Saturday, March 26, 2011

Give and Take (or, Love is Blind)

She runs toward me off the playground, full charge ahead. I plant my weight into the ground, steady myself with my stick. Ready to receive the full brunt of her love as she embraces me with her strong arms and beautiful words.

I just sit down with my cup of tea after long minutes cleaning dishes, switching laundry. My back aches with stiffness. I release my energy to the sofa cushions and pillows. Giving myself up to some time of "do-nothingness." Then she calls me to the computer. She's stuck and needs help. She calls me to her craft table to see a new creation. She calls me upstairs, needing help with one thing or another. Again and again. She needs - or wants - my assistance. My attention. She knows I just sat down, but this does not phase her. I am needed and I must go.

We read together during weekend days, as a family. No more bedtime stories. At least not for now. No longer is it completely trackable who put her to bed last night. Did you read, or did I? No longer a bench mark for accuracy. But she knows. She knows it is my turn to tuck her in, all comfy and warm. I argue that it doesn't really matter. Daddy can do it again. I'll take you tomorrow. No - it's you're turn, she says. No matter that the stairs are not my greatest friend. No matter that - yet again, and always - my back is tight with pain. No matter. My night for bedtime duties. She knows the pattern too well.

She wants to play a game. She sets it up on our large living room ottoman, so that she sits on the floor and I can sit on the couch. She knows sitting on the floor can almost literally break me apart with pain. She's considering my needs in relation to her own. She's making me as comfortable as she can. She's taking care of me.

I fold the laundry into tall piles. I've done my job. With only a few gentle reminders, she then does hers. Delivering each pile to its rightful upstairs location. She's doing for me what I cannot easily do on my own.

Daddy and she go out for a trek in the woods. Most likely with a little geocaching included. She reminds him that Mommy used to geocache with them as well. Why doesn't she come anymore? Daddy reminds her that it's sometimes too difficult for Mommy to go on long hikes over difficult land. This makes it not so much fun for Mommy to want to come along. Oh. Yeah. Just the same, she misses me on their outings.

She sees a child in the large room, holding a bouquet of beautiful balloons. She turns to me with fear in her eyes. There are balloons here, Mommy! You're allergic! If I don't get a chance to stop her, she will inform said child of my allergy to the brightly colored orbs. Don't worry about it, Sweetie. I'll be okay. I won't get hurt, I promise. Thank you for your concern, but I'll be okay.

We wake up early on a cold, icy school morn. Snow is falling and ice has encased my car. As she watches her morning cartoon friends, I inform her that I'll be outside clearing off the car. Okay, she says. I struggle to the car. I slip and possibly fall on a small patch of ice. I trod through the snow. But I get the job done. It's not pretty, but it's done. Sweetie warm inside, knowing that Mom's just taking care of another "Mom" thing. No big deal at all.

I call to say I'm on my way home early from work. His phone rings a few too many times, then.... background noise. Hello?, I say. Hi, Mom! Sweetie! You figured out how to answer Daddy's phone all by yourself? Daddy showed me how. Good job! I'm coming home. I'll see you soon. Okay. Bye bye. Bye. Love you. Then she's gone. I love you too, Sweetie.

I need her help, and she gives without complaint. She asks for mine, and I return in kind. She understands my limitations, but they may or may not matter at any given moment. I'm her mom. I exist in her eyes to help her, teach her, raise her, show her love and attention. She's my daughter. Helping me with activities I cannot easily accomplish on my own, expecting me to love her and shower her with affection and attention, no matter my physical state.

There are things your kids can help you with and there are things they just expect you to do. Sweetie is no different from any other child. I am no different from any other mom. This fact is proven to me, blessedly, over and over again every single day in every single way.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

OneWord Weekend #4

Word: Shape

(1 minute)
This weekend shaped up to be quite a weekend. With Sweetie’s team showing up me and my preconceived notions of what her D.I. team could do.

(10 more minutes)
Really. I admit. Going into Regionals yesterday - and knowing what I've observed from a couple Instant Challenge practices - I meekly tell you that I did not have all that much hope that the team would walk away from yesterday's competition with much more than a fun, long day had, and a great lesson learned in "It's not about winning or losing. It's how you played the game."

And then Hubby and I got to see all 4 of the teams in Sweetie's team's particular challenge. And then he and I really thought, "Oh yeah. They'll get 3rd place. Definitely."

And then - surprise! They ended up with a 2nd place win! Wow! How exciting and, yes, surprising! A Huge, happy, excited surprising result.

We are so, so proud of Sweetie and her team for coming together, working hard on both their challenge and their teamwork skills, and securing themselves a place at the State Level competition in just a couple more weeks.

D.I. has been - and, I dare say, will continue to be - such a great force in Sweetie's life. I know I've written about her experiences in this team environment many times before. You may be sick of hearing about it, in fact. But, I'm sorry. I just have to express again how influential D.I. seems to be in helping shape our Sweetie into a more relaxed, adaptable person who can think more readily on the fly, and both express and produce some truly amazing thoughts, creations and actions. 

So looking forward to seeing this team, and Sweetie in particular, grow, learn and create together some more. 


This post brought to you by

Sunday, March 13, 2011

OneWord Weekend #3

Word: Wand

(1 minute)
Hmmm… I wish I had a magic wand to change this word of the day. :) All I can think about is Harry Potter. Which we love, by the way. But… yeah… not so much more. Sorry…

(10 more minutes)
I can tell you about Sweetie's magic wand. She received it for Christmas a few years back. Hubby made it for her - specially designed! It even includes - a la Harry Potter himself! - a real cat's whisker inside of it. Wow! Pretty special if you ask me...

As for me, sure - there are times when I certainly feel like I could use a good magic wand to help me out. Especially in cases of time management. Heck, this work week we're about to enter may be helped out by the doings of a powerful magic wand. 

See, I'm starting a new job this week. Yes... let's count it out, now... one, two, three, four, my FIFTH job! Well, okay... I haven't yet really found out if I'll be allowed to adjust my hours at one of my jobs. They may tell me I have to work the days I do now or nothing. If so, then I have 4 jobs, as I've had for a few months now. Easy beans! 

Even still, I'll now be bringing in a bit more each week than I have been. But to keep that one other job too? That would be GREAT for us, financially speaking.

However, for this week at least, I will be working ALL FIVE jobs... transitioning into my new job, but only able to work some hours for them - not my full regular schedule with them. And then everything else too.

Tomorrow, for example, I have 3 jobs to go to in an 8 1/2 hours time. Should be fun.

But, yeah... if I had some magical abilities, I'd sure do what I could to help myself out this week so that I could work all the hours typically required for each of them, yet still have ample time left for family and relaxation.

Where's Sweetie's wand these days anyway? She swears it actually works. Hmmm.... maybe I should give it a try....


This post brought to you by

Sunday, March 06, 2011

OneWord Weekend #2

Word: Example

(1 minute)
I try to set a good example for Sweetie. Be polite, learn a lot, do your chores. But all too often I think - no, I know - that she is the one setting a good example for us.

(9 more minutes)
I mean, really. Sweetie is the consummate definition of well roundedness. At least in my eyes. She must get it from her father. But, for him, I think it's just craziness and restlessness. Okay, well rounded. Whatever.

Sweetie sets a good example for me because she sets her mind on something and she goes after it. She does not wont for much, if anything. Therefore, she's not one to whine and mope and plead for that which she does not have. If she wants something, she finds a way to make it herself. She's a crafty one, she is.

Hubby and I whine. We wish we could do more than we can. But we know the financial limitations involved. Sweetie just lives her life. Actually, it's probably because we've never been able to afford much that she never whines about wanting more. We can pass by toy aisles in the store and she doesn't say boo. Well, she may comment that something looks fun or that she knows someone who has such as such. But she doesn't ask for it herself. She's very sensible about knowing what fun she can already create for herself at home and knowing that she really doesn't need too much extra stuff to make life even more "funner."

Sweetie is polite. We remind her - it sometimes feels incessantly - to be nice and don't use an angry tone. Yes, if anything, it seems to me that she comes off as adamant or insistent or, I don't know... snippy, in her speech. But nonetheless, she is by and large a polite, loving, kind girl. We have been complemented, in fact, by at least a couple of her  peers' parents. They letting us know what a polite little girl we have. Please and thank you's. She can share well. She's a good girl.

Sweetie does not judge others. She's an excellent example for us - for anyone! - in that regard. She does not pick on others. I think, above all, that her sense of equality and fairness for all is what I am most proud of.

Yes, I can learn a lot from Sweetie. She truly is a great example of a fine, well rounded, loving human being.

I only wish I can live up to her example by creating a life worthy of her admiration.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Money, Money, Money!

Hubby and I struggle with money. Regular readers know this, as I've written on several occasions about our need to scrimp and how we try to save. This time of year, especially, has always been just thatmuchmore tight for us, as the business Hubby is in (basically a subcontracting home renovation) finds less willing buyers 'round about now. People waiting to get their tax returns back before committing to pricy home repair.

Things will pick up. That's the usual way of things, anyway. It's just... right now... it's tight.

Sweetie had school winter vacation this week. Hubby just happened to have this week off too.

Well, isn't that special?

Luckily, a new job does start on Monday for him. But it's not the biggest of projects, by a long shot. Yay. Glad, at any rate, that he has any job at all to start. And yet, it still has us on the edge of our seats wondering where his portion of the income (that is, the greater portion - by far) is going to come from in the very near future just following this puny reconstruct.


Is it so wrong to like a job primarily because it shows you how much better your life is than others in the world?

I call people, at my evening job, trying to help them come up with viable plans for paying off their medical bill responsibilities. There are financial aid applications. There are payment plan options. There are legitimate ways to make paying down their debt workable for them. And I pride myself with the ability to, often times, "talk down" a customer from sheer frustration and downright anger. Anger at the system. Anger at their situation. People living week to week, on fixed low incomes, having to make tough decisions on which bills are most important to contribute money towards this month. 'Cuz you know there's no way any of them are getting paid off in full! Not this month. Hopefully next month will be better.

Little do these people know how very, very much I can relate to their stories. How very much I emphasize with their situations. How I know, plain and simple, the frustration and stress of what they're going through.

"Oh, but what would you know, anyway?! You work for a big hospital and are probably paid a nice pretty penny for the work you do, with not a worry in sight." This, from one of the gentlemen I spoke to recently.

If you only knew how wrong you were, sir. If you only knew. This is only 1 of 4 jobs I work. And it's still not enough. Not by a long shot.

If you only knew.


The beginning of the month seems to be the toughest. But then again, we work all month, trying not to spend too much, so that - come the first of the month - we have enough money to pay off the big bills. Rent. insurances. Credit card bills. Everything is due all at once.

But I'm also eligible, potentially, for a small monthly bonus at one of my jobs. If I succeed at achieving it, as I have the last 2 months, then I receive it in my very 1st paycheck of the month. Yay! Extra money!

And then, we sent in for a rebate on my new phone - which I had to get around Christmas time, because my cell had died beyond all hope. That just arrived to us this week too. Yay! However, it was in the form of a gift card (a "debit/credit card" usable at anywhere that accepts credit cards). Not a check for actual cash to be deposited into our account. Fine. Whatever. As long as we use this card for items we actually need - not random coffee trips, not a dinner out, not "extra" treat-like groceries we wouldn't normally buy - it would be fine. It's all the same.

So. Two instances of "bonus" money this week. And still. It's hardly a bonus at all. That is, they aren't a bonus at all. Just a bit more money than we thought we'd have, making this week not as completely and utterly dire as it was once expected to be.

Yay! Now we can actually go grocery shopping this week! We don't have to make do - as much - with the food we have in-house, like we've been "making do" this past month or so. Yay!

Except..... remember, Hubby hasn't worked all that much in the last month or so, and this job to start pays horribly.

And so... we are back to the dire situation we started with. Yes, we will shop. But, no, it will not be a "full out" trip. It will be a "get the basics we have to have to make other in-house items last longer" trip. A sort of trip we have become all too familiar with of late.


As happy and somewhat relieving it is to get the occasional unexpected extra money in any given week (Yay! now we can afford my Rx without charging it! Yay! now we can afford a bit more at the store!), I've been wondering lately just what we'd do if we, somehow or another, did all of a sudden come into a large amount of money.

I'm talking thousands of dollars here. How and where would we apply that money if, joys of all joys, we were instantly blessed with such a decision?

I mean... I'm thinking it would actually end up being a really stressful decision in its own right.

We have big credit card debt - should we wipe that out?

We owe my parents big time for a loan they gave us - should the money all go to them?

Hubby and I both have old, old cars. At least a decade old each. Would we use big (pretend) money to put the money down on at least 1 new car?

I still have college loan debt. Maybe a chunk of money should go to get rid of that monthly payment?

And, of course, I have medical bills up the wazoo. Perhaps some of this hypothetical windfall should pay those bills off for us.

Lastly, we haven't been on a family vacation in about 4 years. Not any kind of vacation at all. And I want - above anything else in this world, sometimes - to go to Disneyworld with Sweetie and Hubby. I've been before, as a teenager. Hubby and Sweetie have never been. I want to go so badly. Would we/should we use the money to take this trip?

But then what? So we, say, clear up a credit card. Great! That's really only taking a few hundred dollars off our monthly expenses.

Or say we clear up the debt with my parents. That would be awesome!!!! However, they've been kind enough to not bother us about paying that back lately anyway. So it's not a current monthly expense we'd see go away.... it's just a large, looming debt we'd be free and clear from, which is a lot - of course - but doesn't truly help us still, month to month, right now.

Or we take that vacation. Maybe we could go to France instead! Hubby and I went years ago, and Sweetie says she really wants to go too. Hubby especially wants to take her, as he lived in France during college for a few months. He wants to show Sweetie all his old haunts. To take a vacation would be wonderful! But... then what? There may be little or no money left from our (still imaginary) windfall to apply to existing debt. So life, as we know it now, would continue on... day to day living, paying what we can where and when we can on our bills. Yay.

But at least we'd be more relaxed, and with no added cost!



I don't mean to complain. Honestly, I don't. And I know the stress that Hubby feels he's under, as the main breadwinner in our little family. I know he feels badly when he's not working. At the same time, he knows as well as I do that it's not his doing at all. He goes where the company tells him to go, when they tell him to go. He can't make jobs appear. I know this as well as he does. Like I said, I'm so happy he has a job to start next week. Some money is better than none! I love him and appreciate so much the hard work he does to make our family as safe and secure as possible.

And we are, all things considered, doing alright and holding our own. We're not necessarily behind on any payments. It's just, we don't necessarily see any improvement in our existing debt situation either. We're just... staying steady.

BUT - we're staying steady on a total household income that is considerably less than it used to be, when he and I both had regular full time jobs with benefits. Yes, we had to sell our house. Yes, we now rent for considerably less than what our monthly mortgage was. But through the sale, we paid off our 2nd mortgage. We have done what we can to lower interest rates on our credit cards, and we do not use these cards anymore, unless absolutely necessary.

We are making improvements. We may not easily see them. But they are there. To live as we do - even on a pay check to pay check basis - without collectors pounding down our door, and with wonderful friends and family who understand our situation and offer their own support in various ways... we are blessed.

And, like I said, what would I do with a big chunk of money anyway?! It probably wouldn't even be worth the hassle and stress of figuring that all out. Bah!

(Not that, in the end, I wouldn't want to give it a good ol' try.)