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.

Begin Again

I don’t even know how I’m going to get y’all caught up on the awesomeness that has been my last week, but I will try my best.

FIRST…yes, I remembered to wear a sweatshirt to blog today no thanks to any reminders from my friends who read this blog…LOL

Life is about to make some HUGE changes for me. The hearing we had in July was FINALLY ruled on. The judge has changed the custody arrangement to give me 50% parenting time!! WOO HOO. I have to admit, it’s not ALL good though. My boys go to school in a town 22 miles from where I was able to find housing when I was forced to move out in April. I am responsible for transportation on the weeks they are in my care (one week at mom’s, one week and dad’s is the new arrangement).

So for those days I will have to drive 22 miles to take them to school, 22 miles back to town to go to work and then make that trip again at the end of the day to pick them up. This is not going to be easy on me or our budget. Right now I drive a mini-van. I am looking at selling it and getting a more economical vehicle just for the increased mileage. It’s just the boys and I for now, we don’t need a mini-van.

Their father is, shall I say, less than enthused about this new arrangement. No…he is PISSED. Not only does he lose the power over me of deciding when and where I see my children, he knows that Bubba will become much more defiant while he is at dad’s because I encourage him to speak up for himself and for what he believes is right. It’s easy to ‘beat’ that out of a child when they only get reinforcements for 2 days out of 14. When it’s 50/50 there could be trouble.

Bum already says he just wants to go to school in my town (unfortunately he has no say and for ‘right now’ I am not pushing the issue until a few more kinks are finalized).

The ex also has to pay me $1500 in alimony (for the first three months I was out of the house). He is not impressed with this either. I have no idea when this money will show up but I DO know that it will be a great big help with the increased expenses of having the boys for 7 days instead of 2.

The kids are excited to be able to attend church one more night each week (the Monday evening service). They are also excited that they now have access to things such as Boy Scouts, 4-h, AWANA, tae-kwon-do, and many other activities not available in their dad’s town.

I imagine that Bum will be wanting to  spend more and more time at my house and eventually free enough to request to not to return to his dad’s for the week days. I also believe that Dad, having no more control over the situation, will allow this to happen and eventually walk out on his boys. He did the same thing when his first ex-wife moved out of town with the children from his first marriage. He used the distance (22 miles) as an excuse to not be involved in their daily lives.

He has voiced his concern a number of times since the order came to light on Friday about how awful this is going to be for the boys…how tough it was going to be on me. Ya, like that’s EVER been his concern. My willingness to put these children ahead of everything else in my life only reflects back to him his own shortcomings as far as parenting them.

I’m not a super mom…just a mom who will move heaven and earth (and super sleepy boys at 0715) to be able to spend even a few extra evening hours with them. I am willing to cut out all my extra spending (even considering reducing my bowling commitment, maybe only bowling every other week or less) just to get ahead of the budget once I get back to work.

The change also comes at a time when both boys have birthday’s coming up (Bum in November, Bubba in December) plus Christmas so the budget is gonna be a challenge to say the least. Bubba is looking forward to being an integral part of financial planning. He loves that kind of thing. He loves setting goals and meeting them ahead of schedule. He has already learned the rewards of budgeting and planning. I love that kid’s brain!!

As far as the bunk beds donated to the boys…THEY CAME WITH MATTRESSES!!! I almost cried when the man dropped them off to our home. Super happy little men to sleep in actual beds for the first time at mom’s house. For their birthday’s I will be buying them each new bedding for their beds and donating our gently used items to the local woman’s shelter.

So much more going on, the job, the kids, the church, my friends…and it’s all good.

The boyfriend is safe and busier than you (or I) can imagine. Communication blackouts are more frequent lately for whatever reason and there are days that is hard on me. He is not surprised at the order and sees it as a stepping stone to the boys being with me full time by the time this divorce is final. I believe this as well…but my heart is a little more guarded about saying that out loud.

My laptop part may no longer be available so I am without a computer at home until further notice. Far from the top of my list of priorities…but it will be on the wish list the boys and I work on when we start our new budget!! I have not seen The Boyfriend for a month now and I won’t lie, it’s TOUGH. I send him pictures of the boys and I and the things we do…a taste of home I guess I see it as. We’ll be fine, we didn’t come this far for nothing. He still has more than six months on this deployment and although time has been going pretty fast, there are still days that take weeks to get through.

My heart is full, and happy. Change is tough, it’s hard, it’s challenging, and it’s exciting.

How I Do It

So often I am asked how I deal with disappointment, rejection, stress, and the general unknown with such a positive attitude. I did not get the church job that I had applied for and hoped the most for. When I got the call, it was hard to keep the tears at bay as I talked to the woman who called. She had nothing but praise for my skills, and thanks for everything I’d already been doing with and at the church in terms of volunteering and working with the children’s ministry, etc.

Well, if I am so awesome, why didn’t I get the job; the same thoughts I’m sure anybody in my position at that time would have had. I was sad, I was hurt, I felt rejected, I wondered what I did wrong, what I could have done better. All normal thoughts. I posted on my Facebook that although I know through all things God works for good, my heart was hurting.

The self pity and despair lasted only about 20 minutes or so…then it hit me; if through all things, God works for good He must have something super awesome in the works for me and I better be ready for it. The next day I had a short moment of financial panic and had to remind myself that I am fine until December. I have time, God has time. There is no need to call McDonald’s and tell them I need to start working tomorrow. I still have time.

I’m not sure how a new employer would like it if I called and accepted the job offer only to tell them I need Thursday and Friday of my first week off because I had already promised Bum that he could come spend those days at my house (he has a break from school). So I will pick him up after school on Wednesday and he can come watch me bowl with my league and then we will have Thursday and Friday to be bums together. I’m guessing the library and Netflix will be our best friends!!

It even crossed my mind that taking that job may not have been the best idea after all. I am now teaching the elementary aged Sunday School (two classes each Sunday), I have offered to help provide treats for the youth group meetings occasionally, I plan on attending the Monday evening church service (as I will miss it on Sunday due to teaching), plus I am attending this Bible Study group. Would it become too much? Would it start to seem like everything was part of my job and would the lines between the volunteer time and work time begin to blur? Good call God…well played.

On Thursday last week I had a speech in Fargo and it was amazing. I was going to stick around and attend one of what used to be my favorite AA meetings but half way there my event calendar on my iPod reminded me that I had signed up for a Bible Study group that same night, I would have to rush back as soon as I was done talking. I hemmed and hawed about heading back but in the end I knew it was where I needed to be.

Another one of those ‘best decisions ever’ moments. There were three of us in attendance and we shared some deeply personal stories and the study was amazingly fitting for where I am at in my life. It talked about God our Father and how it compared to our visions of our own fathers growing up and present day.

I said my Step-dad has always been there, through thick and thin. He made some HUGE mistakes as a man, a parent, a person; yet he never left my side. Sure, we’ve had our moments, who hasn’t with their parents? But I have never questioned my dad’s love for me. Just as I never have to question God’s love for me. I am confident in His love and that He will always be at my side.

I was able to share with the group how I see forgiveness and how I try to teach my kids about forgiveness. When I first taught them the Lord’s Prayer, I taught each petition separately. When it came to “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” I explained that if we only forgave somebody on the surface (as many people seem to do) and God forgave us in the same way then eternity was a long time if we were forgiven in the same way that we forgive only superficially.

It is because of this thought process that I am easily able to forgive people completely. I don’t hold a grudge, I don’t have expectations, I know that if there is a debt to be paid for a sin, it will be paid. Maybe not in my time or even the other person’s life here on earth, but judgement day will come for them and God who is merciful and just will see to it that His will be done.

That’s how I get through the days, the weeks, the months…sometimes the minutes. With a calm confidence that I am exactly where I need to be at this moment in time and that one day somebody will be able to make sense of it all. Fortunately for me, I am able to see through much of the daily static and see the light and it’s not at the end of the tunnel, but brightly shining on the path directly in front of me.

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.

Moving on…

Today I did something I have been praying about and struggling over for months (since January really). I put in my two weeks notice at work. I began working here November 21, 2011 and immediately fell in love with my job. I worked my butt off to learn everything I could about the industry and specifically the brand I was employed by. I took online classes on my own time, studied every bit of information I could get my hands on, made sure my guests needs were met and that they knew I valued their business.

Within three months I was made Front Desk Manager. I got my own office, and a ton of responsibilities…but no raise. I was told the raise would come when the numbers came. As I was already doing most of the managerial duties at that time, the money wasn’t an issue. Money was never the issue. The issue was being able to make decisions for the hotel and the staff to ensure a positive experience for the guests.

The numbers not only came, they flooded in. Sales doubled over the previous year and continued to skyrocket. At the end of October 2012 there were some major wildland fires in the area. We now had state and federal teams in the local area. At first the teams were dispersed amongst all the local hotels and motels, spreading the wealth, if you will.

Within 10 days of the start of the fire I had everybody they could fit in our hotel staying here. They completely moved out of three of the four other hotels and had as many as they could based out of here. I ended up with 94 firefighters, FEMA employees, state employees, etc. staying here. I worked my ass off for this group. I knew who was in what rooms at all times, who was working on which fire (up to five separate fire incidents), the status of each fire, and several other above and beyond tidbits. It was an ongoing joke that they got their REAL briefing from me before heading to the Incident Command Center where they were often quizzed on what I had already told them. lol

The over head team LOVED me. I developed a spreadsheet of the personnel staying here and kept it up-to-date. The Logistics Section Chief called me from his next assignment and asked if I could email him the spreadsheet template to use…he was now working Hurricane Sandy.

I still talk to several of them on a regular basis. They made it known to my boss that I was the ONLY reason they were at this property and that the above and beyond service I provided them was second to none. My boss hated the fact that the front lobby looked like a funeral home due to the number of flower arrangements that showed up several times a week.

I often would do laundry for several of the firefighters in the evenings. They spent 12 hours each day on the fire line…throwing a few loads of laundry into the hotel washer/drier a couple times a week while I was working was no skin off my back. They LOVED it and because I wouldn’t take their money they would buy me flowers and chocolate. I never asked for or expected payment, I saw it as a gift I gave to them. These men and women put their lives on the line, spent weeks at a time away from their families and friends…all I did was wash clothes and fold socks. Our property had an increase of more than $70,000 in room revenue for the month of October alone.

Not long after the fires were out, the pipeline crews moved in. Many of them spend the summers living in campgrounds and move in to the hotels when the weather gets cold. They had heard from others about the personal service provided and the great management (me).

In January we had an issue with a guest not wanting to pay his bill (over $1500) and he decided to use me as a pawn to get out of paying his bill. He used information from another source as well as completely lied about issues he ‘had’ while at the hotel and sent them to my boss in an email. Well, in arguing his case with his credit card company our boss had to provide proof of his stay, etc. On the registration card, whomever had checked this particular guest in did not have him sign the payment agreement, nor was his credit card preauthorized.

When this come to light I was taken in to the office and told that if he got out of paying his bill due to these oversights I was out of a job completely. Well…this princess don’t take shit laying down. I said that while I understood the implications of this man getting a free room for the length of his stay, it was not me who checked him in therefor it should not be me that was punished.

Well, let me tell you…this did not make the boss happy one bit. We looked up the records and there was the proof that I had not officially dealt with this man on ANY level except to take his initial reservation over the phone. The only other time I had any contact with him was off the clock (a few times a week I would sit in the bar and visit with various guests).

Within a week I was again taken into the office and told that ‘the owners’ (there are four owners, one of whom is the General Manager here) had decided that I wouldn’t be the Front Desk Manager anymore. While it upset me initially, I quickly realized that I was the one who came out ahead in this deal.

I did not loose any pay, I only lost the weight of the hotel resting on my shoulders. I no longer spent my days agonizing over ways to improve our steadily increasing customer service scores, responding to requests from guests past and future about concerns or questions, developing and implementing staff training, hiring and firing, scheduling, and the millions of other little things I did. I now clocked in at 7:00am and clocked out at 3:00pm and refused to take after hours calls.

The issues began nearly immediately when my boss realized that he had no idea how I spent my days. He had no idea the time, effort, and dedication I put in to my job which was now for him to worry about it. Several of my ‘regulars this summer were beyond shocked that I was no longer management but they made it clear that several things now made sense (lack of staff training, why I wasn’t available when they had an issue, and things of that nature).

As the complaints rolled in my boss knew he had bit the hand that fed him. He also knew that there was no way he could apologize and make things right with me. My heart was no longer here. I stayed much longer than I should have. I should have left immediately. Instead, I stayed because I love the flexibility, I love the interaction with my guests, and for the amount of ‘actual’ work I now did, the pay wasn’t bad.

The lack of appreciation has gotten to me. I have begun my job search but have found myself not very enthusiastically looking; probably because I have this one already and there is no panic. So today I put in my two week notice.

With tomorrow’s paycheck I will have all of my bills paid through October. I will also have one full paycheck and one paycheck for one week still coming. My next full paycheck will pay my November rent (my largest expense) and I am confident that I will find employment long before December. The recession missed this area of the country completely and right now it is an employees market up here. The cost of living is low and the wages are good.

I can get a job working at McDonald’s and start at the same wage I make right now. I’m not worried, nor am I above a fast food job. I will do what it takes to pay my bills (anybody looking to book a public speaker in the near future) and I will do so with a smile on my face.

I will blog more on the leap of faith this is for me on another post as well as a few more details of my current game plan.

Stay tuned boys and girls…we’re going on a ride, I just hope it doesn’t get too bumpy.

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!!

Weekend

When it comes to returning to work after a relaxing weekend, I have it pretty good. Monday’s start out very slow. I have time to sit at my desk, have a couple (or ten) cups of coffee, check my email, and get read for the rest of the day. When the rush hits at about 10:00am it is non-stop for the rest of the day

This weekend was extremely wonderful for me. Saturday morning I got out of bed, made coffee…went back to bed. That’s where everybody belongs on Saturday. The boys were not with me so I was in no rush to go anywhere or do anything. I did leave the house at some point…I just don’t remember what for or where we even went. What I do know for certain is that my daughter and I returned home and took a nap. Some days just don’t get any better than that!

Unfortunately, that meant neither one of us slept very good Saturday night. I think it was about 4:30am when she came and asked me, “I’m guessing we are going to the 11:00 church instead of the 9:30 church?”

I told her I was still hoping to go to the early service because I had tentative plans with Bum to go to an event at the wildlife refuge. Turns out we were both awake on time for church.

After church I called Bum and he had decided he didn’t want to go to the refuge, apparently he was ‘in a mood’ as Bubba calls it. That’s ok, that works as well. Instead, I spent the rest of my day having the time of my life with The Friend.

Her and I haven’t had much time at all for just the two of us in a long while. We stopped to eat (we always do when we are out together), then shopping, and then bingo. Sometimes life doesn’t get any better than that. We even won at bingo. We didn’t win enough to break even, but that wasn’t the point…we went to have fun; mission accomplished!

I don’t think either of us actually bought anything for ourselves, I bought the boys each a cute t-shirt; we can’t be the only mom’s that go for a girl’s day out and end up getting things for everybody but ourselves…can we?

~~

Update on Bug:

Everything is still going well. She shows signs of steady improvement and this week we are going to approach the subject of mending bridges. She’s burned quite a few of them, and it’s not going to be easy. She needs to understand the hurt she has done and that she needs to ease into healing the wounds instead of jumping in and thinking everything will be alright.

Her first paycheck was swallowed up pretty fast (as I had predicted). Funny to watch a kid with that much money for the first time.