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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Vehicles and Beds...

This is just going to be a quickie to answer some specific questions that have been posed several times over the past few weeks. I figured it was easier to just do it here....

The girls' beds....this is basically what they turned out looking like.

The first one is Emily's. She wanted hers to be lower than Sarah did, so this is what she and I designed. It's all just 3/4" plywood and there's a piece on the back (against the wall) to keep anything that is shoved into the cubbies from going out the other side - and to make the whole thing sturdier.

We are going to do the zebra duct tape on all of the edges - it's easier than sanding them all down and it looks cool. I think she's eventually going to paint the inside of the cubbies too, but that's up to her to decide.

Sarah wanted taller, so she designed hers to be taller - although it would drive me insane. I did put a second piece of plywood across the top of hers to further reinforce it to support the weight of her and her mattress. So far she has opted not to paint hers - we'll see if she changes her mind or not.

Both of the beds just take a standard twin-sized mattress. They are heavy and they are not going anywhere. Literally. They won't fit through the doors of the rooms.

Now on to the bigger question.....

The vehicle.

I still don't know what to call it. It's not really a van, or a car, or an SUV. I think technically it's a crossover, whatever that means.


My minivan died a few months ago, shortly after I paid it off. So I had to get something different.  But, I was in the middle of financing the house, so I couldn't run out and finance something else and risk screwing up my credit, right?

Enter the GrandpaCar - the Grand Marquis - I bought it from a friend's grandfather because I needed something that the kids and I could all fit into, but not have to be financed. It worked for us, but it was very crowded and uncomfortable.

I kept putting money aside into what I was calling the "house/van" fund - money to be used for both. I also got a very sizable tax refund which went straight into that fund. Once the house was settled and we closed and we had gotten done with the initial "big" expenses, I did some figuring and decided that I could start looking for another minivan. So I called a couple of the local dealerships and basically said "I need something used, inexpensive, mechanically sound, and can seat 7 - find it for me" and turned them loose.

One of them called me back the next day and said "I know you said minivan, but what about a Traverse? It seats 8....." The Dude and I went and looked at it with no intentions of buying it at all - I really just wanted to see how something that was NOT a minivan could seat 8 people. Long story short, I liked it. We went back home and I researched it and liked what I could find on the safety stuff and whatnot, and the price that they had on it was a couple of thousand below the blue book value. So we started talking money and I said that I was thinking about just scrapping my dead van - instead the dealership sent a couple of guys out to the house to look at it and they ended up offering me an insane (to me) amount of money in trade.

Between what they were asking for the Traverse, what I could afford to put down, and what they gave me for the dead van, I was able to get the payments under where I wanted them to be AND get a really good warranty on it. At that point, I would be stupid to not get it.....so I got it. I kept the GrandpaCar  for a bunch of reasons, not the least of which is that I have a kid who will be driving in a few months - and whether she likes it or not, she can drive that. And since The Dude's truck is iffy at times, he can drive it when he needs to go out of town or whatever.

Any other questions? :)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Dear House...

I left you today.

When I found you, I was desperate. I had no place to go. I searched and searched to try to find a place that would work for my family, and I couldn't find anything. Finally, you came along. When the kids and I walked in and looked around, we knew right away that we could use you, even if it wasn't going to be very comfortable. The landlord was willing to work with a single mom with 5 kids and no income, even if it meant that he would have to wait for the rent payments to come through the homeless prevention program that was assisting me.

Emotionally, I was at an all-time low in my life. Depression had truly gotten the best of me, and I didn't know what I was going to do next. My church family moved us - seriously, they packed up our stuff and moved us because I just couldn't do it. Honestly, I don't know if they even realized the extent of the darkness surrounding me at that point in my life. Whether they did or not, they stepped up and rescued me.

I remember standing in the middle of the living room as people moved in and out, carrying boxes and bags and piling them up in any empty space they could find. When you were packed completely full, they started stacking stuff on the porches. I sobbed as the amount of stuff in such a tiny place seemed to swallow me alive.

It took what seemed like forever for me to get my act together and get things straightened up and organized. I donated tons of stuff to get rid of it and make room, because going from a 2 story 4 bedroom house with an office and tons of storage, to you with only 2 bedrooms and zero storage made downsizing not only necessary, but mandatory. It felt good to get rid of so much crap - both literally and figuratively, because as I got rid of some of it, I felt the emotional baggage go along with it.

As time went on, I started to see the light. I got my stuff organized and I got my feelings organized. I started living life again. I filed for divorce and waited patiently for it to become final, which would happen on my 40th birthday. And 20 days after that, my ex-husband died and I boarded one of the biggest, scariest, longest lasting emotional rollercoasters ever created. His death was the last thing that I ever wanted, the last thing I ever expected, and easily one of the hardest things that I have ever had to go through in my life.

I spent hours sitting at the table in your kitchen, dealing with Social Security and pensions and death benefits and bill collectors and the IRS, trying to make sense of it all. And when I couldn't focus anymore, I'd fall over on the futon in the corner of your living room and sleep for a few hours until I had to get up and face another day.

Within your walls, I started to rebuild my life. I started dating, and then I stopped to deal with the emotions of his death. And then I started to live again.

I helped my kids with their homework. I did their laundry and packed their lunches and baked their birthday cakes. I planted flowers and cut the grass and replaced light switches. I canned sand plums and strawberry jam and applesauce. I fixed the She-Beast time and time again in your driveway. I held my kids while they cried and I disciplined them when they needed it and kissed their boo-boos that they got from playing in the yard. I started dating this crazy guy and then fell in love with him and even got up the nerve to tell him that I loved him in the front room in the wee hours of the morning before a road trip to Kansas City to take a friend to the airport.

And through all of this, I learned so much about myself. I learned just how strong I can really be - and at the same time that I don't have to always be so strong. I learned that I can take care of myself and my family, but that it is also ok to ask for help once in a while - or to accept it when it is offered. I learned that if you want something bad enough, you can get it - even if it takes a lot of time, effort, and patience to get there.

As we've been packing up our lives and moving stuff out over the past few weeks, I've been hit with emotional waves more often than I'd care to admit. As much as I complained about how small you were and OMG Why Can't We Have A House With More Than One Toilet, I loved you dearly. You were there for me in so many ways, not just as a house, but as a home, a shelter, and a place to grow.

There are so many amazing memories that happened within your walls. But what I will remember most is that I found the most important thing in my life within your walls.

I found myself.

The Ghetto-esque House
Sept. 1, 2010 - March 7, 2014

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

No really, it has to be done.

Over the past few weeks, as I've been working to get moved and get things unpacked and organized in the new house, I've really been pushing myself. I've gone past my breaking point several times and have literally had meltdowns where I've ugly cried and sobbed and snotted and screamed and honestly lost my mind. And then I sniffled and blew my nose and wiped the tears away and kept on going with what I was doing.

Why? Why do I do this to myself? Why can't I listen when people say "but you've got lots of time" or "the boxes can wait" or "take a day off and relax"?

There are so many reasons.

I'll be honest. Some of it is just me being stubborn. Shocker, I know.

But, I have reasons to be stubborn.

There are people....people who are waiting for me to fail. People who don't think that I deserve to have this house or the new vehicle or anything else that I've busted my ass for over the past few years. Yeah, I get the Social Security money, so I didn't "work" for a lot of my income. But I used that income to pay the bills and to take care of my family and I put a bunch of it aside in order to make this happen. We've gone without things that we wanted in order to make this happen. I've paid off bills from my 'past life' to make this happen. I've paid off bills that weren't even mine to make this happen. I worked full-time for a short period in order to speed up the process. I've done whatever I could do to get here, regardless of whether or not other people think that I deserve it.

There are other people.....people who will go so far as to watch me fall in order to take advantage of it and use it to hurt me even more. I know that I put a lot of my life out here for people to see, but there is so much more that happens behind the scenes. There is so much drama that I don't discuss for many reasons - and the people who are waiting for me to fall are a part of that. It might sound like I'm being dramatic - but I'm not.

There are even people who don't even know me who already have preconceived notions about me, and they're wrong. But I can't convince them of that - I can only show them that I am a better person than I've been made out to be in the past.

There are my kids. We moved in order for them to have a better home, a cleaner home, a safer home. As long as they have exposed wiring and pipes and breaker boxes and sump pumps and crawl space openings in their bedrooms, they do not have the living conditions that they deserve. Those things have to be done, and there is a time limit on those things

For those of you who are wondering, The Dude is not living here. Not yet. There are multiple reasons for that, none of which have to do with our relationship. We are just as strong as ever, and I have no intentions of letting go of him. The timing just isn't right for him to move yet. He has responsibilities at his place, and he can't ignore them. He helps me when he can, but his time is limited right now.

The older kids have been helping me - when they're here. But, they're only here 50% of the time. And when they're "here" they're also in school or at school activities or at church activities or whatnot - so yes, they help when they can.

For the most part, I'm on my own with this. I had tons of help with the actual move - friends from church have been amazing and helped clean this place and are still helping to clean the old place and they used their manpower and truck power to do the actual move. But the unpacking and organizing and fixing up and everything else is pretty much all me.

There ARE time limits and deadlines. Some of them are self-imposed. But the majority of them are not, and I have to follow them in order to avoid a lot of unnecessary drama and stress. It's just the way that it is right now.

With all of that being said....I appreciate the amount of support that I get from my friends and the readers of this blog (even though I hardly blog anymore) and from the people on my facebook page. Y'all are seriously wonderful and you give me the strength that I need on the bad days and for that I am eternally grateful. I wish that I could explain some of this in more detail, but I just can't. But hopefully this will give you a better understanding of why I am pushing myself so hard to get this stuff done.

On that note....

My kitchen is starting to look like a kitchen.... even though I don't have it all totally unpacked yet. I seriously can't wait to get it all done, but I can at least cook now.