~my thoughts about life~

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Survived the Storm

I made it.  I survived 2015.  I realize you probably think I'm being a little dramatic, that most people to utter that phrase are referring to surviving something like cancer.  Thanks to God, I don't have to say that I'm a cancer survivor.  But I will say that the past twelve months have been the most difficult time of my life.  While I wouldn't want to repeat it for a million dollars, I must admit that I'm thankful I went through it.  I learned.  I learned a lot.  And I'm better off today and more thankful because of it.

Rewind to one year ago right now.  Hubby was working in another state for 10 days because he was that dedicated to his company's operation.  Yes, it was Christmas.  No, I couldn't sacrifice him.  But he did it anyway. "We'll make it worth your while," he was told.  Sure, he got a couple extra hundred bucks, but it definitely wasn't worth his while.

I took on so much extra stress while he was gone. I took on too much.  I ended up in the hospital twice with what turned out to be a pinched nerve.  I honestly thought I had a brain tumor and was dying.  It was a long road of recovery, and I still feel the effects of it.  But I keep up with my physical therapy exercises at home and I haven't had a recurrence since.  What I learned:  know your limits, value health, family always comes through.  My mom ended up having to take care of my children, who were down with a horrid flu, because I was lying immovable in bed, in excruciating pain, on Christmas Day.

A couple weeks later, I had a partial hysterectomy.  Much less painful than the previously mentioned event, this was one of the best parts of my year.  I have had no complications and my life is so much better since the surgery.  No complaints there!

Sometime between Spring and Summer, I went through the most difficult parenting trial ever.  And I thought the toddler years were difficult!  I guess I'm not cut out to be the mom of teenagers.  I would rather clean up baby vomit from my shoulder and sit on the carpet singing You Are My Sunshine.  But to sit up at night, lecturing your son on the dangers of following the wrong crowd...I don't have the strength for that.  Lesson learned:  there's no such thing as too tough.  Even though the other parents are lax and seem to have no worries, their kids are up to the same things...they just don't know it.  Cherish the good times, no matter how few and far between they are.  Demand family time, demand participation.  Demand respect, demand accountability.  When rules aren't followed and attitudes are poor, there are no luxuries.  My only requirements as a parent are to provide food and shelter.  Luxuries are earned and will be given when seen fit.  I can't say that this battle is over, but it's definitely better.  We still argue, we still fight.  (That's normal.)  But he has learned not to take it too far.  He knows when to stop.  He's trying harder, I think.  We're all happier now.  (Although I'm none too happy about the C in Pre-Calc right now.  "Choose your battles....choose your battles....")

In Summer, Hubby started the police academy.  I knew it would be a challenge, but I didn't know how great!  He left for work every morning by 6:00 AM.  He typically came home around 2:00 for an hour or two.  He left for school then and got home at 10:00 PM.  The kids were in bed by then, so I warmed up his dinner and we sat together while he ate, eyes drooping shut.  Saturdays and Sundays were all day.  That wasn't the worst of it.  That job he gave so much for (remember 10 days out of state?) started giving him trouble.  His boss suddenly got angry about what he was doing.  Even though it was discussed before he started, even though his boss knew what was involved, even though he agreed to Hubby getting off early (and docking his pay because of it), he decided to change the rules.  He started giving him longer and farther away routes.  While other drivers were getting back to the terminal between noon and 2:00, Hubby was staying out until 4:00.  He had to call Son #1 to meet him off the highway to bring his school clothes.  When he talked to his boss about it, his boss said that he shouldn't waste time going home between work and school.  He needed to go straight from one to another.  So, that meant that he no longer saw the kids Monday through Thursday.  Hubby reminded his boss that he was aware of the situation and agreed to it in advance.  His reply was, "I know and I wish I would have never done that!"  He ended up writing Hubby up for not being dedicated to "The Team."  Hubby was crushed.  He had never, ever been written up before.  For weeks, we thought they were going to fire him.  He was working as hard as he could and was doing more than other drivers.  It was so incredibly irritating.  This man, who has been like family for 20 years now, shattered my husband.  Hubby lost his natural father when he was 11.  His boss stepped in and became a father figure to him.  He hugged him, told him he loved him, and always supported him.  Suddenly, he stopped.  It angered me that Hubby had to lose two fathers in life.

Lesson learned:  never count on anything or anyone.  Things can change in a heartbeat.  Persistence pays off.  Sometimes you have to trudge through the desert to make it to the other side.  When the going gets tough, hit your knees.  Prayer is probably the only thing that got me through.  I'm happy to say that Hubby completed his course at the top of the class!  He is officially a college graduate, something he's very proud to say.  He is nearly a real cop...he just has to pass his state test next month.  I'm very proud of him and not at all surprised he did so well.  He was born to do this.  He just figured it out a couple decades late!  :)

Well, that's enough rambling for today.  There's so much more, but those are stories for another time.  Until then, I'm quite happy to say I'm Done!  I'm caught up!  Hubby is finished with school, the Christmas shopping is complete, the presents are wrapped, the house is clean, school is out for the year, the laundry is caught up, the dishes are washed.  I'm ready to sit down now and take it easy with a cup of tea.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

My Instagram

My artistic photography is, I guess, a thing of the past. I rarely pull out the old Canon anymore. It's partly because I'm lazy. It takes effort to assemble it. Another reason I've slowed down taking pictures is because I have absolutely nowhere to store them. I'm completely out of space on my computers and I don't want to delete anything. I need to do something differently.

So, my phone camera usage has increased. The only plus is that it makes Instagramming easier.   Here's what's been going on lately:

I'm not much for selfies, but I've been taking a lot of them lately.  With Hubby away so much, I want to remind him of what he has at home.  It doesn't hurt him to miss the kids and me once in a while!

Something else Hubby has waiting at home.  She's so adorable, I couldn't resist!

A not-so-pretty picture of Baby Girl.  At choir practice one evening she got into an altercation with a church pew.  The pew won.  She got a huge shiner and swollen nose.  It's been over two weeks now and I can still see traces of black & blue.

My cousin got married in August.  Her nephew sat on the top step and entertained us the entire wedding.  He went from making faces, to waving at friends, to rolling around.  It truly enhanced the entire ceremony!

On Labor Day, I insisted on riding our bikes downtown to our favorite pizza place.  I must mention that it was over 90 degrees and downtown is 10 miles away!  This photo was taken after we had eaten but before we realized we were too hot and tired to bike all the way home!  We made it though.  My legs were jelly afterward.

Homemade cinnamon rolls.  Enough said.

Our kids got the opportunity to play instruments and sing in front of the church congregation.  They practiced all summer.  Big Sis got to play her keyboard and she rocked it out!  I was so proud!

Son #1 is playing bass at youth service now!  Since adults aren't welcome at youth service, I had to sneak in.  I took this photo from the church foyer, through a window. I was so glad I got to hear part of the service.  He did a great job!

I just don't even know what this is about.  Son #2.  

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

OCT 21 2015

I am a HUGE fan of the Back To The Future trilogy and I've been awaiting THIS DAY for 25 years now!!  I wish they would have picked a date that fell on a weekend...I would have had a huge 80s party!  But come on, it's Wednesday and I've got stuff to do!!  So, instead of doing what I should be doing, I'm going to give a lot of meaningless thought and study to this date, OCT 21 2015.

In case you don't know, this is the date that Marty McFly traveled to in the future in the second BTTF movie.  And if you don't know that, stop reading right now and go watch the trilogy in order!  In the future, cars were flying.  People dressed in crazy clothing and they rode Hover Boards.  Back in 1985, most people seemed to think we'd be living on Mars or the moon by now.  

Here are some things that happened in the movie:
  • Cars were hover converted to fly.  Fail.  If that were true, can you imagine the amount of texting and flying accidents we would have???
  • Marty's boss called him on a video screen in his den.  Check!  Can you say Skype?  Fortunately, we don't have a have an ancient, retractable screen hanging on our walls.  We can Facetime someone right from our phone!
  • USA Today photographed an event happening and it was immediately in the newspaper.  Well, that one is pretty much true.  With the invention of the cell phone camera, things like robberies, muggings, and arrests can be recorded and instantly uploaded to countless websites.
  • The Cubs won the World Series.  Well, we'll see!
  • Teenagers' clothes were worn inside out and shoes automatically laced themselves.  Plus, Marty's jacket dried itself when it got wet.  I can see the inside out clothes catching on, but auto lacing shoes might be a little costly.  Maybe LeBron will invent some and they can cost even more than his regular shoes.
  • 80s Cafes with digital ordering.  The 80s decade is super trendy right now and, because of nostalgia, things from this era are totally rad!  Digital ordering?  Well, I just ordered Chipotle from an app the other day and picked it up a half hour later.  Pretty darn close!
  • Hover Boards.  Did you know they truly have a product out right now called a Hover Board?  My boys were talking about it.  It doesn't actually fly, so I think it's junk.  But they were pretty hyped about it.
  • Remember when Jennifer had to touch an electronic pad to be allowed access to her house?  How many of you scan your thumbprint to get onto your phone?  I'd say that one has pretty much happened.  And why hasn't someone linked this with a way to get into your house or car???
If you watch the part of the movie where people are walking around town, one thing you'll notice is that people are actually walking while looking straight ahead.  That's totally something not true about today's age.  It's almost rare today to see someone walking without a smart phone in their hands.  People can't walk, drive, or eat dinner without looking down at their devices.  Marty's kids did wear glasses that could answer the phone though.  Pretty close.  But, they didn't each have their own line.  That's sounds weird now.  The days of asking, "Is Marty home?" are long gone!  If you want to talk to Marty, you'll call him, not his land line!  

So, I'm excited to experience this day.  I just wish I could drive to the kids school in a Delorean and listen to Beat It while dehydrating a pizza.  Since I can't, I'll just have to be satisfied with blogging about it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

You're Not Invited to This Party

Don't ya just love it when someone or something puts you in your place?  I needed that recently.  I've been a little down recently, and I know most of it stems from Hubby's absence.  I miss him.  He's gone from the house 15 hours a day and it's getting to me.  They've also buckled down on using cell phones while driving commercial vehicles, so I barely get to even talk to him through the day.  Wah, wah...that's my sob story.

Because of my funk, I've kind of hosted myself a little pity party.  As you know, money has been really tight around here.  Hubby's pay cut combined with all the plumbing bills I recently mentioned, add in the increased cost for car insurance for a 16 year old boy, school fees, etc., etc., etc....  But it seems like all my friends are climbing those giant ladders of success.  They're buying new houses, new cars, new clothes, and going on exotic vacations.  We haven't been on vacation since June 2014.  School shopping was tough this year.  No one got new backpacks, lunch boxes, or coats.  The money just wasn't there.  They did get new clothes and shoes, but that had to be done.  They just keep growing!  I hate my car, but it's paid off.  I'm actually scared to try to make it through another winter with it.  My brother drives 3 of the nicest cars you've ever seen.  He lives in a small mansion.  They go to Disney and sail on cruise ships a couple times a year.  I'm jealous.

We've cancelled our security system, our home phone, our television service, and only eat out on Fridays.  I feel like I've cut out everything short of my cell phone and internet and we're still barely scraping by.  I take my daily three mile walk in the nice neighborhood and I feel sad.  I can't live there.

And then I see a photo like this:

What in the world is wrong with me???  I live in a beautiful 4-bedroom house with a half acre of land!  I have four healthy kids who are all doing great in school!  I sleep next to the love of my life every night, who has never been unfaithful to me, never hit me, and would lay down his life for me.  I'm healthy, not too bad looking, not overweight, not handicapped, and I have a dream job.  Not to mention that I have food to eat every day (a stockpile, nonetheless), clean water, one working toilet (ha!), heat, furniture, and a God who surprises me every day with countless blessings!  Again I ask, what in the world is wrong with me???  I am ashamed and embarrassed that I allowed my little pity party to go on as long as it has.  It's inexcusable.  

So, every time I feel that pity party starting to creep up on me, I shoot it down as quickly as possible.  I tell myself NO!  I'm not going to allow myself to think that way any more.

How about you?  Do you ever get down about things that truly aren't that bad in the first place??

Monday, October 19, 2015

This is PLUMB crazy!

OMG- you won't believe what's been going on around here!  A long time ago, I wrote a couple posts about the plumbing issues we've had around our house.  Well, folks, it turns out that this problem is far from over!

Last I left you, we had decided to close down our half bath because we didn't have the $5500 necessary to fix the additional problems.  All six of us have been living with one bathroom since February.  It's been torture!  We still have not finished paying back the $9,000 we borrowed from my grandfather for the first set of plumbing issues.  We were talking to him the other day about it and he said not to worry about paying the rest of the bill right now.  He wanted us to take a break from paying and get our half bath fixed instead.  We agreed.  We're desperate for another potty around here, people!

SO- we called out a new plumber.  We didn't like the original plumber, Mr. Rooter.  They were cocky, condescending, and far too expensive.  It was like getting your house plumbed by a used car salesman.  After they left, we felt like we had been taken, but there was nothing we could do about it.  The new plumber came out and we explained our situation.  He gave us a much cheaper estimate than Mr. Rooter so we gave him the green light.  The floor was torn out of my bathroom and my back yard was dug up AGAIN.

I'll skip ahead a bit.  In the midst of the work down in the backyard hole, the plumber called out to me.  He figured out why my half bath was not working.  It was not plumbed!!!  Stop and think about that for a moment.  We paid $9,000, plus $700, plus $400 to fix the plumbing problems in our bathroom and the BATHROOM WAS NOT EVEN HOOKED UP!  The sewage came out the pipe and just flowed freely into the ground.  I'm dead serious.  This is why the bathroom was not working.  Mr. Rooter dug a huge hole in my backyard, around my patio, down the side of the house, and all the way to the street and did not tie it in to the bathroom plumbing!  Both of the new plumbers and my father believe that this act was done maliciously.  They knew my plumbing would not work and that I'd have to call them back.  They knew they would get another job out of it.  My plumbing did not work.  I did call them back.  They came back out, charged me $400 and quoted me another $5500 to fix their own mistake.  What they didn't count on was that I would hire another plumber who would catch what they did.

We left the huge hole open and called Mr. Rooter back to see what they did (or neglected to do).  They, of course, denied that it was done intentionally.  They said that they must have missed that line coming out of the bathroom.  OK, stop and think about this again.  These are licensed plumbers and they're not able to find the line coming out of the bathroom???  Yeah right.  In fact, we know that they saw the line because they CUT THE END OF THE PIPE OFF!  It was in the way of the new line they laid, so they just cut it off!  So, long story short- they are crooks.

They finally admitted that they botched up the job and asked what we wanted.  We told them we wanted the new repairs covered, including both the plumbing and renovation work to put the bathroom back together.  We also felt we should be compensated for a year and a half without the use of our bathroom.  I also asked for the $400 back that they charged us to snake our toilet the last time, when they told us it was going to be $5500 more.  He scoffed.  He said he'd give us $3200 back, which does not even cover the plumbing repairs to fix their mistake!

So, here are the facts:  they did the work incorrectly and charged me $9000.  When it didn't work, I called them back.  Instead of fixing their mistake then, they charged me $400 more and quoted me $5500 to fix what they did wrong.  Because of that, I had no bathroom for 18 months, ripped out my bathroom, and dug up my back yard.  All because they screwed me.  And they don't want to pay.

I didn't even respond.  I hired an attorney.  She is quite confident that we will get back more than I originally requested from Mr. Rooter.  They should have settled.  Now, I hope that they end up paying out way more in court.  Our attorney even suggested going after them for grossly overcharging us for the first job.  Our new plumber said he could have done it for maybe $3000.  Yikes!

Call it karma, say what goes around comes around, call it what you will, but I want Mr. Rooter to get what they deserve.  If you google their company name, websites come up of the top complaints about them.  I've talked with the inspector from our city who inspected both jobs.  He has the power to keep them from doing business in our town.  I hope he moves forward on that because I want to protect my community from being robbed like I was.

This is a national company, so please do not use them for any plumbing issues you might have.  I'm not normally one for bashing a company on social media, but I want to protect innocent, hard-working people from being scammed.

And finally, enjoy your potty today.  You don't realize how important it is until it's taken away from you!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Falling Into the Groove of Life

It's crazy that Fall is already here!  Leaves are starting to change color and I'm donning a cardigan most days.  I'm a stickler about two things once cooler temperatures start arriving:  1.  Turning on the furnace, and 2.  Covering up my legs.  Once the furnace goes on, it stays on.  I'm not one to switch back and forth from heat to A/C.  So, if you're cold, put on a sweater.  Also, once I start wearing tights or leggings, it means that I've acknowledged that summer is officially over.  My legs are still tan at this point, so I'm holding off on the leg covering for now.  Sure, I'm getting a bit chilly, but I'll live.

Someone told me yesterday that there are 10 Fridays until Christmas.  That thought scared me a little, I must admit.  I'm knee deep in planning the school Halloween party and hanging the autumn wreath on the front door.  I haven't even bought my Halloween candy yet (well, that's mostly because I'll eat it before the holiday actually arrives).

I've taken on a new job since I've last posted.  I actually applied for a full time job as a school secretary.  Then I thought, "What was I THINKING???"  I'm glad I didn't get the job...I'm barely staying afloat as it is.  Anyhow, I'm watching two little girls before and after school.  They arrive around 7:15 and I take them to school with Baby Girl.  Then I pick all three of them up and the girls stay until 4:30 or so.  It's perfect for me.  The money I make pays for my groceries each week, so that's a huge blessing.  The Kindergartener has had some issues since she started, but I think we're making headway.  I'm a tough cookie when it comes to caring for children.

Speaking of groceries, I'm couponing like never before!  I consider it a part-time job.  It takes quite a bit of time, but I'm very thankful for a great website that helps me out.  The blogger is a very ethical couponer, which I greatly appreciate.  I'm spending between $60 and $80 each week to feed my family of six!  I never thought we could live on so little.  My budget was double that a few years ago!  And we're not suffering either!  I have a huge stockpile of health & beauty items, canned goods, and cereal in the basement.  When the toilet paper stash gets down to two packages, I get nervous.  I'm so thankful this is something I can do to help my family.

Money has been really tight around here.  Hubby had to take a bit of a pay cut to allow time for his full-time schooling.  Yesterday, he left the house at 6:00 AM.  He got home at 3:45, showered, and left by 4:00.   He ate PB&J in the car.  He got home from school at 10:00, which is usually when he eats dinner, but he was sick.  He took another shower and crashed into bed with a ginger ale.  I think he's just run down.  He's feeling better today, he said.

Evenings without him are really starting to get to me.  I miss him terribly.  Fortunately, we get to spend Friday evenings together (if nothing else is going on)!  On Fridays, we clean the laundry rooms at my brother's apartment buildings.  It's not much money, but every bit helps.  Son #1 has taken over most of Hubby's mowing, since he's in school for nine hours on Saturdays.

We're still managing our three duplexes, which is getting on my nerves.  Most tenants are so lazy, want everything handed over to them, but cannot pay their rent on time.  It's hard to find good renters.  It's something I wish we hadn't ventured into.

So, we're making it.  We're scraping by, but I know it's temporary.  Hubby's original goal was to keep his full-time job and be a reserve police officer on weekends and evenings.  Now, things have changed so much at work...they're wanting to pay him less while working him harder (isn't that everyone right now?).  So he's considering policing full-time, if he can find the right position.  He's too old to be hired full-time by our local department.  He can be a deputy sheriff, but that's not what he wants to do.  He's got his eye on the college police department, which would give our kids free schooling!

Son #1 is taking two college classes this year, which I'm so thankful is happening!  I blogged about many of the issues we had getting him here, but God saw us through it.  He seems to be doing as well or better in his college courses....he's getting mostly As with a couple Bs.  I made him quit his job.  I felt that the man he worked for was mentally unbalanced.  Severely.  He would tell #1 that he was the best worker he's ever had, then he'd say that he's worthless and does a horrible job.  The straw that broke the camel's back is when he cussed at him and told him to get out.  I made him send a text saying he wasn't comfortable working for someone who would cuss at him and treat him that way.  The man's reply was, "Good!!"  It seriously seemed like he was working for a 12 year old.  If he can bring up those two Bs, he's allowed to find another job.  I just don't want a menial job taking priority over school.  He didn't even make minimum wage at that job.

I've hired Son #1 to run my photo booth a couple times.  He can make as much in one evening as a week at his other job.  Thankfully, I've been getting more jobs lately, so that extra income has really helped.

Son #2 is still lazy and laid back, while getting all As in school.  He never studies.  He worries me.  He gets more handsome every day and I have to look up to him now.  All the girls are after him at church.  He progressed from the #4 golfer on JV to the #3 golfer on Varsity!  I was proud to see his accomplishments.  These little boys just grew up too fast!

Big Sis is....there are too many adjectives that would be required to describe her.  She's maintaining all As and one B and her year is much easier than last year.  She's in the school musical, yearbook club, garden club, band, and choir.  She could not be more opposite of her brothers.  If there's something to sign up for, she's doing it!  She's playing Molly in the Broadway version of Annie.  It's a perfect part for her because she's so tiny.  She's not the strongest of singers, but she has more confidence than anyone I've ever known.  She loves it so much!

Baby Girl is no longer a baby, but a very independent first grader.  Her reading level has increased greatly and she seems to do very well in school.  We haven't had our conference yet, so I guess we'll find out where she is soon.  They have these math and reading apps that the kids can do at home.  She loves doing homework on Dad's iPad.  I actually think those programs are what's helping her.  She's still "dating" her brother's best friend...that's going on three or four years now.  She's very athletic and imaginative.  Both girls are still willing to hug and kiss their Mama, and I hope they never lose that.

Wherever you might be, I hope you find something special to enjoy on this day.  Whether it be changing leaves, a good cup of tea, or a nice phone call with a friend...enjoy something today.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

First Day of School

I'm only eight weeks behind...

Son #1 started his Junior year, Son #2 is a Freshman, and Big Sis is in sixth grade.  Their schools are across the street from one another, so #1 drives them every day in his little, beat up, rusty car.  Where has the time gone???

Baby Girl is in first grade and still a little hesitant about going to school.  Her teacher seems lovely and I think this is going to be a good year.  We kept up with her reading over the summer, so hopefully it will be up to par this year.

And I'm home alone all day.  (No complaints here!)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Good Old Summertime

There have been good parts of the summer too. I will share them with you in pictures. 

Big Sis turned 11!  We celebrated by taking a couple friends to play laser tag and eat pizza. 

Son #2 announced one day that he would be making pizza from scratch. And that he did. 

We were able to visit an Amish farm where the kids fed exotic animals. They had a great time, in spite of the rain!

Hiking is always a family favorite. This time, we took a wrong turn and ended up two miles from our car. Daddy had to trek back alone because the girls were too tired to make the hike again.

A very special kid made me my own birthday cake!  It had been many years since I'd had a cake on my birthday!  

Some great friends had us over for a ride on their boat and fishing from the dock. It was one of the most enjoyable nights of my summer!

It's a Cruel, Cruel Summer

I've done it again.  This post was originally written at the end of July and I'm just now getting around to posting it.  I've failed once more...

I laugh when I look back a couple months ago to when I said that I wanted this to be a nice, relaxing summer.  I planned to read, sit in the sun, play with the kids, and rest.  Yeah right.  I hate to complain because I try to be a glass-half-full kind of person.  But this has literally been one of the worst summers ever.

I blogged about how Hubby was enrolling in the police academy.  "It's only for six months," I said.  "We can handle anything for six months."  Really?  Hmmm...this has been harder than I thought.  Not only do I have no help with the kids and house, I'm having to do extra things for him because he doesn't have the time.  The poor guy gets up at 5:30, works til about 2:00, and comes home to rest for a couple hours.  He surely doesn't feel like putting away his laundry or rinsing off his dishes during those precious few moments.  He leaves for school around 3:30 or 4:00 and gets home around 10:00.  Most weekends are 7:00 or 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  Saturday AND Sunday.  He's missing church, which I hate, and appointments and meetings are impossible to make.  Six months.  That's all.  We can do it.

Son #1 has gotten in some trouble this summer.  Not trouble with the law, thankfully, but trouble with me.  The worst part is that he lied to me.  He's never been a liar.  He's always been honest to me and has confessed when confronted.  I can't say that any more.  And sadly, I have no trust in him.  I don't feel like I can ever believe him again.  It's been such a hard thing to deal with.  I can't share any of the details, but it's been the most difficult thing I think I've ever been through.   And I've done most of it alone.  Hubby has been there for me when he can...he's doing his best.  Fortunately, with the worst behind us, # 1's attitude has improved and changed and he's becoming the sweet boy he used to be.  I haven't seen that kid in a long time.  He's more helpful around the house and is caring for his younger siblings.  He's actually helping fill Hubby's shoes when it comes to mowing, errands, and regular manly duties like reaching things on high shelves and spider killing.

Sadly, I lost a friend over the whole Son #1 incident.  She couldn't keep her mouth shut and spread all kinds of stuff about him.  I defended him and confronted her, but she lied to me.  She's now posting crap about me on Facebook, which I despise.  I HATE DRAMA!!!  I've been the bigger person, I've not retaliated, haven't commented on her FB posts, and I just pretend that she's invisible when I see her.  It may be the right thing to do, but it sure is hard!  I would prefer to punch her right in her gossiping mouth!

Son #2 is just lazy and grouchy.  It seems quite normal, for this age, but I'm fighting it as hard as I can.

Big Sis picked up lice from her circle of friends.  They all got it.  Even three of their moms got it.  We've never dealt with lice before and it's excruciating!  Fortunately, we caught it early.  My SIL realized my niece had it when she was combing her hair for church one night.  My niece caught it from her cousin.  We have a very nice facility locally that you can go to.  You pay them money and they treat your head.  It turned out that my niece, nephew, and SIL all had it.  They instantly got into the car and drove to that place.  After that church service, we decided we probably should go get checked out.  Yep.  Big Sis had it but Baby Girl did not.  That's a miracle in itself since they're so close.  I even used the same brush to comb their hair that night!  The guy said none of her lice were old enough to leave the head yet.  She had 8 baby bugs and 2 "teenagers."  Gross, I know.  Baby Girl and I were clean.

That's not the worst of it though.  It's the house prep that has to be done.  Laundry, carpets, bedding, furniture, toys...you name it, I cleaned it.  I'm STILL behind on my laundry because of all this.  We got our follow-up check last Friday and we checked out lice free.  My SIL's family are all good now but her sister still has it.  (This is their second round.)  Big Sis' friends were supposed to have their follow-ups today and I haven't heard their results yet.  I'm so scared we're going to get it again.  After paying $200 for her treatment and the home supplies, we can't afford for her to get it again!  (OK, whose head is itching right now?  Mine is!!!)

Hubby had some drama at work, which is so rare for him.  He always keeps his nose clean and never gets involved in workplace drama.  His boss believed a disgruntled ex-employee who said Hubby was bashing the company.  Fortunately, they got it all sorted out but Hubby had a really hard time getting over it.  It turns out, they're not OK with him being in the police academy.  They want him there 100% for them.  It's made us realize that the plan of him staying there and taking side police jobs may not be for the best any more.  He's going to keep his eyes and ears out for a full-time police position.

I'm stressed, the kids are stressed, Hubby is stressed, and it's rained SO much this summer.  Finally, we've gotten a break in the rain but are now enduring tremendous heat.  At least it finally feels like summer.

So, even though it's been a cruel, cruel summer, I'm trying to make lemonade from lemons.  I'm still working to see that glass as half-full and keeping a smile on my face.

Yes, school starts in 3 weeks, but maybe they'll be three glorious, peaceful weeks.  One can hope!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Son #2 Update

Son #2 is quite a different character from his older brother.  We had serious concerns about him at one time.  He threw fits.  He didn't talk until he was older.  He didn't seem to want friends.  He was disruptive early in school.  We thought we were in for a tough road.  I have cried many tears over this child.  The word I would have picked to describe him best would have been difficult

Fast-forward several years.  Thankfully, he doesn't throw himself on the ground in public places, screaming.  He talks, but still not very much.  He's got some really amazing friends and they actually like him.  He's a straight A student and the favorite of many of his teachers.  I never imagined....

A few years ago, a mom friend of mine asked if #2 would be interested in joining their DI team. If you've never heard of Destination Imagination, it's quite interesting.  It's for kids from elementary all the way through university levels.  The teams choose from several challenges that vary in subject.  There are fine arts challenges, scientific, technical, service projects, and more. They are presented with this challenge and have specific rules they must follow.  In the end, they are given 8 minutes to present their solution, typically in the form of a skit.  The kids must do everything on their own without help from their coaches.  They build the set, make the costumes, write the script, etc.  Sometimes these presentations can be horribly boring and make little sense. 

#2 ended up joining a team made up of 3 girls and 3 boys.  These kids work together so well and really compliment one another.  B is kind of the leader of the group and is very technical.  C is very organized and helps everyone stay on task.  J is silly and outgoing and is a tremendous actress.  The other J helps write the script and also acts.  F is the muscle of the group and fills in wherever needed.  My kid has been elected the narrator of the group.  He has a very dry sense of humor and can be quite funny without cracking a smile.

Their first year, they did this presentation that didn't make much sense, but their technical execution was quite clever.  They placed at regional competition but didn't advance past states.

The second year, they wised up a bit and their skit was much more entertaining.  They built an amazing set, which was the innards of a whale.  They had ocean sound effects, lighting that resembled moving water, and a scent that smelled like the beach.  They won regionals, states, and advanced to Globals!  It was an amazing time!

This year, they chose a pirate theme.  Their set looked like it was built by a professional crew.  They built a cannon that made noise when it fired (one of the requirements of their challenge), had moving waves in front of their ship, and a sail that showed the results of the sound waves.  The girls made their pirate costumes and Son #2 was some kind of nerdy, old man narrator. 

At each competition, they also engage in an instant challenge.  They are given some sort of challenge and have just a few minutes to execute it.  Then they are sworn to silence and can't discuss it until after Globals.  Everyone has the same challenge.  Last year at Globals, the bombed their Instant Challenge and ended up placing 40-something.

This year, they won regionals and states and headed to Gobals once again.  It is held each year at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.  We loaded up the minivans and box truck and hauled all of our stuff down there.  The kids miss almost a week of school, which they love, and we have a great time.

This year, in addition to all the DI activities, we went zip lining and horseback riding!  Looking back at the photos, I still can't believe I actually did that!  It was incredibly amazing!  One of the boys wore a Go Pro camera as he zip lined!

Anyway, skip ahead.  On the day of our central challenge, we were one of the first of the day.  It was early and the kids had to get up super early to have everything ready.  We unloaded everything into the staging area and the kids started their presentation.  About 20 seconds into it, J froze.  She stared blankly ahead, grabbed her head, and stumbled.  It seemed like several minutes passed.  Finally, the other J just jumped ahead to her line and kept going.  The first J snapped out of it and picked right back up.  All our kids were shaken.  They kept it going but weren't as exuberant as usual.  Afterward, J cried and said she messed everything up.  She had recently experienced a concussion at a soccer game and we think her momentary blackout was a result of that.  The coaches were pretty deflated but the kids really supported her and lifted her up.

Instant Challenge was the next day and our kids rocked it out.  They felt like they achieved all the possible points.

Skip ahead to the closing ceremony.  The full size arena was packed with over 17,000 people from 17 countries!  Each state/country dresses in the same shirt and it looks like a rainbow around the arena.  They all wear funny hats that light up and it's an amazing sight when they turn out the lights!  We were really hopeful that we might make "The Big Board."  The top ten teams of each challenge get their name on the jumbotron.

Challenge B...it was our turn.  They show teams 7-10 on the jumbo screen.  Nope.  Then they show 4-6.  Nothing.  We were disappointed.  We would have to wait until after the ceremony to see our ranking online.  Then they announced the third place team.  From up in the nosebleed section, we got to hear our team's name and school called out!  We placed third!!!  Our kids got to run down to the floor and across the stage to receive their medals and trophy!  The other parents and I were jumping up and down, screaming!  It was an experience I'll never forget! No team in our district has ever placed at Globals! 

At the end of each challenge award, they present another award for the highest Instant Challenge score.  Again, it was our city and our team!  Our kids got to run across the stage for the second time and receive another medal!  We jumped and screamed again! 

We were on cloud nine for days afterward!  We were all over social media, there was an article in the local paper, and a local restaurant awarded our team with an ice cream social!  It's like our kids were small town celebrities!  It was so much fun and so awesome for my shy, awkward, anti-social son!

A couple days later, I went to DI's website, www.globalfinals.org, and found that our kids were the header picture for the closing ceremony!  Yep, my kid is the one in the middle with the crazy hat!  I was so proud he wore it on stage!  Following are some photos of the week.  Thanks for allowing me to brag for a few minutes and share this amazing experience with you.  It ranks in the top ten favorite memories of life!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Son #1 Update

The fancy ride he drove on the last day of school!
Sixteen.  Driving.  Attitude.  Job.  Pimples.  Growth Spurt.  These are all words that presently describe my tall, gangly teenage son.  Do you realize how hard it is to scold someone when you are inches from their face, on your tiptoes, and craning your neck to look up at them?  Once or twice, I've actually broken into laughter as I've tried to yell at the little boy who is now towering over me.  It's comical.  At last measurement, he was 5'8".  That was a good two months ago so I'm sure it's 5'9" by now.  And he just broke 120 lbs.  He is his father.

The teenage years have been somewhat of a struggle with Son #1.  He truly thinks he knows all there is to know about life and that I don't have a clue.  Yeah, he's normal.  We've had our share of smart-mouthing, arguing, disrespect, and everything else that goes along with being a young teen.  Looking back on the worst of it, I can now say that we learned a lot of life lessons through it.

Son #1 has always been a great student.  He has always been in Honors classes and is more motivated than a lot of kids his age.  He isn't always on task, however, and has made some blunders in the recent past.

Around here, our high school students are given the opportunity to enroll in college classes for free.  They have to get a minimum composite of 18 on their ACT and have a GPA of 3.0, I think.  My kid's GPA has been between 3.7 and 3.8 so we didn't have any worries there.  There was one more ACT offered before the school year was out so we planned on #1 taking that.  He missed the deadline to sign up by a day.  I was pretty ticked.  I also felt somewhat guilty for not remembering myself, but it was in the midst of all my Spring stress and it was his responsibility anyway.  Fortunately, we found out that we could register late and pay an additional fee.  I've already mentioned that we're struggling financially right now so that late fee wasn't something I was too excited about paying.  But I had to.  So, all was good. 

To take the ACT, you now have to upload a photo of yourself.  The guidelines and restrictions are pretty strict and I didn't have anything on file that met their requirements.  So we planned on taking the photo later, when his hair looked better.  This was still in the midst of my busiest time of year and I forgot.  ACT sent a reminder email a couple days in advance but #1 hadn't been checking his email.  That deadline passed also.  I lost it.  We paid EXTRA for him to take this test and I was staring at a letter saying that his registration has been cancelled.  No money back.  I was a raving lunatic.  We are now out the testing fee, the late fee, and the thousands of dollars lost on tuition because #1 has now twice dropped the ball. 

In desperation, I immediately picked up the phone and called ACT.  I explained that we missed the deadline for submitting the photo.  She explained that there's nothing she could do.  I begged and pleaded.  I explained that this was his last opportunity to take the test before the deadline to sign up for college classes.  She sympathized with me but said there was still nothing she could do.  I asked if there was any other person I could talk to.  I desperately asked her to try to do something.  She asked me to hold and went to talk to a supervisor.  I prayed.  Honey, I prayed and prayed the entire time I was on hold.  I begged God to allow someone to have compassion on me.  When she came back on the phone, she spoke softly and said that this has never been done before, but they were going to let me upload the photo late!  I started sobbing into the phone!  It was so embarrassing, but I told the woman that she did something that I would remember for the rest of my life!  I don't know how they worked this out for me, but I was the most grateful person on the face of the earth! 

I immediately went to my computer, cropped out a picture of Son #1's face from a family picture, and uploaded it.  I didn't care if it was grainy, I didn't care if he had changed his hairstyle since then.  I wanted it done!  I texted him at school and gave him the good news.  I was still furious at him for forgetting again.

Test day came and went.  He thought he did well and we were both confident he could score an 18.  Results would be mailed but you can also check results online.  One day, I noticed his login information lying on the desk, so I signed on to see if I could find out when results would be posted.  They already were and he scored a 21!  I was thrilled and sent him a screen shot at school.  He texted back saying that he was sick to his stomach.  I asked why because he scored several points above the minimum.  He explained that, although his composite was high enough, he didn't make the cut in English.  I didn't realize there was also a minimum for the English portion of the test.  He missed it by one point. 

I called the guidance counselor at school and she said she didn't think the college would overlook his English score.  She gave me the name of someone at the university.  I called and asked if there was any hope.  No, he said.  The English minimum was mandatory.  So now, three things have happened to hinder Son #1 from getting into this program.  I just couldn't understand why things kept happening.  I asked the guy if there was anything that could be done.  I gave God the credit for getting us over the last two obstacles...I knew He wasn't going to leave me stranded here.  The guy said there was one more residual ACT that would meet the deadline.  It was in two days.  A residual ACT is offered by a particular school and the results are only accepted by them.  They are non-transferrable.  Since it's a residual, you can register up until the day before.  Hallelujah- there was still hope!!!

I went online myself and registered #1.  I was tired of giving him chances.  I texted him at school and told him to cancel any plans for Saturday.  He was taking the ACT again.  Since there wasn't any time for test prep, I googled English ACT test prep and made him take all these practice tests. 

On Saturday, we dropped him off bright and early at the college.  An hour later, I got a phone call from #1 which about stopped my heart.  He was flipping out because the facilitator said you can't take this test if you've taken another residual in the past 30 days.  I knew that but didn't feel the need to share it with him.  He took a national test, not a residual.  The instructor had to listen to him make this call to me because the test booklets had already been passed out.  He was a nervous wreck now and knew his future depended on his ability to settle down and take this test. 

Fortunately, the results from a residual come back a lot sooner.  He got a 21 again and his English went up by a few points!  He was still disappointed in his score because Math & Science both dropped.  I didn't care what it was, as long as he met the requirements!

OK, the story is still not over.  I know it's getting long.  There was one more thing he had to do.  He had to fill out his college application.  The deadline was the day after he received his scores.  I nagged and nagged him to do it.  "I KNOW, Mom!" was his answer.  The boys were leaving Friday night for a weekend trip with their youth group.  Hubby & I had to go somewhere so I left them packing for their trip; they were driving to the church themselves.  The last words out of my mouth were, "Don't forget to fill out that application."  His answer:  "I KNOW, Mom!!!"

Late Saturday night, the boys got back and started telling us about the trip.  Hubby casually asked, "You filled out that application, right?"  My idiotic son covered his face with his hands and said, "Oh my gosh!"  Yes, he had ONCE AGAIN missed a deadline!  This is the maddest I've ever been in my entire life.  I screamed.  I yelled.  I lost my words and couldn't even speak.  I was absolutely furious!  Even though the girls were in bed, I slammed his bedroom door and told him I did not want to speak to him.

I stormed downstairs and went online.  I was hoping that, by some chance, the application was still online and they wouldn't notice the time stamp on it.  I filled it out myself.  It took 5 stinking minutes.  I couldn't sleep that night.  I could not figure out why my son was being so careless.  This is not how I raised him. 

Two days later, I signed onto his university student account.  I had to create the login information when I filled out the application.  I made the password "MYMOM" just in case he was admitted.  Every time he logs onto his account, he'll have to remember who made all this possible for him.  His Mom.  It said that his application was pending!  I got my hopes up once again.  Maybe God is taking me the long way through this valley for a reason.  Do I not trust Him?  Do I not think he's capable of performing miracle after miracle on my behalf?  I did some more praying.  I spoke in faith and told God I trusted that He wanted to work this out for insignificant, little me. 

The very next day, I logged on (password: MYMOM) and discovered that his application was accepted!!!  I cried!  I danced!  I took a screen shot of it, just in case!  I called Hubby so elated that this had all worked out! 

I still give God 100%  of the credit.  None of these things were possible without his intervention!  It also taught me a lot about trust, determination, persistence, and faith.  It taught Son #1 a lot about fear (of his raging mother), procrastination, and adulthood.  I am sooooo glad this is past us, but I have to say that the lessons learned were invaluable. 

Son #1 is signed up for two classes in the fall and I am simply elated!  I even got a great hug out of this entire process and he told me he really appreciated me!  Worth it.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Hubby Update

This week at Bible Study, the congregation broke up into men's and women's seminars.  Our pastor's wife spoke about relationships.  It was lovely.  As she was talking about the importance of respecting your husband, she made a comment that defines my present situation pretty well.  She said to allow your husband to live his dream.

Ever since we've been together, Hubby has wanted one of those intense, high action careers.  The top of the list included Firefighter, Police Officer, and Pilot.  I hindered him.  As the nervous girlfriend, then the paranoid wife, I discouraged him from having a dangerous job.  I've always regretted holding him back. 

Several years ago, Son #2 made a friend whose father was someone I graduated with.  The dad and I had several classes together in high school and he even dated one of my best friends.  Still, I don't think we ever once spoke.  I was a little on the shy side, comfortable only in my circle of friends.  He was shy too.  Since then, we've both broken out of our shells and have enjoyed a friendship that revolves around our sons.  At a school function a few years ago, he came in wearing a police uniform.  I realized that Hubby would immediately be smitten with him when he found out he was a cop.  He pestered me to ask Cop Dad if he could ride along sometime.  I didn't know him quite well enough to do that yet.  Finally, one day, it came up that Hubby would give his left arm for a ride-along.  Cop Dad happily obliged.

Since then, Cop Dad and Hubby have become, well BFFs, I guess.  Hubby rides along every chance he gets and all the guys at the station already know and tease with him.  They joke that the two of them have a Bromance going on because they're all huge cut-ups.  I've come to realize I will probably never get a ticket in this town now because of my connection to Hubby and his Bestie. 

As they rode together, Cop Dad started talking to Hubby about the possibility of him becoming a part time officer.  The cut off for full-time is age 40, which was Hubby's current age.  Despite his age, he would honestly make a perfect police officer.  He is very physically fit, has good morals, and is a quick thinker.  There is no age restriction for part-time officers though.  So Hubby decided to enroll in the academy.

He found a local, very small college that offered a night academy.  You know, the kind of college that meets in a little building next to a Chili's.  No mascot, no sports team, and a name you'd be kind of embarrassed to mention.  He bugged and pestered the administrators, yet they just couldn't seem to get the evening classes going.  He was supposed to begin last October or November, but nothing ever happened.  Finally, he realized that this place is a big joke and not capable of organizing classes.  He was pretty bummed.

He began exploring other options, finding another academy at a University 45 minutes away.  That would be a little difficult, trying to get there from work each day.  This is one of those accelerated programs that you cannot miss, no matter what the circumstance.  Finally, he found an evening class beginning in a few months at a real state college.  This one was only 30 minutes away.  (They even have a mascot.)  He told his boss at work that he would need a little bit of slack while he takes classes.  They obliged, thankful that he's still planning on keeping his day job.  (Sadly, he couldn't afford to be a full time officer.  Have you seen what these guys get paid for risking their lives each day???)

Classes started last week and I am now a college widow.  Hubby attends class Monday through Thursday, 5:30 to 9:30 (plus the half hour drive).  Saturdays go from 8:00 to 5:00 and about every other Sunday.  It's intense.  We know it's going to be a difficult road, but I think we can survive anything for six months.  He's expected to be done mid-December.  The Chief of Police in our town has already met and talked with Hubby.  He was excited about what he's doing and has promised him a commission when he graduates. 

We really wanted him to take classes through the winter when things are less busy.  He has a side lawn mowing business in the summer.  But that's not how things worked out.  All things happen for a reason, I think.  So I get to see him an hour or two in the middle of the day and for a couple minutes before he collapses into bed.  I'm kind of sporting the single parenting thing and family dinners aren't quite as gourmet as they used to be.  (The kids are just as happy with a Chef Boyardee pizza.)  But when I saw how cute he looked in his little fake cop uniform, I was proud of him.  He was most proud of passing the college entrance exam.  He's never attended college and didn't do exceptionally well in school.  When he got the acceptance letter on real college letterhead, I proudly hung it up.  We have a college student in the house now! 

So I don't need a Bible study lesson on respecting my husband.  He has my upmost respect and admiration as a husband, father, student, and future police officer.  I guess I'll have to call him Sir if he ever pulls me over! 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Being Me

School is out, clubs are over, there are no band concerts, parent meetings, or orchestra rehearsals for a couple more months.  I am ready to take a break from daily checking my kids' grades online, nagging them to finish homework and projects, and chauffeuring them to their daily activities.  I am ready to get back to being me.
My goal this summer was to chillax.  (OK, how weird is it that spellcheck didn't highlight the word "chillax?")  I wanted to read, keep a clean house, hang out with the kids, and recharge to get ready to do it all over again.  Unfortunately, a lot of stuff has come up that has prevented all this from happening.  I have plenty of material for many future blog posts. 

Some updates:  Hubby just informed me that we are about halfway done paying off our huge sewer bill!  I know it's taken an extremely long time, but I am so excited about that!

Son #1 is carrying a 3.7 in high school and was just accepted to take college classes next year as a Junior!  You guys don't know how huge that is for me!!!  We are struggling financially right now and that is a huge blessing for us!  He's taking 6 credit hours in the fall and doesn't have to pay for books or parking!  He will take both of his classes right there in his high school and will get both high school and college credit!  If he continues taking 6 credit hours each semester, he'll graduate high school with 24 hours!  How all this came to pass is a long story...

Son #2 received a 4.0 for his 8th grade year!  Also, he got perfect attendance!  I was so proud, I may have done a little happy dance!  He has SO much potential!  If we can figure out how to motivate him and get him to use his full potential, he'll be unstoppable!  (He's a tad bit on the lazy side right now!)  He just joined the golf team for the high school (with a lot of prodding from me) and will be playing the trombone again.  He had another great accomplishment, which is yet another long story...

Big Sis successfully completed her difficult transition year into accelerated middle school with all As and Bs!  We worked really hard to make that happen, but I must confess that I didn't think it would.  Even Son #2 got one C in that class.  She was in Student Council last year and has joined Gardening Club, Band, and Yearbook Club for next year.  This is the kid that is going to wear me out with activities!  She's definitely the social butterfly of our clan.

Baby Girl has graduated Kindergarten!  She had a couple struggles and they said she's not quite up to par.  I'm not concerned, however, because I know she'll be fine.  It's mind blowing what they expect out of these kids who were just babies a year ago!  She's reading and doing simple math.  I think she's doing exactly what her siblings were doing at this age and they're all in honors and accelerated programs.  Surprisingly, she didn't get into any trouble in school!  I thought she'd be a little more "active" than she was.  She's a good girl.

I'm still keeping my weight off, for the most part.  I'd like to get another 5 back off.  Maybe 7.  :)  I'm trying to walk 3 miles every day.  Tuesday, I walked 6.  I bailed out today because of how hot and humid it was.  Hubby goes with me when he can, but that's another story...

So anyway- I'm still alive, I've not completely lost my mind yet, and I'm finding some time to read here and there.  (I'm reading The Help again because I enjoyed it so much the first time.  I need another really good book like that!)

I've lost touch with my contacts in the blogging world but I'm going to try hard to do more frequent updates this summer.  I need the therapeutic benefits from it for sure!  Hope you're having some fabulous weather that you can enjoy, wherever you are!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Potty Mouth

I feel like my blog is a bit of a complaining platform.  I hate that.  I apologize for that.  However, I feel like complaining here to the wide open world helps me handle life a little better.

Remember when I talked about the horrible sewer/plumbing situations we experienced a year ago?  Certainly you should because I just managed to hit "publish" a few days ago.  Almost exactly a year ago, we forked out $9,000 to repair indoor/outdoor plumbing issues.  Actually, we didn't fork it out because we didn't have it.  We borrowed it and still have not paid it off.  It's a constant thought in my mind....I HATE being in debt.

Anyway, we've been having more plumbing issues.  These issues involve the downstairs half bath.  The toilet has given us trouble for a while now and has been totally unusable for the past two weeks or so.  Do this math, please:  we have six people in this house and one working toilet.  Yeah, it's not pretty.  If it wasn't so snowy and freezing here, I would make the fellas relieve themselves outside.

Saturday, Hubby called the plumber to come take a look at our situation.  They said they would make us the last call of the day or be there Sunday morning from 9-11.  Well, they didn't show Saturday.  That meant Hubby had to miss church.  We don't miss church.  It's just how we are.  I drag myself (and the kids) to service even when we're sick.  It's mostly because I have a zillion jobs in the church and am always needed.  Going to church sick is easier than trying to find someone to take my place.  My parents raised me that way and it's in my blood.  So, Hubby missed church.  They didn't show again.  At 11:00, he called.  They said our appointment time was 11-4.  No....that's not what you said on the phone.  Oh well....we can deal with that.  At 4:00, they called and said they were running late.  Hubby had now missed church, the family dinner at Grandpa's house, and his coveted Sunday nap.  Irritating.  We also have service on Sunday nights.  I had to be there early for choir practice so the kids and I headed out, leaving Hubby at home.  Again.  They finally showed up at 6:45.  When I got home from church, they were still there, problem unresolved.  They scheduled to come back today between 10 & 11.

They actually arrived within that window, this time bringing more skilled equipment.  They sent a camera down my toilet hole (I say hole because the toilet was sitting in my living room).  They determined that the problem was under the bathroom floor.  They announced they were going to have to rip up the bathroom floor, replace the pipe, and tap it into the sewer that they fixed last year.  The damage?  $5500!!!!  My jaw nearly hit the floor and I had to fight to keep from crying.  I told them no way.  They discussed financing options with me, asked if I could borrow from my dad, and got a little too personal for my liking.  I simply said, "Dude, we don't have it.  We haven't paid off the last project yet and cannot finance any more."  They came down in price, which still didn't help.

So, to jump ahead....they packed up and left, doing nothing.  I paid $400 for nothing.  I cried.  We're struggling to make ends meet and we need to spend $14,000 on PLUMBING!!!!!  We're going to have to make things work with only one toilet from now on.  Someday, we'll be able to fix it, but that day is not today.

Then Hubby called me.  He got his shoulder x-rayed, which he injured last week playing basketball.  He's a great athlete but doesn't seem to understand that at age 40, he can't play with the same intensity he once could.  His shoulder isn't broken but extremely messed up.  They referred him to an orthopedic surgeon.  That was just the cherry on top of a bad day.  It's more than I can handle.  How can we survive if he needs surgery and is off work for six months?  I cried again.

That's all.  That's all I have to say today.  Like I said, I hate complaining.  But it's all I got right now.  (Excuse my bad grammar.)

I must move on.  I have a youth group meeting tonight and no plans.  Plus, I have a stress headache and I really need to use the bathroom.  Guess I'll trek all the way upstairs so I can "go."  Today's deep thoughts:  treasure your toilet.