So many questions

Do you ever get the feeling you should be feeling something, and yet you’re feeling something completely different?

Last year for Mother’s Day my brothers spoiled me. MutantPirate gave me a gift certificate for a manicure/pedicure at a little spa close to my house and MutantWino got me a gift certificate for an hour massage at a different little spa by my house.

I never used them.

I’m strange with “nice things” and am guilty of the “save it for something special” as often as I’m guilty of the “use it right now” method. I found the gift certificates again a month or so ago and realized the massage one has an expiration date of March 16, 2013. I didn’t book the appointment right then but I kept telling myself, “As soon as I have money for tip I must book this. And the mani/pedi too.”

My kids’ school is having a gala this year at Fairchild Tropical Garden. Tickets are $85 a person and out of my league. I have become friendly with a lot of the moms there and some of them are aware of the situation at home. But still, they asked if I was going. “No, I can’t.” “You have the kids that weekend?” they would sweetly ask. “No actually, I just can’t afford it,” I’d reply. Which really sucks to say out loud, especially to people who are several levels of wealth above you. It’s awkward for everyone. One of the room moms for Daughter’s class pulled me aside and told me she had a family that wanted to donate a pair of tickets for someone to go to the Gala and would I be interested? YES! And so it is that suddenly I was going to the gala.

The thing with the gala is that in my mind I kept putting it off as a thing that was happening far away and suddenly, it became a thing that was happening this weekend, today in fact. So on Wednesday the light bulb went off and I made my appointment for my mani/pedi and got my nails done yesterday.

manipedi

OPI Thrill of Brazil is the color

It. Was. Amazing! They gave me a glass of wine. And they were sweet to me. And the lady that did my nails didn’t barrage me with questions or small talk which is nice because I usually just like to sit and be quiet and enjoy the fact that I am being taken care of. I came home feeling all pretty and lovely and stuff. And then I got stressed out about what on earth to wear because I have nothing for this event and the dress I had planned on wearing, I realized is missing the belt that came with it because I lent it to a bridesmaid. My mom had the idea of calling MutantWino’s fiancee and so Stallion finished up bedtime so I could run over to their house and try on dresses.

I left with a pretty ivory lace sheath dress which I will be pairing with an awesome vintage red swing coat I’ve had in my closet for a couple years that I got for free when my friend was doing a garage sale.  And I will be wearing that with these really pretty black and grey peep toe heels my cousin gave me from her last Purging of the Shoes. And I will be carrying a really cute red clutch my BFF gave me for my birthday. Funny, I just realized my outfit will cost me zero dollars. Oh wait, I did buy the knockoff Spanx thing I’m going to wear under the dress but I bought that several months ago– does it still count?

Oh yeah, and my massage is booked for next Wednesday night after work.

So all of this awesome and I am feeling… completely exhausted, drained, and worried. Baby is going through something and I’m stuck. He wet the bed again last night and yesterday he got in trouble at school. My mom told me he was absolutely wild with her yesterday. This morning he was absolutely crazy with me too. On Monday I have an appointment with a counselor. My job gives free counseling on-campus and they also give referrals. I’m going to talk to them about the situation I am in with the kids and their father and also explore the possibility of the kids going to therapy. I have a FSA I contribute to so the money is there, and it looks like they need it. It can’t hurt.

On top of all that I’ve been dealing with this coughing, congesting, voice hoarsening thing for a week now. The NyQuil is making a mess out of my mornings. I keep passing out on the couch. I have a midterm on Tuesday. I really need to see my friends more often because I’m feeling lonely and too dependent on Stallion. I’m anxious about tonight because I’ve never been to a gala so will I be overdressed or underdressed and I don’t even know where they ended up seating me so I have no idea who will be chatting with me and big things make me anxious these days and  seriously aren’t I too old to be caring about this crap anyways?

So there you go. Trying to shift from Eeyore into Jem (she knows how to have a good time, right? SYNERGY!) is not easy. But I am trying. And hopefully I will enjoy my awesome weekend and accomplish everything I want to– enjoy the gala, crochet, hang out with the BFF, do the Google+ hangout I have planned, study, see my other friends, build Baby’s bike, ride my bike, and enjoy alone time with Stallion (yes pervs, that’s exactly what I’m hinting at).

What are YOUR plans this weekend? How can I make an extra $25 a month so every other month I can get pampered with an awesome mani/pedi? Why don’t my nails look like that when I do them myself? Have you ever put your kids in therapy? What’s it like when kids get therapy? Am I being silly and stressed for nothing? What do you do when you’re being silly and stressed for nothing? Am I asking too many questions? Do you ask this many questions? This is too many questions isn’t it?

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Moving On Random Style

Right!?

Right!?

Ok just to get the soap opera stuff out of the way, yes K-Fat did reply to my response to his request for the child support. I did not get it until Monday morning so my plan worked. I was going to paraphrase but why?

I too am shocked and disappointed that you are acting as if I did not want to contribute to my kids upbringing. This was not a choice. You may have forgotten but I was unemployed during that period (I can send you the unemployment statement). Prior to that came hell or high water child support was paid, despite making a fraction of what I used to.

I expected you to respond this way but I still thought you were somewhat decent and could understand that it hasn’t been easy for me and the kids here either. Remember I do have time with them too.

Sent from my iPhone

So there you go. Now the whole thing has been documented here for prosperity. I had promised myself that although I would reply to the request for the funds, I wouldn’t respond to anything else and sure enough that’s what I’ve done. I could go line by line on this one, but why? I fact checked in my head because I really like to make sure I’m not completely insane and because I like to make sure that I am acting in good faith when I am taking a stern position on something and there’s basically nothing in that email that has any truth to it– except the iPhone bit.

Moving On!

My weekend was great, it really was. I hung out with friends, the kids hung out with friends, I cleaned up a bit more and rearranged my living room, and we were pretty good on the 80’s weekend thing with an exception made for when their friends came over on Saturday but that was it.

Oh and get this! I don’t remember if I mentioned it here, but my grandmother gave me money to buy Baby a new bike since he has outgrown his and the one my Dad bought him on Craigslist never really worked properly. I didn’t ask for it by the way. Baby was complaining about the kids teasing him at Bike Safety Day and Abuela demanded I buy the kid a bike, with her money, or else. Cuban Abuelas are very scary when they protect their great-grandkids. Fair warning.

We looked online and Baby fell in love with a really pretty Skylanders bike but the Toys R Us website said it wouldn’t available until February 22. So on Saturday, I looked online and it was sort of confusing but it looked like a Babies R Us right by my parents’ house had it. So we went.

They didn’t. No one in Miami had it. Baby cried. We went to my parents’  house to hang out and get over it. While we were there my dad is talking to me about biking. And I tell him I’m saving money so I can buy myself a bike and we can all go biking together.

My Dad is a serious biker these days. He rides miles and miles and miles on the weekend. So he gets this look in his eye, “Take mine!” he says. WHAT!? When my dad started biking regularly and found out how much he enjoyed it, he got himself a gorgeous cruiser bike called an Amsterdam. But he is totally beyond the cruiser bike’s capabilities now and doesn’t use it anymore. So he strapped an old bike rack on my car and mounted the Amsterdam on it and now I have a bike that is exactly the kind of bike that I wanted!!

On Sunday, the kids and I went out for a bike ride– Baby took his old Big Wheels type and chugged along. It was immediately obvious we need to do this more often and now I can! And my bike is so pretty!!! I feel like this on it:

By the way, Toys R Us made Baby’s bike available to order on the website and I did and it should come in tomorrow. Which is only kind of awesome because they’re with their dad this weekend but at least it will be here and I will have accomplished something awesome. Gracias Abuela!

My tax refund came in on Monday so I was able to fill up the Camp Savings Account, pay my parents back for a couple of things they had footed me for, made sure my account had enough money for the month, and stuck $500 in the mini emergency fund. Huge. Giant. Relief.

There still hasn’t been a child support payment made, the garnishment hasn’t posted and no paycheck deduction has been done either, but that money is extra anyways and will come in when it comes in. I’m actually on the phone now to request they follow up with the company the way my senior case analyst advised me to do a couple weeks ago.

By the way, here is the best video I saw on the Internet this week

Watch it. Make your kids watch it. Send it to your kids’ teachers and principals. Send it to the people you know who are teachers and principals. Make sure you show it to the girls in your life, as I think they will feel nicely represented here. And then, check out the website Code.org for resources on how how to learn and teach coding. Don’t be scared! We can do this! We should do this. That video totally gets me hyped, can you tell?

That about does it for my silly blathering today. I’m still on hold with the Child Support Office…. I wonder if they’ll pick up before I get my first comment on this one. What do you think?

By the way, I know it’s Wednesday so it’s a little late to be asking but how was your weekend? And is it too early to ask if you have something great planned for this weekend?

You know how I know I’m older?

I blame NicoleandMaggie’s giggle-worthy post, I had a Midlife Crisis in Class Today, for this one. Read it! Then come back!

Just yesterday I was walking out of class and it just hit me out of nowhere– there is a LOT of skin on campus!! Holy crap. Tiny shorts and tiny tank tops and everyone wears flip flops! I swear to god it wasn’t like that the first time I went to college– was it? And then I couldn’t really remember and that made things even worse.

And then just the other day the kids and I were in the car and we were blah blah blabbing and somehow it got to me telling stories of things my brothers and I did as kids. And then it dawned on me the reason we sounded so much crazier than my own kids is because we had way less “easy” entertainment, i.e. video games, movies,internet, cable were not in my house until I was in the double digit years, so the 90’s. I was explaining about TV before cable and counted off the channels we had access to– all 7 of them. Eldest says, “Yeah but one of them was a kids’ channel at least, right?”

No, my child. I had to explain there were no channels dedicated to children’s programming, there were only time blocks dedicated to children’s programming– after school until the 5 o’clock news, Saturday morning until noon, and then on Sunday ABC would put on an ABC Family presentation in the early evening and it was usually a Disney movie or something like that. They were freaking out.

But they suddenly understood why we did things like play pranks on each other (I sprayed them with a hose from outside through the window screen when they were in the tub a couple times and I was notorious for rigging up buckets filled with LEGO pieces and Hot Wheels on top of their bedroom doors and then waiting patiently until I heard the crash and the screams of the bucket falling on their heads).

Or why we played lots of imagination-based games– like declaring the whole floor was lava and then proceeding to walking around the room by climbing on furniture and jumping onto bean bags or pretending their bunk bed was a giant pirate ship and we were stuck in a storm.

Or why we were always doing things outside like running in sprinklers, riding bikes and roller skates everywhere, climbing trees to hide and read in (just me), and playing football in the street.

Or why it seems we were always tangled up in some sort of physical assault. I’ll never forget the time I shoved my brother and he cracked his head open against the iron bars and my mom freaked out. Or the time he and I were fighting and he got put in time out and I didn’t and like the asshat I was, I went skipping up and down the hallway he was stuck in showing off my freedom when he kicked his leg out, tripped me, and sent me flying down the hallway. Well played MutantWino, well played. Or the times I’d go in and pull MutantWino off MutantPirate. Or the time MutantWino broke his finger chasing MutantPirate around the room. Or the time MutantPirate turned his eye all red and demonic looking by running into a bedpost while being chased after by MutantWino.

And I also realized why it always seemed to me that as kids we played with our toys more than kids do today. That never clicked in my head until that conversation. Answer: we DID play with our toys more often, because we had to.

So my kids and I talked about it and we decided this weekend, we are turning the clock back 30 years and living like it’s 1983. And the fact that was 30 years ago is enough to make me slightly nauseated.

And then, today I was watching the amazing video Google put out about Glass and actually got choked up! We have come so far, this was science fiction when I was little!

What about you? What recent happenings make you feel older?

Child Support Surrealism

This is me calling Child Support Enforcement. This is after speaking to the rep and waiting for the supervisor. Can you read my mind?

This is me calling Child Support Enforcement, on hold for a supervisor. Can you read my mind?

To call or not to call, that is the question.

Oh Miami Dade County State Attorney’s Child Support Enforcement Office, I just can’t decide if you improve or deteriorate my quality of living.

I called them today. I’m still unsure whether or not that was a good idea. I’m still unsure whether or not my calls actually matter to anyone other than myself. I’m still unsure whether my calls affect anything else other than my sanity.

I was on hold for 27 minutes which I guess isn’t bad compared to the record of one hour and one minute hold time in December. This time, it was Warren on the line which brought this to mind

Empire Records

Empire Records

Warren let me know that the gorbellied common-kissing jointhead (thanks Will) went into the Enforcement Office on January 23. He went in to negotiate a lower payment to have his license reinstated and was denied because when they pulled him up in the system, he had multiple child support obligations.

Pause. What!?

Apparently there is a note in the file that they denied him renegotiation because he has other cases that are delinquent. As in other children.

Now listen ladies and gents, this clouted fat-kidneyed boar-pig maybe a compulsive liar with a penchant for pulling cons, but if there is one thing I am 99.9% certain about him is that there are no other children. Previous pregnancies prior to mine? My understanding is yes and that it was terminated. Warren was all skeptical of me and my insistence on this and I knew with this horrible cold feeling in my gut this must happen all of the time, so I dropped it.

Warren said they were still waiting on that Income Deduction Order to go into effect. He also reassured me that they made sure to tell him he had to continue making child support payments until the Income Deduction Order went into effect. Ohmygodthankyousmuch for telling him that!! I bet you anything you guys changed his ways and made him realize what a horrible misunderstanding it was!! And clearly it worked well because I have gotten zero payments except for the $100 payment he made that day to get his license reinstated.

So you know, I had to wait until March but then not really because at that point they would send a follow-up letter giving the company another 20 days to comply and do you guys know what they do after that? They… send another letter… giving them another 20 days to comply. And then they would go and try and find a different employer he might be at. Oh and by the way, little known fact here– when an Income Deduction Order is pending, like this one, all other enforcement efforts stop. In other words, even if he doesn’t make the payments he was instructed to, they cannot proceed with enforcement until the total 100 days have passed.

So I’m all dismayed and stuff and about to hang up and then I’m like, “I need a supervisor please.” And then Warren was like, “Not a problem but I need to explain to the supervisor what the call is about” which I think is their way of asking “Sh!t am I in trouble? You’re not gonna tattle on me are you?” And then I was all like, “I just want to go over this enforcement stuff and the thing with the multiple obligations stuff or something.” “Oh ok sure” which means “Oh my god I’m not in trouble thank you lord jesus”.

So then, I got put on hold again but was so dismayed I didn’t even care about how long it was for and took that picture up there instead because I felt like this was crazy and worth documenting and it wasn’t even that long really before Ray was on the phone.

Do you remember Ray? I remembered Ray. Ray was the supervisor I spoke to the day I had a horrible experience with one of the customer representatives who was just telling me complete and utter nonsense and acting like she knew exactly what she was talking about when it was obvious she totally didn’t. Ray was all like “What the hell is going on with this case and why are people telling you crazy stuff!?!?! I will fix your case!!!” Which you know, A for effort on that one Ray but…

“Wow this case has only gotten $100?” he asks me. Yup. Ray turns out to be my senior case analyst and I really like him because he digs and finds things out and makes me feel like someone is actually caring about my case and is going to help things get done but it also makes me completely curious just how the hell these people do their job because no one knows what anyone else is doing and yet it seems like fifty million people can affect one particular case.

So Ray gets caught up with the case, because let’s be real– the guy hasn’t looked at it since the day I called him in November for sure. And then Ray lets me know what really happened. Are you ready? Are you sure you’re ready? Do you have a tasty snack? Do you want to get a cool beverage, or a hot one if you’re freezing your bum off somewhere?

And get ourselves a snack!

And get ourselves a snack!

Ok

On January 23, the beslubbering beef-witted barnacle did indeed come to the Child Support Enforcement Office. They updated his information because he informed them the Employer information they had on-file (yes the one with the pending Income Deduction Order) was out of date and he gave them new Employer Information. He said he needed his license back. They told him that was fine, he just had to pay $1028.00. He said he didn’t have that kind of money. They said too bad. That’s where the story should end. Right there. But it doesn’t.

He explained that he has a new job but that without a valid license, he could not have this job. He probably explained what the consequences of not having a job would be as far as possible future child support payments go. Maybe he lamented the economy and told them about how much horrible stress he’s been on lately and how absolutely dreadful he feels about not being able to support his dear children the way he wishes he could, nay the way they deserve.  I don’t freaking know. But whatever he did, he convinced the person to take it up with a supervisor, who is not Ray because these negotiations happen “downstairs” and they are not involved with them, and then he convinced the supervisor to help him out.

So they said if he paid the $100 he claimed was all he had, they would reinstate the license. This is the bit where they also explained they would be sending the new employer the Income Deduction Order but that he must make child support payments until the Income Deduction Order went into effect. They probably thanked him for coming in. They probably wished him good luck with this new job and hoped times would be better for him. I don’t freaking know.

All I know is he walked out of there with a reinstated license and put a freeze on all enforcement efforts again for up to another 100 days. For $100. With an arrears amount over $19k and a past due amount that is now over $11k. After going six months without making any type of payment whatsoever.

Did they verify his claim of employment before agreeing to his offer of $100 to reinstate the license? Did they verify the other employer is indeed invalid? No. They don’t do that. They take their word for it.

They. Take. Their. Word. For. It.

They take their word for it!!!!

There are a couple more minor surreal notes to add to this already surreal story.

First of all, I explained to Ray that I know crazy things happen all the time but I was pretty confident that my children were his only children and that I was concerned that note was on the case file because what if it were to start complicating other things? Ray was hesitant and he clarified he could only discuss MY case information with me. But he looked up his social. And guess what????????

My kids are his only kids. So what is that note doing there? Was it an error? Did someone just look up his name, which also happens to be kind of common? Or did he maybe lead them to believe he had other children he was having trouble supporting? I have no idea but someone put a total bullshit note on my case file.

Second of all, he went to the Child Support office on January 23rd. He gave them the information for the new employer which most likely triggered the close of the other employer’s case. They sent the Income Deduction Order today, February 15. Twenty three days later.

He has had a valid license and a new job for twenty three days, has made no payments at all, and they just sent the Income Deduction Order that gets the 100 day process started, today. So he got himself, potentially, 123 days.

It amazes me, time and again, how inefficient something critical can be. I called the company I had information for, aka the apparent now Former Employer (seriously I lost track of how many jobs he’s had since we split). The receptionist informed me that although she was new, she was pretty certain he didn’t work there because she couldn’t find him on her listing. It took less than two minutes. If I was actually calling for someone else as part of my job, I would have left a message with the HR woman she transferred me to just to be absolutely sure and to get some real closure on something.

I love technology. I love automation. I really do. But we must always remember that computers, as brilliant as they are, are actually stupid. And as efficient as automation can be, humans are not automatic. In other words, when applying technology and automation to a human problem, one cannot simply remove a human from the process. My frustration lies with the fact that I am working with a group that does not (for whatever reason) do the work needed to actually address the problem of non-paying non-custodial parents. Every time I call, I am forcing a human into the process. And there is resistance. That is why the first layer is the representatives who answer the phone. My experience tells me they are often poorly trained, have no power, and don’t really comprehend the majority of their job. It is almost as if they are trained to be the buffer against reinserting humanity into an automated process.

This issue burns me up. It’s not even on a selfish, personal level either. Every time I call and deal with the incompetence at the Enforcement Office I am reminded me of the (now cruel) words of the intake coordinator who processed my case in the beginning– “Oh your case is an easy one!” And the fact remains, despite the insanity that I have been going through with this case, there are by far worse situations that end up there. There are non-custodial parents who flee the county, state, even country. There are non-custodial parents with children with three, four, five different custodial parents. There are non-custodial parents who intentionally leave the workforce and go on benefits to not pay child support. And so I burn inside for those cases too. Because if they can’t get mine straight and mine is really not that complicated, then surely there is no way a meatier case ever  gets close to resolution.

And so I hate calling because there is just never a positive experience with Child Support Enforcement. But I also must call because no one at that office cares about my children and their needs and no one at that office is doing the actual complex work that needs to get done to care for the children of this state. So I’ll keep nagging and pushing and escalating. I’ll keep getting worked up and I’ll keep fighting those frustration tears and I’ll keep trying to make a connection with someone, anyone, there.

A Morning That I Like

trophy“Mommy?” a little voice woke me from my sleep. I raised my head from the pillow and peered at the door. I managed to push a “Hmmmm?” from my lips. No one was there. The door was closed. I fell back to my pillow and listened a little longer just to make sure maybe someone wasn’t calling me from their room. Nothing. I must have dreamt it. And once again I found myself awake before my alarm clock had gone off.

I have a rule about not looking at the clock if I wake up in the middle of the night. It never works in my favor. But lately I’ve begun to notice that I can tell if it’s close to the time I usually wake up. I was pretty sure I was close. I debated getting up or going back to sleep. The alarm went off at 5:50. I hit snooze because even though I was mentally wide away, physically I was still stuck to my bed. I finally got up at 6:05, collected my clothes, went to the bathroom and took a shower. I got dressed and padded to the kitchen. I looked at the clock and set the time for 54 minutes from then– or 7:10 AM.

I made coffee. I packed lunches. My son’s alarm beeped at 6:30 AM and a few second later he padded over to the kitchen.

“Good Morning Eldest”

“Good Morning Mom”

“Time to get dressed.”

“I know, I’m getting my stuff from the PE bag.”

“I thought I told you to do that last night.”

“You did. I forgot.”

“Ah ok.”

I walked over to Daughter’s room.

“Time to get up!” Unintelligible noises rose from her as she kicked around. “No way, no tantrums young lady. Remember what happened the other day? We are not having a repeat of that are we?” More protests but much more subdued. “Where’s your PE clothes? I told you to get it ready last night.”

“You never gaaaaaaaave it to meeeeeeeeeee.”

“You didn’t aaaaaaaaaaaaaask me for it. I told you to get it ready, you’re the one who needs to get it and ask me for it if you can’t find it. Get up. Now.” I left her room and went to the PE bag and fished out her PE uniform. I took it back to her room. She was struggling to get out of bed, fighting with the blanket. I dropped the PE bundle on her bed. “Here you go. Don’t let it happen again. Get dressed, it’s time to go.”

I walked over to the boys’ room. “Come on Baby, it’s time to get up!” Some whining and I suddenly remembered it was Bike Safety Day and he wouldn’t have to wear his uniform. So I told him and fished out the requested blue shorts and red t-shirt from his drawers. “Here you go! Get dressed ok?”

I walked back to the kitchen and checked on Daughter who was dressed and fishing for socks in her drawer. Eldest had already started making his breakfast. Things were clicking. I love it when things click.

I fixed Baby and Daughter their oatmeal. I set Eldest to empty the dishwasher which he protested and I had to insist on. My mom popped in with some hardcore Sudafed for Stallion and me. I reminded the kids when the timer went off, they had five minutes to get into the car regardless of their state of hair, teeth, clothes, etc. I turned Daughter’s side ponytail into a side braid at her request. I sent everyone to brush their teeth. I went to brush my own teeth and put on my sneakers. When I came out, the kids were milling around the door.

“The timer went off,” Eldest informed me. “I turned it off.”

“Thanks. Next time, don’t turn it off though. I need to hear it. Alright, get your stuff and let’s get into the car.” I unlocked everything and let them loose while I went back in to say goodbye to Stallion, check on how he was feeling, and let him know about the medicine my mom had dropped off. We were on the road before 7:20. We beat both school zones on the way in because we were so early. We blasted music and sang and danced because I wasn’t stressed about traffic.

We got to school before the first bell rang at 7:40 AM. I unloaded the three bikes and the three helmets from the trunk that Stallion and I had loaded the night before. The kids rode them over to the track and parked them in the right spots. Daughter asked to get dropped off first because she wanted to be in class early. No problem. Eldest got dropped off next. Baby and I went to say hi to my Mom. One of the other moms stopped me and asked me about an event this Sunday we were going to. She was going to try and meet up with us. My kids love her kids and soon we’ll be related as her cousin is marrying my brother at some point. I got Baby into his seat in class and chatted with the other kids at his table. Gave him lots of hugs and kisses. Dropped off the payment to the Coach to cover the check that had bounced when my account got hacked. Got in the car and was pulling out before the second bell rang at 7:50 AM. I was at the train station and got on the 8 o’clock train and was at my desk before 8:30.

I felt like a champion. The week has been like that pretty much consistently although today was the first time I got to my desk early. Usually Baby holds me back until the last bell rings. He doesn’t like letting me go. But today, I told him I needed to see Coach before the bell rang and he was fine. Everything was fine. I love mornings like this. I feel happy and start my day on the right note. And I’m hoping it’s a sign that this weekend will be smooth as well as it’s getting pretty packed with stuff. As long as I keep things organized, we’ll be ok. Amazing isn’t it?

A Functioning Mutant is a Delegating Mutant

Image

I have vented a lot on here about my lack of organization, the stress with the house, and so on and so forth. A lot of you have chimed in with amazing ideas and suggestions and encouragement (as usual, because I have the best readers on the internets EVA).

So, I have been tweaking things around here. Little things. And some of it, is actually working. Stuff like…

Child Labor

I force myself to delegate more and more household chores– especially to Eldest who is beyond old enough to start carrying around a bigger load of responsibility. But also to Daughter and Baby. What have I had the kids do? Well on top of the usual things they already do I have had Eldest empty out the dishwasher with the assistance of Baby and/or Daughter. I’ve also had him load it if anything happened to be in the sink while the dishwasher was full of clean dishes. Daughter is now fully responsible for feeding the cat. I made two changes to make sure she could do this easily. 1) I put a plastic cup in the giant bag of cat food so she could just scoop out the food instead of carry and pour it out. 2) I switched the wet food to this stuff by Meow Mix called Pate Toppers. Why? Because the containers are plastic with foil lids that peel right off. Much easier to do, and safer, than the metal cans. Also, the plastic is recyclable. I have them help me fold laundry, especially socks which I hate doing. I aim to clean while they are present and then delegate appropriate tasks. Wiping down surfaces with a Clorox wipe for instance. Cleaning the place mats. Running the vacuum cleaner. Emptying the bathroom trash cans. I have also employed them more often in meal prep– especially breakfast and occasionally lunch and seldomly in dinner or dessert. Eldest is especially good at this one but Daughter is as well. Baby is good at setting the kids table settings and getting cups of water for everyone.

Google Calendar

Where have you been all my life? I have toyed with Google Calendar before but recently I have made it a point to really abuse it and have gone so far as to set it up properly with settings I prefer (Pop Up Reminders FTW) and even shared it with Stallion and set Stallion up with one so I could better track his work schedule which always changes and is a nightmare to keep track of mentally. I still keep a paper calendar in my purse because entering things in my phone is a pain in the booty-bum and my Nexus 7 has a knack for not being in my purse, not having a charged battery, and/or not being in a wireless hotspot when I need to enter a reminder. I also like that I can email events to people as I’m entering them. So, for instance when I updated my calendar to show Eldest’s upcoming Track and Field meet, I also had it dash a quick email to MutantWino, MutantPirate, and MutantDad since they have all shown interest in attending his meets and have even made it to one already.

Prep

I have been working really hard on getting things taken care of ahead of time. I prep lunches the night before, except mine and I don’t know why I do that. I make sure the uniforms are prepped. I put everything that needs to go out the door with us the next day clustered together on the dining table (one day when I’m financially stable, I will be doing some work on my entry so that it is an awesome Home Base area thing). And when I add reminders to my Google calendars, I try and set the time for evening hours– earlier if it’s something the kids need to do and later if it’s something I need to do. I am also prepping food-wise as much as possible. I haven’t really done another formal meal plan but I want to. And I do try and at least somewhat think about what I have food-wise and what to make with it when. On Sunday, I hard-boiled ten eggs and put them in a tray in the fridge so we’d have access to them all week. It’s been a great extra to throw into lunch boxes and my kids LOVE them. It’s easy to do and so this is something I will do more regularly. I have also started purchasing more snack food. I know it’s more expensive to buy the little bags of cookies individually packaged but I am just not going to package them myself. I’ve learned this the hard way.

Grilling

About a month or so ago, my family had another Grand Round of Shuffling Objects. My aunt and uncle were downsizing, Mutant Pirate bought his first home, and Mutant Wino is settling down with a fiancee into a house they will be purchasing from her mother soon so he is expanding. Anyways, things were shuffled around and I ended up with my parents gas grill. I have never grilled anything on a BBQ in my life and now I’m wondering what the hell took me so long (besides cash flow to actually purchase one of course). Almost every single thing I have put on that grill has turned out heavenly (except for the one time I wanted to char the Tandoori chicken I had cooked in the crock pot and then forgot about- doh!) and there are no pats and pans to clean and there is no cooked food smell in the house and I don’t even lose my appetite after cooking! It’s the best thing ever!!! I have made burgers, steaks, fish, even pasta on the thing. It’s fast and it’s easy and it gives me a reason to be outside of the house where I can’t hear the screaming of the children.

Stopped Caring

About the money that is. Sort of. I have been driving myself absolutely crazy trying to keep everything afloat financially. Counting pennies to make sure I have enough to pay this, that, and the other. Hounding Child Support Enforcement. And so on and so forth and then I just STOPPED. I gave up. On everything. I gave up on paying off my debts. I gave up on tracking my spending. I gave up on the idea of ever seeing child support again. I even gave up on the idea of paying every single bill on time. Yup. Just. Stopped. Caring. I recognize this is not a healthy way to live. I know that I cannot and will not sustain this for a long period of time. And I also know the way I was living before was just as unhealthy and just as unsustainable and finally everything cracked and fell apart. Credit cards are loaded up again. I’ve had some late bills I completely forgot about or flat out didn’t have money for. I had a bounced check. I even had one of my accounts cleaned out by credit card fraud. Someone got access to a nasty adult website at the cost of $90 of my precious money. I just felt like the more I kept fighting the money thing, the more ferocious it got. It was like a hydra. Cut off one head and eight more grow back in its place. So I stopped cutting and settled for lamely poking and some lazy dodging. Funny enough, a random child support check for $100 showed up (two days before my $90 was stolen so there you go). Does it mean things will be turning around soon? Maybe, maybe not. Do I care? Not yet, no.

I believe that each of us has limits and that includes limits on the number of things we can consciously dedicated time and energy to. Because life shifts constantly, these things need constant re-evaluation and re-prioritization. Right now, my focus is on 1) Organization, 2) School, and 3) Relationship Strengthening (romantic, family, kids, friends, and with myself). And that is all I can handle in a serious, dedicated, and consistent manner. It’s not that everything else gets thrown to the curb, it’s just that everything else gets handled as well as it can with whatever energy and other resources I may have left after dealing with 1, 2, and 3. As one of those becomes easier to handle and needs less and less of my attention, other priorities can ease up and absorb me some more. But right now, these are three biggies and they win, period end of story.

So, that’s where I am. And that’s where I am going. Thanks again for your suggestions. I have been trying them out here and there and it’s been nice knowing I have such a great team of cheerleading readers. But I’m curious– what do you think of limits as far as priorities go? Do you shift things around constantly or do you stay focused on pretty much the same things all the time? If so, do you find you need to shake things up now and then? Do you know what your limits are? What are you focusing on big time right now?