Lack

As I write this, Neil my robot vacuum is cleaning. And all I can think about is lack of money. How we make spontaneous decisions that require money, generally not budgeted money. How we decide things will pay off eventually, but struggle to see the rewards. Somehow getting chickens was supposed to reduce our grocery budget. And even though we haven’t bought eggs since July, we haven’t had extra on that line. How growing a garden still has kept us in the red. How going to the farms in the area to pick berries, beans and peaches has filled our freezer but not our budget lines.
I like to see rewards and there don’t seem to be any. It might be because costs are slowly rising everywhere. Or it might be that we decide to add more line items to the budget.
A couple weeks ago, stressed about seating and storage we decided we will build an addition to our dining room. It will be amazing but even planning for it we noticed it will wipe out 20% of savings. But both the beautiful Hannah and I think it will make the house more “livable”.
Last week we made the incredibly adult decision to buy a car at a party. We went to say good bye to friends we were connecting with again because they were moving away and back to family. And while I checked into how move prep was going for them we ended up test driving a car. And then a couple days later had a payment contract and they took 60% of our savings as a down payment. We wanted a car instead of a truck because, well, an older standard cab Ford Ranger is not a family car. Junior can sit in it but the seats don’t conform to the car seat like a standard family car for some reason. So he just bumps and sways. Which of course he loves, but I imagine his foot kicking the door handle open, and his bumping seat flinging him through some magical serious events through the straps into a mailbox. We had talked about upgrading and about selling the Ranger, but didn’t actually plan for it. So now we have 3 vehicles and no leads on going down to two.
Also now, we don’t really have savings, as we go into winter, which has increased costs. But the beautiful Hannah gots a raise at her work. And in the middle of writing this, I sold a lawnmower. Talk about multitasking! Apparently this is what we do to get by, or what SAH parents do to pay bills. At least that is what I have heard. But they don’t have robot vacuums.

 

PS.  Here is the link for the Ranger if you know anyone and missed it above. https://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/cto/5811924702.html  

 

 

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Filed under Adulthood, Freewrite, Marriage, unfinished thoughts

SAHD Lifestyle

It’s been a year since I worked.  And it hurts in a lot of ways that I didn’t expect when I decided to stay home with Junior.  I have figured out how to protect and care for a two year old better than imagined.  I can cook, clean and garden well enough.  But mentally it is difficult to continually have the company of a human that just doesn’t get me.  But mostly it bugs me because I failed.

Every time I see the little USPS vehicles I am reminded of how hard it was.  How I was miserable.  How I hurt every night.  How my intake of coffee had to be supplemented by Gatorade to not become dehydrationally sick but still be awake.  It is worse when I see someone I worked with still doing it.  How we used to struggle together but now they have made it.  How 7 day 70 hour work weeks were just too much for me but not them.  How they were able to stop long enough to realize they could survive…or just never thought about the future.

I blamed family commitments.  But in honesty it was me.  It was my inability to work in a negative environment that used unions to protect employee’s jobs while they insulted each other.  It was my inability to imagine working within systems that were made by someone(s) who sat in an office on the other side of the country in different weather and demographics and conditions…and the lack of ability to speak my mind.   The inability to intellectually contribute to my work life.  My inability to accept the lack of air conditioning and heating in vehicles and warehouses.  And most of all my lack of desire to invest in something that seemed to be failing horribly and would soon become an Amazon company.

But at least once a week I wake up breathing heavy because I just had to climb a big hill with my full satchel in my dream.  Or because I ran from an old supervisor after I abandoned a vehicle full of “work”.   Because I made a deal to work just one week to pay off the credit card.  Or because I feel like I failed my family by not providing.

The hardest thing about being home all the time is not contributing monetarily.  I know I am not alone in this as I have talked to other stay at home moms and SAHDs.  But generally after I make another purchase at Home Depot to fix the house or urban farm I wonder how I can give.  After I see my handy work on something small, I just hope we can afford a professional to fix major issues and improvements on the house.  After I scour the budget for $10 again…I just want to help.

So I sold my body through a needle for the plasma center for a month until there was no bonus with the basic pay.  I helped a friend reside his house for a few days.  I mowed a neighbor’s lawn while it was being prepared to be sold.   I often scour the internet for part time jobs that allow me still to maintain the urban farm, our marriage and Junior timewise.  No one seems to want to hire someone for just 10 hours a week though.  So I spent last week getting a few hundred dollars of project supplies for free from friends and Craigslist, and jumping on a deal for strawberry plants that should provide buckets for the cost of a pint at the store next spring.  The urban farm continues to be my work outlet.

That is my SAHD life right now.  I hang out with Junior, we garden, play with chickens, and go to the community center a lot. I think I am also ready to restart the blogging routine so will attempt to find time to sit and write once a week.  There is enough happening in my head I should be able to force some out again.

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Filed under Adulthood, Freewrite, Junior, Transparency

Create vs. Copy

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I am in a weird spot lately.  I have random stress and anxiety when I pass Postal Service trucks or see old coworkers in public.  I chauffeur, cook for and chase a two year old dictator around what feels like all the time while I wonder how I got here.

Sounds like a perfect time to be reading a book on business and leadership, right?

Ken Wytsma’s new book, Create vs Copy is small and a quick read like a lot of leadership books I have seen and/ or read in the past.  Within the first hour of reading I didn’t feel like I was the target audience, because… well I don’t want to change.  And it seemed like he called my life out a couple times in his description “parent of a diapered child” as someone who wasn’t prepared to take the steps needed.  Add that to the stress of complicated taxes pausing my life and lack of work I agreed that I didn’t have time to create right now.  Then he expounds and says that when you feel the worst or least ready you are at the best place to be creative.  And if you are overwhelmed and that thought scares you, Wytsma points out that creativity will actually create space for rest.

Come on!  Seriously, I fell asleep reading it 4 nights in a row because I didn’t know how to not be tired while seated.  If creativity is a muscle that grows while being worked or atrophies when not, I figured it would be any use trying to build it up with the limited time I had to sit and create.

kenw_4But then, I got past the introduction and into the theology and practicality of creating and it started to make me desire more.  Ken shows the theology of creating through God’s own process.

“Just as God has saved us, is saving us, and will ultimately perfect our salvation, He has created the world, is still actively creating it through and with us, and will ultimately perfect His creation in eternity.”

We are created by a creator that is still through us.

For us to further the kingdom and dare I say create a fulfilling life we need to think outside the box.  We need some divergent thinking.  We need to use imagination— and if struggling to— to put down the wifi device and watch cartoons with our kids and their imaginary friends.  This leads to innovation which leads to the change we are often desiring.  If we don’t we will never change.

Creation isn’t about just art or technology, either.  It is about solving problems we have or the world has.

Practically for me, I need to be creative while starting our little urban farm.  We don’t have a budget for it so I am using a lot of reclaimed items that are not necessarily made for holding compost or water or plants.  There has been a lot of failure, which is part of creating.  I have built and deconstructed a fenced enclosure 5 times now.  But I needed to innovate and attempt what I imagined would work.

On a larger scale, Create vs Copy made me think of the homeless issues in Portland.  How my city isn’t like Salt Lake City or Hawaii or even Seattle.  We have less resources than some others and more opportunities to change than others.  It is going to take a new approach specifically built for Portland.  Divergent thinking is required to figure out how to house and care for some of the 5000 people that are sleeping in a temporary space tonight.  I will write more on that later and some of my imaginative ideas that just might work.

In the meantime I think I will read over Create vs. Copy again and see if I can learn a little more about leadership while I have the time.  And actually look at some of the group questions and further reading at Kenwystma.com. And maybe figure out how to transition better.

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Filed under Freewrite, Junior, Reviews

Two

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Monday was Junior’s second birthday.   It wasn’t a shock.  We knew it was coming.  Actually we kind of picked his birthday because he put his foot down inside the beautiful Hannah so scheduled his escape birth.  But that feels like one of the few things I have known lately would happen.

Life feels pretty out of my control right now.  I am dealing with not working and figuring how if I want to be working and how and where or what.  Which are thoughts that can only be had late at night because during the day I am in charge of an increasingly unpredictable two year old.  I am once again his fulltime day care after a month off to find a new career failed.  But enough about me.

I love hanging out with him and teaching him and playing with him.  But Jeez.

He is a little ball of tantrums and giggles and spitting and kisses and words mispronounced and commands for “more crackers”.  Which in this climate I feel needs to be clarified.  He is asking for food and loves kids and adults of all races.

He turned two with a chesty cough and a horrible history of actually sleeping.  People have told me to enjoy these years because he will be a teenager soon, but I am looking forward to the days he will sleep in his own room for hours on end.  And I’m not worried about him getting into trouble because…well we have plans that involve him only talking to others about Star Wars, figure skating and global warming…oh and his mom.  We figure if you mix Comic Book Guy with a mom obsessed Al Gore, he will spend a lot of time in his room trying to build his own smart phone because he isn’t allowed one until his 36th birthday by his parents and not getting into trouble.  (The figure skating has to do with him training my mariachi band).

He is a bad sleeper.  But a great player.  He likes towers of blocks and knocking yours over.  He likes drawing chickens and fish and “roars” –which could be bears, dinosaurs, tigers or lions— and painting while naked in water (aka bath time).  He likes outside air and dirt. And digging. And tools. And Eat.  He likes to eat what he likes.  So fruit, peanut butter, and most carbs—pasta, bread, pancakes, waffles, crackers, bunnies.  He likes fried rice, Asian noodles, spring rolls, burritos…so carbs and beans/peanuts.

Every morning it seems like he has mastered a new word in his sleep.  Partially because he practices them while waking up, but also because he is pronouncing more and more daily.  He loves to do the motions for the wheels on the bus aka BUSSS…which can be used by parental units to stop tantrums or him to get undivided attention.  His favorite toy is often the broom or vacuum because he has to help with everything.  He cooks, he bakes, he cleans, he does laundry, he loves his momma and he isn’t getting a phone until he is 39.

He is my 2 year old son who is amazing and fun but so time consuming in the best way possible.

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Filed under Freewrite, Junior

Da Pressed

NOTE: The following has been written and deleted at least a hundred times in various forms and continues to build.  It is real talk about where I am today that I feel needs to be shared.  One for some people close to me to understand. Two for some people to not feel alone potentially. 

Recently I was talking to new friends and telling stories of my past. Those stories led me to think of more as I laid in bed attempting to sleep that night and they overtook my thinking. Lately my thinking has a lot to do with working and careers and decisions in my past that have led me to being a 36 year old unable to find work.  Someone who can put out 30+ resumes and contact multiple staffing agencies and still have only one (failed) interview in a month.

When I was 19 I was a horrible employee.  Actually for the first few years of working I didn’t want responsibility and didn’t think of any job as a career.  But when I was 19 I was horrible.  Twice in a year I called in sick for a day of work and didn’t respond for weeks after.  Both were manual labor positions and both were not fun
(no excuse).  The first was in Fairbanks at a library on campus and I went six weeks before running into a former coworker and him telling me they needed help.  So I went back for a couple weeks until the semester was over and the project I was hired for finished.  The second was worse.  I worked for a temp agency in Atlanta and was placed at a machine shop.  The owner was a complete racist, as were the employees and in response to my lack of effort (most likely) I never was really trained.  I had a lot of little injuries, damaged multiple machines and often just ended up doing custodial work for minimum wage.  So one day I called out.

I watched TV a lot.  I made a massive batch of pancakes and ate those alone for a few days.  I moved the exercise bike into the living room so I could ride it while I watched TV.  I pulled out the sleeper sofa mattress so I could lay down while watching TV.  I went days without showering.  Using the same cup and plate for days.  I didn’t open the drapes or go outside and could only fall asleep if there was background noise so lost track of day and night.

I often say I was a bad employee for this.  But the other night as I remembered this I realized I wasn’t just a bad employee.

I was horribly depressed.

Last year, I quit three jobs…well four if you include putting Junior back into daycare to find a job.   I quit them for various reasons but none the less I made the choice to leave all of them.  The last made the biggest impact on me though because it was toxic.  I was constantly being told I wasn’t good enough and wasn’t following the rules, but then being told in code to cut corners to make my time.  EVERYONE there was depressed and beaten down.  It was not an okay place for a guy that can easily slide into that mindset.

I look back on the last year or so and have a million what ifs.  What if I didn’t get an implanted tooth but just another root canal?  What if I didn’t lose two months’ salary gambling?  What if I didn’t have to work delivering papers for a dollar an hour take home? What if our car wasn’t stolen allowing us to pay off the debt of one credit card? What if I didn’t quit a job with amazing benefits and pay but mundane work and problematic coworkers?  What if I didn’t quit a high pay hard working toxic job for another 3 months?  What if I didn’t get strep throat? What if we went to a doctor instead of the ER?  What if my counselor didn’t leave our session notes in public for an acquaintance to find and crush my trust in the one person I was willing to share all stories and feelings with?

What if I wasn’t depressed? Again? For another winter? For another year?

The answer to all is of course, WHO KNOWS?

Because the what ifs could go further back to meeting the beautiful Hannah, to moving and staying in Portland, to quitting college multiple times, to being rejected by most kids in high school, to moving to the south…and possibly even further back to the babysitter throwing and breaking my Snoopy hair brush in the bathtub (my first memory?).

All of these things have made me who I am.  And apparently today who I am is a slightly depressed 36 year old who failed to find another real job so is pulling his son from daycare again to stay at home dad with him.  Who is married to an amazing woman who has no concept of my career struggles because she loves her work and loves being able to provide for her family.  Who has time to work on his homestead and maybe get some odd jobs to pay for the luxuries he desires.

And that should be nothing to be depressed about, right?

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Filed under Adulthood, Freewrite, Grieving, Junior, Marriage, Overthinking, The Jesus Way, Transparency