Tag: parenting

I Keep Spending…and Spending…

Is it a bad life decision to drain my emergency fund to pay for summer activities? Yes!

Am I doing it anyway? Yes!

I’m not sure why. I think it’s primarily because I worry I’m not a good enough parent. They aren’t over-scheduled and they will have 17 unscheduled days in August to just veg and read and do some worksheets before school begins but June and July have something or another every day for an hour here or an hour there. There are “better” camps I would like to send them to. There are math camps and specialty camps and electrical engineering camps I can’t send them to and it hurts my heart. I want so much for them. I want them to try everything before having to do the “adult thing” and choose something to specialize in the rest of their lives. I don’t want them to drift, like I do, unattached to any particular specialty at all. (I do love math, but a 40 year old who’s good at math is great for helping kids with homework and not much else unless you’ve already been specializing beyond that point, I think.) So they are swimming, learning tennis, attending a day camp for dance, one is in a summer volleyball league, two are going to overnight week-long camps, and two might be attending a volleyball day camp. It’s a hell of a list.

Plus my oldest decided she wanted to volunteer at the library. I couldn’t be happier and I told Mr. Brickie, “If she felt over-scheduled, she probably wouldn’t have added something else on.” I mean there are some kids who would and I don’t think she’s one of them but maybe she is and I don’t know it. They still have enough time to do chores, do a couple workbook pages a day, and fit in screen time so that doesn’t feel like a lot. I guess you never know until you’re looking back.

Let’s stop with that train of thought for now. It’s a rabbit hole I may never escape. Let’s talk about credit cards!

I withdrew the money I had been saving in my Digit account ($208.54) and put it toward the Macy’s card. I’m done. I don’t want to think about it, I don’t want to talk about it, I want that card paid off and out of my life. I love my bed and it was absolutely the right decision to put it on the card but it needs to not be part of my life anymore. After the $208.54 payment the balance is $371.61 and between some creative accounting (putting off a bill until the fifth week of this month) and raiding the rest of my emergency fund, I’ll pay that off this Thursday and will feel like I accomplished something.

I haven’t had a financial win in a while and I think paying off Macy’s is just what I need to get me back on track and focused again.

Mr. Brickie is in physical therapy twice a week and does exercises that hurt like hell every day. He just wants to go back to work and I feel so bad for him because there is nothing I can do to help other than be supportive and tell him, “You can do it!” Which usually is fine but sometimes makes him glare at me because it hurts and I’m being super chipper and I’d glare at me sometimes, too.

Other than kid events and physical therapy it’s like our lives are on hold. We don’t go out, we don’t do much, we try not to spend money. It’s beyond boring.

OH OH OH OH OH I ALMOST FORGOT!!!

I did get new glasses. I mean, I didn’t GET them yet, I ordered them and they’re being made right now and I’ll be able to pick them up sometime in the next week when they’re ready. It seems that since I’m getting all old and craggy my eyes are getting more dense so my glasses are a little bit TOO powerful. It’s the reason I haven’t been reading books. My close vision is a mess because of my glasses. So when I get the new glasses I can read again!

I had seriously started to believe I was just giving up on life because reading is such a fundamental part of who I am and I pick up a book and it just feels like too much effort and it makes me so sad but now I know it wasn’t me, it was my glasses, and I’ll be able to read again soon!

Also, I did something I’ve never done before in the name of not messing up my eyes as I get even older. I ordered prescription sunglasses. I don’t wear contacts so saying I can just wear contacts and normal sunglasses is a pipe dream. In order to keep my eyes cataract-free as long as possible I neeeeed sunglasses. So I ordered some. They’re amazing. I hope the lenses are dark enough.

That being said my first pair of glasses were mostly covered by insurance (they’re never entirely covered unless I opt for such thick frames my eyes look giant and distorted) and the sunglasses were 30% off. It was still expensive at right around $600 for both complete pairs, but I won’t need glasses again for years and if the regular pair breaks I have my current ones as backup and we should be in a better position next year for glasses buying (I hope!) so maybe I can get a pair a year just because they’re cute and I can have options.

Wouldn’t that be dreamy?

So I’m afraid I’m ruining my kids because of the camps they are (and are not) in. I spent a bunch of money on glasses. I’m paying off the Macy’s card this Thursday (finally) even though it might not be the wise financial choice.

This has been my week. How is yours going?

I seriously cannot wait until Thursday when I can do the, “No more Macy’s” happy dance!

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.

I Gave My Kids’ Savings Accounts to Stop Stealing Their Money

There is nothing easier to grab than cash lying around the house. I *could* put the pizza on the debit card but that takes three days to clear and I don’t like to wait on cleared charges on my budget so I’ll just grab that $20 out of Middle Sister’s piggy bank and pay her back tomorrow.

Uh huh. Sure I will. You and I both know I mean it at the time but I ended up with a bunch of post it notes that showed how much I owe my kids. I started calling them Indulgences because that’s exactly what they were. I needed to fix the problem. It seemed the easiest way to get rid of the temptation – and the post-it notes – was to get rid of the money.

It was time to follow through on the idea I had floated to the kids previously. It was time for savings accounts. The kids have been excited about the idea for the past couple weeks. Ever since the conversation about compound interest and how in the bank your money earns more money.

We collected all the change from around the house. We checked couches, stuffed animals, pillows, and nightstand table drawers. My husband got in on the searching and brought out his poor guy bag of change he’d been saving and taking from since probably college. He’s not the first guy I’ve seen with a giant bag o’ change. I think they start collecting it when they need quarters for laundry and it becomes a catch-all for every penny and nickel they come across.

I was amazed when he brought the bag in and asked, “Are you sure?” because getting him to get rid of the change was like asking him to get rid of a blankie. It was his security. “Yeah, it’s fine.” (the Mr. is terribly eloquent, isn’t he? LOL) and I just rolled with it, not wanting to make it as big a deal outside my head as it was inside my head.

We went to our local bank (it’s actually a little regional bank) and lucky for us there was no wait. One by one my girls came into the office with me and the very kind lady asked them their personal information and signed them up for savings accounts. She explained how they worked to each one and let them choose stickers to put on their little savings passbooks. She made it special for them and the girls felt really important.

The bank lobby even has a cool Nescafe coffee/hot cocoa machine. The output is similar to gas station coffee. Super sweet, frothy cappuccinos (that the Mr. loved) and that almost whipped-tasting hot cocoa the kids adore. The girls split a cup of hot cocoa after they finished opening their accounts. It was a great day for all of us and they all felt really grown-up.

We felt really grown-up, too. It was a parenting bucket list moment for me, for sure.

I do still owe Big Sister $20 because I borrowed it to start Little Sister’s account, and I do still owe Middle Sister $30 because I took it out of her piggy bank and there was a post it note that told me I did, even though I can’t remember what it was for. Now that their accounts are electronically attached to mine it will be a lot easier to pay them back one last time.

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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The I in Team

I poke my arm out from the comforter, reach behind me, and tap-and-feel the top of the nightstand until I feel the familiar shape of my phone. My fingers curl around the familiar rectangle and I bring it close to my face, squinting, and tap the little part of the screen that quiets the alarm for a few sweet, silent minutes. I should know it by feel but I don’t want to accidentally turn the alarm off so every morning starts with me squinting into a screen.

All set for a few more minutes of solid rest, I snuggle a little deeper under into my comforter. My eyes fly open when I hear a phone ringing like the one from my childhood (or any episode of Mad Men) and scan the room for what caused the noise. It’s not my phone’s ringtone, which means Mr. Brickie is getting a call at 7am. I make a mental note I know I will forget to have him stop changing the rintone because unidentified noises freak me out…especially first thing in the morning.

My eyes find him – a blur pulling on a shirt – and I croak through half-awake lips, “Just answer.” I rub my eyes and make a first-thing-in-the-morning effort to quash the hate I feel toward his habit of trying to figure out who is calling before answering the phone. It’s not a bill collector. Those calls are years in our past but he still acts like the ringing phone holds something awful. He answers in time (thank goodness) and it is work. He starts again tomorrow (Tue. April 28th) at 7am.

Tomorrow is Tuesday and that’s fantastic. The day after is Wednesday, which is my daughter’s doctor appointment he really wanted to be at. We have waited over a month for this appointment and I want him to be there, too. I want the doctor to see the adult version of my daughter. I feel it would inform her decision. Of course I don’t know that for sure because I am not a doctor.

Work means he can’t be there with me. I will have to go alone with my daughter and be her rock with no rock of my own. I am disappointed, sure, but understand this is just the way things are and I am going to have to go through this by myself. It’s okay. He will be there after work to tell what happened. That will have to be enough.

It doesn’t stop my mind feeling tight as a tourniquet.

Everything is going to be alright, sacrifice along the way was always part of the bargain. He doesn’t have a job he can “call off” from. We do not see that as a negative because he gets a giant chunk of winter off to be with us. When the kids have snow days, they spend the day with the whole family.

These are the memories I hold on to when I have to do Very Important Things™ alone.

The big picture is worth it but the fear of the unknown with my daughter is something that scares me deeply. I feel like the teammate making the free throw shot. Sure, I have a team and they have my back but this shot I have to take and make by myself.

Let’s hope it’s nothing but net.

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Anxiety, Fun, and Family Time

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Did you know I have an anxiety problem?

You could say I’m wound tighter than a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, sure, or you could say I have a medically diagnosed anxiety disorder. You could remember me as the lady you know who went to the ER for a panic attack, but I’d prefer you remember me as the woman that made you smile. Who among us wants to be known for our weaknesses? I want to be known for the positives I bring to the table, not the problems. That being said, this post is dedicated to my biggest problem. Anxiety.

Since my friend loaned me her car for the summer, I have used it to go to the library and all the parks. I’ve visited family and gone to pretty much all my safe places over and over.

Then over the weekend I had the bright idea to bring the kids to the beach in Michigan without another adult. Well, there was the possibility of another adult that actually turned into another adult being there with me, but it was all up in the air before going and up in the air is my personal nightmare. I like plans and knowing where I’m going to be and when. It makes me feel safe.

The night before, I had everything pre-packed. Breakfast would happen in the car and each child had an individually prepared bagel and cream cheese in a baggie in the fridge. Water bottles were packed in an inuslated bag in the fridge so they would stay cold as long as possible once removed. We had a bag of pretzels and bug spray and sunscreen ready to go. Towels and extra outfits in another bag. I had a checklist and made sure everything was taken care of. (Like I said, I’m a planner.)

Mr. Brickie filled up the gas tank the night before.

The first bump in the road happened when my alarm went off at 6:30am. I got up, had a cup of coffee and prepared for my kids to wake up. My original plan was to leave the house at 7am. I went over the week’s budget and paid the bills for the week. I had another cup of coffee. At 7:30 I sent an email letting our family member know I was going to be running late because my kids all decided today was the perfect day to sleep in. The kids woke up – one right after the other – around 7:45am. I hugged them, told them to shake off the sleepies and get in their bathing suits so we could go.

They were happy to oblige. I’ve actually never seen my kids get ready for anything as fast as they got ready to go to the beach yesterday. It was magic.

The drive there was bliss, because it was still early enough the construction hadn’t backed the roads up. (We went to Michigan on Sunday and it took us over 2 hours to get there because of construction and backed up traffic. It was a nightmare. It also took just under 2 hours to get home taking the backroads, but it was still preferable because there is a certain sickening smell to the expressway when it’s a crawling almost-parking-lot like diesel and desperation and asphalt. Gross.)

We stopped for potty breaks and the parking pass at the family member’s house and the we were off to the beach. The girls helped me carry the stuff and we got down to the beach. It was about this time I realized we forgot the beach shoes, because the MI beach is rocky. I also completely forgot to put sunscreen on everyone. They are all fine. I (of course) look like my skin has been put on a grill because I’m bright red.

About a half hour after we arrived our family member showed up with her chair and sat with us. She was kind enough to take some of the beach pictures in the collage because I only took two. I was far too focused on watching my three daughters frolic in the small-but-angry waves coming at a constant pace. The girls loved it. From a not-mom perspective, the waves were really amazing and middle sister taught herself to body surf and couldn’t get enough. They all managed to stay close enough to one another I didn’t freak out completely and I just watched, and kept watching, to make sure no one went under at all.

At one point middle sister went out pretty far to the buoys with a couple kids from a blanket over. The girl she was with seemed very kind and went slow with middle sister so I wasn’t too worried but I kept an eagle eye on her knowing I would have to haul ass out in that water and grab her if something went wrong. Yes, there was a lifeguard on duty. Maybe I should have taken comfort in that, but I always assume if something happens to my kids I need to save them. I think that’s normal, right?

So, to kind of test the waters I get up and start to wade into the water. The first thing I notice is I”m sinking into the rock-bottom of the lake. About three feet in there’s a sharp little downslope that goes down about a foot and when my foot went down it just kept going into the rocks. Up to my knee. So here I am, in the water that’s now up to my chest because I’m under the ground, holding little sister’s hand because she’s scared of the waves but wants to be next to me, with my left leg still on top of the rocks so I’m almost in this weird scissor position with my legs spread out at, like, a 60 degree angle.

Then a wave hits.

All hell only breaks loose in my head for a second and I go under to hold little sister up because of course she fell and I’m stuck where I am because my leg is surrounded by little rocks and this isn’t fun anymore and I’m really thankful there’s a lifeguard because I don’t know that I could get to my daughter but maybe doing a belly-float-doggy-paddle I could and really if there was an emergency I’d try because I’m a pretty strong swimmer but for now I need to get my leg out of the rocks and so I have little sister back up to a safe, shallow place and pull myself up onto my knees and I’m thanking all that is good and holy for the beach pants my cousin got me for my birthday because they are the only thing keeping me from having about a million tiny cuts on my calves from being on my knees on rocks. Now my body decides to try and float because I’m not wedged in the ground like a pinwheel.

Then a wave hits.

Fwoomp! I’m on my face and my leg goes up and big sister is pointing and laughing at me. I realize I probably look hilarious so decide not to exact revenge on her at a later date. Little sister runs at me thinking my flailing means I’m having fun and she wants to join in and when she wraps her little arms around my neck I have a moment where I’m pretty sure my kids want to drown me and I look out to the beach in between waves and see my family member in her chair relaxing and looking out at the horizon and I thank the lord for the lifeguard again and wonder if she often has to save people in a foot and a half of water.

I use my arms to drag myself half out of the water because anywhere I try to put my feet they just sink into the rocks. I have a moment where I wonder if this is because I’m big but then realize I’m mostly floating (that’s why I can’t stay upright because I”m floating in the wave-water) and so that’s more of a wackadoo theory than a potential reason for my foot going straight through the rocks to the other side of the earth.

The kids (and the rest of the beach) aren’t staring at me so I must not have flailed that badly. I feel pretty successful at not drowning and walk confidently back to my foldy-chair about five feet away from the kids. I decide we need to go to the pool more because holy crap that was terrifying and if I never sink into the earth up to my knee again that would be awesome. My heart rate goes back to normal in a few minutes and I spend another couple hours enjoying the girls playing in the water, screaming when waves hit them, grinning from ear to ear.

They are happy and I am smiling and we leave after about three hours all out of breath and laughing.

We stop back by our family member’s house and the girls shower off and we have sandwiches and I’m so thankful for a few moments to relax before we leave to go school shopping.

YES. I KNOW. I WENT SHOPPING ALONE WITH MY KIDS.

This is normal. I know. You will never hear me say I’m doing something special when I’m doing something a billion other moms do all the time without any issues. The problem is me. I get so nervous. I get so out of sorts. I get so scared.

But I was also on a roll after beach time so we stopped at the Lighthouse Mall (it’s an outlet mall) and went to Old Navy for jeans and shirts – Round 1. The girls were fantastic, jeans and shirts and bonus flip flops were purchased for everyone and when Mr. Brickie texted me I didn’t even notice until an hour later when we were back in the car and I was asking Siri to get me home and he was home! He asked me to text him when I passed an exit about halfway home so he could preheat the oven for pizza. (We had already decided the night before dinner would be “frozen pizza night” because there was no way I was going to cook after the beach and shopping!)

I texted him back (using the voice function, NEVER looking at the screen always at the road!!) and when we saw the road starting to get congested and traffic starting to back up, I got off and took backroads the rest of the way home. The girls were happy to show off their new clothes, I was happy to be home, and Mr. Brickie was SHOCKED I went shopping after the beach. He thought the beach would be more than enough for me for one day.

I told him that passing by the mall on my way home was too much and I couldn’t NOT stop. It was right there.

We had dinner and I am still basking in the glow of accomplishment today.

Also, as an added bonus there is no dry skin on my feet. Walking all over the rocks and sinking in them with every step left my feet baby soft!

Is there something most people find easy that you find terribly difficult?

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Fashion I Wish Was Still In Style – Come Play in May

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Come on now, you know I’m {mostly} kidding.

I tried to find a picture of a mom holding a baby and a martini and a cigarette but I guess they only have expert level parenting pictures in places I’m not looking for them.

Ah well.

That being said, I welcome all your Cancer stories in the comments. Speaking of cancer, if you haven’t yet read The Fault in Our Stars you can wish you had and check out some amazing nail art inspired by the book.

My mother and my grandmother spoke fondly of their experiences taking diet pills when they were young and married and had to be able to fit into all those “structured at the top, poofy at the bottom” Mad Men dresses from the first few seasons. I would love to have been able to wear those.

So I guess what I really wish was still in fashion was speed. My house would look great, I’d be thin as a rail, and I’d be supermom. I know they say dear Betty on the Mad Men used Weight Watchers but if you saw their success rates…well..between you, me, and the gum tree… that era was the era of skinny women who used to be fat women on speed and booze, smoking like their lives depended on it and lord did they party.

At least my family did.

Cheers, speed-prescribed-as-diet-pills, I never knew you but I wish I had.

Disclaimer: The ignorance of how amazingly unhealthy all the things mentioned in this post are is PART AND PARCEL of why I wish it was back in fashion. Feel free to comment with your cancer stories, your rehab stories, or your gun accident stories and I’ll totally publish them, but really, I know. I promise. One day I’ll tell you the story of the doctor that did prescribe speed to me as a way to lose weight and how much of a BEAST it made me. It’s just a fantasy as much as wishing Madonna’s cone-boob bra was back in style. 

 

Axis of Ineptitude

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