Tag: love

Budget Birthday … Incoming!

Every time birthdays come up I am SO torn.

I want to rent a place and invite the class and have a huge party that my kids will remember forever and cherish.

Then I price those things and my heart nearly stops!

The next (kid) birthday in the family rotation is my youngest. We priced this option and that option and all of them are hundreds of dollars. The housepartment is a good size for us, but it doesn’t really accommodate a bunch of kids. It especially doesn’t accommodate a bunch of kindergarten kids. So I felt a bit trapped.

I realized I needed to talk to Little Sister and find out what she wanted instead of making grand assumptions. So I just asked, “I have an amount of money for your birthday. Do you want me to spend it on the party, or the present?” She said, “How about both?” I said, “Absolutely, but I can get you a bigger present if we just go out and have fun as a family – or – I can get you a smaller present and we can invite your classmates.”

“But I don’t know them mama.” She said.

“That’s true.” I said.

“I would rather just have us so we can go out and have fun together because we never get to go out and have fun together and that would be cool. Also, I want six things for my birthday so that’s going to cost a lot.”

I’m thinking I’m sunk. What six things does she want?? I ask her. Turns out she wants the light and dark expansion packs for the Skylanders game we got them at Christmas. Both sets are a grand total of $60.

Bless the innocent children. Bless them so hard. I seriously thought she was going to ask for a tablet. Bullet dodged.

So now I can do this whole shebang for right around $100 and it’s the birthday she asked for. That’s a pretty big deal for LIttle Sister. She wants what she wants and usually has to compromise.

Kids just don’t require as much as we think they do to be blissful, do they? Some presents, some cake, and some dedicated attention is all she needs to make her happy. Here I am getting all stressed and whipped into a frenzy over presents and guests and her whole classroom and, “Oh no, but these kids will be her friends for life! I can’t mess up the first round of birthdays!” which has nothing to do with her and everything to do with me.

I have that $100 set to come out of the budget on the 3rd Friday of this month. I know her birthday is in September but I’m so nervous about this job ending because what happens if there isn’t another job after this one? Yes, Mr. Brickie getting a higher pay rate hints at jobs beyond this one, but a hint isn’t a paycheck. So I’m going to try and pay September’s car payment by the end of August as well.

As for my daughter and her birthday wish…she is human and she needs to be loved…just like everybody else does. My only job – an easy one, at that – is to ask her what will make her feel loved, then do my best to provide whatever that is in whatever way I can.

Yep, I paraphrased The Smiths up there. Doesn’t everyone listen to The Smiths when they can’t fall asleep when their husband leaves for work at 4:30am? No? Just me? *sigh* I want to be asleep right now.

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Teachers

A few weeks ago I left my 4th grade daughter’s teacher a phone message. I was nervous, still, and hoped she would not think I was a bother. “Hello, Mrs. Teacher. While we do have a doctor appointment scheduled, I found out today my daughter was only eating Pop Tarts in the morning and I’m going to start making breakfast with a protein at home in the mornings. You don’t have to call back but if you could let me know in a couple weeks how that’s going? That would be great.”

A nudge under a month later? I haven’t heard anything and don’t know if things are improving. Sure, I’m disappointed. I thought doing everything I was supposed to as a parent would matter, I guess.

I wish my immediate reaction to being out of eggs this morning wasn’t, “Oh well, it’s not like it matters.”

I am so tired.

My husband is forgetful and it’s my responsibility to make sure he eats and makes his own lists and gets things around our home done. Finances and homekeeping is my responsibility and I make my own lists and shopping lists and meal plans. I sprinkle some parenting fairy dust and make the children giddy with delight when I ask them for snack requests.

Making everyone feel special and taken care of is just another item on the to-do list.

Summer is just a few weeks away.

It can’t come soon enough. I am so tired and need to recuperate from moving and starting a new school. I want a do-over where all the children in the class are new and the teacher doesn’t know my daughter.

The woman who teaches my child is an absolutely lovely person. She is gentle and kind and has actual love for the children in her care.

As a mother? It is just another “be careful what you wish for” lesson. Kindness does not automatically pay close attention. Love does not have to be supportive.

I wish all the teachers she has ever had understood how much she wants to be a joy in the classroom. How much she wants to be a student that excels.

Every new year at school is like a nine-month-long relationship. I’m the watchful mother-in-law, making sure my daughter is being treated well by this new person she’s spending all her time with. Sometimes I’m happy, sometimes I’m angry about it, mostly I spend my year trying to get through it.

Maybe that day will come someday where she is understood and appreciated and is a joy to a teacher’s life and classroom. Until that time? She will always have her most important teachers giving her a hug and reminding her that she really is a joy.

Teachers are people. It’s both a blessing and a curse for us parents, who don’t know if a complaint comes on the heels of a bad day or a pet peeve from childhood. Remembering that teachers are people, however, and not expecting more? It helps me sleep at night.

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Poor Little Sick Girl and Running A Fundraiser

Thank goodness.

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It turns out Big Sister had a wicked-bad bronchial infection.

I hate my husband being out of work (he should be on his next bricklaying job by Monday at the latest) but I’m glad he was available to take her to the Urgent Care facility to get a chest x-ray, a strep swab, and make sure she didn’t have that horrible virus that’s going around and putting kids in the hospital. Her breathing was affected terribly because her throat was so inflamed it was partially swollen shut so she sounded terrible and sad and so, so tiny. I cuddled with her on the couch for much of yesterday because how can you not cuddle a listless child who just wants love?

He actually started his day waiting in the half hour line at public aid to make sure our medical insurance was in place before taking her to the doctor. The last thing we could even bear right now is a slew of medical bills on top of everything else. We have enough fear of financial collapse on our hands without one more thing. If we could just say, “No more right now, thank you.” to the things happening that would be so refreshing. Since we can’t, we are doing the best we can with what we’ve got and asking for help from the good citizens of the Internet.

I have tried to make sure my routine with the girls isn’t affected by this constant laundry list in my head. Who can I ask to boost the signal? Do I know anyone on Tumblr? Who is going to care about my family’s story?

Running a fundraiser online is so much more than just putting it up and hoping for the best. I knew that going in, but even knowing what you are getting yourself into there are always the worries. Was that thank you email long enough? Was it too over the top? Will they think I’m insincere when I tell them how beyond grateful I am for the $5 donation? (Spoiler: I really am that grateful.)

As a person not accustomed to asking for help at all, the response and support have been absolutely overwhelming. It is a testament to my belief that we all end up in these horrible places every now and then. Maybe it’s not a house, maybe it’s a medical bill or a sick pet. My friend Jessica said it best that most people would go to their families in times like this. If only that were an option it is where I would have gone first.

I have cried a lot. Mr. Brickie has cried a couple times, too. The relief you feel when you get validation for something you were so scared about is very overwhelming.

Back to Big Sister. She has to miss her choir rehearsal after school tomorrow. She is very sad, but there is no way her voice is going to be able to sing tomorrow when she can barely talk today. She understands and her response is classic for a child somewhat accustomed to disappointment. She is resigned and slightly detached with just a hint of hope that nothing awful will happen before next week’s rehearsal. As long as my girls don’t lose that hope I have faith they will get through life beautifully.

Me? I’m overwhelmed at the love that’s been shown over the last few days. I don’t mean the money, I mean the emails and the requests for my children’s sizes and preferences and offers to adopt them for Christmas. I still need to put as much effort as I can into sharing my story and getting those donations because that is critical, but the other things? They are what keep my heart from drowning.

(Link to fundraiser from October 2014 removed)

If enough people see it and donate? I’m already so grateful for what we have received but I need to keep boosting that signal.

Now I’m off to fill wish lists and write up sizing and preference lists. It’s been exhausting with one of my daughters so sick she can barely walk to the bathroom by herself but knowing she will be on the mend when the antibiotics kick in has me feeling like a second wind might be on the horizon! Heck, maybe we can go for the gold and I will be able to sleep through the night! WooHoo! 🙂

If you have any suggestions for where I could get my message out, please let me know. I was hoping to contact Mike Rowe, because he’s always talking about blue collar jobs but I think there needs to be more education for when a grown person with a family decides what is best for their family is that blue collar job. The transition is hell. It will be worth it in the end but this system is set up for a kid who is living alone to survive for the first few years. There should be a better way to transition into these rewarding professions! So…if you know anyone who knows Mike Rowe and if you think he might care about our situation, let me know.

Thank you for being my readers. I love you guys.

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Take A Break for Thanks

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I make spreadsheets, pay bills, and write up financial forecasts.

I buy school clothes, supplies, and do Internet research about the school my girls will attend next year.

I cook dinner, keep the house passable, and spend time with friends.

I spend my life waiting for the next paycheck to make another small dent in the wall that blocks the here from the there.

I am focused. I am intense. I AM TIRED.

The thing is, the silver lining on my cloud is thick and bright. So I’m going to take a break from finance for a second and share why it’s worth it to drive myself into the ground focusing on every single penny every single day. My silver lining is my family.

My Girls

I want to do the things I see other moms on Facebook and Twitter do. I want them to go on horseback rides and take them to museums. I want them to go to summer camp and make lifelong friends.

But today? One turned on the Keurig when I woke up so I could make coffee. I got out yogurt and bananas and grapes and orange juice for the girls and we all sat and had breakfast together. They laughed and told me what they had built in Minecraft today. It’s this giant person with a sword that is entirely hollow and they put a spawn point in it and it’s entirely filled with cats. Probably ten thousand cats. We took a breakfast break to look and she had made nose holes for the cats to fall out of.

It was hilarious.

They are very good about their end-of-summer routine where they each get an hour and a half of gametime and then everyone reads for an hour and a half. (The older girls each spend 45 minutes reading to their little sister for her hour and a half.) This takes us to right about time to make dinner and then they help me make dinner and we sit and eat dinner as a family. I make lunch on demand when a kid comes and says they are hungry.

We have blueberry picked this summer and we have gone to the splash pad and we have gone to the beach and we have gone to parks and the library.

They do not complain about the places we do not go. They are always happy when we go places.  They are not demanding or spoiled or entitled.

I am so thankful for my flexible, loving children and I want to give them everything in the world, but I know that when they are old they will know I did the best I could with what I had and they will always know that there is not a moment where I do not love them with every bit of my heart.

Except the part of my heart reserved for loving…..

Mr. Brickie

I have a husband that is perfectly happy being the (mostly) sole breadwinner of the family. I have no pressure to get a job, there is no resentment that I stay home and take care of the kids and blog and make dinner. My house is messier than it has been in a year but he understands without me having to explain that it’s the end of summer and I’m exhausted and the kids want to go back to school and I’m getting them out of the house more to get that energy out because they know it’s a week until school starts and the countdown is on par with the Christmas countdown for intensity and fervor.

He was unemployed on our wedding day. I supported him while he got his degree that we thought would be the key to our success. It was not and he did everything from working at a coffee shop to becoming a licensed financial advisor and everything in between to keep our family afloat. He did not resent me when I was the sole breadwinner for our family and he did not mind if I made more than he did.

We do not have a perfect storybook relationship. We argue. We yell. When I yell at him he has a tendency to sometimes yell at the kids and then I have to call a family meeting and air out what’s happening so the kids can understand what’s going on. I make sure if the kids see the fight they see the resolution and he goes along with it because he gets that he’s raising girls who will be women and they will marry a man like him more than likely and so he needs to be the man he wants his daughters to marry. (Don’t get skeeved out, you know what I mean!) When he was in the room and the kids somehow asked about Ellen being married because we were talking about marriage and one of them pointed at Ellen on mute on TV and asked who she was married to he did not bat an eyelash as I explained about Portia and googled the wedding pictures.

He takes that pressure and tries to be that man. Which is great because that man I want my girls to marry? It’s not the one I married. It’s the one he has become.

I know to the tips of my toes that there is no more perfect partner for me on this earth. He is smart enough to keep up with me without being so smart he becomes smug and unflexible. He trusts me. He listens to my stories like a girlfriend (even though sometimes it’s tough for him to stay awake) and comforts me with hugs when I am sad.

He is the most optimistic person I know. While I run around yelling about the sky falling he just does what he can and knows its enough. He falls asleep in about 30 seconds at night. Wait. I kind of hate him for that sometimes so I guess I’m not thankful he falls asleep so hard and so fast it’s more I’m thankful that he isn’t up all night worrying because that makes for not great work performance. Or something.

He rarely reads my blog because he already knows everything in it. He acts as interested in stories about my day as I am about stories of his day.

Finally and probably most importantly he let me change his mindset. He was raised in a white collar family and learned that a degree and a job with a suit was the goal. When I sat him down and showed him the evidence of what made him happy and floated the idea of a blue collar job he listened. When I asked around and learned more about it he listened. He went to every Union Hall in a 50 mile radius and applied. He followed up.

He still occasionally thanks me. (Not for getting him the job because he did that all on his own. He thanks me for paying enough attention to see what made him happy and finding a way to make that happen in the world. He doesn’t say all that, he just says, “Thank you” with this one look on his face but I know what he means.)

So while my blog is mostly about being poor and struggling and trying to claw myself out of the pit we are in, I have so much to work for. Museums and vacations and horseback rides with people who love me.

I am poor but I have so much.

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The Bliss of Days Off

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Image Source: Cheryl McCain Photography

I’m in that place where I”m so thankful Mr. Brickie is working and I’m beyond thankful and happy he’s working a boatload of overtime every week for the forseeable future.

It has been a kind of crazy transition around here a we all try to find our place in this new world with (seemingly) no end.

But it’s Saturday evening and that means a night where we an all relax because he doesn’t have to go to work in the morning. The one day of the week I don’t have to set my alarm for 4:30am to make sure he’s up for work because you can never have too many redundancy alarms!

I have the makings for biscuits and gravy (from scratch, natch <– I kill me, lol) that I’m going to make in the morning and I have the fixins for lasagna for dinner and we are going to light a fire in the backyard tomorrow night and roast marshmallows. Let’s be honest, lunch will probably be peanut butter and jelly. I have my domestic limits. 

Sundays are the family’s day to recharge and reconnect. To enjoy each other’s company instead of marking time waiting for daddy to get home. I know we will get used to him being gone and our everyday play and coloring and video games and reading won’t always be passing time until he gets home but that’s what it is now, and I just want to honor that he is such a solid part of our lives as both a husband and father that it takes us weeks to transition from him being off for the winter to him being gone so much.

We miss him. He misses us. When we all finally see each other we’re worn out and tired. Everyone wants to just be done for the day.

Tomorrow – I hope – will be amazing and calm. Tonight we are going out to dinner with a birthday gift I’ve been holding on to. You guessed it, it’s a restaurant gift card! The girls will be out of the house and having a fancy dining experience and I can sit next to my husband at a table no where near a screen where he won’t be looking at his phone to try and catch up on everything he missed while he was working.

I’m really looking forward to it.

For now? I have to make sure they put away their clothes so we can actually get out of the house and get on with our wonderful night!

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Foreclosure, Reality, and Emotional Pain

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I knew we had an appointment in Chancery court on July 11th. I knew we did.

Sort of.

We’ve had previous appointments with the court and they always sent us something in the mail. Mr. Brickie, after the last court date, said, “I’ll just show up at the date they say to. Just in case.”

I am the one who told him to wait for the papers to come in the mail.

I am the one who flicked the first domino and chose this path.

I am the only one to blame.

Chancery court is so far behind in cases (I said) and you shouldn’t have to take a day off work (a day you’re working overtime, I said) to go to a court date that might not even be yours (I said) and get sent home with no pay for the day and no information (the way they do, I said) even if I want just one. more. stay. before they decide forevermore they are going to sell our home at auction (because one more stay would have guaranteed one more full school year, I said) because they have been so good about informing us of our next court date (I cooed into his ear before we slept at night) and he believed me.

I am so rarely wrong, you see. I do my research and I find out the facts and I don’t share untested theories as fact and I don’t rely on “I hope so” and “It’s probably okay” so he had no reason not to believe me.

Really, everyone believes me. I’m a very believable person. I’m right with astonishing accuracy because I hate being wrong. I do not accept mistakes as a natural outcome of the law of numbers. I am better than that (I said) and we will persevere and get through this (I said).

I was mistaken.

I was not just a little bit mistaken. I did not tell my husband to take an umbrella with him on a sunny day. I was mistaken about something wicked important. Our house (which is no longer our house) that I have the papers stating and have to tell Mr. Brickie about when he gets home from work today (his last day as a 40% apprentice.)

The Reality of the Situation

According to the first lawyer we ever talked to (the lovely, young lawyer who paled and stuttered when I asked, “Out of everyone you’ve ever talked to, has it ever been a wise financial decision to fight for the home?”) who told us our time frame from this moment or, rather, the moment from July 11th when the clock (the foreclosure auction sheriff-at-the-front-door clock) starts ticking like something out of only the largest, scariest MC Escher painting.  We have – about – nine months from July 11th to get out of our home. We might have a little extra time but the real clock – the big  TIME TO START OVER Y’ALL clock is now ticking for real and we are no longer living in a state of flux. Or, as I liked to call it, “Our state of grace.”

In nine months(ish) we are going to give birth to a new life. I have a feeling it’s going to physically hurt less than childbirth and emotionally tear my brain in half. Maybe I’m overreacting and it will be an easy move. We’ve been decluttering for a year here and there and plans are in place for what will come with and what will go in storage and lists are made. So the focus of the blog will change slightly and we’ll be talking about getting ready to move.

Same family stories, just stories about a family transitioning to a new place, probably a new school system, and all the things surrounding the move and the finances getting us there.

Even when you prepare for all outcomes (and yes, I mean all outcomes, you should see my charts) it doesn’t make getting hit in the gut any less breathtaking. You can know in your head you’re making the best possible financial decision and feel with every feel in you that you’ve lost this round of the game of life.

My breath is taken.

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Raw – Come Play In May

raw-pictureI was hoping for something a little more upbeat for today’s prompt – aka the prompt I participate in again after a couple days off for life updates – but you know what, I think I can do this while not being entirely downbeat about the whole thing. Let’s see…

My Emotions

I’ve never experienced feelings in shades of gray. I can think all in the gray areas and see lots of points of view but my heart? My heart has always been raw. I have boundaries, sure, but they are very different than most people and so some people think my blog is an overshare while others understand the things I do not share exist and are important to me. There aren’t many, but the things I hold behind my boundaries are absolutely sacred.

My Life

I don’t lead a “sweater sets and ice cream social” kind of life. Sometimes I want one very, very badly. I want to be a mom who gets up, makes sure her lipstick is on, and goes out to do the things that normal moms do. If there was ever such a thing as a normal mom. I think it’s just a grown-up version of hoping I would grow up to be a princess. I keep hoping I’ll grow up to be a real-life, normal mom.

My Blog

My blog is pretty raw. Especially since it’s not anonymous. It allows people to read and make impressions and assumptions about my life that may or may not be accurate. No matter how detailed I am, I will never be able to give someone a true impression of what my life looks like. But I try. For my children to read someday, for their children to read someday, for you to read and hopefully enjoy or learn from or feel your own raw emotion while you read.

My Love

My love is raw because I do not pretend. Not with my children, not with my husband, not with my friends, not with my family. I saw some Tedx talk about a marriage/relationship hack. The graph that took my breath away was the slow, downward spiral of marriage satisfaction. He only studied 50 years but wow, that graph.

I have never been more satisfied in my marriage than I am today. I credit being happier now than the day I got married with being raw. Also, maybe, not expecting my husband to be my everything, every day, all the time. So I guess it’s more of a combo platter.

My Self-Care

Therapy is going to be a way to stay raw but with less poky edges and brittle bits. Maybe a little less intense. That being said, if someone didn’t like me before therapy they sure aren’t going to like me after. I hold my tongue a lot and if I am more at peace with myself that could change. Maybe not. We won’t know until we know, will we? I’ve never been the person who says mean things and then uses the “I’m just being honest” excuse to try and justify my words. So I probably won’t suddenly turn into that person during this journey.

But hey, I keep hearing “It’s a process.” So maybe part of that process is where I get to just say what I’m really thinking and feeling without cushioning it at all. Letting people know where they fit into my life and what I’m willing to be in theirs. You know, boundaries. So I don’t just run again.

I’m tired of running. If I move it’s because I’ve chosen to. I’ve planned it. I will be prepared for it. I will stand strong and raise my kids and hug my husband and treat my friends well and have a life well-lived. 

Wait. I did that already. Huh. Maybe I’m farther in this process than I thought. *grin*

Stay Raw, my friends…

Axis of Ineptitude

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

My Husband. My Love. My Bricklayer.

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

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

On To Our Post!

The soundtrack for today’s post.

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

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

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

New/Old iPhones Are A Go!!

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

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

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

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

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

The Other Reason I Love Mr. Brickie Training

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

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

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

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

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

He winks at me from across the room.

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

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

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

Why This Is Important

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How could I have known?

bird-end-fin

5 Ways We Deal With Poor People Stress

broken-pig

One of the things I have been asked more than a few times is how we deal with being poor.

My knee-jerk instant response is, “We know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.” Once in a while someone gets smart and says, “Really? That just keeps working?” or my favorite, “Didn’t he just get his current job last April? What about before that?”

I always meet smart people. Some of them love to ask probing questions. As you can tell, that doesn’t bother me.

One of the things that makes me different is that I have never felt comfortable turning to God for comfort. The way I see it, he didn’t get me into this mess, so it’s not really his to clean up. I have no problem with anyone feeling differently and, to be fair, I’m totally jealous of people who can hand their troubles over to God. It seems like a really good place to be.

But these are my things that help me in leiu of having a kind and loving God to just take my stress and turn it into origami swans or whatever it is that happens to your stress when it’s given to your savior. I’m not mocking, I promise. I just like the image of a savior up in the clouds forming stress into other things like an artist. It’s a friendly image, not really a funny one.  Almost wistful, really.

Extreme Stress Doesn’t Help

I used to think if I was “on point” all the time and always thinking about everything (you probably think I’m exaggerating, lol) things would be easier. You know what I mean? If you just looked busy things would work out. If I did the dishes three times a day it would somehow keep my mind occupied.

Once you have a come to Jesus moment with yourself and you and yourself can agree that being extremely stressed is not doing you any good, you can start to let those feelings go. It takes a while and I still have spikes of horrible stress now and then, but it’s so much less than it was before I made a decision to not be as stressed on a regular basis.

Don’t worry. If you think being less stressed will make you less productive, give it a try. Nothing is forever if you don’t want it to be. Pick a couple of days or a week where you will just do your best to not be stressed and see what happens at the end. The first day or two might be f-it-all days, but you will find a balance where you get things done and once you do what you can, that’s what you did and that’s okay.

I’m still working on this one. I’m giving the advice I’m trying to take here…not the advice I’ve been doing for years with great success. Just for the sake of honesty I thought I should tell you.

Stay Inspired

I’m one of a small group of people who not only listen to Dave Ramsey every day, but a listener that isn’t an evangelical Christian. Listening to him talking about God and Jesus does not bother me in the least. To be honest, sometimes when he gets all judgmental about other groups of people it bothers me, but I remind myself I don’t listen for his political beliefs, I listen because I want to be indoctrinated and reminded constantly that I do not want to be in debt ever again.

I wanted to be debt free for years before I ever heard the radio show. I told my boyfriend at the time, “I just want one dollar. One dollar that no one else has a claim to.” So once I heard Dave, I was immediately like, “This guy gets me.” That eventually changed to, “This guy gets me financially.”  It doesn’t matter if we’d be besties, it matters that he has people calling in telling their stories and asking their questions and that helps me learn more about my situation. I like to think it also makes me a person with more empathy.

Those are my people. People who are striving to get to that place where they feel secure. I feel the pain of some of the questions like it was my own. I cheer with the people who took forever-and-a-day to pay things off because of babies or life or losing a job. I feel inspired at the end of the show almost every time.

What inspires you?

Stay Open to New Ideas

One of my big sticking points about home ownership is when I thought about property taxes. I need to do a separate blog post on property taxes because I don’t understand them completely, but from what I understand if you pay off your house but for whatever reason cannot afford your property taxes, you can still lose your home.

So really, there is no way to own your home without having a rent payment on that bad boy. If we paid this house off tomorrow we would still have a monthly payment of $235 forever. (Okay, it will probably increase but with inflation.)  That is far cheaper than rent for a house the size you have, I’m sure. But it’s not ownership in any sense that I understand it. My definition of ownership is “it’s mine and you can’t take it” right? So I don’t get that emotional warm fuzzy from a home vs. renting a house or renting an apartment.

I use thinking about things in different ways on other things to keep stress levels down, too. As long as it has some solid logic behind it, it will help reduce your stress.

If I know I don’t have the few hours it takes to determine rent vs. own and what those numbers look like, I put it on the back burner until I do have time. I have a list of things that take a couple hours of research and when I have a chunk, I grab the list and pick what I’m in the mood to research!

This is another thing I’m working on. I sometimes try to do a bunch of things on the list, get confused with seventeen tabs open in my browser and then shut it all down and walk away because it feels like my brain is melting. So, again, it’s “work in progress” advice.

Give More Hugs

When I get really stressed I don’t want to be touched. So I would hug everyone less and try not to cringe when my kids ran up and jumped into my arms. My husband figured out pretty quick I was feeling like a prickly pear and he didn’t want to hug the porcupine any more than I wanted to be hugged.

This made me a less happy mommy, it made my kids less happy, and my husband was grumpy all the time. I realized that I was being stingy with my love because I was trying to be stingy with every penny. Love is not money. Love is infinite.

I said to myself, “For one week I’m going to hug anyone if I’m within five feet at any time.” By the end of the week I was sneaking up behind the kids (and Mr. Brickie!) to scare them with sneak hugs. I got elbowed in the face once, but it was a hilarious accident. now I hug everyone, all the time, and it’s made everyone so much happier!!

Even if it’s not a hug moment, I will reach out and graze an arm or a leg or the top of a head when I walk by. The contact is something that my kids just lean into every time.

If your child is not a hugger or does not like being touched, please don’t think I’m ignoring that possibility. My kids are all affectionate to the point that I am overwhelmed and so that is what I have found a solution to. Obviously, I do not think this will work for everyone.

That being said, if your child isn’t touchy or does not like hugs, what do you do to show your affection? Maybe if you leave a comment and let me know I can be more informed and you can help out another parent that reads this blog in the same position.

Be Kind to You!

I am not nice to me. I think I could do better at pretty much everything if I tried harder. I have laid in bed, too sick to move, telling myself, “You could get up if you really wanted to. You’re just being lazy. you’re not that sick, you’re overreacting.” I insult myself, I am cruel to myself, and I constantly think I don’t measure up to even the smallest things.

I decided 2014 was going to be my year of self-kindness. I am not comparing myself to others anymore (I did this to feel better and/or worse depending on my mood) because the only people I’m worried about are right in this house – with a few family/friend exceptions, of course – they are who I use to measure myself.

When my daughter tells me I am the best mommy in the world? I’ve decided to believe her. 

Here’s the secret. When I don’t compare myself to others I can be the best mommy in the world without taking anything away from any other mommy or daddy or other-mother who is being told they are the best mommy in the world, too. It’s not a competition anymore.

How do you make yourself feel less stressed?