Girls Night Out

Mo and Vii decided I needed a night out with the girls- and wouldn’t take “no”, or the fact that I have no money, for an answer. They hijacked me and treated me to a movie, an enormous vat of popcorn and a barrel of overpriced pop.

We went to see Cloverfield.

OK, this is not usually my type of movie, but one does not look a gift-horse in the mouth, and when a mama is offered a free night out with the girls, one jumps. I had no idea what this movie was about, but from the name, I surmised it was some sort of dreamy, flower filled chick-flick. Uh, yeah. Wrong-o, buck-o. Not one for suspense, I googled the preview beforehand, and read everything I could on it- it’s the only way I can do suspense- as in, only if I know what’s coming. That defeats the whole suspense  thing, I know, but whatever.

It was good. It was edge-of-your-seat type good- or in my case, clutching-my-coat-to-my-face good. There are a few scenes that are eewwy, and there is some blood, but mostly, just like the characters in the movie, you are afraid of what you can’t see. Do not be like the lady in front of us and take your primary-aged kids. I mean, come on- If there were a few more swear words, it would easily be rated R. Insane action, nonstop moving camera work, and loud, loud, loud explosions.

Early in the film, the parallels to 9/11 are so close as to be genuinely distrubing- be prepared. I wasn’t.

Oh, and if you’re sensitive to motion sickness, you might want to pop a Dramamine beforehand- Vii actually got sick in the restroom afterwards. Oh, and stay for the credits. All the way to the end.

The Bishop’s Storehouse

Today, hat in hand, pride in our pockets, DH and I went to the Bishop’s Storehouse.

For anyone who doesn’t know, or isn’t familiar with our church- The Bishop’s Storehouse is part of the Church welfare system- and are direct suppliers of food to families in need, as well as storehouses for vast quantities of other food in case of natural disaster or emergency. At our local storehouse, there are three enormous grain silos out back that have enough wheat stockpiled to feed our city- not just Church members- but everyone. Chances are, there’s one in your neighborhood, too- most people don’t even notice them. The Church has them all over the country.

If your family finds itself in distress, loss of job, medical needs, or some other trial in which your finances are strained, any bishop can refer you to the Storehouse. Most people who use it are members of our church, but I have volunteered there in the past, I have seen needy folks of other faiths show up- they are never turned away. The food is considered the Lord’s food, and our only job is to see it gets to the Lord’s children who are in need.

It’s not only food- they have cleaning supplies, toiletries, laundry needs, diapers, formula, paper products and even seasonal treats. It goes far beyond basic needs. There is fresh produce of all kinds, meat, dairy, canned goods, dried goods- It’s basically a grocery store, but with no cash registers, and kind people volunteering their time. You get your cart and a volunteer takes your list and helps you gather what your family needs.

No tally is kept- and you will never be asked to repay what has been given you. The only thing that is asked is that you someday, when you are able, help someone else.

That, my friends at the county, is how it’s done. Take notes.

AFDC- What a Disaster

We made a mistake today. In an effort to stretch our cash, we thought we would go to the county and see about getting temporary health insurance for the kids until DH finds a new job. We have never been on public assistance of any kind, and I ate a big heaping pile of pride to make the phone call.

The woman on the phone took a lot of information, and told us to show up at 1 o’clock for our appointment. We did. Right on time. Evidently, “on time” has no meaning at the social services office. Little did I know- there were scores of people, to talk to anyone, appointment or not, you had to stand in line, put your information in the computer, and wait to be called to one of 25 windows.

When we were finally called (27 minutes after our “appointment”) the woman at our window took down, again, all the information I had previously given over the phone. She requested our appointment slip- what appointment slip? Evidently,  when you make an appointment, they send you a packet directing you what to bring and how much time to prepare (2 hours). Nope. Didn’t get one- just the phone call telling us to show up. She explained the “packet” would probably arrive tomorrow. Great.

She spoke very slowly and repeated herself- if I asked a question, she would restate what was already said- in monotone. They needed the kids birth certificates and social security cards- which the phone lady did not tell me, but the “packet” would have. She needed our financial information, most of which we came prepared with. She needed our mortgage, our bank accounts, our savings, our taxes, our utilities, pay stubs, blah blah blah….

It was an exercise in patience and futility. Turns out, with unemployment benefits, we make too much. We’re unemployed, and we make too much. Go figure. If we wanted to apply for food assistance, I would have to look for a job, too. Oh, and the fact that we have three small kids? Well, if I find a job,  they can give childcare assistance. It seems, too, since we own our house and have equity, we don’t qualify for anything.

Truthfully, we are just to damn responsible to get benefits. If I were unmarried with three kids, used drugs, or if we hadn’t saved anything, ever, we would have walked away with cash, food cards, medical care and housing assistance. If we wanted to sell our house and piddle away the money, they would give and give and give.

Nevermind we have paid into this system for years and not needed it. Nevermind this is a temporary thing for us and DH has handed out over a dozen resumes since last Thursday- if he were a deadbeat, we’d be great! So basically, if you a normal person, just needing a little help, you’re out of luck. If you are a catastrophe, come on down! I told her to just forget it, and we left.

I’ve heard people talk about The System for years- but now I have seen firsthand. Broken isn’t even the word.

The Piggy Bank

So by now, the world knows my husband lost his job on Wednesday. We’re doing OK- things could be far worse, and I generally feel, among other things, that we’ll be fine. I expect moments of panic and stress, but I also know that we are not alone, and we have faith.

Humbling beyond belief is the amount of support people have offered. We have received phone calls and emails and letters and people dropping by. I have no idea how many families are praying for us, but I tell you, with all sincerity, we can feel it. We can feel the buoyancy and support the prayers are giving, and it’s astounding- and humbling. In the last few days, my testimony has grown more than it has in a very long time.

We sat the boys down and simply explained that Daddy is looking for a new job, and we have to be very careful with money for a while. We told them they didn’t have to worry about this, that we would have plenty of food and our family would be fine, but that for a little while, things might be different.

Tonight, tucking the boys into bed, Jeffrey clamped his arms around my neck, “Mama, you can take money out of my (piggy) bank…”

Pulling back, I look in his eyes- “Why would I need to take your money, baby?”

His eyes started to full with tears and his lip quivered, “… maybe to buy food?”

Oh man.

My eyes immediately welled up and spilled over, dripping tears on his little neck. As gently as I could, I told him we were OK, that daddy and mama would worry about our money, and we had enough for food and things we need. I kissed him and thanked him and tucked him in tight, and stood outside his room, leaning on the wall, and let myself cry.

No matter what I do with my life, no matter how much money we may or may not have someday, nothing will ever mean more than the heartfelt offer of the coins in my son’s piggy bank.

Random Crap

Other than Abby shoving m&m’s up her nose yesterday, all’s quiet on the western front. Last night we got a ton of snow, and I was hoping for a Snow Day, but alas, this morning our district was running all buses and classes as normal. Crap. It’s not that I wanted all the kids home today- it’s that it’s a half-day anyway, and there might not be enough snow to close the schools, but there sure as heck is enough to make driving treacherous.

Last week I created a new painting of this year’s theme for the Primary room. It came out nice, and when I take a picture, I’ll post it- but I was embarrassed on Sunday when the presidency wanted me to come up and talk about it. I have a hard time talking about my paintings- and I really didn’t want credit on this one-I didn’t even sign it. I made it for the classroom, and it wasn’t about me. I don’t know how to deflect attention very well.

Yesterday morning there was a plate of cookies and an amazing letter from a woman in my ward who is fighting cancer for the second time. She wrote that my painting was a tender mercy for her, as my subject matter (the Tree of Life) was very personal and meant a lot to her in her fight. I’m now working on another smaller painting for her. I plan on just dropping it off on her doorstep, like she did the cookies. I wish there was a way for me to be anonymous, but it would be contrived to even try.

We have family coming for a visit for the first time in over a year and a half. I’m very happy about it. And that’s all I will say.

In my opinion, Jeffrey gets waaay too much homework for a first grader. Rather than go in yet again to see his teacher, and rather than make him sit for an hour each night, I’m selective about what I make him do. I don’t know if it’s the right course, but like so much of parenting, I weigh it out, and hope I’m doing the correct thing.

My new house has hardwood floors on the entire main level. I always dreamed of having beautiful wood floors, and thus is it so. What I didn’t know what how much dust-bunnies love these floors, too. I have to sweep and vacuum every single day. At least once, often twice. Not because I’m a clean-freak- trust me, I’m not, but because if I don’t, all the detritus and crumbs accumulate and get stuck to my feet, and I hate that feeling! I still wouldn’t trade my floors- it was just a surprise at how much messier they are than carpet. Anyone have any tricks for keeping them dust-bunny free?

Mouse Trap is the best Family Night game ever. Just in case you were wondering.

I cut Abby’s hair last night. It looks about as bad as you are imagining- but at least she can see now. The boys both look like spun copper haystacks it’s been so long since they’ve had haircuts. Their hair has never been so long- ever. Secretly, I love it- it’s so bright and pretty, and this time of year, I love having them look like crazy red flowers. Aw, I know- It’s getting cut this week. But still…

We were given a few collector’s Barbie dolls this week. They were still new in the box- two were 1960 reproduction dolls, one in a wedding dress, one in a nightclub dress. The other was a Scarlett O’Hara Barbie- I’m almost ashamed to say how excited I was about that one- what’s the deal with Barbie? No matter how forward thinking I think I am, the little girl inside bubbles up with how pretty….! Anyway, I set the dolls on the table and went back to the car to get some other stuff, and when I returned, Jeffrey had already torn open the bride doll and was eagerly twisting the wire ties that hold her to the cardboard. A little ticked off, I began to explain that these were special dolls, and he wasn’t supposed to open them-He looked confused and said, “But mama, if we leave them new in the boxes, they will get old and mean like Stinky Pete…” What could I say? Laughter was the only solution. Both boys slept with their Barbies that night.