2011 Year in Review

It seems everyone is doing their New Years posts so I may as well, I haven’t written anything new in a while anyway.

With the major vehicle repair in 2010 (replaced the motor), we spent most of that year struggling to get caught up. We were quite anxious to welcome 2011 and the fresh start it would bring.

Most of this past year has been smooth sailing, maybe a little too smooth. Here we were sitting on our high horse not understanding some of the choices people around us were making. We’d gotten cocky, and the worst part about that is that I know better. Karma is ALWAYS watching me and if she thinks I’m even a little too full of sh*t she slaps me hard with a dose of reality…and she did.

As you know, in September my husband quit his job to start his own business. It’s no secret I was nervous but he had lots of leads and the experience neccessary so I chalked it up to just not liking the whole idea of “owning your own business”. I prefer the stability over the independence. Well, needless to say it didn’t work out. Not that it couldn’t have but with his being the primary income, 3 kids (and pets) to feed, and all the monthly bills, we couldn’t afford to wait for it to take off. Add to that the holidays when people aren’t doing much business at all (except in retail) and the fact that my husband is NO salesman (which happens to be one of the things I love about him) you can imagine how little was coming in. We decided to give it 2 months and as long as he was at least making what we had to pay out each month then we’d consider it a success. But those months went by, and then another one too. All the leads fizzled out. I had to apply for assistance and medicaid for the kids, and had it not been for the help of family and a neighbor who hooked us up with her church, the kids may not have had a Christmas. It’s been a humbling experience. If there’s anything I can take from 2011 it is that, I needed to learn that we’re not better than anyone else and need to remember that before passing judgement.

2012 has potential. Chris is starting out the year with a second interview with a local company and if that doesn’t work out he’s submitted a dozen or so other resumĂ©s and applications, hopefully ONE of those will result in something good soon. In the meantime, I’ve been spending time with the kiddies who have been gems during this whole experience. They’re not begging for new toys like before, they aren’t whining over dinners they “don’t like” like they were. They seem to have matured because of this and I couldn’t be happier with the young ladies they’ve become (they still fight with each other though, we can’t expect miracles). Not to say they’re being tortured! They still have more than enough entertainment around here! The Zelda torch has been passed on to Riley who is eating it up. I think she’s enjoying being the “game master” of the house nowadays. Milla is all about all the sewing stuff she got for Christmas, maybe she’ll get good enough to start making us clothes…we may need it (just kidding!). It’s nice to see her with a passion for something that didn’t come off the wake of her sister’s hobbies. Link is talking up a storm! He was so excited about Christmas that for sanity’s sake we couldn’t put any presents under the tree until the last minute because he was unable to ignore them, and forget patience! That is not a word in his vocabulary! He was so excited Christmas Eve that he woke up at 1am and stayed awake until 8am! We had agreed to sleep in until 7 but by 5:30 I was telling daddy to get up because I couldn’t take it anymore 🙂

All in all it’s been a great year. I wish it had ended on the same high note it started on, but I doubt any of us would have appreciated it. I’m all about life lessons. Sometimes you believe you’re a good person who always does the right thing and then you get a glimpse of your reflection and even though you aren’t “bad” you can still be better. I always aim to be better. So thanks 2011 for all the lessons I’ve learned, the family I feel a deeper connection to, new friends I’ve made, and Cross Point Church for ALL you did.

Happy New Year everyone! Party like it’s your last New Year’s ever (because according to the Mayans, it just might be ;))

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Risky Business

After 3 years at a job that was, for lack of a better phrase, eating his soul, my husband’s birthday present to himself this year was to finally put in his notice and begin his own web design business. His idea is for us to create the business together as a husband and wife team with him doing the majority of the work while my artistic abilities (which for the last 10 plus years I’ve primarily used to entertain the children) will be my main contribution.

Since putting in his notice at his current job, I’m starting to see the old Chris coming back. The fun loving, less annoyed looking, more involved, family man that I fell in love with. Sure he’s still cynical and unimpressed but that too is the man that I love. It’s nice to not only hear him say that a weight has been lifted from his shoulders but to actually see it as well.

Meanwhile, I seem to be coming more unglued. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified at the idea of him quitting his job. Obviously my main concern is stability. In an economy where everyone is lucky just to have a job, he’s quitting his and we’re starting a whole new business…together. I know NOTHING about running a business, unless you count this household and believe me, I’m sure there are days that if my family were actually my employess they’d have quit without notice a long time ago!

Years ago I’d come to the conclusion that I will probably never be “wealthy”, and that’s fine. I’m fine with the idea of working for someone else, knowing that there’s a steady pay check coming, benefits, insurance, paid holidays, and set days off. As long as the bills are paid, we live in a modest house with plenty of food in the fridge, and a car (or van in our case) that’s running (and at least born in this century) in the garage then I’m good to go. Add a little extra cash to buy wine, the kids a new toy once in a while, and go out to dinner on occasion, you could even call me “happy”. So yes, the idea that those things are no longer “guaranteed”, is causing me to panic a little bit.

The end of the job he quit means the end of our health insurance, life insurance, and paid holidays. It means knowing that those steady paychecks WON’T be desposited in our account every other week. That means paying for private insurance which is expensive, and tightening our belts financially (something we’ve never been really good at).

But…

It also means no more 2am phone calls because his company’s over seas affiliates can’t seem to comprehend time zones! It also means, no more business trips (that always seemed to come up on or around my birthday and our anniversary), no more work calls on family outings, or pulling all nighters to meet ridiculous deadlines or “urgent” last minute changes. There were no defined days off, “vacations” were more of a legal term than what it actually implied. Seriously, the man worked the morning of our wedding! He was also pulling 70 hour work weeks for the 3 months right before our son was born, building a web site from the ground up. A job usually completed by a team of people, he was doing alone while also expected to complete his daily tasks as well. Do you think he was financially compensated for that? The answer is no.

Since then he’d threatened to quit nearly every day. He has a computer file of at least 8 different resignation letters he swore he was going to send to his boss one day or another. Of course, something would always happen, be it familial obligation, his boss’s appeasement, or my obvious reluctance, and ultimately he’d just file it away for a later date. Until at last he’d finally had enough.

For the record, I have complete confidence in my husband. He is great at what he does, and when he’s good at something he gives it his all. Do I believe he can run a successful business and provide for his family? Yes. Am I 100% confident that he possess all the necessary characteristics to do so? No. I want to be, believe me. I’m trying. It’s not his ability I worry about, it’s just the salesman aspect of it. Give Chris a task and you’ll be more than pleased with the results. However, make him ask you to give him the task….ehhh, not so much. So in an economy where people want everything for nothing and want to spend as much to get it, I worry he won’t be convincing or confident enough to sell himself for what he’s worth (a habit he’s possessed for years), and I know I am definitely NO salesman!

Still, I could never ask him to stay at a job he obviously hates just for the sake of security. I also can’t tell him not to pursue something he’s so sure he can make successful because I question his qualifications, who am I to say what he can or can’t do? He would resent me in the long run which would ultimately ruin “us”, and for me, I’d rather weather a rough patch financially than damage the relationship with the man I adore.

Pessimism aside, I see how confident he is in the whole endeavor and I can’t help but get excited too. I got my Photoshop for Dummies book (because it seems to be the only technical language I speak) in the mail today, and am anxious to dive in, learn all the ins and outs, and become more of an asset to the team and the business. He ordered business cards the other day and when I had an opinion about the slogan he chose he actually considered what I said instead of treating me like a subordinate, and that meant a lot to me.

The truth is, I hope this business is all we’ve dreamed of. Him being his own boss, having time for the family where his mind is there WITH his body, and isn’t frazzled and annoyed. I’m excited to have my husband around, doing something he enjoys, while also able to support our family at the same time. Wish us luck friends. We may see some rough seas ahead (we may not), but we agree we’ve always been the luckiest when it comes to timing, so at the end of the day, I KNOW this will work out no matter what happens.

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This is is why I hate Debt Collectors

Like many people, after my ex and I separated, I went into debt. His credit was ruined long before he even met me so to him, this was no big deal, but to me, who makes little income at all, this is huge.

Obviously, I’m not paying my creditors off, which sucks because I would love too. I hate avoiding phone calls and just filing collection letters away unopened, but that’s the reality right now.

So today (and remind me to thank my !@#$ ex for giving out my cell phone number to said creditor) I get a call from an unusually nice collector who says she’ll work this payment arrangement out with me yada yada yada, you know, like they always do, and I figure if it’s reasonable enough and I can get this debt paid off then fine I’ll do it. Well, it’s a $600+ bill (once they knock off interest, late fees, etc) which she says she can divide it into 2 payments, I say I could probably do 3, so she sends my call to her manager or whatever for approval and he says he can only do the $600 if I pay it off in ONE payment but if I need to do 3 it’ll be a slightly higher payment, I ask how much higher he says $900+. Okay genius, if I can’t afford to pay you the $300 a month in order to pay off a $600 debt, what on Earth makes you think I’ll pay you $300 a month to pay off a $900 debt? So I did the usual “Let me work some things out and you give me a call back another day” just to hang up and then when he calls I just won’t answer the phone.

Yeah it sucks, but you can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip right? (thanks mom for that useful phrase 🙂

That wasn’t even the worst part. I tell him I’m on a fixed income and not receiving child support. If it’s matter of feeding my kids or paying off a creditor, I think it’s pretty obvious who isn’t getting paid. So he asks me what I do for a living that my income is so little, I say I’m on disability because of my eyes, he says “oh well I’m legally blind too” or something, he didn’t actually say what was wrong with his eyes, just “me too” but that he didn’t even realize he would qualify for social security. This went on for a bit, like he was trying to catch me lying or something. I had to resist the urge to call him a “dumbass” and just said “I don’t know, my mom signed me up for it when I was 15”. So he asks me, “why does this keep you from working?” I say, it doesn’t, I’ve always worked and when my kids are both in school full time I will again. It’s just, his whole undertone was very condescending and I hate that! Don’t make me feel like a stereotypical welfare case because I’m not. I can’t stand this inferior mentality towards stay home mom’s.

Note: I have nothing against parents who need and are on welfare. I do have an issue with it if you never have an intention of getting off of it.

Anyway, !@#$ him, because something would have been better than nothing and nothing is all they’re getting, especially now. I hope he enjoys his high profile and well respected job as head bill collector. I’m sure he feels very fulfilled.

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