flowercupcakes

{ i invite you to have a cupcake! }

cupcakes, for my family, symbolize celebration. something good for us. whether we are celebrating a new season or individual success, cupcakes truly make any situation better. and i would say that it is true for the good news i’m about to share. after being homeless for 5 1/2 months we received wonderful news! yesterday, i got the phone call. i have been accepted into a transitional living program! there is much reason for balloons, streamers, bright lights, pinatas, and cupcakes! after searching for a place to call home, we now have somewhere to rest our heads at night. though it isn’t quite our own apartment lifestyle that we are used to, i can call it h.o.m.e. that’s been so important to me for the past few months.

this particular transitional home is Christian based. their program runs 6 months to 2 years. i estimated that i could save approximately $16,000 in the next two years by sticking to their individual budgeting. while that means i will have to learn to be frugal, it also means that i would have at least a year and a half of payments saved towards renting my own apartment again. it also means that i will be able to work on repairing my credit diligently. there are youth programs, on campus, for both children. i will continue to homeschool Scout. transportation is available throughout the day and for Jem to get to and from school. i haven’t seen the individual apartments, though i have toured the other parts of the property and am very impressed. i am told that each apartment is essentially a studio apartment without the kitchen (because they are located in the foothills of the mountains, they do have problems with rodent infestation so they do not allow residents to cook/bake in their individual apartments, but they do provide meals and snacks).

i’ve been dreaming about this for a while. next Wednesday, at 1 p.m., is our move in date. we will have comfortable beds. a place to put our things. i won’t have to tote my things to and from storage three times a day. most importantly, i will be with my kids. we are reuniting as a family again, and that makes my heart feel good again. i can not wait to put sheets on my bed. or to watch Scout discover the wilderness that will surround us. i can’t wait to put a welcome mat outside my door. or to have somewhere to sit without being in one’s way. i can’t wait to be able to cozy up with the kids and watch a movie from beginning to end (all in the same day). or to take a shower without being interrupted.

things are looking up for us. i thank God for giving us a second chance. now onto the celebration…

my own happiness project

a couple of weeks ago i discovered the happiness project on a shelf in my local library. i gave it a go. i haven’t completed it. in fact, i’ve only just finished with March and started April last night. i’m learning a great deal from, author, Gretchen Rubin’s one year Happiness Project. of course, to begin my very own project, i would need to complete the book. but that shouldn’t be difficult as i’m learning the steps i need to take in order to get my life, and the lives of my kids, back on track. and into happy “mode”.

my twelve steps (one for each month):

1. feel pretty. so often, i don’t feel very beautiful. i might skip a hair washing because i’m too tired, or i don’t even attempt at putting on a little bit of makeup, or i look down at my toes and wish i had $16 for a pedicure. solution: make myself pretty. take long, hot showers. remember to put lotion on my legs. paint my toe nails. buy a pretty outfit once in a blue moon. do whatever it takes to give myself an extra boost of confidence and put a smile on my face.

2. educate myself. you’ve all heard it before: i want to go back to school. and every semester seems to be the same. it starts off with a kick, then i become unmotivated or some life crisis intervenes and i’m forced to drop a class. i feel as though time is wasting away and i’ll never have that chance. there is so much out there that i want to learn. and i realize, now, it isn’t just the sit-at-a-desk and listen-to-the-professor-lecture type education that i’m seeking. solution: buy a family membership to the local YMCA. learn about credit counseling. take field trips to the Science Center and art museums (there are so many that i’ve yet to visit here in L.A.). find someone to teach me how to play chess. join a reading club. participate in more Bible studies.

3. love God. this one should be easy. but, really, it isn’t. not always, anyway. i mean, i do love God and Jesus. i need to focus on living a more Christian life. i need to find ways to apply the rules and laws of the Bible into my life. solution: since being at the family shelter i have become closer to God. i feel as though my faith has been tested, but i’m learning that it is not God that who is testing me. it’s my desires. i want a relationship with God. i want to feel his presence. my biggest goal is to read the entire Bible. i’ve read many chapters, but not nearly all of them. (i just finished Matthew and Luke. i’m currently re-reading Genesis.) i want to attend church regularly (and i do for the most part. but for the times i don’t, i feel guilty. i want to rid that feeling.) talk to God more often, not just in times of need. remember to thank God for all that he gives me on a daily basis.

4. gain financial stability. i admit, money is a motivation to me. after all, with money i can purchase my highly coveted yarn. i can put my mind at ease when my bills are paid. but the fact is, i’m sick of living month to month and living beyond our means. it’s time to get serious about saving. remember that book, Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees? my grandmother bought me a copy many years ago (probably when it was first published). i can’t say that i remember much, other than i should be saving my pennies rather than spending them. solution: sit down and be honest about my budget. attend money management classes. open a savings account and give the debit card to someone i trust. learn self control when i have cash. save money if i want to purchase something expensive, instead of spending at every whim and reaping the consequences for a month.

5. volunteer. it’s time to commit some time to someone else. i want to give back to the community. it’s good for the mind, it’s good for the body, it’s good for the soul. solution: continue volunteering for Youth Ministry events at church. volunteer once a week at a local library, being a STAR reader and work on arts & crafts projects with children. volunteer once a week at a local animal shelter, working as a dog walker and kennel assistant.

6. be healthy. i admit, i liked working out at the gym. i loved that feeling of accomplishment when i rode a bike for 7 miles in the morning or i finished 100 ab crunches. and i admit, i didn’t like my hair being all sweaty after a work out or the way my thighs hurt for days if i took on too much. solution: meet with podiatrist and find a great pair of walking shoes. (dealing with shin splints and sore feet isn’t going to help.) keep myself hydrated with water. (as good as that one soda might be after a month of non-sugary drinks, it’s too tempting.) return to the gym. meet with dietician about food choices and dietary needs. don’t eat after 8 p.m. remember to rest when i need it.

7. stop stressin’. easier said than done, right? but let’s face it. when i stress out, my medications become ineffective. my mood goes out of whack. my anxiety returns with a vengeance. solution: meet with psychiatrist every two weeks. meet with therapist once a week. learn positive coping skills. remember to react positively before acting negatively.

8. have passions. the past two years my knitting accomplishments have dwindled into very few projects. i buy yarn, i sell it. i buy a pattern, i don’t even print it. the things is: i ♥ to knit. it is one of my passions. i’ve been on Ravelry for a number of years. my favorites list continues to grow, though my project page is nil. so it’s time to act upon the motivation. solution: knit for others. (like my friend’s sister in law who is going through chemo.) knit for Scout. (i had knit a few items when she was a baby, but not much of anything as she’s gotten older. it’s time to cast on for those “want to make” projects.) knit for charity. knit for myself. and knit because i want to.

9. homeschool. Scout has made a big decision, for such a little girl. she has great interests in social interaction, but not so much when it comes to academics. she loves to learn, but she had a hard time sitting in a classroom of 25 students with no one on one attention. and there is so much she wants to learn that her teacher doesn’t touch upon. it’s frustrating to see her working at advanced levels but at a snails pace due to a full classroom and overworked Kindergarten teacher. solution: work on Scout’s interests. practice handwriting daily. make math a fun subject. teach Scout American Sign Language. work together on art projects. take field trips. make a daily schedule. utilize the library. and of course, have fun teaching other and learning from each other.

10. make a home. this is probably the easiest and hardest in my happiness project. we are temporarily staying in a family shelter. it’s been difficult to say that least. there is a lot of conflict between families and living on someone else’s schedule. there’s a lot of waking up early, arguments between children, and pickiness when it comes to dinner time. solution: we really need somewhere to call our own. find an apartment or transitional living home program that can fit our needs while we try to grow, in mind and body, and save, financially. in the meantime, love where we are and where we are going.

11. work like you mean it. i need income. solution: get to work on my Etsy shop. dedicate my time to doing something worthy for others that will bring me joy and a little bit of money.

12. be me! i think it’s so easy to forget who you are when you are dealing with life. sometimes i forget myself. i try being someone else. but i need to learn that i love who i am. i need to be happy with who i am, where i’ve come from, and what i’ve seen. these are the things that have molded me into the mother, friend, daughter, and lady that i am. i am constantly striving to be happy, to be better. i know that some of life’s curveballs make me feel as though i don’t know who i am or what i want for my life. solution: discover myself. embrace myself. learn about who i am. figure out who i want to be.

spiraling down

it’s like things couldn’t get any worse. and then they did. unimaginable. the comfort and safety i once felt in having home was taken away from me, twice more. once, by an irresponsible roommate who failed to mention all the facts. second, by my alcoholic mother who i have abandoned all hope for.

in the past thirty six days:

  • i’ve moved my family five times (tomorrow being the fifth, and i’d like to think final)
  • i cried when i had to tell my daughter “good bye”. it was the hardest two weeks of my life.
  • i stood out in the rain, not sure which direction i should go.
  • i spent 7 days in a hospital. reassessing all that was good. all that is bad.
  • i’ve slept in seven different beds. only one of them being my own.

and then i rejoined reality. faced up to the things i knew i needed to do. the boundaries i had to break. people gave me hugs, patted my back. i listened to the stories of addicts, how they survived their disease. i went a week without speaking to my baby, seven days. consecutively. all those disturbing thoughts resurfaced. and then i spoke to Father Ambrose. {he says, “establish yourself”}. visited by my Pastor {he says, “things are bad, but you aren’t at your worst”}. Saturday morning hours ticked away. and then she came home to me.

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we are running away together, so to speak.

tomorrow, Monday, we are going to be leaving l.a. county and moving to ventura. it makes my insides feel like jelly when i think about it. the moving around is very unsettling. i crave stability. routine. a reason to make me wake up every morning and fight this brain disease. i trudge through the day, taking the medications that they really don’t know much about. i eat out of necessity, i try to make sure the kids get to eat first. so when i make that move, i have this painfully hopeful expectation that things will get better. i know that they could get worse, i’ve seen them get worse. but my outlook is a brighter blue than the dreary gray area in which i live. i will have a bedroom. Scout will sleep with me, filling the empty space between us. she has a better chance at getting an invaluable education. she will see more green around her. most importantly, she won’t be around the people who hurt her.

i have plenty of goals, to do’s, if you will:

  • buy our own bed
  • open my Etsy shop
  • get part time work in a veterinary office or dog grooming salon
  • finish reading “the lady of the rivers
  • finish knitting Frippery (with obligatory shots of cuteness all around)
  • maintain budget with tax refund. commit. be serious. make it work.
  • try the best to fit in somewhere else. starting over.

starting over. that’s pretty heavy. but that’s what i’m doing. i’m not even going that far (maybe 20 miles away). but far enough that i have a new chance. my dreams of walking into class tomorrow morning have, once again, been upset. there will not be any college courses this semester. but i took the initiative: i filed for the most recent financial aid paperwork. i applied for admission in a college close to where i’ll be living. i’ve already researched veterinary assistant job openings. i’m polishing my resume, long forgotten for nearly ten years. i’m making bigger decisions. i’m choosing not to live in my anxiety. i just don’t have the stomach for it. literally. i have to move on. i have to forget certain incidents that have occurred the past seven months. i am just learning this thing called forgiveness. i have to learn that giving up is not an option. thinking of what my actions could have done to my daughter, they frighten me. she is six. i hope that she will grow up and forget this. i pray to Jesus, just let her have a chance. i want her to have the chance that i didn’t choose to take.

tomorrow. it seems so far away.

a lot to learn

for one tumultuous year:

falling in love, three times. having my heart broken, three times.

being homeless for almost three months. two apartments, two motels.

losing my car in the middle of the night due to late registration.

having my life threatened by my 14 year old son.

giving up school.

they all come with lessons, don’t they? they must! musn’t they?

i’ve learned that no matter how much i think i know a person, i don’t know every cell. every atom. every intention. i admit, being single sucks. more times than not, i daydream of what was. not what could be. so i know i’m not quite ready for the relationship i’ve always wanted. maybe one day i’ll learn to be at peace with that and be able to move on.

i’ve learned that i need to be responsible. i turned my head a number of times, when i wanted to feel things less. deal with things less. i just wanted to forget and this person was able to give that to me, even if only for a little while. my anxiety has lessened a little bit. i don’t need to take the Klonopin very often, though i do still carry the prescription with me wherever i go. i’ve learned that i need to feel a little more. and deal with things that make me afraid. i’m in the process of moving out, again. for the umpteenth time in three months. i have a fairly good chance (cross myself) of renting an apartment on the other side of the valley. i won’t know for a few days.

i’ve learned i don’t really need a car. i’ve never had much use of them. i’m bad with maintenance. i tend to drive them to the ground in most instances. of course, waking up at 12 a.m. to someone saying “hey, someone towed your car” probably wasn’t the best top-o-the-morning to endure, but i’ve gotten used to those long bus rides with three dozen stops getting me from here-to-there. i actually don’t mind. it’s got me walking more (which means i’m losing weight in the process). i enjoy the longer rides when i can crack open a book and get lost into a story. (currently, “the kingmaker’s daughter” by Philippa Gregory). and economically, well i’m no longer spending $20 every three days on gas. i don’t even have to spend $20 for the entire month.

i’ve learned that i will have to choose my battles. he is fourteen now. Asperger’s syndrome. therapy resistant. ADD. Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Depressive Disorder. won’t comply with medication instructions. truant from school for two months. he finally crossed the line and i had him hospitalized. he now has his second fifty one fifty on his juvenile record. a few days later he was picked up by the police at 2 a.m. i’ve been told by social workers that at this point he’s gonna need probation, to hopefully, sort him out. i admit, it hasn’t gotten easier. it isn’t the least bit pleasant. i do not trust my son. and sometimes, at night, i hold my daughter a littler closer because i worry that she’s going to suffer something from all of this. i hope that if she learns anything from what she’s been through, i hope that she learns to be strong.

i’ve learned to re evaluate what i want to do with myself. i kept forcing myself to go back and just get it done with, but it wasn’t what i wanted to do. for months i’ve gone back to my original path, in animal sciences. i’m re-taking two courses that i had to do a medical drop out for. i’m also taking an animal care taking class, with lab, and Biology, with lab. it’s approximately 11 units. 9 hours of labs out of the class room. but i’ve made a point to gather all the information i need to be ready on the first day of class. i know what books to purchase. i know what my schedule is and will keep to it. soon i’ll learn everything else i need to know. in the meantime, i’m going to try to enjoy my 34 days of freedom before school actually begins. i will be giving up my afternoons, putting someone else in charge of Scout three afternoons a week.

i’ve surrendered so much these past 365 days. i’m hopeful that the next 365 will provide for better days. and hopefully in each one of the, i will have learned something.

tis the season

…to be over.

i know it sounds awfully Bah Humbug of me, but honestly and truly: i woke up this morning and realized “it’s the day after Christmas“. a huge sigh of relief. i know i can’t be the only people pleasing, filled with guilt if you can’t get it, type mother who gets harried during the holidays.

don’t get me wrong. i long for the long strings of holiday lights upon rooftops as i’m driving around town in the early evening. i like the array of colorful wrapping paper and shiny bows. i look forward to weather changing and with it, new holiday menus offering Gingerbread Latte’s and freshly carved turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce. i love the smell of the Christmas tree lots, especially after an evening rain. my heart melts when i hear people singing carols, ringing bells in front of grocery stores, and all the movies that make Christmas so magical.

but then there’s the other side of the holidays. there’s the financial burden. filling a room full of toys and treats for two children, these days, is much more difficult now that it’s a one income home. there is so much more pressure. this year has been particularly difficult because of the adjustment in moving residence in the beginning of the month, and the transition of Scout’s Kindergarten class. we’ve also had the pleasure of catching a cold, (Scout and i primarily).

i’ve learned from this holiday season. i’m going to make adjustments for next year:

1. knit my mom a Fair Isle sweater

2. our “holidays” will be spent at Disneyland on Thanksgiving weekend (we will celebrate both Scout and my birthdays early)

3. we will be volunteering at a soup kitchen to serve Christmas dinners to the homeless

and i’ll wrap it all up in a big red bow.

Merry Christmas.

(glad it’s over.)