Wednesday, July 28, 2010

words to live by

"Laugh when you can, apologize when you should, and let go of what you can't change. Kiss slowly, play hard, forgive quickly, take chances, give everything and have no regrets. Life's too short to be anything but happy." ~~ Unknown

My son is the most amazing little guy in the world. He is everything to me.

I would do anything to keep him safe. I would give up anything so that he could have more. I would die for him if there were a choice between his life and mine. In the meantime, I live for him. He is why I am still here.

Evidence of brilliance:
We have a galley-style kitchen and I've put a baby gate in place so that he can't get into it. (There are too many dangers in the kitchen to let him wander free in there yet: knives, heavy things, hot things, electronics, chemicals, cat food, cat box, trashcans, etc. All the cabinets are baby-proofed just in case, but for the most part it's better if he's in the living room playing with his toys than underfoot while I'm trying to cook.) Yesterday I was cooking our dinner and he started bringing me clothes from the couch. (I had gotten all the laundry done late the night before but hadn't hung it up yet.) Normally, he brings me toys and balls, and things and throws them over the gate to me and I'll toss them back out of the kitchen for him. Since it was clothing, I didn't want it on the kitchen floor, so I looked at him and very seriously said, "James, I like that you're bringing me things, but those clothes don't need to be in here, could you take them back to the couch, please?" He toddled off with the clothes while I finished cooking and dishing up his dinner. After dinner, I got a clean towel for him off the couch and noticed that all the clothes he'd brought to me were back on the couch almost exactly where they'd come from. :)

Further evidence:
This morning, I was trying to get us out the door so I was sitting in our room putting my shoes on and he was playing near me so I said to him, "James, we need to get ready to go, it's time to put your shoes on, where are your shoes?" and he ran out of the room. I finished tying my shoes and started to get up to go after him when he reappeared with both of his shoes, came over to me, sat down, and handed them to me. :D

He doesn't say much yet, but he's such a smart little man.

I hug him every chance I get. I pick him up and fly him around (I know I won't be able to do it for too much longer). I kiss him. We snuggle. I read to him. We teach each other things. I tickle him, and he's learned to blow raspberries on me. We play together. I sing to him. We laugh. Our lives are full of love. Becoming James' mother cost me dearly, but it turns out that I've gained so much more than I lost... being his mother is seriously the best thing I've ever done and may be the best thing I ever do in this life. I don't want to waste a moment of the time I have with him.

Thank you for being a part of this with us.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The things we have to give up... to keep the things that really matter.

"It takes enormous courage and belief to meet your destiny in life; you can see it so closely, and yet you still have to struggle toward it. Once you're aware of its existence, it's more a hard-fought objective than a preordained fact."

I had thought that I would be able to make all of the life-upgrades I was hoping to make this year. It would've been tight, but at the end of everything I would've been in no more debt than I currently am.

Things have changed.

I'm having to put off a lot of things so I can deal with an abrupt and profound budget short-fall on both the financial and time scales.

The important thing here is that everything will be okay in the long run even if it's not okay right now or for the next few months.

Things would've been easier during this time if my car hadn't just eaten up my savings, but it had to be fixed, and it should now run perfectly (or close to it) for the next 6-12 months. The savings being gone means no new furniture (beyond the table/chairs I picked up for really cheap on C-list). Luckily, I think James will be okay in his crib for a while longer.

I'm exploring options to try to earn more money through part-time jobs. I have two leads so far. I also have some jewelry that I made a while back that I can put on an Etsy site and I've finally got my workbench organized so that I can make more, which will be good until I run out of materials. Through these avenues, I should be able to make enough to keep the internet on in the apartment (which will be how I do one of the part-time jobs and how I keep the Etsy site updated) and to bring in a little to put towards our deficit.

I'm trying to find ways to lower our costs. I've already been clipping coupons and shopping on certain days to get good deals on food. I've got a Costco membership because buying in bulk is almost always cheaper in the long run than buying in other ways. It's just the up-front outlay that is problematic. I keep the AC turned up warm and have programmed it to be more efficient. I've learned to live without a lot of things. I'm learning to use up all of something before buying new. (This includes cutting tubes open and getting every last bit of toothpaste or whatever out.)

I think I've done as much budget trimming on my phone bill as I could, and my interest rates are as low as they can be with my credit cards. I called and redid my auto/renter's insurance stuff the other day and, though I wasn't able to get the amount lowered, am now getting much more service for the same price.

James and I have been eating breakfast out 1-2 times a week so that I can get him used to eating in public and to give me a break from cooking/ give us a way to socialize with others, but I'm prepared to give that up. I'm already cooking/ putting together all of our other meals, usually making 2 big batches of food each week with some smaller meals interspersed, then alternating leftovers through the week so we don't get bored and so we keep our nutrition up by eating diverse things. The only thing I won't cut is our (mostly) seasonal organic fruits/ veggies, but I'm thinking we may need to try the farmer's market approach rather than getting them at the grocery store. I need to do a closer cost-benefit analysis to determine if it's really a better way to do things or not. If anyone's already done that, let me know. :)

The cats are eating a cheaper food and less of it. (They're both a little overweight, so now they're eating only the daily recommended amount instead of what they'd like which is about a third more than that.) I'm not scrimping on their litter though... cheap litter is way more work, way more smell, and way worse for the environment.

I've got possessions I can try to sell. We're going to gear up for the next Mama Cents consignment sale. I was hoping to keep most of James' outgrown things for my sisters for whenever they get started on kids, but, as they say: "Les temps sont durs pour les rêveurs.", and it could be years before they get around to it. I'll look through my clothes/shoes again to see if there's anything that any of the resale clothing shops in town would take. I have a few furniture items that might sell for a few dollars on C-list too. I guess I'll go back through my books again. I hate selling my books. I dream of one day having enough bookshelves to put them all out but at this rate, by the time I have the excess money for more bookshelves, I won't need them... and I guess that'll work out. :)

I'm putting off some medical work I need, and also some that I wanted. (Among other things, I was supposed to have a surgery in September.) I'm not going to die without having any of those things done so it'll be okay to wait a while longer on it. I've got things I can do that'll make things easier on me in the meantime. Maybe we'll be in a better position next year. :)

I'm also hoping that we get a scholarship at our current daycare, the application period starts next month and the discount would go into effect in September. It would help. Another couple of handfuls of sand in our bucket. The other thing that could happen that would be good is if we finally got into UT's daycare because it's slightly less expensive than our current daycare.

I'm keeping my class for the fall. It's already paid for and in the grand scheme of things it's not going to make a huge financial difference, but not taking it now would negatively effect us a lot by setting me back another year. Taking this class now and continuing with classes in the spring/ summer/ etc. is the only way I'll have the pre-reqs done in time to apply to the program I want to be in in 2012. I'm on a five year plan starting in August. When I get done, James and I will be able to have a much better life. The sooner we get to that day, the sooner I can stop fearing for our future so much.

I'm holding on to my ACL pass for now, but will probably end up selling it. The whole festival is sold out and that bodes well for at least getting my money back on it... but my sadness at the thought of missing it AGAIN... is pretty intense.

Anyway, that's where I am so far. I have faith that we'll be okay even if it's ugly for a while. I mostly feel good about what I've done and what I'm doing so far. It's a hard time, but we're moving forward. I just wish I could sleep better. :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010


I've been busy over the last month. The bottom dropped out of a relationship I had high hopes for... and after I hit the ground pretty hard and lay there dazed and confused for a bit... I shook myself out, got back up, and got back to where I was heading before I got really distracted. Which is, as ever (despite occasional downfalls or detours): onward and upward.

Ways I've improved my life over the last few weeks:

Started reading to James every day again. We took a break for a little while because he just wasn't interested but that's changed and now he even brings me books and says, "B'uh! B'uh!"

Got internet at home.

Got an awesome friend's old laptop that she didn't need/ want anymore and started writing again.

Thoroughly cleaned and organized the apartment/ got things together for charity donation/ sale.

Have gotten my ACC admission status updated and am waiting for assessment test results so that I can register for class (the first of several pre-reqs for UT grad school).

Have talked to UT about their Alternative Entry Master's of Nursing program and have a little over a year long plan for how to get accepted so that I can join their program Summer 2012.

Started going to work early.

Started keeping a daily record of all the things I do at work.

Have taken on more responsibilities at work.

Scheduled appointments for various things I've been just living with instead of dealing with.

Stopped buying concert tickets and also have stopped buying extraneous things. I went through a bad spate of purchasing. Done with that now. Have turned inward... and also toward buying used.

Started bringing my breakfast and lunch to work almost every day and using reusable containers instead of plastic bags for the most part. Ideally I'd bring my own food in every day, but sometimes, I'm just too tired at night to do more than pack James' lunch.

Started listening to Spanish and French language tapes at work. I'm hoping to be conversational-ish in a few more months.

Ways I need/want to improve my life that I have either barely started on or am still in the process of getting started on:

Buy new socket covers and rework the child proofing in the apartment because James has figured out how to take the cheap ones out of the wall since my outlets are all loose.

Start going to bed earlier. I'm getting there every few days, but not regularly... and this may be a pipe dream. After all, who has time to sleep?

Register to take the GRE and a prep course.

Get a new phone. The screen on mine is scratched all to hell and every time I drop it it comes apart. I should be eligible for the iPhone 4 in October or so... but I saw this video the other day talking about the Evo phone and, even though I hate Sprint more than bad lettuce, I actually started thinking about other phones as an alternative to the iPhone. Of course, the only real concern with the iPhone and continuing with AT&T is that the plan is more expensive than the one I've got now... but I've really cut down on the texting so I could probably do without unlimited now and with my UT discount, maybe it wouldn't be unreasonable.

I need to actually get rid of the culled items from my apartment (they're living in my outdoor closet which is currently piled high and deep). I should get rid of even more than the stuff in there, too. (It'd help if I had someone not-emotionally attached to any of my stuff to help me do the getting rid of it part... I'm not a hoarder... but I do have some crap that I've carted around for a while for only emotional reasons.)

I have shelves (in pieces) that I need to put up. (I suck at straight lines... and I don't have a level. It's also hard for me to do projects like that when James is running around like a tiny madman. Again I wish for a second pair of hands/ arms/ eyes.) The two shelves that are up from the set of several are heavily used.

New furniture: My mattress/ bed is so old you can feel the springs. James will soon outgrow his crib. There's a particular problem with being a single mother and trying to date while living in a one bedroom apartment with a child. I believe that this can be, if not remedied, at least ameliorated, with a pull-out couch or a futon in the living room. I want to get rid of my computer desk (which is falling apart) and replace it with a dining table so that I can teach my child good table manners. Recap: two beds, a table/chairs, and a new couch. I have no idea how I'll be able to afford such things... but I'll find a way. I'm trying to make my apartment into my safe sanctuary. I've always looked to other people to provide that feeling of safety and security for me... but that's just not really realistic anymore.

Improved work out regimen. I sprained my ankle a few weeks ago, but it feels better again, so it's time to ramp things back up. Prior to the sprain I was running a few days a week, biking to/ from the daycare/ work, and playing soccer whenever I could get the time and a sitter or a playdate for James on the weekends. I have a 7 week training schedule to help me be ready to run 5k races by this fall taped to the wall by my door and I bought running shoes recently. I think since I'm going back to school, I'm going to have to give up soccer after this season and just start running. I'll miss the social aspects and the competitiveness and chasing/kicking things and... well... pretty much everything about soccer, but it's too hard to get to practices or games now. With just running, at the worst, I can do it almost anywhere and I can take James with me in the jogging stroller. I need to add yoga back in and ankle strengthening exercises too. Maybe I'll join a running group for real this fall. I wasn't ready to commit to one this summer. A group would help me socially. I need to meet people... I miss the rush of meeting new people even if they don't stick around... hell, I miss keeping up with friends socially... and I'm cut off from social networking at work now... so I'm at a bit of a loss here.

I need to work on my inner self so that when I'm done fixing my circumstances, I'll be as good on the inside as I am on the outside. I'm tired of being fragile and broken and full of spikes and sharp pieces. I just want to be... whole and round and smooth and fine, completely fine, on my own... and I'm getting there. I guess I mostly just really miss having someone there to sleep next to me, someone to share things with and do things for and with... who is an adult and can reciprocate... but I guess I'm not ready... that's what I've started to believe... I wasn't ready for a relationship when I tried to get into one... and so I acted completely not myself because I still don't know who I am right now... which is what I've been trying to figure out for the last many months. I'm so used to adapting to my circumstances... to being a chameleon and changing to fit where I am (I've done it for years and years and years... not in all ways... just in many) that a question I finally had to ask myself recently was... "do I really like [thing] or did I just like it because [person] liked it"... and that probably means I'm still not ready... no matter how much I wish I were.

Getting out of debt. I'm trying to adjust my spending. I still want to and will make goal-oriented purchases, but I'm eliminating, as much as possible, random expenditures.

Improved interactions with the Child's Father (the CF) while maintaining my personal integrity and keeping my child's safety and mental health as the top priority. I honestly don't know how I can hold my ground and still improve things with the CF. It may not be possible.

Improved relations with my family.

I need to pay more attention to the world around me... I've had a light, but I felt, succinct, handle on politics for a long time, but it's becoming more and more important for me to try to get things right for my son in as many ways as I can, and that includes politics, from the local all the way up.

I also need to figure out some volunteering opportunities. My graduate program application requires them but, even before I knew that, I knew I needed to get my hands dirty in a medical/ emotional sense to really know if I have what it takes to be a professional in this field or not. If anyone has any advice on or recommendations of medically related volunteer ops, please let me know.

Ways my life will improve in the next six months that aren't on the above list:

My car will be paid off in November.

I will be on my way to getting into graduate school.

If I make the above changes I know that my circumstances will change. I want James and I to be so very happy. I want to be the best mother possible and to provide the best things I can for my son. I also want to be the person someone wants to come home to and I want to be the someone a person wants to come home to them. I want to like coming home to myself. :)

It may take longer than six months for true and deep changes to happen... but I'm working toward a defined higher purpose and that's helpful... I have goals and dreams and I'm being as realistic about it all as I can without tipping over into pessimism.