Ground Zero

Today. Today is the deadline for my ex. I know the day will come and go, and nothing will happen. And I will have to take him back to court. Again.

Today I’m exhausted. I tired of fighting. But instead of feeling sorry for myself, I feel anxious. Anxious to do something about it. But I don’t know what.

So I thought I’d make a checklist. Of where i’m at in life. And figure out where to go from there. Like a scatter plot. Maybe there is a trend. Or a pattern. Or a rorschach test. Maybe i can see soemthing… myself maybe? My life? Maybe if i can see where i am…. i can see where i need to go.

Let’s see:

  • single – check
  • mom – check
  • mortgage – check check
  • work full time – check
  • volunteer – check
  • love life – crickets
  • supportive and loving friends – check, meh… some crickets
  • vindictive ex – check check check
  • stress – check check
  • happy son – check
  • roof – check
  • full bellies – check
  • car repair – needs attention
  • eye twitch – check (ughhhh)
  • positive pants – MIA
  • anxiety – check check
  • tenacity – check

Okay…. I think this is a good start.

Sooooo…. now what?

My ex owes me a lot of money. Like, a LOT of money. Money that would ensure my son and I live a comfortable life. My salary will provide for us. But it would be a very austere existence. And that’s okay. But i WANT my child to have a wonderful and memorable childhood. I want him to be able to experience life and go places.

So. Obviously, I will take my ex back to court. Again. And hopefully the judge will force his hand. Again.

But in the meantime…. i need a plan B. And C and D. And F and G3 and M4a. Cuz I’m a planner. And a do-er. And I know that life is not a fairy tale. A knight in shining armour is not going to adorn my doorstep and save the day. My fairy godmother is flat out of pixie dust. Nobody is coming to rescue me.

My happily ever after is up to me. And me only.

I just don’t know how the hell to move forward. How to write my next chapter. Perhaps I just need to work on this list for now. And evaluate where I am. My ground zero. And then start drafting a plan of what I need to do. To address what i NEED. What i WANT.

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The most beautiful baby in the world…

Well, it’s been quite a journey since New Year’s day when I found out we were pregnant. Today, I am the blissfully happy mother of a 2 month old baby boy 🙂 🙂 🙂

I should have posted throughout the pregnancy to remember all of the wonderful feelings and such, but I was afraid to jinx the most awesome thing to ever happen to me ever.

After 2 positive pee sticks and a blood test, we decided to tell everyone. And I mean everyone. Hubby couldn’t WAIT to tell everyone. We had to rush out and tell our parents and family right away so that hubby could make his announcement to all his friends at his fire meeting that night.

The first trimester seemed to take foreverrrrrrrr. Every time I went to the bathroom I was afraid I would see blood. Every minor ache or twinge sent my brain into orbit wondering if that was normal, is there something wrong with the baby. I wore out google on my phone.

The second trimester I was cautiously optimistic. We started to buy things for the baby. The crib. The carseat. The stroller. One at a time. Each journey to the baby store getting us more excited. Hubby felt the baby kick for the first time on Father’s Day. I know, right?

The last trimester was exciting. Each doctor’s visit we would either see the baby or hear his heartbeat. The ultrasounds were amazing and magical. I could see the little guy, but it still wasn’t real to me. Even when I could feel him move around and kick, I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that there was a real baby in there, when we had wished for this for so long. Choosing a name is the single most difficult thing ever. It’s just so permanent. On a mini-vacation-family-event we chose a name for our son and made it facebook official.

In the final stretch of pregnancy, we finished the nursery. It was perfect. We painted it together (hubby HATES painting, so this was huge) and arranged the crib, dresser, and glider. I washed and put away all the little tiny clothes. I put away all his toys. Set up the diaper station. Washed bottles. I totally “nested”. Since my doctor was inducing labor, I could plan my last day at work and get all the things ready at home. I worked out in the yard trimming shrubs and weeding the gardens. Everything was READY. Everything was PERFECT. All in all, I really had a perfect pregnancy. No morning sickness. No headaches, nausea, or heartburn. I only gained 14 lbs, but the stretch marks on my tummy looked like an interstate map. My maternity clothes were even getting too small. My skin was clear. No mood swings, cravings or aversions. The doctor insisted I had gestational diabetes. I went along with it for the extra ultrasounds. 🙂

On a Sunday morning, we left very early in the morning to go to the hospital and start the induction. We were so excited. All day long the medicine dripped into my veins and the contractions gradually grew stronger and more frequent. Our family waited anxiously in the waiting room for news that it was finally time. We walked the halls, they cheered as we walked by. By dinner time, the doctor decided to break my water to help move things along. Of course, hubby had just left to grab a quick bite with his dad. After that, the contractions definitely became stronger and more intense. By 9/10:00, we pushed our family to go home and rest and we would call them with the news. The contractions were no longer fun. The epidural was glorious. My 3rd labor nurse of the day was also pregnant and went into labor that night. Small world, we had the same doctor. So by 2:00am Monday morning when the decision was made to proceed with a C-section, we had to wait for my doctor to finish delivering my nurse’s baby via C-section in the operating room we were headed to.

Baby boy was turned on his side and was just not moving down anymore. So, we had to deliver him via C-section. My whole life I have never been very sick, broke a bone, or even had stitches. I never imagined I would have a C-section. And if I did, I thought I would at least be anxious about it. To my surprise, I wasn’t upset at all. I was just ready to meet my baby boy. Once the decision was made, things moved very fast. Hubby was ordered to put on a hazmat looking suit, footies, cap, and face mask. Of course he had to do this while simultaneously packing us up to move to our recovery room, call our parents, and get the camera ready. 10 minutes later we were in the operating room. Everything moved so fast and in slow motion all at the same time. 10 minutes later my baby is pulled from my loins and screaming his lungs out. And THAT’S when it hit me. THAT’S when it finally became real to me. I was a mom. Hubby was a dad. WE WERE PARENTS. And I cried like a fool. Hubby was wonderful and took tons of pictures while updating me. He has 10 fingers and toes! He has blonde hair – and lots of it! His hands are huge! He’s definitely a boy! Between the swirl of emotions running through my head and all the pain meds running through my veins, I was speechless. In awe. In love.

The next day started very early. We only got a couple hours of sleep before the hurricane of visitors and well-wishers invaded. Fortunately, I had the best nurses in the world and helped me get up and cleaned up before it got too crazy. I expected to be in a lot of pain and feeling miserable, but I felt great and couldn’t wait to get out of bed. The wonderful nurses told me I had to wait until I could feel my legs again. Oh yeah. Ugh.

All day long we had a parade of family and friends who came to see our little miracle. It was great. Hubby was the proudest papa in all the land. We took hundreds of pictures. I tried to breastfeed. Totally not as easy as it seems like it should be, but we did it.

Tuesday everybody went back to work so we were able to relax more and enjoy our son. The wonderful nurses finally let me take a shower. And let me tell you. It was the most glorious shower ever. I was still feeling pretty good and put on regular clothes. Shorts and a tank top I think. Gawd the rooms are so hot. The hospital provided adorable mesh panties and pads that could sop up the great lakes. But I didn’t care. I was a mom. Getting to know our baby was fun. He cried everytime he was hungry and everytime he pooped. This made it pretty easy to know what to do and when. Otherwise, he just slept. And was cute. And was perfect. Late that night they came to do his circumcision. I cried and cried. I’ve never cried in front of hubby before. I did then. I was glad he was there.

After we went home, our new chapter began. Baby boy was awesome. He slept all night, except to eat. And I usually woke him up to eat. Once he reached 10 lbs, the doctor said to let him sleep and let him wake me up. He takes good naps during the day. After about 3 weeks, he started getting fussy at night. But now at 9 weeks that seems to be going away. He has just started smiling and turning to react to voices. He’s pretty much the cutest thing ever.

I expected the recovery from a C-section to be very painful and to be tired all the time. That wasn’t the case at all. I felt great! I felt so good that I took baby boy for walks everyday that the weather was nice. By the 2nd week we were home we were going on 2.5 mile walks. The more I moved, the better I felt. By 6 weeks postpartum, I had lost all the weight I gained during pregnancy plus another 25 lbs. Every time I got on the scale it moved down. I felt GREAT.

Nursing wasn’t working after the first week, but continued to pump. That lasted a few more weeks until I gave up. I really have a new respect for mothers who breastfeed/pump. It’s a lot of commitment. You are tethered to either a baby or a pump every 3-4 hours for 20 minutes at a time. And you can’t do anything. Especially if you’re pumping. Baby crying? Phone ringing? Unannounced visitors popping in? Too bad. If you move, you will spill/leak milk alloverthegoddamnplace. Cry over spilled milk? Hell yeah. I worked hard for that shit. Oh, and intimacy? Not so much. Leaking nipples is a total mood killer. So are breast pads poking out of your super-notsexy nursing bra. Even if you are rocking E’s. And yes, there is such a thing as too big. Even if hubby is a boob guy. And seriously? Why can’t they make sexy nursing bras? Come on Victoria! Where are you when I need you most???

The company I work for has been awesome and I enjoyed 9 glorious weeks at home with my baby. They told me to take all the time I wanted since I was also working from home a little bit. 9 weeks is all I felt I could afford. Hubby and I had serious conversations about me staying home for a few years. Arranging childcare is a nightmare/ emotional roller coaster. I’m torn. I want to stay home and be with my baby all day and take care of everything at home. I feel I need to contribute financially. Also, I carry the insurance since hubby is self-employed. Although, if we do the farming thing right, we can buy our own policy at a discount. If we work hard and pay off a few things, financially we can afford for me to stay home. But is it really best for us? Is daycare/preschool good for him developmentally and socially? What about the exposure to germs? Can I put more energy into hubby’s business and the farm to make up for the lost income? Lost income aside, how will I feel about not bringing home a paycheck every week? How does hubby feel about being the sole breadwinner? Even if I am working alongside him from home? Can we put all our eggs in one basket? I did, however, enjoy taking baby boy to ride with daddy in the combine. And being on top of everything at home. And if I was home all the time I would dive into it. Library time. Playdates. Daily exercise. Nailing down work for lawn/snow business. Parts runs. Become a frugalista. Ugh. So many question marks. My heart is torn. My brain is torn. I’ve waited so long for baby boy I want to be with him all the time. And yet, I need to do whatever is best for him. For our family. How does one know what is best?

 

 

2011 Progress Check…. Survey says??????

Way back in January i listed some short term and long term goals. The short terms goals were basically a to-do list I was whining about, and got all of those done in short order. My annual goals were a bit lofitier and required a bit more work/patience/determination.

So, without further ado, below is my original list of goals and their results…

1.Pay off dump truck.  [There is a balance of $1100. It will be PAID OFF in January!]

2.Pay off 3 credit cards. [Actually PAID OFF 5! Yesireeee, $3175 – GONE. Plus, paid down another $2100 on the remaining cards.]

3.Establish an E-fund. [Started out great, ended up needing to use some. Currently have $2,000 stashed. Not bad, but not the $5,000 i was aiming for.]

4.Establish savings for: Christmas, Health, Rainy Day. And set it up to contribute automatically. I use ING Direct so this is the easiest thing in the world. Just need to do it. And not “borrow” from it. [Set-up account for Christmas. Saved $1000 and used some of it for my shopping. Still have about $300 in there for next year. 🙂  Did not set up Health because we may do Flexible Spending at work. FAILED at setting up Rainy Day fund. Unless the cookie jar counts? There’s a few Benjamin’s in there…]

5.Lose some weight. Specific numbers and/or plans seem to have the opposite effect. So, let’s just keep it vague and any victory will be a win! [WOOOO-HOOOOO!!! Lost 23 lbs this year! Down a pants size and feeling good about the progress. Doc would like to see me lose another 20-30 before we go to fertility specialist. Got an ipod for Christmas, so loading up playlists for workouts.]

6. a) commit to making healthier meals [Sorta. Kinda. Not eating as many carbs. Definately eating at home a lot more. I give it a 50%]

7. b) get a complete physical [Done. everything good except triglycerides a touch high.]

8. c) work out at least 1 day a week at the fire hall [I work out at home. As often as i can. Some weeks it’s every day, some weeks 0 days. Hey, i’m busy. I do it when i can. Let’s call it 50%]

9.Paint the downstairs and decorate. We’ve been there 10 years. It’s about time. [FAIL. I got as far as painting some sample colors on the wall. Hubby freaked the ‘f’ out. Back to square one. Found some inspirational idea pics. Just need to find the right shade of paint and hire a painter.]

10.Might as well make it an even 10. Get back into taking lots of pictures and scrapbooking. Now that i have a cricut, i have nothing to do with it! [Took lots of pictures, but haven’t been able to scrapbook much. It really has been a very busy year for me.]

All in all, i’m pleased with the progress i’ve made on my list of goals. It’s not like i was a total loser. I tried. And succeeded, mostly.

Since New Year’s is only a day away, it’s only fitting to write up a list of GOALS for 2012.

  1. Lose 20-30 more lbs.
  2. Get pregnant
  3. Establish a Rainy Day fund to cover Goal #2 expenses
  4. Paint & Decorate house
  5. Pay off my car

That’s it. That’s all i really care to accomplish in 2012. All i really want is to have a family with the love of my life. All other goals are simply pre-requisites to the ultimate goal: children.

Being broke is expensive /flip/ the more money you have, the more money you have…

As I was making my daily trip to the bank the other day, an idea hit me. Struck me, really. Pretty much a hand slap to the forehead.

Lately, i’ve been making daily trips to the bank to deposit whatever money that has come in to stay ahead of expenditures. Overdraft fees are $36 – a huge expensive ding – and must be avoided at all costs. Since March, we’ve been able to stay just ahead of the game. Last year we made an incredible discovery on just how expensive it is to be broke. Late fees, higher interest, overdraft fees – all added up to thousands and thousands of dollars lost. So, we worked really hard to get all of our accounts current, thus avoiding late fees and keeping the bank accounts in the green to avoid overdraft fees. Lately it’s nearly a photo finish on a daily basis, but that’s only temporary. I totally realize how expensive it is to be broke and i don’t wanna do it.

I was also thinking about our sharebuilder account. Some of the stocks i purchased had paid dividends and just like that our wealth increased. And THAT is when it struck me. Really knocked me on my a$$. In the same way that being broke is so dauntingly and crushingly expensive without much effort, having money creates more money without much effort. The broker you are, the more expensive it gets. The more money you have, the more money it makes. And the more money you have from making money, the more money you make. The rich get richer – from compounding!

It’s really such an elementary lesson, but it never really struck me how much of an IMPACT money has on your financial existence. It’s not enough to simply pay the bills each month. You also need to be smart and get your money to WORK for you. Before investing in stocks, the only money my money made was from interest. And that wasn’t worth SQUAT. One can barely buy a cheeseburger with earnings from interest in a savings account. But when you invest in 15 shares of a company, and 3 months later, through the magic of dividends, you now own 15.25 shares. And another 3 months later you own 15.54 shares – well that’s just freakin’ spectacular. My money is actually making money, which will make even more money…

good lord, i am such a slow learner…

The next step is to keep finding funds to purchase investments with. And how often should i purchase? Obviously it is better to save up as much money as possible and purchase only 1 kind of stock so that the $9.95 transaction fee is minimal per share if/when it comes time to sell.

The in-between is such a surreal place to be. Still paying off debt and trying to stay afloat, yet stashing money in savings, and now investing.

CAN’T WAIT to have all credit card and installment debt PAID OFF!!! Life will be footloose and fancy free!!

Feeling victorious

No, we haven’t won the lottery. No, we didn’t just land our dream job. Nope, just feeling good in my skin for once.

Last night I did medical stand-by at the local high school for the football game. Afterwards, we parked the rig back at the fire hall and saw that my hubby was there waiting to pester the new EMT students who were in session. I was standing in front of the bulletin board putzing around and had my back to him. Suddenly, he blurts out “Jesis! Why don’t you get some pants that fit! Looks like you’re walking around with a saggy diaper on!”

Normally, one would be quite offended at such a rude comment. I? Smiled. Cuz I knew my pants looked like that from a combination of the 15 lbs lost and toning up from running.

So today I went online and ordered a smaller pair of EMS pants. Can’t wait to try them on!

I’m not a “biggest loser” and I’m not running a marathon. But when others begin to notice your transformation it really starts to feel real. And that inspires me to keep it up.

Still going…..

I wish i could tell you that we are debt free and pursuing our next goals. But…… we’re not. If we had been able to stick with the debt management program, our last payment would be in a few weeks. Unfortunately, we had to drop out of the program last winter because we just couldn’t come up with the moo-lah anymore. We have been making the payments still, but much smaller.

The good news is this: we are current on all of our regular bills. The exception is a handful of medical bills. They have all been sent to collections companies eons ago, so the damage is done. The plan is to build up a comfortable emergency net in savings and then tackle them one at a time.

I’ve recently decided to alter my strategy. I had been aggressively paying down our credit card debt using the snowball method. In 2 weeks, another card will be paid off and we will only have 3 cards left. (We started with 14!) The minimum payments total $320 for all 3 cards. Instead of snowballing the next card in line, I’ve decided to take the “extra” cash and put it in my ING Direct savings account. I know, I know. I’m not giving up. I’ve decided that it would be better to build up our emergency coffers for the remainder of the year.

Being a type A personality, i fret over the unknown. Even though we have some savings, a larger cushion would help me sleep better at night. We only have 1 month’s worth of expenses in savings. If we need to dip into savings between lawn and snow seasons, it’s all gone. Not cool. And since it will be quite a while until the next card will get paid off, i’ve decided to take a break for a while. We’ve paid of 5 cards this summer. That freed up over $250 in monthly payments to snowball with. The remaining balances on the 3 cards are large enough that adding $250 to the payment won’t reduce the minimum payment significantly. I’d rather have $750 in savings than a $25 lower minimum payment. I’m sure the personal finance gurus are foaming at the mouth, but right now it feels like the right decision.

ugh………

Getting out of debt sucks.

It definitely does not happen overnight. So easy to lose momentum…

Are we there yet?

This update is long overdue, but here goes…

Jan 2011 – July 2011

  • CC1:   14,350        13,250   
  • CC2:   6,325             5,800
  • CC3:   1,025                 950
  • CC4:   4,910             4,650
  • CC5:   390                          0
  • CC6:   485                          0
  • CC7:   515                          0
  • CC8:   520                       90
  • CC9:   5,225              5,225
  • CC10:   4,150           3,650
  • Total CC’s:   37,895          33,615
  • Family: 10,000                  7,000

So, drumroll please……….. we’ve paid off $7,280 since the beginning of the year! Get out of the way, HUGE snowball rolling downhill! LOVE seeing those ZERO balances!

Thanks to landing some nice contracts and a snowier than usual winter, we have been able to knock down a large chunk of debt. We are also CURRENT on all of our monthly bills, including the mortgage. A small emergency fund is in place for both personal bills and business bills. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…… What a wonderful feeling.

The physical aspects of unloading such a burden are positive as well. I’ve been able to shed 15 lbs since March. My periods (I know, TMI) are pretty regular now. I LAUGH again. I have friends again. I have a good time whenever we go out with friends/family.

Work has improved for me as well. I’m back up to 40 hrs/week plus a $1.25/hr raise. That really helps get caught up. I’ve been throwing extra money each month at the vehicle payments trying to pay them off sooner.

Did I mention we took a VACATION in march? It was hubby’s idea. Surprise of all surprises. Of course, i wanted to pay off as much debt as possible, and maybe stash some aside for the inevitable unexpected expenses. Hubby convinced me that we NEEDED a vacation. It had been more than 5 yrs since we spent any money on ourselves, and we needed to enjoy the fruits of our labor and not be miserly. It took several days to sink in, but he was right. As long as we didn’t accrue any additional debt, and were still able to keep on pace with paying down our debts we needed to spend our money in a positive way and see money as a good thing, and not as evil incarnate. Besides, our 10th anniversary was coming up and he thought we should do something more special than spend a weekend a few hours from home in a so-so hotel in some lame town, arguing about what to do.

So we went on a cruise. Neither one of us had ever been on one before. He found a great deal through his parent’s travel agent. We spent 5 days in the caribbean. It was awesome. We had a BLAST. In fact, we had so much fun, that we decided to work extra hard and save money and do it again next spring. Who would have ever thought? That $1500 splurge allowed us to really RELAX and re-align our senses. It was good for our marriage. Honestly, i didn’t know what to expect. I worried that it could go the other way. It was a good deal, but still a lot of money in what -i felt- was still a fragile personal economy and we hadn’t spent that much time alone together since we’d been married. It paid off ten-fold. He’s still telling everyone what a great time he had and recommending them to go.

So, are we there yet? Have we made enough progress to call it a victory? I mean, everybody has bills, right? Just 6 months ago, my only financial goal was to be able to pay the bills on time every month. We’ve accomplished that. And it feels great. But, it only seems natural to set the bar a little higher.

Discretionary income. It’s one thing to be able to pay your bills, it’s another to MAKE CHOICES on how you spend the money left over when the bills are paid. That concept terrifies me. What if something happens and I need that money later? Was a trip to the movies this weekend really worth it if the electric is in danger of getting shut off again in 6 months? What if an appliance suddenly dies and my small e-fund is wiped out? And then another appliance dies, or the car needs to be repaired? I never thought about these things before because i just couldn’t. I was strictly in survival mode. Food, shelter, clothing. Now that those needs have been met, there’s a whole new set of things to worry about.

So, are we there yet? Or when are we really “there”?