Monday, April 6, 2015

Part One: Moving to California

T minus five days… We are counting down to the day of our move. After months of preparation, that day is finally coming.  Tonight I sat down with the Hubs and made a list of final countdown items that need to take place before we all pack up and head out! This week may be as adventurous as the years to come. We have a lot on our plate.  But forget this week for a moment. Here is what has been going on for the past few months.

After spending the past three months as a single mom, while my husband slaved away the busy season at his new job, we are finally reunited this week as we prepare to pack up and get the whole family moved to California.

As we do, in true Domestica fashion, it has been a wild ride to say the least!!

Since we rang in the New Year these are some of the events that have taken place….

 -We somehow managed to move our 38 foot RV to California in the dead of winter. We faced the daunting Donner Pass, and ended our journey in bumper to bumper traffic in the Beautiful Bay Area.  But angels were present, and miracles occurred.  We made it there safe and sound, and in one piece. Alleluia!!
Cold Weather and a dusting of snow on the day of the move.

Sunshine and warmth in California!

-Also in January we sold our home, “House #2”. It too was also a treacherous journey with a bunch of bumps and road blocks. Not a particularly fun experience, but so happy and grateful it is a done deal and out of our lives.

-January was also filled with home improvement projects. The kids helped me re-model the bathroom.

-February was wild for the hubs. He was working 16 hour days 6-7 days a week. It is now official he has completed his first busy season for a big four firm. It turns out had we moved down the same time as him, we wouldn't have been able to see each other much anyway! He was working in San Francisco, staying in a hotel most of the time and was crazy busy!

-The hubs made it home to Idaho the first weekend of February to celebrate our sweet little Tino’s first Birthday!! Happy Birthday Tino! We love you so!!

My cutie pie!

Sweet Tino!

-Also in February we chopped down our giant Elm tree in our front yard. As silly as it may seem we were so sad to see it go. Our kids love to play on the tree, and it has been a wonderful provider of shade to our home.  But the age of the tree was showing and it wasn't a healthy tree. I cringed with every wind storm and after removing the tree we saw how risky the situation could have been. The tree was splitting and was beginning to rot from the inside out.

60 Year old Elm

Kids enjoying the shade one last time.

One last climb

Looking for bugs!

Down she goes!

The tree guys were awesome at geometry and not hitting our house!!

-At the end of February I had a graceful dive as I was attempting to get my daughter her backpack as she was running to the bus. I slipped on a broom that was on our porch (Lil’ Miss had been sweeping up sawdust from our tree). I landed falling wrong on my left foot, with a pop. I somehow managed to not drop the baby and pick myself up and get my kids on the bus. I had a wide eyed audience of a bus full of kids as I hobbled back into the house. After a couple x-rays the doctors were still unable to determine if it was a fracture or a sprain. Treatment was the same, wear the boot!  And so I did.

-In fear of not being able to get everything done the hubs was able to take a leave of absence for a week first week of March and came home to help me around the house. As unfortunate it is to be injured, it was a blessing in disguise. Physically and mentally we all needed Daddy to come home for a little while. I needed a break from the kids. My foot needed a break from me pushing my limits. And the hubs needed a break from the crazy work schedule he had been slaving away at. And we all needed each other!!

-In the middle of March we had a massive yard sale. The kids went to Grandma and Grandpa’s, my sister and friend Erin helped me pull it off as I hobbled around in my boot.  It was an awesome success. We got rid of loads of stuff!! Even with donating two huge truck loads to the thrift store we still brought in over $1000, including a few big items I had sold through Craigslist and a local Buy, Sell, Trade site on Facebook.

-At the end of March the hubs wanted me to have a break from the kids while they were on Spring Break. Since we are moving out of state away from family we thought it might be a long time before we have family near to help with our kids and they rallied around as we pawned them off between their grandparents and aunts and uncles, they were well taken care of and I got a nice retreat vacation. 

I was able to visit our kid’s new schools, do some shopping at the mall and Ikea (which I never do), take a quick trip to the beach, and go on several dates with my husband (another rare treat). This little trip was the first and last time I will ever be “vacationing” in our RV. I enjoyed it while it lasted. I can hardly imagine our next jaunt will be a vacation in our RV.

I can't wait to live so close to the Ocean!
-And now we are in April. The majority of our stuff has been sifted and sorted we have some final packing to do, but over all we are as ready as we can be. We still have a trailer load to take around to family members who are taking some of our stuff, a load for the auction, and an additional trip to the thrift store and we will be on our way. RV life here we come!

After mapping out the week there are several things still to do. Lil’Miss is turning six next week and after watching several YouTube videos on how to make Barbie princess cake’s she is just sure that is perfect cake for her birthday.  So in the morning I will give my feeble attempt at pulling it together. Lil’Miss wants me to video tape making the cake, just like she has seen on YouTube. She has even worked on a few lines, “Hi guys, this is how we make a Barbie cake!” Oh boy!! What have I gotten myself into!

We impromptu decided to buy an enclosed trailer after we found out that Uhaul’s options aren't going to work for our situation. So that is on the agenda this week as well. Hopefully one of the trailers we looked out over the weekend works out! And we may even buy a new car for the Hubs this week too. We are crazy!

There you have it. Our lives over the past few months in a nutshell.  Again!

Happily packing up and moving to California to live in an RV!! Wish us luck!!! More details to follow how we got to this crazy decision! :) 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Mental Blogging Blockage....

Where do I begin…

I have taken such a long break in blogging, I don’t even know where to start.  Life has been busy and great in many ways, but also full of lots of crazy stuff.

Do I share about the whirlwind of unemployment and getting a new job out of state?

Or..  the craziness of preparing to downsize to an even smaller space than our 750 square foot tiny home?

Or.. share about the projects I have been working on and the continuous home improvement tasks around the house, preparing to rent it again? The bathroom, the kitchen, a final post of all my tiny home projects???

Or… give a debt free update now that we have sold our largest debt that loomed over our head for a few too many years??

Or… just write a post about how I have been single momming it the past month as I have been facing the fact that  I am too tired at the end of the day to function enough to write.

So many things to consider sharing. So little oomph to get it out!

I used to live my life and have a constant dialog of what I would write if I did blog about things.  A few months back I had to mentally turn off the dialog knowing I didn’t have it in me to blog.  I needed to focus on the now and getting through our stuff, rather than spill our stuff all over the internet.

So often I feel that once you enjoy blogging and sharing of your life, you feel obligated to share of all of the stuff you go through. I suppose it helped to help turn off the dialogue when my laptop pooped out on me and has bit the dust for good and I didn’t have a computer easily accessible.

 I am grateful I was able to turn it off for a while.  Now I am having a hard time turning it back on.

I guess you will have to consider this my update in a nutshell.

I have been busy piecing together the next step of our adventure called life.  Hopefully I can begin sharing again soon!

Happily attempting to blog again, peace out!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

SOLD! One Step Closer to Debt Free!

Where do I begin? Let’s just say the past few months have been a whirlwind of ups and downs with some good and some bad and a lot of big decision making.

I have felt I could not write or blog until we overcame the biggest hurdle. Our house, house #2. When life gets crazy and you feel  like you are spinning out of control and survival is all you can relish, some things just need to be put on the back burner. But the good news is, I feel like I can begin to write again after closing this chapter today.

If I could sum my life into two words over the past few months they would be chaos and survival.
It is hard to be unemployed. It is hard to job hunt. It is hard to sell a house. It is hard to move. Even a bit harder to move out of state. It is hard to downsize. It is hard to be a Landlord, especially when tenants don’t comply with the lease or pay their rent. It is hard to pay three mortgages, even more so when you don’t have a job. It is hard to lose loved family members. It is hard to make life changing decisions. Life can be hard.

But when you are dealing with all of these matters all at the same time, you can begin to question your sanity and ability to cope with hard things.

Before I go into any details on all the stuff, and life’s hard thing…  I do have to say, I have much to be grateful for and Thank You!!

Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your encouraging words. Thank you for watching my kids when we traveled out of state to “house hunt”. Thank you for kind words of encouragement. Thank you for the thoughts and out reached hand. I have felt the power of your support and strength.  Your support and faith has carried us and help redeem and strengthen my faith.

Today we sold our house. A house we moved out of two years ago with the hopes of being in a better place financially. The plan was to sell when the market recovered. We rented it out for a year, then attempted to sell when our tenants were having a hard time paying their rent and keeping up with bills.  We didn’t have any luck so we took it off the market and rented to another family who hoped to buy it. Rented it out another year and that situation didn’t work out, so as soon as their lease was up we put it on the market again.

We priced it competitively and hoped we could sell it and make a little profit to help with some of our finances.  We had a ton of views and good traffic flow especially for attempting to sell so late in the year. Despite the many views and a few people interested after a month on the market, no offers.  The feedback was that the house had a funky floor plan and it was not playing in our favor.
We decided to spice things up and lower the price. After the first weekend with our lowered price we got an offer (a bit of a low ball offer, but eventually we came to a middle ground and were prepared to cut our losses), and moments after we accepted the offer we were told we got another offer (which I think our Realtor may have gotten before we accepted but just didn’t relay the message, boo!).

Selling the house has been less than fun. It was the first time I have ever sold a house so I don’t know if our experience was typical but it was a rather unpleasant experience. I don’t really want to go into not so fun details, but after many thousand dollars later and having our buyers almost walk (more than once). It is done. Sold. Behind us! Phew! I can breath again!

Although as a whole we lost tens of thousands of dollars $$$ on selling this house, we are grateful to be able to be freed of the burden it has been to us. Bittersweet because we spent four years raising our first two kids there and have many wonderful memories and I loved so many things about the home… The windows and light, the loft, fruit bushes/vines and trees, a great fenced back yard with lots of shade and a swing set. It was a perfect home for us to begin our family. The kids and I visited the house the other day, I let them run and play it was a wonderful way to say goodbye to an old friend.

The new owners are a young couple with an infant child. It will be a wonderful place for them to raise their family and create memories, as we have.  May they enjoy their new home!

Stay tuned for the following updates:
-The hubs new job.
-Where and what we are moving into!
-Debt free journey update as we exit unemployment!

Happily Sold! I feel I must say AMEN!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Adventures in subbing: Episode Two Flash Back First Grade

A reflection of one of my recent sub jobs.  Every day is a new adventure! 

Today as I was heading to my sub job in Room 5C, Liberty Elementary School.  I was not prepared for the rush of emotion as I walked to the front of the school today.  This very school, flashback 1984. Opening day of a brand new school.

First Day of 1st Grade, anxiety rushed over me.  Timid child wondering where I should go.  As I made my way into the front doors I was greeted by a smile ,a tall man with broad shoulders built like my father offered me his hand to walk me to class.  Although he was missing fingers I didn’t hesitate and took his hand as he guided me to my classroom and introduced me to my teacher.

Memories continue to flood from that year.  His name was Mr. Freezen, he lost his fingers in and accident which he later shared with our class as he came to read stories as we sat on the carpet.  We gathered in awe that you could survive with out fingers.  How on earth did he write?  Questions that linger in a six year old mind.

More memories… a few months later I was home on Christmas break, snowy winter.  Curtains drawn on the picture window in our living room, blinding winter light with dust dancing in its rays. Light warming the room despite the several inches of snow on the other side the window. Mom vacuuming with a peaceful hum.

All of a sudden a slush of words shattered the day.  It must have been the phone ringing.

Bus crash, snowy roads, Mr. Freezen. Dead.

My little first grader mind processing the news. My principal who was so kind, even with missing fingers, was now dead.

Amazing what can flow to your mind when you visit an old space.

Flash back 5th grade Room 5A. two doors down from today’s sub job.  Another whirlwind memory.

I sat next to “Kelly”, a boy with dark brown hair.  A boy who was mildly popular and well liked among others.

One day Kelly went missing for a few days.  Eventually he returned with a bandaged hand with blood oozing through the bandages.  I believe it was his left hand, what ever the case, it was the hand I had to sit next to.  He loved to tease and torment me with his bloody stump.

The story was he was climbing a ladder and lost his footing catching his thumb, ripping, tearing.  Panic struck and amidst the bloody panic, a cat snatched and ran off with his thumb, making recovery efforts difficult.

Yes, a gross memory of missing digits and it happened mere feet from where I taught today. Just one more story.

Last Day.  Today a student was having his last day.  He is moving to Las Vegas over the weekend and I couldn’t help but remember the last time I stepped foot in this very school where I was subbing.

1988 Another cold, blustery winter day.  No sunshine this time.  Misty, dark and grey. We had had an all day field trip/choir concert at an old folks home and the mall, singing holiday tunes.  I wore my best friend Amy’s dark blue denim skirt with a wide black elastic waistband.  She has let me borrow it for our concert.

We returned to the school late in the day and school had already let out.  Empty and dark I gathered my last items from my desk.  With my parents divorce and losing our house, we were forced to move across town.  New house, new school.

I walked home one last time, alone, with my legs exposed to the cold.  Freezing. When I got home, I was met with a locked door.  The first time ever in all my childhood I have come home and the door was locked.  I peeked into the windows of the only house I knew as a home.  We had already packed up and moved out.  The only contents were a giant mountain of stuff we left in the middle of the dining room floor.  Things left for a thrift store.

The cold made my eyes sting with tears.  I wasn’t sure if it was my emotions surfacing or if it was just that cold. Sadness and gloom lingered as I waited to be picked up and taken to my new home. 

Amazing what visiting an old space will bring to your mind.

Even  though it has been 30 years from the first time I walked the halls of my elementary school, I had no idea of the vivid memories that would fill my day. It brought a sleeping past to life once again. I am sad to say the vivid memories are not he happiest memories. I suppose some of the fears of my past were put in my face.

Happy memories at the school. I love, loved my first grade teacher with her coffee breath. She was warm and caring and took the edge of my fears.

The school carnival on the play ground, getting a cheap necklace with my earned tickets.

Friday $.25 popcorn day.  I am happy to report they still only charge $.25 and the popcorn machine sits i the same exact place.

They still have one piece of the original playground equipment. I was happy to see that there. I loved running and playing on the play ground.

Another great memory was school skate parties.  I loved going to the local skate rink and skating my heart out!

Oh so much fun to visit an old space!

Let me leave you with our school fight song.

This song mingled in my head all day, over and over.... it went something like this...

We're the Liberty Eagles, yeah, yeah. 
And we'll fly real high, yeah, yeah.
We're the Liberty Eagles, yeah, yeah.
Fly right out of the sky, yeah ,yeah

Oh yes we know we got the spirit to fly right out of the sky, yeah yeah.

Today's sub notes and a few of the activities.

Thanks for flashing back with me! 

What is a vivid elementary school memory you have?

Practicing Love and Patience for Children With Special Needs

Sunday’s are the hardest..  It is a day like no other where the schedule is different and we go to church where the kids are expected to sit through a long church service with out being to disruptive and possibly get something out of it.

I have a hard time putting my heart to words at times, especially when it comes to the welfare of my children.  Bean, my second child who will be four years old in a few weeks is the sweetest boy, but some day’s he challenges me to my wits end. 

I have found myself too often on Sunday’s asking, Why?  Why does this sweet little boy who was in such a hurry to get to this earth, 20 month younger than his older sister and born 6 weeks early…. Why is he so challenging?  Why did Heavenly Father entrust me with this sweet spirit who is full of energy, enthusiasm and with a busy body and determined soul? And how on earth am I going to teach him? Teach him to communicate. Teach him to treat others with respect and kindness. Teach him to be safe with out hurting himself or others.

Sunday’s are hard because there is a lot of running, when there is supposed to be sitting.  Lots of jabbering, when it is supposed to be quiet.  Lots of climbing and yanking on clothing while my little one tries to escape, by crawling under benches so he can be closer to others, shouting “Hi” to friends on other rows as he grabs at their ankles.  You always want the best for your children, and wanting the best makes me turn in asking more “why” questions.

Many Sunday’s consist of the hubs walking our little guy in the halls of the church or taking him outside to run.  Occasionally you can hear a thump, thump, thump running in the hallway above the chapel during our Sacrament Meeting, and yes that would be my sweet little busy buddy. 

Today I took all three kids to church solo, as the hubs is away at a job interview in another city. Always an adventure that doesn’t disappoint.

I have been self conscious long enough and now I am trying to be accepting of the circumstances.  In my process of embracing and loving my son and his challenges, there comes doubt, fear and yes, some tears.  This manifests itself mostly on Sunday’s where I have hope that there might be a peaceful Sunday of no running, climbing or shouting out, but reality always shows up differently.

Like on Mother’s day of this year, I was worn and weary and just wanted to get out of the church and go home and crash.  A day where you are supposed to feel honored, feels more like torture. (I could really relate to the recent movie, Mom’s Night Out). Just about to exit to the parking lot we were in the foyer and before I could stop Bean, he had ripped a tulip right out of a fellow mom’s hand breaking the stem. 

We had received the flowers as a Mother’s Day gift from our kids.  This mom had a look of horror on her face.  It was quite the site really.  I was on my knees, just barely caught up with my son, stopping him from more destruction of her frail flower, with my arms around my son I looked up to the woman and said, “I am so sorry”.  It probably wouldn’t have been so bad if she had not been so shocked by my son’s actions.  I am sure she didn’t mean to give me such a horrid look, but it just pushed me over the edge.  I dusted myself off and attempted to turn away before I burst into tears with my kids in tow. Another woman saw the emotion in my face and tried to consol her friend with the broken flower, “It’s okay, he didn’t mean to.”

Sometimes life can be hard.

Before I go on, I must say there has been improvement.  Great improvement.  I need to acknowledge where we have come from.  The busy behavior used to be constant, so constant I was numb and could easily write off….. saying he is a two year old with some delays. He is now getting to big for that reasoning.  He just acts like a two year old in a big body.

I don’t speak of his delays often on my blog.  Mostly because I want to protect my child from this crazy world. Although I feel alone in this journey with a child with special needs, I am not alone.  There are many who struggle with children with challenges.  I am just getting to the point where I can no longer write off his two year old behavior. I am not sure why it tugs at my heart so much at church, maybe it is because I have hopes of him being able to participate with the other kids with out being a disruption and having to leave his class or the group of children.  He used to have a special helper that would accompany him to his primary class on Sunday’s. This summer she moved out of the country with her family, and oh how I miss her.
My sweet boy looking so handsome and ready for church.

Several times a year the children at church (ages 3-11) participate in our Sunday Sacrament Meeting where they get up and sing songs to the congregation.  Once a year they have a special program where they have speaking parts and intermittent songs.  The children beam as they show what they have learned.  Lil’Miss waves and says, “Hi Mom!!” from the stand at least a half dozen times, making a mom’s heart melt with her smile and enthusiasm.

Today was that special program.  The children have been preparing for the past several of weeks rehearsing their speaking parts and preparing their songs.  Bean missed out on the first rehearsal due to being a little to active and wanting to climb all over the kids and chat and get in their faces. They pulled me out of my class, dumfounded in what to do with him.  I attempted to sit with him, and that wasn’t going to work out, so we went to the hallway and I gave him the Ipad (which he is attached to if we allow it) and he sat quietly watching play dough videos on You Tube. The second rehearsal we kept him home due to illness.

But even though he is disruptive and all over the place, it doesn’t mean that I don’t want him to have an opportunity to participate.  He loves to be in front of others and is one of the friendliest kids out there.  I knew if he saw all the kids on the stand he would want to be up there too. 

Sure enough as soon as the children were invited to go up today, he jogged up to the front of the congregation faster than I could hand off my baby to a friend.  I eventually caught up with him and prompted him to sit with me behind the grand piano in one of the springy theater-like seats.  Hopefully he could sit long enough until his part.  Then we could go up to the microphone and then return to the bench seat in the congregation.

His part in the program was simple, “I love the earth because…..” (Referring to the creation).  I shortened the phrase to “ I love the earth and I love dirt”  We practiced the sentence and he repeated it several time this morning echoing back to me conversation like, “ I wuv erf. I wub erfff.  I wuvv errrff.”  I was actually surprised he repeated what I wanted him to.  Even though his part was only a few minutes and one song into the program, it felt like a very long time.  It was enough time to make it all the way across to the other side of the stand and back again, and enough time to crawl under the grand piano and back up and attempt to assist the pianist. 

Finally it was his turn to get up to the microphone at the pulpit.  I whispered into his ear, “I love the earth.” And paused as he repeated something, that didn’t resemble what we had practiced, and I then whispered to him “I love dirt.” And he continued to gaze across the audience jabbering more sounds with great expression, again sounding nothing like what we had practiced and a little more like the teacher on Charlie Brown, but he stood tall, and brave speaking with conviction. And when he was done saying what he was saying , I accompanied him back to our seat in the congregation and he sat.  The primary children began the next song singing of Jesus. He participated in his own little way singing out random phrases from songs he knows, “Woe, woe, woe the boaaatt.” Old McDonalddd had a farmmm, EIEIO!!”  So I could watch the remainder of the program, I slipped him the Ipad and let him watch his favorite videos on mute.  I do have to say, although he had a short and sweet first program début, it was a success!

Oh to be a mom of a special little guy who has struggles.  I do love him so, and he pulls my heart strings every day!

Do you have a child with special needs?  What times are most difficult for you and your child? And how do you cope?

Happily Momming Along.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

100% Debt Free Update

When we started our Debt Free Journey we owed $328,000 in real estate debt.

After 30 months of discipline and hard work we now owe:

$289,316!  In 30 months we have paid off $38,684

That is an average of $1289.46 a month.  

Not to shabby, considering all we have had going on over the past year or so and our prior unemployment.

We have done the following home improvements which took most of our $$$$:

 -New roofs and windows on Tiny & Teeny Tiny Homes
Tiny Home after paint, windows and new roof

Teeny Home Before:

Teeny Home After

-Painted the exterior of three of our homes

House #1 Faded Pink Pepto Before picture

It is now Grey with white trim and a blue accent

Teeny Homes bathroom before, down to bare bones!

-Completely remodeled Teeny Tiny Home’s Bathroom (still waiting for the bill for this one)

-Installed an AC unit at Tiny home

-Furnace, AC and a few sprinkler repairs at home’s # 1 & 2

-An eviction of a tenet who quit paying rent and left a mountain mess and damages

Mountain of Eww.
Sweet Baby Tino

Our other big expenses were paying for a pregnancy and new baby to arrive and a new set of tires for our van.

The past year we has been expensive, whew! so I am grateful that we have been able to even pay things down this much.

I wanted to write this post for a base line of entering unemployment.  Hopefully this will be a short jaunt, but if it is not, my hopes are that we can at least stay at this point our our journey and not accrue any new debt.
House #2 For Sale

The awesome loft in house #2 that I will miss so much!

We are putting home # 2 up for saleCheck it out here.  We met with a Realtor this week and it will be on the market as soon at our renters move out sometime in the next month. Anyone want a light and bright 4 bed 2 bath in Boise, Idaho???

My hopes and prayers are that we can continue onward and not dig a pit as we are unemployed at the moment.  We are frugal and will make it through this trying time, so for the moment we are just going to do our best to not acquire any new debt and hopefully once we get home #2 on the market we can get it sold (this time around, we did not have very good luck last year when we tried to sell it).

With a grateful heart we will continue plugging along!!

Happily working towards debt freedom!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Crock Pot: Loaded Cheesy Potato Soup

With the turning of the seasons, soup is on my brain!

Here is an easy Crockpot potato soup.  I needed to throw something together for a church potluck and I had these ingredients on hand so I decided to give it a try.  A simple, no fuss recipe!

Loaded Cheesy Potato Soup

1 Tbs butter
4 medium potatoes, cooked, cubed
1 small onion, minced
1 (10 ½ oz) can cheddar cheese soup
1 (10 ½ oz) can cream of celery soup
2 cups milk
1 tsp salt
Garnish: shredded cheese, green onions and bacon bits

Melt butter in sauce pan, add onions and sauté. In slow cooker, combine all ingredients (except for garnish).  Cover.  Cook on low heat 2 ½ to 3 hours.  Makes 4-6 servings.  Serve with shredded cheese, green onions and bacon bits.

Busy Woman’s Slow Cooker Cookbook, McFall & Burgett

Happy Fall!