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Craig’s List Rookie (Life After Layoff – Chapter 32)

My husband and I are both new to the Craig’s List experience.  My sister and other people who I know have sold things on Craig’s List, so I thought I would give it a try.  I had a girl’s toddler bed that Ann no longer needed.  It was too big to try to sell it on Ebay (I didn’t want to deal with the shipping), so I thought I would try listing it on Craig’s List.

The toddler bed and mattress was in good shape, so I decided to try to get some money for it.  I am a big donator to Catholic Charities and have been known to give everything from clothes to furniture in the past.  However, I have recently discovered that I am about to deplete my unemployment benefits, so every little bit earned is welcomed in our household.

Yes, I have worked as a substitute teacher a lot lately, but I won’t see a paycheck for a week or so from now.  Plus, I haven’t been able to work this week, because my kids are out of school for Fall break.  So like I said, every little bit of money is appreciated.

Believe it or not, I was about to adjust the amount I was asking for the toddler bed down a bit, because I had not had anyone contact me on it.  Until last night, that is.  I arranged for a person to meet me at a local library parking lot to make the sale.  I didn’t want to have the person come to my house, just in case they were some psycho.  So I picked a public place a few blocks from our house.

The person that contacted me couldn’t meet me until after 7:00pm.  That was fine, because that meant that Frank could go with me on this adventure.  However, I didn’t want the kids to come with us.  For one reason, I had the toddler bed still assembled and there was no room for the kids to sit in the back of the van.  The other reason, I really hated to have all of our family get wiped out by some psychopath Craig’s List killer.  (Yes, that sounds morbid, but you never know these days.)

So I asked our neighbors and their teenage kids next door to watch our kids for a few minutes.  Yes, we have teenagers that live next door and they are a true God-send.  But that is another story for another day.  So without the kids in tow, Frank and I load up the toddler bed and mattress and head to the library.

Here Frank and I are sitting in the library parking lot, correction, CLOSED library parking lot in the dark.  We are parked in the parking lot, waiting for our ‘contact’ to arrive.  LOL  It felt a little like a drug deal or something.  LOL

A car pulls in and parks and Frank comments that this must be our buyer.  A woman gets out of the car, so I step out of my van.  The woman walks towards the library with some books in her hands, so I get back into my van.  LOL  I felt a little embarrassed at that moment.  I laughed out loud and said to Frank, “Well, that obviously is not our buyer.  And here I was about to ask her if she was the one interested in a toddler bed.”

The woman dropped off her library books and leaves.  I sit in the van and laugh hysterically as I ask Frank, in a creepy voice, “Hey little girl, would you like a toddler bed.”  LOL  Yes, at that moment in time, I realized that this was the weirdest thing Frank and I have done.  Sitting in a library parking lot, in the dark, with a toddler bed in the back, waiting for an unknown buyer.  Right about then another car pulls up.  Yep, a car…NOT a van.  I have a toddler bed in the back of my van and I’m thinking, “Crap, this is not going to be good.”

The passenger in the car opens their car door, so I opened mine.  The young lady asked if I was the one from Craig’s List and I said yes.  Then I break the news to her…that the bed is not disassembled.  The driver asked if I was joking and I had to tell her no.  But I’m always willing to figure something out.  So I tell the young lady that I might have a screwdriver in my emergency kit.  Yep, I had two screwdrivers, but they were both flat-head screwdrivers.  Guess what, I needed a Phillips screwdriver.  Wouldn’t you know it.

What now?  Well, I knew that had a Phillips screwdriver at home.   So I offered to run to the house and get a screwdriver to take the bed apart, if she would be willing to wait for me.  She was, so Frank and I ran home and got a Phillips screwdriver and returned back to the library parking lot.  In a short period of time, I was able to get the headboard removed from the bed frame and we managed to get the bed frame placed in the back seat of their car.

So what did I learn from this experience?  A. Ask the buyer if they want it disassembled before we meet for the transaction.  B. The library parking lot might not be the best drop off spot.  (At least I shouldn’t be willing to asking the first person that comes along if they want a toddler bed.  Since some people might actually be there to drop off books.)  LOL  C. Always bring extra tools, just in case.

The adventure worked out well.  I got more money in my pocket.  There was two less items taking up space in the kid’s closet.  And a little girl would be able to enjoy a toddler bed that Ann used to enjoy.  It was a win-win-win situation.

Welcome To High School (Life After Layoff – Chapter 31)

I have crossed over to the other side…substitute teaching at a high school. Mind you, this is not your ordinary high school.  Before I tell you my experiences there, let me tell you that any references or examples I use to describe the school is done in kindness.  I say this because when I was telling my husband about it yesterday, he accused me of making fun of the students.  That is not my intention, it’s just that there were some kids that stood out to me more because of some previous experience or recollection.  (Yes Frank, I just told my blog followers that you were being mean to me.  :p  So you better behave.)

I know I am going to be showing my age in some of my references, but that is okay.  To those younger readers that never experienced the 70’s or 80’s, I’m sorry, but they were some great times.  And to those of you that are my age or older, I hope this post will give you a walk down memory lane.

Like I said, it was not your ordinary high school.  It is a public school, I believe they call it a magnet school, that specializes in Arts and Sciences.  Imagine the school on the show ‘Fame’, but take out all the dancing.  There might have been dancing, but it wasn’t in my area.  I was the substitute teacher for Jazz Band, which meant I sat in class and listened to a lot of loud music.

When I say loud, I don’t mean ‘bad’ music, I mean that the speakers were turned up so high and the room was so small that you could feel the music vibrating on the desk.  Also, this was not your basic music, it was J.B. Rides Again and other jazzy tunes.  Some of it was just the kids jamming together, making it up as they went along.

I was totally honest with the kids and told them that I was not a music teacher and had no way of helping them with their instruments.  But I could listen to them play and appreciate the good music they were making.  Since they were happy to be there and much more mature than my normal students, things went smoothly.  But I won’t lie, I had a few moments of doubt that day.

I am ashamed to say that while I was there, I had to break down some stereotypes that I had created in my mind.  I was expecting to meet a lot of thugs that day, but instead, I met a lot of mature teenage students that were not trying to play a fast one on an old woman like me.  There was always one student, normally a boy, who took on the role as leader in the class.  They sort of filled in for the teacher as far as directing went.

However, there were a few things that stood out from the previous schools I have taught at.  It was a public school, not a catholic school.  So no uniforms, lots of colored hair, extra body piercings and a good number of boys with long hair that was not in a ponytail.  It was definitely a whole new world.

The classes I had did not consist of all one school grade.  I had a variety of 9th – 12th grade students in every class.  Some of the students made an impact and in my mind I have dubbed them as certain celebrities that I have seen on TV. For instance, there was a boy in one of my classes that reminded me of Josh from the TV show ‘Drake and Josh’.  He was a sweet and happy boy who just happened to be in Speech and Debate club, so he was trying to sell me some popcorn for a fundraiser.  When I told him that I might not be back to get the popcorn, he promised me in a very good salesmanship manner that he could have the popcorn mailed to my address.  Or he would even deliver it personally to my house.  LOL

I would have loved to help him out, but I didn’t have any money to buy popcorn.  Besides, in the middle of his sales pitch, his classmate (a beautiful Asian girl who chose to wear black lipstick that matched her long hair) decided to get in on the action.  So she grabbed the flyer out of his hands and was up in my face (in a comical way) asking me to buy from her instead.  I declined them both, but told the boy that he must have really been paying attention in his Speech and Debate classes, because he was a smooth talker.  I then had to explain to the girl in a comical way that she was sort of scaring me and that she was tipping more toward the stalker side and less on the salesperson side.

Then there was the boy that could have walked right into a Flock of Seagulls concert and been lost with all the other fans.  If you are like me, you probably don’t know who the Flock of Seagulls are.  But you probably saw the “Friends” episode when they flash back to Ross and Chandler’s college days.  There was an episode where they came home for Thanksgiving to Ross’ parent’s house and Chandler’s hair was swooped over and really flat on top.  (Now that I think about it, Donald Trump has a similar hairdo.  lol)  Anyway, the boy in my class reminded me of Chandler instantly.

Then I had a boy that came up to me at the beginning of class.  He introduced himself and as I was telling him my name, he shook my hand.  Very odd in an environment like that.  But that wasn’t the only thing that got my attention.  No, the boy’s hair was my main focus.  This boy, which was just a bit shorter than me, had the biggest bush of brown curly hair on his head.  I think that if he got his hair buzzed, he would probably be a half a foot shorter.  If he dyed his hair red, he could pass for the comedian Carrot Top.  No lie!!!

Then there were a number of boys with the long, long hair and some of them also sporting a mustache and beard.  (Or a boy’s version of one)  Which sort of makes sense, since they were musicians.  Think about all the rock bands where the guys sport long hair.  Of course, none of them had the good-looking hair that Harry Styles has.  🙂  There were more boys than there were girls in my classes and the girls all seemed to be your typical looking high school girls.  However, I did see a girl walking down the hall at the end of the day that had long purple hair.  If the girl was dressed in a black outfit, she could have passed for Mal off of the new Disney movie Descendants.

I really enjoyed my teaching experience that day.  Yes, it’s true that I was afraid to use the Girls Restroom for several reasons.  First, I didn’t want to see or hear something that I wasn’t meant to.  Second, I didn’t want them to think I was checking up on them.  Third, I have seen too many movies and I was afraid I might get knifed or something.  So I sought out the Teacher’s Lounge and found a restroom in there to use.  So, would I go back if they ask me to?  Sure, I’m willing to take the challenge again.  Am I ready to venture into a more standard city high school as a substitute teacher?  Not yet.  But eventually I might be.  I have decided that if I can handle this sort of high school environment, I might be able to handle a Catholic high school.  So that might be my next step.

You Are Where You Are Supposed To Be! (Life After Layoff – Chapter 30)

This month, I had the pleasure of returning to the same school that I had been a substitute P.E. teacher at.  Yet, this time it was for the Art teacher.  I had worked a few days for her and then I was called back a week later to work a whole week for the Art teacher.  I really enjoyed substituting for Art class, because I got paid to use markers and crayons.

When I sub for a teacher, I have a habit of writing notes to the teacher to let them know of any odd things that might have happened during their absence.  That way, the teacher is not returning into the classroom and getting blindsided by something the students might report to her.  When I returned back the second time for the Art teacher, I had a feeling that I needed to leave her a different type of note.

When I wrote this note, I had no intention of sharing it with anyone except the person that I addressed it to.  However, after I read over what I had written, I realized that this note was not only meant for her…but for me too.  The message came from my heart and I realized that I still have some emotions about my mom’s death that I have not fully addressed.  So I decided that I needed to share this message with my blog followers, because I believe others might need to hear it too.

 

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I pray that my note to the Art teacher helped her.  Hopefully, it also helped one of you.  When things get rough, we need to stop and think of what the important things are in our life.  Will we be pleased with our decisions when that special person is gone?  Jobs will come and go, but you only get one Mom and one Dad.  If you are faced with a situation like this, follow your heart and remember…You Are Where You Are Supposed To Be.

 

 

Assistant Volleyball Coach (Life After Layoff – Chapter 29)

Remember my last post, where I stated that I have no athletic ability in my bones?  That is still true, but I love my son enough to step out of my box and be the Assistant Volleyball Coach for his team.  Boy, I hope one day he realizes how much I love him.

My two oldest, Marie and Patrick, played on the volleyball team at school last year.  However, this year they had to split the grades apart and there was a possibility that Patrick’s team wouldn’t have a coach.  Since I know how much he loves volleyball, I volunteered to be the Assistant Volleyball Coach.  With the understanding that I know nothing about coaching volleyball.  I told them that if they just needed a warm body to fill that space, I was the woman for the job.  They were okay with that and so now I am finding myself going to volleyball practices every week.

I never really plan on doing a lot at the practices.  Yet, I always end up coming home exhausted from shagging balls.  No matter how tired I am, I have a good feeling about helping out Patrick’s team.  He is on a team of 4th & 5th grade boys and girls.  There are only 2 kids that returned from last year, so we mostly work on fundamentals for the new players.

It has been quite an experience and I’m glad I volunteered for the job.  I may not be able to show them what to do on the court, but I can tell them how to behave.  I can teach them about sportsmanship and teamwork.  So you see, even when I’m not substituting, I am still out there teaching the kids something.

New Sub in Town (Life After Layoff – Chapter 28)

Last month, I spent two days being a substitute teacher at a different school!  What class did a teach?

P.E.  

This is totally comical, because I don’t have an ounce of athletic ability in my bones.  However, I have enough love for teaching to give it my best shot.  After seeing the reaction of the kids on the second day, I must have done a good job.

This is a big step for me…since the only place that I have subbed at is my own children’s school.  But this is one of my goals, to experience teaching in different environments.  I need to make sure that I really love the interaction with all kids and not just the ones that my kids are friends with.  I want to make sure it’s not just the comfortable, family feel of my children’s school that I love being in.

You see, all of my children have grown up at that school.  Our family has a history there and with the exception of the new teachers and new students that have joined this year, our family knows everyone.  So I need to make sure it’s not that familiar, community aura that is making me love to teach.  I need to make sure that I still enjoy the teaching experience when I don’t know anyone there.  Because the whole love of teaching could actually be the pleasure of belonging to a group of people who you feel comfortable with.

So I stepped outside of my comfort zone and was the substitute teacher at a different Catholic school and I still loved it!  It was a little bit harder, since I was not familiar with the building or the kids.  So I had to ask for help more than I have ever had to last year.  Not to mention the fact that I didn’t know any of the kid’s names.  So I was having to call out, “Hey, you in the green shirt.  Stop doing that.”  Where at my kid’s school, I could call out most of the children’s first and last names without anyone’s help.

But, for the most part, I did good.  I learned the names of the students that needed that extra attention and supervision.  (Translation:  Those kids that pushed the limits and needed to be called out for actions they knew they shouldn’t be doing.)  Those were the ones that I could call by name by the end of the class period.  But the other kids were only identifiable by their faces, not their names.

By the time I finished my second day as the P.E. teacher, I knew that I would love teaching no matter where it was at.  Or at least, I would love teaching at any Catholic school.  I still need to experience substituting at a public school.  But I’m not sure I am ready for that…yet.

Difference Between Insurance and No Insurance (Life After Layoff – Chapter 27)

I am ashamed to say that it has been four months and I still haven’t gotten any health insurance for myself.  However, up until today, I have not needed it.  But today I had to bite the bullet and go see a doctor…without health insurance.

What is the difference between a patient who has insurance versus one that doesn’t have insurance?  So far, only three things.  First is the wait time.  I went to a walk-in clinic today and I’ve been waiting about an hour and a half so far to be brought back to see a doctor.  But, considering the fact that I walked in around 12:00pm, I’m not very upset about the wait.

The next difference I see is that the doctor visit will be $130 if there are no test preformed.  Otherwise it could be $185.  Not great, but not bad.  I use to pay a co-pay of $45 for an out-of-network doctor visit, so it’s not unbelievably expensive.  Besides, the amount of one month insurance premium could cost me more than that.  Plus, this is the first place I tried, I might be able to get a better price if I shop around.

The other difference I have noticed is that when you sign in, you give the front desk your drivers license to get scanned.  However, it appears that your license is also used as collateral for your payment.  Because they are holding it until my doctor visit is over.  Which makes sense.  A person is not going to walk out on the tab if the doctor’s office has possession of your driver’s license.

So far, these are the only differences I have noticed.  Of course, I haven’t seen a doctor yet.  But if this is the only difference between having and not having health insurance, then this isn’t too painful.  The biggest hit will probably come when I have to buy some prescriptions.

Why am I telling you this?  Because I wanted to remove the myth that being sick without insurance is a death sentence.  Yes, I know I need to get health insurance for myself.  Yes, I worry about the day when I am in need to go to the hospital with a very expensive, life threatening situation.  But at the same time, I have been lucky so far that I have not needed to visit a doctor until now. 

Although I will need to get health insurance before this year is up, I can atleast breath a sigh of relief that I can afford to see a doctor today without insurance and not have to get a personal loan to pay for it.  Yes, I am having to take more time out of my day waiting, but I have the time to kill.

By the way, while I shoot down these myrhs about life without health insurance, I have one more thing to point out.  The patients that are sharing the waiting area space with me are your average Joe.  They aren’t people that look scary or need a bath.  They are just like me, dressed casual with normal looking ailments.  I don’t feel like I’m on skid row, sitting next to a crazy homeless guy that talks to imaginary people.  I look around and see the same sort of people waiting in this doctor’s office that I would see at my old doctor’s office.  So being a sick person without insurance does not mean you have been placed on a lower level of the food chain.  It just means that you might have to wait longer and pay more for your healthcare, but you are still the same human being you were with insurance.

Happy One Year Laid-Off-A-Versary to Me!! (Life After Layoff – Chapter 26)

It just occurred to me that it has been one year since I was laid off from my job.  Where has the year gone?  So many things I have done that I had not planned to do.  So many things that I hoped to do that I haven’t started to do.

I will admit it, the longer I stay away from working in the corporate world, the harder it is to return.  Yes, I have had a year of leisure and I have enjoyed it.  I know this can’t last forever, because my unemployment benefits will be running out by the end of the year.  However, I think I really needed this time off.

As I look back on the person I had been and knowing the stress and worries I was carrying around, I am very thankful that I was laid off.  Because I would have never left my job on my own.  I would have worked there until I died.  Sad to say, but I think that my death probably would have come quicker if I had stayed there.  Because the stress I was under to conform to the corporate’s rules was killing me.

I know this might come as a surprise to you, but I am a people pleaser.  I tend to try my best to make others around me happy.  I strive to do my best so that those around me will tell me, “Good job!”  However, as I get older, I find myself not caring as much about that.  I find myself thinking about what makes me happy and focusing on that a little bit more.

Yet, when I was working in the corporate world, I was constantly struggling to be the best mom and the best employee I could be.  So it’s no surprise I was stressed all the time.  It’s impossible to be a good mom and be there for your kids in their time of need and not feel guilty that you had to leave your boss hanging.  Not to mention, trying to make up for the time you missed at work when there isn’t enough waking hours in the day.

I was honestly burning my candle at both ends and I was on the verge of completely burning up.  I was doing my best to at least be present at my job for 40 hours a week so I would get a full paycheck.  But I was also staying up late at night, trying to get things caught up at home for the next days school/work day.  I was not getting enough sleep, so my body was dragging more and more.  It was not good and I thank God that I was laid off, otherwise I would have never been able to break the cycle.

I will honestly tell you that I have not completely fixed all of my problems.  I still struggle to keep ahead of the game when it comes to laundry and housework.  I still have a problem sleeping for 8 hours straight.  Which is why you will often find that I have posted a new addition to my blog overnight.  Because I have learned that if I can’t sleep, it’s because I have something on my mind that I need to get out.  So I will wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning and sit in the darkness of my living room, typing out the thoughts in my head.  Then an hour later, after I have released my thoughts into the blog world, I will crawl back to bed and sleep like a baby.

I know I need to get my sleeping pattern straighten out, but that hasn’t happened yet.  However, I do have a lot less stress in my life, because I am currently my own boss.  I don’t have to try to please the corporate world anymore.  Having that pressure removed has been like Heaven.

I know that this little hiatus will come to an end soon.  I know that I will have to get a full-time job once my unemployment benefits run out.  But, I also know that I needed this break from the rat race.  I needed to stop running on that hamster wheel, trying to reaching for the cheese that was dangling in front of my face.  Because, no matter how hard I tried, I was never going to get that cheese.

I guess you could say that the moral to this story is that sometimes bad things happen for a good reason.  Nobody wants to be laid off from their job, yet it might be the best thing that happens to them.  It might be the break that you need to stop and really look at the person you have become.  Who knows, getting laid off might actually save your life…I think it saved mine.

Important Work (Life After Layoff – Chapter 25)

I did a lot of work on Wednesday, but I don’t have any real evidence to prove it.  However, I believe that in the great book of life that God owns, my name should be referenced a few times for that day.  At least I hope it is.

I started off by publishing my post titled “Blindsided by the Gospel”, which touched two of my friends enough that they reached out to me via private messaging.  That meant a great deal to me.

In fact, one of my fellow marathoners ended up calling me on the phone later that day to vent about things that are just too overwhelming for one person to handle.  I believe I have said it before, being a Mom ain’t for sissies.  Being a Mom requires support of all kinds, one very important support system is other mothers.  That way you can bounce your frustrations off of someone who understands what you are feeling.  Another mother can tell you that you are not alone and that they have felt the same way before.

Sometimes you just need to know that you are not the only one that feels the way you do.  You need to know you are not alone.  I am glad I could be there for my friend.  She has been there for me many times and I’m glad I could return the favor.

As the day progressed, I was in contact with a few Facebook friends that are dealing with different stages of grief.  I find a special connection with those that have lost a parent, because I lost my mom four years ago.  Ever since then, my heart will ache when I hear that one of my friends have lost a parent.  I know what it feels like, that lost feeling that you can’t shake.  So I gravitate to those Facebook posts where my friends will post their sorrow over a parent that has recently passed or one that left this world awhile ago.

I find comfort when I can lend a friend some encouraging words.  I feel an urge to let them know that the pain does get better with time.  The other day my sister shared a post from another blogger that I shared with some of my friends.  It’s titled:

He Was Grieving Over The Death Of His Best Friend, Until An Old Man Told Him THIS. Mind Blown.

It’s well-worth the time to read.  The post describes the feelings that a grieving person goes through and I agree with everything that it says.

I had noticed that one of my friends that had lost her mother and father-in-law in the same year was having a hard time Wednesday.  So I forwarded that post to her Facebook wall, so that she could see that she was not alone in her pain.  Although it has been almost four years since my mom died, I still miss her and have those days that the pain is as strong as it was the day she died.

I had a few other lives that I touched that day, but they were needing support for different reasons.  I have a friend that just dropped off their first-born daughter at a college far away and a friend that brought their first-born son to his first day as a Freshman in high school.  Both of these events are very joyful, yet bittersweet.  Joyful to see their children spread their wings and fly.  Yet, bittersweet because their first-born child is no longer a little child that depends on their mother for everything.

Although I have not reached either stages in my life, I do remember when my older siblings grew up and left home.  It was not easy to see them leave my parent’s home and make their own way in this world.  It was not easy to go from seeing my sibling on a daily basis to seeing them on a weekly or monthly basis.  So I know some of the feelings those mothers are feeling.

Then, to top it off, my friend that sent her son to his first day of high school also had to have her long-time pet dog put asleep.  Her dog had lost all function of its hind legs due to cancer of the bone.  So they had to say goodbye to a part of their family on the same day their first-born became a “High Schooler”.  My friend is a teacher at my kid’s school, so when I saw her after school that day, I went up and gave her a hug.

I told her that even though it seemed like a bad day to lose her dog, she will at least always remember the day that she lost her dog, since that was the same day that her boy started high school.  It’s like when my mom passed away.  The day she died was two days before Frank’s birthday.  As you can imagine, Frank’s birthday that year was not the most joyfully celebrated day.  But I will always remember the day my mom died, because it’s right before my husband’s birthday.

So, as you can see, I did a lot of work that day but it was not of the physical type.  It was of the emotional type.  It did not cost me any money to help my friends and it didn’t even take much time out of my day.  The only thing I had to do was open my heart up and share my feelings with my friends.  I just had to give them my sympathy and lend them an ear to hear their struggles.

Why would I do it, because I have been in their shoes before.  Because I have been helped by friends in the past.  Because that is what Jesus would do.

Blindsided by the Gospel (Life After Layoff – Chapter 24)

It’s 8:30AM on a school day and I feel like I just ran a marathon.  Why, you ask?  Because we are going on week 2 of school and not everyone wants to get out of bed like Marie does.  I can put a One Direction film on TV and she will wake up very quickly.  However, my other three children will fight me to the death to stay in bed a little bit longer.  I know they all like school in one way or another, but they don’t like getting up in the morning.

So this morning, like every school morning, I get up around 6:00AM and start preparing for the morning wake ups.  I may or may not need to nudge Frank out of bed to get to work.  I eat breakfast, lay out uniforms, take my medication, finish the lunch bags and gather shoes for the kids to wear.  All the while, I am stopping by their beds to greet them with a sweet good morning.  My kids look so angelic when they are sleeping.  Maybe because their mouths are not crying out, “Mom!” when they are sleeping.

I will succeed in getting Marie up and get her to eat some sort of breakfast as she gets dressed and sings to One Direction.  By the time Marie is dressed, she will be asking if we can go yet.  But we can’t get in the classrooms until 7:40AM.  So I have the same conversation with her every morning that we can’t go until 7:40AM.  Then I coax, plead, beg, bribe, threaten and scream for the other three to get up.

With Christopher, I just need to joke with him a bit and threaten to eat his breakfast and then he will arise.  With Ann, I have to rub her leg, put her blanket back on, get her any variety of food items and she will finally wake up.  With Patrick, I am patting his arm, pulling off his blanket, turning on the TV, turning on the lights, getting him food, pulling off his blanket again, turning off his light, turning off his TV, yelling at him and then finally screaming at him that he will be walking to school if he doesn’t get dressed.

Have you figured out who is the difficult one to get out of bed yet?  Yep, Patrick.  Once they are all awake and speaking (ok, yelling) I will hear a variety of complaints, accusations, threats, and bickering from any or all the kids.  This is our morning ritual.  This is the way my kids greet the day.  For the most part, tensions have not been as bad as in the past.  But there is always something they find to complain about.  “My feet hurt.”, “I’m tired” and “I don’t want that” are the normal cries that I hear.

Since Marie has been up the longest, she will normally be in a better mood than the others, so she will try to help out with questions like, “Christopher, are you excited to see your teachers?”  This question will normally backfire, because Christopher is still tired and doesn’t want to think about going to school yet.  Although she tries, I normally end up asking her to stop talking, because she is only feeding the fire with her questions.

We will eventually make it to school, however, I might have to make a second trip back.  Like this morning, Ann forgot her sweater, so I had to run back home to get it for her.  It’s suppose to be 90-some degrees today and the girl gets chilly in class.  Whatever!  So by the time 8:30AM rolls around, I am sitting at home…exhausted.  This particular day, I was also stressed and frustrated with my kids.  Then I sit down to read my daily scripture and this is what the gospel says:

 Gospel                                    MT 18:1-5, 10, 12-14

The disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?”
He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said,
“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,
you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever becomes humble like this child
is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.
And whoever receives one child such as this in my name
receives me. “See that you do not despise one of these little ones,
for I say to you that their angels in heaven
always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.
What is your opinion?
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills
and go in search of the stray?
And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it
than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.
In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father
that one of these little ones be lost.”

Whoa!  Nothing like getting blindsided by God’s word.

See that you do not despise one of these little ones

Okay, I don’t despise my children, however, I didn’t have a warm and fuzzy feeling about them at the moment I read that.  That’s when I say aloud, “Okay, God.  I’ll overlook the struggles to be the best mom I can be.”  Because I know that although my children can be the biggest pains in the neck possible, they are the most precious and valuable gift that I will ever receive.  Each and every one of them are a gift from God and I often wonder why I was blessed with all four of them when others are not allowed to even have one.

I will never know what God was thinking the day that he blessed me with my children.  I have often wondered if God really thought this plan out fully, because I don’t always feel like the Mother-of-the-Year.  However, I know that those four children and Frank bring out things in me that I never knew were there.  They know how to bring out the best in me (and sometimes the worst).  I hate to date myself by quoting a 1996 movie titled Jerry Maguire, but to Frank and my kids, “You complete me.”

It Will Be Okay (Life After Layoff – Chapter 23)

If you read my last post, you know that I was struggling with the devil on my back.  But no more, because ‘It will be okay’.  I had doubts of my future and my capabilities in myself.  But no more, because ‘It will be okay’.  I started reading the bible and although I didn’t find the answers clearly stated in the scriptures, I found something I can’t explain.  Because I now know that ‘It will be okay’.  So I guess you could say I found peace, strength, comfort and perspective in the scriptures.  I found my foundation again and I am grounded enough to say to myself, ‘It will be okay.’

How do I know this?  Because the devil has tested me the last 48 hours and I have not faltered.  I have stayed calm and stayed strong enough to keep my eyes on God and continue to find peace in knowing, ‘It will be okay.”  I will not lie, my biggest weakness in my life is the importance I place on money in the bank account and the control I want over my future.  These are two things I have always struggled with and probably always will.

I know that money is not the center of the universe, but I feel better when I know that I have a little cushion in our checking account.  I have never wanted to be rich, because if you have a lot of money it’s hard to know who likes you for you and who likes you for your money.  However, I don’t like to worry about where the money is going to come from.

I also try my best to let the future be the future and not try to control it.  But that is not something I am always successful with.  I have learned throughout my life that worrying about what the future will not make things any better.  In fact, worrying about the future will not only ruin the future, but also ruin the present.  So I try my best to live for today and leave the future in the future.  However, it is hard sometimes to not get overwhelmed with what my future has to bring when I am trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  But I know that ‘It will be okay.’, because I have my Lord to depend on.

Like I said, I have been tested in the past 48 hours by the devil and I am still standing.  The devil knows my weaknesses, which is why he reared his ugly head in the form of a potential NSF fee in our checking account and having our central air unit stop working on the hottest day of the summer.  But, ‘It will be okay’.  Because I have God on my side and through my faith in him, I know that I can get through anything.  You see, the devil might have placed these obstacles in my way, but my Lord was helping me overcome every one of them and even giving me a glimpse into my future.

I thought our checking account was fine, but Frank was concerned after I had went food shopping.  So I looked up our balance online and found out we had a possible NSF waiting for us.  Thanks to Frank’s inquiry, I was able to transfer some money over from our credit union to cover the shortage.  But God didn’t only help us financially in that one event, he also helped me emotionally.  You see, my credit union is at my old job.  So when I went to withdrawal some money I was able to see my old friends Shelly and Dee Dee.  Answering their questions about my summer and my future plans helped me more than I can explain.

You see, we are friends on Facebook, so they know what I have done this summer.  However, we don’t really chat on Facebook, we just like each other’s post.  So having a chance to have a real gab session with my old friends gave me some much-needed comfort and support.  So out of a bad thing, came a good thing.  Isn’t God great?

Later that day, after picking up the kids from school, our A/C blew a fuse.  So during the hottest point in the day, the bank sign read 107 degrees, I was running to a hardware store to buy a new fuse.  Of course, I was not able to get it at the first store, which made the situation even more stressful.  To make a long story short, one of the new fuses I bought blew out right away, so we needed an electrician.

Great, it was the hottest day of the summer…On a Friday evening…and our A/C was out.  But ‘It will be okay’, because God was with us.  The fact that our checking account was not currently extra fluffy with funds didn’t help the matter.  But you see, in the darkest hours God’s love shines even brighter.  I had called our A/C guy, but the call wouldn’t go through.  So what now?

Thank God for Facebook and old work friends.  One of my friends from work had posted her husband’s A/C business on her page a couple of months back.  I had pocketed that info into my brain and was very glad that I did.  It took me some time to find the post again, but I did.  My friend’s husband was willing to come out that night.  I didn’t ask how much it would cost, because we were cooking in the house. I just trusted that God would help with the money situation and I was right.

God sent my friend and her husband to our house sometime around 10:00 pm that Friday night.  Even though it took some time to get it going again, he got the A/C to work again.  It was a temporary fix, so we still need to get some working on the fuse box done.  But the air was on in the house and that was all that mattered at the moment.  After spending an hour or more time at our house…working in the dark…in the heat, my friend’s husband refused to take any money for what he did.  He said he didn’t fix anything, he just got it going again.  God bless that man for all he did!

It’s good to know that there are good people in this world.  It’s good to know that I have friends like this.  Come to find out, my friend’s husband took the time to fix our A/C for free and he had to get up for work the next morning.  I don’t know what else to say except, God is Amazing!

The miracles have not stopped there.  God fixed our current situations, but he also gave me a push into my future.  I have gotten a few responses back from some substitute teaching jobs that I have applied for.  So it seems that God still wants me in a classroom.  So it looks like God is pushing me in the right direction and my plans of being a teacher might come true after all.  God is Awesome!

So, my friends, if you are struggling like I was, I highly recommend you crack open a book.  Not just any book, but the bible.  Open up God’s word to your mind and heart and see what he can do in your life.  He will work miracles in your life…if you let him.  God bless and remember…It will be okay!