dream walk

Normally I’d be at work, but we took today off! I’m starting off the morning by blogging about something that means a lot to me.

My parents are many things, but most importantly, they are crazy financially savvy. They started out their marriage living in an attic apartment and pretty much on welfare. Their wedding was mostly immediate family and they only had a dinner for a reception (sound familiar?). Their ability to put family first, material goods second, allowed them to put me and my sisters through sixteen years of Catholic education and pay for the majority of our weddings. Despite the fact that my dad was making six figures, they continued to shop at Aldi’s, bought their cars used, and never left the small two bedroom home where my mom grew up.

I don’t know if Husband and I will ever be that financially savvy. We don’t want kids, we want to go to Montana and New Zealand. Buying cars used now is a waste of money, because of the junk car program. All the used cars cost one or two thousand less than a new car. We don’t want to buy a house.

I guess I should say we would like to be a different kind of financially savvy.

Ever since Husband and I made a (pretty) permanent decision that we’re not going to have kids, we talked about what we’d like to do instead. And I’ve already mentioned a few of those things. First of all, get out of commercial debt! Yikes, credit card bills! No more! We also have travel plans! I want to go to Montana, Dallas, Seattle, Washington D.C., North Carolina, and New Orleans. Husband really wants to go to New Zealand and London. We’d also like to get a new car that doesn’t do 17 mpg. Finally, we’d like to buy a condo.

WWWHHHAAATTTT.

(We also have financial goals for our godson and Stepson, but those aren’t planned out because we have to decide on an account and such.)

We both knew we were never going to get a house. First of all, if you want to live in (a nice part) of Chicago and get a house? Easily a million. That’s actually how much the two flat we’re staying in is worth. Yikes! Plus, we’re both really lazy. Currently, we don’t have lights in our bedroom. I’m not kidding. The lights went out for the fan back in July, and the bulbs are weird, so we never replaced them. I can’t imagine having to take care of a yard or replacing a water heater, or tuckpointing, or all that boring stuff. I don’t care. I don’t want responsibility.

But we don’t want to rent forever. Properties are tricky to invest in, and blah blah blah, but when we’re older I’d like to be able to sell off a property and go live in a home. Or a fancy retirement community. Whatever.

However, how were we ever going to get the money for a down payment on anything? We’re putting all our money towards our debt. And child support. So we haven’t talked about buying a condo in a long time because it really made me sad. I couldn’t see us getting one anytime in the near future.

And let me say here that’s it’s still not going to happen in the near future.

BUT.

The other weekend my parents sat us down. I felt good about it because my mom is weird about telling you news. If it’s super serious, she will casually throw it out there. It is one of our big family jokes. She will be ironing and say, ‘By the way? Guess what happened? So and so DIED.’ And you like choke on the Coke you were drinking because of it. But she will sit you down and hold your hands and take a deep breath …. “What do you want me to make for your birthday dinner?” Seriously.

BACKSTORY: Ever since Husband’s grandma died and they all had to go on a treasure hunt for her will, I begged my parents to make sure everything was ready to go for their deaths. Since I’m the youngest, I really won’t have to deal with any of that, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want them prepared. They hadn’t touched their wills since I was seven! Technically (like, haha technically) I’m moving in with my aunt if they die! I even told them to write down some things they wanted for their funeral. Ahem. This stuff is important! Husband and I have talked about it too. BE PREPARED. Even if it’s creepy and weird to think about, PREPARE. Ok. Backstory over.

They told us they had been talking about it and they didn’t want us to have to wait to get money. So they wanted to give us part of our inheritance now. They were already helping out my sister with getting her house, but since we didn’t want a house, we could use the money on a condo. Or not take it at all. Then they told us the amount, and Husband fainted (just kidding). But it completely solved the ‘we don’t have any money to put down’ dilemma.

And so we started dreaming.

Now, like I said, we’re probably about three to five years away from actually buying anything. And that is even if our debt destruction keeps going according to plan. I would like to be completely debt free before we invest in a condo (and so would the bank). But that doesn’t mean we can’t look!

Even though condos are notoriously cheaper than houses, they’re still a big purchase, and our neighborhood (and its surrounding one) is really, really nice. But we found condos in our price range! And they are really good condos! Like, condos with a porch. Condos with CENTRAL AIR. Condos with in unit washer/dryer! Condos with sun room dining rooms! Condos with exposed bricks and pipe! So I made a list:

Must Haves: dishwasher, two bedroom, in building washer/dryer, good street parking, linen closet, good kitchen counters

Really Good: in unit washer dryer, parking space, double basin kitchen sink

Would Be Nice: porch, garage parking, central air

 

I’m very excited, and grateful to my parents for thinking ahead on this for us. Husband and I took a walk to see the condo buildings we might potentially live in some day. We talked seriously about what we’d have to do now to get there in the future. It’s a tough, but great conversation to have, and it makes me so excited about the future!

 

We have also been making plans about our current and future car. Because everything is still up in the air, though, I’m saving that post for when things actually happen.

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renovations

Everything started because of guilt.

Which, I supposed, is not a great place to start. But you gotta start somewhere, and it got the ball rolling. So.

 

Husband and I only have Stepson twice a month. I’ve mentioned here that he sleeps in our ‘back room’, which is intended to be a cross between a den and a sun room. But we put a sleeper sofa back there, and we were halfing it — half was Stepson’s room, and half was Husband’s bike tinkering area.

It worked out well because we usually spent our weekends with Stepson at other places. We had clothes and toys for Stepson back there, but we were always out and about and he never really spent any time there.

 

Then, we started changing our priorities. Husband really wanted to focus on spending weekends in Chicago. It was fine, except now Stepson was now doing a lot more living in the back room. Or trying to, anyway. There was a lot of Husband’s bike stuff back there. Like air pumps and tire spokes and bike tools. It was pretty cramped. He was usually picking a few toys and bringing them into a different part of the apartment to play, which really annoyed me, because I was stepping on a scattered Lego days later.

Last year I cleaned up the area, but it did not stay clean long. Husband was not being tidy at all back there, and Stepson started following suit. I wasn’t really enforcing anything because things were just sort of there, not organized or collected in a bin. I felt bad, but I also felt overwhelmed by the idea of cleaning it up. I told myself it didn’t matter because Stepson was only back there once or twice a month. It was okay.

 

In May, we were dropping him off and I went up with Stepson to his room. It was a disaster pit. He had a bed and a desk, that was it. Everything was covered in papers, clothes, and toys. I couldn’t even see the carpet. There were pillows from the living room couch in the mess, as well as storage tubs of Christmas decorations. I found a pair of soiled underwear. I cleaned off his desk and convinced Stepson to clean up a few games and some Legos from the floor before I had to go.

I was horrified that she let him live in a room like that, a thought which was immediately followed by ‘He plays in a room with bike equipment and dirty clothes at your house.’

I wanted to change things around.

And then summer came and it was hot and he mostly slept in the air mattress in our bedroom and we were everywhere and I let it go. Again.

 

But now things are really starting to change for him. Husband’s ex is having a baby in December, and Stepson will have to share his room. He’ll have to get used to his mom shifting priorities for a baby again. There will be four kids in the house now. I think about this a lot. I think about what our weekends and apartment might mean for him once this happens. Maybe what they mean to him now. A place where the focus is just on him? A room of his own? A spot to play and not worry about someone destroying what he creates or eating his toys?

I don’t know how he feels, but I felt guilt. I felt guilty that our apartment just might mean all these things to him, and what were we giving him? Half the time now Husband was tossing him in the bed, and he was playing there too, because the room was so cluttered there was no space for him in the room to sit and play.

Yikes.

 

I started thinking. I started imagining. I started drawing up a plan. Thursday night, Husband came home to find me in the back room, crying out in disgust and hauling through all the shit. He asked, I explained, and he got to work.

He’s good like that.

We sorted clothes and toys. We made executive decisions and tried to find and save every last Lego. We turned his bed and folded his clothes.

 

This morning, Husband went through his side of the room. We fixed our closet space and put his clothes back there. He went through his bike equipment and tossed some, found homes for others. I went through a purge of some other things and we made a big Goodwill donation.

I’m excited for what we created, the room we made. From what we got and what we will get, we’ll only be spending about $75 to make it happen. I wish I could show everything RIGHT NOW, but we haven’t bought everything yet. Here’s a sneak peek:

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Am I embarrassed that it took us so long (2 and a half years!) to do this? Yes. Am I glad we’re turning things around and doing it now? YES!

the weirdest fix ever

For about a week and a half now, things have been going much better.

I feel good (not ecstatic, but not depressed) about work.

Husband thinks that the reason things started to go downhill for me was the change in weather and season. I think the downswing from summer to fall is always rough on me emotionally. I have a few weeks where I can’t seem to find the joy in anything, and then I go back to normal. It’s sort of like when you get menstrual cramps — at the time, you can’t focus on anything but the pain, and it seems unbearable, but once it’s over, you pretty much forget it ever happened — until the next time.

At the time I was like, ‘Ok, whatever,’ but now that it’s ‘over’, I think he might be right.

think this means I have some form of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), but I don’t really want to label myself. About half of my bloggers labeled themselves as having SAD, and they act like they are martyrs. I just, I can’t. Really? Really. When your doctor gives you the real diagnosis, and you don’t think you have it simply because you miss the sun, we’ll talk.

Ok. So.

All that wasn’t affecting my work, though. I was really struggling, as I mentioned, and I didn’t know what was going on. I spent half of each day fantasizing about quitting and ranting at everyone.

Honestly, I didn’t think anyone could tell. I don’t why I thought I was such a gifted actress, but I thought my coworkers just assumed I had nothing to talk about anymore and that’s why I was so silent all the time. I thought I had my poker face on. I was wrong. One day, my super sweet coworker admitted to me that she wasn’t trying to bother me with anything because she could see that I was really upset and she didn’t want me to blow up at her.

Reality check.

I sat myself down right then and there and really thought about what was happening. I was isolating myself from my coworkers, I was doing shitty work, and I wasn’t giving my best to the babies, who hadn’t done anything wrong. I had to figure out what was triggering this, and I had to turn it all around.

Then I heard one of my kids getting up from a nap. We’ll call her Young. Now, Young was on a really tight schedule, even though she was eleven months old. Her parents wanted her meals and two naps at certain times and got irritated if A) she didn’t get these things on time or B) her naps weren’t long enough (each one was expected to be a hour long).

We had been struggling with her for two months now. She had stopped drinking most of her bottles, she was crabby about eating, and she HATED to nap now. We were spending about 45 minutes to a hour, twice a day, trying to get her to nap for what ended up being a hour total, a hour and a half on a good day. Instead of focusing on all the babies, we were putting our energy into her. It was driving all of us nuts.

Let me rephrase that last sentence.

IT WAS MAKING ME INSANE.

I looked at her, sitting up in her crib with an eat shit grin after a 20 minute nap, which was after a hour (and I’m not exaggerating here) of me rocking her crib and patting her back. A hour where I could have been feeding, playing with, and changing the seven other kids in the room. I realized that she was weeks away from turning one. It was time for a transition. Young was ready for one mid-day nap, and had been trying to tell us that for days now. We were all just too chicken shit to get the message and convey it to her parents.

I practically shouted, “IT’S OVER!!!”

We told her parents what was what, told them it was a command and not a suggestion, and put her on a one nap schedule.

They say things don’t change overnight.

This changed everything overnight.

ONE DAY. One day of this new plan — she took a two hour nap. She ate like a champ, drank all her bottles, and the ‘fussiness’ her parents warned us she would give? Non existent.

I almost cried.

We marveled over the calm that settled in the room. Instead of spending all this time rocking her, we take ten minutes or less once a day to put her down. That’s it. We felt less rushed, we felt less panicked and angered over her lack of sleep. The babies took their cue from us and settled down. The coworker that was scared to talk to me now said, ‘You feel better from this already; I can tell.’

I did.

I still am not crazy about work, but I like going now. I feel confident about my ability. This story is a great reminder that I need to trust my instincts and stop letting my fear of the parents keep me from helping the babies. It’s really, really hard to tell someone what to do for their kid. But giving a baby what they need is more important than pride.

I’m still writing a lot. I wrote 2,000 words on Sunday, so I took a break for the rest of the week. I got NANOWRIMO coming up next month, so I’m trying to finish my current WIP so I can start a new one. Writing is really therapeutic for me and I’m discovering my own way of writing — brain dump first, edit later. It’s working for me and stopping my doubts from halting my writing. I don’t know if I’m what I’m writing is any good, probably not, but it’s good for me, so I do it.