Friday, September 26, 2014

Our 3 F's - a long overdue update

Hi everyone! This is looooooong overdue, and I'm sorry about that! I got out of the habit of writing here in the craziness of trying to move and everything, and then just kept putting it off for one reason or another. The biggest reason of course, was that almost all of my writing time was taken up on paying gigs! Hooray! But I know a lot of you truly care and would like an update so here I am - finally!

Family

Our little family is doing well. The littlest is starting potty training, and continuously surprises us with her knowledge of colors, animals, and words. Our oldest started 2nd grade, and besides some weird 8 year old behavioral stage, is doing great. My husband and I kind of got in the habit of being grumpy with all the stress, but things are getting better and better. I love you, honey!

Freelance writing

This is actually going about as well as I could ask for as a newbie. I have a manageable bit of steady work each week, and then when I get side gigs or sell on ConstantContent.com (only happened twice though...), I can make a little extra. I think I'm finally getting a little better at the research and writing part, so I can do them in about two-thirds of the time that I used to. For steady income, I make $40-$70  a week depending on word counts and any extras. That $200 extra per month the last few months has gone a long way towards bridging the gap between paydays. I've also discovered I really like writing, and am starting to think a little bit beyond the short term. What do I want to accomplish with this? Do I want to try to make some kind of career out of it, or just keep it for emergency living money? Maybe even write creatively a bit? Heck, while I'm feeling optimistic, maybe I could write a best seller someday!

Finances

Oh boy, where to start? Honestly, it's still a roller coaster, but at least it's not
My husband got a stipend for the first couple of months as a manager that enabled us to move, and that was awesome, but of course that is gone now. As his store does better, he will start earning bonuses which could potentially be significant, although that is still quite a ways away I think. Just knowing it will happen eventually makes any momentary hardships a lot easier to handle, though.

Rent & bills
Our rent is pretty darn expensive, but we just ran out of time and choices and will have to pay this for the duration of our lease. As renewal approaches, will will probably revisit this, and decide whether we should move again. I HATE moving.....we've moved 4 times in two years...but if it would be better for us long term to have cheaper housing, we just may end up doing it again. I hope we can keep our oldest in the same school though, I feel like that is really important.

We have more bills too, with our new place, since water and gas are not included. So far they haven't been too high, so we are going to try to keep the that way, but those on top of rent seems like an insane amount of money leaving our bank account each month.

We have not yet been able to pay off any debts, so we still have all of those, but I'm hopeful that will change as our financial situation finally stabilizes.

Food Issues
For now, we have been able to go grocery shopping for a healthy amount and selection of food every week. Obviously, it could still be better, but not having to stretch $20 for four people any more has been down right amazing. One week we went grocery shopping for everything we needed, and then the next day found a farmer's market and were able to spend another $40 on some of the most amazing produce I have ever tasted. Where we used to live had very little farming due to the climate and didn't have any farmer's markets. I had no idea what I was missing! The bounty that $40 bought at that little stand was about twice what you could get for the price even at Wal-mart, and tasted ten times better. Seriously.

Savings
We still have none to speak of really, but again, we are trying to change that as things improve. The money we do save goes straight to rent and bills, but at least they are getting paid. There always seems to be something in the way of saving money, but after we pay bills this month, we are going to make it a much higher priority.

Other stuff
Yes, there are still lots of things we don't have. We still need a vacuum cleaner, we still need dressers, we will need winter clothes and shoes as the weather cools down. It's still a juggling act, but over all things are so much better. Going without those things is a lot easier, because at least we have all our necessities. And - I have faith that we will get them in the future. I have lots and lots of hope lately, and with it comes faith that everything will be okay. I have faith that we WILL be able to get a vacuum and dressers and whatever else at some point. That is really the biggest change: I have hope for the future. I feel like I know things will keep improving. I feel like it's ok to dream about starting my side business, even though it makes me a little scared, because it could actually happen someday! Am I ready for that?? 
So, I guess in closing, things are a lot better, with the potential to be great, and someday maybe even awesome! We're just gonna keep on keepin' on, and hope for the best.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Forced Hiatus

Please excuse the formatting or misspellings, I'm doing this on my phone. Once again I haven't been around much, but not by choice, and I wanted to at least give a heads up.
I don't have a laptop anymore (working on it), and my experience with doing freelance writing on my phone made me want to tear my hair out. The library, as usual,  would be problematic (to put it nicely) with a toddler, so I'm limited to times when my husband is home. I don't get to see him much lately anyways, so I Will always chose to come home over staying to tend my blog. I know y'all understand.
Things have been rough lately. We still have to move, but we still have to pay our normal bills, and so we have gotten nowhere. We haven't even bought packing tape yet because it was almost $4, and that seems ridiculous after what we have left to live on, so we haven't even started packing yet. We have been unsuccessful in saving anything for a deposit yet, so I'm not sure how this is all going to work out.
I just keep reminding myself that things will be better soon. Soon.
However it really just feels like when you NEED everything to go smoothly is when it starts going the exact opposite.
My toaster broke this morning. My vacuum barely sucks anymore and smells like burning plastic, but we need clean floors to get our deposit. My baby's sick. We don't know how we our going to get gas money for the rest of the week. My husband's debit card got stolen and over drew our account $300. It remains in the negative while they investigate.
But we just got to hang on a little longer! Hopefully 3 months from now, everything will be better. It's my mantra. We are on the cusp of a drastic improvement in our lives, and we just have to hang on. Now matter how miserable things feel right now, it WILL get better. We are just trying to focus on that right now.
When I have the means again I certainly will have several things to share. As always I'm trying to see everything as a learning experience and will share in the hopes of helping others.
Thanks for being patient, hopefully I'll be back for good before too long.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

PSA: Blood clots



So, I ended up in the ER the other night because I thought I had a blood clot in my leg. Turns out it wasn't, thankfully, but even though we will have yet another medical bill debt, I'm still glad I went. There's nothing like calmly contemplating the fact that if it really is a blood clot, a piece could break off and you could die on the way to the hospital, and texting your husband that you made it there so he knows that didn't happen, right??

Blood clots are nothing to mess around with. Seriously.

There is some family history with blood clots (DVT and PE), but even if you don't have any, you should always get certain symptoms checked out. These of course depend on the location of a suspected blood clot, but here's a good general info page to go check out:

Signs and Symptoms of Blood Clots

Now here's the symptoms I had, and even knowing what it was this time, if it happens again I would be equally concerned.

We went fishing in the even, and as soon as I got home, the back of my calf directly below my knee started hurting every time I walked, like it was swollen or full of fluid. There was one particular area so tender that when my husband barely touch it, I almost hollered. Within 30 minutes, I didn't want to walk around on my leg at all, and the area was even more tender. I had one thumb-print sized red mark, but no other visual signs of anything wrong. To the best of my knowledge, I had not bumped it or bruised it, or hit it or anything I could think of. However, after the fact, I did remember that I had crossed my legs at church earlier that day. Hmmmm.

I took a flashlight into the dark bathroom to see if I could see anything. You know, like when you're a kid, and you use it to shine through your fingers. I was looking at my veins etc. and when I got to the tender spot, there was an enormous...dark.....opaque....areaOMGIhaveabloodclot!

Of course we all know now that it was just a bruise, so yes it was bleeding under the skin, and yes it did make a clot to stop it, but it is NOT the same thing as a Blood Clot, the kind that can kill you. I didn't know that at the time, of course, and it really had me concerned.

Apparently, somehow, I just spontaneously burst a vein and it started bleeding in my leg. I do kind of have flimsy veins, I can't tell you how many "blow-outs" I've had due to IV's and blood draws. The last few days after my last surgery, they were having to replace them about every two hours, and I ended up getting a PIC line instead because they ran out of room.

Now the hospital didn't put in an IV, they didn't draw any blood tests or anything, so I hope it's a random, albeit odd, benign event. They only did an ultrasound to make sure there wasn't a clot. No sign of one. That's the good news! The really good news.

The bad news is, we still haven't been able to pay my husband's ER bill from months ago, so even though I know our circumstances will be improving soon, I'm still worried about it. There's just so much we need to pay for, it's hard for me to see how we will ever pay it off. Sigh.

But hey, in the scheme of things, it really was worth it. I will wait until I'm practically on death's door for just about anything else, but it's stuff like that, that really scares me.

Moral of the story: If you even THINK you MIGHT have a blood clot, it is worth it to get it checked out.
Any of you ever been to the ER for something that turned out to be nothing? Tell me please, so I don't feel so ridiculous.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

...Could this be the end?


Of eating moldy bread because there's nothing left?
Of making my daughter wear diapers a bit too long because we don't have enough to last until payday, and crying because I gave her diaper rash?
Of looking covetously at the stuff people set out on the curb on trash day, because I can't even afford another trash can, much less those really nice looking chairs you threw out?
Could this be the end living off of the discounted bread at the grocery store, despite blood sugar issues?
Could this be the end of making sure our lives are in danger before going to the doctor because we can't afford the bill for anything less?

I'm afraid to hope.

My husband got the job!!!....but it doesn't seem real yet. We still don't know how we are going to pay our phone bill, electric bill, and personal loan we used to get through rent week. I don't know how we are going to afford to move. I can probably get boxes free, but after looking at craigslist, deposits + first month's rent + moving truck + gasoline, is going to be impossible until he's made more money for awhile.

Guys, what if this is the end of needing food stamps? I have never NOT been on food stamps...
What if we really COULD pay our debts, and start savings accounts for our children, have an emergency fund, and maybe even have some left over to get a reliable car, or go visit family, or even just a clothes dresser??

I was so excited when I found out, but I'm afraid!! Why?? I SHOULD be excited, happy, relieved. And I am it's just that I'm afraid too, afraid to believe and trust and hope, and be disappointed again. I'm afraid it's not real. I'm afraid something will happen to ruin it. I'm afraid of being between a rock and a hard place - making too much money for assistance, but not enough to survive. I'm afraid of money increasing, but things not really improving because there are just so many places that money needs to go. I'm afraid that being poor for so long will mean we have issues that will screw up being financially stable.

He will make $34,000/yr salary, with the potential for bonuses if his store starts doing well. It's about 10k a year more than we make now. It seems like a huge amount to me at this moment, but logically and comparatively, I know it's not a whole lot.

Mostly I just can't seem to wrap my head around things changing for the better. I've identified as "poor" for so long, it's like a part of my identity. I know that sounds silly.

I think perhaps I'm in shock - heh. I knew he could get it based on his abilities and merits, I just didn't believe that we would be blessed with that kind of good luck.

And now, suddenly, there could be a time in the near future where I can afford to buy all of the groceries I need for my family for a week. It brings me to tears.




Sunday, June 1, 2014

My love trove.



My husband and I have been so stressed out about this interview coming up, it's really quite sad. We've talked about the good parts; more money, bigger house, reliable vehicles, a college fund for our kids. We've talked about the bad; moving again, being in an urban area, living farther from the water/nature, more traffic, longer hours. We've talked about the in-betweens, and the what-ifs and the maybes. It has been constantly on our minds, in our thoughts and our conversations.

Honestly, it's exhausting.

We've let our selves become so concerned about this, that it's damaging our health, our sleep, and our relationship. Stupid, stupid, stupid! So strangely, a day and half before the interview, the light bulb went on.

We don't need this.

We don't need this job. We need food, and shelter, and clothes, etc. and yes to some extent we need money, but we don't need this job.

We struggle, but we somehow always eat. Sometimes we aren't as presentable as we like (lack of interview clothes is a concern), but at least we have clothes. We think we need more room, but at least we have a house with running water, electricity, and heat in the first place. We think we need to pay debts, and bills, and to save money, but we don't need those things to survive, or even to be happy.

If he doesn't get this promotion right now, or even if he never gets it, we don't lose anything. We will keep going as we always have, making due and doing our best to be happy. Only when the pressure for more money enters the equation, do we weaken at the seams.

Honey, I'm happy, here, right now, with you. With what we have. Sure I'd like more, I'd like things to be easier, but there is so much more to happiness than that. I can die happy without us ever making more money. I cannot make more money and die happy without you and our kids. Y'all are my treasure, my riches, and my wealth. With you, and God, I have everything I need.

I don't care if you get this promotion. I don't care if you get the next one. I don't care if we never make any more money, or if we do.

All I care about is that you are with me through it all.





Saturday, May 31, 2014

This is a vent, nothing constructive.

We've been struggling lately. Not just with money, but it seems also with a the little bits of life that pile up and pile on. Though it's finally spring outside, this is one of the seasons of our lives that isn't pleasant, and we just have to make it through.

Money is a problem. Money is - always- a problem. Juggling bills, borrowing money for groceries, calling every week for payment arrangements, everything. It's like having a chronic illness. Sometimes you feel ok about it, you cope fine, because it just is. Some days you can barely face getting out of bed, and just want to ignore the situation completely. But either way, it never goes away, and there doesn't seem to be any relief coming soon.

Our kids are misbehaving constantly, especially our toddler, and we cannot help but wonder where we went wrong. Especially me. So much of my self worth is tied to believing I'm a good mom and a good parent, and I just don't feel like that lately. I'm not sure which came first (chicken or egg?). I don't know if my opinion of myself lowered, and then my kid's behavior reinforced it, or if my opinion of my parenting abilities is a direct result of having to leave places because of meltdowns and the neighbors knocking to see if I'm abusing my child because she's screaming her head off...Whichever, it doesn't really matter. All I know is it's so draining and disheartening. Everyday is a battlefield, and as a result I'm cranky, emotional, and sensitive.

My husband has his interview on Tuesday. That's a praise. However, he is terribly stressed out with issues at work, and stressing about the interview, and is cranky, irritable, and sensitive as well. If we don't tread ever so carefully, we mix like oil and water when he is home.
My husband is my best friend. Not really being able to talk to him lately is horribly isolating and lonely, and yet I'm too weak to keep from going off like fireworks when I get upset. I feel so lonely sometimes that I can barely take it, and I tend completely shut down or take that and the other day to day stresses out on him.
For the first time ever, I did not sleep in our bed with my husband the other night because I was so mad/irritated/unhappy. It's my fault and was my choice, and I regret it wholeheartedly. Then we pretty much spent two days not talking or hugging. It just really hurts to think that our bonds are weakening due to all the strain heaped on us from every side. I don't have any other friends or family for support here, and though I attend church, opening up to a stranger is uncomfortable at best. I have faith that we will recover from this, because we love each other enough to keep trying, but it's still hard to go through.

I have so much I want to accomplish in my life, and even with this blog, and I can't seem to find the energy for any of it. Yes, I realize I'm very likely depressed, there just doesn't feel like a whole lot I can do about it right now except to keep on going. Keep on striving.

I know a lot of people have way more serious things going on. Life threatening illnesses, losing family, divorce, really extreme poverty. My issues are so tiny in comparison, I know that, and I promise I'll return to the bright side as soon as possible.

I don't really know how to finish this post except to say, thanks for letting me vent. Thank you all for listening, and for your patience and support.













Thursday, May 29, 2014

Back soon.

I'm sorry guys, I know I haven't been around much lately. It's been a hard couple of weeks. Everything that is supposed to be good is bad, and everything bad is worse. I don't know how I can lift anyone else up when I am feeling this low. I will update soon, thanks for being patient.


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