The End

Yesterday was the last day of the Mutant Poopymodel.

The fact is, as is too often the case in our blessed lives, there are far too many good things in my life than bad things. Yes, yes, yes a lack of money is stressful. Yes, yes, yes it is frustrating. But it’s not a deal-breaker. It’s not even a deal-cracker really and it’s my job to keep things in their place.

The gloom started to lift last week. I showed my co-worker my kids’ Santa lists and we were laughing at how cute they were and she was reminiscing about her daughters being that age. I had to leave to make a delivery to another office and she told me she’d put the lists in my office for me so I wouldn’t have to walk back that way with my arms full. When I came back, the letters were on my chair– each one with a $10 clipped to it and a note from her that made me cry like a silly big baby.

After that, I was able to fill some very small wishes at the Google+ Secret Santa project using some gift cards (Swagbucks, thank you). It was a much-needed reminder that no matter how hard you have it, someone always has it way harder. And I was happy to know that at least I was able to get something teeny tiny for someone else and make them smile and pay forward my co-worker’s kindness that way. It made me smile too. That’s when things started to really brighten up.

And then, over the weekend two things on our family’s Wish List were filled by my very own Secret Santas. I was so surprised! There are so many lists on the website and I really didn’t expect anyone to catch mine especially since I didn’t really write much in the section provided on why I was signing up. And I had seen some of the stories on there. Cue warm, fuzzy feelings that two someones somewhere blessed me that way.

The city I live in is a suburb of Miami. The City Hall puts up a small Christmas park every year and has done so for as long as I can remember. It is free to go and Monday was the first time I took my kids. It was an awesome way to end a nice evening that had started with me bringing out their boxes of ornaments and letting them start decorating the tree while I made dinner. Then it was dinner time, bath time, and into the car we went. They loved the park. The ran around and jumped around and on and off of everything.

Christmas Kids

When we got home, my middle brother called me and let me know he was taking care of the big ticket item on my kids’ list. And my mom called after that and told me she would take care of the next biggest ticket item on their lists. And then my baby brother called and told me he would take care of the two next biggest ticket items on the list.

Since then, it’s just been one Christmas miracle after another and they have come in all shapes and sizes from all kinds of people. And I am happy that I am blessed and fortunate and loved and that my children are too. And we will have a nice Christmas together because we will be together and there is a Christmas tree with lights and ornaments, and there will be music, and there will be cookies, and there will be some brightly wrapped gifts, and there will be laughs and kisses and hugs and stories.

The day after, we are leaving to Virginia again. My aunt and uncle have once again rented a log cabin in Virginia and invited us up. My parents are once again going and covering the cost of gas and any overnight hotel stay we may have. Dad and I will share the driving. And when we come back on New Year’s Eve I will be oh so ready for 2013 and whatever it may bring our way.

This is my family, aka the wonderful people who get me through time and time again. The only one missing is Stallion who was working that day the way he works every day. I love the people in this photo, and him, so very, very, very much.

This is my family, aka the wonderful people who get me through time and time again. The only one missing is Stallion who was working that day the way he works every day. I love the people in this photo, and him, so very, very, very much.

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$tre$$

I thought that maybe I had shaken off most of it, but I was wrong. There is nothing like the holidays to stress me the heck out. What can I say? I’m freaking out about Christmas and fighting like hard not to freak out about Christmas at the same time.

Christmas is something I had set aside money for several months ago. But when child support evaporated, so did all of my savings, even Christmas. So now, I’m trying to figure it all out. I’m making things like crazy. Well, that’s not true. I was making things like crazy and then I slowed down considerably and pretty much stopped because I got burned out. I’m trying to start things up again.

The problem with stress is it’s very distracting. You try and focus on something and it wriggles and wiggles it’s way around your brain as it moves towards the center stage of your thoughts.

This year, the kids will be spending Christmas Eve with their father. They come to my house Christmas Day around noon. We are going to have  Christmas Cookie Party that day. I think that it will be a lot of fun. And maybe it will distract the kids from a really skimpy Christmas tree.

This is where I begin to flounder, to worry, to conflict myself. My kids are blessed with a large, loving extended family who will surely shower them with gifts the way they do at every special occasion. They have a ton of stuff no matter how much I have them go through their toys and get rid of things. So there’s a battle in me– I know they don’t need or even want more stuff but I want to give to them. So I feel bad about not having any money to buy much for Christmas this year and at the same time I don’t feel bad about not participating in the relentless consumerism that so deeply affects this country. The kind of consumerism that fuels this kind of irony…

People trample each other for cheap goods mere hours after being thankful for what they already have

So I am struggling with that inner conflict at the same time I am stressing about the usual stress I have been dealing with regarding bills and life’s necessities. This means child support still hasn’t shown up in any way, shape, or form. If I understand the state attorney’s office correctly, that means his license is either suspended or about to be suspended any day now. I haven’t called them back since that last post. I probably will next week. I’m a pest but I don’t have a choice in the matter.

Their father told me he is starting a new job on the first, that they are in the negotiation stage right now. He told me the same exact thing, word for word, a few months ago. If it IS true, it would of course be that just about the time the state attorney’s office should be linking up to the unemployment office to garnish those checks, he would be starting a new job and stop collecting unemployment therefore starting the garnishment process anew all over again. It’s enough to make you laugh the maniacal laugh of loony bins.

Today, I’ll be staying home doing the laundry and working on crocheted gifts. We already watched Elf but it made me cry so I don’t think I’ll be putting on any more Christmas movies today. Today, the kids are going to make their Christmas lists but I am going to do something different. I am going to give them a paper with four sections: Something I want, Something I need, Something to wear, and Something to read. I’ll let them fill each section out with a couple of things in each category and use that as my guiding light this Christmas. I think it’s better this way than a free for all.

I hope you enjoy your weekend. I’m trying to do just that.

Oh Christmas pig, Oh Christmas pig!

Christmas Pig

"Christmas Pig" by Justin Belcher

Here’s a quick little idea I had that I wanted to share.

I have a routine where I empty my wallet daily and put the ones in a little box. I use the ones to pay the kids’ allowances. Sometimes, I have enough ones in there to pay allowances for a month and sometimes I have just enough for the week. It depends on how much cash I’m using, but it overall has helped me always have money on hand to pay them and that’s been a real sanity saver and guilt curber.

I’ve wanted to use more cash more often because I think it limits me better than a card does and I’d like to get in the habit of going cash only for 90% of my day to day expenses.

Now, I have an incentive to do that.

I have a piggy bank.

Every time my wallet looks huge and gross, I empty the coins out into it. I wasn’t really sure what to do with the money this year.

But now I do.

I came up with a little incentive to dump my change into my piggy bank. My change is going to buy my Christmas present to myself. It’s not going to go towards my Christmas present, it will pay for my Christmas present in full.

What’ll it be? Depends on how much money my little piggy’s got when I cash it out at the end of the year.

I figure this will help me in a couple ways.

1) I want to use cash as much as possible as we head into the chaos of the end of the year. I behave so much better when I know I can only buy x amount of dollars worth of stuff because there’s only x amount of dollars in my wallet. With the little plastic card thing, it gets fuzzy. I know I only have x amount of dollars to spend on y thing but I don’t know know, you know? Anyhow using more cash inevitably leads to more cha-ching, cha-ching for the little piggy wiggy.

2) It’ll curb satisfying the wanties. Or at least delay it. And then I won’t be dipping into any other type of money to satisfy the holiday wanties. I think the reason the wanties really kick into gear around the end of the year is because we get absolutely bombed with advertising and subconscious messages to want things that are shiny and bright. Not to mention, most of us shop for gifts and just in doing so we are exposed to things. I’m a sucker for things. Nice, pretty, lovely things.

3) I’ll be doing something for me and it’s not of negative consequence on anything else. Not to mention, I’m a single mom of three wee ones. If I don’t spoil me, no one else will and that’s completely fine with me.

So, I’ll be focused on feeding my pig and fattening him up for my totally self-indulgent Christmas slaughter.

Do you have any totally ridiculous silly little games you play to motivate yourself? Don’t you think my piggy bank needs a name? Should I take a picture of him to encourage a pig-naming brainstorming session?

P.S. Do take a moment to read the article I linked to up there. It is amazing.

Sunday Sunday

 Just one for the records because sometimes, you really have to take a second to remind yourself of these things.

Yesterday was amazing.

Our day started with my waking up at around 10:45 and wondering what I would do for the day. The kids had slept over at their grandfather's house and J was in a Christmas party spirits-induced coma. We'd found out the day before that we had thrown away our Christmas tree lights last year so I decided I'd go to Wal-Mart to pick up the Christmas presents we'd ordered for his parents and the lights for the Christmas tree. 

Wal-Mart was a nightmare. The Site-to-Store pickup area made me wait at least 20, 25 minutes. Then I found out I wouldn't be able to pay for the lights and the other things I'd picked up there because they didn't accept payment there. So I made my way to the front of the store and lines of another 20 minutes or so. I purchased 600 lights for our gorgeous 6 foot tree. I also bought a bucket of 100 shatter-proof ornaments since Daughter has shown quite a… curious… personality develop. I bought a pack of gift wrapping tape and one of those Gift Wrap Cutters from Scotch because I hate cutting gift wrap and I suck at it and it looks like a nifty tool that won't be as big a problem as Daughter getting her hands on giant scissors. I also picked up 2,000 strands of tinsel and one stocking for the dog in a moment of holiday insanity I suppose. I hate the dog. Why did I get him a stocking? 

By the time I came home, it was after noon and J was awake and starving. We went to Lots of Lox for a super late breakfast. I had a Nova Eggs Benedict and chocolate milk. *grin* After that, it was off to his parents' house to get the kids. When we got there, we settled in for the Dolphins game but I was being overcome by a good food coma so I surrendered to my sister in law's bedroom. A while later, Daughter slammed the door open and woke me up mid-snore. I got out bed just in time to come out and see the Baltimore Ravens miss a field goal in OT and watch the Miami Dolphins win their very first game this season. It was so awesome. I don't expect anyone who's not a Dolphins fan to understand the elation. Seriously. And watching the owner cry and everyone celebrate? It was just awesome.

After that, it was back to the house. J strung up the Christmas lights with Eldest as his helper and I sorted out all of the "unbreakable" ornaments by color on the dining room table. J suddenly found we didn't have enough lights, but he really liked the way it was coming out so he went to Wal-Mart and picked up another strand. Eldest and I began decorating the bottom of the tree that was already done. Eldest managed to break three ornaments. Two of them, I think, are healed with the power of glue. One of them is definitely getting the trash heap as I couldn't even find his parts. I was sad that one of the ones that broke was the Big Bird I bought him for his Second Christmas. But it looks like his head is staying on with the glue. He looks a little rough but it's personality! My parents came by and so did some friends. We had Christmas music playing. It was awesome. S helped me with the tree and we finally finished absolutely everything by about 10, 10:30. That's 4 hours of decorating! 

I love my tree so very much. It's the tree I dream about. The tinsel makes the tree absolutely shimmer when the lights are off in the room and the tree is lit. And it's colorful and fun and at the very top sits the angel tree topper we used as kids. It just has a really good family feel to it and I adore it. 

I went to bed so much later than I should have. S and I got caught up looking at the new Mark catalog. Oh yeah, I'm selling Mark makeup. I love the stuff so much. And a lot of stuff has changed since I used to sell it. Things are tons easier now. Check out the store online: http://marce.mymarkstore.com  If you order today and use the code mistletoe, you'll get free shipping on an order over $20 and it'll ship on time for Christmas. They have adorable stuff for Christmas. Seriously. Anyways, I'm looking at the clock and it's yelling at me to get to work. 

I wish every day was a yesterday.

Let’s REALLY get in over our heads

Would anyone be interested in doing an ornament exchange for Christmas? I’m proposing either a one on one exchange OR if enough of you are interested we can do sets of three. You send in a set of three ornaments and get back three new ornaments. These would be handmade of course but if you’re not entirely crafty no worries! There are some very simple ornaments you can make and if you’d like I can share some projects with you. So what say you? Anyone game? I know lots of people are swapping and busy but I figure ornaments are so simple and small and special. Let me know!

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%$_)@%&^#

I am dumb. I had two sets of Tord garland in my hand at Target. I decided to only get one because I had way too much other stuff in my cart. So I put it on the candy at the register. I get home and the blogosphere is full of posts where people are all frustrated they can’t get any Tord garland. @%(&#!#

So do I go right back tomorrow or what? I didn’t get it because I figured I’d just get more next time but if it’s selling out everywhere… I’m having a Christmas party at my house too and I wanted that garland all over the damn place because it is SO really pretty. $!(&%#@#*

And that’s all for now because I’m just all $)@&^%!#*(