Let the crazy begin!

So we bought a house!  Ok technically my dad bought it and were renting it from him until we can get our credit good enough to buy it from him. That is one humongous worry off our shoulders.

It’s a good thing too because it seems lately every time one burden is lifted, another takes its place. This time it was Emily, my younger stepdaughter. We recently had an ordeal to go through with her lying to us about seeing her boyfriend. Some people seem to feel as though teenagers should have unrestricted privacy to social media and the like. I am not one of those people. Neither is Shane. In fact the children we allow on social media are made aware of the fact that not only will we retain their passwords in our keeping, but we will randomly do spot checks to make sure they’re on the up and up.

Turns out Emily wasn’t.

A few weeks prior to this most recent incident we’d learned that while on an outing for the weekend with her friends, Emily met up with her boyfriend. They were at the lake and no one, not even the parents involved, bothered to tell us. Shane felt extremely misled and he had a conversation with Emily and her boyfriend about trust and honesty and he made a rule that if they were making plans to meet up or even if they accidentally met, to let him know. Even if it was after the fact.

Fast forward two weeks. Again Emily is with her friends. She meets up with her boyfriend at the church. I knew this because I saw it in the text log, about five minutes before she deleted the entire thread, during one of my random spot checks. Shane says nothing. He asks in our group chat how things are going. She says fine, but doesn’t mention meeting with her boyfriend. When she gets home the next day, he again asks how her visit went. Still no mention of the boyfriend. Then he asks her if she had anything to confess before he started asking questions. She said she had nothing to confess. Then he point blank asks her when was the last time she saw her boyfriend. She looks him in the eye and tells him that it was about a week ago when we sent her to fetch boxes.

That was four times to confess if you were counting. Not only did she not confess but she blatantly lied to his face.

Shane made good on the threat he made when he spoke with them before and he had her call and break off the relationship. (I know some people will say you can’t make teens break up but really it helps when you’re moving 80 miles away…)

Afterwards, Facebook exploded. Her now ex boyfriend started blasting shag be on Facebook, calling him controlling, oppressive, and stating that no matter what Shane said, he was going to continue seeing Emily. Her friends joined in, sympathizing with her, about how all this was over a poster and how Shane severely overreacted.

Oh did I forget to mention that?  Yeah the reason she didn’t mention seeing her boyfriend wasn’t because she met him to have sex (that little revelation was discovered later), but was because he met her for five minutes to give her a poster. Yet that short innocuous meeting was worthy of a lie? 

So here we were on Facebook getting blasted by a bunch of teens. Emily’s devices were all confiscated by this point, but Shane posted a defense on his wall. He stated that in his house, he had two rules: don’t lie and don’t hide things. Both rules had been broken. The teens jumped all over that thread with their attacks stating how Emily was 17 and ought to be allowed to do what she felt like (because letting hormonal teenagers run rampant is always indicative of good parenting you see).  The worst part was even some of the parents jumped in stating essentially the same thing – that when a teen is out of your house for the weekend you can’t control what they do. While of course you can’t control their actions these parents were condemning the consequences Emily faced as a result of her choices. That’s right… Parents were blasting another parent for daring to discipline a disobedient child. Amazing huh?

The thread turned very ugly very fast and was eventually deleted, though not before I was able to get a few words in about how immature and disrespectful all of the teenagers were behaving (and I did eventually get a private apology from the ex boyfriend but by then it was too late).  Even my sister reprimanded their behavior and it’s not often we agree on anything!

We finally had to have Emily call her friends and tell them to stop what they were doing because even the next day they were stirring up trouble, trying to paint us in an absolutely horrible light. They said neither Shane nor I were working and how awful that must be in today’s society for all our kids. (And it’s not even accurate – Shane is on disability now for his back injuries and I am actively seeking employment and it’s only a matter of time.)  They were even talking about trying to come by and talk to Emily when all of our cars were gone because of course that must mean we were not there. Nevermind that we have one car that won’t fit everyone in it. Nevermind also that if we were going to trust Emily home alone after what happened we’d be absolute idiots.

They finally did stop though and I think the drama has finally subsided even though it took a few days. What amazes me is that her friends, and our landlord, knew she’d been having sex and no one bothered to tell us. Granted I’d had my suspicions practically from the beginning when her attitude started changing but Shane needed proof, and while I knew “something” was going on, I wasn’t sure what. It just amazes me the entire situation. Everyone thinking they knew better than her father how to best handle the situation, everyone withholding critical information, and just the general prevailing attitude of disrespect and entitlement. It was ridiculous.

I have to say, though, Emily’s attitude has improved dramatically since she lost her devices. I’m entirely convinced it was the overexposure to social media. She had gotten secretive, withdrawn, angry all the time at her siblings, over the smallest things. She acted as though everything was an inconvenience to her life, and how dare my five year old ignore her commands, for example. She started slacking off horrendously on her chores, doing the worst job of all the older children when before she’d done the best job. She was reclusive and always stayed on her devices on her room. She started up at night talking to her boyfriend and then treating everyone like garbage the next day when she was tired. Her priorities were severely out of whack.

In her case her addiction was social media. For others it’s tv. For still others it’s games. Electronics can be an amazing blessing. But I will never about the premise that any child, even a teenager, should have unlimited time or access to their device. It’s too easy to fall into vices. It’s too easy to abandon everything that’s important when your young and still learning. It took ME until my late twenties to fully appreciate the responsibilities I had, and I was extremely responsible to begin with. Even I became addicted to video games.

When it changes your personality, it’s a problem. When you start treating people you love like crap because of it, it’s a problem. When you forsake anything else in your life that you used to enjoy for it, it’s a problem. If it’s a problem you need to remove it from your life. Sometimes it’s electronics. Sometimes it’s social media. Sometimes it’s a person. Sometimes it’s all of the above.

Life goes much smoother when the house is harmonious and that only happens when all things (except God!) are taken in moderation. At least that’s been my experience.

One Hot Summers Day….

I think I’m on the ball with my chores today. It’s Monday, only 3 pm. I’ve already completed almost everything on my to-do list except for the laundry (just put the last load in the washer though and waiting for it to all cycle through) and making my grocery list for the week which I plan on finishing after I get done writing this entry today. The kids had lunch, took their naps, and are now outside playing in the hose. I had one phone meeting for volunteer programming project I’m working on and a phone interview which I think went decent. I have butter out softening for some baking later and chicken defrosting for dinner.

What, then, could be wrong with this picture?

That, my friends, would be the air conditioning. It basically doesn’t work anymore. Technically it still functions but not in any way that a normal person could use it. You turn it on and thanks to the extreme humidity here in the South, it freezes after maybe half an hour. During that half an hour it barely functions due to the sucky duct work under the house that animals have screwed up. So even at its best it basically doesn’t work. After it freezes, we have to remember to turn it off so it can defrost. This takes at least half an hour if not longer. Because inevitably we don’t notice it’s frozen over till after an hour when the house has gotten uncomfortably warm and there’s a nice thick layer of ice on the coils. Hopefully I’m using the right terminology because truly I’m just parroting back that which I’ve heard Shane say lol.

So we turned the air off for a while. And now it’s extremely hot in the house. Such that when I was doning all my lovely chores there was literally trails of sweat streaming down my face.

That’s not even poetic.

I figured I’d get all my chores done today so that I could mentally excuse myself from doing any work the rest of the week. Plus it will give me more time to focus on finding a job, improving my professional skills, and follow up on our rental application.

I’m really hoping something happens soon. We all are. I’d be lying though if I said I didn’t worry about the what ifs. What if we don’t find a place by September. What if I don’t find a job. What if Shane gets denied disability for his back injuries. What if we take this huge leap of faith moving with no guarantee of anything and it backfires horribly in our face. Faith is hard. But we’re doing the best we can. Of course we have no choice so I guess we really don’t get brownie points for doing it lol.

Hopefully though we’ll hear something about the house were trying to rent tomorrow or Wednesday. Then maybe I will hear something about a job. Then we can pack up the rest of our stuff and move to a place with air conditioning and no vermin. Then no more pink faced children.

Yeah. That’s the hope I’m going to cling to. Much better than the alternative scenario!

Farts aren’t always funny

Ok so I live in a house with six males. There is a lot of farting and it is frankly usually hilarious.

When it’s not funny is when it’s Luke and he’s crying because his tummy hurts but he can’t seen to alleviate the issue. With Sierra, I chalked this up to colic. Now, however, I have learned better. Now I know they just have to fart!  How did I learn this, you may ask?  Well my midwife told me about it with David on his follow up visit. She showed me some techniques that I would have been horrified to try on my own but in hindsight probably used toto be regular sights. She showed me how to roll him slowly backward over his head until she was holding onto his feet and he was upside down. Apparently this does something to aid the release of gases trapped.

A couple of babies later and more attuned to the signals of baby having to pass gas, I have expanded my repertoire.

First off I don’t like seeing my baby cry. So I have to vary my techniques depending in the circumstances and even still sometimes he cries.

Sometimes I massage his belly. A lot of times when I do this I can feel the gas bubbles rolling around his gut. Basically I just use the palm of my hand to massage his lower belly. I try to stay below the belly button but he’s small and my hand is not so sometimes it’s difficult. Sometimes I use my thumbs to try and roll the gas down. The down side of these ways is Luke hates it. I guess it’s pretty uncomfortable for him even if it is effective.

Another thing I do is till his feet to and past his head. This is pretty effective but sometimes the gas isn’t low enough in his intestines for this to be effective. Then this only thing this does is reduce space and make his gas hurt more. One thing I do to eliminate that is by playing games with him. I clap his feet together. I tap him on the nose, or ear, or forehead with his toes. He giggled hysterically at this and me often than not it alleviate his issues.

Sometimes the gas is still in his belly and traditional burping methods are in order. Usually I put him in sitting position leaning his head on my shoulder and pat his back. The hidden benefit here is sometimes hidden gas releases itself during this time.

No singular method is always foolproof and during his worst passions I have to grit my teeth, try various ones until something works, and sometimes turn a deaf ear to his crying while I’m trying to help him. Usually during these worst times I suspect he for some reason is having issues pooping because after he does every time he calms down. I guess poo hurts too!

Making Your Own Double Boiler

I preface this post by saying that you must be careful as this is a make do type of situation.

I have never owned a double boiler. I’ve always wanted one because I do a lot of from scratch cooking which includes making sweets. If you’ve ever read any number of sweet making recipes, a lot of them call for double boilers. My understanding is that the point of this is so that the chocolate or whatever you’re making doesn’t scorch and burn when it’s on direct heat. Basically you cook in a pot on top of a pot of boiling water. That way you’re essentially cooking with the heat from the steam of boiling water. 

I wanted to make my great grandma’s chocolate pudding the other day, which calls for a double boiler. Being as I don’t have one, I did what I’ve done for a while now to make do.

First, make sure you have two pots where one can fit on top of the other without falling in. I used to use a frying pan on top of a Dutch oven but then I realized my two Dutch ovens attached nicely. In the bottom pot, put some water. I filled my Dutch oven somewhere between a quarter to a third full. If you get too high your water will bubble out through the cracks onto the stove and make a mess. Plus higher risk of getting popped by hot water.

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Anyways pot the bottom “boiler” on and start it up. Since the goal is to boil water, I put mine on high. Then put the other pot on top and then you have your cooking surface!

As a bonus for this post I’ll share my grandma’s pudding recipe. Once you have this if you’re anything like me you’ll never settle for jello again!  And in case you follow me and wonder about how I cooked this, my mom gave me early birthday present – a stove top oven!  It’s not as big as my kitchen oven but it’s a life saver!  I can once again bake casseroles, cookies, cinnamon, etc. Just not as much at once lol!  The best part is even when I have a working oven again I can still use this as a supplementary oven. That be especially useful when I cook large meals, like at Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Title : Grandma’s Chocolate Pudding
Category : Dessert

Ingredients
4 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons flour
1 dash salt
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups milk
4 tablespoons butter

4 egg whites
4 tablespoons sugar

Directions
Mix flour, sugar, salt, and cocoa, adding enough milk for paste.  Add unbeaten egg yolks.  Mix well.  Add remainder of milk.  Cook until thick in top of double boiler.  Add butter.  Spread meringue on top and cook until brown in 400 degree oven.

Meringue: Beat egg whites and sugar until fluffy.

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Cook on the "double boiler"

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Getting nice and pudding like!

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Transfer to the baking pan

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Add the meringue topping

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Cooking it in the oven my mom bought me for my birthday since my kitchen oven is broken

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Nom nom! Old fashioned chocolate pudding!

Faith is Scary

So little known fact… Faith is a scary thing.  Why might you ask? Think back to Indiana Jones when he’s staring out over the precipice that looks like there is no bridge and he has to get across or his dad dies.  How many thoughts must have been going through his head? What if I fall to my death? How will God get me across? What if he doesn’t? And so on. 

I’m not standing at a literal precipice but I may as well be.  We’re at the point where I don’t yet have a job, though I have at least one strong lead I’m hopeful about, and Shane has been told that week after next they’re going to give him assignments at work that are not his job and he is not physically capable of doing due to his back injuries.  So there is a very real possibility that he might not have a job much longer regardless of me finding work.  If he loses his job that’s going to make things like the power bill and water bill impossible to pay.  Which then puts us in the awkward position of living in the middle of summer with no power.  Shane suggested the idea of just going on to a new house and hoping something comes up, with my dad helping out until it does.  I don’t want to do that at all, but I want to live on the streets less. 

So we find ourselves with nothing before us.  No income, no housing, and nothing but a mountain of bills piling up behind us pushing us closer and closer to the edge. 

The only hope we have right now is faith in God.  Trust that he will provide either a job for me this next week, or somehow Shane’s job won’t essentially be made impossible for him.  When and if I do get a job we then get to have faith that His will provide a way for us to live there. Being as it would be three weeks before I got a check the power would be off here and I can’t do that to my children.  So they’d have to go with us and stay somewhere.  We do have our eye on a house that would be absolutely perfect for our big family, but we have to trust that’s the one God wants for us. All of the other houses we looked out were snatched out from underneath us before we could put down an offer.  In hind sight it’s probably a good thing that happened what with the news about Shane’s job.  God knew though. 

That’s what’s keeping us going right now.  Logically we should be terrified.  We’re about to be homeless with all our children.  Realistically my family has said they won’t let that happen so even from a worldly view I have some comfort.  However I trust that God will be there for us.  Some might say the stars are aligning but I know it’s God at work.  I can see the fingerprint of his effort and I have faith.  I don’t know what will happen but u do think there is a really good chance I could get this job next week.  There’s a lot of coincidences around it which really means no coincidences at all.  When I find out about it, if I’m right, I’ll post more on that lol. 

For now I’m living day by day.  Trying to ignore any anxiety I may feel and give it to God.  Trying to enjoy my family reach day. Get proper rest.  Keep my house tidy.  It’s not exactly ignoring the white elephant because aside from what I’m already doing there’s nothing I can do to change the situation.  Putting your faith in God is to go contrary to what the world says.  There’s no safety net right now.  Not really.  My family might offer to help but my family is too big for that too practically work for any length of time.  So I’m praying that I hear something very soon, hopefully next week.  That would be amazing.  Hopefully next week I can post an exciting things are changing blog post!

Irony

It never ceases to amaze me.  Just when I think things can’t get worse… They do. 

So not too long ago our oven malfunctioned.  It stopped measuring the temperature.  So basically when you turned it on, you had to keep manual tabs on the approximate temperature so you didn’t burn your food. Well a couple of days ago it stopped working altogether.  Now there is no heat at all.  So I’m down to the microwave and stove top for coming and God knows how long those will work.  The microwave was stuck in the on position for a few hours recently for reasons beyond my knowledge. 

The timing of all this is rather unfortunate because the 20th was David’s birthday but without an oven I can’t bake him a birthday cake.  I read about stove top owns and stove top baking but I don’t have anything that could appropriately function and right now we might as well have less than no money as far as what is extra in our budget.  I’m considering trying a no bake cheese cake with a Cracker crust. (because ya know I have no Graham crackers of course).

The big irony of all this is I’m trying to find a job.  I’ve been actively looking for work and it’s going on three with nothing.  Granted is been two years since I last worked but that didn’t stop me last time.  It’s extremely frustrating trying to improve our living situation and not only being able to do so but it gets worse. 

We have Cooks pest control coming out for the roaches and rats and this will be the third month whenever they come out this time but yet last night my step son Matthew told me how a couple of rats attacked him last night. I’ve seen more roaches than ever and I’m getting eaten alive by fleas.  I feel dirty, poor, and broken.  No matter how hard we try it seems there is further down we must go. 

Shane went to the doctor today for what he thought might be a fractured knuckle from a week or so ago and got chewed out by the doctor because apparently he has pneumonia but didn’t know it and thus didn’t reveal “all his symptoms”. He said since he lives in chronic pain he can’t tell the old pains from the new half the time and was pretty upset about being chewed out.  I mean seriously.  What is going on?

I know God has a plan and I know it will happen in his perfect timing.  Still knowing that doesn’t make the waiting any easier.  We’re trying to be patient and heat the word of the Lord but is not easy with so many deadlines looming on the horizon.  Bills that must be paid.  Loans taken out just to pay the bills since work hours have been cut back to less than 40 hours and me being unable to find work.  We even had to borrow money from my dad to pay our utility bills and thought we might have finally caught a break just to find out we owe 400 for electricity this month and 130 for water.  That’s almost twice the rent.  It feels like we’re being locked repeatedly while down but despite our best efforts is a giant downward spiral. 

Truth be told it’s hard to keep positive spirits right now.  I find myself too frequently throwing my hands up into the air and telling Shane “screw it we can’t pay the bills anyways,  might as well buy us a couple of cokes.” I realize that’s not the smartest logic out there but I’ve also realized when you’re down so low is hard to comprehend how much lower you could go and even a 99 cent pick me is am amazing temporary lift. 

I know God will deliver us.  I know my dad said he won’t allow us to live on the streets and if he has to he’ll buy us a house.  Still while that provides a little comfort it brings it’s own stresses because despite the fact that we have food stamps and Medicaid and such I hate having to rely on other people’s assistance to make it.  It’s why I’ve become so frugal over the years.  But no matter how frugal I become it seems it’s never enough.  The really chilling thought is I always thought I’d be able to easily get a job if push came to shove.  If I don’t hear something soon my time will run out.  The unknown future we face is pretty darn scary and is taking all my faith to trust God and I know I need more. 

Taking a deep breath now! Looking at my son Luke and I’m going to enjoy the small pleasures in life… A hot bath and a hot cup of coffee! God will deliver.  He is always good.  I will remain comforted by that thought!

Another Adventure

I’ve put off writing this week’s entry for no other reason than I’ve been braindead and super busy.  I’ve even been getting behind on my Bible reading.  I’m currently caught up but it requires some dedication on my part.  Even my baking list is behind though granted that was due in part to the fact that I didn’t have the stuff to bake with for two weeks. We just went shopping for half our groceries Friday and we’re finishing up in a few minutes.  You know you have a big family when it takes you two full buggies to get all your groceries for the month and you still have to supplement each week!

As I’ve been super busy looking for a job, a house, and my sanity and finding none, I’ve had a hard time figuring out what to write about this week.  However as it is supposed to be about my journey, I may as well write about David. 

David is almost three. His birthday is Wednesday though we probably won’t have his party til next weekend.  David is special.  His temper is basically the equivalent of Wile E. Coyote using tnt.  Fairly instant explosion.  David can be the sweetest boy ever.  Then he can be the most hateful boy in the world.  Yesterday, for example… I made him sit on the couch to calm down because he was starting to reach meltdown level.  He did NOT like that at all.  He doesn’t the first twenty minutes not calming down at all.  I’d have let him down after a couple of minutes if he’d calmed down being as calming down was the whole point, but that wasn’t what happened.  Instead he screamed at the top of his lungs, told me I was stupid,  told me he hated me, etc.  After five dedicated minutes of this,  he did quiet down just a moment,  long enough to start finding ways to be disobedient to my command. 

First he thought sitting upside down on the couch and sliding off would work.  I told him to sit on his butt.  Then he sat in such a way that he was upright but his butt was not touching the fabric.  I nixed that too.  Then he saw some papers of Shane’s that I knew were no longer important but he didn’t know.  He called my attention tauntingly,  “Mooooommmmmmeeeeeeee…. Look at I do!” Then when I looked he crumpled the papers up and threw them on the ground.  I calmly told him to pick them up. 

Truth be told for some reason I found this really funny.  He was trying his darndest to get under my skin.  It just wasn’t working and I was completely calm through the entire tantrum.  I think that made him even angrier.  I did get stern with him a few times but I never felt angry.  However after being stern with him, then the anger would melt away and the tears would come.  This is a regular behavior patten with David.  I can’t help but wonder about him.  Is he trying to put on a bigger face than he feels and the sterness snaps him into reality? Is a direct opposition to his confrontation making him back down? It makes me wonder. 

He is the sweetest boy a lot of the time.  He randomly his me and gives me a goofy smile and says, “I lub you Mommy!” Then he’ll throw his arms around me in a big hug.  Then the next moment he could be screaming, throwing himself to the floor, slapping his head, and telling me I’m stupid.  He’s definitely a mystery to me but I love him.  Just another adventure in my journey through motherhood I suppose!