A Bit of Everything

June 7, 2014

First, let me apologize for my lack of focus in my writing as of late. Not having internet at home is my excuse…I know, it’s not even a good one. I have a word processor on my computer; all I have to do is write when at home and post when at the library or somewhere else I can get an internet connection.

I have so many thoughts to process and as you may have noticed, processing them in real time as I blog has been extremely therapeutic. I guess you could say that you all are my shrink…and I hope you charge on a sliding fee scale!!

Summer vacation has started for the boys and we are beyond thrilled. The first week of no school was my scheduled week. We went on a tour of the Arctic Cat manufacturing plant where we watched them build snowmobiles and wildcats (ATV production was down that day). The boys absolutely loved it.

I worked at Arctic when I first moved to Minnesota. I was there from 2000 – 2003 when I took a job that did not have a seasonal layoff. I worked the new job until B1 was born and returned to work in 2011 when I was told I was getting a divorce.

Walking through the plant, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was nervous to see people who I hadn’t seen in years. I was pleasantly surprised to find it was like walking through the door of a friend’s house. So many people approached us from their work stations to say hi and chat for a few minutes. The tour guide we had was somebody who has only been at Arctic for a few years and had no idea who I was and was a great sport of showing the boys things while I was reacquainted with several coworkers.

One of my old bosses even stopped and chatted. I introduced him to the boys and told B1, “He was my boss and I always listened to him.” Of course B1 gave me that look and I told him it was before he was born, I was different then! Thankfully the boss backed me up and told the boys how great of a worker I was. He asked if I was taking them on a scare tactic tour…go to school or end up working here.

The next day I stopped back and filled out my application. I would love to return to work there. One of the things I enjoyed was the winter lay-off. It usually ran from December through March which wouldn’t bother me one bit!! I would prefer to go return to the welding department, but will spend a season on the assembly line if necessary.  Starting wage is almost $15/hr plus profit sharing. Of course all of this hinges on my green card renewal.

As of April 30th, the National Benefits Processing Center was processing applications from October 9. My official application date is January 6 so my best guess at this time is mid-August before I receive my new card.

Financially this will be a pinch…I get my final unemployment check this week. I have been extremely disciplined with my money and have enough cash to pay July rent. We get SNAP benefits (food stamps) so food is not an issue. The only financial concerns right now are the registration is due on my vehicle and my driver’s license is also expired. Paying my rent is more important than these things, and the boys and I don’t mind riding bikes around town. My first paychecks will be to catch up on those expenses and just get back on our feet. If I can work a 40 hour week I can bring home over $400…it wouldn’t take long to not only be back on our feet, but secure again.

I love to fantasize about money and make goals. Just thinking about going back to work is exciting for me. The idea of being able to not worry for a minute about paying bills as well as being able to do some new and exciting things with the boys. To be able to work through the week and take road trips on the weekends and plan for vacations would be great fun.

I can go back to making want lists…who am I kidding, I already have one started in my head:

  • Camping gear
    • Tent
    • Sleeping bags
    • Cooking essentials
    • Binoculars
  • Full set of cutlery (I still only have the 4 each of spoons, forks, and knives that I took when I moved out)
  • Fishing tackle (our new favorite pastime)
  • Keurig  or Bunn coffee machine
  • A week in Florida with my kiddos
  • Quarterly family visits (parents, sister, niece and nephew, Etc.)
    • Ok…this can be semi-annual but no less than that.
  • New shoes (the pair I wear now are three years old and starting to show their age)
  • A two bedroom apartment or house to rent (or three if the price is right)
  • New bikes for all of us
  • Newer car (no need for a minivan with only three of us)
  • Bigger book shelf (when we get a bigger place)
  • A savings account with $3000

See, I have no problem with spending money when I do have it; I also have no problem holding off when I don’t have it.

I’ll keep you up to date on the job, the green card, and the rest of life as it happens.

Sense of Humor

I have given birth to a certain eight year old boy that I love dearly. Lately, me and said boy get in to discussions that are like reading ‘If you Give a Mouse a Cookie’ written by Laura Numeroff.  If you have not read these series of books I HIGHLY recommend them.  If you give him a cookie, he’ll want milk, if you give him milk he’ll want a mirror to check for a milk mustache, if you give him a mirror he’ll want scissors to trim his hair…you can see how this goes. Bubba asks why for every answer I give him to see how creative I can get. Here’s a recent conversation:

Can I have a Pepsi?

No

Why?

We don’t drink pop for breakfast.

Why?

Because it’s unhealthy.

Why?

Because there is too much sugar.

Why?

That’s how it gets flavor.

Why?

So it tastes good.

Why?

So kids want to drink it for breakfast.

Why?

So they can argue with their mother

Why?

Because they like to have their x-box taken away

Why?

Because they enjoy standing in a corner

Why?

For exercise

Why?

Because exercise is good

Why?

Because it burns energy

Why?

because there’s some cycle that includes ATP that I don’t remember

Why?

Because I’m old

Why?

Because my kids ask too many questions

Why?

Because they think duct tape is a hot fashion accessory across their mouths

Why?

Because I haven’t figured out how to lock the closet

Why?

Because I am too busy answering questions

Why?

Because I’m an awesome mom

Why?

Because my mom is awesome

Why?

Because she had me

Why?

Why not?

I’ll ask the questions here, lady.

Why?

Because I’m the kid

Why?

Because you had me

Why?

Because I am your birthday present

Why?

Because you found out you were pregnant with me on your birthday

Why?

Ummmm, Mom….

HA…GOTCHA…you little shit!

Of course by now he still has not forgotten that he wants a Pepsi for breakfast, but we are all giggling and have just wasted a good five or ten minutes.

The pastor from my old church used to tell me that if I ever doubted God had a sense of humor to make a plan…lately God’s sense of humor is shining through in my life in SOOOOOO many ways. I still try to laugh…but lately He seems to have taken things a bit far.

I took the leap and quit my job. Tomorrow is my last day. I have my finances figured out, I have several job prospects, I have a plan in place. Looks good right? Last night I get home and go to plug in my laptop which is dead from a call with the boyfriend after work…and the pin to plug the charger in is busted. The milk man is going to look at it for me, but I think it’s toast.

I don’t have the money to replace my laptop right now…it wasn’t in the plan…and I am having trouble finding the humor in this one. I know I don’t NEED a laptop…but it sure is nice having a computer at home. I have the x-box, but I don’t have a keyboard for it…and I’m WAY too cheap to go buy one…and if I buy a keyboard I have to buy a camera/mic set up so I can use Skype…well, now I might as well just buy a new computer…but it’s not in the plan.

The library has computers for public access, the workforce center has computers for public use…but neither one of those places is going to let me sleep there in case The Boyfriend calls in the middle of the night. Neither one of them has Skype or Yahoo Messenger capabilities. So, I do what I do best. I pout, then I pick my head up and move forward. My birthday is coming up in April…I can save up after I go back to work and then spoil myself.

But this means that for the foreseeable future I may not be blogging regularly, I have to rely on snail mail with The Boyfriend which at the moment is not an option due to his current status/location…not funny God.

So, just another challenge to face, another hurdle to jump. We grow through adversity. In the last 6 months I have:

  • Been homeless
  • Lived with no furniture when I did get a home
  • Started dating
  • Quit my job
  • Learned how to be a Wildland Fire Fighter
  • Found a new church
  • Began teaching Sunday School again
  • Taught my boys how to fish
  • Got my butt kicked at mini-golf more times than I’d like to count
  • Taken my kids bowling
  • Loved intentionally
  • Lived intentionally
  • Moved on.

This little blip is nothing compared to some of those things. I’m a warrior, I got this. Just like rules are made to be broken, plans are made to be changed. I believe that everything is exactly as it is supposed to be at this moment.

Change Happens

We all know that the amount of change I have dealt with in the last two years would have beaten a weaker person into submission. Not me though. I have not only faced the changes head on, I have embraced them as positive life events.

Most people don’t choose to make significant changes in their life without a darn good reason to give up the life they have become accustomed to. I used to be one of those people.

I was extremely unhappy in my marriage but had vowed ‘for better or worse’ so I wasn’t going anywhere. My ex was not that determined to fulfill his promises to me, our children, or even God. This is his second time filing for divorce. The first time he did, I started dating about six months after he moved out which caused him to come crawling back, tail between his legs telling me he was sorry and that I was right (duh), he was wrong (duh) and he would do the things he has agreed to before we got married. He even made a huge list of things to prove he was serious. From that list of twenty-something promises, he kept one.

I used to think my only regret in life was allowing him back at that time. Well, I would not have met the people I have met or had some of the experiences I have had over the last four years. I am especially grateful for the people in my life today. Had I moved on then, I would not have these people in my life now.

I am in the midst of another change that I have been putting off. So many things have changed at my job that it is no longer satisfying, fulfilling, or even enjoyable for the most part. I don’t feel valued or even valuable to the business and it is time to move on.

A little while back our church began searching for a Children’s Minister. This position would deal specifically with ages infant – fifth grade. A WONDERFUL fit for me, I thought. When I used to teach Sunday School it filled me with so much love, hope, promise, faith. As I read the job description and requirements, it became extremely intimidating. I became so intimidated that I didn’t even complete the application. There were just too many questions about my own faith journey when I went through the application. I felt to be a good leader of our most important church members, it should be somebody much further in their journey, much more confident than myself.

Well, now our church is in search of a part time administrative assistant. Although it is only a part time position, I am thinking that the hours may increase as the church grows and I can take on more responsibilities and even some of the children’s ministry tasks until a children’s pastor is hired.

This will also be a great opportunity for me to grow closer to God. How better to grow my faith than in working within the church?

I talked to very few people in detail about this opportunity. The Friend, The Milk Man, and one other friend know the details of my current job and all three think it would be a great fit for me to move on. This position also offers two weeks of paid vacation. I have absolutely no benefits at my current job.

I can likely work part time for my current employer, he’s desperate for help. I can agree to cover vacations and such to make up for some of the lost wages. Either way, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 4:19

I have spent much time in prayer about this decision. It will have an effect the boys, my daughter, and myself. I strongly believe I am ready for this challenge and the fulfillment of this position if it is offered to me. Change comes in many forms and opportunities for growth are everywhere. I look forward to jumping on this.

My plan is to have the resume finished tomorrow as well as a letter of interest. Feel free to ask if I’m done yet…this NEEDS to get done.

Almost There

Last week when I wrote Creating Calm I talked about my budget and how I’d LIKE to see it work out. I am happy to report that so far, so good.

My paycheck on Friday was less than a full paycheck again (I forgot I had taken time off to go to Fargo for my speech the week previous). It’s ok though. Like I said, I have made my budget to work with a 66 hour pay period so anything over and above just decreases the time it will take to reach my goals.

First goal…new tires. I am so close to having enough that I finally priced them out. The best value was at a local dealership and the price is $428.12 plus taxes. Is it strange that I have EXACTLY $328 in the tire account at the moment? I think so. With buying four tires there is also a $60 rebate as well. Instead of using that as an incentive to buy the tires, I am going to put that towards birthday and Christmas shopping. The boys both have birthdays in the month before Christmas so it can get expensive.

Anyway, my budget has already paid off (in my eyes). I am much more relaxed about that aspect of my future. Just taking the time to plan and the effort to follow through really isn’t much at all. Once the initial plan was set up now all I have to do is fill in the blanks every two weeks.

My budget is probably a little more detailed than some people’s is but this way I can see where my money really goes. The tweaks I had to make last week were so minimal. I realized I hadn’t allowed myself to have any ‘guilt free’ money at all. I think that was just asking for disaster. So I added that line into my budget and will see where that take me. It’s not a whole lot, just enough for little things; for example, I gave the boys $5.00 for the vending machines when they came to see me at work on Sunday afternoon. I had to tweak a few other places too just to make room for this added expense, but nothing major. I can already see that making the budget based on the lesser paycheck was well worth the effort. My goals are being fulfilled faster than anticipated and that in itself is very rewarding.

This also gives me something to focus on that is positive. I am doing ok, I will make it, I am smart enough, I am good enough…not thoughts that readily flow through my head on a bad day.

For fun, I’ve added a poll. My first time trying that so I hope it works!!

Creating Calm

One of the things that brings me a sense of peace and calm is budgeting. I know…I’m a nerd, it’s how I roll.

The church I attend offered an Eliminating Debt seminar. It was a two hour class that The Friend and I decided to attend. Currently my only debt is student loans. I decided to attend because I am sure that in the very near future I will be stuck with half of the marital debt. I think this is bullshit because the credit cards were all in his name, I was not even an authorized user on any of them and had absolutely no say in how he spent the money. He would use cash for ‘entertainment and hobbies’ then use credit cards to put gas in his vehicle…you can understand how frustrating that could become when we lived overdraft to overdraft, hoping the paycheck made it to the bank in time to pay off the last over draft so we could make it through the following two weeks.

I have never been able to understand how people can live like that. I know that right now the ex has a disconnect notice for the electricity, is several months behind on the water/sewer/garbage bill yet some how has time and money for golf league, bingo, recreational golf, and several other newly acquired hobbies. How can a person (and I know there are people everywhere who do it) but how can people live like that? At what point does a person mature enough to say, “You know what, I need to just stay home for once and save money so I can get my feet under me at least.” When does that happen?

I’ve lived in deep debt before, I’ve lived in uncertainty. I will NOT do it again. I refuse. There is no way I would put myself or my kids in a situation where we are one disaster or emergency away from losing our home.

I’m taking steps to ensure financial security when our lives are falling apart. I created a budget again. I have to admit, I hadn’t been following one since I moved out in April. All the bills are paid and I have what I need, but there has been no accountability to where the funds are going.

With this initial spending plan, the challenge is that the first paycheck was smaller than what they usually are. This is actually going to work in my favor though as I am financing the spending plan on that dollar amount.

I was informed last week that I should start getting some awesome overtime soon as well (a lot of our part time staff goes to school so the first couple weeks while they work out their schedules I will be granted extra hours. This will help to get my first couple of goals taken care of. I want a $1000 emergency fund and I also need about $500 for new tires. I’m hoping that I don’t need anything other than tires once they get it up on a hoist…but I know it’s been making some suspension noises as well lately. Anything over and above what my first paycheck was immediately goes into the tires/savings account. It should only be a couple of paychecks to get the tires…going to start pricing today. Once the vehicle is maintained and there is  small savings account I can get in to paying off my student loans.

So…my calming exercise has been developing a budget with immediate, short, and long term goals. Although not quite as restrictive as it could be it has been initially a little uncomfortable. As with any new spending plan, knowing what I actually spend is important; because I haven’t been keeping track of what I’ve been spending and just living paycheck to paycheck knowing what needs to be paid each period, this has been a bit humbling.

I don’t have the boys now for the next three weekends so the fact that we ate up the entertainment budget with bowling and mini-golf last weekend is ok. I was not impressed that I had to spend my clothing budget to buy Bubba new shoes as the one his father sent him to my house in were TWO sizes too small. I was really hoping to buy myself some new pants for work to replace the ones that are beyond worn (when you only own two pair of work pants they tend to wear out fast). Oh well, two more weeks; I know I can probably find some at a thrift store but that is one of my personal splurges. I like to buy new clothes. I don’t have much for clothes and always buy it on sale, but I enjoy the department store experience. (Feel free to send JCP gift cards) lol.

I can look through the budget a million times to reassure myself that I am on track and that I am exactly where I need to be. I can make spreadsheet upon spreadsheet and then a spreadsheet for my spreadsheets (if I wanted to…right Friend?). The Milk Man (The Friend’s Husband) likes spreadsheets, and so do I, I just don’t like them quite as much as he does!

One of the items on the ‘not too panicked’ spending plan that some may say can be put off for some time are things like a vacation. Sure, I’m not putting much into it right now (I think it got $8.55 this month) the fact is, it’s getting something. I made a little ‘gauge’ to post on the fridge…you remember, once it’s on the fridge it’s LAW in my house; that way I can see that yep…there WILL be a vacation, and it IS important to me.

As I forget that I am actually at work and fade off into daydreaming about a vacation, I think I will start a cork board for the boys to pin ideas to. Then when ever they have an idea about where to go we can pin it on the board. Once we get closer and actually have our destination set we can make a poster of all the things we want to do that are specific to that location by looking online and having tourism packages mailed to them…yep, I’m that awesome.

TGIF

I am not usually a TGIF kind of person. Today though, I cannot wait until I am done at work. It is the Memorial Day weekend and I have the boys through Monday evening. After work today I will run to get them and rush back to town to get to a doctor’s appointment. I could pick them up after the appointment but they both have asked me to get them ASAP today.

I am anxious to curl up and watch a movie with them…to listen to the stories of their week, to see them, to feel them, to smell them. This has been a very difficult week for me. Being away from them gets harder and harder each week.

Boy 1 mentioned again the other day that he has every intention of spending alternating weeks with his father and I for the summer. The only issue is that his dad needs to agree to this…and I’m not sure he will. It may be a tough pill for him to swallow when he tries to figure out why his dad won’t let him spend time at mom’s. He is eight. He’s not stupid, and he doesn’t take bullshit answers…I just hope he has the courage to stand up for his needs through this as it seems as though he has a better grasp on his needs than the parent with whom those needs are to be met by full time.

This is our first visit since finding out their grandmother has cancer so we also need to open that dialogue. Nothing earth shattering, just let them know that I am aware of it and answer any questions they may have.

Another full weekend ahead. Library, shopping, menu planning, as well as our first “eating out vs X-Box” budget weekend. It could be interesting! If they make it through Sunday I will treat them on Monday out of the regular budget. I’m sure we will also go for ice cream at least once this weekend, and that won’t count towards their eating out budget…that will be Mom’s treat.  

Boy 2 has been using his dad’s phone to send me text messages the last couple of days. I will miss these as he grows older, they look like this, “Jhgsdhsgjsa. Hjwsuhsjkjasf. Adfgheweiufhniwuefiwueuhf”

To which I always reply, “Hi Boy 2.” Sometimes I replay with a similar jumbled mess of letters and sometimes with I love you. On about the sixth text last night I received, “Hi Mom!!!!!!!!!!!!” So I sent back, “Hello Boy 1.” He quickly replied, “How did you know it was me?” I said because I am just THAT smart. Well, the boys called me this morning, Boy 1 called to say he had texted me again this morning and I told him I had already replied. He checked the text messages while we were talking and said, “Oh ya Mom, it’s on now.” Boy 2 came on the phone and asked how I figured out it was he who texted last night. I told him again that I was just that smart…and it hit him…”Oooohhh I know, because I used spaces and spelled the words correctly.” Damnit…busted.

At the end of our text conversation last night I sent  “Good night and I love you Boy 1.” He was quick to reply, “And Boy 2 right?” I sent back, “Yes, I love you too Boy 2.”

So, TGIF…it’s gonna be a gooder!!