Monday, January 18, 2010

Broke as Heck.

A couple of weeks ago, Swistle, whom I love like Diet Wild Cherry
Pepsi (aka LOADS), came out as plus size. There was much controversy, many people cheering her own. Of course, there were a few haters, but it seemed to me that there was overwhelming support. Score one for the big girls!

It has inspired me to honesty. I am quite open about being a bona fide Big Girl, so obviously that is not what I keep hidden. Quite possibly every who has ever come across this blog has been bombarded with me babbling on about being zaftig. The thing I tend to sweep under the rug is the dismal state of my finances.

Part of what drove us from Alaska was the recession. We left before it hit hard, but barely. Jason's job was being eliminated shortly after we left, and the company I worked for was projected to do a fraction of the work it had the year before. We never lived the high life in Anchorage, but if we were comfy. We went to the theatre when we liked; we ate in hipster-yuppie restaurants on a whim, whenever we felt the need for some stuffed french toast or salmon eggs benedict. And the COFFEE. Oh, the coffee. Toasted marshmallow lattes, and triple shot soy iced kaladi's, and chocolate croissant on the side, and a raspberry Italian soda for Violet. Locally roasted specialty beans to grind ourselves for use at home. We easily spent $40 a week on coffee.

I now spend about that on groceries.

Jason has a good job. Just not a well paying job. I stay at home with my girls and pick up tutoring jobs. The cost of day care would well outweigh what I could make on the salary offered to someone who has one year towards a theatre degree under their belts. We are stuck in the vicious cycle of hand-to-mouth, working hard with little reward, and yes, even a little government assistance thrown in.

We live highly budget conscious. True, I have the internet; however, it is a requirement to pick up tutoring jobs with private school kids. Yes, we make lovely, wonderful food - with cheap groceries from discount stores and a lot of help from Food Christmas was only possible with careful saving. Even at that, we spent less than $300 in total for presents this year, including extended family.

I grew up poor. Backroads Kentucky, Aldi shopping, missionary barrel poor. My mother made it work; no one would know the lack of finances, no one would realize how below the poverty line we were. She had the touch. She makes everything special.

I don't have the touch. I do better than some, but I fall well below Ma. Jason and I want to do better. We want possibilities for our girls. We want comfort and luxuries and place firmly in the middle class. Which is why we are going back to school.

Which is going to make us even poorer for a while. We have to save the money to get to school, then the money to stay there. We will make it work, because we are that kind of people: we are survivors, strong-willed and ambitious. Eventually, Jason will have his doctorate. I will have my master's.

But in the meantime, there will be a lot of beans, a lot of thrift stores, a lot of making do. And I hope, in the interim, I am teaching my girls something much better, much more important than how to live in the middle class. I hope I am showing them how to achieve their dreams, how to handle obstacles with elan and grace. How to not give up.

Even with a belly full of beans and ratty Salvation Army cardigan.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Watch out, 2010!

I realize this post is very similar to the one 3 or 4 previous...things I want to be, ways I want to change. However, if I learned anything as a kindergarten teacher or tutor... REPETITION is key. So, without further ado:

2010 is the year I will:

*get healthy. Not skinny. Healthy.

*teach Violet to read.

*finish writing a book. Any book.

*get my hair to its natural color.

*be the best mother and wife I can be.

2009 was a mixed bag. I had some lows - such as staying in bed for weeks after Carli was born, deeply relapsed into PPD, and my parents moving 500 miles away. I had some highs - my gorgeous CJ was born, and I feel like I am starting to get myself back. I had the bittersweet moment of CJ turning 9 months old on the day Max would have turned 1. I had moments when I wondered if my marriage would survive the girl's early childhood. I went to a church that I loved because my parents were there, and hated because so many of the people attending were bigots. I had the joy of leaving that one for a church I love, completely. I have had the privilege of watching my eldest start to turn into an amazing person. I have enjoyed a new freshness to my marriage, where we enjoy, and even SEEK OUT, each other's company.

I suppose a lot of this comes with nearing 30. I have been told by many wonderful woman that a women's thirties are when she comes into her own, when she truly finds herself and becomes content. And I look forward to this. I feel the beginnings of this. Of wanting to be no more that what I am. I know there have been times in this past year I have been less than I could be, when I have not fully realized my potential as a mother, as a wife, as a person. And I am eager to embrace myself this year, to be more fully Rebecca than I have ever been.

Here's to keeping New Year's Day high as long as possible.