Friday, July 29, 2011

Feeling helpless

I hate it when there are things that are broken and I just can't fix them. No matter how much I want to, there are some situations beyond my control. Admitting you have no power in certain situations is the first step to accepting the world as it is so that you can work more on how you react to it. But, just because I know this and understand this does not mean I have to like it.

For instance, I didn't really want to be jobless and surviving on one paycheck for the last three years, but it happened that way. Now, no matter how good I feel and how hard I try, I will never be able to go back to work at the same level, for the same money as before. It means I will have to start my career over from scratch. In this town at this current time, that actually means I need to make do with what I've got because a job isn't going to be found for ANY amount of money anytime soon. So, because we are on limited income, I had to take the raw deal that the ex-landlord gave me and we had to move. While I am extremely happy with the opportunity God provided us, I still think it sucks that I don't have the ability or power to make choices on my own. I have to do what people tell me to do and I can't fight or even argue. I have no real way of getting ahead or even saving for a rainy day. The best I can do with this situation is break even, try not to screw up too much, and hope and pray that emergencies will not be too costly.

Worrying is not  very productive, I know. However, I can't look at our situation - even with the express purpose of trying to better it - without worry creeping in. I can't control how much money we make, or whether DH keeps his job, or whether someone will decide to buy this house before we are ready to move, or if the landlords will make some other decision. The thought process makes me sick.

One of the hardest parts about all this is when I know someone else needs help, and I can not give it to them. LH has a very dear friend who is moving away from town because her aunt needs to move to find work and get stable on her feet. This poor girl was living in another state when she lost her father to murder and her mother to jail. Her aunt came to rescue her, literally, off the street where she was destined to follow her parents in a life of drugs, crime, and all sorts of other terrible things. Since then she has managed to turn her life around in a quite remarkable way. She would be going to high school next year with AP classes and as part of the Drill Team. Now, she is being moved away from the only stability she has ever known. It simply breaks my heart.

There is not a thing I can do, though. I have not the space, or the money, or the connections to help either her or her aunt out of this mess. Right now, I am just trying to get through my own mess! I KNOW I need to get stable on my feet before I can consider helping anyone else out. SO, why do I feel guilty that I'm not doing more? The girl's aunt is truly doing the best she can for her own son as well as her niece.  I know she has everyone's best interest in mind. She really has no choices left and she is making do with what she has.

Knowing that doesn't change the fact that it sucks. LH is losing one of the few good friends she has made so far, and that breaks my heart as much as everything else.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fire Safety Tips

My kids are all back home now, DH is home too, and everyone is in a good mood (for now, at least.) I made it over the hump of the last few weeks and I'm feeling almost human. As DH once quoted my saying - I feel better. Not like I could tackle the world, but maybe like I could trip it when it isn't looking?

One thing I love about my family is how seriously they take certain things like love, spirituality, friendship, fairness, health, and safety. I used to feel kind of nerdy about this stuff, but it really does make me proud to see all of my girls practice what they have been taught by their teachers, family, and parents. Just the fact that they don't roll their eyes would be enough for me. But seeing them actively take part in these things makes my own heart swell.

Tonight, I mentioned that since we moved to the new house, we hadn't come up with a new Fire Safety Plan. I decided a long time ago that I would not wait until there was an emergency to be prepared for one. While I don't have everything I need on my Disaster Check List 100% complete, I do insist on always making sure the kids know how to get out of the house and where to meet up in case of a fire.When I mentioned the lack of a plan, all of the girls dropped what they were doing to help me decide where we should meet and what to do if we can't get to one door or another.

It only takes a few minutes and it doesn't take a long, drawn-out process. Looking out the window, we decided on the best spot to run to if we needed to get out of the house. Then, we discussed which door they should run to depending on where the danger might be, and we finished with a reminder about what to do when they hear the fire alarm go off (check the door before opening it, etc.) Within 5 minutes, the kids all went back to their own activities.

When it comes to practicing the plan, I figured out a great way to have my own unplanned fire drills. Whenever the fire alarm goes off, we hold a fire drill. Yes, usually it happens when someone is cooking dinner, but what better time to hold one then when everyone is doing something else and a fire is the furthest thing from their minds?

In addition to the Stop, Drop, and Roll stuff they get in school, I have a few tips that I try to practice around here. So, I am in no way an expert, but here goes:

1. First, of course, have a plan to get out of the house in case of fire. Think about who will get the babies out and who is in charge of the pets. Make sure visitors and babysitters have access to your plan.
2. Know where to go in case of a weather disaster. Where is the safest spot in your house in case of bad weather? Do you or your neighbor have a storm shelter?
3. If you have to evacuate your home on short notice (think wildfire or floods) where are your important and financial documents (Social Security cards, birth certificates, marriage license, cash, credit cards, etc.), food needs (baby formula, snacks, bottled water, dog food), and health needs like daily medications or blood monitor devices (blood sugar, blood pressure, oxygen.)
4. Also, the one thing  people are always the most distraught about losing is their family photographs. Do you have digital backups or negatives in a fire safe area or a place where they can be gotten to quickly?
5. Where are the cut off valves to the gas, water, and electric. Knowing where these are and how to turn them off could mean the difference between an incident and an emergency.
6. Go over fire prevention and safety tips regularly. Have a schedule so you don't forget. For example, change the batteries in the smoke alarm on your birthday or have safety meetings or drills on the same day of the month.
7. Where do fires start? The kitchen and the laundry room. Absolutely, keep your stove area and oven clean and free of loose articles, but also CLEAN OUT YOUR DRYER LINT. Not just after every load, either. The vents inside and outside the dryer collect lint that doesn't get stopped by the trap.You can buy a kit with special brushes and a vacuum attachment for about $10.(Here's my favorite.) It isn't totally necessary, just very useful. Whatever you use, just do it. (Bonus: you will not believe how much better your dryer will work!)
8. Holidays are, regrettably, the most dangerous time of year. Have fun, just be safe. Every Thanksgiving someone's  turkey or pie gets out of hand and someone gets burned. Christmas lights and decorations are bigger fire hazards every year they get older. New Year's is one of the biggest nights for fire in the year. (Think about it - a week after Christmas and the tree has dried out. It's cold outside and people are using space heaters and electric blankets inside.) Don't forget about the dangers of romantic candles on Valentines day, sparklers and fire crackers on the 4th of July, you get the idea. 
9. Keep your doorways and windows clear. You know how in school they told you to keep the backpacks off the floor because of the "Fire Code"? They weren't kidding. Enforce your own Fire Code in your house to make sure you can get out or help can get in (Paramedics, for example.)

Well, go forth, have fun, and be safe people.

Deb "Safety Patrol" Lollar

Monday, July 18, 2011

Temper Tantrums

Yeah, I throw a tantrum every now and again. I used to call it "venting", but that is when you complain about something to someone else so you don't end up acting it out instead. A temper tantrum in when you act it out. I need to be a grown up and recognize when I do this. It isn't very mature to scream and yell and throw things and then tell the kids it isn't allowed. Gosh, I just realized I added "Hypocrisy" to  "Lack of Self Control" and "Immature Behavior." Three strikes? Sounds like I need a time out.

This past week I reached my limit on patience when it came to boxes and clutter and mess. When we moved here just over three weeks ago, I made a commitment to keep whatever I could as clean as I could so that removing the clutter could be easier. For the most part, that meant sweeping the floor that I could see and making sure the dishes were kept up. Sometime before the weekend, something snapped and dishes and sweeping wasn't good enough for me. I needed a completely clean house and I needed it NOW.

It started, embarrassingly enough, because I found lice on the girls. I hate that. I don't feel it is something to be ashamed of. It isn't really a sign that you are dirty or trashy. It usually means that you sat next to or borrowed a rubber band or brush from someone else who didn't know they had some and before you know it, the creepies are everywhere. Being in public school, it is almost inevitable that it will happen once or twice. Living in the country, it seems that you can pick them up anywhere at anytime. In this case, I think they came from swimming in a friend's pool or maybe in the creek. I'm still not 100% sure. All I know is they gross me out and I want them gone.

I found the first one exactly 24 hours before I found out I had to move here. That of course only added to stress of the situation. I managed to work the cleaning into the packing (as well as the shorter Summer haircuts I had already promised them.) I thought I was thorough enough, but I apparently missed something because I found another one less than a week ago. Finding the little buggers sent me on a spree of cleaning and scrubbing and washing everything that wasn't nailed down and spraying everything else that was. After I went through the whole "shampoo, scrub, rinse, comb, repeat..." process with all the girls  I spent three or more days going from room to room, cleaning off any flat surface, sweeping, vacuuming, mopping, scrubbing, washing, drying, folding, sorting (I don't put the clothes away, except for my own.) By the time yesterday even came around, I was just plain fed up with all of it. It felt like as soon as I cleaned somewhere, the mess was magically recreated in the same spot and I needed to start over. I was in pain, hot, sweaty, tired, hungry, thirsty, and I felt like everyone was making messes without thinking and no one was caring or helping me clean it up.

So, I yelled, I swore, I threw the broom in the corner. I hollered for the kids to "pick this up RIGHT NOW!" I bellowed at the dog to get out of the way.  When the kids came up to ask me for something, I snapped back to tell them to just leave me alone. If I saw them around anywhere, I felt the need to order them back to work and give them another chore to do. No TV, no video games, turn the radio down where I can't hear it. Just get back to work. I saw every mess as a personal attack against my peace.  The kids were just mindless mess makers wandering around the house being selfish and ignoring the work I had been doing. Oh poor me.

DH was there all day yesterday watching TV and trying to recover from his weekend (awake for 24 straight hours with only four hours of sleep and nearly no food.) I'm sure just the TV being on had something to do with my grouchiness (that is a whole different issue,) but that was only part of it. I was angry that he got to leave the house and have fun and socialize and all I ever got to do was run errands and shop when we were broke and waste gas we didn't have.  I was so focused on cleaning and being grouchy about it, that I missed that DH was smiling at me, and staring at me, and doing all the things that make me happy and love him as the Best Husband EVAR. He was simultaneously thanking me for my work and making bedroom eyes at me and I totally missed it. In fact, it took him standing up in front of me and stopping me, broom in my hand, with a big, slow hug, so get me to see what had been going on.

It is moments like those that make me love him even more. I realized that even though I hadn't been nearly as badly behaved as I have in the past, the Pity Party needed to come to an end. I took a deep breath, asked for help (nicely) for the last few things I needed to get finished, and then cooked an amazingly delicious and satisfying dinner for everyone. We all sat down to eat together and then everyone helped clean up. I went to bed, once again, with a shiny sink and happy kiddos and everything was right in the world again.

Today, I feel a little embarrassed for my bad behavior. The younger two really weren't affected by it. They've seen it before and (thankfully!) they know it will pass. They will even tell strangers, "We have heard all those bad words before, but we know better than to say them." Yeah, um...they didn't get it from TV. I really shouldn't have let it get out of hand because, sure as teens are moody, Little Heart came up to me right at bed time and unleashed a whole string of nonsense and started picking a fight. I was already calmed down by then, but I still took the bait and it was another hour or more before we sorted things out and went to bed. I hate fighting with my kids.

I know that one of the leading factors in all of this was that I was suffering from a spike in pain and I was just so tired of sitting still and hurting that I had to do SOMETHING. No, I wasn't really thinking clearly. The latest area the FM has decided to attack is my lower back. Because of the nature of the pain, that doesn't just mean my back hurts. It means by back hurts a LOT, and the stabbing, radiating pain causes my legs, knees, feet, and ankles to hurt like... well you get the idea. Wearing jeans hurts because even the SEAMS press against tender spots. Laying down isn't comfortable unless I have just taken pain meds and are about to fall asleep. Sitting is possibly the worst because even on a good day there isn't anywhere comfy for me to sit. So, I just keep getting up and walking around, and doing little things here and there, and getting worn out and grouchy from hurting.

If I would have forced myself to stick to the normal "rest, move, medicate, nap, move again" plan everything would be fine. Instead, I started working and just kept going. To be fair, I kept a pretty even pace, but I should have stopped more. I know when I don't take enough breaks I get just like a grouchy toddler. I scream, yell, throw things, snap at people, and generally make an ass out of myself.

There are only three things that make toddlers throw fits - Hungry, Tired, or Bored. As you get older, the same concept still applies but it gets a little more complicated. The factors can be listed as Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Thirsty, and Tired. Or, as we like to call it, H.A.L.T.T. (Or simply Call a Halt!) I probably have mentioned it before, but it bears repeating (particularly when I should have been using it myself.) When you get short and snippish and you can see the other people around you getting grouchy, too, you Halt! and ask yourself - Am I hungry? (When did I eat last and was it something that was good for me?) Am I angry at something or someone? (Is it within my control to change it or do I need to forgive and move on?) Am I lonely (and sad that I feel forgotten?) Am I tired? (Do I need a break or a nap?) Am I thirsty? (This one affects us more than we think.)

This isn't my own creation. It came from the wonderful wisdom of FLYLady (like so many other things that have saved my life!) I've taught my kids to use the HALTT system and it works remarkably well. Evil Genius is especially good at remembering this when she gets worked up. We go through the parts together so she can figure out what is wrong and ask for help all at once. Tiny Dancer is really good at taking care of her needs on her own so I don't really hear her use it out loud, but I know it works for her. Even though Little Heart thinks she's too old for it, I use it on her ALL THE TIME. I don't care if she is being all teen-aged-angsty or whatever. There is no excuse for being rude or taking your bad mood out on others. Ask for help or fix it, but don't lash out and bring others down with you. Had I used the HALTT on myself yesterday, I probably could have avoided the tantrum, and the throwing things, and the bad words.

Today, I feel much better than I have in a while. I'm resting more and trying to pace myself better. I've gotten back on track with remembering to eat and rest regularly. Now that the spike of pain has passed, I am much more able to keep my temper and remember what I should be doing. My kids don't seem the worse for my bad attitude yesterday. They've been a little more snuggly than usual, but that might be my imagination. I'm trying very, very hard to keep my cool and keep a smile on my face. I know I mess up but I just want to be able to move forward and do better.

That's what I love about having such an awesome family. Even when you DO mess up and say bad things, they still love you. My kids don't often hold grudges or bring up my past mistakes over and over again (not often, anyway.) They are always ready with a hug when they know you are feeling down, and they are always quick to ask for a hug when they know they have done something to make someone else mad or sad.

So, sound off - Do you still throw temper tantrums? Do your kids fight back or do they run and hide? What is the one thing you do to calm down when you know you are about to lose your cool? What do you do that always lets your family know that you love them?

Here are a few recent pics of a few of my Hearts:
WP Doing what he does best. Being Silly.

DH and FIL Doing what THEY do best (Scouting)
Little Heart on 8th grade graduation day.
Tiny Dancer looking smiley.
Evil Genius with a calculated smile to optimize the most efficient amount of cuteness and sweetness.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Yesterday, I was starting to feel a little bit lonely and set-apart from the world in my Little Country Town. Because of the move, and the ever present Lack Of Money, I just sort of feel home bound. I don't work for money outside the house, and leaving the house usually is precipitated by the need to spend money. If I don't need to spend money, I don't need to go out, and so here I stay.

Reading how much fun everyone else seems to have without me makes me feel lonelier, still. Yes, I would love to join you for a pint at the bar. Hanging out and dancing would be divine. No, I haven't seen you in forever, yes I miss you terribly, my heart is aching because I haven't gotten to ever snuggle your beautiful babies, but I can't afford the gas to drive 2 hours in any direction for any reason at all right now. I haven't made new friends out here and all my old connections seem to be severed beyond repair.

In truth, I usually feel some sort of negative emotion like loneliness, anger, frustration, anxiety, fear, or even all out depression about once a month. It is much better than it used to be, and  it doesn't last very long any more. I can usually even anticipate it, or at least understand where it comes from when it hits me. That helps me get through it and move on a little quicker.

I've learned to just deal with it because as bad as that 48 hours or so is, it is a drop in the bucket of what I used to deal with 24X7. I have come to  grips with the fact that I won't ever be rid of the Gray Monster for good. Somehow, understanding that about myself makes me feel more free. I'm not haunted and harried by the Monster. We have an agreement of sorts. It stays out of my way for the most part. If I let it out of its box every now and again, it goes back in its box when I need it to. It still tries to break free and test out the lock every once and awhile, but I'm prepared for it. I can do this.

How does this relate to my priorities? Well, last night DH and I sat up WAY too late watching a marathon on A&E of Gene Simmons Family Jewels. I love this show because it shows that Rock Stars, Playboy Models, and even their kids can be .... well, normal. These people are rich, and even powerful, but really they are just normal people. Dad works a lot. Mom runs the house and makes everything ok. Big brother is smart and funny and incredibly talented. Little sister is extremely beautiful, but modest and shy focusing her intelligence on school and her future career.

They generally don't have a lot of "drama" like most reality shows push for. Usually they are funny and goofy and sweet and loving to each other. At least until this last year or so. Like most couples they have their issues. Shannon is and has always been drop-dead-gorgeous but like any woman, she feels insecure. Gene is very driven and motivated when it comes to money, and when it comes to his "image" in public he would rather appear to be the Rock Star that has women falling all over him than a dad and husband who goes home to his wife every night. To complicate things, Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed aren't actually married. They've been together for 27 years and have raised their kids together and seem to have been blissfully happy. Recently, however, Shannon started wanting Gene to be more husband and less Rock Star. As a result, Gene started to be more philandering Rock Star and less devoted husband. Things blew up, Shannon moved to a hotel, and Gene is left in the house alone thinking about the stupid things he did because of his arrogance.

Eventually she does come home and they seem to begin to reconcile. They go on a trip as a family to Gene's birthplace to visit family that he's never seen before. He starts rethinking his "bad boy" ways and decides that maybe being a husband is what will make him happy since that is what will make Shannon happy. Sounds a little self-centered anyway, but hey, whatever works, right?

The whole trip came about because Gene was recognized by his birth town and received an award from the local officials of Haifa, Israel because he was one of their own and went on to do so much (and he HAS done a lot of charity and support work on his own. Check out the KISS website) After that, he decides to stay awhile and see more of the country that he lived in before he came to the United States. He meets his half-brother and sisters that he never knew about and reconnects with the life that he had "left behind: when he was 7. There was a point in the show where they were walking away from a Holocaust museum in Israel, and Gene was able to find his mother's name in the log of survivors from the Auschwitz death camp. To think that as a little girl, she  survived that atrocity, grew up to have Gene Simmons, moved to America  and raise him to be one of the most well known Rock Stars of our country. Shannon said, looking at the museum made her realize how petty their own problems really were.

That says it all right there. Little children watch their entire families get gassed but they survive and move on and raise children and work (at a time when women DID NOT.)  That sort of thing still happens today, too. (I won't post a link, but if you look, you will see it.) Here at home we have military who put themselves in the line of fire, every hour of every day so that I can have the luxury of sitting in my own home to complain about my problems. Many of those same brave men and women come home with permanent physical and mental injuries. Some of them even go back to keep on fighting. I can even look in my own living room and see an amazing survivor. Someone who was given a very grim prognosis and has completely blown everyone else in the world away. It was predicted that my own Little Heart was not to survive for more than a few years. Even then it would be at a far lower capacity than the "average" kids. I had nothing to do with her awe inspiring Fighter's Spirit. That is all from her and God.

Ok. I get it. I need to put on my Big Girl Panties and deal with it. Maybe I won't be able to achieve what "everyone else" in the world can. But, if a little girl can lose her entire family and still go on, if a Marine can lose both his legs and still continue to be a single parent and work to support his family, if men and women in our own land suffer abuse at the hands of their own families but decide to rise above it, if a child born with half their heart can grow up to be in the marching band, I can surely deal with this, whatever it is.

Pity party over.


Friday, July 1, 2011

And that's why I had to wash the dog in the shower

Seriously, folks. It's been THAT kind of month. By now, you all know that crap just happens. It is unfathomable, even to me living through it daily, how anyone ever manages to get ahead. Maybe it is luck (good and bad.) Perhaps I just always do things in the wrong order (and so my life doesn't follow predictable patterns either.) I'm sure some would say I've been cursed, but it can't be THAT horrible because I get plenty of joy and laughter to balance out the pain and tears. All I know, is that my life is...INTERESTING. That is the best word I can think of. Here's a run down of the last month:

June 7 - Followed up with the local Dr. He doesn't think I have a kidney infection. In fact, my kidneys look great. (Yay!) He thinks my back pain is due to a bad back. (Boo!) It's probably a slipped disk. Or two. Maybe even three. In different locations. (crap.) I'm to get an MRI for my back and see a GI dr who will probably set me up for a scope and make sure the old ulcer isn't big, bad, and worse. (Please shoot me.I hate the scope.)

June 9 - A house around the corner is for sale and  it is everything I have ever wanted in a house and more. I even talk to the realtor and take a look inside. When our lease is up in another few months, THIS is where I want to move. I make a mental note to check my credit score to see if it is high enough yet.

June 14 - Happy 10th Birthday Melody! (When did I get old enough to have a teenager AND a pre-teen?) Waitaminit...didn't I have an appointment yesterday? Oh, crap. I did. Well, I guess I can reschedule.

June 15 - Why are the cell phones off? Oh...because the auto draft info isn't valid since we cancelled the card because it was hacked. Ok. I can see that. But why is the water off? The service guy told the kids they were replacing the meter and it would be off temporarily. After being without water for three hours, I find out that it was cut off for lack of payment. It SHOULD have been cut off three weeks ago, and as soon as the clerk at City Hall found out that the meter was broken and couldn't be shut all the way off, she ordered a new meter to make SURE it gets shut off. Yeah. I thought it was a little crappy, too. Digging through my mail, I find the latest "bill" which is only a 5"X3" note card that was stuck inside a circular so I missed it and totally forgot. Now it is two months worth of bill plus a disconnect fee. Ok, so we  will just wait a week until pay day to turn the phones back on, so I can pay the water today. Ok, tomorrow (because the office is now closed for the day.)

June 16  - At 4:00 in the afternoon, I finally get the water back. I swear the woman at City Hall put our reconnect order at the bottom of the To Do list because she just doesn't like me.

June 17 - Notice to Vacate?!?!? Yes, I am late on rent, but I have been in contact with you. I have paid every last stinkin' late fee you charged me in the past and I will pay all of these too. Our lease isn't up for another two months. I'm sure they are just being nasty. It doesn't make financial sense to evict someone who pays (even though we are some times late) for being less than 10 days overdue. DH agrees to talk to them on Monday morning.He and I agree that we can pay the cell phone when this whole ordeal is over.

June 20 9:24am - DH comes back from the landlord's. He is so mad  he is kicking things. Yes they DO mean to make us move. We have until Friday. Yes, THIS Friday. Like, in four more days. Oh, but if we pay them everything (including exorbitant late fees) we can stay another week, until the end of the month. Holy crap! Can they DO this?
June 20 10:00am - I'm freaking out, I'm desperate, and I could very likely be homeless in four days. As far as I can tell, they are claiming that the lease is broken because we were late. I'm not sure they are legally able to do this, but I don't want to deal with these f-ers any more. I send a note to the realtor I spoke to last week to see if she has any leads. I have been looking at houses in town and I know there isn't anything for rent, but maybe she knows something I don't. If a miracle doesn't pass,  we will have to pack up and move back to Irving where DH's parents live because they are about to retire and we could take over the payments on their house so we don't have to sell. Please God, do not make me move back to the city when I just fell in love with this little country town.
June 20 - 11:00am - The realtor does, in fact, know of a house that is not only available, but it is vacant and ready to move into. She warns that it is small, but the owners would be happy to let us pay month to month until we find something bigger. I agree to look at it. Any choice other than a dumpster would look good to me right now. The house is owned by the realtor's son and has been in the family for years. They moved out about six months ago and have tried to sell it but they haven't had any offers. At this point, they will be happy if someone helps to cover the payments until it does finally sell. It is about 6 blocks from where we currently live so the kids wouldn't have to change schools. If we agree to fix the fence (they already bought the parts,) do the cleaning to get it ready to move in, and let them keep it on the market to sell while we live there they will waive the deposit. Yes we can bring the dog and no we don't need to worry about a pet deposit either. Of course, I am scared now wondering what tiny trashed out, hole am I getting us into.

June 20 11:30am -  As we turn down the street, I'm really nervous. Most of these houses are tiny and so old they are falling down. Then, we pull up to the house and at first I think it will  be way too small. Then we walk in. Not only is it roughly the same square footage as the house we are currently in, it has been completely rebuilt in the last three years.Everything is new. All the appliances come with it - even the washer and dryer (how did they know that my own washer broke a month ago and I've been doing laundry at WP's since then?) And also, there is a dishwasher. (I almost cried for joy right there!) Everything is beautiful and modern. The paint is tastefully neutral but still not white or beige. They have blinds and curtains in all the windows. This place looks like the show houses in new home neighborhoods! Pergo  floors in the living areas, carpet in the bedrooms, a HUGE backyard with a deck and a privacy fence, and ceiling fans in every room (with remotes!!!) "Does your husband like to grill? We were planning on leaving the gas grill. I know there is only one bathroom, but it has a double sized shower AND a garden tub. We had three big dogs, so your one dog should love it here."
I wanted to pinch myself. This is more than I could ever have dreamed of. The "mess" that they wanted cleaned up? a few dust piles that were swept but not put into the trash bags. The reason they thought it was too small was because we had three bedrooms before but this one only had two and two living areas. The thing is, we were only currently using two of the bedrooms AS bedrooms. The third was an office anyway. The rooms were all bigger here anyway. The very best part of all of it? Besides waiving the deposit, they said we could move in as soon as we wanted. "Don't worry about rent for June. We already paid it anyway. Just give us July's rent on the first and we'll be good." Plus, the dishwasher runs like a dream.

In just about 2 hours I went from Panic, to Hopeful, to Thankful, and now I was in Planning Mode. The nasty landlord could take my deposit as the last month's rent. I'm not paying him a penny more than I have to. And I have four days to move. DH looked at the house on his lunch break and he was more impressed than I was. I managed to land us a  great house, in the same town at the same rent, ready to move  into, for no money out of pocket, and I managed it in TWO HOURS. Yeah, I was pretty proud of myself, too. And Thanking God for His miracle (and the dishwasher.)

June 21 - I rent a storage unit a mile or so outside of town. The only one IN town was owned by the Nasty Landlord. We get a great deal on a huge unit and I go home to start packing the first load to go into it.We secure a truck, a trailer, and a buddy for Saturday. That meant not paying for a moving truck. DH and I  both agree that we can't be out any sooner than Sunday. We also agree that we will not wait until the last minute to do anything. We start packing, Anything non-essential goes to the storage unit (this is easy, because all our non-essentials were still boxed up from the move 10 months ago.) The stuff that we need for the house gets packed up in bins, baskets, and the few empty boxes we have. We take them to the new house, empty them, put the stuff away, and take the bins back to the old house to use again. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. We did this several times a day through Friday night.
DH is working from home, so he spends his lunch hour packing and making one trip to the storage unit. Then, as soon as he logs out at work, he packs, loads, and delivers at least two van loads every night before going to bed. I still have pain, fatigue, and three kids home for the Summer to deal with. I try to do as much as I can, and I enlist the kids to help out as much as they can, but I still have to rest and nap at least twice a day.

June 25 - Technically, we were supposed to be "gone" by yesterday, but the Nasty Landlord hasn't showed up so we put him out of our minds and focus on moving out. Our friend shows up and helps us move everything we can fit in a van. By 4:00 our other friend shows up with the trailer and we can move the heavy stuff and anything too big to fit in a van. The trailer is only 4'X8' so this means moving one piece of furniture at a time. Thankfully, we have only a few blocks to go between houses. By the time he leaves at 9:00, all the beds are moved to the new house so at 11:00 we all crash hard. This is the first night in the new house.

June 26 - Mother and Father in law show up to help finish up the move. I have no idea what I would do without these amazing and wonderful people. By 11:30 that night, we are completely moved out of the old house and it is cleaned. In fact, it is in better shape than when we moved in.

Today, a week later, we are still unpacking and I'm not quite sure where everything will go. A lot of our craft stuff and most of our books and movies are in storage. The second living area is really big so Little Heart gets to have it as her bedroom as long as we can have our essential craft stuff in there, too. We are going to rig a pretty curtain across the doorway so she can have a little privacy, but it isn't totally necessary. The younger two get a bedroom to share and it is big enough that we could break down their bunk beds and let them sleep on separate sides of the room for the first time. In spite of my trepidation, we hooked up a TV in there so that they can watch movies and stuff while DH is working. With the door closed, you can't even tell that there is a TV in there. The front room has a desk for my computer and my bead work. The owners left  this awesome big desk in there and it has room for everything I need it for. DH set up a small desk for his work in our bedroom so he has the extra noise reduction of the bedroom door while he is on the phone.Even our pet seems happier! Earlier this week, I had to give the BBD (Big Black Dog) a bath so I could give him the monthly flea treatment. I t was really hot outside and I really didn't feel like squatting and leaning over him so I brushed him really well and walked him right into the shower. I used the detachable part of the shower head, sat right on the shower floor next to him, and was able to wash him with the door closed so he couldn't jump out. It was the easiest bath he's ever gotten (he might have a different story though.)

Is it perfect? No. Is it amazingly better than I could have ever hoped  for? Absolutely. Everyone agrees that this is the prettiest and nicest house we have ever lived in. No one feels cramped. We all have our own spaces now. The kitchen and dining area are set up to make the most of the space they have. We even put a rolling "island" in the middle and we can still move around with no trouble. The kids haven't complained even once about the dishes because, of course, we have a dishwasher.

I even think this place is better for my health. Since moving in, I haven't had as much pain, I haven't had to sleep as much, and I have gone to bed every night with a shiny sink and a swept floor. In spite of the curve ball we have all been thrown, things actually seem more peaceful, calm, and altogether happier than I remember feeling in a long time. DH and I have been throwing around the idea of not moving out when we get our credit repaired. We might just stay here and use the money we would have spent on a bigger house to build on to this one. This house was built in a way to make adding on a room very easy. The front and back yards are both so big we could add on rooms, work sheds, and maybe even a garage and there would still be plenty of room left to breathe. Besides that, the whole house is new and in great condition. There isn't another house in town that we can say that about, except for the newly added on subdivision across the highway. Those houses are much bigger - too big - and MUCH more pricey (TOO pricey.) We haven't made the final choice yet, but not having to move again sure sounds good to me.

Today was our first real "day off" since we found out about the move. DH and I took the kids out all day. We went window shopping at IKEA and we finally got to the eye doctor so DH could get new glasses (he has only been putting it off for 8 years or so.) We ate dinner at a real restaurant (for a change) and we laughed so loud at dinner that the waitress thought we were crazy.  I feel more relieved and stress free than I feel I have a right to.

So, tonight I am going to bed and sleeping well.