Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Placating with false autumn

It has finally gotten to the time of year where I can don my sunglasses & take my vampire-lookin' ass outside. We slept with the windows open the last two nights & tonight had to close them because it is too cold. (My Scandinavian ancestors are howling in their graves.)

When I lived in Michigan I said that my favorite day of the year was in the spring, when I looked up & realized that the trees all of a sudden had leaves again. Trudging through the bitter, soggy, grey months of winter sure made you appreciate spring. It's no coincidence that green is my favorite color.

But after living in Florida for six (gah!) years now, the season I miss the most is fall. The smell of the leaves, not to mention the color, are like sensorial mermaid serenades. I said that my dad died in September on purpose because he knew it was my favorite month & having to go up to bury him then just might convince Biggie to move back.

So MiniMe & I embarked on an arts & crafts slash nature activity yesterday. She's been incensed that I refuse to trim our house in paper ghouls & goblins. She even offered to clean out her piggy bank for some plastic pumpkins. I had to do something, so I decided to make our own autumn.

We combed our yard for some leaves we liked. Of course, none of my favorite acer rubrum. Sigh. I hate palm trees. (more on this later.) We did find a fig leaf, which made me giggle for some reason. Maybe it's because we also decided to pick some key limes from our tree, which is contexturally so wrong for what I was trying to do.

Yes, that is our sweet Casey Jones minding his flock & the aforementioned Rosebud tucked under MiniMe's arm.

We brought them in the house & I tried to teach her to do rubbings with them, but of course she is my kid & she got all frustrated because mine were turning out better than hers. I ended up doing moreof the share than I wanted to. But then I got all brilliant & suggested she cut them out. Scissors are big in the life of MiniMe. She is a cutting master. Scissors ARE her medium. Fringe is her passion. I see many fringed hemmed jumpers in my future.

Yes, I know I am lucky. But just know today was a 2-drinks before dinner day where I had to flee the library hoisting a costume-wearing, wailing & shrieking child out of the library because, in her words, "I'm destructive!" In the systems of checks & balances, I've been checked & I have no balance. Just a suggestion- when you are mid-tantrum & brewing up consequences in your head for if the "bad choices" continue past that ever-threatening number three, don't, for the love of God, threaten that there will be no Noggin after naptime. That is, of course, unless you aren't planning on cooking dinner. Just don't do it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My other pre-existing condition...

Although I haven't written very much on her yet, you must know that MiniMe is by far the greatest gift I have ever been given. I think I haven't written much on her yet because I have so much to say, I wouldn't know where to start. I also have so much to say about current events I want to get some of that off my chest, first. However, in regards to current events, there is an intersection between my choice for president & how MiniMe got here.

As a Reader's Digest version, I was induced at 37 weeks. My doctor decided to induce me because she was concerned MiniMe wasn't getting enough oxygen. I could go into at least 3 more paragraphs on this, but just know that I have good reason to believe she planned to induce me all along. I have gotten third & fourth opinions, one even from the doctor who induced me's former partner, that there was absolutely no evidence that MiniMe was not getting sufficent oxygen. Induction by any means greatly increases the likelihood that a cesarean will be necessary. My doctor never told me this. I spent 21 hours in labor. I was eventually given an epidural, which only took on one side of my body, but I was still relieved. I was given pictocin & my doctor broke my water. I was making great progress when MiniMe's heart rate first was very high without coming back down, then fell dangerously low. I was rushed into emergency surgery & was put out completely. I do not remember the first time I met our daughter. I did not get to see my husband or my mother meet her for the first time.

In Florida, the rates that doctors have to pay for their malprcatice insurance are three times the national average. Because of these high rates, many OB/Gyns have stopped delivering babies. The doctors that do deliver babies average an over 30% rate of delivering by cesarean. Most doctors do not deliver babies vaginaly after a woman has had a previous cesarean. In fact, there is only one in the four counties nearest us that even presents that he would let a paitent attempt to do this. Insurance companies, as they have created this situation, are very aware that if I were to become pregnant again it is most likely that I would again be delivered by cesarean. Since I had MiniMe, our insurance premium tripled. We currently pay over $1000/month for our family's insurance.

If & when Biggie changes dealerships, we will have to pay Cobra to keep me insured or I risk being denied coverage under a new plan. If at anytime I become uninsured, it is highly likely that I will be denied under any other group plan because between the cesarean & sarcoidosis, I am considered to have two pre-existing conditions.

This is one of the major reasons I am voting for Barack Obama. Under McCain's plan, the dealership Rick works for would no longer be able to afford to cover me under their insurance plan, nor would they be required to. When I would go out on our own to find our own policy, as I have those pre-existing conditions, insurance companies would be able to either charge me ridiculously high rates, or refuse me coverage altogether. Under Obama's plan I would have much more appealing options. I would be able to stay on the plan that we are on now with no increases in cost, perhaps decreases. If we wanted to, we could change our coverage to the federal plan that McCain has enjoyed, at tax payers expense, his whole life. & if the day ever came where we actually get to move away from here, under Obama's plan, no insurance company would be able to deny me coverage due to my two pre-existing conditions. How could my decision be anything other than Obama?

There is a whole bunch of other posts to come on the story of my cesarean. I have done weeks upon months of research on my options in regards to another birth. For now, I'm just moving forward & will deal with those choices if & when they arrise. For now, MiniMe & I are kneading bread, working in the garden, reading about mermaids. We're waiting out to see if our friends & family actually like us enough to like us enough that they vote to keep us around.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

How I breathe (not so much)

The lung disease I have is called Pulmonary Sarcoidosis. Basically, even my immune system is so Type A it has nothing better to do than attack my lungs. It causes a cellular condition called granulomas, which remind me of fish eggs, but don't function so well as lung cells are supposed to.

The first sign that something was wrong in early 2003 was that my ankles & feet swelled so bad that I took my shoes off at work & couldn't get them back on. When I went to the ER, they did a chest x-ray to make sure I wasn't retaining water in my chest. They told me I had pneumonia. After 3 weeks of antibiotics, my ankles were still swollen. I spent the next 3 months going to every kind of specialist there is, until I finally ended up at a pulmonologist.

Dr. Siegel told me the day after I bought my wedding dress that I either had Sarcoidosis or Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. I had to wait 2 weeks for him to perform a bronchoscopy on me to make the official diagnosis. Bronchoscopy is code for outpatient procedure where they give you VALIUM AND ONLY VALIUM, well, with some throat numbing spray, where they stick a tube down your nose, into your lungs, put a camera down there, snip a piece of your lung, & then pull it out. I laid there with tears streaming down my face for the whole thing, terrified. Dr. Siegel told me I was the best bronchoscopy patient he'd ever had. I told him it felt like I swallowed a Lego. The good news was I didn't have Lymphoma.

Aside from the swelling, the disease causes me to tire easily, have achy joints, yawn a lot (often at very inappropriate moments) because I'm not getting enough oxygen, & make my chest hurt. When I was first diagnosed the pain was more in my ribs. This summer it's been higher; like it's between my boobs & collarbones.

The treatment for Sarcoid is prednisone. It is a steroid that suppresses the immune system. It also causes hardening of the arteries, osteoporosis, aggressiveness, & possibly Cushing's Syndrome, which results in a condition called "moon face". Exactly the image a soon-to-be-bride wants to be used to describe her. It is notorious for giving people voracious appetites. Most people that I have met that are on this drug are on around 10mg a day. I was on 40 mg for over a year. Not only did I manage to lose 30 pounds on the drug, I planned our wedding 1200 miles away. I basically walked around feeling like a scared cat the whole time. You know, arched back, wild eyes, claws out. Biggie was a little bit scared of me. I was a little high strung.

I was declared to be in remission in March of 2004. I got pregnant in October. I was fine through most of my pregnancy until about April, when I got REALLY puffy again, but my chest didn't hurt. More on the pregnancy another time.

In the winter I am pretty much okay. My ankles still piss me off. They look gross. The only time they have looked normal is when were in MI, last year to bury my dad & the Easter before that. When we were in OR this summer it was hard to tell because we did spend over 8 hours on a plane to get there, which tends to make me swell even more. I did manage to be a highly active pedestrian in Portland, which made me all kinds of smiley.

In the summer, here in FL, I am housebound. As is MiniMe. I HATE it. Starting usually the first week of March there is an algae bloom here known as red tide. It causes respiratory distress in most people. In me, I get all of my symptoms cubed. As this is the tropics, we get massive amounts of rain during the summer. The rain combined with merciless heat makes for an ideal climate for mold. You can smell & occasionally taste it outside. It's gross. My lungs think so, too. The biggest things that sucks about this damn disease is that it keeps me from being the kind of mother I want to be. When I lived in Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor, Plymouth, MI, I used to take little Casey Jones for 6 mile hikes every Sunday out by the minimum security prison in Chelsea. I always looked forward to the time when I would have a little papoose strapped to my back. I've never gotten to do that. I have tears in my eyes, just so you know. This disease has changed who I am. I feel like my husband can barely remember that girl, now & our daughter doesn't know at all.

This is a picture my dad took of Casey & I hiking one time when he came to visit us:

This is MiniMe & I in 2007, outside of Asheville, NC, picking wild blueberries. If we got to do this more often, I wouldn't have six chins when I lay down in soft grass.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Until I get through this other post...

...MiniMe's best friend, a pink bear, named Rosebud, who happens to be a He, told her he wants to be a princess for Halloween. So apparently, at age 3, our daughter is a fag hag.

Then at dinner, which I held so Dad could eat with us, Dad was "singing" to the radio. "Singing" means he was holding my hand & being very demonstrative. The song was "I Want To Know What Love Is". Being Canadian, the poor guy can't hold a candle to my 80's music knowledge. He's always trying to stump me. He thought he had me on this one.

"So, who sings this one, huh?" he snarkily asked.

(Snicker from me)



Monday, October 13, 2008

A Desperate Phone Call

I mentioned before that my mom has been sending me all of these scary emails that I KNOW are coming from my Aunt Mary & her stepfather. They are chock full of lies about how Obama is a Muslim & how the handbasket is nigh. They take me all of about 3 minutes to disprove via the WSJ, snopes, factchecker.com, but I lost it on Friday. I sent her an email, that while restrained, was still pretty full o' the all caps. It's not that I don't believe that people have the right to vote for McCain, I just can't get any of the ones that are close to me to give me a reason. This makes me think that a) it's because they know their reason is illogical (i.e. he's a Muslim), not based on the issues &/or b) they are looking out for their self-interests, which just happen to be completely contrary to mine (i.e. they make more than $250k). I thought about sending an email to all of these people & letting them know that if McCain were to win, I have to move to Canada because under his plan I would have no insurance. I have TWO previously diagnosed conditions. I decided I don't need to worry about it because I KNOW Obama is going to win, but I needed to feel better. I did a crazy thing. I called my grandmother.

My Grandma Ike is 83, a widow, that lives in Saginaw, MI. Her real name is Eileen, but she & her 3 sisters all have these silly nicknames (Maryann is "Neem"?). I've never asked. Both of her parents were from Finland & she grew up in a town in the Upper Peninsula of MI so small (Kenton) that she just tells people that she's from another, slightly larger town, Bruce's Crossing. Her mother went blind at age 18 from a cavity that travelled up to her optical nerve. She still raised 4 girls in the Copper Country, largely alone. My great-grandfather was a lumberjack & built trusses in the mines. When he wasn't felling trees or in the mines, he was hunting deer. She is tough lady, but still a lady. An example? See photo below. She is holding a state record setting walleye. (record has since been broken) Notice how even in the gloves, she's holding the fish away from her body? See the sneaky smile?

The reason it's a bit dicey for me to call Gram is because we have talked all of 3 times since my Dad died over a year ago. She has been carrying on ridiculous tantrums about certain things, namely guns, that my grandpa left to my dad, that she thinks should go to her cousin. Ridiculous things. Before you get all shocky, yes, my family has guns. We are from the north. I was fed solely fish & venison for most of my early childhood that was caught or killed by my family. I ain't Sarah Palin. Don't panic.

I was my Grandpa's favorite. I would leave the kitchen full of women to go to the barn with Grandpa & Dad. Gram thought I should stay & help with the dishes. I went fishing with them while she stayed home. We have issues.

Gram is, however, a through & through Democrat. That walleye earned her this plaque, signed by the governor at the time, Engler, a republican. Gram threw it away because he signed it. She left the Upper Peninsula to go to California during WWII to volunteer for the USO, Lutheran Church, & help a very pregnant cousin whose husband was believed to be a POW. She met Grandpa in Los Angeles the day he got back to the states through a roommate. She moved to MA & married him after only knowing him for 2 weeks. She's not a wallflower, but she also can be pretty racist. I was nervous.

Gram didn't let me down. She had already voted, & voted for Obama. She is excited for him, for us. She is worried about what "these zealots" are going to do to his family. "Poor, sweet-faced girls of his," she said.


She was glad I called. I think she feels a little better about me, now. I feel a little better about myself because at least someone in my family is fighting for me.

"Honey, Canada's not so bad, ya know," she said.

Friday, October 10, 2008

There's an old sheriff in this town

In case you needed more evidence that I live in a backwards, good old boy cow town, you should know that our sheriff, Mike Scott, is under investigation by the feds for violating the Hatch Act. Yeah, that police officer you saw on the news referring to our next president as "Barack Hussein Obama" is the sheriff of the county we pay our very high taxes to. You bet (you betcha?) I've got something to say about this...

Sheriff Scott:

I have voted for you in two elections. I have sat next to you in Mass on more Sundays than I can count. I counseled your girls on the significance of Palm Sunday & you witnessed the baptism of our precious daughter. You are a member of my community, Sheriff, & I am concerned about you.

I understand & agree that you should have the right to support the candidates of your choice, but I take serious issue with your choice of speaking at the local visit of Ms. Palin. You should know better than anyone else the power of your uniform. Your choice to wear your uniform on this day was clearly an attempt to validate your presence & words as the Sheriff of Lee County. Your vote is your own & is made as Michael Joseph Scott, not Sheriff Mike Scott.

To say that your choice to use Senator Obama's middle name was innocent of any implications is petulant & insulting. Whether or not you intended for your choice of words to incite hatred, it has been pointed out to you that it clearly did. You have more opportunity than most to take responsibility when you do something wrong, and make no mistake, Sheriff Scott, what you did was wrong.

I believe that you are an intelligent man, but let me be clear. This has nothing to do with a double standard. This has everything to do with spreading hate. How am I supposed to be comfortable with our police department being headed by someone who personally perpetuates hate?

In our very racially polarized county, I am certain that you are very aware of the effect of your words regarding ethnicity. There has been a great amount of discussion, in even the local media, regarding the false accusations of Senator Obama's connection to terrorism to the extent that I believe it would be more than fair to say you must be aware of them. Even if it was not your intent, it has been made evident to you that your words have been seen as spreading hate. Especially while in uniform, it is a primary responsibilty to not only refrain from contributing to, but to prevent the spread of hate. I believe it is your obligation to find a way to truthfully address this situation responsibly. Let me make it easy for you: even through the expenditure of millions of dollars, no one has been able to uncover any credible connection between Mr. Obama and terrorism. There is no need to even address your intent by using his full name. Due to this diligence, you can say with conviction that Senator Obama does not have any connections to nor is he himself a terrorist. Until you do, know that I will vote for any and all of your opponents in any future elections. I cannot allow my family to be protected by someone who spreads hate.

Let me know if you've got anything to add...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I know, you want to be my friend

When I went to work for the more rural township of outlying Ann Arbor, Kristine was the bubbly (well, you are!) intern in the Planning Department. She was the one who was advised by our department head that she shouldn't plan on cutting her hair after her wedding because men don't like girls with short hair. We looked at each other & became united in our speechlessness.

Let me just say that I can't really elaborate on this supervisor because of the waiver I signed when I got my severance package. I know, I am an assboss magnet. But, Kristine, she rocks.

Her husband dragged her to Alabama & mine dragged me to Florida. We are both raising daughters in the Deep South, trying to keep them from growing up to be little eyelash battin' belles. Kristine's daughter, Morgan, is about to turn one. I have never met her. But I made her this jumper, because Kristine is trying to pass on her affliction for Hello Kitty.

MiniMe is named after my maternal grandmother, who taught me how to sew. I plan on passing this on to MiniMe, too, as it's only fitting. (Ha! I am a pun master!) I have this pattern (Butterick #3772) in three different sizes & have made several for MiniMe, as well as some of her friends. The one's I made last Christmas are now too short, but she loves them, so they get worn with shorts, now. The fact that they have pockets makes them very popular with the girls. I could write a whole post on the things I have found in the pockets, as they are pretty representative of MiniMe. They are popular with mothers because of their flexibility. They are great when potty training, making it easy to whip those training pants off. When it's hot, as it almost always is here, they are a simple, hassle-free layer. When it gets cooler, add a shirt underneath. Even cooler, add tights or leggings.

I love to take MiniMe to the fabric store & let her pick out fabric for her jumpers. She will tell you that her favorite colors are red & purple. I worry about this being a result of the "Red Hat" ladies that are so prominent here in God's Waiting Room. She loves polka dots & (Thank God!) rick rack. I love that this allows her to develop her own idea of what she likes, without having to pick from what someone else thinks is cute.

Of course, MiniMe got a Hello Kitty Halloween jumper, too. But her's needed two pockets, because she's just that kind of girl. I have given up on getting her to stop wiggling in the darn thing. She said, "Ma, I AM an active girl!" Well, we are now informed.

So thanks, Kristine, for being my friend. & when Momo gets old enough, take her to pick out some more fabric. But not the HK Christmas flannel with the (argh!) pink background, because I already bought it.

Friday, October 3, 2008

I am a leaf

I go where the wind blows me.

This was one of those things I always said when someone asked me where I wanted to go when I was in college. I always think of it this time of year, when I'm stuck in the tropics, with no falling leaves.

Considering the current status of our lives, this phrase has new meaning. The wind was kind-of at a stand still for a while. I was feeling like we weren't going to get anywhere. Now it fells like a category 5 hurricane. Almost daily I feel our next destination is changing. I feel lost & guilty & like a bad parent. I can't figure out what is in our best interests.

Tina Joy & I have an ongoing fantasy about winning the lottery. I think it's something like more than 70% of women that do. Well, when (ha!) I win, what I would do is pretty simple. I'd move back to Detroit. I'd buy one of the many great houses for sale in the City, I'd make it sustainable. We'd start a business that would employ some of the very hard working unemployed. We'd use some of that vast abandoned land. I was thinking I'd like to start an urban plant nursery, an urban farm, a RIE Institute. Of course, I'd become a rablerouser, attending all of the Planning Commission & City Council meetings. I'd know the Master Plan, City Code, Historic District Ordinances by heart. I'd probably get myself shot.

Where we are with economics in this country right now, I can't help but think of one of my favorite buildings in Detroit, The Fisher Building. It is located on the northwest corner of West Grand Boulevard & Second Street in the New Center District. I used to park my car in the garage there & walk through this building everyday to get to my office. It is resplendent. To try to begin to describe the glorious materials I stepped on with my vinyl, Payless black mary janes everyday, would be ridiculous. The building was commissioned by the Fisher Brothers, the founders of Fisher Body Company, which became part of GM, and designed by Albert Kahn. It was originally to be the western-most building of a series of three structures, with an even taller more grandiose building at the intersection of West Grand & Second, with a sister building opposite that. The stock market crash of 1929 stopped the project & only the one tower was built. There is the General Motors building kitty corner across West Grand, the Hotel St. Regis farther east, and the Albert Kahn Building farther down Second. But the Fisher Building has always been such a standard of decadence, lavishness in architecture to me. As a kid that grew up in the last big recession, the child of Irish & Finnish temperance, this was excess.

My husband had never been there before he met me. I took him there on Saturday afternoon before we were engaged. It was empty. We felt like we were the only people in the building; that we had just happened to find the one door that hadn't been locked. We walked across the skybridge to the New Center Building to find a security guard practicing his saxaphone. When he saw us, he started playing Mona Lisa. While we danced, I stepped on a little green glass bead. I still have that bead in my jewelry box as a momento of that day when my husband grew to understand my position in this dichomtomy.

I was a girl scout that was taught to always leave things better than they were before I got there. When I left the far north & affluent suburbs to go downtown, it was a complex experience. I heard stories from an early age of the riots in 1967. I knew that people moved out of the City to escape violence. I could not grasp how it was okay for an entire City to be left to rot. I know who Aubrey Pollard was. I understand the fear & frustration. I still cannot reason with the tremendous resources being abandoned while so much mediocrity is heralded elsewhere. That's kind-of my unspoken philosophy as an Urban Planner. Why would you go & make another mess when you haven't cleaned up the one you already made?

So, I am this Pollyanna white girl who wants to swoop in & save this place. I have long dreamed of living in a grand old house that smells of lemon oil from the woodwork with trees older than my grandparents growing in the yard. I want to take my kids to Belle Isle to play in the park. I want to take them to the DIA, the Science Center, to see The Nutcracker, which I was in as a child, at Christmas. The Zoo. I love the feeling of standing on the riverfront with my eyes closed & thinking about the millions of people that made this great place. I hear their voices shouting out for justice for this place that has been orphaned by millions. I can't ignore the sound. It speaks to my heart. & I have a big heart.

My husband knows this about me & does want me to be able to try, but I am scared. So many people think I should be scared for the safety of our child, for the cost of taxes, the cost of maintaining an old home, the reality of the corruption. What I am really scared of is that it would be the wrong decision to go back because the economy is going to get worse. My husband wants me to consider moving our family to Canada, where he is from. I think of how lightened the burdens of the last 10 years of my life would have been without having to worry about the cost of healthcare, the cost of my education, & I want better for our child.

I am abandoned by my country. I am disappointed in how it has failed my family. My husband, who came here, got an engineering degree with no financial assistance. He has applied to become a citizen 3 times & has not been able to complete the process. Before he met me, the second application was lost in the World Trade Center. He has worked as a car salesman & sales manager between 60 and 80 hours a week for the last 7 years of his life. He faces racism almost daily; in Michigan where they assumed he was Arabic, in the south where they assume he is Cuban, followed by the ridiculous apologies when they find out he's Italian. He has paid around $70k into social security, & I get emails where people ask me to sign some ridiculous petition that say he shouldn't be entitled to that money because he isn't a citizen, because they don't understand their own country's laws.

I watch my husband, who does not have the opportunity to vote, watch the debates & read about the canidates for president. I love him so much. I have seen him with tears in his eyes in the last few weeks more than once. He has absolutely no problem supporting Barack Obama. Since he cannot vote, he has donated some of his very hard earned money. He has not once tried to tell me who I shoud vote for.

I had lunch with a friend today at this great restaurant that was owned by a woman from Greece. She made me the best gyro I've had since we left Detroit. She came out & sat with us & our kids because her business was so slow. After we talked for a while, the conversation turned to the economy. She had tears in her eyes as she talked about how as a child she was determined to become an American one day, because in the US anyone who works hard enough can make a great life for themselves. She said she felt cheated. She is about to lose her business.

I am broken. I am torn between standing my ground & trying to fight in this country, or leaving for Canada where I believe my family may have more opportunities. I am on the brink of giving up one of the greatest dreams of my life. It is crushing.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

How it's affecting us

This is the post where I just lay it all out there. I suspect that I will probably try to write the bulk of it & break it up. I tend to write a bit of lengthy posts, I've found.

I'm pretty scared. The whole bailout situation has me freaked. I'm reading a lot, but I can't say it's really helping. The first class I ever failed in college was Macroeconomics. But come on, the prof used an overhead projector with the full range of Vis a Vis palette to make his graphs "explaining" (very loose description) the concepts, but he was left handed. I'm left handed. I know better than to try to write with mediums that smear. Bygones. I have read enough to know that there are some major problems with either scenario, the two scenarios being bail out or do nothing. I want to write about how this all applies to us.

As I wrote previously, my husband declared bankruptcy. It's not that we were unable to pay our bills, it was that it would be stupid to. The only reason we could afford to pay for it all is because we are incredibly frugal. We have been trying to get out of Florida for two years & we we're unable to get out of our house without paying money out. Taking our down payment & the lost equity, we have lost $270,000 on this house alone. We are not destitute. We are not whining. We didn't do anything stupid. We are not expecting anyone to help us or bail us out. We are trying to cut our losses & move on.

We have been socking away between 3 & 4k every month, except for the month we went to Oregon. (Let me just say that 10 days without bugs was worth way more to me.) I have been entertaining MiniMe, putting gas in my car, & feeding us, healthfully mind you, on $900 a month. The dealership that Big works at is huge & it boads well for him to work there. As a salesman, last year he made almost 4 times as me with my silly little degree did in any year. He was the highest selling salesman for every month but 2 in 18 months, including last September, when my dad died & he was gone for 10 days. He was promoted to a sales manager last spring & has had the most number of deals as well as holding the highest gross. He took a paycut to be promoted, but it meant he'd have to take his 2 days off a week, unlike when he was a salesman & often worked 10 days nonstop.

In case you didn't read it on the news, auto sales are down to levels that they were in 1993. Last week he had a customer with a credit score of 780, made $200k a year, that couldn't get approved for an $800 payment. Today he was demoted back to sales. In a way, it's okay because he'll be making more money than if he stayed in management. But again, the blood-turnip thing.

Our plan has been for him to stay there because it is good for him to get management experience there. We are living rent free. We wanted to stay here until we got a certain amount of money saved up & then move to wherever we are going to go. We were expecting the longest it would take is two years. We've watched craigslist to see how much we would have to pay for rent if we get kicked out. We've discussed how we should try to get our bank to let us lease back our house instead of moving.

I know I could go back to work, but I need to explain what this means. The school that MiniMe attended up until May was $13k. This is for the school year only, and only until 2:45pm. I tried to find work in Planning here that will let me be done by then & it is not out there. If I went outside of my field I would not make much more than it costs to send her to school. I know, look at other schools. There aren't really any other options out there for us or her. This place is not family oriented in so many ways. We tried another school for 3 months last year & it was pretty disastrous. She had just turned 2 & told us all she wanted for Christmas, in July, was to go back to her old school. This is how I ended up where I am.

I should mention that we have had a huge cloud inside our house all summer long. I had a lumpectomy in June that I regret. I know, my life is sacred, & it is to my husband, too. But the literal shakedown of the various doctors has been alarming. Our insurance is supposedly good & we are up to almost $6k for the outpatient procedure. It is very hard for my Canadian husband to pay these bills. Especially after he has to pay over $500 a month for this insurance. I checked to see if I would have had to wait to have this surgery in Canada. I would have had to wait one day longer than I did here in Florida to have the surgery, unless my doctor felt this was too long, in which case they could schedule it sooner. But I probably wouldn't have had to have the surgery, because they would have done some sort-of more detailed radiology technique that would have shown that it was just breast tissue. Oh, & that would have been free, too.