Friday, March 06, 2009

File this one under: Unexpected Life Changes

For a long time we were happy know, Double-Income-No-Kids. We took trips, I bought shoes, DH bought a lovely but completely impractical sports car and we saved. Every month we saved. Mostly we saved so that we could purchase the above mentioned luxuries, but we also kept some back as a “nest egg” or emergency fund.

Then we moved to Chicago and bought a house about a month before the market really started to slump (read: we owe more now than the house is worth—not by much, but enough to piss me off). Things were good though, even with a crushing mortgage payment. We took a couple more trips, I bought some more shoes and a Coach purse or three, and then we decided to start our family. So the saving went into high gear and I tried to curtail the shopping a bit. We saved enough to pay for all our medical expenses and for me to take 6 wks unpaid leave with only minimal expenses on the credit card.

Since then, between the mortgage (still crushing) and the daycare (more than the mortgage on my first house 6 yrs ago!) we’ve struggled to save—to adjust our discretionary spending to accommodate the addition of daycare and diapers and formula. We kept up the wine club, the dinners out, Christmas gifts, and um, maybe some new shoes, too. We still put a little bit away every month, but not as much as we had been.

Since I came back to work 7 short months ago, the economy started its tight spiral into the shitter. Both my company and DH’s started to have round after round of layoffs and we started to really take a look at our spending. But we’re both high performers at work and have both been promoted recently—DH as recently as January—so we felt pretty safe. And so there were still talks of trips, of landscaping projects, of remodeling projects for this summer. In fact, 2 wks ago I was planning a 3 day get-away to Vegas for the two of us, ditching (I mean, tearfully leaving) DS at his Omi and Opa’s house.

Well, it’s all on hold now. Everything is on hold and I’m trying hard not to scream inside my head, because one week ago DH was laid off. His company let a third of Chicago office go and gave him 2 days notice. Called him in on Thursday and said we need you to bring everything back in (laptop, etc.) on Monday and Good Luck.


I’m so, so thankful that, literally one week prior to this, I called and got things rolling on a mortgage refinance which will save us $400/month. Needless to say we’re keeping our mouths shut until we sign the new loan papers. And thank God, this allows us to skip a mortgage payment. Now, everything I look at is calculated in terms of how many months can we pay the mortgage, car payment, and keep the Carpet Monkey in daycare (because in order to find a job, DH must be free to LOOK for a job, so CM stays in daycare).

Needless to say, we’ve really dialed back the spending. Things that were total luxuries all got cancelled on Tuesday. We made a list of the nice-to-haves we aren’t quite ready to give up, but which are next on the ax-list, depending on how long DH’s unemployment stretches out. I nearly had an anxiety attack on Wednesday when a coworker asked me to join him for lunch to Subway and I had to spend $5.46 on lunch.
I keep telling myself, we’re NOT poor. I have a good job, with a great salary and for the moment I don’t think I’m in danger of losing my job. (Of course, I need to wrap up this blog post and get back to it, but hopefully I’ll be able to focus better once all this is out of my system. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) My salary will cover the mortgage and the daycare, by far our two biggest expenses, and we have enough savings to get us through several months of the rest of our living expenses.

My biggest battle right now is with fear. I struggle to banish thoughts of food stamps and my beautiful baby boy running around smeared with dirt and diaper-less and ratty clothes and…Desperation. Hunger. Bankruptcy. Foreclosure. These are the demons that tug at me, and we are so not there yet. Not even close. But unbidden images of hobos and lines outside soup kitchens from the Great Depression try to sneak into my brain and it takes a conscious effort to kick them the hell out.

I called my grandmother right after I found out and she prayed with me about it all. It’s the first time I’ve really prayed in a long, long time. But it felt good and I’ve kept it up this past week. We talked about how paralyzing fear can be, and what a giant energy drainer it is. So for right now, that’s my focus—keeping fear at bay.

Fear has no place in my life, in my family, in my home.

Please keep us in your prayers. We just need the right opportunity to open up for DH, and for it to not take too long to appear. Please also pray for an easy adjustment to our new, frugal way of life. It’s a good lesson to learn, regardless, so I’m trying very hard to simply embrace it and welcome the changes as they come.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Her Bad Mother: Hold The Mustard

Oh my God, oh my god. Please read this post and at least skim the comments.




Her Bad Mother: Hold The Mustard: ""

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Before you...

Before you were conceived
I wanted you

Before you were born
I loved you

Before you were here an hour
I would give my life for you

This is the miracle of life.

~ Maureen Hawkins

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Beyond Annoyed

I have enjoyed being pregnant. Really I have. I didn't get sick. I haven't been bitchy or overly hormonal (I think I've only cried maybe a handful of times so far). I have minimal swelling in my hands and feet. I've gained weight, but in all the places baby's need, like my "girls" and belly, while keeping a somewhat trim side-waist. I had to switch to flats early on, which I don't love as much as my heels, but at least they're somewhat in style.

I've even thought that most of the maternity clothes I've seen have been somewhat cute and comfortable...until now. Maybe it's just the fact that I'm in the home stretch with only 7 wks to go. Or maybe it's the fact that I'm really getting a large belly and it is, well, awkward, but I am seriously getting annoyed with my wardrobe.

My belly is big enough that it's pushing my pants down to the point where 1) I have to hike them back up b/c they're falling off my ass and 2) now I have a nice exposed strip of skin on the underside of my belly where my shirts no longer meet my pants. And with only 7 wks left...who the heck wants to buy more clothes? But I HAVE to have more than 2 tops and roughly 1.5 pair of pants for work and that's about all I have right now. Even all the tee-shirts that I might consider wearing to work (which I hate to do since I don't work in a tee kinda place) are too damn short! So I'd just be tugging on them to pull them down at the same time I'm yanking my damn pants back up. I swear I'm going to install snaps on everything and hook my tops to my bottoms.

So, in light of the fact that I nearly burst into one of those rare fits of tears today while standing in my closet, I guess I'm going to go shopping over lunch and try to find another top or two to wear. If spring ever frigging comes here in Chicago I have 2 knit skirts and 2 dresses I can wear, but seeing as how it was only 22 degrees this morning...I have to have something to literally cover me for the next couple of weeks while the heavy sweaters I was wearing are either too hot or too small and before I can handle bare legs.

Man a bad clothes day can ruin a person's outlook. Harrumph.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Division of Labor--what's equal? what's fair?

Mary Anne over at Chicago Mom's Blog posted about if her husband should do more housework and I think it's a question worth exploring. In her post she describes how this distribution of labor has evolved over time--relatively easy and equal at the beginning in a one-bedroom apartment to their current situation, where they have a little one and now she does 10-20 hrs more a week on household chores & errands.

I have already started to see a little bit of this creeping into our (DH & me) dynamic, so given our upcoming first baby I'm interested in figuring this Where I really notice it is on days I work from home (about once a week) and the days when DH works from home. Somehow when I'm at home all day, not only am I working, but I also typically manage to get a load or three through the wash, empty/load the dishwasher, and do a little bit of general straightening. When DH works from home it looks as if the house has been hit by a tornado of epic proportions. Hmmm...what's going on here? For the most part, though, I have little to complain about--we both work full-time outside the home and so we both pitch in around the house and we have a cleaning service 2x/month. Plus, I will be returning to work 3mos after having Little Bit, so we won't have the SAHM issue to add to this one. So I may be worrying unnecessarily (wouldn't be the first time...).

But, getting back to Mary Anne's blog...while I agree that the division of labor should be fair, not necessarily equal, she says a couple of things that stuck with me and made me think:

"...[he] really truly does not want to take on half of those extra hours of housework. He's already feeling pretty strapped for time and frayed. And given his resistance, even though it might be more fair to have him take on half, I think if I pushed him on that seriously, it would make life truly miserable for both of us. ..."
Now I realize that I'm not in her relationship, but what bothers me here is that it's easier for her to do 20 hrs of housework than have to deal with any attitude she'd get by pushing for a different solution. It bothers me, because I know I've used this same reasoning before on smaller tasks. Why do we let our mate's stubbornness and happiness determine how many extra tasks we take on ourselves?
"And it's not that he isn't helpful. If I ask him...'can you fold these towels and put them away?' he'll do it. But there's a problem with that dynamic, because it means that on some level in both our heads, it registers as him doing me a favor, every time I ask him to help out with a task. Which both he and I end up quietly resenting just a little bit. Rather than it just being part of his share of the household labor."

Oh, how I know what she's talking about. It feels like I'm asking a huge favor every time I "remind" DH to grab the trash on his way out to the garage or to take care of the litter box I'm forbidden to touch while pregnant. I end of feeling like I'm imposing on his time, even though these are things that we've pretty much agreed are his chores. What's a good solution for this? I feel like 2 adults shouldn't need a chore list like my mom put up when I was 10 to check off our to-dos. But if he doesn't or won't remember/notice that it's time again to do these things and I do...what are my other options besides reminding or asking him to do it? Why do I feel bad about reminding him, when I know he doesn't hesitate to mention that he's running out of black socks--thereby implying that I need to do a load of laundry. Do you think he worries about it feeling like he's asking me for a favor?

"In the end, we decided to make two changes...We'll see how it goes. I'm guessing he'll forget the sink on occasional nights, which is not a big deal. What's less clear is how much of a burden this will feel like to him -- how much of his work/personal time it seems like it's stealing away. Hopefully, not so much."
This ties into my last thoughts just above this quote...why are we so caught up in worrying about the burden sharing household work places on our husbands? Regardless of the work/SAHM situation, running the house affects the entire family and should therefore be shouldered by all those who are able to help--from kids who go to school and have homework to moms and dads who work all day. But I see a lot of us having the same worry Mary Anne does "Hopefully this won't make whoever unhappy to do a little bit more, so that Mom doesn't have to do it all." Why do we believe it's 1) our responsibility to do it all and 2) our fault if they feel a little bit inconvenienced by chipping in? How do we change this interaction to one that's healthier for everyone involved? I'm seriously looking for answers here, so please chime in!

"As a final note, I should say that I think Kevin does far more than many men I know -- he should get some credit for that. He does ten times more than either his father or mine did..."

For my last point, I want to say Yes, I do believe that most men today do more than their fathers did. And I believe my DH does more than some of his peers, as well. I think the point here is not what each mate does in comparison to others, historical or contemporary, but that each set of partners needs to find their own balance where they both feel like the division of labor is fair--not necessarily equal. Both people should feel like their contributions are noticed and appreciated and both should be concerned with the burdens of the other and open to constantly adjusting the balance. Where I worry is when the concern is all one-sided, which typically means the guilt is all one-sided as well.

In closing, again, please chime in. I'm really interested in knowing who has dealt with this already and what has/hasn't worked for you.

Sunday, January 27, 2008's been a while

Whoa. I knew it had been a long time since I last wrote here...but, dang! I didn't realize that is was approximately 19 weeks ago!

So, update on the pregnancy...I'm 27 wks along and still everything is pretty much going exactly as it is supposed to, which is a HUGE relief. I switched doctors offices at my 20 wk appointment to a practice that is about 20 miles closer to home than the one I started with. The first one was perfect for work, but as I work from home more often--which is such a blessing--I just can't justify driving 25 miles one way for a 10 minute dr's appt. So, I switched and so far so good. I like the doctors and the hospital is about 5 minutes from my front door, so I'm pretty happy with the decision.

We're having a little boy, whom we've decided to name Marcus. I'm just starting my third trimester and I'm getting really anxious to meet my baby boy...and to feel like I'm in control of my body again...and to, well, just get on with this next phase of my life. We've started construction on the room formerly known as our office, now known as the nursery. DH and his brother repaired a wall yesterday to dampen noise from the bathroom and we picked out paint colors.

I can't wait to get all this big stuff done, because I'm very excited to start "fluffing the nest." I had my first baby shower last weekend at my mom and dad's house (details of this visit with my family deserve their own post, so I will do that later). A lot of my friends who go back as far as first grade where there (holy crap...that's 23 years I've known those girls!) and it was so nice to see people I hadn't connected with for years. My sister-in-law, Mamacita, is generously having another shower for me in a couple of weeks and it is terribly hard to wait until after that shower to go and buy things. Now that I have some of it, I want the rest of it! Plus, getting the nursery ready is something I can do, something I have control over during a time I have precious little I can actually consciously impact. It makes me feel less frantic and that's a good thing.

Other than that, I've come down with my first cold since finding out I was pregnant and it's rough. The cough is one that vibrates behind my breast-bone and is violent enough that it squeezes my poor little one--which makes him unhappy and results in kicking and thrashing. Plus this whole "can't take any medicine" thing is the worst. Cross your fingers with me that it has a very short duration.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Update on the littlest one

Well, there was relief to be had last week during my first dr's appointment on several levels.

1) My bicornate uterus is more than likely a septate uterus--which is more heart-shaped as opposed to 2 seperate "horns." This is a good thing because it means that the baby will have more room to grow and the risk of complications drops a little bit. Yea!

2) EVERYTHING looks text-book PERFECT so far on the ultrasound. Little bit is 1.2 cm long, has a perfect heart rate, little nubs for arms and legs, a big lap pool to laze around in (for the time being!), and so far is plenty busy growing!!!

So, that being said, I'm not quite as tired as I was a couple of weeks ago, but the morning sickness has kicked in enough that I'm uncomfortable to nearly actually getting sick depending on the day. I'm 9 wks along now, so hopefully that will lessen over the next couple of weeks as I approach my Second Trimester! It's still completely unreal that I'm going to be someone's Mom. Very cool, but totally unreal.

Oh! And my due date is 29 April 2008! Yea for spring babies!!