There are plenty of things in my life that are going extremely well, and I’m very very grateful. Lately though, we’ve definitely run into some hurdles. My feelings are that you don’t know when something’s good if you never experience things that aren’t. My favorite quote is “if He leads you to it, He’ll lead you through it.” We’re getting through the tough issues just fine (really, we’re doing well), but I thought I’d dive a bit further into a couple of the frisbees of poop 2012 has thrown our way so far.
First up, unemployment. As I’ve mentioned a bit, my husband is currently unemployed. His job loss was totally out of the blue. Being a single income family, this is pretty huge. I can’t run out and get a job right now because little miss hates a bottle likes to eat frequently. I’m partial to not starving my 100% breastfed baby, and like my Dad enough to not make him walk 96 laps around the kitchen island while the baby refuses the bottle before she falls asleep. All that to say, I’m tied to the house and baby in this time of our lives.
Here are some smart things we did that are helping now, and some lessons we’ve learned based on things we didn’t do so well.
1. Didn’t spend all of our money remodeling. We saved a bit of cash for emergencies. I was figuring the fridge might up and quit, a big leak would appear, or something similar. Abrupt loss of all our income wasn’t what I had in mind, but we don’t get to pick which emergencies we face, and at least a little bit of a cushion is uber important.
2. Sat down and slashed our spending immediately (within 12 hours of his last day). Groceries are now beans (dry and cooked at home) and rice. We weren’t wasteful with grocery money before, but we are being VERY careful now. Extras just aren’t in the budget. An unexpected bonus of this is finding out homemade granola bars are not only much cheaper (approx. $2 for 16), but FANTASTIC. We also stopped all automatic saving transfers from checking, contributions for college savings for the girls, and all planned monetary charitable donations. We are excited to make up for that in donation of material things and time for now, and money when we have income again. For now though, saving as much cash as possible is key.
3. Right away, we researched existing medical benefits options and cost of COBRA ($$$$$$). Learned a lot about the process of filing for unemployement.
4. We should have set aside a larger emergency fund. Hopefully this is a short break, but we’ve learned that we can’t plan everything perfectly and we don’t know how long our savings and unemployment will last. When we have income again, we will have a larger emergency fund.
5. We aren’t prepared for larger emergencies. We had FINALLY signed up for life insurance like responsible parents through his old job, but clearly, that isn’t an option now. So, we mailed off the paperwork for some that isn’t job dependent today. We also need wills to protect our girls if something were to happen to us. My parents have agreed to be guardians of my little loves, but we need to make it legal in the event Joe and I kick the bucket many decades too early. Being a grown up is full of boring, responsible, expensive decisions.
6. Those are the things we did well, and things we learned, but the absolute biggest lesson in all of this has been to have faith. We started praying right away, and I think it is God who has provided the calm, peace, hope and joy we’ve found. We’ve had such a wonderful time visiting parks, feeding ducks, playing outside, baking (granola “barrows” as Patsy Lou says… NOM!), and generally being together. Joe has also found just how strong some of his friendships are. It’s been wonderful to watch his friends support him. Thank you to the friends and family who have been so wonderful over the last week and a half. Joe has also been interviewing like crazy and getting tons of great responses in his job hunt. All of these wonderful things are from God, and we are well aware of his blessings, even in this time of uncertainty. He continues to bless us so much.
The next hurdle came just a few days after the job loss. When money was at it’s tightest, our mortgage company decided to oops-it-up. They withdrew 2 automatic payments instead of one. Awesome. Luckily, we didn’t overdraw. Unfortunately, our mortgage company’s customer service is downright pitiful. They left 1 message, didn’t answer my two return calls, and don’t seem interested in following up. They also didn’t know why our escrow payments were increasing a few months ago. I gave up on getting an answer that time, but I feel inclined to hound them and get answers this time. Lesson: save enough to buy a house in cash, because mortgage companies suck. A lot. A whole lotta lot.
Finally, my usually super healthy toddler that (literally) spends her days bouncing off the walls came down with the mysterious slow down of doom sickness. She was very lethargic and didn’t have any appetite. She didn’t have much of a fever midday, but by evening it was 104.7. We spent Friday night in the ER. Hence my barely coherent post about butterflies on the ceiling. Patsy Lou is just fine now. Actually, she was just fine the next morning. They couldn’t identify what was making her sick, but as long as she’s eating as much as a teenage boy and back to hoping everywhere since she can’t stand still, I’m just going to not worry about it. We were glad we still had medical coverage, and grateful God answered our prayers for healing for Patricia. Seeing your kid sick is about as fun as eating poop. Actually, eating poop might be what made her sick. She’s two. Pretty sure she’s eaten poop. She ate a christmas light after all. Anyway, we’re glad she’s back to normal and that Lily hasn’t shown any signs of the sick.
So those are the downers of 2012 so far. We figure 2011 was such a fantastic year that the scales are still very much tipped to “awesome” for us, so a few bumps in the road aren’t going to get us down. Besides, we’ve got each other, supportive extended families, good friends, and God. So, all in all, we’re good. 🙂 Off to do more baking…