Thursday, September 23, 2010

Scary Smart

This afternoon I had a Parent/Teacher conference with EG's teacher. Normally, these meetings don't happen until after the first grading period is over, but in EG's case, we had to act with a little more urgency. You see, EG is more advanced than your average 3nd grader (actually, she is more advanced than some 5th graders, but that is beside the point.) From the beginning, I knew there would be issues, but I didn't think it would happen as severely or as soon as it did.

On the first day, everything seemed to be fine when EG came home from school, but by the end of the first week, things had started to go sour. EG was very frustrated because (in her words) the teacher did nothing but yell at everyone and insist that all work was done neatly or she made you do it over again. Some kids were apparently resistant to this idea because there were a few who had to re-do their class work 3 or 4 times. This is a concern for me, considering EG is only in 2nd grade. Also, her teacher is very liberal with the red pen and EG was completely distraught by all the red marks all over her papers. She became so nervous about doing her home work that she would daily go to pieces because she felt it had to be "perfect." The simplest questions became stumbling blocks because she just didn't want to make any mistakes.

The straw that broke the camel's back happened last week when another student in the class rolled a pencil across the desk and caused a disruption in the class. The teacher didn't see it, she just heard it and when no one admitted to actually doing it, she kept the ENTIRE CLASS in from recess and then the next day refused to let them line up for lunch until the very last minute. (The kids got the impression that they missed part of lunch, but the teacher has assured me that they really were not late, just not as early as they usually are.) Allie was just plain angry about this and didn't even want to go back to school.

I admit, my Momma Bear complex came out when I heard from EG that they missed "half" their lunch. I was ready to have that woman's job. I could have pushed for it too, because it is against the law to withhold food as a form of punishment. I still think it was completely uncalled for to punish the entire class that way, but I was not there, so I can not say if it was really an extreme situation. I can say, that I disagree no matter what, though.

Even aside from "she yells all the time" and "I don't like getting punished for someone else messing up," it was clear to me that the curriculum for EG's class was not up to the level she is used to. For the last four weeks, she has had almost the same sheet for homework, every single day - What time does the clock say? Identify the shape. What are the sums? (all under 18.) The poor child was bored to tears at home doing it. I can only imagine what the school day much be like for her. In her free time, she reads Harry Potter books, works multiplication problems, and practices cursive handwriting. The work she was doing was equal to what she was given two years ago in kindergarten.

When I sat down with the teacher, I made sure that DH could be there and the counselor joined us, too, just to make sure everything was documented. The teacher managed to explain off the punishments pretty well, so I let that slide (having been in charge of a group of 7 year old kids before, I understand that sometimes you just lose it.) What we focused on, instead, was the daily work and how EG is not being challenged or even particularly interested in it. It was obvious that the school is more used to dealing with children who need help catching up, not with kids who are super far ahead. Both the teacher and the counselor seemed a little at loss with what to do. EG hasn't actually caused any trouble IN class, but she has been very quiet and doesn't seem to play well with others, and even appears to linger over her work just so she won't be the first kid done. Her grades are excellent but she still seems overly stressed out about school in general.

The final decision is that EG will be given extra things to do to keep her engaged during the day. Not just more of the same assignments, but creative and challenging "extra credit" work like high level math or "finish the story and draw a picture." In another four weeks, we will revisit the situation and see how she is doing. If the extra work seems to make her happy, we will continue on. If it doesn't seem to be working, or she is still not challenged, we will look into other options, like changing classes or even moving up a grade. I can't say I am particularly comforted by the teacher not having anything on hand to address this. She seemed to be bothered and a little panicked that she would have to "dig up something" that she hadn't visited since she was in college. I kind of got the idea that she was perfectly happy to move a child up because it seemed easier than having to come up with extra "special" work for her to do.

This is a pretty big deal. Skipping a grade is nothing to take lightly. I would not even consider it if I wasn't completely sure that it was the right decision for EG. Academically and socially, skipping a grade makes a huge difference in the long run. She is especially young for her own grade already, since her birthday is right before school starts. She is already in class with kids who are several months, if not almost a year, older than her. Being especially small for her age would only make it more obvious to everyone else that she is far more advanced than "normal." The last thing I want to do is give my girl the impression that she is freakish or weird.

While none of my kids are even close to average, EG seems to actually be so far advanced and so quick to learn, adapt, and create, that something clearly has to be done to make sure that she doesn't lose the gift she already has. Now, I don't believe (at this point) that we have a super genius on our hands (who will graduate from college before she's 12.) However, I do feel that not addressing the intellect would be a disservice to her, as well as pitifully wasteful of her talent.

There are only 20 kids in the district labeled as "Gifted" so it really isn't a surprise that they don't really know what to do with a child like EG. It might just be the fact that the curriculum out here in the country is much slower than it is in the "big city." If that were truly the case, though, I would see similar issues with my other two girls. But, both of them seem to be doing fine with their school work and homework. I really feel that this is something that we would have had to deal with whether we moved out here or not.

EG is just a little MORE than other kids her age and if she has been gifted with the ability to do and think and BE more, then I want her to BE as much as she can.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Closer to "fine"

Yes, that is a line from one of my favorite songs. The Indigo Girls paint such a beautiful picture of life.

Anyway, today I feel a little closer to feeling "fine." I have been looking forward to this weekend for a very long time. There wasn't any big events planned or anything like that. This is the weekend that DH gets to "move back" home. For the last several weeks, he has only been here on the weekends, but now, since we have our own internet connection, he is able to work from home part of the week. That adds up to only a few days where he has to stay with his parents so he can be closer to work.

I have missed him so very much. I have come to realize over the last few weeks that I would make a pretty lousy single mom. On most mornings I am not alert enough to find two matching shoes, let alone drive the kids to school. In the afternoons I am distracted and short of temper. By the time dinner time rolls around, I am already tired and if I manage to make it all the way to bed time without blowing up, I'm doing good. Somehow with DH around, just knowing I have backup for when I need it makes me feel stronger. Maybe I am afraid to let him see how bad I really feel. The girls will love me no matter what, but maybe I am still a touch nervous that if he doesn't see me doing my best all the time he will be disappointed in me. That's a ridiculous, thought, really. If he was going to hold any of this against me, he would have a long time ago.

This next week will be really important. I have managed to secure a part-time gig transcribing again. I should start working three nights a week starting next weekend. That is also the week that culinary school is supposed to start for me. It appears that is I keep with this schedule, I will go from no work, to full time school and part time work all at once. That scares me quite a bit. A few people have told me, quite honestly, that they don't think I can handle it. Well, you know how I feel about that. But, the truth is, I don't know if I can handle it either. I have crashed and burned so many times in so many ways. Jumping feet first into something like this will either be a wonderful experience or a very large disappointment.

Something else I am worried about is how the kiddos will handle all this. Most days I will be at school the same time they will. They can walk home from school (in spite of their opinion that it is torture to do so) and I will be home shortly after they are. A few nights a week I will go right from school to work. By the time I get home it will be way past their bed time so I will be relying on DH to handle that for me and also for them to be able to handle it as well. My recent attempts to work in the evenings have met with less-than-positive feedback from them. How am I supposed to get motivated to leave the house when I have three sets of puppy dog eyes begging me not to go?

I am coming up against a strange lack of motivation even with the support of my family. Friday I was supposed to go my school to finish filling out paperwork. Friday afternoon got there and I was swamped with a thousand things to do and was still waiting on service people to show up and turn on certain utilities. So I called my contact in admissions and rescheduled for today. This morning, I woke up and cooked a wonderful breakfast and felt great, and then about an before I was supposed to leave, I felt like crap. I got the first real headache I have had in weeks and all I wanted to do was go back to bed. I know me when I feel that way. It is a sign that I need to rest because if I don't, I will crash hard and spend the next three days trying to recover. So, I called and rescheduled again.

This whole thing is starting to worry me a bit. If I can't make a meeting on a Saturday afternoon, what does that say about my dedication and drive? Why do I let pain and fatigue take over at times like this? Is my brain causing a strange sort of failure on purpose, before I really start achieving my goals?  Does fear try to shut me down so I don't start something else only to fail again? Am I afraid of failing or am I really afraid of succeeding? Maybe I have accepted failure as the status quo and my brain doesn't want to adjust to change.
I am not sure, really. A therapist would have a grand old time picking apart my thoughts and actions. 

Tomorrow is Sunday. A day off. A day to relax and reflect and prepare for the week ahead. We have planned to go to the local church to check it out and maybe have friends or family over for dinner. I need to spend the day deciding what I am going to do. Will I use the drive and excitement I felt last week to push me to do better and different things with my life? Or, will I let fear dictate my life and paralyze me?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I know that spewing anger and insults across the internet it is rude. It is the worst kind of gossip and talking behind someone else's back. So, I will try not to make any of this sound personal, although it feels very personal to me. I am personally hurt and angry because I want to start something new and move in a new direction and it doesn't really feel like I have the support of the people closest to me.

A few weeks ago I mentioned something about how cool it would be to open a coffee shop of my own. At the time, I was filling up a Saturday afternoon with daydreams and I didn't expect it to really mean anything. After a bit, I took the "what if's" a step further and started researching the costs and rules about that sort of business. My kids were around and they really caught on to this idea and now they are asking me when we will get to open for business. All three of them are little entrepreneurs (every summer they want a lemonade stand, ever winter they want a hot cocoa stand, every weekend they want a garage sale, etc.) so it doesn't surprise me that they are all for it. In fact, they have all been working together on a concept for the logo and motto.  My kids are brilliant, I tell you.

DH seemed pretty positive about it, as long as it was just a plan and a dream. When I spoke to other family members, I think they were a little surprised. They are used to my bouncing ideas off of them, especially ideas about career direction and the like. Asking their opinion about starting a new business was completely a new direction for me and they all said as much. their responses varied from "wow, that would be cool," to "how would you manage to do that with your health and stuff?" Unfortunately more than one of them said the words that should never be uttered in my presence - "You can't..."

Oh really? I can't, huh? Well, I'll show you!

Yes, I know how immature and child like that sounds. I know how silly it is to react to something like that. It is like the kid in 2nd grade who would take a dare no matter what it was and ended up covered in mud with gum in his hair and his tongue stuck to the flagpole (I would assume...flagpoles don't get that cold in Texas.) I might not be THAT gullible or impressionable, but there is something that clicks in my brain when someone tries to tell me I can't do something. I'm not referring to a denial of permission, though heaven knows I don't need permission from anyone anymore. I am specifically talking about when I have an idea and someone tells me I will not be successful at it. I can handle criticism and negative comments. I welcome questions, even pointed ones, that will get my mind thinking about all the different outcomes of a plan. I can not, however, resist the urge to shove it in someones face when they tell me I am not capable of something. Don't tell me I can't do it or you will witness the storm from my trying to prove to you that I can!

There have been plans and ideas and endeavors that have failed (sometimes spectacularly) that I have pursued as much out of interest as because someone suggested that I wouldn't be able to handle it. I once ran a girl scout troop for three years (before the politics of the council and the lack of parental support got the better of me.) I have started (and lost) a home-based business in cosmetics (although I still believe in the company and the product.) I have learned that I am not incredibly good at selling anything at all (from wedding dresses, to cell phones, to even my own skills) because I have made a go at all of these things. I can humble myself and accept failure when it happens, and I can even resist the urge to remove someones spleen when they try to utter the phrase, "I told you so." At least I can say I TRIED, though, and I will never have regrets over missed opportunity or inaction. I would much rather be able to say, with certainty, that I am not good at something instead of knowing I never attempted it.

Knowing this little gem about myself, I try not to talk about ideas in any sort of definitive, planning way unless I have already done my homework on it. When I decide I would like to know more about something, I do my own research and decide if I feel I am capable of attempting it before I ever mention it to anyone. I still like to bounce ideas off of people, and until I make the decision and commitment to move forward, I am just as likely to decide it is a good idea as bad. But, by the time I decide to talk to my friends an family about a new endeavor I have already spent many hours learning as much as I can in an attempt to decide for myself whether I can do it or not. In short, if I ask your opinion about it, I already know I can do it.

But, I digress...

Concerning the coffee shop. The idea of owning our own business is not new. DH started thinking about it more than 5 years ago. We got as far as a business plan before the idea was put on the back burner for lack of funding. When the inspiration to open up a shop hit me a few weeks ago, it was actually a way to expand his original idea and make a few twists. By combining what he loves with what I love, we could create a place that would have both a regular customer base, but also bring in customers for one time shopping (which we could then turn into regular customers.) The idea became more and more appealing to me and I really wanted to know how to go about this and whether or not it would ever be possible. The research I did showed me something vital - I don't really know the first thing about running a business, let alone a food service business. Actually, I do know enough about it to know that there is plenty more I need to learn before I could even begin. Then, I remembered Sister #2 went to a cooking school a few years ago and part of their curriculum was a small unit on business management. That led me to do more research on what kind of school would teach me what I needed to know and I found a major international school just opened up a branch in our metroplex.

The reason this is such a big deal to me is that there are only a few more than a dozen of these schools in the nation. You can go to a cooking trade school and several colleges offer courses in culinary studies, this school is only found in the biggest cities with the best reputation for producing award winning food, chefs, and restaurants. This isn't the "we'll take your money and show you how to chop carrots without slicing your fingers" kind of school. This is the first cooking school ever created, and has a history over the last 125 years, of teaching and graduating the most successful chefs and restaurant owners in the world. Remember the movie Sabrina with Audrey Hepburn? Yeah, THIS was the kind of school she traveled to France to attend. Being able to get into this school means that I would get the best instruction on how to cook, how to create, and how to run a business.

Do you mean, I can go to school and be around food and learn how to make better food and then you will teach me how to do it for a living? How cool is that? People actually get paid to cook amazing food and share it with people who enjoy it? That sounds like a pretty good deal to me. The magic of creating something that tastes delicious and makes people smile and feel good is one of the coolest things to share. Having a full cookie jar. Pulling a perfectly golden brown pie out of the oven. Presenting a decorated birthday cake to my kids. Placing a loaf of perfectly crusty bread on the table to have with dinner. Spreading butter on a warm roll and tasting the way the butter melts and spreads through the roll. These are things that make me smile just thinking about them. Food is a way to show love for my family and sweet and delicious treats are an even better way.

After spending some time contemplating this, I realized why I don't already bake more often. For starters, the time, the mess, the cost of ingredients, and the heat involved can all be extreme. Time and mess, I can deal with. I have to cook dinner every night anyway. But the cost of ingredients - really good ingredients - that is something I can not justify when we are struggling to pay bills. However, when I am able, I DO purchase (or collect) the best ingredients I can find and I can make some pretty amazing dishes this way. It just doesn't happen often. The one part I can't control is the heat. Baking in Texas in the summer is an exercise in sadistic torture (both being in the kitchen and then when you get your electric bill.)

Another factor in my reluctance to bake at home is that the calories involved can be prohibitive. Anyone who knows me understands that I am a fluffy person. Even in High School, when I was at my thinnest, I have always been curvy. Now, because of my health and meds, I have more than enough fluff to go around. Not only does this make me very conscious of what I eat, but also what I serve, and how it will affect my health down the road. My paternal grandfather was insulin dependent all my life. My father is diabetic, too, and that triples my chances for blood sugar problems. I want my kids to never have to worry about their shape and size the way I do, so I am careful about how often I make sweets or even let them in the house. For us, cookies are a sometimes food.

Here's the deal, though - I don't want to completely give up dessert! Is there a way to have my cake and eat it too (no pun intended - okay, maybe it was.) Can I find away to cook and serve and eat things that taste good but don't make any of us sick, and don't use artificial crap? If I have to use fake sweetener to make something "safe" to eat, I would just rather not do it. I have several friends and family members that are gluten intolerant, and they are missing out on some of the best stuff in life, too. Wheat isn't the only thing out there to make food out of, you know. I just don't know how to make it any other way, but I WANT to!

I realized that cooking school will, if nothing else, show me the rules of baking so I know when and how to change them. Also, it is a trade that is worth money in a lot of different venues and fields. Even if I never open my own cafe, being a certified pastry chef will open a lot of employment doors that are closed to all but a chosen few. Hotels, country clubs, cafes, high end restaurants, resorts, and even assisted living and retirement facilities all employ a staff specifically to create desserts and treats for their clientele. Suddenly, my job opportunities are no longer limited to office support and customer service rep. I can get behind that.

While attending a cooking school is a relatively new idea for me, attending college isn't. I have been looking for a direction to take my life in for some time. Because of my health and work history, I am just as unemployable in my own field of work as I am anywhere else. Whether I decide to go back to office work or sell shoes I am at exactly the same place - square one. If I have to start at the bottom, why shouldn't I take the opportunity to explore a new and exciting career doing something I already love to do? What is it that I love? That isn't an easy question to answer.

In the past I considered teaching because there are many grants available for those willing to teach and stay in Texas. As much as this idea appeals to me, I have come to realize it wouldn't be a good option. Raising my own kids has shown me that I have a hard time with other people who don't raise their kids. Teaching - especially in the areas required for me to qualify for those grants - would mean I would be dealing with a lot of very difficult children and situations that would put more stress on me than I am ready or willing to take. I decided that I would rather do something I am excited about than put myself through a daily torture  - even a labor of love - simply to get a degree.

After that, I thought about cosmetology. With research and experience, I feel I would be a bad fit for that field, too. In spite of the cost of school and the certifications required, I would be exposed to many, many solutions that I just can't handle. If my skin breaks out simply because I used a bar soap with fragrance in it, how am I supposed to work with shampoos, dyes, and hair products? I can't even use hair spray or gel in my own hair. What would I look like having to apply it to dozens of other people every day?

I considered being a freelance writer. I did a lot of research and wrote a lot of articles and stories. Then, I decided I would rather pursue a field that would actually PAY me for the 12 hours a day spent on it. I love to write, really I do. In fact, no matter what I end up doing for a living, I will keep on writing. I just don't have any illusions that I will ever be able to get paid for it. There are too many bloggers, novelists, short story writers, journalists, and just plain writers for me to really feel confident in pursuing it as a career. I need something that will allow for my creativity but still provide a regular income.

 So, office work - not a great choice, but I'll take it if I have to. Teaching - right out (including daycare - been there, done that.) I don't want to handle the kids and stress (or the lawsuits from the kids who mouth off to me.). Hair stylist - no way (unless I want to find out the exact chemical that will make my skin peel and fall off.) Standing in the same spot all day with my hands at or above my head just sounds painful to even think about. Writing - boy it makes a nice hobby, but as a career I will probably starve before I get paid for it.

So again., why shouldn't I take the opportunity to explore a new and exciting career doing something I already love to do? Why not become a baker and pastry maker so that I can take the joy I get from serving my family and share it with the public?

The answer to that, as always, is money and health. As for money, right now I live 100 miles from where I used to be, simply to save money. We have been trying to make do and live on one paycheck - DH's - for a long time now, and it really isn't working. Practicality suggests that I find gainful employment to improve my financial setting before attempting to advance or change careers. I agree, to an extent. We need more money coming in, and I fully expect to keep looking for for work. I just also feel that adding the extra step of going back to school would ensure that I will be able to continue to find work - work that I would love to do - for many years to come. It takes hard work and sacrifice to get what you want. I know that working and going to school will be a strain on everyone, myself included. I don't see how it is any worse than my working a full time job that I don't really like. I will be gone from the house the same amount of hours, approximately. The actual dollars may be less, but for many reasons, I don't want to work full time (that is a whole other topic I won't get into today.)

Health wise, am I capable of handling school and also working 20 or more hours a week? That is a question that I can only answer by trying it. I know that there was a time in the past few years where I was only able to be out of bed for a few hours a day. There are also times when I have surprised myself at the amount I was able to accomplish even when I was nearly at my worst. Whether because of meds, a different mindset, or some other unknown source, I have made a turning point in my recovery. I feel better than I have felt in as long as I can remember, and I have more energy and less pain than I have had in, literally, years. The daily routines that used to wear me out in a few hours are now the minimum of what I can do in a day. I no longer count the hours from pain med dose to dose. I can walk further, lift more, work harder, and stay awake longer than I have been able to do for many years now. What's more is I WANT to do all these things.

I have come to a point where I am well enough to do more, but if I don't take advantage of it soon, I am afraid I will start to slip backwards gain. It feels as though the more I do, the more I am ABLE to do. Strength and stamina come from exercise - both physical and mental. Without a way to exercise, I will not progress any more. Sitting and not doing anything creates in own sort of stress. The strain of physical pain has been replaced by the weight of inactivity. I need a place to be, something definitive and productive to do, and a reason to get up each day and go just a little bit further. I have gone as far as I can go in my daily life without adding something more to it.

Is jumping in with both feet a smart idea, though? I don't know. Going from sitting around to five hours of school and four hours of work every day certainly seems extreme. I know that if tomorrow I were to jump up and be on my feet for nine hours a day, I might be pretty beat when I got home. I also know that though I might be starting school in about two weeks, but I don't have a job yet so it is highly unlikely that I will actually go from one extreme to the other. I also know that in my job searches, I do not have to focus on jobs that keep me on my feet or away form the house. There is a reason I have a home office. I have several connections and leads that I have been pursuing for a while. It is just as likely that any of them will come to fruition as it is my getting a lead for an office job or getting hired at  Target . Many of those leads would have me working from home during the evening hours, which suits me and my schedule just fine. 

So, my perfect plan would be to start school in two weeks and have a work-from-home job to work on when I'm not at school. The hours I need to be at school are the same hours the girls would be in school (including driving time) so if I were to land a gig working from home it means I would be gone from the house while they are and at home when they are. It also means I can make money while still keeping an ear out to make sure the house won't burn down (and not need to ask for help or pay a babysitter.) I have worked from home before and I know about the silence/work/kids-at-home juggle. We do it all the time when DH works from home and I know my kids are capable of doing what needs to be done.

So, now I will ask all of you - Does it sound like I am being completely crazy? Am I making ridiculous expectations of myself? Am I being selfish to want to attend school while DH is stuck in his job that he doesn't like?
I am looking for input about whether I should or shouldn't pursue this. It isn't about can or can't because believe me - I know I can.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I’ve moved in but I still feel like I am in-between. I’m here, but I’m not REALLY here. My things are here, mostly, and my family is here, mostly, but I am not really able to do what I want or what I need.

Don’t get me wrong, I love this house. I mean, I really, truly, love this house. The wood floors, and the windows that don’t have drafts, and the huge back yard with apple, pear and pecan trees, and the shiny sink – I love it all. I love it more than I thought I would. It is bigger than I thought it would be even with all our furniture in it. The kitchen is nice and open and we have created a breakfast nook seating arrangement (thanks to the loan of benches from WP) so the dining area isn’t crowded. Even the bedrooms and office are roomy enough to hold all the furniture we wanted. Everything about this house is polished and pretty. One of the best things though, is that not one wall is white. Nearly every house we have lived in has had white – or nearly white – walls and while it is easy to touch up for the landlords, it is also boring, sterile, and gets dingy and depressing. This house has already been painted in tasteful, neutral tones that are warm without appearing dark or dismal. It looks loved and well cared for and just, plain, pretty.

The problems I am having have nothing to do with the house, really. They stem from the area the house is in and the companies I now have to deal with. Living 15 miles or more from any major retail chain is, in itself, pretty difficult for this city girl. The only grocery store in town is the mom-and-pop place a few blocks over that closes every day at 7:00 and is closed on Sundays. Here is a real measurement of how “country” this place is – the closest Wal-Mart is more than 20 miles away. There is one bank in town (not one that I already have an account with, of course,) one DQ, and the only pharmacy is attached to the mom-and-pop grocery store. If I need something other than wilted lettuce or overpriced hamburger, there are TWO dollar stores to choose from, but there is not one clothing, shoe, or book store of any kind.

Okay, I can handle doing my grocery shopping once a week so I can plan for the drive a bit better. And yes, not having ready access to a clearance rack at the retail store is probably better for all of us. What I can not handle is the lack of choice when it comes to the services in my home. Of course, the city supplies the water, and there is really only one natural gas provider out here. The crack-smoking-monkey-circus that seems to revolve around the electric, telephone, and television providers is beyond ridiculous, though. Research originally showed that I had to use the local co-op for electric (which I didn’t mind, because they were much less expensive than the other companies.) A full week after placing the connect order, I find out, that they don’t cover my area after all, and I had to scramble find some other electric company that would hook me up in less than a week and would charge me less than $400 deposit BEFORE service could get started. I had to go to a private broker and I still ended up paying more than $70 for a priority connection! All of THAT was the easy part of this ordeal.

What I am struggling with now is who will and can give me phone, internet, and TV service. This is the worst nightmare I have EVER had to deal with. (I should know, after 12 moves!) In this area, it is usually easy to get phone, internet, and TV service through one provider. It’s usually a smart idea because the one company will bundle service and save you money monthly and with start up costs. The not-smart part of it is that there are only two companies to deal with so I have no choice other than Dumb or Dumber. On one hand, these services seem like luxuries that I should be able to go without. On the other hand, there is a certain level of technology that is required for safety and job security. I need a house phone because cell service is not reliable around here, and even a 9-1-1 call might not go through on the wrong day. I get no television at all without some sort of service – not even local channels. That is just plain scary when you have bad weather coming and the only source of news you have is your hijacked internet connection from one of the neighbors. (If, by some universally weird chance, my neighbor actually reads this – thank you and I’m sorry.) Besides just wanting a life-line to the rest of the world, we have to have high speed internet service available so that DH can work from home.

Right now both companies are going back and forth about what services they do or don’t provide, which ones they can and can’t, and how much they want to charge me for the privilege of getting screwed over by them. Yes, it sucks, and yes, I can deal with it. I just don’t want to and I shouldn’t have to. Trust me, someone tomorrow morning is going to get an earful because I am just about fed up with all of this bull.

Along with the joys of dealing with corporate utilities, I am having to help my girls readjust to this new and strange life, too. Going from a school of 800 to a school district of 800 is quite an adjustment for anyone. Changing gears from city school to country school is a much bigger deal. First, my girls are small for their age. In the city, they might be the shortest in their class, but they sort of blend in. Out here, they are TINY compared to the rest of their class. So far they have been called names, asked rude questions, and directed to the wrong school because they look two or three years younger than their classmates. Also, I have mentioned my girls’ intelligence before and, not to brag or anything, they are really smart. In the city this happens quite often, I’m sure, and the teachers are equipped to handle this sort of excelled learning. Out here, my girls just look like freaks. There are 20 – yes TWENTY – children that are labeled “Gifted and Talented” in the district. Not the class, or even the school. The DISTRICT.  In their old school there were at least a full class of students in each grade that were taught at the Gifted level.  Here, there are so few kids that they actually pull these gems out of class for extra curriculum a few times a week. If they didn’t feel like wierdos before, they will now. Remember getting called up to the front of your class because your teacher needed to give you a note from your mom? Imagine getting REMOVED from class a few times a week because you are several reading levels above the rest of your SCHOOL. And that is just the youngest. To say my girls feel out of touch with their peers out here would be a huge understatement.

Of course, life has never just given me things to deal with that I could expect. No, I have to get a few extra “curve balls” in times like this. The week of the move, all three girls got the stomach bug that was going around the school. Normally I would regret their missing school, but they are really not going to miss too much, it seems, so I was able to let them stay home an extra day each to recuperate. The worst was trying to juggle fevers, stomach upsets, and kids that want to snuggle around packing, moving, and unpacking. That’s just before I get the bug, too.

We have been in the house officially since Saturday night. Today is Wednesday and I am still living out of suitcases and boxes. I managed to get plates, cups, bed linens, towels, and cleaning supplies unpacked before I was stuck in bed for two days, unable to keep down anything other than water. Since then, I have recovered nicely, but I have gotten precisely zero boxes emptied. Today, I was so fed up with everything I didn’t even have the heart to cook dinner. I knew I would regret it. I knew letting the kids graze instead of sitting down for a meal would produce grouchies and fussies. I let them go about their business anyway. Maybe, I’m a bad mom for taking a day off and letting laziness take over. Perhaps, I deserved the eventual meltdown when it happened. Tomorrow, I am sure I will go right back to my motherly duties and everything will be back in order (if you believe that, I have a bridge I think you’ll be interested in.) I can at least assure you that meals will be cooked and progress will be made in the unpacking of things (hopefully.)

I guess it is just really hard to me motivated about doing my “duties” when it’s just me in charge. With the current set up, we can’t afford for DH to commute to work everyday and until we get internet service here, he can’t work from home. He stays in his parents’ spare room during the week to cut his driving distance down by two-thirds. Right now, that means he drives in to work Monday morning, drives home to us on Friday nights. For the last month we have been staying with WP but now, on the evenings between Monday and Friday, I am alone and without him. More accurately WE are without him.

I know it is just as hard on the kids as it is on me - harder, probably, because while they know what and why, it must be really hard to understand. Our lives have been governed and railroaded because of money. That is all they hear. We are doing this to save money, or we can’t do that because it is too expensive. Now, they have to deal with just Mom and not Dad because of money. They had to leave their friends, family, and everything they have ever known because the lack of money. They hear all about it, and I don’t hide it from them. I won’t lie to them and I can’t expect them not to try and make some sort of sense out of all of this. I would rather be up front about it with them, as painful as it is for me, than let them think for one second that this has anything to do with them, or Daddy, or me.

I really feel like I have failed them in some way. If I had been stronger, or sought help sooner, maybe I would be further recovered than I am now and we would be able to make ends meet. So many “ifs.” No matter what I have been told, or even what I truly believe, I still feel that being financially unstable is some sort of weakness or flaw on my part. How many people my age are able own their own homes, or cars, or even have a credit card? These are all things I feel I should be able to do. In fact, these are all things I had once, but my life turned into a bad country song, and here I am (I lost my job, I lost my house, I lost my car. All that’s left now is my dog and my wife…um, wait a minute…) Anyway, I would be happy if I could make it two weeks without zeroing out the bank account, or worse. Shouldn’t a person with more than 15 years experience be able to earn more than minimum wage a few months a year? Is it unreasonable to expect that I am able to pay bills when they are due and budget for groceries, gas, and an occasional night out? All issues with the economy and jobless rate aside, a person of my age should be expected to be able to hold down a job and make at least a minimum level of comfort in their lives, shouldn’t they?

It isn’t the THINGS that I want, though. It is the security of knowing I can have the things IF I need them; the knowing that if there is a blown tire or a spike in the electric bill, I won’t lose EVERYTHING else because of it. Is it too much to expect of myself that I know Christmas comes at the same time every year (as do three birthdays and an anniversary) and I should be able to plan a little bit ahead so as not to make a late rent payment EVERY January (only to get caught up with the tax return in March, and then slide back late again by September.)

Okay, I guess I’m not as hyped and super excited about this move as I would like to think I am. I have dreamed for years of living where I can see the stars and be surrounded by trees. I just never wanted it to be because that is the last place in civilization that I can afford to live.