Friday, May 30, 2014

Parenting in poverty.

Over a year ago, Jeff was laid off. This brought about many changes, including a necessary move that has left us reeling and scrambling to make things bearable for all of us. We moved from a 1400+ sq ft house with large rooms and lots of storage to a 1200 sq ft mobile home with tiny rooms and almost no storage.  Hey, at least the yard is nice!

We own, rather than rent, which means that all of the repairs are our responsibility.  We've had to repair plumbing, door seals and the HVAC.  We still have so much more to do and the funds just plain aren't there.

Jeff has been sending out resumes, contacting temp agencies and even applying for retail jobs with no luck. His contact at the company he translated for moved to another job and the new person felt that they needed to keep the localizations in-house. After more than a year, he's just defeated and depressed.  I can't blame him, especially when we go out somewhere and I'm offered jobs out of the blue.  Unfortunately, between my health issues and the umpteen meetings and specialist appointments for the kids, I would require too much time off.  Retail is a fickle thing and there are umpteen college kids scrambling for summer jobs with better availability than I can provide.

We try to focus on the good things - we have a roof over our heads, food in our bellies (thanks to multiple food banks in our area) and all of the utilities are still on. The stress of NOT having those things still looms and there's just nothing we can do.  We budget and we sell things. We make do.

Still, we find time to celebrate and go on adventures.  We prioritize and ask for help.  We muddy up our timelines a bit and fight to make things happen.  Birthdays are celebrated early and we redefine what constitutes a gift.

During times of uncertainty, sometimes peace of mind is the best gift of all, even if it is fleeting.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Life Less Organized

I mention my adventures in cleaning almost every single day.  My friends (and some family) must think that my house is show-ready every single day.  They couldn't be further from the truth!  I am often overwhelmed by laundry (there is just as much clean laundry piled up as dirty), one load of dishes in the dishwasher doesn't mean that my sink is empty let alone scrubbed clean, and cleaning the livingroom consists of moving things from one place to another and hoping that I've actually put those things in what should be their permanent home.

The ugly truth is that my house will never be spic 'n span, spotless, white-glove ready or any of those cutesy terms.  We live here, and we live HARD.  Of course, we're also still cleaning up from the previous tenant's lives (remind me to tell you all about my adventures in grungy kitchen cabinets), so it feels like we take two steps forward only to trip and fall a step back.

The worst part of all this is that I am a crappy organizer.  I can organize a bedroom closet or linen closet but organizing all of the small things is beyond my capabilities.  I have a major junk drawer and no plans to clean or organize it until/unless I absolutely have to.  I have a 9-cube storage center and it's full of board games, shoe-size bins of beads and jewelry thingies and miscellaneous office/craft supplies.  I want to get this under control but, honestly, I'm just happy that it's all in bins and in one place.  I can organize when I have time, which feels like it'll be never.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

What Was I Thinking?!

I look around my [messy, cluttered] house and wonder what the hell I was thinking when I decided to: take that nap, foster those kittens, make that big [sloppy] meal, let the kids play "school", try to get all of the laundry done at once, etc.  I wonder why we agreed to let the dining room be the man cave/game room.  I wonder why the kitchen table seems to be the catch-all for papers, projects and miscellaneous junk.  I wonder why I don't have the energy or motivation to Keep Up With The Jones'.

Frankly, all of these things happen because I love my family more than I care about what others think of me.  I nap so that I can recharge from the umpteen-million things that need to get done.  We rescue and foster animals because it is a hands-on learning experience that teaches my children to care about what is happening in the world by taking care of animals that can't take care of themselves and to take pride in a job well done.  That big [sloppy] meal was made because it was requested by someone that I love more than I love clean clothes and counters.  I let the kids play "school" because I love that they still want to play together and because it teaches essential social skills for both of them.  I do as much laundry as I can in one sitting because it's anyone's guess as to what may come up at any given moment.  The dining room wasn't as important to me as my husband's sanity.  The kitchen table is the catch-all because the kids are proud of their accomplishments and want to share those with us.

All of those things are why I don't have the energy or motivation to be someone that I am not.  I'm pretty proud of the person that I am and I'm happy with the way my life turned out.

...does anyone want a kitten?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Parenting in an Atheist Household

I'll start this off by saying that our household is just like everyone else's.  We're a little unorganized, a little messy, a little pressed for time to do all of the things we'd like to do but somehow we manage to make it all work.  We love hard and fall hard; be it from disappointment or hurt feelings.  We base our actions on facts because there's safety and comfort in knowledge.

We don't focus on spirituality or religion.  We do discuss those things when we're faced with them; for example: when used as teaching material in History class or when we have someone come to our door wanting to share their "good word".  Openness and honesty dispel the myths and fears that come along with those things.

We live in the present.  We encourage each other to reach for our dreams and fight through the obstacles that may show up because there's no "ever after".  This is the only life we get and we should not only appreciate the hell out of it but we should encourage others to do the same and lead by example.  Find your happiness and never let go, and then offer others the support to find theirs.

We are good people.  We have morals and ethics.  We don't fear divine retribution.  We work to avoid disappointing ourselves and those we love.  We think of the long term effects of our actions.  We hope for change and enlightenment among mankind.  We lead by example and show our children that rewards come from hard work and honesty, not lies and fear.  The onus lies with each one of us to make our own choices and either reap the benefits or face the consequences.  That is how we learn and how we teach.

We live our lives in a way that we hope would make our ancestors proud and give our grandchildren the drive to emulate us.  We are your friends, neighbors, classmates, partners and even the stranger who stopped to help you when you were in need.  We're not evil.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Home is where the mess is.

I know that most people say "home is where the heart is" but, in my case, my heart is in pieces scattered across the country and carried in the pockets of the people I love. Instead, I find that home is where the mess is. The dinner dishes piled in the sink, laundry to fold, Legos scattered on the floor, composition books filled with child-like drawings of animals tucked into the couch, books stacked on headboards and end tables and furry dust bunnies lurking in every corner. To me, this is the sign of a home that is lived in.

Sometimes I wish my house was that perfect home that was always clean and presentable in case someone wanted to just drop by. However, I'm realistic. I have kids, pets, a husband and multiple health issues that force me to clean in spurts. Plus, who's really dropping by my house? My family is multiple states away (and in multiple states), as are my friends. My husband's family is also some distance away, except for his mother with whom we don't speak. Instead, I let my house be lived in by the people who live, and love, here. If someone drops by, they'll just have to understand that we're busy having fun!

So, this is my life. A yard filled with swings, a trampoline, a "clubhouse", shoes and toys tossed haphazardly on the ground, chairs that are never in the same place twice and a trash can that our crazy dog seems to think is her personal toy. I wouldn't change it for the world.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The turtle and the hare.

I can't seem to break out of this turtle/hare routine. (Think of it as my own personal Jekyll/Hyde disorder.) Some days I can barely get out of bed. Dog-hair tumbleweeds invade the living spaces, bird toys scattered around the floor and dinner is thrown together rather than planned. Those are the days when the dishes might get done before bed, a load of laundry is only done if someone needs a specific article of clothing and the bedrooms look like a natural disaster hit. I'm not proud of this, of course. I have reasons. Migraines, back pain, crippling depression, nausea and dizziness that I can't seem to shake. It's been this way for so long that I've become accustomed to it.

After a day or two of that, it leads me into a manic state where everything has to be done right now and I obsess over the end result. Are the canisters and wine bottles all facing forward? Is the kitchen table centered on the far window? I clean with a vengeance; using toothbrushes to scrub the edges of the sink, scrubbing tubs, toilets and floors and causing blisters on my hands from scalding water and caustic cleaning solutions. The house, for a time, is presentable. No matter, if someone stops by, I'll still apologize for the mess. I over-analyze, obsess and generally throw myself into a tizzy over things I can't change.

Every day I long for the in-between. The days where I can relax but still have the motivation to stay on top of the housework, doctor appointments, school meetings and sibling interventions that inevitably creep up. I want to step away from the internal struggle and find some kind of balance. I want to be me again.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


So, the scheduled posts that I've had in the wings haven't posted. Not sure why (one was from my phone, so I can understand that one) but I'll blame it on user error (ie: my fault) and move on. I'll try to recover the text files I saved everything to but, failing that, I'll just start over fresh and you'll have a few lovely new posts to read. Yay!