue beyond the brake pads in the car that we were loaned. I’m good a hearing things that are wrong in a vehicle. I’m as certain as I can be on my own without a mechanic that we did good.

I really hope it checks out with the mechanic.

The Numbers

After last week we had $626 on hold at the bank as well as $150 I transferred to savings to go toward the car payment. We used $500 of this to pay for the Craigslist car and the rest ($276) was notched out by the cell phone payments ($88.96) and putting gas in both cars ($45) and putting more money on the iPass ($20). His last check for $289 is on hold, probably until next Wednesday.  That leaves us about $120 until next Wednesday.

It’s enough money if Mr. Brickie is not working but for the love of all that is good and holy I really want him to start working ASAP!

Job Troubles

Mr. Brickie talked to the apprentice coordinator who talked to a guy who said he’d put Mr. B (I have become too lazy to type out Brickie. Consider me a winner!) on a job. He has been waiting for a callback with a start date and address for a week. I know this happens but it’s not easy and it’s very scary every time. When he is a journeyman I will be happy to save enough money for these weeks to not be the drama, but for now when every penny counts and we have to move soon it is overwhelming and scary.

The Bottom Line

I know things are going to work out okay. I have friends and family looking out and I trust them to help us get to our next place with as little drama and fear as possible. This is a hard time for my family, but we know the only way to get there is to be here and keep on keeping on.

I’ll let you know if the car tuns out to be as much of a peach as we think it is!



So Many Words, Then There Were None


I have a few drafts written.

One is about how throwing out all the food in my pantry – all the things I cook with from the room I spend the most time in – caused a loss of identity that made me feel completely lost in and worthless.

There is another one that’s about the bare minimums a person who likes to bake and cook needs to buy in order to have a functional kitchen.

I wish there were more half-written drafts so I could feel like I was about to be terribly productive. Unfortunately there was a lot of research into hosting and when I have the hundred dollars to spare I’m going to drop it on three months of hosting from WHGeeks. As long as I can figure out which database in my current backend is the one for this blog.

Then the second car that was loaned to us by a very, very kind friend needed to be returned. This creates a problem where I’m not going to be able to get my kids home from activities and I might have to pull them from after school activities. Again. That’s right, we did this to them last year when our second car we purchased from a family member broke down completely. I pulled them from Girls on the Run and Spanish Club. This year I might have to pull them from Choir and Chess Club.

It will break my heart if I can’t take these poor kids to free activities after school. I have considered walking but the viaduct in between my house and the school scares me deeply because it’s pretty unsafe. Plus I can’t figure out how to get a child and a preschooler three miles to pick up a third. It would involve buying bikes, teaching them to ride the bikes, and then safely getting them under a viaduct with low visibility.

So Mr. Brickie has been scouring Craigslist for the last days looking for cars in the $500 price range (It’s what we can come up with on our own, I know it’s not a good number but it’s what we have available) and going to check them out. So far we’ve said no to a broken frame, a missing motor that wasn’t mentioned in the ad, a leaking transmission, and a car that had to be towed home. He has one more to check out in about fifteen minutes. I’m hoping it will go well but I fear it won’t because it’s Craigslist.

It’s a mess.

Today I decided to open a piece of junk mail from a lawyer. Dumb idea, for sure. I figured it might have some publicly available information about the auction date for the house that I did not have access to. It did have a date, but one I could not confirm anywhere else. The date is 10/13/14, so right around the corner and completely panic inducing. I dove right into those panic feelings and kind of wallowed in them for a while. Wondering how fast I would have to pack up my things, where I would store them, where I would stay, where I would get first and last month’s rent. So many questions swirling in my mind. Okay, maybe not swirling so much as slicing and cutting and poking and stabbing. It was much less gentle than poking.

I’m really scared.

Mr. Brickie left a message with the Cook County Sheriff’s office to verify the information. I’m sure this is one of those stories where if I heard that it happened to someone else (10 or so years ago when I was less understanding of bad decisions) I might have judged the person. People who listen to junk mail are stupid, right?

The thing is, when you’re desperate for information and you’re searching for the light of knowledge anywhere sometimes you’re going to find an oncoming train where you think you see a bright beacon of hope. You are going to read something and be completely torn on whether it’s true or not but no one is immune from seriously considering acting on the information.

I’m not going to call the shifty lawyer sending me the fear-mail, but I’m going to use the date as a potential timeline.

Mr. Brickie’s last job ended last Wednesday and he is supposed to be hearing from a guy today about starting tomorrow but so far he’s called the guy once on Friday, once on Saturday, and twice today and hasn’t gotten a firm answer and has mostly gotten voicemail. It’s not looking good for him going to work tomorrow.

On the bright side Little Sister’s birthday party was a hit and everyone had a lot of fun. We went apple picking on Sunday and the girls were well-behaved, happy, and had a wonderful time. I’m so proud of my girls. They are bright and loving and caring. I might have been a good mommy blogger if I felt their stories were mine to tell.

I’m going to go watch a movie with them and try to distract myself long enough that the nausea goes away. Even if I get some relief for a little bit that will be a start.

Minimalist Progress Halfway Through September

Emotions have been high this month. Something about doing the Minimalist Challenge has really brought home that we are going to be leaving this house. I am not sad about donating things we have had for a long time, I am so nervous about how the move will affect the children. I don’t want them to have the same experience I did moving back and forth between locations as a child leaving me forever feeling like I’m not anchored to any place I may be.

I am not sure if you can see the actual progress made between the “Before” picture on the left and the update pictures on the right. In addition to three Rubbermaid bins full of donation items there were also four trash bags of broken items or things that will do no one any good. Thankfully, there was no actual trash in the area. We seem to have a lot more fabric than any person has a right to own.

The most exciting find? A bin full of bras. I had no idea I actually owned more than my 4 Aaah bras (that are falling apart because I have worn little else for the past five years) and my 4 Lane Bryant super push-up bras (for special occasions, purchased on clearance, very uncomfortable but very effective) but it turns out I have more than a few very comfortable t-shirt bras that I’m excited to start using on a regular basis. They are comfortable and fit well. It was like going shopping in my own closet.



I have high hopes we will be able to finish this project by the end of next weekend. Saturday is Mr. Brickie’s birthday and a friend of mine is going to watch our children so we can attend the Brews & Blues fest (Mr. Brickie loves beer. This will probably give him some great homebrew ideas.) The tickets to the event were his birthday gift from someone I adore to the tips of my toes. She is the best gift giver I know. Whenever I shop for someone I think about what she would do and that guides my decision. It has made me a good gift giver, as well. (Or so I’ve been told. People might be lying to make me feel good.)

All the money that was on hold has cleared in the account and I’m not sure how much is in there right this second. I made the payments I needed to make and am leaving the rest alone until this week’s paycheck where I’ll pay the car payment.

I’m praying there will be some left over. Even though I know we will get the bulk of our moving money at Taxmas, it would be nice to have more of an emergency fund before that time.

I have to tell you, I’m also a little nervous about having to prove income. Paystubs in the winter/early spring months aren’t easy to come by.

There is a lot up in the air about 2015 and I try not to think about all the aspects I cannot control. Sometimes I find myself slipping into a horrible daydream of “things I could have done differently to make this not be happening” and go further and further back trying to find the big mistakes and determine how I could have lived those times of my life better until I’m thinking things like, “If I had just gotten better grades in high school….” which is pretty much how I know my train of thought has veered into coocoolococrazytown.

There are a lot of things I could have done differently. There are a lot of things I could have been better at. I could have been more dedicated. I could choose different priorities right now that aren’t my kids and their education and the care and feeding of this house and its occupants. I could get a job and put the kids in daycare. So many alternate realities are out there and I could step into any one of them tomorrow. Hell, I could step into a few of them right now.

But the reality I have chosen, the one where my husband is the breadwinner and I am the housewife that focuses on the children’s education? That’s the one we all like the best. It’s not just my choice, it’s everyone’s choice. This weekend one of my girls made chicken nuggets and one made instant mashed potatoes. They won’t be on Masterchef Junior next season, for sure, but they know how to preheat an oven, set a timer, use oven mitts, measure, mix, and serve. We talked about fractions, serving sizes, how things cook, seasonings, and food safety.

If my kids go away to college and live on crap food it will be a choice, not because they don’t know how to prepare basic meals.

Another minimalist win (but also sad times for the homemaker’s kitchen) is our discovery of Pantry Moths. We thought they were just in the rice and so we dumped all the rice and cleaned the container the rice lives in and got new rice. They’re back. That means they’re in something that’s not the rice and I have to dump most of my pantry. If we weren’t still getting food assistance I don’t know what I would do. I have to buy more flour, sugar, powdered sugar, rice, cornmeal, cornstarch and containers to store them all.

I didn’t have containers already because I didn’t know about things like Pantry Moths and thought containers were something people bought because they were stylish, not because you need them to keep bugs out. I thought folding down the top of the flour bag was good enough. Take it from me, it’s absolutely not good enough. *shudder* Containers are a lesson that trying to be frugal with everything all the time can have negative financial consequences.

Part of me feels good about having this excuse to get the cabinets all cleaned and knowing I will be able to get rid of everything in there we don’t need, but I’m also sad because buying containers for new food because mine was contaminated is something we can ill afford to deal with right now. Every penny is allocated toward moving at some unforeseeable time in the future. We are still hopeful it will be next summer but know it could be as early as February. The not knowing is something that affects me in waves. For a long time it will be calm and sometimes there is one of those little waves of anxiety that lifts you up a little but then you float back down. Once in a while, though, the undertow gets me and I’m sucked down into a very dark place where I find breathing impossible and the only outcomes involve shelters and living in the car.

It takes a long time and a lot of tears to get through those undertow times.

Plus the occasional article I read about people who get foreclosed on and how they should have known better. How commenters join in to say the people this happens to are bad and stupid and how they are all fools who don’t deserve to own a house in the first place. I wish I could get them all in one room to tell them that I wish they had been there before I owned this house. To tell me what a waste a mortgage is. To tell me that no house is worth the four times you’ll pay for it with a decent flat interest rate once you take interest and 30 years into consideration.

I wish I had listened to those people eleven years ago. Too bad they were too stupid and shortsighted to know I would need their advice. (That’s a joke.)

One of the things I tell my kids is, “Don’t tell people what they should have done. You can’t be the quarterback of someone’s past, not even your own. You can only use the information you have to give someone advice about what to do in the future. Anyone who tries to tell you what you should have done in your past is only doing it to make you feel bad and you should not trust them.” This is something that my husband and I are working on in our marriage. You should have asked this way. You should have said that. You should have told me sooner. Those are all based in the past and used only to make the other person feel bad. We are both learning to change this and want to make sure the kids are on board so they can recognize this trait in themselves and others.

I try to pay attention to people who do this kind of thing in a seemingly effortless way. Sparkling Adventures has more kids than I do and travels all the time. Maybe you become immune to the fear of change if you face it often enough. I’ve faced change so many times in my life – giant, upheaval-sized change – I would have thought I was already immune. Maybe being eleven years in the same place has made me weak. Maybe having a non-upheaval-style marriage and family have allowed me to become vulnerable to the pain of change.

Wherever I go, whenever I go there, I will get there in the most minimalist style possible for my family.

That is a huge positive.


Was That A Failure or A Success?

Monday did not go as planned. If you didn’t get to read the three updates to the post that happened at the bottom I’ll recap for you real quick:

I basically did hardly anything on my magical unicorn schedule of specialness.

The couple/few things I did get done were things I would have gotten done without a list. I wrote a blog post and I put the rib tips in the crock pot at 11am (because I set an alarm to remind me to ) and I cleaned the kitchen surfaces but didn’t even sweep in there which means I haven’t swept in there in two days and who knows what bits lurk down there. Maybe I’ll have Little Sister use the Swiffer in there today. I love little kids. They’re all young and think cleaning is fun. I wonder when cleaning becomes unfun?

At the end of the day I felt like a giant failure for not following the system. I felt like I would never be successful because I couldn’t do one simple thing for one day. I was beating myself up pretty hard.

When Mr. Brickie came home I told him how crappy I felt and he asked me what I did do with my day. The answer? I did things that weren’t on my schedule. I paid some bills (currently $480 of Mr. Brickie’s paycheck from last Wednesday is still on hold at the bank so I can’t pay all the bills), did some projections, gave Little Sister a bath and a shower, and baked banana bread. I cleaned the kitchen and wiped down the kitchen table and chairs for dinner. I made ribs in the crock pot.

I want to find a schedule out there that works for me. FlyLady does not because I’m barefoot and my sink isn’t shiny and I’m not putting dishes under the sink and I’m not putting on shoes. Sure, I could do it without those things but seriously, you try and do it barefoot and see how long it takes before you start to feel self-conscious about it. Also? Religious messaging. I just can’t. Not with my cleaning updates.

I haven’t found a pattern on A Slob Comes Clean but that might be because I’m not looking hard enough. She has enjoyable posts and a podcast you might like.

Clean Mama has a bunch of printables and checklists and she has the great quick bathroom cleanup.

My own system? It doesn’t work for me either and I even know why.

When I create a system based on what I want to do – or what I think I should do – instead of based in what I already find important or do daily, there is no way that system is going to be successful.

I’m always going to bake and budget and bathe my baby and clean my kitchen and make lunch and dinner homemade. No matter what the schedule says to do that day.

So instead of being highly scheduled, my goal is to do whatever I want to do and then spend 1 hour during the course of the day throwing away trash and bagging up donation items from the girls’ bedroom. On days where I feel like doing more, I’ll do more.

Mr. Brickie and I talked about it last night and I told him I can’t even face the prospect of doing our bedroom by myself. My walk in closet is the most cluttered room in the house and it’s overwhelming.

You know what, you might want to see what the house currently looks like, huh? All this stuff with no background has to be rough.


This is what I’m starting with. Well, I will do the dishes after I post this, I do dishes about the same time every day so just pretend the dishes aren’t there. I don’t have a dishwasher so until I can convince Mr. Brickie and the Girls (it’s like a band name) to do the after dinner dishes I’m going to continue doing dishes the morning after. By the time dinner is over I’m just done with the day and can’t make myself do one more thing.

As for the rooms and the state of the house? We are trying to turn into minimalists by the time we have to move. So…as you can see….some rooms will be easier than others. We will need to get a storage unit for things like beermaking supplies that aren’t used regularly as well as holiday bins that come out one month out of the year. If we are going to be renting I don’t want to store everything in the house/apartment and a storage unit seems like a perfect idea.

I was going to call this the messy house project, but I thought I should call it something that reflects the goal, not the current state of everything. A hopeful name. Or maybe I should have just called it Americus because I wanted it to have a name that means something.


Monday’s Schedule | Cleaning Focus: Kitchen


You might remember me telling you way back in the day I wake my children up with a song.

The same song, every morning, for years now.

Toward the end of summer the girls told me they were very excited I would wake them up with a song again. It was one of those moments you feel and want to hold on to forever. The secret, of course, is waking up before my kids do and getting a cup of coffee in before all this singing nonsense happens.

It’s funny, because at first (years ago) I hated having to get up a half hour before my kids did. It felt unfair. Now? It feels like a gift I give to myself that sets the tone for the whole day. I think that’s how people feel who exercise regularly feel and why they continue to do it. I wish I could feel about exercising every morning the way I do about waking my kids up happy. Even if I walk every morning and feel better physically, it doesn’t do near as much for me mentally. Not enough to keep going regularly. (I do it three times a week give or take a day but it’s nothing to brag about and I’m not increasing resistance or my game.)

There are a lot of things I used to hate doing or thought were awful, but when I saw the rewards they became things I enjoyed doing because I could see the fruit of my labor. Meal planning, cleaning, shopping lists, organizing, doing dishes…all things I didn’t used to enjoy at all. Now? I look forward to doing them because I know it keeps things humming along smoothly.

Minimalist Game Update

I’ve been doing great with the Minimalist Challenge. I have not been taking pictures every day but that does not mean I have not been productive. Every day I get rid of more than the required number of things. Starting today I’m dedicating an hour every weekday to throwing out or donating stuff from my house. By the time we move it will be a minimalist paradise, I assure you.

Of course, my deepest fear is that it ends up looking way more like this…

New! Cleaning Schedule

I’ve been doing my best lately to get the house in order. Now that Mr. Brickie is at work during the day and two out of three are in school, I have a little bit of breathing room to get stuff done around the house. I’ve done my best to try to find someone else’s system I can follow but, like most things, you have to change things up to fit your own lifestyle.

I’ve decided to pick one room every weekday to focus on for an hour. That hour is for deep cleaning baseboards to ceiling. If an hour isn’t enough, well, it will come back into the rotation. Perhaps after a few weeks I can cut the hour down to a half hour depending on how everything looks.

I also have an hour a day dedicated to tossing/donating things from the house we aren’t moving with. I know I already mentioned this but it’s important. I’ll have a timer and two garbage bags. One labelled donate and one labelled trash. (I use a silver sharpie to label black garbage bags.)

Monday’s Schedule

6:00am – 6:30am Wake up slowly and do some stretching or walk a mile at home.
6:30am – 7:35am Wake kids up and get them on the bus to school.
7:35am – 8:00am Put in the day’s load of laundry (Regular*)
8:00am – 10:00am Blog writing, posting, research, and social media posting.
10:00am – 11:00am Deep Clean (Kitchen**)
11:00am – 11:45am Meal Planning / Menu Planning / Shopping List / Recipe Research
11:45am – 12:15pm Lunch with Little Sister
12:15pm – 1:15pm Dinner Prep
1:15pm – 1:20pm Switch laundry to the dryer.
1:20pm – (1:55pm – 2:30pm) Quick clean of all rooms that are not today’s deep clean room. Take no more than 5-10 minutes a room. (35-70 minutes total)
2:30pm – 3:00pm Put away laundry.
3:00pm – 3:15pm Dance Break!
3:15pm – Kids get off the bus and homework/dinner/everything else happens.

There is an after dinner routine where the girls clear the table and do the dinner dishes (with the exception of our heavy frying pan or the crock pot crock) and they can relax and play until it is shower/teeth/bedtime, but it’s not timed so much as we just know it all has to happen before their 8:00pm bedtime.

* Regular denotes clothing that is not sheets/towels or socks/undies. Other days are dedicated to other kinds of laundry.
** Each weekday has a different room and will be rotated through the weekdays. Kitchen/Bathrooms/Bedroom 1/Bedroom 2/Playroom/TV Room/Living Room/Kitchen

Planning to the quarter/half hour might seem tight in terms of timing but I wanted to start with something and this seems like as good a place as any. Some things, I’m sure, will change over time depending on how much time each task takes, but when that happens the system can be easily altered. I want to print it on little pieces of paper and put it in my paper journal. I want to start using the Bullet Journal system and I think taping this printout in on one of the pages could be really helpful.

Do you schedule your day or just have one or two goals you try to meet and fit everything else in as  you think of it? Do you use a system you enjoy? If so, feel free to share it because you know I’d love to take a look!

Edited @ 8:36am

What was I supposed to be doing right now. Oh, I was already supposed to have the laundry in and write a blog post. Well I wrote part of this post this morning so maybe that counts. I’m not sure. I do have until 10am to be productive on social media. I’m on social media but I’m not sure if you could call what I did productive. I’ll come back and update again after 10am and see if maybe I’ve gotten my s#!t together.

Edited @ 12:22pm

I gave Little Sister a bath/shower and needed to supervise her because 4yo in a bathtub. So that took an hour I was planning on using for something. Also, I baked banana bread in this Pampered Chef heart tube and messed my oven all up which is the opposite of what I wanted to do in the kitchen today. My whole house smells gross. The parts of the bread that stayed in the tube are nice and cooked evenly, but for the sheer hassle I won’t be using it again. To the donate pile it goes.




I Could Use A Little Luck

I mentioned I have a friend who loaned me a car.

I need brakes for that car.

My husband is buying brake pads today and they’ll probably cost about $20. No problem.

He thought he was going to have a friend change them Sunday but turns out he had something going on, so he was unable to. He told Mr. Brickie to give him a call back today (Tuesday) a little before 6pm and they’d do the brakes. I hope it goes through because Big Sister is signing up for choir today and the first after school meeting is tomorrow after school so this is the last day I can get the car fixed in order to pick her up from practice tomorrow.

Everything should be fine.

My kids not being in extra curricular activities has been a thorn in my side for years. Signing kids up outside of the school system is so much more expensive. This way I can have them in the activities and my inner-hateful-teenager can stop stomping around my brain yelling at me that I don’t ever let my kids do anything cool.


I totally nailed it with today’s Minimalist Challenge. I picked two items that really take up space. One is an all-in-one printer where only the scanner works. Great, except I have an iPhone with Genius Scan (Link goes to a review. If you want the app search the name in your app store.) so…. it’s gone. The other thing I’m getting rid of is a storage container that the seal has broken off of and the latch is broken. It was the best size for our chili dry bean mix but it needs to be sealed. So I need a new container. This one is going to Goodwill for someone to use for something that doesn’t need a seal.

Oh, I also got rid of an umbrella push stroller. It was a last minute decision.

Mr. Brickie isn’t working today because the Iron is going in at the job site. He goes back to work tomorrow. So he got a four day weekend and I get to be a little more nervous about next week’s paycheck. But I’m not borrowing trouble and I have my baby ($100) savings account that I might be able to build on come tomorrow. We’ll see!

I’m also excited to know what a straight 40-hour paycheck looks like for my 50% apprentice.

I really, really love numbers.

The Minimalist Game


So there’s this cool new thing.

Okay, it’s probably not new. I’m sure some of you have probably known about this forever and a day. I don’t know how new/old it is because it’s one of those blogs that doesn’t have dates on the posts. I guess they’re just too minimal for that. (It’s my blogging pet peeve. I’m not saying they can’t/shouldn’t do it but I don’t have to like it, either.) It has been brought to my attention this article originally appeared September 26, 2013. Thank you Wendy. It was driving me crazy like a tiny hangnail. 

Enough whining. Visit this post about The Minimalists getting rid of stuff game and check out how cool it’s going to be. You will get rid of 465 pieces of stuff during a 30-day month. If you are like me and Mr. Brickie, you have decided to both do this and the last day of the month will see your donations add up to a whopping 930 pieces of stuff. I love that this challenge works for almost anyone who isn’t already totally minimalist. If you don’t have a lot of stuff, you can count each piece of junk mail. If you’re like me, you count the whole stack of junk mail as one thing. If you’re in a very cluttered place, you start big. If you’re already pretty put together you start small.

Ways to Participate

Instagram & Twitter: #septmingame
Facebook: If Facebook groups are more your thing you can either PM me and let me know you want to be added to the group or you can stick with using the hashtag above or just do it on your own and tell everyone it’s your idea and that you’re a total minimalist thought leader. I won’t judge. (I do not run this FB group. I’m just happy to add you.)
Privately: I know, this is a crazy concept but you can just do this yourself without having to be part of a group.

Here is my first post for the challenge.


I’m excited about having a good way to track this. Whatever day of the month it is? That’s how many things to get rid of.

Easy is fantastic.

If This Sounds Overwhelming

If it sounds like too much, don’t fret. The goal is to get something done, not to get it done exactly the way the game says to. Not even the way someone else is doing it. Even if you get rid of one thing a day, you’re thirty things less cluttered at the end of the month. Doing something is far better than doing nothing. You don’t get a cookie or a trophy or a badge for being perfect so get rid of one thing today and tell yourself, “I did more than I was going to. I’ve gone above and beyond.”

Doing one thing every day or a few things for a few days is better than giving up without starting because you couldn’t do everything the right way. There is no right way.

Credit Where Credit Is Due

Many thanks to Michelle Pendergrass &  Dianne at Pop Rocks & Eye Drops (If you’re participating on Instagram you can follow Dianne at @bunnytrails and use the hashtag #septmingame) for bringing this game to my attention and being an inspiration to join in!

Breathing In A Paper Bag


I’m trying so hard not to hyperventilate.

Tomorrow is payday and it’s going to be a 21 hour check. If I was going to judge prior decisions I would say my decision to build an emergency fund is one I should have come up with a hell of a lot sooner.

Because I’m going to have flexible extra income tomorrow of about $20.

Even though there have been crazy, sky-opening torrential downpours the last two days, somehow Mr. Brickie has managed to get a full day in yesterday and today. Hopefully the trend keeps up, because the check after this one needs to pay utility bills and minimum credit card payments.

The threat of Christmas is starting to loom.

I’m having a bit of a fear-based week. As much as I want to be optimistic, as much as I want to have hope that from now until Christmas Mr. Brickie will work full time and we will be able to keep up with bills and save money and pay off all the credit cards, well, I’m just having  a week where that’s a little too much effort to keep up with.

But in times of crisis I try to look on the bright side no matter how dim it might be.

My numbers might be wrong.

I used an online calculator to project what tomorrow’s paycheck will be. Maybe I guessed low!

Maybe since I was sick over the weekend and am still feeling the trailing effects, I have somehow made a grave error and my math is wrong, leaving us with more money to spare and start our emergency fund with!

Positive solutions for other money issues.

The birthday cake Little Sister wants would cost over a hundred dollars if I get it done professionally, so I’m going to buy some colored fondant and squeeze tubes of colored buttercream and make her dream cake myself. I’m not sure exactly how but it’s a cat face on top of a round cake so I’m just going to figure it the heck out.

I’m exhausted and I need to go back to exercising in the morning. When I do, I don’t feel this pit of exhaustion in the core of my soul. I wish I didn’t forget that’s the solution so often.

Part of me wants to be proud of how we have come and how stable our situation is considering how bad it could be by now. Most of me just wants to hide in my bed, deep under the comforter for about two years until we are in twice the financial position we are today.

See you for the regular budget update tomorrow.



The First Foreclosure Moving List

Source: Nautical Wheeler

We risked everything on the potential that our foreclosure would drag out and there would be an auction and the house would be bought back by the mortgage company.

That might still be happening, but I don’t think so.

We received paperwork in the mail today from the attorney’s office of our mortgage company. It says

Within 60 to 90 days title to the property is expected to be transferred to citimortgage. Sometime thereafter, ownership of the property will probably be transferred to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

HUD generally require that there be no one living in properties conveyed to the Secretary as a result of a foreclosure.

If you are not entitled to remain in the property pursuant to the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009 (we are not because we are the former owners, not tenants) or state or local law, you may nevertheless be eligible to remain in the property upon conveyance to HUD, if certain conditions are met, as described in Attachment 3, Conditions for Continued Occupancy.

Attachment 3 has a list of things like avoidance of vandalism and how much inventory HUD has. You also have to agree to one month’s advance rent as well as signing a month-to-month lease with “fair market rent.” Now that you have rented your former home you have to be willing to allow access to the property during normal business hours to HUD representatives, HUD contractors, and real estate brokers and their clients (all with two days’ advance notice).

Not to sound petulant, but if I’m going to live in a house getting electrical and other work done to bring it to code and let everyone who wants to be in my house into my house I’m renting with two days’ notice I certainly don’t think that warrants fair market value when I’m not actually going to be living in a house where I can expect relative privacy.

At first, we hyperventilated thinking something had changed, that having an FHA mortgage meant there would not be an auction and our timeline was wrong. It still might be. The one thing I am pretty sure of is that if we are receiving mail from the mortgage company’s law firm it’s something we want to be very wary of filling out because it may not be in our best interest.

After much Google searching without much actual result we think the bolded sections in the quote up there are the important bits. Lawyers do not use words for no reason, right? When do you see lawyers throw around b.s. words like expected and probably? I’ve seen other letters from this company and they’re no joke.

It reads to me like, “Since we know no one will buy your house at auction it’s expected to go back to the mortgage company because duh!” If you fill out this paperwork to bring your foreclosed home under some HUD arrangement and pay them (which why wouldn’t you we sent you the paperwork, amirite?) it will probably be transferred to HUD.”

The same way the mortgage company keeps sending us these packets talking about going and finding out about our options which mean Cash for Keys or a Short Sale. The letters always imply we could stay here but in no way does it actually mean we have that option.

Understanding Came Later – First We Panic

Reading the paperwork we started really freaking out like maybe we weren’t going through the same process we thought we were and everything we thought we knew was nothing and we were about to be evicted and homeless in a minute. (Don’t get me wrong, we’re not paying money to live here right now. I’m not saying we feel entitled to live here. We do not. We are so lucky every month we are able to rebuild a little bit more.)

So I called my cousin to make sure we could stay with her if it was a true emergency. Of course she said yes because she’s pretty much the nicest person on the planet. I just needed to hear it and I think Mr. Brickie did too because the #1 thing you want to make sure of is that you won’t be taking your kids to a homeless shelter if you can possibly avoid it.

So the worst case scenario phone call was made and our worst case scenario is one rung up from there.

Mr. Brickie Was Surprised

You guys know it. He knows it. I’m sure my mailman knows it. I’ve been saying it for a while. Things are going to get worse before they get better.

One moment while I quote myself from a previous post:

There is a little secret I want to share with you about my life. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. There is going to be a gap between where we are now and being “okay” and that gap is steep and dark and it has spikes and water on the bottom. Don’t get me wrong, it’s going to look like it’s getting better and that won’t be fake at all. But then… well, we’ll get back to that. <– This is the “BUT THEN” I was referring to! Right now!

We are not going to be “okay” in any kind of a baseline traditional sense until Mr. Brickie’s next raise that puts him at a 60% level apprentice. It’s just not going to happen. The money won’t be there. He has been nodding and telling me he understands for a year now, but I think this letter just hit him in the brain and cracked it wide open and understanding just poured in and it was almost too much for him to take for a minute there.

He looked – for just a moment – like he might crumble.

But he didn’t!

We Assessed the Situation

I showed him that, if we needed to, we could become Fast Move Ready without sacrificing a whole lot of our daily living. We have two crockpots, a toaster oven, and a little George Foreman Grill. All we would need to be able to sell our refrigerator, oven/stove, and standing freezer is a mini fridge for milk. That pretty much takes care of the big things to worry about in the kitchen.

I would also want to bring with pots, pans, baking sheets, dishes, and cooking gear. Maybe the shelves we have on the wall. Probably the bars with the hooks that I keep all my hanging spoons and things on. Of course all my spices.

The Living Room

The desktop would be a problem if we had to move fast and did not have a place to move to.  We have a chair that won’t be moving with us and some TV trays that need to be replaced. Really, the only things coming with us from the living room are the kitchen table, turtle tank and stand, desktop computer and a little IKEA laptop desk. Everything else can get tossed into a bonfire.

The Office

Only things we need are the TV, the xBox, and maybe the filing cabinet because it’s all tall and useful and we use it as the gift cabinet.

The Playroom

One bookcase filled with books, two chickens, and his grandmother’s china.

Our Bedroom

Pictures, the bed, clothing.

Their Bedroom

The beds, clothing, assorted toys and electronics. We have gone through their toys once this year already and weeded out broken toys for the trash and toys they do not play with anymore for donation. We could use to go through the clothing again for things that do not fit or do not get worn for donation.

Other Stuff

Blankets, sheets, towels, the contents of the one closet outside of my bathroom. We would take a bike for little sister but the other two sisters have outgrown their very small bikes and need new ones. We would take everyone’s scooter, of course. Mr. Brickie’s tools and beer making equipment, too.

School Worries

The biggest problem we would face if we have to move before next year would be school. Potential residency checks aside, we would have to be able to get Mr. Brickie to work (assuming he’s working which is a valid assumption) and the girls to school from wherever we were. That would mean two cars. Even though we have two cars now one of those is only on loan until the kids are back in school, which means it has to be returned soon and we will be back to a one-car family.

We Continue to be Vigilant

We will continue to monitor all incoming mail like hawks to try and keep from being blindsided. Mr. Brickie finally having the full soul-deep knowledge that this is really happening means he’s going to step up his game and start getting rid of things we don’t need and selling things to pile up cash for a security deposit and first month’s rent somewhere new. Maybe we could sell enough big stuff we could even buy a beater car for him to commute to work with.

Mr. Brickie started talking about the shelving units we have in the garage and how he wants to use them for a “Staging Area” and I had to shoot it down. I told him that we are beyond quaint, long-term ideas like staging areas and system creation. We are now in the land of chaos and that is where I do my best work. His job is to follow orders and get rid of everything we don’t need.

As you can see, I have a very short list of what we are keeping. Things like the china are going to live in a storage unit until we are sure we have found a place we are staying a while.

I’m glad he is on board. Now we can really start clearing out, cleaning up, and getting ready to streamline our lives and keep forging forward.

Days like yesterday, though, are the ones where you really question if you made the right decisions. If you did the right thing. The days where you know you will only know if you made the right choice years later when you look back and assess the situation with the benefit of hindsight.

Either way, I hope you’ll stick around to see how it unfolds.