Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Cloth Diapering Challenge

Well, once again we ran out of money.  Literally.  We got back from the end of our family vacation time and saw that our bank account was in the red.  This type of situation isn't new to us.  We have struggled through bad decision after bad decision starting from before we got married.

Lately, things haven't been so bad.  We have been (mostly) caught up on bills for the past few months.  We also began to budget  - for real.  I say, "for real," because for a long time we didn't even have enough money to put a working budget together.  We paid what bills we could and then hoped what was left could sustain us till next pay day.

So now we can budget.  I have more than one envelope, I keep all my receipts and record what we spend each month so I can budget even better next time.

You know what's amazing?

Every time we use our envelope system, we have leftover cash.  That leftover cash always went into the savings envelope and for the first time we had some savings! Good thing because we needed it soon after.

The envelope system worked well right up until our family vacation.

Simply put: We didn't budget.  All I knew was what Mr. Sexy told me: We have plenty, let's do whatever we want.  All he knew was: Bills are paid, everything else is extra, let's have a really fun time and not stress.

Well, because we didn't sit down and look through all our bills, we missed a few.

Thus, we ran out of money.

Denai has been in cloth diapers since day one.  It's been great and I have loved loved loved not stressing about the added expenses of disposables.

However, last week her third round of staph infection flared up and it seemed to be the worst we had seen yet.  I actually knew it was coming back by the smell of her urine, but the last time I took her to the doctor, they turned me away because they didn't see it yet.  So I decided to wait this time - even though I knew what was inevitable.

In many ways I felt bad about my role as mommy to her.  The first time she got staph, I should have done more research and realized I needed to strip her diapers.  The second time I shouldn't have given up on my research and stripped them correctly.  Now that this is her third and worst round, I have decided to give cloth a break.

I now know exactly how to strip her diapers for the staph.  But I didn't want to risk anything so I wanted to get her out of cloth asap.

It was no problem.  Before we even went to the doctor we headed to Walgreen's to purchase everything we needed for disposies.  Even though we had no money, it was no problem.  We had our flexible spending card!  Perfecto!

And then we found out: all that was covered were the depends for Marie.  Apparently, diapers and wipes and baby butt cream are not covered like we thought.

It is always stressful to run out of money.  It's even more stressful when one of my kids really needs something but I am unable to provide it.  

I took her to the doctor the next day and asked if they had any diaper samples.  The doctor handed me two diapers: one that fit and another that was obviously too small.  There was no point in those so I just left them there.

While waiting for Denai's prescription, I did what I always do when the stress gets overwhelming.  I called my husband and gave him an ear full.  That's never the smartest move and a lot of times those conversations make our situation even worse.

This time, however, Mr. Sexy reassured me that we would be okay and he would find a way to get Denai some diapers.

He did it. 

An hour and a half later, I picked him up from work and we went to the local hospital birthing center.  Mr. Sexy had called to explain our situation and asked if there was any way they could help.  After verifying with our pediatrician that Denai does have staph - again - they immediately sent someone out to buy us some diapers.

We went home with 120 diapers and 16 or so night time diapers.  

So now, Denai's staph is improving.  She has been in disposies for about three days.

It's different than cloth.  For one thing, she appears much thinner.  Her cloth diapers tended to give her the
bubble butt look.  Another bonus is that I don't have to clean poop 3+ times every day.

But you know what stands out the most?

Mr. Sexy and I made another bad money decision.

Yet God still worked through people and provided what we needed.

Not in my timing.  Not in my way.

It was his timing.  His way.  His story.

So now, every time I change Denai's diaper - even when she screams because her bottom is still sore - I am thankful for the kind people who were willing to allow God to work through them and help us out.

And sometimes, even when we feel unworthy, it's still okay to ask for help.  

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Painting: Help Required!

It's been about a month and we haven't technically unpacked a single box.  However I did decide that painting the kitchen would be a good idea...

I started to paint the cabinet doors and cabinet insides a red that was already at the house.  Then I realized my kitchen was red, white and blue.  It's not what I was thinking.  

I want happy colors that say: "Cute farm house kitchen in the 20th century."  The blue and wallpaper don't say that to me. 

Thoughts?  Suggestions? 

I'm a bit stuck at the moment! 

Also, many have complicated me on the current scheme of the kitchen.  However it's old and I can't get it clean which is my main drive in repainting and tearing the wall paper out.  This house was built in 1902 and has layers and layers and layers on the walls and in the cabinets.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Cup of Water

Some people think I have my husband wrapped around my little finger.  I guess in some respects, I do - but not in the way that so many seem to perceive.  What others sometimes see, is I say, "jump," and he responds, "how high?" This is a false perception of our relationship.  In fact, I dated a guy like that.  It turned out that having a doormat for a boyfriend got boring fast which quickly turned into annoyance and then to resentment.

Friends have told us that I am spoiled and that Mr. Sexy does too much for me.  For instance, the other night we got all snuggled in bed, ready for sleep.  Of course that's when I realized I forgot to get water for my middle of the night cravings and my terrible morning breath.  I didn't even have to ask.  Mr. Sexy was already up and headed to the kitchen.  So, am I being spoiled or taken care of?

When I start demanding things from my husband, I creep into the area of being spoiled.  It turns out that he likes to be asked to do things.  This gesture alone tells him I don't take him for granted and I appreciate what he does for me.

Believe it or not, I struggle to ask for something as simple as a cup of water.  My husband amazes me with how nice and kind he is to me.  When I tell him these things, I can see he is flattered.  Later he tells me that it's also painful for him to hear.

Let me explain from his perspective:  If I am literally the nicest and kindest man you have met, that means you have been surrounded by men and boys who are far less than who they were created to be. 

 The other night I witnessed an exchange between a husband and wife which made my blood boil.  This couple had obviously been married for a very long time as they were surrounded by close friends, kids and grand kids.  The wife seemed happy and excited to be surrounded by loved ones and cooking hot dogs over the campfire.  She stood over the high flames and asked for her husband to please come cook their hot dogs.  He was sitting a few feet away with a plate of salad.

"No way!" was his response.  To make sure he was clear, he even said it twice.

His tone, his words and the look on his face suggested indignation at such an outlandish request from his wife.

The wife, who seemed to take it all in stride, shrugged and continued with the cooking for her and her husband.

It took only a moment for their close friend to volunteer to cook their hot dogs for them.  As the friend bent down closer to the fire, the husband re-positioned as if to get up.  At least, that's what should have happened.  Instead the husband remained sitting, engrossed in his salad, while his friend cooked his hot dogs.

The part that makes my blood boil is the example he has set for his own children on how to love and take care of and cherish his wife.  Worse still: Both husband and wife seemed clueless that there was something amiss.

Perhaps the story I just shared hits close to home.  Or maybe it doesn't.  Maybe it's a normal that some say you just have to get used to.  I bet many even think of telling me, "Just wait till you have been married 20 years."

I do have a husband who spoils me.  But it's not in the way many think.  He loves me every day as best he can.  Sometimes that means getting me a cup of water in the middle of the night.  Sometimes that means pausing his dinner to help me with mine.  Sometimes that means taking the screaming baby out of the restaurant.  Sometimes it means going to a social function when what he really feels like doing is relaxing at home.

I struggle with how nice and kind my husband is to me.  I have never seen anybody treated the way I am treated.  It's a foreign idea - but it won't be for my kids.  Even now, Michael sees how his step-dad will go out of his way to do something kind for me.  Michael already makes attempts to follow in these footsteps.

I don't mean to stand on a soap box about my perfect marriage and my perfect family.  We have issues just like you.  My husband is not perfect and I have lots of stories to prove that.  I am in counseling because I can't figure out how to get over the resentment I feel towards my step-daughter.  Michael is mean to his sisters when he thinks Mr. Sexy and I are not around.  Denai is our little screamer and I already face battle of the wills with her.

We are not perfect.  But we are challenged.  Every day we are challenged.  Are you?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Co-Parenting: How is it "supposed" to work?

Michael just got picked up to go to his dad's house after two weeks here at home.  As I soaked in the tub earlier this morning I spent some time reflecting on how different the house was about to be.  There will be less screaming from Denai because Michael won't be constantly pushing his boundaries with her.  There will be less emotional melt downs over the word, "no."  The stairs will be free from the sleeping bags because Michael likes to ride down the stairs.

In one word: quiet

And then I wonder what it's like at his other house.

I never have a good answer.

Why?  Because his other parents seem to try their hardest not to talk us - much less sit anywhere near us during a t-ball game.  Yup.  They always sat the farthest away from the field and would only approach Michael if Mr. Sexy and I weren't immediately around.  In order for Michael to say hi during his games he had to run to where they were slowly putting their chairs in the bags - waiting for him.

I have one word for them:  Losers

I know it's unkind to name call.  I know that they are good people and love Michael.  However their avoidance of Mr. Sexy and I does not go unnoticed.

Is this normal?

I have been trying really hard to figure out how to communicate and co-parent with Michael's other parents.  Is this just not a reality I should expect or even hope for?  Are there any sets of parents who are able to co-parent and do it well?  

All I'm really looking for is open communication and a surface friendship.

Nothing deep.  I would like to sit next to them at a sporting event and watch our girls play together.  We adults don't even have to talk.  But Michael would see his 4 parents getting along.

I would like to have dinner or even go out for just appetizers every few months just to keep communication lines open.

For me, to keep good will towards another whom I struggle to get along with, I need to see that person, talk to that person and smile with that person.  This can't be done through texting.  Plus, Mr. Sexy and I always find stuff to talk about relating to Michael.  So conversation with all 4 parents shouldn't be boring.

I would like Michael's parents to ask me about his week.

 They don't, however.  This tells me that 1) they don't care or 2) they don't see his time here as real.

 I also would like an answer when I ask about his week at their house, too.  But every time I hear the same line: "He was good, had a great time, no issues."  But I want to know who he played with.  Did he practice riding his bike.  Does he have a new favorite whatever.  What kind of fights did he get into ( I say what kind because he always gets into fights.  Even though his other parents tell me "he was good.").

  Basically, I want to know what his life is like.  Because I care.  And his other life that he lives at his dad's house is real. 

 Plus, I think it's strange and unnatural to not see or talk to my child for a week or longer and not have any idea what went on.

Today I asked Michael's dad about getting together for dinner some time in the next few weeks.  I wasn't surprised by his non-committal answer but it left me incredibly frustrated anyways.

"We have so much going on, I don't see how we can do it any time soon.  Maybe in a few months."  He asked if there was anything specific and we could just talk about it then.  And while there isn't anything specific, I do have a few questions but they are for BOTH his parents.

I even asked him point blank if he thought getting together at all, ever, would be a good idea for our co-parenting relationship.  His answer was the same: "We are too busy right now."  And that's all I got.  I even said, "If you don't want to get together ever for any reason then just tell me so I can figure out a different way to cope with this co-parenting relationship."  Same response: too busy right now.

Again: Loser.  No back bone.  Zero ability to talk honestly.

I am thinking that I may have to accept where we are all at now and then.... give up?  Ummmm I don't give up people!  So do I keep asking about getting together? (He even told me he doesn't think they have time to get together at the park.  Does his other kid not play outside with other kids?!?!?!)

What does co-parenting look like?  Are my expectations too high (a common theme for me actually)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Passing Grades

"So do you have a timeline for the house?" Mr. Sexy called from the kitchen as he rinsed out a mason jar for his morning coffee.

"No, not really," I replied as I entered the kitchen from the minefield that is every room except for the kitchen.  Even then, you never know when you might step on an old banana slice or a pile of cheerios. Aaahhh, the joys of children.

"Hey, do you want a real coffee mug?" I asked.

"Do we have one?!"  

"Totally."  I knew right were to go and found Michael's circus mug that has a cute little elephant inside it.  

Now we both have coffee mugs.  That is a nice thing. 

Getting back to the original conversation, I said, "Yeah, I'm in no hurry to get this place done."

Mr. Sexy looked at me and smiled a teasing yet in-all-seriousness smile.  "You're learning so much about not stressing out." 

"There's just way too much," I replied.  

But he's right.  Life these past few years has been a huge course on stress management.  I (we) failed a few times BUT we didn't quit.  I would like to think that now I (we) are starting to get passing grades.  

Our house was built in 1902.  Yup.  It's an oldie.  Much of the house seems to be as original as it gets.  Most of the lights have brass plates with round buttons to turn lights on and off instead of a light switch.  The door frames are narrow and I have already hit Denai's head more than a few times.  Oops.  One of the coolest new findings is that this house still has the original kitchen cabinets.  The farthest left cabinets used to be a refrigerator or ice box. 

The house is a fixer upper and hasn't had a decent cleaning in.... actually, I don't need to know.  I'm not even close to being done with this place.  The cobwebs.  The caked dust on the ceiling fans. The flies that seem to have had their home invaded.  But it's all good.  I'm not stressed out.  I work when I want, relax when I want, sleep when I want, play when I want.  And let me tell you, play time is fun time out here.  

When I go to the porch with my coffee or lunch or wet laundry, before I know it, an hour has gone by and I have no intentions of going back inside the house.  This place is incredibly peaceful.  We have HUGE oak? trees that look as if they have been here since the house.  They provide incredible shade so when it's 90 degrees, at my house, under my trees and my porch, it feels more like a breezy 75.  

Aaaahhhh, perfection.  

I don't have too many pictures of the house yet to post on instagram or to share here.  Doing that takes just a bit more energy than I feel like putting out right now.  (See, I still do what I want - and I love it.)

There is so much about moving that is stressful and it seems so much of that stress isn't all that controllable.  Or is it?  

What is most stressful for you about moving? How do you or did you deal with it?