Tuesday, September 30, 2008

No such thing as a free lunch

John came home from school (he's our only one in public school, the rest are homeschooled) last week and presented us an application for "reduced cost lunch." A sudden wave of guilt swept over me. Do we really qualify for public assistance? After reading the form, yes, our income not only qualifies for reduced cost, we qualify for free breakfast and lunch.

I guess it's comforting to know that if our income doesn't pick up, we can send the youngest four to public school for two free meals a day. I could work, hubby could freelance at home, Blair could get a job, or better yet, stay home and do the housework. I was wondering how hubby would juggle trying to do his freelance work AND school the kids.

Not that I'm rushing to register them. The Lord called us to homeschool and I believe we are to continue doing that until He says otherwise. But, I imagine not being able to feed the kids would be "otherwise."

Oh, Lord, now would be a great time for that job you're sending hubby.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

But what will I DO?

I always feel better in uncertain times if there is something I can be doing. Anything. Even if it's just making lists of things to think about later.

This transitional period we are in is very, very hard for me. The Lord keeps telling me to be still and rest. Oh, and I try SO hard, but there's always something to consider.

What if...

Yeah, but...

Okay, so...

on and on it goes. Yesterday I did pretty well. I spent the whole day focusing on just that one day. Just that 24 hour period and nothing before it or after it. It wasn't restful at all. It was a huge, pain-in-the-hindquarters struggle. But I did it.

Today I'm not doing nearly as well. I stopped by the game store today to take my pre-order of the new Harvest Moon game off and put it on the Animal Crossing game due out Thanksgiving week. I have been looking forward to that dumb game all summer, but I decided that I didn't need the game as much as I needed something under the tree for the kids this Christmas. Well, that right there is thinking ahead: Thanksgiving and Christmas.

My mom and sister have already cancelled our family celebration for this year. They don't trust my car to drive that far (neither do I) and can't help us afford gas to come for a visit. And, I guess, since no one can afford presents they figure there's no reason to get together.

This really kinda breaks my heart. Both my sister and I have had such a hard time these last couple months and the bosom of family is somewhere I would like to think I could go. I am not a family-get-together person. I chafe at the idea of family reunions and the holidays are almost always miserable for me. But I was actually looking forward to the idea that if worst comes to worst and we are STILL in this limbotown come December, at least I would have a week with those who have to love me no matter what to decompress from the state of mind I would no doubt be in.

So, see where it leads? See how the spiral of thinking leads downward for me? Other than sparing myself the frustration and physical exhaustion of moving, I can't think of a single positive about being here three months from now. I really didn't think I'd still be here at the end of September. I really had it in my head that we'd be taking posession of our new house on October 1. I guess that was just wishful thinking.

It's not like I hung my faith on it, but wow. It really never occurred to me that we could still be here on October 1.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Grinding to a halt

I had to quit my "Independent Contractor" job. I wasn't able to earn enough to make up for the price of gas. Fortunately, that's one of those jobs that I can pick back up again if gas prices drop and no one will be the wiser. I also have put my Amazon bookstore on vacation hold. Early last summer I was selling two or three books a day. I cancelled my Endicia account which allowed me to mail sales from home because of their monthly fees and the job uncertainty. Then the price of gas went bananas. Now that my sales have declined to one or two books a week, the numbers work out that driving to the post office (when I didn't have another trip out scheduled anyway) eats up all my profit.

The release date of Harvest Moon Tree of Tranquility was pushed back to October 1. Our family has a long-standing rule that you DO NOT PURCHASE ANYTHING FOR YOURSELF AFTER SEPTEMBER 30 because I usually start Christmas shopping in earnest on October 1. I'm collecting things all year, but the serious shopping begins 10/1. So, I can't get myself the game I've been waiting months for.

So here I sit. I've packed pretty much all I can without boxing up things we need for everyday living. I can't really clean any more because, as I learned from the hall walls I cleaned earlier this month, there's no keeping anything clean and it will just have to be redone. I have no distractions to keep me from obsessing over the job situation. I have nothing to do but sit and rerun numbers in my head: How long till the money runs out? How much do I have to make to get family health insurance and break even financially? Can I make that at Walmart? What is the billing cycle on the electrical, and how much can I save if I turn off the AC now? If gas costs x and it's y miles to the grocery store, can I save enough in coupons to go to the "good" store or do I have to shop at the store that's closer where the meat department smells suspicious?

The kids have started having nightmares. A sure sign of stress they're sensing from me. Christy couldn't sleep last night because she didn't want to go to heaven (!). It was a "fear of change" moment, and I wasn't in an emotional place to help her. I'm more in a "fear of not change" thing right now. What if we DON'T get a job soon?

Keeping busy used to help. Now that there's less to keep busy with, I'm floundering. I'm failing this test that I want so badly to pass.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Sure Sign of the Apocalypse

Let's see, there were four horsemen, a bunch of plagues, and...


According to AAA, 85% of the gas stations in my area were closed yesterday. I believe it. Today I waited in line for an hour an a half for the privilege of paying $4.94 a gallon (for 87 octane regular, mind you). Two hours later the only other open gas station for miles had closed. The one I went to was still open, probably because they started out the day rationing 15 gallons per car.

People in other parts of the country point and laugh at us and say we are victims of our own panic. That may be true of the prices and lines, but I'm pretty sure Mapco, Shell, Exxon, all the major distributors other than Citgo (which I refuse to patronize) and Kroger closed because they had no gas, not because they were panicked. As for the price gouging, what choice do I have, exactly? If I'm going to get my daughter to work and purchase food for the family I have to have a car with gas in it.

Knowing I'd be waiting in line, but not knowing for how long, I brought a book, my Nintendo DS and the menus and grocery list for next week. I finished the menus and list. I read two chapters of my book, but it was so boring I was afraid I'd lapse into a coma and lose my place in line. I played a little on the DS, but forgot to bring the car charger, so I didn't play long. Sitting there, I felt like I should be wearing platforms and listening to a Bee Gees 8-track tape. I'm ever so thankful I didn't run out of gas while sitting in line.

The Kroger employees were directing traffic on their own time (aka off the clock; without being paid; for FREE) and doing an excellent job. They were friendly, courteous and kept the lines from blocking traffic in and out of the shopping center. The customers were well behaved for the most part. There were several that were angry, noisy, rude and belligerent. A fist fight broke out when one guy wanted more than 15 gallons and by golly, he was gonna take it! I dislike this city intensely.

They tell me it's gonna get better. I hope it gets better FAST. I do not want to be in this city when the end comes!

Friday, September 19, 2008

TLAP Day again

Well, according to the official website, I should be wearing THE HAT. What kind of pirate are you?

You are The Cap'n!

Some men and women are born great, some achieve greatness and some slit the throats of any scalawag who stands between them and unlimited power. You never met a man - or woman - you couldn't eviscerate. You are the definitive Man of Action, the CEO of the Seven Seas, Lee Iacocca in a blousy shirt and drawstring-fly pants. You're mission-oriented, and if anyone gets in the way, that's his problem, now isn't? Your buckle was swashed long ago and you have never been so sure of anything as your ability to bend everyone to your will. You will call anyone out and cut off his head if he shows any sign of taking you on or backing down. If one of your lieutenants shows an overly developed sense of ambition he may find more suitable accommodations in Davy Jones' locker. That is, of course, IF you notice him. You tend to be self absorbed - a weakness that may keep you from seeing enemies where they are and imagining them where they are not.
What's Yer Inner Pirate?

brought to you by The Official Talk Like A Pirate Web Site. Arrrrr!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

No Major League Baseball for you, young lady!

I had to put Christie on steroids this week. Last Friday, she got a stripe of rash on her face. It was a long welt like a hive next to her nose. The next day it was all over her face. By the weekend it spread to her ears and covered hairline to chin. She did not want to go to church and get teased about it on Saturday night. We spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday feeding her Benadryl and Advil and brainstorming what it could possibly be causing it and watching her mouth and tongue very closely for breathing problems.

She put lotion on the welt after it came up, but not before, and not on her whole face. I rated that possibility at 15%. She used a new pillowcase Thursday night, but it had been washed before she put it on her pillow. I gave that a 35% possibility of causing the problem. We were absolutely mystified what the other 50% could be.

I took her to the doctor on Tuesday morning. While we were in the waiting room, I saw the light bulb go on over her head. "Mom, I went to the dentist Thursday!" That was it. Latex gloves. I was a bit surprised by the persistence of the rash after the allergen had been removed, but the doctor said that was almost certainly it.

It has been a long, slow heal. The welts went from puffy and white to raw and sore like a sunburn in great vertical stripes on her face. If the rash were on her arms or back, I think we would have skipped the Prednisone and just let nature take its course. But on her face, it's so painful and so shocking to look at, that I took pity on her and agreed to the drugs.

Nasty stuff, Prednisone.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Cavities, Lollipops and Bacteria

Back in May, I posted about some lollipops the kids ate that were supposed to kill the bacteria that cause cavities.

Three of us went for our six month cleaning/checkup yesterday. Of the three younger girls, there were four tiny cavities, the kind that don't need novocaine, just a quick drill and seal. Each girl had one, and the one girl who's never had any had two. She has braces, but the cavities were on the biting surface of her teeth, not between her teeth or by the brackets where it would clearly indicate a cleaning problem.

Yet to be checked are my son with awful teeth and my oldest daughter.

How do I feel the lollipops worked? Hm. I'd say this testing was inconclusive. Although the cavities we had after using the lollipops were fewer and smaller in size than those we had prior to lollipop use, the one child who had never had a cavity suddenly gets two. Son's test won't be accurate, as I found the still half-full baggie of lollipops in his room last week. Hard to force a kid to eat candy, ya know?

Breathing deeply helps

As long as I keep my focus on what I know to be true in my heart—that the Lord wouldn't allow us to starve, that He has a plan for getting us employed and moved, that all things work together for our good—I'm okay.

But when I look at the reality (or talk to my mother-in-law), I start panicking.

Five kids. No income. No prospects. No insurance. A car held together with rubber bands and bubble gum. Gas at $4.25 a gallon. Milk at $5 a gallon. A hubby with health problems. One kid with bad enough allergies that daily medications are required. Me with physical limitations. None of us but hubby capable of making the kind of income necessary. A limited number of companies in his field. Shockingly few jobs at his level. None available.

We were offered a free car the other day. Would you believe we can't afford a free car? If it were something we could all fit into, I'd take it in a heartbeat. But it's a five-seater, which means two of us would have to stay home from wherever the rest of us go. And as a second car, we couldn't afford the additional insurance and registration on the darned thing, even if it did save us in gas money. Our van gets 13 MPG, so just about anything would save us gas money!

Okay. I have to stop now. I'm getting worked up again, and my hives are starting to break out again. Time for some more deep-breathing.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

He slept!!

Last night was the first night hubby slept without the assistance of pharmaceuticals in, (counts on fingers, takes off shoes, adds toes) 14 years. Has it really been that long?

It started out when he was at the height of his Chronic Fatigue illness. The doctor put him on a sleeping pill, hoping that regulating his sleep would ease some of his other symptoms. Didn't work, but he got good and addicted to the pills.

When we brought our concern to our primary care (odd term for this man) doctor, he said, "Do you feel like you'd like to knock over a pharmacy to get an Ambien? No? Then you're not addicted." I suppose he was referring to the emotional aspect of addiction, but our issue was with the physical reality that if he didn't take a sleeping pill each and every night, hubby simply would not sleep. After four or five days of not sleeping, he would begin having other physical problems, hallucinations and the like. Nasty.

When hubby was laid off, we started cutting back every single expense as close to the bone as we could, and that included our prescription drugs. Hubby takes pills like an 80-year-old. A sleeping pill, a high blood pressure pill, a cholesterol pill. I've gotten him off the pre-diabetic pills because he has yet to take a blood sugar test that is even in the high range of normal. The primary care (??) doctor saw a man with a bit of excess about the middle (not even a lot, mind you) and must have thought something like, "Hey! This guy needs drugs!" Forget the healthy diet I have him on. Forget the regular exercise regimen. Anyway, we're cutting back as much unneccesary expense as possible, and prescriptions we can live without are high on the list.

I mentioned to hubby that now would be a great time to quit the sleeping pills. He isn't working during the day, so he can nap if he needs to. We can't really afford the prescription, and wouldn't it be great to be able to do something as simple and essential as sleep without having to induce it with a pill?

It's been a very long, very difficult six weeks for him. But he did it. Last night is proof it can be done. It's also proof that he was physically addicted. Six weeks of withdrawals, I believe, should be proof enough for any reasonable physician.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fall already?

It's all the way down to 87° today, so I know fall must be coming! We weren't expected to get any Gustav precipitation, but it's been overcast for two days. So today for lunch I'm pretending it's autumn with my big coffee mug full of chicken noodle soup.

I'm helping the kids sort through their clothes storage boxes today. Not to get out warm clothes, it's WAY too early for that, but to cut down on the amount of clothes stored. I don't want to move two bins per person, one should be plenty. Of course, two would have been fine if I'd kept the kids' coats and snowsuits. But did I? Of course not! They went in the first garage sale after arriving here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I did it.

I can't believe I did it.

First let me explain the scope of what I did. When we moved into this house, it was a tad small for all the stuff we own. So, we just left a great deal of it packed and stored it in 1/4 of the space of our 2-car garage. Floor to ceiling. Then, over the course of the last two years, we have packed up more junk and added it to our storage area, until it took up nearly half of the garage.

Knowing a move was in my future, I decided not to move a bunch of stuff without knowing precisely what it is and where it is packed. So, I embarked on the Great Garage Repack. Each box was opened, emptied, each item in the box sorted (trash/Goodwill/repack) and disposed of.

End process:
I started with 89 boxes of varying sizes and shapes.
I made 14 trips to Goodwill (every time I left the house I'd take what had accumulated)
I generated 22 lawn and leaf sized trash bags of trash.
I ended with 29 boxes of varying shapes and sizes.

I'd say of what I kept, 70% is books, almost all of which belong to the kids. Raising readers can be a very expensive proposition!

I promised myself a new Harvest Moon game when the garage was done. Sadly, Tree of Tranquility doesn't come out until September 17, so I guess I'll get the attic done before my reward comes!